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Author:  Hollow
November 2, 2008



 

 

This is now fixed
Well after running around the mulberry bush a few thousand times we managed to configure our server to Hotmails liking and it seems we CAN now send emails to hotmail users. If however you sign up for the blog, send us a contact form submission or once SBend gets released you sign up to that and you don’t receive your verification/confirmation email and are a hotmail user, please let us know immediately.

The Problem

Hotmail and MSN are rejecting all emails from the symsys-it.co.nz and symsysit.com domains. We have no idea why because the bounceback email we get just tells us that it has been rejected, “for policy reasons”. After trying to speak with the admins over at Microsoft who look after MSN, Live and Hotmail, we got nothing but automated/canned responses telling us it was all our fault and that they had this absolutely supreme anti-spam software in place that was developed by Microsoft, which had some very tight guidelines which need to be met for email to get through. We continually tried to explain that Microsoft related free email services, were the ONLY ones rejecting our emails and that were someone running their own mail server, received their mail through their ISP or another free provider such as Yahoo or GMail that they could receive our mails without an issue. In reply we got more information about how great their spam protection was and that we needed to meet their guidelines in order to send email to their customers. We did also try to ask them specifically what it was that was causing the email to not get through and we were told if they gave us too many secrets it wouldn’t be as effective.

The humour in it

Well after being lectured by canned response emails, which I’ve spotted posted on several blogs and forums around the web since so other people are obviously suffering from the same problem, I decided to tell them exactly how good their software was. I wrote them a scornful email, explaining how I too was a hotmail customer and had been for many years. I also explained that I received on average 10 emails a day in my hotmail account which were VERY obvious spam, containing the words, “viagra”, “porn”, “drugs” and of course “animal porn”, plus a bunch of swear words which I didn’t mention of course, and I therefore did not consider their spam filtering technology to be very good when they allow those emails through to my inbox (Granted SOME do get moved to the junk email box), and yet I can’t email the word test to my own hotmail account from my business address because their servers reject it completely. The real humour in this is that their response to my scornful email was an automated one, generated by the spam filter, which rejected my email “for policy reasons”. So yeah I can totally see why they can’t let people in on the secrets of their fantastical anti-spam software, if they did, people would be able to complain about the fact it’s blocking emails that are NOT spam and letting all the spam ones through.

The not so funny part

Of course all of this means that we cannot send email to hotmail addresses, which means we’re going to have to write more verification code into our contact forms etc to ensure that people aren’t trying to use a hotmail address to contact us, as we won’t be able to contact them back. It also means applying that code to our current development project, which is a completely secure backend to our website, allowing our customers to create an account, sign in and monitor any existing projects they may have going on with Symsys, log support calls if they’re a Server or Systems Management client and order things from our online shop which is being created along side our secure back end project. This is bad for us, but it’s even worse for those of you who only use a Hotmail related email address or prefer to use it for online signups etc. If we can’t validate an email address of a customer by sending them an email for them to reply to or click a link in to confirm the email address exists, we simply can’t let them use that address and if you’re thinking “Well I’m ok I don’t want to sign up to Symsys anyway” then read on, because it’s not just us you have to worry about.

Not just us affected

As I said at the start of this post, it isn’t just us having the problem, these emails from Microsoft, praising their spam filtering technology are being posted all over the web now, plenty of people are suffering from Microsofts big headedness here. They assume that the world follows their lead in EVERY aspect of I.T. and they do this a lot, it’s not just hotmail related email accounts. They think everyone on the planet uses Windows for a desktop operating system or server. Don’t get me wrong here Windows has it’s place, as does hotmail and Windows Live etc, I use MSN Messenger on a daily basis (Although I use aMSN to do it because I’m a Linux user and MS don’t make MSN for Linux), I’m a certified .NET developer and have been supporting Windows systems for a long long time for a living, but I’m getting to the point now where not only do I prefer Linux to Windows but I’m starting to prefer ANYTHING on offer that means I don’t have to use an MS product.

Summary

This post was not originally intended to be a “Microsoft Bashing” one but I can’t help it today. I’ve just been reading through the internet news, both Microsoft and Linux based, like I do every week, and what do I see? Well apparently Microsoft gave a load of TOP SPEC Dell laptops, pre loaded with fully working Windows 7 installations (Alpha of course but fully working because Microsoft hand picked the hardware it was installed on), to a bunch of blog writers, journalists and reviewers. They didn’t just lend them these laptops though, the news that’s around the web on numerous reputable sites, is that they GAVE them these laptops, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions rather than risk a law suit by stating my opinion on this. Combine that with the whole Spam thing from Hotmail addresses, then add having to re-install customers laptops with XP because somethings gone wrong and being faced with an hour on the phone to someone, who doesn’t speak english, to confirm that I’m not a software pirate and that I promise this license key is only used on this one machine etc etc etc. So I’m sorry MS but today you have gone even further down in my estimation, again. Stop assuming you’re the only option in I.T. start lowering your prices for incomplete software, stop trying to force everyone else to follow your lead, because they’re not going to and please please please stop giving away free laptops unless you’ve got one for everybody. Rant over.


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Author:  Hollow
October 5, 2008



 

 

…. Microsoft Exchange!!!!!!!!

Well after years of wishing someone could actually create a mail client that could get rid of outlook, yet still work with Microsoft software on the network, I’m, well, disappointed.

Why am I disappointed that a mail client finally stepped up to be a viable replacement for Outlook? Because it’s not cross platform (Only works in Linux and is specifically designed for Gnome, although it does work in KDE and no doubt other desktops on Linux), it ISN’T as good as Thunderbird in a lot of different ways and in general it isn’t the best mail client out there, in my opinion.

Evolution now also sports quite a nifty backup tool that it didn’t previously have, which is good, except all it does is backup your mail files to a tar file, which you could do yourself by going to the folder the data is stored in and, well, tarring it. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s great for less technical people out there who just want to backup their mail but it still doesn’t provide a method to move that mail to another mail client and a tar file isn’t exactly something really secure like a PST file.

Ok so I’m being a little hard on Evolution here I suppose, but it kinda deserves it. Where Thunderbird really does feel like a mail client that’s been thought out, well written and in general developed for ease of use and as a geniune alternative to outlook, without feeling too far away from it, Evolution just doesn’t.

There’s a lot to analyze here when it comes to comparing mail clients, Evolution comes with a calendar built in and Thunderbird has one that you have to install as a plugin, Evolution now supports exchange and Thunderbird doesn’t, Evolution has a backup utility in it’s file menu and Thunderbird just doesn’t have one. But these minimal facts print a rather unfair picture of Thunderbird in comparison. Thunderbird actually feels like outlook, it is more responsive and more customizable, now that the MAPI protocol is Open Source I’m hoping it won’t be long before Thunderbird becomes exchange capable.

Some of you may be asking “Why does he keep saying outlook so much”, well the thing is, as much as I hate anything not open source on principal I’m also a realist and the thing is Outlook IS the best mail client out there, by far. It may not be the most compliant with other technologies and it may not be free or Open Source but it’s the easiest to use, the most reliable and it has so many features you couldn’t list them all on an A4 piece of paper without doing it in columns and using both sides.

Since I found out that Evolution had released an update and now supported Exchange (Wednesday was when I found out) I have been testing Evolution alongside Thunderbird and I have to say, I’m going back to Thunderbird. If someone asked me if this breakthrough was going to change the way people work in a Windows environment I’d have to say, no, I don’t think it will. The reality is that it can’t be used on Windows and there are very few companies or organisations out there who have an exchange server and let their client PCs use Linux, it just isn’t done. Do I think if this breakthrough had happened on Thunderbird it would change the way people work? Then yes, I do. There are a lot of people out there on Windows who already use Thunderbird at home and Outlook at work.

So come on Mozilla Devs, get the MAPI protocol compliance implemented in Thunderbird for us, give those of us who need to use a Windows PC something other than outlook. I tend to use Open Office wherever I can anyway, whether I’m on Windows or Linux or Mac but I still have to use Outlook if I need to connect to an exchange server.


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