Monthly Archives: March 2010

Freakin’ Spammers!

We just had another one of those mass email scams that claimed it came from and told people to reply with their usernames and passwords.

At least three people fell for it and their accounts got hijacked and used to send tons of spam until we shut them down. What a mess.

Maybe someday people will learn to think before following instructions they see in some random email. Not likely… but it’s more likely than all these [vile cursewording] spammers and scammers deciding to work for a living instead of exploiting people.

Pretty email

You may or may not remember that for a while we converted the all faculty/staff email list to a system of multiple categorized list that people could opt out of. The mechanism basically grabbed email out of the inbox, turned it into plain text, wiped out attachments and replaced them with links to copies of those same files on the website, and put the messages into a database where certain people could approve and categorize them. Another process then searched for approved emails and sent them to the lists belonging to the right categories.

This system turned out not to work well enough, especially the part where it converted everything to plain text. Email messages can have all kinds of cruft in them, including buckets of formatting codes from MS Word, weirdly encoded characters from odd email systems, forwarded messages with attachments, messages forwarded AS attachments, etc. So we had too many messages coming through the system all messed up, and we had to switch back to the old way of doing things.

Since then I’ve been working on a better system and it’s finally coming together. Instead of converting to plain text, I’m converting to the standard multipart/alternative format that contains an HTML body to be used in HTML-capable email systems like the WOU webmail, and also a plaintext body for email programs that can’t display HTML (or where people don’t like HTML and have turned it off.)

It’s a pain because I still need to parse an unknown number of attachments, forwarded messages, etc. The attachments have to be removed and copied to the webserver so we don’t have to cram each one through the mailserver a thousand times. I need to replace image links within the email with links to the website copies, and remove various kinds of custom formatting… blah, I’m tired. More later.

Testing video embedding

I want to see if I can embed a youtube video in a blog post. And not just any video… it shows one of the greatest Rube Goldberg contraptions ever designed. The video has been making the rounds lately so you may have seen it already, but check it out!

Well, it looks like the size isn’t exactly compatible with the standard Movable Type layout even if you have a wide screen. Such is life. I’ll need to fix that whenever I get around to making a custom template for this blog, though.

Time flies…

And yet again it’s been a few months since I last posted. In my defense, these have been crazy months, including the mailserver upgrade, the mess with the all-faculty-staff email lists, frantically trying to get caught up on all the other stuff I had to lets slide because of the big things, then I went on vacation, then I came back and had to get caught up from that, then I was out sick a few days…

Sheesh. The thing is, none of this stuff should be a barrier to updating my blog. I think my problem is that I feel like I have to write something long and involved, not to mention at least a bit witty. Really all that’s needed are quick updates.

So let’s see if, this time, I can do better. I’ve been working on those posts about “how does the Web work anyway” that I mentioned, but they’re pretty dense, so it might be a while before I put them up. Meanwhile I’ll concentrate on shorter posts and try to catch up on my entry count.