Unexpected Changes

E-mail is one of those things that you take for granted. Once you have set-up an address and a client you can reliably receive mail for many years until something changes.

Over the past 2 months something changed and I almost didn’t notice. There are certain sites that mail me a few offers, I subscribe to a few mailing list items, github updates me on a few projects that I keep an eye on. I don’t get a huge amount of email but there is normally something being downloaded when I open the client. There were a couple of days when I didn’t get as much as I expected. Not a problem as perhaps there wasn’t anything being sent. When this persisted for a few days I began my investigations.

I was aware of my web host updating the mail-server back-end. I had received an email stating that this would be occurring and to expect a little downtime. But apart from that I wasn’t expecting any significant changes. Significant changes had happened.

Having a domain name had allowed me to use a catch-all email address. Any email that would be sent to the domain after being spam filtered would be received. This made it incredibly easy to create a new address on the fly when creating an account for a new service. I had a few actual mail box addresses in addition to the catch-all. What I had noticed was email only being received from actual mailboxes and not the catch-all addresses.

This was a problem as I had a few accounts where I really needed to be receiving correspondence. I needed to get a solution and quickly. I was able to contact my host and get the catch-all re-enabled. This workaround allowed me a little more time to arrange a permanent solution.

The permanent solution would be to create actual mailboxes rather than rely on a catch-all system. How many unique email addresses had I been using over the years? I stopped counting at 114. Creating mailboxes for all these would be too much effort since most wouldn’t see a large volume of traffic.

Looking through the long list of addresses I was quickly able to discard a large number of them. I had a few that I had used for stores and services that have since closed down. I shouldn’t be getting any future mail from these so I have just made a note of them in my spam filter and ignore them. To reduce the remaining addresses I decided it was best to create a single mailbox and then update various accounts to use it. I can then discard the original address. This was a long and time consuming task.

Currently I have reduced my 114+ addresses down to a more manageable 25. In an ideal world I would have been able to reduce it down even more. A stumbling block was not being able to change my email address on some accounts. For the ones that matter it was easier to create a mailbox, for the others it was easier to unsubscribe and resubscribe.

In future I am only going to use a more limited selection of addresses to hopefully reduce the 25 even more. Whilst this process has been an annoyance it has been necessary to tackle it. I think it has been about 5 years since I last tackled a big email change. All being well I shouldn’t have to do anything as significant for at least another 5.

Email Settings

I checked on the connection settings I am using to log into the mailboxes. Technical information from another email provider provides a good overview of the available settings.

RFC8314 (Jan 2018) outlines the current thinking over connection security for email.

Simply put implicit security using SSL/TLS is preferred as it encrypts the connection by default. STARTTLS is discouraged as it begins as a plain text connection which can upgraded to an encrypted connection. It is worth checking your settings with your own provider to ensure you are as secure as you can be.

Aims for 2014

Time for a look back at what I intended to do last year.

  • Read an ebook on my Kindle Paper-white. - I have managed to read several and it's in regular use.
  • Contribute to some open source projects. - Failed
  • Continue to develop my wireless sensor system. - Mostly failed, a little progress made but not much.
  • Buy a new soldering iron/station. - I have an ERSA Icon Nano
  • Decorate and carpet my lounge. - Success - It now looks lived in.Still needs curtains.
  • Document more of my projects on this website. - Mostly failed, a few notes were uploaded but not much else.
  • Use my Raspberry Pi for something interesting. - Barely looked at it.
  • Clear clutter out of my garage. - Cleared once then got full again.
  • Finish networking between lounge and bedroom. - Completed as part of decorating.
  • Write an android application for my tablet or phone. - I wrote a calculator script for use at work but it's in html rather than an app.

So 2013 was mixed, some things achieved some not.
Time to see if I can complete some of last years goals in 2014.

  • Contribute to some open source projects.
  • Put more time into electronics projects (Raspberry Pi/Wireless Sensor System).
  • Get curtains for lounge.
  • Clear out Garage (again).
  • Write an android application for my tablet/phone
  • Pay off student loan.
  • Carpet master bedroom.
  • Build a Gaming PC and/or Steam Box
  • Repave Back Yard
  • Use a Linux desktop environment other than Gnome 3 for at least a month

Another to do list, but as before it will be a good year if I can cross a few of them off.

The Colander

I had been using a plastic colander for many years to drain pasta, a task it performed well. I have been disappointed by its draining ability when it comes to lettuce and leafy greens. There are two reasons for this. Firstly pasta is drained to remove most of the water, you need a little left to lubricate the sauce over the pasta and to stop the pasta burning when placed back into the pan after straining. Secondly lettuce has a large surface area which likes to hold onto water. The lettuce I wish to drain more as the residual water is thinning the salad dressing (Caesar) and making a watery mess.

Attempting to use a stainless steel colander has resulted in the same problem. The surface tension of the water clings to the holes resulting in a less than ideal drain. The search goes on  for an ideal salad draining system. I don't wish to use a spinner as the leaves will end up bruised and the flavour impaired. In the meantime it looks like a colander drain to remove most water and absorbent kitchen paper to remove the rest.

Bedroom Temperature

Now that the winter months are upon us getting out of bed in the morning has become more of a chore. The difference in room/duvet temperature is difficult to overcome. It would appear that a room temperature of 18-22 C is recommended for a good nights sleep. I might have a go at putting it to the test.

Current room temperature this evening is 17.37 C and it is cool but not uncomfortable. I will try a small oil filled radiator overnight and see if it maintains a suitable environment. It may cost more to maintain the temperature but I may be rewarded with better sleep. I'm still going to have my socks on in bed just in case.

Neighbours Wifi

I had noticed the odd wifi dropout on my laptop over the past week. It seems I have now found the cause. I have new neighbours and they have set their router up to broadcast at high power on the adjacent channel to me. I have had to move to another channel to restore my signal. I am not happy about this, experiments may need to be conducted.

Sock Wear

Having had some use out a a set of socks, marked up with the days of the week; I have begun to consider the uneven wear rate of the socks.

First off the Saturday & Sunday pairs are hardly ever used as I have been making sure to only wear the socks on the marked day. Weekday socks are used for work days and see more action. However even with working a regular 5 day week there are two pairs of socks that will get worn less. The fist is the Monday pair. Given the number of UK Bank holidays falling on a Monday and not having to work means these socks get a day off too. But Friday socks are also worn less, if you are using your holiday entitlement you often create a long weekend by taking the Friday and Monday off.

Following a few months of sock wearing the weekend socks look like new ( I don't think I have worn the Sunday socks yet). Weekday socks all look as though they are getting some use. But I shall attempt to assess again in a few months time. I suspect Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday to look either more worn or to be the first to get a hole.