Gmail + POP + mailing lists = broken

My hosting provider (DreamHost, which is generally great) has a webmail interface that can only graciously be called “classic”. They use SquirrelMail, whose user interface was pretty cool in the early 90s but hasn’t evolved since then.

One path to better webmail is Google Apps for Your Domain‘s Gmail, which is the very model of a modern major webmail app. Google Apps is a great service, mostly. Google Apps lets you use Gmail with your own domain, which is theoretically very sweet.

However, for a couple months I’ve been wrestling with a serious email delivery problem since I switched to Google Apps. After hour-upon-frustrating-hour of research and testing, here’s what I’ve learned:

Gmail (including Gmail for Google Apps) blocks your POP email client from receiving posts you make to mailing lists. It apparently blocks any email it thinks you’ve sent to yourself, even if it didn’t come directly from you.

I emailed the support address for Google Apps on January 8, but haven’t heard back. After two weeks, it’s unlikely that I ever will. I tried to ping Keith Coleman, Google’s Gmail product manager, but he’s done a great job of keeping his email address out of his employer’s index. (My hope is that everyone suffering from the same problem will at least find this post and take a little comfort that It’s Not Just Them.)

Let’s categorize this email block as a Google Is Smarter Than You problem, or GISTY. GISTY is the magical unicorn that lives in (feeds on?) the hearts and minds of all Google employees. The really annoying thing about magical unicorns like GISTY is that she knows — knows! — what you would want if you just knew better.

GISTY’s magical thinking is, Hey, since you’ve already seen this email, I’ll just block your email client from getting it. And I’m not going to file it in spam where you could whitelist it, or give you any other way to get it. That’s okay, right? But she doesn’t actually tell you this. And then she stabs you in the ass with her alicorn, making you wonder what the hell that was all about.

Stupid unicorns.

This GISTY problem makes it difficult to use mailing lists, since it means no local archiving, no local search, and no way to confirm whether and when your email was posted to a list, at least not without performing serious email acrobatics.

“Ahhh!”, you say. “Just create another nickname for the user in Google Apps, and then subscribe to the email list with both nicknames, and then post email with one nickname and receive it with the other!” Tried it, doesn’t work…again, GISTY knows better.

I’m afraid that we’ll see more and more of GISTY as Google calcifies, which it gradually seems to be doing.

It’d be nice if this post got the attention of someone at Google, because I know from trolling forums that lots of people are having problems, and that nobody from Google is even acknowledging the issue. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to find a product manager that cares, and I’ll report back if anything changes.

Steve's Macworld keynote: What you need to know about the iPhone and more

2006 was a first — Microsoft was way more interesting than Apple. Microsoft had Xbox 360, Windows Vista and Zune. All Apple had were slightly better Macs, slightly better iPods, and slightly better iTunes. (There was something about an Intel transition, but that was a been-there, done-that for long-time Apple fans and uninteresting to everyone else.)

2007 is a different story, and Apple’s put on its dancing shoes. Yeah, baby! Here’s what you need to know from Steve’s Macworld keynote:

The iPods are doing great, and iTunes is doing great. Apple’s sold over 2 billion songs, and is selling over 5 million songs a day. Apple’s is now the 5th-largest music retailer, ahead of Amazon and trailing Target. Steve noted that the Zune is sucking pretty hard.

Steve announced AppleTV, which was the thing he called iTV when he previewed it last year. In short, it’s a combination iPod/AirPort Express for your TV. It does 720p video, has a 40 GB hard drive, does 802.11 b/g/n, and has all the ins and outs you’d expect. It’s priced at $299 and ships in February.

And finally, iPhone. You can now officially forget about “iTunes” running on crappy cell phones — Apple has reinvented the mobile phone. My prediction is that the iPhone platform will eclipse Apple’s desktops and laptops as its primary consumer platform by the end of the decade.

Apple iPhone

Hardware-wise, the iPhone is a mobile device that connected as hell, with quad-band GSM/EDGE, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), and Bluetooth (2.0 with EDR). It’s got a large-ish (3.5″), high-resolution (320×480 @ 160 ppi), widescreen, touchscreen display, making it Apple’s first device since the Newton to have one. 🙂 The iPhone is the first device I know of to support multi-touch, allowing more sophisticated UI gestures. Finally, it’s also got a 2.0 megapixel camera.

Software-wise, the iPhone runs a flavor of Mac OS X. It uses an enhanced-for-mobile version of Safari for browsing, using that same engine to support rich HTML email. It supports widgets, and includes an excellent implementation of Google Maps. Apple has partnered with Yahoo! to provide free IMAP email.

The iPhone will set you back $599 (there’s one with half the memory at $499, but that seems pointless) with a 2-year contract with Cingular (which will be Apple’s exclusive partner for the iPhone in the U.S.) and ships in June. It’ll be available in Q4’07 in Europe, and in 2008 in Asia.

It's not just you: Vista can't reliably unzip files (0x800704C8)

If you’re one of the few, the…well, maybe not proud…running Vista, this should look familiar:

Vista error 0x800704C8

If you’re not running Vista, this is what happens — multiple times — when you extract files from a .zip archive. (To unzip this particular archive, I had to click Try Again to get past this error more than 30 times.)

The “Do this for all current items” is a nice gesture, but unfortunately it does nothing.

Vista may be great by 2008. But in 2007, it’s far from heaven.

Maybe Büyükkö wasn't available

Hey! Valleywag finally posted something that warranted having it in my feed reader.

Orkut Büyükkökten, creator of the Google social network that bears his name, dashes into CEO Eric Schmidt’s office and says, “We have a million Brazilian users!”

Eric says, “Keep up the good work.”

After Orkut leaves, Eric calls VP Marissa Mayer and asks, “How many is a brazillion again?”

To me, Valleywag has always been that crappy-looking site (I know…pot, kettle, black) with a perpetual identity crisis. I’m thinking jokes are its true calling.

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Great list of (free!) digital photography guides from Adobe

John Nack, Adobe’s Photoshop product manager, recently compiled a list of 10 guides, one article, and one Photoshop action commissioned by Adobe.

  • The Role of Working Spaces in Adobe Applications
  • A Raw Workflow in the Real World: The March of the Yellow Penguins
  • Preparing Images for Delivery
  • Digital Image Integrity
  • Calibrating the Digital Darkroom Environment
  • Black and White Conversion Tutorial
  • Black and White Conversion Action
  • About Metadata
  • A Color Managed Raw Workflow
  • Making the Transition from Film to Digital
  • Highlight Recovery in Adobe Camera Raw
  • State of the Art

I haven’t worked through all of them yet, but so far I’ve found all of them interesting and insightful. If you’re into digital photography, you will too.

Ladies love a man that's a little dangerous

Dave Winer (who appears to have given up implying that he invented RSS, as long as nobody else can have invented it either) recently made a surprising mention of the movie Idiocracy.

Do I dare admit that I’ve seen the great movie Idiocracy? Nahhh. I haven’t seen it. But if I had, I would say the funniest part is where the Carls Jr vending machine mouths off at a customer.

Since (1) Idiocracy isn’t available on DVD for another week and (2) Dave knows everything, apparently the new rule is that it’s okay to publicly admit to illegal downloading as long as you also say “not” (or a variant, including but not limited to “nahhh”, “just kidding”, “fooled ya sucka” and “got your nose!”) in the same paragraph.

I’m obviously way ahead of rest of the blogosphere on this one, so I’m lobbying NBC to air a The More You Know segment on this ASAP. This is too important for everyone not not to know. (Got your nose!)

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Make your Windows apps DieHarder

The popular interpretation of Moore’s Law is that computing power doubles every 18 months-ish. Happily, RAM and hard drive speeds and capacities follow a similar exponential curve. Yay tech-for-tech’s-sake!

Sometimes — okay, rarely — advancements in computing power are dedicated to making the computing experience suck less (see the giant leap to the GUI, and a few other hops here and there). Mostly, additional resources go toward making computers suck in the same way that they always have, only faster.

Restoring a bit of my faith in humanity, along comes DieHard. The dry summary is that DieHard:

  • Prevents some kinds of memory-related errors outright
  • Reduces the chances that other kinds of memory-related errors will cause problems
  • Makes it nearly impossible for malware to know where vulnerable bits of data live, in turn thwarting a variety of attacks

Nothing’s free, of course, and using DieHard means trading resources for reliability. With DieHard, protected apps will use 50-75% more RAM. However, DieHard won’t noticeably hurt the performance of most apps unless you’re RAM-starved.

On Windows, the initial release of DieHard only works with Firefox. Let’s hope it’s extended to support other popular apps soon, and enhanced to give users an easy way to run it automatically on startup. Get it, install it, use it, and give Mr. Berger some love.