For the Love of Shift+Z

Did you ever wonder if the term “Love-Hate Relationship” existed before computers?

I think it probably did. But I’m guessing it’s used a great deal more today.

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Continue reading For the Love of Shift+Z

Get to Work with Google Apps

A few years ago I migrated our office of about a dozen people to Google Apps. It’s one of the smartest I.T. decisions I’ve ever made.

GoogleAppsCouponGoogle Apps for Work allowed me to retire our aging Microsoft Exchange server, a headache I was more than happy to be rid of. No more software patches, no more obsolete hardware. Our domain email moved over seamlessly with no interruption and users were immediately able to access mail from whatever device they preferred using Gmail.
Continue reading Get to Work with Google Apps

Go Phish

Phight Back!

Bogus emails are a pain.There is constantly a barrage of scumbags hoping to gain access to your private accounts. They use legitimate looking emails to lure the unsuspecting into a bogus website- once again, very legitimate looking- in the hopes you will enter your login or personal information. It’s called “phishing.” Fake eBay and Paypal messages are a favorite of these scammers.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could report these assholes?

Now you can.

Just as Gmail offers special tools for declaring a message is spam- there is an option available specifically for these bogus phishing scams.

Using the “Report Phishing” option (see image) will report the sender, content and network particulars to Google. While it ain’t the FBI it does serve to blacklist the bad people and stop this especially malicious spam before it spreads.

Every time we report spam or phishing with these tools it makes the world a better place.  Even if just a little bit.

Corporate Bulletins by Email

Just a quick note to let everyone know: all Maduko stockholders can now receive updates via email!

Simply sign up by adding your email address, then jumping through the requisite hoops to confirm and validate. Then you will magically be informed when new and critical information is added to this wonderful blog.

Note for Geeks and the Paranoid:
The email updates and RSS feeds for this blog are delivered via Feedburner. They are a reputable company (so don’t be paranoid) owned by Google (okay, be a little paranoid) and promise not to sell your email, steal your secret identity or hide your shoes. If you have a blog you might be interested to know Feedburner is totally free, offers several nifty tools and takes about 48 seconds to set up. But enough about that…

Subscribe Now!

Unique Spam: Your Helicopter is Reserved

While perusing my spam folder for legitimate messages I came across this creative attempt at identity theft. Who wouldn’t be curious about the helicopter they rented for the weekend?

Note the “Internet Explorer only” part. Probably means they’re using a hack that doesn’t work with Chrome or Firefox.

Your order for our air transportation services has been accepted and processed. The rotorcraft will be at your disposal from 6.00 a.m. saturday to 10.30 monday. Once again, our rates are:
1 hour in the air: 816$
Takeoff / Landing: 291$
1 hour standstill on the ground: 85$
Longest fly-time is 3 hours.
When flying for longer distances, a second pilot is needed, and the cost accordingly increases by 120$ per hour.

Invoice you will be find in the attachment.(Open with Internet Explorer Only)

With respect
John Doe

Secure Checksum: 7208e1954bd37203a5e19f7d8e661b

Tracfone Buyers Beware!

Don’t get me wrong, the Tracfone plan is the most economical way I’ve found to own a mobile phone. I consider myself a “casual user” and average about $15 per month for my cell phone service.

But I recently got sucker-punched by a problem that took me weeks to unravel. Fortunately it’s a simple matter to rectify- even easier to avoid!

The Trouble
My new LG600G was unable to send images via email or browse the web. This surprised me because my lame little Motorola was capable of sending photos via email to friends, Picasa or my Facebook page with no trouble at all. After a little digging I learned that my old phone had been on AT&T but the new one was assigned to the T-Mobile network.

Spring into Savings
Many people are not aware that Tracfone and Net 10 do not have their own network. They buy airtime from carriers then resell it to you. Depending on where you’re located one carrier may offer better coverage than another. For me, in Oklahoma, the coverage offered by T-Mobile was pretty bad. And to top it off none of the data features of my phone worked at all!

The Solution
After some wrangling with customer support at Tracfone they finally agreed to send me a new SIM card. The trick here is to insist they provide you with a SIM card for the AT&T network. I’ve included info below on using the SIM card number to identify which network your phone is using.

It’s also possible to avoid this problem altogether before you purchase a phone. The trick is to know a few of the codes used on the Tracfone packaging and website.

Codes to Remember

Model Number suffix shown on retail packaging
AT&T: P4
T-Mobile: P5

SIM Card serial numbers available from the Prepaid menu of your phone
AT&T: 890141…
T-Mobile: 890126…

Market Code shown in the URL as market= when ordering a phone online
AT&T: GSM4, COGSM4
T-Mobile: GSM5, COGSM5
Verizon, Alltel and US Cellular: CO
GSM5AT will most likely be assigned to the T-Mobile network

I hope this might help others avoid the aggravation of spotty coverage and unusable features that I have gone through!

Hepful Tools for Email Newsletters

No matter what you market, you probably send out emails. You might also publish a magazine, and you probably have a website, but everyone reads email.

It doesn’t take very long to realize the most common tools available are not the ideal solution for managing and sending emails to a large audience. Outlook is notorious for sending messages that are not standards-compliant. As anti-spam tactics get more and more stringent, it’s become risky to send large mailings from your personal computer for fear of being put on the dreaded “blacklist.”

Continue reading Hepful Tools for Email Newsletters

FW: E-Mail Warning

Here’s a note to share with all your friends that constantly forward you those lame warnings about exploding cell phones and virus warnings from the Nineties.

THIS IS TRUE.
A friend of my cousin’s wife works for the Internet and said this really works!

A quick search on www.snopes.com can reveal most hoaxes in less than 30 seconds.

Millions of Clueless Now Able
to stop wasting bandwidth forwarding mindless e-mails. Simple web site debunks urban legends, virus warnings and twisted political bullshit. Amazing but true!

Anyone who can download the Internet can go to Snopes.com and type in a few words from the e-mail subject. Somehow the computer will show you whether the yarn is a hoax or the truth. It’s incredible! Experts say do this BEFORE you forward the message to your entire address book.

FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!!!!!

Baby with the Bath Water

“I have a great spam filter.”
At a recent holiday party I asked a friend about an e-mail I had sent him. He pondered for a moment and shook his head. The above was his response, which perplexed me for a moment.

Did he consider my correspondence spam? Was he being facetious?

I grinned and suggested, “Maybe it’s a little too good?”

This scenario is played out every day across America. Consumer confidence in e-mail is in crisis. Our increasing intolerance for unsolicited commercial e-mail has prompted many to launch a diligent attack on spam. Unfortunately are assault is so vicious it risks taking out e-mail as a viable communication tool in the process. If you rely on electronic mail to distribute information this has most likely made your life unpleasant.

User Unfriendly
The biggest problem is the huge number of Internet users who have no idea what may be blocking legitimate messages. Their Internet Service Provider (ISP) has installed some new software they either know nothing about or can’t figure out. While this is troublesome it can be overcome– simple announcements are a great start. The worst part is the bad reflection it casts on parties who have no control over the situation.

When someone visits your web site or contacts your organization they may request information. Many of these requests are transacted via e-mail. Even if they begin as a contact form or blog message, the end result is often in the form of an e-mail message. But let’s suppose a spam filter prevents your acknowledgement or reply from reaching that visitor. Is his first thought to check his “whitelist” or Bulk folder? Does he rush out and call his ISP? Hell no, he’s pissed at you!

Black List, Gray Area

Another trend that really troubles me is the growing number of ISPs and mail administrators that are using Realtime Black Lists to block mail. The idea is to maintain a list of servers and IP addresses that are known to be exploited by spammers. While this is good in theory, it sucks in practice. The problem is, like the Jackson Five song goes, one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl.

Imagine a ne’er-do-well signs up for a Yahoo account and starts blasting out Nigerian spam. He is sending this from Yahoo so his address is most likely going to end with yahoo.com (or something similar). Next a blocking list server sees all this spam being sent and decides to blacklist the yahoo.com domain. See any problem there? Like maybe the millions of legitimate Yahoo Mail users?

Now don’t get me wrong- not all of these blacklist guys are so stupid. But, believe it or not, some of them are! And then an even bigger idiot decides to subscribe to one of these half-baked schemes and implement it on his mail server. So now we have legitimate folks trying to send invoices to customers or proofs to publishers or listings to members or news to subscribers or… whatever, it doesn’t matter because it’s bounced or discarded as spam before it reaches anyone.

The Final Solution
A proper solution to the problem of spam is in the works. It basically involves basic authentication to restore accountability. A treatise from the Email Sender and Provider Coalition offers a detailed explanation of the problem and the solution. This is something anyone who administers an e-mail server should read.

But that doesn’t mean Mr. Average User shouldn’t do your part! The ESPC also offers a great little tool on their web site which allows you to test your own e-mail address to see if it complies with the proposed standards. It’s a simple tool, just send an e-mail to the sample address provided. Give it a minute then click the View Sample button to review the results. If your mail doesn’t pass tell your ISP or network administrator about it. Let them know you’re concerned and you think it’s important to consider improving your e-mail authentication. Suggest they visit this link for more information: www.espcoalition.org