Hashemian Blog
Web, Finance, Technology, Running

September 24, 2015

Yahoo Mail Down Again

by robert hashemian @ 10:09 am
Filed under: business,email,web — Tags:

It is hard to say anything positive about Yahoo since Marissa Mayer took over the helm.

Useful services (e.g. Pipes) have either been eliminated or are just languishing (e.g. Mail).  Today Yahoo Mail is down again. Alibaba's stake hasn't turned out to be the savior it was once deemed.

At this point the stakeholders are surely kicking themselves for not taking Microsoft's buyout offer back in 2008.

The future isn't looking too bright for this once thriving vanguard of the Web. Perhaps it is time for new leadership.

April 8, 2014

Outlook is Private - Really!

by robert hashemian @ 12:12 pm
Filed under: email,google,microsoft — Tags: ,

Logging into my Hotmail/Outlook account this morning I was greeted with this message touting the benefits of Outlook. They saved the best for last, claiming that "Outlook is private". Talk about false advertising.

outlook is private?

 

It was barely a week ago when news leaked that Microsoft had snooped on an employee's Hotmail account while investigating a hacking incident. And before that there were news of Hotmail snooping on inboxes on behalf of the NSA.

If you are going to make a false statement, at least wait for a period of time for the negative news to fade. Taking veiled pot-shots at Google for showing related advertising on Gmail is easy enough. But I'd much rather have a computer algorithm display related ads while reading emails, than have a forensic team at Microsoft read and analyze my emails or send them to some government agency to be collected and mined unconstitutionally. And then to have the gall to make the phony privacy-abiding statement in the face of their blatant disregard for privacy?

December 27, 2013

What Gmail Needs, Action Icons

by robert hashemian @ 3:56 pm
Filed under: email,google — Tags:

I have been a Gmail user since its debut and have never looked back since I migrated from Hotmail so many years ago. But I still use Hotmail (now known as Outlook) and Yahoo Mail on occasion for trivial emailing and one of the great features that they offer is one-click actions for delete or move. As the mouse pointer rolls over the individual messages, action icons appear to the left of the titles allowing one to delete or move the messages. This is immensely helpful and it's something Gmail doesn't have.

Action icons in Yahoo Mail

Action icons in Yahoo Mail

In Gmail one either has to right-click each message for a menu to pop up and then choose an action like delete or archive, or click the checkbox to the left of the message and then select an action on the top menu. Both of these methods are not as convenient as having single-click action icons appear as one rolls over a message.

I think it's time for Google to introduce action icons in Gmail, at least as a Labs feature.

April 25, 2012

Gmail Storage Jumps to 10G

by robert hashemian @ 10:37 am
Filed under: email,google — Tags:

Today I noticed my Gmail storage had jumped form 7.5G to 10G. Maybe it's Google's way of compensating for the new ugly design. I suspect in most cases users didn't even notice the change and for even more users like me, who try to keep their account clean, this is really not much of an event.

Still, one never knows when the extra storage may come in handy, so it's welcome news.

April 23, 2012

Gmail Forces New Look

by robert hashemian @ 11:28 am
Filed under: email,google — Tags:

The good times are over and the ugly Gmail era has dawned. Google finally made good on the threat of making the new look permanent. Over the weekend my Gmail style switched to the new ugliness and there was no longer an option available to revert to the old look as before.

I can whine and complain about the new style but in the end it's Google's service and I'm using it for free. If I don't like it, I can leave, but not going to do that for now, I still like Gmail better than Yahoo and Hotmail. This attitude is not unprecedented at Google. When they took away the FTP feature of Blogger which was my blogging platform then, I complained too. In that case I decided to migrate my blog to Wordpress on my own site and have been happy with that decision.

What also ticks me off is that there are no themes to make Gmail look like its past version. That would have been so easy for Google but alas, there are no retro or classic themes. It's like Google wanted to wipe away even the tiniest connection to Gmail's past. For now the best choice for me is the compact mode with the high-contrast theme. That's neither compact nor high-contrast, but eventually I'll get used to it. Meanwhile I'm sure Google is already working on an uglier next version of Gmail.

November 3, 2011

New Ugly Gmail Look

by robert hashemian @ 9:23 am
Filed under: email,google — Tags: ,

Yesterday I was greeted by an icon in Gmail to try their new look. I clicked, played with the new look for a while and ran right back to the old look. Alas, Google seems determined to push the new Gmail look on users, whether they like it or not, so the classic look may not last much longer.

I had two immediate negative reactions to the new design. The style is plain ugly and it also stinks of social networking. There are no clear cut delineations between the email area, the navigation, the ads, and the buttons. Elements seem to have been randomly placed on the page with very little contrast to differentiate the various areas.

Google will probably deny this but the new design is like Google+ crammed into Gmail. Everything has profile pictures in it and email threads look like wall posting timelines now. You can try the compact mode to squeeze everything together but that doesn’t help much. The elements never quite collapse like the classic version.

When will companies learn? You can't force people to like a product. This is the case of Gmail trying to push Google+ on the users and it doesn't work. The Gmail help forums are already rife with critical messages from disgruntled users. If Gmail wants to give its users new look and feel options, that's fine, but not allowing users to have the classic look is just heavy-handed.

Users can revolt and threaten to leave Gmail and hope Google pulls a BoA in the end. But if Google decides to push forward with the new look, it may be time to ditch Gmail for other services. This may be a golden opportunity for Facebook to beef up its pitiful email platform and steal users away.

June 26, 2011

Pasting images into Gmail

by robert hashemian @ 12:16 pm
Filed under: email,google — Tags: , ,

A great idea that was way overdue. I always liked the simplicity of copy/pasting images into outlook. Now Gmail lets users do the same. Granted that for now it's only supported in Chrome, but that's my default browser anyways.

No more the old cumbersome copying, saving, naming, inserting, selecting, and finally deleting images.

Pasting images into messages just got easier - Official Gmail Blog.

May 26, 2010

1&1 Missing SPF Record

by robert hashemian @ 11:08 pm
Filed under: email — Tags: , , , , ,

One of my Web applications is hosted on 1&1 and it generally performs fine except for one problem. I have the application set up to send me emails based on certain events and I have noticed that some of those emails land in my spam folder. Here's why.

The problem with applications on 1&1 shared hosting (and maybe other hosting companies) is that outbound emails undergo Sender Rewriting Scheme (SRS) which changes the return path in the mail envelope to a domain owned by 1&1. For example the return path is changed from me@mydomain.com to SRS0=pikB=NE=mydomain.com=me@srs.perfora.net and the email is launched from one of the 1&1 email servers, for example a server at ip address 74.208.4.194.

Since I don't own the domain srs.perfora.net, I can't add that ip address to the list of authorized senders. A quick SPF record check for srs.perfora.net shows the following:

"v=spf1 ip4:217.160.230.0/25 ?all"

This is telling other servers that any @srs.perfora.net email originating from 217.160.230.0/25 is legitimate, and all others may or may not be spam. And so receiving servers could route incoming emails from unknown ip addresses to spam folders and that is what's happening in my case.

I contacted 1&1 support regarding this issue, but they replied that spf record is not
supported for 1&1 domains and referred me to this link.

So at this point I have no choice but to check my spam folders frequently looking for misidentified emails. And if you have a 1&1 hosted application that sends emails, be warned. Those emails could be landing in your users' spam folders.

And finally to 1&1, the time to fix this issue is way overdue, and it's so simple to fix.

1&1 Missing SPF Record

by robert hashemian @ 11:08 pm
Filed under: email — Tags: , , , , ,

One of my Web applications is hosted on 1&1 and it generally performs fine except for one problem. I have the application set up to send me emails based on certain events and I have noticed that some of those emails land in my spam folder. Here's why.

The problem with applications on 1&1 shared hosting (and maybe other hosting companies) is that outbound emails undergo Sender Rewriting Scheme (SRS) which changes the return path in the mail envelope to a domain owned by 1&1. For example the return path is changed from me@mydomain.com to SRS0=pikB=NE=mydomain.com=me@srs.perfora.net and the email is launched from one of the 1&1 email servers, for example a server at ip address 74.208.4.194.

Since I don't own the domain srs.perfora.net, I can't add that ip address to the list of authorized senders. A quick SPF record check for srs.perfora.net shows the following:

"v=spf1 ip4:217.160.230.0/25 ?all"

This is telling other servers that any @srs.perfora.net email originating from 217.160.230.0/25 is legitimate, and all others may or may not be spam. And so receiving servers could route incoming emails from unknown ip addresses to spam folders and that is what's happening in my case.

I contacted 1&1 support regarding this issue, but they replied that spf record is not
supported for 1&1 domains and referred me to this link.

So at this point I have no choice but to check my spam folders frequently looking for misidentified emails. And if you have a 1&1 hosted application that sends emails, be warned. Those emails could be landing in your users' spam folders.

And finally to 1&1, the time to fix this issue is way overdue, and it's so simple to fix.

March 31, 2008

Prospectus Paper Waste

by robert hashemian @ 10:27 pm
Filed under: email,financial,money

Like many people I have a 401(k) account through my employer, invested in a few mutual funds. I can appreciate that by law mutual fund companies have to send their clients their prospectuses (prospecti?) whenever there is a change in their investment strategies, but I was getting tired of receiving these booklets in the mail.

I would just give them a cursory look and then toss them in the trash. I assume many people do the same. I doubt even a small number of people would actually read these from cover to cover and then promptly file them with their important documents.

So when the retirement management company gave us the option to receive these documents via email, I jumped at the chance. Alas, I'm still getting these tree-killers, like a large one arriving today via mail weighing in at 70 pages. Makes me wonder why I even bothered signing up for the electronic format.

Now I know these companies are erring on the side of caution. With so much fraud and mismanagement swirling around the financial institutions, they reckon it's better to be safe than sorry. So they just keep mailing the stuff, hoping to avoid a small chance of someone accusing them of hiding material facts.

That's all fine and good, but in this day and age of green living and electronic transactions, shouldn't they at least try to respect the wishes of those of us who opted in for email and adapt their systems? If they're incapable or unwilling to join the digital revolution, they can hire a bunch of Nigerian spammers to handle the task. The Nigerian scammers figured out years ago how to conduct their businesses via email and apparently they are very successful at it.

Even the U.S. government, the paragon of technical backwardness, has been going digital with programs such as e-Filing income taxes. It's about time mutual fund companies learned how to save those documents in PDF and attach them to email.

,,,,,

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