That's the thing about working in IT, every once in awhile, you get to see something go wrong, and say "I have no idea why that just happened". Today it was an SMTP change implemented by the place that acts as our ISP. I keep a completely seperate account in Outlook on my work desktop, from this domain in fact, so that I can interact through email with other IT folks during the course of the work day, without having to use web-mail or give out my work email address. Well, I always figured that someday the ISP might start blocking port 25 and I'd have to do something different, but I always figured I would find out when I sent an email using that account and it simply got blocked. Wrong!
Turns out that rather than blocking the port 25 traffic, they redirected it, I guess. So when I sent an email from that account, it got re-routed to my work SMTP settings, and the return address got changed to my work address! I've never seen that behavior before, and I wasn't exactly happy about it either, since I don't want my work email address getting out to the public!
Turns out, after a few emails back and forth with the ISP, who didn't really have any explanation, that if I change the SMTP to send this account's email through our ISP's server, it doesn't change the return address, which is better. Not perfect, but I checked the headers and can see where it has the ISP's mail server name and not our company name anywhere so I can live with it, or I can just use Gmail from now on and keep it all on the web. ;)
Strange update: My laptop, which has all of my personal accounts setup in Outlook, but not my work account, doesn't display this behavior at all. If I plug it into my work network, I can send using any SMTP server, and the address stays consistent. So it's not the ISP, it's something on this desktop! Ugh!
Second Update:This discussion thread seemed to have a good grip on what was happening, and changing it to authenticate to the SMTP server allowed me to send using my own SMTP server again. The strange thing that bugs me is why this changed all of the sudden, and why, once I authenticated the one time, I could turn it off and everything was back to the way it was yesterday!
Matthew from Firetrust was kind enough to send me a free copy of the new, pro version of Mailwasher a while back. The program has gotten better, added some serious features, and still gives you all the fun of bouncing spam back to the sender. (Of course, the actual value of that is still open to debate, but it feels good!)As far as being able to check mail on your server without having to download it to your machine, delete junk, bounce junk, or even write a quick reply, it's solid, stable and works like a charm.
That being said, after spending some time using it I've found there are a few bits of wonkiness that I wouldn't mind seeing some improvement on:
· Doesn't import Outlook contacts.
· Does import OE address book but not Hotmail account from OE.
· If you have POP3 access to Gmail set-up in Outlook it will get that information, but does not copy SSL information from Outlook when it copies the Gmail account info. You'll need to change that manually.
· Uses Blacklists and FirstAlert! Reporting to identify spam, at least one newsletter incorrectly identified. I'm still testing the accuracy of the blacklists.
· Deleting a message because you don't need to read it adds sender to blacklist. Not clear how to change that behavior.
I think the email outage is over, I just got an email that was sent Monday night from my brother, who lives in town. He could have snail mailed it faster. Heck he could have driven to my house and told me faster! Good thing it wasn't too important! I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I think the email is on a different server now, at a different IP address, so it might not be updated in everyone's DNS servers just yet. There's still some genral wonkiness and delays involved in sending me email, so keep using Gmail
Comments are broken , email to my domains is broken, etc. Site's still here, so that's something at least. I'm sure the host will be working on it and have it working again soon, in the meantime, if you need to reach me think Gmail. (mike.mcbride)
Among the many news items coming out of Gnomedex last week, I saw an announcement of a public preview for a new Outlook-based RSS reader, Attensa. So being ever so curious, I downloaded it this weekend. It's actually not bad. It supports importing OPML, is pretty customizable, allows you to publish items to your blog (although it was limited to Blogger/TypePad-type third-party blogging services), and worked pretty fast, at least on the handful of feeds I loaded into it.
I'm not switching to it, I rely too much on Bloglines keeping my feeds up to date from various computers, but it seems like a pretty viable alternative.
If I do have a complaint, it's a complaint I have about a ton of programs that I've tried out over the years, a bad un-install routine! Un-installing the program didn't get rid of the feed's .pst file or subscription data, it left behind a number of folders that I needed to go delete myself, and I still have an option on the Tools menu of Outlook for Attensa that I can't get rid of! Having to "clean-up" after un-installing software is getting to be a real pet peeve of mine.
Last night I listened to the latest In the Trenches podcast. Kevin and his guest, Chuck Tomasi were discussing a number of issues that I feel strongly about, and have been reminded of recently in my own workplace. They were talking about the image you, as an IT person, project to the people you support and how it can have a huge affect on how you are perceived throughout the organization, and how to "add value" to what you do in order to keep proving your worth to the organization as a way to keep your job in uncertain times. It was quite interesting, and I understand Kevin is working on a future show specifically about outsourcing and surviving mergers, which should be quite interesting.
In my own case, not to be too specific, I was recently reminded that during times when I'm very busy, or just cut-off from interacting with my users on a regular basis for whatever reason, it only takes one person complaining about something I did, or didn't do, to affect how other users see me. Since I'm not out working with these people, the only impression they get about my work is what someone else says, and let's face it, some people like to complain.
Whether the complaint has any basis in reality or not, if you don't interact with your IT guy, your impression is going to be colored by what this other person said. That's just human nature. In that case, I've found that I have two choices. I can moan and complain about someone "bad-mouthing" me, or I can, as they say, cut out the middle man, making sure I deal directly with my users, and not allow that sort of complaint to find any fertile ground to spread. So, my goal for the normally slower summer months, is to make sure I get plenty of face time with users, especially the ones who have come in new this year. I've already discovered some mis-training that some of them got from more experienced staff members, and gotten that corrected, so the effort has already paid off!