Posts filed under 'Email'

Dell Enterprise Support - Getting Better?

I used to buy Dell machines with the expectation that if there was a problem with them I was essentially on my own. For the price, that was OK and I bought them when that thinking was appropriate.

Very early Tuesday morning one of my inbound mail servers (a Dell PowerEdge 840) stopped responding completely. Since its failure wasn’t a critical problem (there are backups for everything that machine runs) I didn’t get to it until about 6pm Tuesday. It turns out the power supply had failed (the PS fan wouldn’t turn on and the PS put out no power at all). This particular server has been on constantly since new for just shy of 2 years. On Saturday it was off for the first time (due to an extended power outage) for 12 hours. I guess it got used to being on and failed in protest of being turned off.

Not in the mood for phone support hell, I tried Dell’s on-line support chat around 9pm. In 9 minutes I had a dispatch and case number and a power supply on the way. A tiny bit slower than the same conversation would have taken with HP but it was a simple “my power supply is dead, I’ve already tested it, it’s shot, send me a replacement”… “OK, it’s on the way” as I’m accustomed to with HP and not so much with Dell. So I’m happy, maybe I’ll start buying more Dell servers for semi-critical infrastructure.

Wednesday at 9:40pm I get an email from the support rep I had chatted with the previous day saying “the power supply is back-ordered, you should get it *next* Wednesday”. I reply that “a week for a power supply is a joke, HP would have one to me next day or the day after at the latest”. He responds, “Understood, I’ve noted your comments in my notes”. At this point I’m never buying a Dell machine for any non highly redundant server system again. The next day at work I spend $10k on some HP equipment that I was considering going with Dell on.

Shortly after buying the HP equipment Purolator shows up with my replacement power supply from Dell. It’s a refurb (like HP would be after 30 or 90 days), but it works and the server seems to be OK.

So, now I’m not sure if I’ll be buying Dell for non-redundant systems. It seems their support is getting up to par with HP but they have no idea about when you’ll actually get replacement parts (unless they do and complaining made it show up faster). I’ll likely keep buying Dell for grid computing clusters simply on a price basis. A failure of a cluster node is far less important than price and operating cost. Anything else though… I have no idea about Dell… I know HP is safe.

2 comments November 15th, 2008

206-666-6129 Degree Spam

Wow. They must have this number on a hunt group. About 2.5% of the spams I’ve handled in the last 2 days (and about 10% of the spams to my own account) have had this phone number — more and more obfuscated as time goes on. It’s already surpassed this week’s volume of spam with 501-634-6717 in it, another degree spam phone number that showed up in January. Perhaps the new number is a replacement for 206-309-0336 that showed up in July.

Add comment March 13th, 2008

Microsoft Antigen: Brain Dead Content Filter

Microsoft Antigen for SMTP found a message matching a filter. The message is currently Purged.
Message: “Re_ Pbl.spamhaus.org down_”
Filter name: “KEYWORD= profanity: piss”
Sent from: “Daryl C. W. O_Shea”
Folder: “SMTP Messages\Inbound”
Location: “psp/TRACYSV05″

Piss! Oh noes! The utter profanity of replying to someone who said “Am I blocked? Did I piss someone off?” is simply unacceptable.

I’m simply amazed at the number of rejections I get from users of Microsoft Antigen for SMTP (part of the Microsoft Forefront Security product family) based on single words that I learned during my years in Catholic schools. I think the Forefront Security product family has no forebrain. It’s no wonder why most content filter based anti-spam products have such a bad wrap.

Add comment February 22nd, 2008

Mail::DKIM v0.29 slow? Upgrade to v0.30.1

My nightly SA mass-checks have been hanging up this week on a 1MB email (not sure how a 1MB message got in my mass-check corpus, but that’s not important). It turns out that it was Mail::DKIM v0.29 that was taking about 150 seconds to process the message, while the rest of SA was only taking about 10 seconds. Upgrading to Mail::DKIM v0.30.1 resolves the problem… the DKIM check is fast (I didn’t time it, probably under a second).

The speed-up may be due to Mark Martinec’s optimizations in v0.30. It could be that the optimization was just to not do the crypto on the body, though, since the message in question did not have a signature (the sender doesn’t sign mail).

Add comment February 18th, 2008

Elected to be an ASF Member

In early December I was nominated and elected to become a member of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). I’ve been contributing to SpamAssassin, an Apache project, since just after the release of 3.0.0 in October 2004 (and a committer since March of 2005). I’ve been using and working on SpamAssassin since Justin Mason’s first release back around 2001. I guess, so far, I’ve failed to do more harm than good and elected a member as punishment. :)

2 comments January 26th, 2008

Apache SpamAssassin 3.2.4 released!

We released Apache SpamAssassin 3.2.4 on Monday. It fixes a number of significant bugs in sa-compile and includes some improvements to the async DNS code. Also included are fixes for problems with non-SQL based user configs and bayes databases. If you use either you may benefit from these fixes, although I recommend that you use SQL for both.

There have been reports that 3.2.4 is faster than previous 3.2 versions. I haven’t benchmarked it but I would guess that, while individual messages may be processed faster, overall message throughput may only improve a little.

You can download SpamAssassin here.

Add comment January 13th, 2008

Mozilla Thunderbird supports trusting SpamAssassin “junk mail headers”

Cool. I just noticed today that you can configure Thunderbird to trust SpamAssassin’s “junk mail headers” (ie. the X-Spam-* headers that SA adds by default). Apparently it’s done this for a while as the wiki page that describes the feature was last edited in March 2006. I’m assuming there’s a downside though, as I don’t suspect that there’s anything to prevent Thunderbird from trusting forged SA headers added by bad dudes.

Mozilla Thunderbird Junk Mail Settings

Add comment January 11th, 2008

November kicks off spam volume increase again

As I, and probably anyone with a brain, suspected, the start of November brought the start of increasing spam volumes yet again. I suspect that the increasing volume of spam being sent will again reach a plateau (in comparison to the current rapid growth) around March after which it’ll increase slowly all the way throughout October. November will, again, kick off the annual spam volume increase season again.

Below is a chart of attempted spam message delivery to my personal domains throughout the last few months. The number for each week represents the number of messages in my rolling 60 day corpus at that time. I’ve gone from a weekly increase of 3% in the 60 day rolling corpus to a weekly 10% increase. The numbers are a little weird to look at given that they’re a measure of a 60 day rolling corpus, but that doesn’t really matter as they’re meaningless anyway (don’t tell that to the “few” spam filtering companies that feel compelled to remind us that 183% or so of the mail they process is spam)… numbers from domain to domain will vary wildly. The bottom line, though, is that spam volumes are definitely increasing and that if you recall previous years there is a pattern to it.

Trailing 60 Days Spam Corpus in # of Messages

Add comment December 31st, 2007

MP3 Stock Spam

Cool! I’ve been waiting quite some time for this. Jay Chandler reported on a spam discussion mailing list that he received a stock spam this evening that had an MP3 attachment with audio of a speech synthesizer reading a stock spam. It wasn’t detected by the Razor only spam filtering appliance it went through.

I want one! An MP3 spam, that is.

1 comment October 17th, 2007

Polaris IP at it again - “Knowledge base backed email autoresponders are ours!”

Polaris IP, a patent-suit-for-money firm, has accused AOL, Amazon, Borders, Google, IAC, and Yahoo of violating a patent (that was licensed to Polaris IP). Yet another patent that falls under the “f’in obvious to anyone who’s not a tard’ category.

A method for automatically interpreting an electronic message, including the steps of (a) receiving the electronic message from a source; (b) interpreting the electronic message using a rule base and case base knowledge engine; and (c) classifying the electronic message as at least one of (i) being able to be responded to automatically; and (ii) requiring assistance from a human operator. The method for automatically interpreting an electronic message may also include the step of retrieving one or more predetermined responses corresponding to the interpretation of the electronic message from a repository for automatic delivery to the source.

Whatever. I hope that Google and IAC use their massive bank rolls to destroy them. That certainly wouldn’t be doing any evil.

Add comment August 30th, 2007

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