Tag Archives: mail

A Little Mail Trick

OK, so I’m probably the last guy on the planet to figure this out.

I’ve been struggling with a couple of mail-related issues with my iPhone. I had been connecting to the same mail account with my iPhone as I have with my home machine. Every now and then, the two mail clients would collide at the mail server, and make one or the other not very happy. Nothing fatal, but nothing wonderful either.

However, the bigger thing was that I was getting spammed to death on my iPhone. The OS X mail app does a pretty good job (augmented with a few rules of my own) at keeping the spam at bay, but the mail app on the iPhone lacks the anti-spam technology that my home mail client enjoys. For a long while, I was getting almost no spam on my iPhone, but there was a cost — I was blocking LOADS of country-specific domains and IP address ranges that I would never expect to get e-mail from. However, I recently ran into an issue with a developer whose mail was getting /dev/nulled at my mail server due to the broad nature of my spam swatting. Once I turned that off, my poor little iPhone was exposed to hundreds of available Russian singles, pharmaceuticals that I didn’t even know existed, and information from so many banks that I didn’t know I was affiliated with. In a word, spam.

So how to fix it? Well, fixing it at the mail server would be the best answer, but as I started getting into that, I started discovering just how little I understood about mail transport mechanisms, and how much I really didn’t care to learn that much about them. With that off the table, that left doing something at my home-based mail client that would somehow filter my mail before it hit the iPhone. There’s lots of folks out there doing circuitous sending and resending between their mail server, Google’s GMail, and then back to their home mail servers. That also had a bit of a learning curve, especially when doing it from the mail server.

My last idea was to let OS X’s mail app filter the mail, and after it’d passed the gauntlet of simple rules at the server, and complex rules at the client, it could be forwarded to a super-secret special mail account for the iPhone to hit to get a less spam-filled mail flow. That worked…. except that every e-mail looked as though it came from me, which was a less than stellar solution, especially if I wanted to respond to mail from my iPhone.

I was playing with my mail rules again, trying to set up some methods to figure out which of them were working the best, and I saw a little drop down on my rule to forward stuff to the iPhone’s mail account. In addition to forward there was a “redirect message” option that would send the message along to the iPhone’s account while preserving the look and feel of the message, making it seem like it was sent directly to my iPhone. Wunderbar!

And a side benefit of this approach is that my iPhone and OS X mail app are each banging away at different mail accounts, so there’s no collisions at the mail server for either one. I like my technogoodies to have a smile on their little electronic faces!

The Patient Survived!

Doc Oc has his new OS and apps loded. Yahoo! In this entry, I’m gonna try to capture the things I’ve modified/augmented, so next time I have to do this, I can deal with it from a documented position.

My basic plan was to keep things clean, only installing things I use, and trying hard to avoid importing settings and drivers from the old boot drive, which takes the Migration Assistant out of the mix… generally.

  • >Documents and Stuff : I have loads of this kind of thing… ya know, Apple commercials, some images (not my photo library; that’s on another spindle), genealogy stuff, etc. Migration Assistant seemed like it would move all this, but I really wanted to do it myself, as I’m not comfortable with Migration Assistant’s scope, and knowing just much it would copy.
  • Mail : Mail is a biggie for me. I archive waaaaay too much mail in my mailboxes, and it’s always been one of those things I’ll fix “one of these days”. Today is not that day. So how to get my mail setup manually? I copied /Users/me/Library/Mail and /Users/me/Library/Mail Downloads to the newly installed OS image. I also copied /Users/me/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist, and after getting everything over, I opened Mail, and there was everything. The only thing that wasn’t in place was my passwords, which isn’t a big surprise.
  • Adobe Applications : I fully expected CS3 to bark about being reinstalled on the same machine, but apparently it was smart enough to figure it out. I saw several other apps that somehow knew their license serial numbers, and worked well. In fact, the only app that I had to “deactivate” and “reactivate” was Genuine Fractals 6.
  • iTunes : I have had challenges in the past with moving my iTunes library around. This go ’round though, I had no problems. I use an alias to point to the library location, and once I repointed that, iTunes was all smiles.

At this point, Doc is happy again, although I’m sure I’ll run into things here and there that aren’t quite as they were. However, all things considered, I’m happy with where things are right now… Especially given all the “learning experiences” that were part of this!!

A Tiger Changes To Spots

After Wednesday’s triumph with the hardware, today I elected to fight the battle of the software, and take the OS to 10.5 (Leopard).

As with the hardware upgrade, the first order of business was cloning the boot drive using Carbon Copy Cloner. Just like Wednesday, this took a couple of hours, and appeared to work just fine. I popped the Leopard disc into the Mini, and let the machine reboot off the install disc. Everything appeared normal… until the installation stopped, telling me I couldn’t install to the boot drive. Panic stricken, my brain leaped to all kinds of conclusions — failed drive, lost data, and all kinds of awful things. As it ends up, somewhere along the way, the new 250GB drive I installed the other night used an Apple Partitioning Scheme rather than a GUID Partition Table. First off, I’d never known these were even options, and I certainly didn’t know how the 250GB internal was set up with the Apple scheme. In any case, that was a Bad Thing — the Leopard upgrade wouldn’t go until the drive was re-partitioned with the GUID Partition Table setup. That meant everything would be lost on the 250GB, leaving the USB connected 120GB as the (potential) master copy. Urgh.

Remember the nice 2GB freeware disk image from OWC? My guess is that when they partitioned the drive to put that on there, they used a bit more “universal” partitioning scheme. Not a big deal, but that’s one thing I’ll remember to look for in the future before trying these kinds of hijinks!

I started looking to see if you could boot a Mini from an external USB drive, and found you could, although almost everything I read indicated that Firewire would work better, and that the USB-booted OS would … run … very … slow. Figuring the only real path I had here was to boot from the USB drive, repartition the 250GB drive, and then recopy from the 120GB to the 250GB, I set about getting that going. The system did boot from the USB drive, and it really wasn’t that bad. A little slow, but since all I was doing was copying the data across, there wasn’t any real processing going on, so no big impact on the copy time.

Knowing that my sites had been down for several hours already, I decided I needed to set up a “Gremlins Are on the Loose” page to handle requests, knowing that the Mini would be down for at least three or four more hours. After a little bit of searching for the location of the system-wide default page (/Library/Webserver/Documents, just in case you’re looking for it), I dropped it into place on the MacPro, and pointed all HTTP traffic to it from the router.

So two hours later, it was time to reboot from the newly GUID’d 250GB drive, and make sure that Tiger was working. The boot seemed fine, so it was off to try the Leopard installation again. Boot the disc and… no GUID issues! Now, it was time to let Leopard do its upgrade voodoo. What’s odd to me is that the DVD media, once you’ve selected all your options, does a self-health check to ensure that its consistency is good before installing. While I appreciate the paranoia, I also appreciate the “Skip” button for this step, and skipped the DVD health check. So almost four hours after I thought I was ready to upgrade, I was actually upgrading. Now I just had to wait another hour or so for the OS to be upgraded!

Unfortunately, after the upgrade, neither my webserver nor mailserver were up and running. 🙁 Well, not running right anyway.

Leopard takes Apache from a 1.x codebase to 2.x, and in the process, changed the directories for users’ individual webserver configuration files. These moved from /etc/httpd/users to /etc/Apache2/users. I’d remembered the files, but forgotten the location and naming convention for them, so they were a bit of a bear to find and scoot from the old structure to the new. Once I did, Apache started, but would bomb on any page that was requested from it. The culprit here was a commented out php5 directive in the httpd.conf file for Apache 2.x. Not hard to change, but was a bit surprised that php wasn’t turned on by default. A quick uncomment, restart, and things appeared to be good on the webserver front.

The mailserver was a little trickier, but the messages in the mail log gave me the answers. For some reason, the UID used for the mail server changed. Not quite sure why Leopard did that, but a little change to a config file and a restart of the mail server, and all was well… I could see the spam floodgates opening! 🙂

However, I still couldn’t send or receive mail from my MacPro.

This one was a little harder to fix. Apparently, xinetd has been dropped with Leopard, in favor of launchd. Well, I’ve never used launchd, so that was a total mystery for me. Thanks to my good friend Google, I was able to find an example plist for my pop server, and that allowed me to get the pop server back up again.

So, from all appearances, things are back to normal at the Deauxmayne, nearly twelve hours (with breaks for dinner, visiting the gallery, etc.) after I began what I thought would be a small update. If something appears to be squirrely, let me know!