Blog entries from August, 2010

Gmail filters and rss2email

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 at 11:33pm

After seeing that external mail was being delivered correctly to my Google Apps domain, I changed my rss2email config to deliver to Google Apps instead of directly to the local mailbox.

When filtering with procmail you can filter on anything you want, but in most cases a few regexes will get you what you need. In contrast the filtering options in Gmail are extremely limited. There are a couple of headers you can match against, and then just a simple string match.

I was able to tweak rss2email to add the URL of the RSS feed as the List-Id header. I can then setup a filter for each RSS feed. Again, like forwarding addresses, I monitor a lot of RSS feeds. Over 120 which means I will also need over 120 filters just for RSS feeds.

What would work is for the RSS feeds to be categorised before I send out the emails, I then only need a filter per category. An additional benefit is that when another RSS feed is added, a new filter is not required.

As I am considering further modifying rss2email (or replacing it completely), what else could I do?

Something that I don’t like about Gmail (and certain other mail clients) is that the message lists display the time the message was received by Google, not the time it was sent or the time in the message headers. This means that the RSS messages are clumped together because the script only runs once every few hours.

This cannot be changed as long as the messages are delivered via SMTP. But, thanks to a small project at work, I know that if I were to write the messages in directly via IMAP, the dates will be what I want.

If I were writing the messages in via IMAP, filters will not be run, but writing the messages directly to the appropriate label means that the filters are not even needed. I would have no idea how to modify rss2email to use IMAP, so I would be writing my own solution from scratch.

This method of direct injection via IMAP is also how my updates should be delivered. In this case I indend to write something that uses the appropriate API, not the RSS feed as is the case for and Twitter. I already use the API for Facebook, but only to produce an RSS feed that is then picked up by rss2email. It is a bit convoluted, bit it has worked.

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Email in the cloud

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 at 07:39pm

Yes, I know I should get around to finishing my post about how I am finding Android, but other things are happening that are all interrelated to some degree.

Some time ago I started to setup Google Apps for my domain. Yesterday, after recovering my password, I completed that setup and got to the point where new mail would be delivered to Google. I also have RSS items delivered there as well, but more on that later.

One of the things that made me hesitant about switching to Google Apps was in regard to forwarding/nicknames/aliases. Whenever something asks me for an email address I will create a specific forwarding address. I do not handle this through an email catchall as it is possible to delete a forwarding address if it is no longer needed, or starts to get too much spam.

I currently have 150 forwarding addresses. Not too long ago I had over 200, but I did clean some of them out.

Google calls them nicknames and they appear to have a limit of 30 per account. Now I could create a chain of multiple accounts in Google Apps, each with 30 nicknames that forward on to a single account, but that just seems ugly. I am also considering paying for a Premium account (for greater piece of mine and the ability to turn of ads), but that is US$50 per account per year. Maintaining nicknames in Google is not worth US$250+ per year.

So I needed a way to keep the MX records pointing at my hosting where the 150 forwarders all point to a single mailbox. I then need that single mailbox to forward the messages on to Google. I had seen this done using the temporary user address.

Two problems with that. First Google says that that address will dissappear from the Google Apps domain after a period of time, and second that had already happened to my domain.

After talking this over with Rob, he suggested that I setup a subdomain on my hosting and add it as a domain alias within Google Apps. The MX records for this subdomain point at google, and the single mailbox on my domain forwards to an address on the subdomain. Since Google knows about the domain it will accept mail for it and the messages end up in my account. It is working fine so far.

I have not attempted to migrate my existing messages yet, I will work out how to structure the labels and what filters I want to setup.

Now filters, that will be the topic of another post.

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More Windows, less Linux

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 09:28pm

For many years I have run two desktop computers at home, a Windows desktop as my primary machine and a Linux box as a ‘server’.

This Linux ‘server’ started its life out routing internet. Over time it also became an (internal) web server, a file server, a mail server, etc. Over that same period of time it has stopped being some of those things. Also, for a period in the middle the services were split across two boxes, but then consolidated back to one, preston.

Right now core network services are handled by my router (WRT-54G running DD-WRT) so what services do I need:

  • Mail – but I am again considering moving that into the cloud
  • File sharing – both for media files and as a target for backups
  • Web server – mainly these days for internal interfaces for a variety of tools I have made, it has been a long time since I used the dev version of this site
  • Off-peak downloads – you know what this means
  • A variety of scripts – eg automatically downloading webcomics

Mail can be excluded as I will move it into the cloud, which makes file sharing as the next most important service.

Currently preston has 640GB for media and 260GB for backups. My windows desktop has over 2TB. This includes the primary copy of all my photos (around 200GB) but it also includes over 600GB that should be on the file server, but there wasn’t enough space.

It has been in the back of my mind for a while to at least upgrade the drives in preston. But that means going to SATA drives. So I would either need to get a SATA controller (preston is an aging P4 2.4 with no onboard SATA) or get a new motherboard/cpu/ram. I had decided to update shaun, my Windows desktop, to get two year old hardware. But since my recent signing of some paperwork I have put that on hold.

Why? Because I am quite likely to build a media centre in my new place. How do I make the media centre? This could be a computer with TV tuners running Windows Media Centre or MythTV, it could be a MythTV frontend with TV tuners in the backend, or it could be a simple device to play media from the network.

Due to ease of setup and use I am leaning towards Windows Media Centre. This means the backend only needs to be a file server. So how do you build a file server these days? With Linux it is still manual setup and apart from ZFS FUSE, the RAID options are still block level. I am drawn to the disk management that Windows Home Server offers. You chuck disks in and then at the filesystem level you can configure redundancy. Need more space? Just add another disk to the pool and it works it out.

But what about my scripts and other tools that run under Linux? I am not going to run them under Windows and I still want to have a Linux box available. But nothing says that the Linux box cannot be a virtual machine.

Some of the other feature of Home Server (eg backups) are also quite appealing. But for now I will wait for V2 to be released, sometime this year.

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Hearing from Pakenham

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 08:11pm

Last month I, mostly as an experiment, entered some image in the 6th Pakenham National. Today I heard from them with my results.

I entered eleven images in three categories, most of them being images I had previously entered in WCC competitions.

Four projected images:

Sport stress balls #1 Lake Fyans sunrise
Bridge at night Lego speed

Three open monochrome prints:

Emerging Nymphaea
Seamans Hut

Four open colour prints:

Diecast vs Extruded Waterfront
Somewhere to sit Setting

So how did they go?

My lowest score of any of them was 8, while the highest score was 11. The three that received 11 were “accepted” into the exhibition in September. These are one of the first images I entered into the monthly competition at WCC, a recent experiment with long shutter and black thread and a successful monochrome conversion:

Bridge at night

Lego speed


I am pleased and it was definitely a learning experience that will be completed once I see the other acceptances at the exhibition.

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Do I get my Saturdays back?

Saturday, August 7th, 2010 at 05:28pm

Today, after spending many Saturdays looking, I bought a place. In principle.

At the auction I made some bids (against one other bidder and a single vendor bid) then later I signed various pieces of paper (one being small with special printing). All of this means that come Tuesday 7 December I will entitled to vacant possession of said unit.

Does this mean I will get my Saturdays back?

Sort of. While I no longer need to go to open for inspections, I should be spending that time sorting through my stuff. Decimating the collection has been a big part of that so far, but I have a lot of other stuff that I don’t need. This is compounded by the stuff I don’t have but will need. That second group contains items such as furniture and appliances.

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Fences, gates and walls

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at 11:57pm

Tonight at the camera club was the judging for August competition, the topic: fences, gates and walls. As I have said before, I much prefer a topic compared to an open competition as it gives me something to aim for. The September competition is open and last night I was rushing around to pick four images and then print and mount two of those.

My favourite of my August entries is an image that I knew I would enter for this topic (and entered into the Pakenham National, I’ll say more about that when I get the results) ever since I took it. At the start of the year Damien and I went on a day trip up to Mount Buffalo. As we were driving from Bright to Wangaratta we were heading towards a great sunset. A couple of times we pulled over so I could get a shot and it was at one of these that I noticed a gate in the fence along the side of the road:


It was awarded a merit.

I have become known for entering photos of Lego, so it should come as no surprise that I would try somthing with the old fence pieces that I believe are older than I am:


Another merit.

The club’s Sunday outing in July was to Cloudehill Gardens in The Dandenongs. Gardens are not my thing, but that is exactly why I went along. Fortunately these gardens are awash with fences, gates and walls of the living, wooden, brick and stone varieties. When reviewing the photos the only one that jumped out at me was of two free standing gates, one open and one shut:

Open and shut

Awarded a highly commended.

I really struggled to select my final entry and I finally selected a photo from the Labour Day weekend up to Halls Gap. On the track up to The Pinnacle was a short section of fence that appeared to be made from trees that had been cut down nearby:

Locally made

The judge commented that it was too busy and I agree. The dead sticks in the foreground and on the ground, the burnt fallen tree with regrowth in the back just obscure the actual fence.

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