Tag Archives: Mail

Rosetta stone

How to figure out if a program uses curl? I get mails from users of it since the curl license is included somewhere and it includes my email address and very often that is the only address available...

To: Daniel Stenberg <daniel@haxx...>
Subject: Rosetta Stone Question
I am trying to install Rosetta Stone on my Mac but I am having
trouble. The ReadMe says to contact the author, and this email
was in the license info. Am I to understand that you are
the author?

I don't know exactly what Rosetta Stone is, but I guess it is the language learning software at www.rosettastone.com

A special thank you from Google

Believe me, this kind of seemingly random act of kindness warms up even the most seasoned and cold hacker's heart. Look at this excerpt from a mail I received:

From: Stephanie T <...@google.com>
Subject: 2 Googlers would like to recognize your hard work on cURL

Hello Daniel,

As you know, we here in Google's Open Source Programs Office are always interested in learning about new projects and people in the open source community. To that end, we asked our co-workers to help us by nominating people outside of Google that they thought were doing great things in the world of open source. This information helps us determine which organizations to fund and which projects to select for the Google Summer of Code and related programs.

Chris C and John M (Googlers) believe your work on cURL deserves to be recognized. To show our appreciation for this work, we would like to send you a special thank you gift and 2- $175 USD gift codes (totaling $350 USD) to the Google online store so you can pick out tee shirts or other gifts for yourself and loved ones.

[snip]

Thanks a lot!

(The names of the persons in the mail have been shortened by me to reduce their exposure here.)

generic opt-in spam lists don’t exist

The last couple of days I've received a number of Swedish spam emails and I started digging up the Swedish companies behind them. The vast majority of all spams I get and have gotten during the years are English, so the Swedish ones stand out and they are a relatively new thing.

There seems to be a range of companies that now offer "email marketing" as a service to other companies. And there are lots of companies apparently willing to use such services. The other day the somewhat respected ISP company Crystone for example went ahead and spammed "a few hundred K recipients (link to a Swedish-speaking forum). I've long been annoyed by the repeated spam mails I get from the company Jajja, which apart from being in the snake oil business (SEO) seems to be a legitimate business that wants to be taken seriously. Of course, they have a shady history of bad business ethics (link to Swedish article about Jajja doing blog-comment spamming in 2007).

A can with spamCrystone's excuse for their spam outburst was that they had bought this list of "verified" and "opt-in" addresses (from big-time spammer company mailcom.se) so they were quite surprised when large amounts of people started complaining and whining about their spam. mailcom.se, unsurprisingly, on their site boast to also have Jajja as customers. I have emailed mailcom.se and complained in strongly worded terms. I expect no response or effect.

Hejsan

Detta är ett av tjogtals (hundratals?) spam email jag fått från er. Ni har hittat/köpt denna email-address genom web-scraping och ni och era kunder är inget annat än spammare. Det är illegalt i Sverige och att betrakta som ett vedervärt sätt att försöka marknadsföra någonting.

Fy skäms!

The above is the email text I sent. It could be translated into English like:

Hello

This is one of the many (hundreds?) spam emails I've received from you. You found / bought this email address by web-scraping and you and your customers are nothing but spammers. It is illegal in Sweden and to be regarded as a horrible way of trying to market anything.

Shame on you!

Newsflash: there is no such thing as a blanket list with verified and opt-in email addresses. You may get people to opt-in for a particular and well explained purpose, but nobody ever asked anyone if they wanted to get stupid market emails from Crystone without compensation. Who would have opted-in to something like that?

Legality? People here in Sweden are quick to point out that sending market emails to companies and other business is not illegal here. Although, as is easily proven, these guys don't know who they target as their list clearly is created by old fashioned web scraping techniques and they send to anyone, individuals and companies - without discrimination. Besides, my biggest complaints against spam is that it is a nuisance and a pain, if it is illegal or not is not the biggest concern to me. Spam is spam no matter what.

I've also explicitly tweeted about the spam service provided by quicknet.se. They're at least somewhat open about it and add a header in their outgoing mails claiming them to be from "QuicNet_AB" (notice how the letter k is absent). I've received several spams via their domain gallerian.org so there's no doubt who's behind them. These mails also have ended up targeted to email addresses that are without any doubt harvested from the web. An employee of quicknet responded to me (in Swedish), apparently surprised by my allegations but I've received no further info. But frankly, I don't care what excuse they can come up with. It will only be something lame as this is not a mistake.

Other seemingly popular Swedish spam companies include epostservice.se/com, epostarna.se and so on. I wish more people will react on the spam and object to the companies that buy these services (in good faith or not) and to the companies that provide these services. Tell them it's all spam, no matter what excuses they can figure out!

PS. Yes, this is the same Crystone I've written about before...

Remove your software

Your software needs to be removed from my work computer. I did not install it,
do not want it and did not request it.

Another one of those emails arrived in my inbox today:

Subject: Remove:

Your software needs to be removed from my work computer. I did not install it, do not want it and did not request it.

[name redacted]

No mention what software or indication of what platform or what might've happened when my software allegedly ended up in the person's computer. Not very friendly either.

Again I suspect that there's some software that uses curl in some way, but I can't tell for sure...

I replied to it, saying that I didn't install anything on his computer.

Email asking for my products

In my mini-series of strange mails I receive, here's another one:

Subject: Product Request

Hello,
I am interested in purchasing some of your products, I will like to know
if youcan ship directly to SPAIN , I also want you to know my mode of
payment for this order is via Credit Card. Get back to me if you can ship
to that destination and also if you accept the payment type I indicated.
Kindly return this email with your price list of your products..

I assume I'll never figure out what products he speaks of, or how on earth he ended up sending me this... I'll admit I was tempted to make up some "interesting" products to offer.

Update: I was informed that this is probably "just" another online fraud attempt. How boring.

Why top-posting annoys me

This is hardly any news to anyone who cares, and those who should care the most are either not understanding what top-posting is in the first place or they're not aware of that people like me think top-posting is an evil decease we need to extinguish.

My primary reason to hate top-posting is that it is fast and easy for the single user who writes the mail reply, but it gives more work to the large amounts of people who read it. When someone posts to a mailing list, one should rather expect that the single user would be the one to put in a little extra effort to make the result readable for the masses who will read it.

Top-posting also most often involves the habit of including the entire previous conversation in a quoted manner below.

A sensible post and quote ethic, is to only quote as much as you need from the previous conversation to make your point clear, and to respond in a way so that it is clear to what parts of the quotes you are referring to. That more or less implies doing "interlaced" or "inlined" posting, where you show a few lines of quotes and then a few lines of comments over and over until the end of the mail.

The act of doing bottom-posting but keeping the entire thing quoted above the new text you add is almost as bad as top-posting. You remove the focus of what you write by providing far too much irrelevant text. Remove the irrelevant parts!

These days large portions of the modern world use broadband connections so the actual size of the mail is not a concern for bandwidth or speed reasons, but you probably still want the receivers to focus on your actual point. Also, a lot of mails these days end up in web archives or similar so they are then searchable by internet search engines and browsable by future people and then you even more want the mail to be on topic to become more relevant and less misleading to searches.

In case it isn't obvious: this of course primarily concerns mails sent to (largish) mailing lists.

Please hide my email

... I don't want my employer/wife/friends to see that I've contributed something cool to an open source project, or perhaps that I said something stupid 10 years ago.

I host and co-host a bunch of different mailing list archives for projects on web sites, and I never cease to get stumped by how many people are trying hard to avoid getting seen on the internet. I can understand the cases where users accidentally leak information they intended to be kept private (although the removal from an archive is then not a fix since it has already been leaked to the world), but I can never understand the large crowd that tries to hide previous contributions to open source projects because they think the current or future employers may notice and have a (bad) opinion about it.

I don't have the slightest sympathy for the claim that they get a lot of spam because of their email on my archives, since I only host very public lists and the person's address was already posted publicly to hundreds of receivers and in most cases also to several other mailing list archives.

People are weird!

Mail turned unreliable

I've always been proud of my ability to read and respond to email in a swift and reliable manner. I read and write emails every day, and most days I read mails more or less immediately as they land in my inbox.

However, during the recent year or so I've noticed that I'm no longer a reliable mail recipient. The amount of spam I get has made me tighten the screws so hard I get my share of false positives. The kind of mails that I need to rescue from my spam bin as they will otherwise suffer the death by delete. But how many do I miss? How often do I lose legitimate mails?

On some of the mailing lists I participate in, the spammers have started to send posts with my email in the From: field (circumventing the subscribers-only limitation), leading to me having to set my own mails as moderated to prevent spam to get posted... 🙁

alpine in, pine out

As one of the last living dinosaurs on the planet still using text-based email clients, I realized that pine has been replaced by alpine and I upgraded to that. When doing some reading up on the subject, I noticed that there's another old grumpy guy still using this client. I'm not sure exactly what that says...

Anyway, the upside of this switch is that this client is now distributed under a proper open source license (Apache license 2.0), as that's what I've been getting in my face from mutt users for years when I've explained what I use! (I mean the complaint that pine wasn't proper open source)