Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jack of All Inboxes


  • Eliminate spam completely
  • Partially typo-proof your email address
  • Create yourself new email addresses on the fly – no messing with settings or accounts involved
  • Experience increased email security – never share your sign in name
  • Avoid annoying anonymous email services
  • Use your favorite mail client like you’ve always done

I doubt I'm the first one to think of this, but I've never heard of someone doing it before.

I've always tried to be judicious about where I stick my email address, especially my primary email address, but somehow I still get spam and I don't know where it comes from. New idea: enter stage left. One inbox to rule them all! or more specifically, one inbox with unlimited email addresses.

Here's how it works.

When you buy a domain name from Google (or probably from anyone else for all I know) there is an option to direct any emails that are sent to the domain with a nonexistent recipient to a ‘catch all’ account, as I call it. For example, if someone meant to send me an email and they sent it to instead of then that email would be directed to the ‘catch all’ inbox instead of my own inbox and instead of being rejected as undeliverable. You can set your own inbox as the ‘catch all’ account, or you can have an account set up just for the purpose of catching these. We can use this to our advantage.

Say you want to sign up for service on the internet, but they require you to click a link in a confirmation email and you suspect that the site will then spam you and distribute your email address to other spam engines. Suppose this service is offered by You can go ahead and sign up for this service with the email address of and the email will come to your ‘catch all’ account. If does start spamming you- even if they try to hide it by sending you spam from all kinds of deceptive sender addresses- then you’ll know it’s from them (or their associates) because it’s being sent TO Then you can easily filter into oblivion any emails sent to that address. Although it is better to unsubscribe, this is a method that will work even on email without an unsubscribe link. I use this even for reputable looking sites because there will inevitably be a time when a site fails to be as reputable as they seem and they end up giving my email address to a spam engine.

If there are multiple people on your domain who want to use this method, that should be no problem. Suppose that Jane and Tarzan are married and have email addresses and The administrator can set up a ‘catch all’ account with filters that forward all mail that comes with Tar.* to and all mail that comes in to grape.* can be forwarded to You probably didn’t realize how much Jane loves grapes until now. Now Jane can sign up for an account at using the address without fearing spam. Infinite obfuscation engenders ultimate security!

Speaking of COMSEC, Tarzan and Jane have a son, Jehoshaphat, who is a site security administrator and doesn’t have an account at all. His personal email address is something similar to He has emails forwarded to his preferred email service when they are addressed to fat.* The email address he gives out to his friends is A few of them have tried all kinds of hacks to sign into with all variations of the user name fat.KingOfTheWorld, without success.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Computer! Why hast thou thus dealt with me?

I wouldn't have bothered with individual window captures if I hadn't found Screen Hunter.I feed thee thy favorite 60Hz 120V. I speak kindly to thee  and tap lovingly thy keys. Thy bloatware I do remove and I keep thee inoculated with thy favorite Avast! antivirus. Even do I go above and beyond the care that most owners give by eliminating thy unnecessary startup processes and services in msconfig. Thy files I do back up and even I reloaded thee with a fresh operating system install not two weeks past. Wherefore then didst thou withdraw into thyself and repudiate thy connection with the Internet?

AAAArghhhh! I was so frustrated that I wanted to talk like a pirate. Everything was proceeding beautifully after my fresh install of windows xp and I was pounding away at augmenting my webfu until for no apparent reason, my computer suddenly stopped seeing the wireless network at all and although it could see the Ethernet connection, it didn’t receive any bits at all from the Ethernet. The problem was clearly in my computer, not the network, because my phone could still see the wireless network and although I could get some internet connection via my tethered phone, it was only a partial connection. Some things worked; others didn’t.

Picture captured with Screen Hunter.

I restored my computer to a previous point with system restore. I re-enabled all of the unnecessary processes and services in case I had inadvertently messed up something. I almost considered re-installing boatware.

Fail.  X-|

Finally, I called a hotel Wi-Fi help line and it was able to lead me to the arcane, counterintuitive solution (pictured at right.) I didn’t know that there was a button in the advanced tab of the wireless properties window that could turn off my wireless connection. I’ve never turned it off there, but somehow it did turn off. I don’t know why this also disabled my Ethernet, which is not wireless. I don’t know why turning the wireless back on from this window fixed all my problems (…well, the connection problems anyway.)

p.s. I did finally have a really good swim today. What a relief! Honestly.

Sub-Par Results

There are times when I’m smarter than myself, e.g., I know I’m likely to forget my security badge on Monday,  so I put it in my blue uniform Friday evening. That way when I get to work on Monday and suddenly realize that I forgot to bring my badge with me, it’s already taken care of because I was prepared in advance.

Today I was not smarter than myself. This morning, while I was thinking clearly, I planned on leaving work by 3:30 so I could go swim and be done before the 4:15 water aerobics class starts. Around 3:00 I realized that the I didn’t have to leave work until around 4:30 and I could still be done swimming by 5:15. That was great becaus e I was busy getting stuff done and I wasn’t ready to leave. So, I followed my new plan, went to the gym at 4:30, changed into my swimsuit, took a pre-swim shower. While I was showering, I heard some continuous, muffled, cheerful shouting. This is not normal in a gym unless some exercise class is happennnniiinnnggg…. OH NO!!!! Water Aerobics starts at 4:15 and here I am ready to swim before it’s halfway done!

At this point I was wet, soapy, and disappointed. I didn’t want to finish my shower, go work out in the base gym which I don’t care for, and then shower again, so I felt the fool, but I just came home. It was an exercise in futility at the gym. Now I’m going to do push ups in my room. That’s almost a workout. 

image photo by Jack Turner 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why is it so hard to go back to the gym after only a week off?

I almost didn’t go to the gym today. This morning I planned on going to the gym right after work.When the time came, I thought I’d rather go work on my webfu, and besides, I was hungry. My principle reason for sticking to the plan was to develop self discipline. So I went to the gym, but in the parking lot I discovered that I didn’t bring a pair of jeans to change into afterward. There’s my excuse! I can go home now.

That’s a lame excuse. There’s no valid reason that I couldn’t just wear my ABU (Airman Battle Uniform, read:camo) pants home from the gym. It’s mildly embarrassing, but no one would say anything. My main goal for this excursion was to go swimming. Water Aerobics class ends at 5:00 and the pool closes at 6:00, and the time was 4:50. I decided to not lift weights and just take my time getting to the pool so the class would hopefully be empty by the time I get there.

No such luck was to be had. It turned out that Water Aerobics class lasts until 5:15. That’s ok.I can wait, but if I had known that I would have lifted weights real quick and done some pull ups. I sat in a chair to wait, and the instructor let me know there was a cover charge for watching :-D I probably should have just joined in but I really was only there to swim laps. And then I had time to contemplate how good I felt about actually being there and how much I was going to enjoy swimming laps and pushing myself to the limit etc. By the time that class was over I had meditated myself into feeling really good about life.

Now I’m home and I want to continue studying CSS. If I knew CSS better I could have had my caption without having to put naughty layout tables into by blog post, but there’s so much to learn and I haven’t found a resource that’s a happy medium between a trickle and a tsunami of knowledge.

photo by Emily Saunders and taken without permission from this site

Update: the CSS experts say that one disadvantage of using tables to control layout is that they don’t always render well on a phone. I’m pretty impressed with my Android browser. It rendered this post very logically such that you wouldn’t even think that it must have been laid out with a table instead of CSS.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CSS Success and How I Conquered my Blog as a Monkey

I’ve been annoyed that HTML code showed up in my title. The template I used placed the title on the left of the page and I wanted it centered. I knew the HTML code for centering text but nothing about CSS at the time. Thus <center> showed up in my title on email notifications etc. for months.

Today I learned a little bit about CSS and when I saw this problem show up, it occurred to me that the answer might be solved in the template itself with some CSS coding. I’m a mediocre code monkey at best, but I thought I could at least look around in the template and see what occurred to me. What did I find? Google was a step ahead of me and had a CSS tutorial to help users adjust their templates. The first issue discussed: centering the title. I couldn’t be more pleased or surprised.

I also hope that I solved the problem of double-tweeting the new blog post notification.

Update: It looks like I did fix the doubletweet issue. I hope that adding this update doesn't send out another tweet because that would make it look like I was wrong and didn't get that solved after all.

Tethered Success!


After hours of diligently banging my head on the keyboard, I have tethered my Samsung Moment to my Windows XP laptop! Countless forums and web pages were filled with posts from other Moment users who said that all they had to do was follow the instructions and everything worked. I followed the instructions from PdaNet and from EasyTether, but to no avail. My computer refused to install drivers for my phone when USB debugging was activated. With USB debugging inactivated I had no problem. I downloaded Samsung PC Studio, and installed it: no help.

Finally, I found a site that looked slightly dodgy and the drivers it offered didn’t even look like they were specifically for the Moment, but I installed them anyway against my better judgment. Half-way through I was filled with doubt and remorse, but it was too late. The deed was done and the least I could do is see if it worked. AND IT DID!!!1 All of a sudden, my computer thought I had four Android devices connected where before it had only ever seen two.

I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the wall and lo! I was able to continue using the internet via my phone’s USB connection. I must have invested over four hours on this problem a few weeks ago and almost three hours today. Now if only this were one of the tasks on my to-do list, then I could have the added satisfaction of a checkmark in a box.