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07/31/2004 Archived Entry: "Email problems"

Whew! And Arrrgh! Wendy and I have just returned from ten days in New Zealand. I'll let Wendy report on the hectic run-up to the trip, and the trip itself. I'll just talk about the email aspect.

First: if you sent Wendy any email to her new 'zetetics' email address, from July 19th to July 30th inclusive, it was not received. Please send it again. 'ifeminists' email came through fine and doesn't need to be resent.

And therein lies a tale.

I've had quite good success with my latest email scheme. By separating my three main email addresses (one private, two public) into three different POP accounts, I can use web-mail programs "on the road" to read the important stuff (my private address) and I don't have to wade through a pile of less-important stuff (my public addresses). This is especially important because I'm spam-filtering with Mozilla, not at the mail server, so when I use web-mail access I see all the spam.

So before our trip I set up a similar scheme for Wendy. Unfortunately, our web hosting service requires me to do this by editing the "procmail" file (which specifies how incoming email is to be processed), and at about this same time they made some changes in how they handle procmail, with the result that all of our 'zetetics' email suddenly died...and with me rushing to get work finished before our trip.

The moral: Always have a backup email account.

Fortunately, ifeminists.com is on a completely different web hosting service, and since my changes back in May, I have not been forwarding all email to my 'zetetics' account. So I still had a working email address, and I was able to get some crucial emails through. Also, our 'zetetics' web host was able to get procmail working again on our account -- there's another story -- but in the process accidentally deleted Wendy's new address. Worse, no bounce messages were being sent. We didn't discover this until our return, since her old address is still delivering email.

(The second moral: don't make email changes before a long overseas trip.)

You do not need to rent space on two web hosts, or even one, to have a backup email address. There are lots of free email accounts available on the web. I prefer Yahoo! Mail. Hotmail is run by the despised Microsoft and has (predictably) had security breaches. There are privacy concerns with Google's Gmail. I still maintain a Yahoo address, and check it once a month to keep it active, so that I have a last-ditch backup if our other email fails.

(Actually, I got the Yahoo account years ago, when I was travelling abroad and expected to have access to only a web browser. Our web hosts did not at that time provide a web-mail interface. So I signed up with Yahoo to get an email address I could read from hotels and Internet cafes. Nowadays most ISPs and web hosts provide a web-mail interface for your email, but if yours doesn't, there's another reason to get a second email account. Assuming that you travel, that is.)


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