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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

RIP Norman Mailer

He was fa­mous, he wrote 30 book­s, he got to sleep with Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, and he still had time to pro­vide some of the best anec­dotes ev­er.

Check them out at 10 Zen Mon­keys

Windows: my eXPerience

Can you be a com­put­er con­sul­tant and gen­er­al­ly a com­put­er guy with­out ev­er in­stalling win­dows?

I man­aged for over 12 years... un­til this week.

Coming soon...

I have man­aged to cre­ate the most bizarre way to write a spread­sheet en­gine in Python.

I still need to pol­ish some things, but here are the high­light­s:

  • Your for­­mu­las com­pile to C

  • C is in­­­lined us­ing In­­s­tant

Yes, that means you ed­it a cell in the GUI and you need to wait un­til gcc com­piles the thing.

Is it go­ing to be use­ful? Prob­a­bly not. Is it cool? I say yeah.

I will pol­ish it some­what, cre­ate a sttan­dalone en­gine, and show it here.

Dropping BIND, at least a little

One of my cus­tomers has about 15000 email ac­counts.

I use ex­ten­sive­ly RBLs to keep the un­want­ed con­nec­tions to a min­i­mum, and many oth­er spam de­tec­tion tech­niques, many of which in­volve DNS lookup­s. Plus all the lookups caused by the email of 15000 user­s.

It turns out that ac­cord­ing to our IS­P, we were one of the top ten DNS users in their net­work, and we were killing their server­s.

That got fixed, but it seems late­ly we were killing our own DNS server­s, too.

BIND would stop an­swer­ing to lookups ev­ery once in a while and had to be restart­ed. Since that was an­noy­ing, and the soft­ware was up to date, and there seemed to be noth­ing wrong with the con­fig­u­ra­tion, I did what I could think of, and start­ed look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive.

Pow­erDNS's re­cur­sor works well, is lighter, it's eas­ier, and works like a charm (but you re­al­ly should use their mul­ti­-­for­ward patch).

So, thumbs up for Pow­erDNS, and I am still keep­ing BIND for our au­thor­i­ta­tive zones, at least for a while, since that part seems to still be work­ing cor­rect­ly.

GUI mail clients and suckitude

Maybe I was spoiled by Pine.

Here's how you read your mail us­ing it:

  • Press I to go to the in­­box mes­sage list.

  • You will see the first un­read mes­sage.

  • Press R to re­­ply, F to for­ward, D to delete, I to go back to the in­­box.

  • Re­­peat un­til you have no more mail.

Yes, this is sim­plis­tic, and it's nicer to be able to see the mail­box at the same time as the mes­sages, but you can go through a lot of mail this way.

It's old fash­ioned and crap­py in many ways, but it seems done by peo­ple who ac­tu­al­ly read mail us­ing it.

I am lik­ing kmail well enough for the last year or so, but I de­cid­ed to check al­ter­na­tives, just in case I was miss­ing some­thing.

I had heard good things about Claws, a fork of Sylpheed, and it does the same crap­py thing most oth­er GUI mail clients do:

  • Open the IN­­BOX.

  • Click on the mail you want to read.

  • You can for­ward or re­­ply.

  • But if you want to delete... the mes­sage list shows that you shift­ed to the next mes­sage, but it won't dis­­­play. You need to press en­ter, then wait un­til it shows (no dis­­­con­nec­t­ed IMAP?).

Dude, let me go through my mail fast, please? It's per­haps my most im­por­tant task of the day, I need to do it ev­ery 30 min­utes, I need it to be as fast as pos­si­ble. I want a queue. I want triage.

I see a mes­sage, I must ei­ther:

  • Delete it be­­cause it's use­­less

  • Re­­ply

  • For­ward

  • Tag as im­­por­­tan­t/­­for lat­er/todo/what­ev­er.

  • Save to an­oth­er fold­er

That's it. It's not a dif­fi­cult work­flow!

And I need to do this with­out wait­ing for the mes­sages to down­load one at a time! If I want­ed to work that way I would use a freak­ing web­mail.

Kmail lets me do these things. So far, it's the on­ly GUI IMAP client that does.

Any­one has a sug­ges­tion for a light­weight IMAP client that works that way?

And no, I am not go­ing to in­stall evo­lu­tion just to see it I can do the same thing us­ing a larg­er pro­gram that drags half of gnome along :-(

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