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Bill Grumbine
10-28-2006, 3:35 PM
Don't you just hate it when people condescend to you concerning things beyond their knowledge or experience? Once again I have had a lovely encounter with not one, but four technical service people in two different ISPs regarding a mail problem that has surfaced.

I check my mail every morning, and several times throughout the day. It is a given fact that I receive between 80 and 150 emails every morning. Wtih the exception of five to ten, all are spam. There is nothing I can do about that. My commercial site has been co-opted by spammers for a spoof sender address, and my email is all over the internet so that people can actually reach me for business purposes. But that is not the problem. I just click delete over and over again until I get to the heart of the matter.

This morning, I get to my computer, and I had a grand total of two emails waiting for me. That is low for me, even after I delete all the spam. I began to wonder if my ISP had created some super duper spam catcher and I was not going to be cursed with all the chaff. But then I got to thinking about how many legitimate emails might not make it through. Between my wife and I we sent some emails to my account from several different accounts. None of them were making it through. So I called my cable company, which provides my cable modem service, and that is where I encountered idiot number one.

I was informed by this person that Penn Teledata, the force which moves my mail, was upgrading their mail program this weekend, and I should be getting my mail with no problem.

"Uhhh, I told you I called because I wasn't getting any mail."

"Well sir, you should be, but I don't know anything about that, so you will have to call them."

So I called PTD and after a very lengthy time on hold, I got to idiot number two. He informed me that I did not have any mail in my mailbox. Fine, I believed him, and had no argument there. I told him I was concerned because I was not getting the mail I was used to getting, and I could not imagine all the spammers taking the day off at the same time. He told me that I should not expect the same volume of mail every day (I don't) and that even though I get hundreds of emails every day, and have gotten them every day for time out of mind, I should not think anything unusual is happening if all of a sudden that pattern changes. He then got very impatient when I tried to explain myself, and proceeded talk down to me, act rudely, and then hang up. He did not think it odd at all that I would observe such a drastic change, but rather that there was something wrong with me for noticing it and wondering about it.

After a little bit of experimentation, I discovered that email to my commercial account had stopped, but email to my current personal account was working just fine. So, I called my former ISP, which hosts my commercial site (for now). I explained the problem again, only to be told that my old personal account had been dead since May of this year. I asked the guy why I was still getting mail to it. He said I wasn't. I told him I was looking at stuff that had arrived as recently as yesterday from that account. All he was capable of doing was repeating that that was impossible. Idiot number three.

The fourth guy wasn't quite an idiot, but I am going to label him such since I think the only reason he agreed with me in the end was to humor me and get me off the phone. I called my former (hosting) ISP back again in hopes of getting someone more knowledgeable. I didn't. He proceeded to explain to me that my personal account had been closed in May. I agreed. He told me that it was a technical impossibility for me to receive email through that account. I asked him if he thought I was lying to him, and then asked him to explain mail arriving as recently as yesterday. He couldn't, but simply repeated that it was a technical impossibility, and that I would have to talk to someone in administration on Monday.

Fortunately for me, they are only about 15 miles from me, and I will not have to talk to yet another moron on the phone. I am going there in person, armed with printed copies of emails that arrived after it was "technically impossible" and asking why my account pointer was never changed back in March when it was supposed to. I left time from the new account opening in March to the old one closing in May just to avoid this kind of problem, but apparently I did not get what I thought I was getting, and am now going to have to waste a whole bunch more time trying to convince people that the sky is blue and the earth is round. I can hardly wait.

I feel much better now.

Bill

Chuck Hanger
10-28-2006, 3:44 PM
Our luck is identical. I would take the three idiots and put them in that tool box and let them see if they can get the locks working better:) .

I really enjoy your turning posts.
Chuck

Lou Morrissette
10-28-2006, 4:02 PM
Bill,
What's your problem? At least they all spoke english.:rolleyes: :D That's a first.

Lou

Jim Becker
10-28-2006, 4:07 PM
Maybe you should borrow back that really big pencil you made awhile back when you go into the ISP office to illustrate the, umm...largeness of your problem... ;)

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
10-28-2006, 4:22 PM
Yep, been there, done that, but the idiots I dealt with all spoke Japanese :D

Good you can get it off your chest here.

Cheers!

Matt Meiser
10-28-2006, 5:28 PM
Gotta love it (because otherwise you will go insane.) Anymore I expect to get an idiot on the phone. Strangely, they frequenty have at least a hint of an Indian accent despite the fact that their name is "Steve" or "Sam" or whatever.

I'm sure the reason they told you it was technically impossible is because that is what the script tells them to say.

BTW, good to see you back here Stu.

Rob Bodenschatz
10-28-2006, 6:41 PM
Can I come with you? This sounds like fun!

Ken Garlock
10-28-2006, 7:27 PM
Bill, you are certainly one lucky fellow.:rolleyes: You encountered 3, yes 3, technical wedges in one day (Wedge: the simplest tool known to man.) Since wedges are particularly hard headed, do take a large post-setting mall with you to their office. Ah yes, I can see it now. Bill walks in dressed in his bib overalls with a huge hammer over this shoulder. Call the TV news.:eek::D


I am surprised that your commercial mail is not getting bounced back to the sender. :confused:

Dennis Peacock
10-28-2006, 7:45 PM
Yup, this reminds me of two dealings I've had previously with a prior ISP service. Tech support was in Canada and they seemed to have problems with connectivity issues. Well..................
Me being a 28 year veteran in the IT industry, I knew how to track down their problems for them, so I did. :rolleyes: I used a couple of my IT tools out of my IT toolbox and found that it was a problem with a switch in their route back to the primary server. I called, opened a support ticket with them, told them the actual problem, provided them documented proof of the problem and even gave them the name of the switch, the card slot and the IP address. :D

The support dude on the other end of the phone asked me "how do YOU know since you are and end user?"

I simply asked the question: Well sir, how long have you been doing tech support in the IT / ISP profession?
I got the answer of: 4-1/2 months

I simply then responded back to him stating what tools I used to get the info and that I had 28 years experience in LAN/WAN and Unix systems troubleshooting and design.

There was silence on the other end for what seemed to be "forever". Finaly the dude got his breath back and stated, "sir, please allow me to get you to out backline support engineer". :D :D :D

Problem solved in under 1 hour. ;)

Art Mulder
10-28-2006, 8:30 PM
It is a given fact that I receive between 80 and 150 emails every morning. Wtih the exception of five to ten, all are spam. There is nothing I can do about that. My commercial site has been co-opted by spammers for a spoof sender address, and my email is all over the internet so that people can actually reach me for business purposes.

Bill,

Can't help you with your technical problems, but I do have some suggestions, if you want to consider the bigger picture.

First, for my personal email, I use www.pobox.com (http://www.pobox.com/) as a forwarding service. For A grand total of $20 a year I get an account with them. I get an @pobox.com email address, and that is what I give to everyone. I then changed my home ISP email address (the old one was soaked with SPAM, same as you). And I tell NO ONE that address. pobox.com has very good spam filtering. Once a day I get an email from them summarizing all the spam that they stopped, showing From: address and Subject:. If I catch any mistakes (maybe 3-5 a year) I just logon to the website and I can click "release" on that message and it will get passed along.

Another alternative is to use a gmail account for your personal mail. I know several people with gmail accounts and they also report very good email filtering.

Gmail also offers a service where they offer gmail for your domain. So if you already have a domain like www.mysuperdomain.com you can arrange that email sent to @mysuperdomain.com in fact is delivered to gmail.
I have no idea what that costs for small users. might be good for people ho are stuck with an established domain. check it out here. (https://www.google.com/a/)
(hmm, I just checked and it looks like pobox.com offers something similar.)

Hope you get your problems straightened out soon!

best,
...art

Art Mulder
10-28-2006, 8:33 PM
I'm sure the reason they told you it was technically impossible is because that is what the script tells them to say.

Yeah, I'm kind of surprised that they didn't ask you to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows. Isn't that #4 on the Standard Dell / ISP / etc. Tech Support script?

Matt Meiser
10-28-2006, 9:26 PM
You are correct Art. We had a running joke about a software company based in your back yard (actually downtown London.) Their standard support procedure a few years ago was:

1) Reinstall <software product>, if problem is not solved go to #2
2) Reinstall Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack 4, then software product. If problem is not solved go to #3
3) Reinstall Windows, Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack 4, then software product. If problem is not solved, it will be solved by the next service pack.

Then they wised up and started blaming the integrators (us, and several other companies) for every problem so that they would look better to the end user.

Kirk (KC) Constable
10-29-2006, 2:03 AM
I have the same problems as Bill. I routinely delete many hundreds of spam messages every day that the ISP spam catcher stops. Some days only a handful of spam gets through their filters and into my inbox... some days several HUNDRED sneak through... and then there are the days when only 'real' mail is in the inbox... and I wonder what's gone wrong. I'd like to think that if a real message got deleted and somebody really needed to make contact with me, they'd go back to wherever they got the Email address and look at the phone numbers instead... but you never know.

I work with some 'help desk' people. I don't call the 'help desk' unless that's the only way to get to a real problem solver. No offense intended to the handful of helpdesk professionals among us that might actually be helpful... ;)

KC

Al Willits
10-29-2006, 11:16 AM
"""""""""
I work with some 'help desk' people. I don't call the 'help desk' unless that's the only way to get to a real problem solver. No offense intended to the handful of help desk professionals among us that might actually be helpful... ;)
"""""""""

I work on a help desk and would have to take offense....well I would have if there wasn't some truth in it...:)

The IT at where I work hasn't a clue, "reboot, and call us back" is one of their favorites lines, Dells support system may be good, but being English is my only language, I've yet to be able to communicate with them, and Cables answer for every thing is to unplug the box, wait 30 seconds and call us back if it didn't fix it.

Not exactly what I'd call helpful.

I now almost always ask for the advanced help (that speaks English) when I call, once ya get pass the first level it seems things are better.
Although I have to admit, working on a help desk is an experience, it will make ya wonder how some people have existed as long as they have. :)

Some good, some bad, just like everything else I suppose.

Al

Matt Meiser
10-29-2006, 11:47 AM
One of the IT guys told me a trick for Dell and Microsoft. If your tech has questionable english skills, tell them that the call involves matters of homeland security--they have to transfer you to someone in the US. that is always a true statement for us since our company designs water treatment plants among other things and everyone has access to some drive where something related to those projects is stored.

nic obie
10-29-2006, 3:51 PM
Matt,

Thanks for the most excellent tip!

BTW, since I change my ISP so much (for better price or speed) I've gone to Gmail and all my email problems have gone away. If anybody wants an invite, just let me know.

Jim Becker
10-29-2006, 4:36 PM
I have a gmail account...and my own hosting service filters it out as spam...can't send email to myself so I don't use it. Gotta love it!

Norman Hitt
10-29-2006, 4:46 PM
Being a self labled Computer "Illiterate", I can never explain the happenings on this SMA Machine, (smart ALEC:D machine), so about three days ago I got only 2 mails instead of the ususally 30 to 50, which about 50% are normally SPAM. I couldn't figure why there were so few, and late that night I checked again and the ones for the next day had come in, but still only about 5 or 6. When I checked my email the following evening, much to my surprise there were 86 emails, including all the ones dated the day before, and a few dated two or three days before. I have No Clue as to what is going on but this has happened three or four times in the past year.

I guess I'm lucky in one respect though, because the Technical help (although not open 24/7), is located 20 miles from me and they ALL SPEAK ENGLISH, and that is the main reason we have not changed ISP's from the dialup that we have.

Bill Grumbine
10-29-2006, 8:28 PM
Bill,

Can't help you with your technical problems, but I do have some suggestions, if you want to consider the bigger picture.

First, for my personal email, I use www.pobox.com (http://www.pobox.com/) as a forwarding service. For A grand total of $20 a year I get an account with them. I get an @pobox.com email address, and that is what I give to everyone. I then changed my home ISP email address (the old one was soaked with SPAM, same as you). ...

Another alternative is to use a gmail account for your personal mail. I know several people with gmail accounts and they also report very good email filtering.

...art

I appreciate the suggestions Art. I am a special case though, special being unique, not better. I have had a commercial website since 1996 and a personal site since 1998. Between the articles on the one and the longevity of the other, I have made many thousands of contacts and built a widespread network of links on the web. I lost some of that changing my personal account, but I cannot afford to change my commercial account, since that is what feeds the bulldog. So, I have to deal with spam and other unsavory side effects of that. I am going to the host ISP for my website. If they can't get things straight, I can do what anyone else can do, and take that hosting business elsewhere. But other than that, I will be bill@wonderfulwood.com until I give up doing this stuff for a living, which I hope is a good long way away. And since that feeds directly into my personal account, there is no escaping the bad stuff.

Bill

Michael Cody
10-29-2006, 9:43 PM
I appreciate the suggestions Art. I am a special case though, special being unique, not better. I have had a commercial website since 1996 and a personal site since 1998. Between the articles on the one and the longevity of the other, I have made many thousands of contacts and built a widespread network of links on the web. I lost some of that changing my personal account, but I cannot afford to change my commercial account, since that is what feeds the bulldog. So, I have to deal with spam and other unsavory side effects of that. I am going to the host ISP for my website. If they can't get things straight, I can do what anyone else can do, and take that hosting business elsewhere. But other than that, I will be bill@wonderfulwood.com until I give up doing this stuff for a living, which I hope is a good long way away. And since that feeds directly into my personal account, there is no escaping the bad stuff.

Bill

Bill, keeping your email address and changing to something like a webmail service is no problem. There are a few steps, but they are pretty straight forward. You can go to any number of sites like GoDaddy(my personal favorite), etc.. and take control of your domain name, then you can still host your web at your current ISP if you wish, or move it to somewhere else. Unless your ISP is your web designer, the designer doesn't care where it's hosted unless they are getting a kickback.

The actual domain name has nothing to do with where the web site is hosted. You can then get an account @ Yahoo mail, GoDaddy Mail, Hotmail, Postini Mail, etc.. any of them using your existing domain name. Web mail is the way to go!!! All that needs to be done is change the MX record on your domain to point to your new mail host and have the account setup for that domain. No big deal at all. The webmail vendor will also probably handle it for you for a cost. You can get good spam filtering, easy to use mail and never have to worry 'bout small ISP's. Most of the difficulties I see on a day to day basis with this kind of stuff is ISP's not running their DNS servers right. Fixing it is not a big deal at all.

Web based mail is sweet in that you can get your mail anywhere you can get to a web browser... it's not tied to your machine and better yet, you don't lose it if your hard drive dies and you don't have good backups. The new services like Yahoo's latest effort & Gmail are very very nice.

Any "Good" web designer/company with any degree of competence should be able to handle this all for you.. (assuming you use a commercial company for your web design/commercial work). If you wish to keep using your same pop3 software and pull your mail down to your current PC, then use message labs, or postini or any of a bunch of others that scan you mail for you then forward it on. No big deal at all and cost is very small.

Art Mulder
10-29-2006, 9:51 PM
... I have had a commercial website since 1996 and a personal site since 1998. ... I cannot afford to change my commercial account, since that is what feeds the bulldog. So, I have to deal with spam and other unsavory side effects of that. I am going to the host ISP for my website. If they can't get things straight, I can do what anyone else can do, and take that hosting business elsewhere. But other than that, I will be bill@wonderfulwood.com until I give up doing this stuff for a living, which I hope is a good long way away. And since that feeds directly into my personal account, there is no escaping the bad stuff.

Bill,

You've already seen the solution... if your host ISP doesn't give satisfaction, then you can take that hosting business elsewhere. You still would keep the wonderfulwood.com domain. That is exactly what I was suggesting. I'm basically suggesting that you can, if you choose, move your domain to a service that offers better spam filtering.

But more than that. If you want, you can also just move the 'email addressing' part of your domain, and leave the web part with your current hosting company.

I have to get technical to explain, sorry.

When you register a domain, you register just the name part - "wonderfulwood.com" for instance. But we know that computers deal with numbers, not names. So you then have to get and ISP to "host" your domain. They will assign an IP number to go with your domain name.
This is called the DNS entry. So when I tell my computer to go to www.wonderfulwood.com, it looks it up in the DNS, finds the IP number, and then it knows where to direct the web browser.

(I know, this is old ground, anyone who has a domain knows this)
But the DNS is actually a lot more complicated than that.
You also will have an MX record in the DNS for wonderfulwood.com. MX stands for "Mail eXchanger", and contains the entry for the mail server or servers for your domain. So when I try to send email to "joeblow@wonderfulwood.com" my mail server looks up the MX record for wonderfulwood.com so it knows where to send the email. USUALLY, your MX record will point to the same ISP, but it doesn't have to. Places like pobox.com, or the hosted gmail domain service, work by having the MX record for wonderfulwood.com assigned to point to their servers, so that they can process your email for you. You would still be "bill@wonderfulwood.com" and your web site may very well still be hosted at the same ISP.

Obviously, the choice is yours. I just wanted to explain this, as it didn't seem like you were quite following what I said earlier.

I'll take out my pocket protector now, and unwrap the white tape from my black-framed glasses... :D

Frank Fusco
10-30-2006, 12:26 PM
Bill, I was doing some Googling on antler lamps (but that's another story) and found this site. Click on their 'contact' link and note the system they use to prevent, or reduce, spam e-mails. Maybe this idea can help you. I have heard from many others this is a big problem with commercial sites. I hope to have my own within a few months and don't need more problems in my life.

Looks like the site link was removed by a moderator. I thought commercial site links were OK and I see them frequently. Wassup?

Second edit. In fact, Art's post preceding mine has a commercial link in it that hasn't been removed. Repeat my question about my link being deleted. Wassup???

Rick Gibson
10-30-2006, 1:15 PM
I get 40 to 50 spam emails a day and 99.9% of them go to one email address. guess which one. The one listed by whois for my domain. My provider gives me up to 500 email addresses and I make up a new one whenever I have to give an address out to a site I am not positive about. I start getting spam to it and it's gone. Can't do anything about the whois listing yet but here in Canada CIRA is looking at taking that information out of the public domain. Every spam robot in the world is able to harvest your address there. I'm using Mozilla Thunderbird for my email and it's built in spam filter catches about 90% of them. I am able to do a quick check and delete them all with one keypress. Sure will be glad when the WHOIS information is taken out of public domain.

Bill Grumbine
10-30-2006, 2:42 PM
Thanks Art. I am pretty sure I understand it all. Probably my biggest concern about a web based system is that I get lots and lots of peoples' credit information, and I would be very uncomfortable having it hang around on some server somewhere.

Update. I ended up going to my web page hosting ISP in person. I don't think they liked that very much. People tell me I am intimidating just standing around. When I frown it causes people to blanch in fear. If I raise my voice...

But I did not have to raise my voice to get people moving. The ultimate problem seems to be that the ISP who has my email account decided to block the other ISP over spam issues, and so I got blocked. I talked with the owner of the web page hosting ISP, and her one comment regarding my trouble with the help desk people was, "they don't know anything". I managed to get the two ISP admin people talking to one another, and mail is starting to arrive again. Now if it will only stay that way.

Bill

Jerry Clark
10-30-2006, 10:09 PM
Bill, you are first person that I heard complain because you were not getting SPAM!:D

Aaron Koehl
10-31-2006, 12:16 PM
...3, technical wedges in one day (Wedge: the simplest tool known to man.)

LOL!!! I am going to see how many people I can apply that to at work today.

Ken Garlock
10-31-2006, 3:58 PM
LOL!!! I am going to see how many people I can apply that to at work today.

Yep, wedge is a good descriptor for some people. Often times it is applied to the pretty, but dumb secretary, a clerical wedge.

Aaron Koehl
10-31-2006, 4:06 PM
Norman,

If your host's email or DNS (or several other technical email server problems) occur, the other servers trying to deliver mail to your box will postpone delivery for a specified amount of time..

If the server is down when delivery is tried again, the mail message is postponed for another (longer) set amount of time. When the mail server comes back up, usually it results in a large flood of "postponed" messages being re-sent from other servers.

Aaron Koehl
10-31-2006, 4:08 PM
Bill screaming... how appropriate for Halloween.. :D