PDA

View Full Version : TAPCIS: It's Over


John Francis
May 20th, 2009, 08:21 AM
On Monday at 1:00 PM EDT, the plug was pulled on CompuServe Classic's e-mail service. Beginning then, TAPCIS (and other e-mail software) could no longer connect with compuserve.com. So the end of the TAPCIS era, about a (human) generation long, has really come.

"Migrating" to the new e-mail system has been marked by confusion, some failures (none of them permanent that I know of), and the discovery of some bugs, but for most of us it's worked. One reason for the confusion is that it sometimes took many hours for users' e-mails residing at compuserve.com to be moved to the new servers at csi.com, and the users believed the new system wasn't working. But this bottleneck appears to have passed, and most complaints now are being easily resolved.

I got through the transition with no problems at all worth mentioning, and if anyone has questions about it and doesn't want to sift through the immense stack of threads in the CompuServe Classic Support Forum, I'll be happy to answer them.

The outcome is that POP3 and now IMAP e-mail is up and running without needing to change my reply-to e-mail address; all I needed to provide is a new user ID, which now is the complete e-mail address, not just the part before the @, and a new password, for which I was fortunately able to select my original CompuServe login password - no problem remembering that! As far as the world outside knows, neither my e-mail address or anything else has changed. And as far as I'm concerned, handling e-mail hasn't changed much either. With one bug-related problem mentioned later.

CompuServe now additionally provides a Webmail UI for the migrated accounts. This has given people more problems. In the first place, those who had created a personal name alias in NEWMAIL found that this was now their unchangeable e-mail address, the older one based on the PPN not being allowed. Quite arbitrary as those who had no alias kept their PPN-based addresses. Several users have posted that they would have preferred the PPN-based address if given a choice. This means any e-mail composed and sent from CIS Webmail will have a reply-to address of alias@compuserve.com. It will also have a random advertisement appended to the message text, enough in itself to discourage me from using the Webview at all.

Another problem with Webview is a dumb spam filter that traps legit e-mails along with some but not all of the spam, and presently can't be turned off. Moreover, any message in the spam folder can't be seen and retrieved with a POP3 client. To get it off the server and into my e-mail client, I must first go into Webmail, move the mail from the spam folder to the in-box, and only *then* download via POP3. This is cumbersome and easy to forget, and I'm not alone in wanting to turn CompuServe's spam filter off so everything goes into the in-box, for me to deal with in my own way. But the spam filter control won't stick in the Off position, flipping back to Medium. This is obviously not working as designed, and we hope the Powers will fix it immediately.

Once that's done, I don't anticipate using the Webview at all, as Mail2Web is much faster on its feet and provides as much functionality as I need when away from a computer running Thunderbird. The free version, which I use, appends an advertisement for itself, but that's OK, I recommend it anyway. Presently Mail2Web doesn't recognize the new systems' servers at csi.com and can't be used until it does; soon, I hope.

That's about it so far concerning the e-mail changeover. CompuServe is also shutting down its ISP service, on or after June 30, and when that happens my old login, with the PPN and original password, probably won't work. Easy enough to recover access with a new, AOL-style "screen name" and password, but I'm sentimental about the login that's served me for nearly 24 years now, not to mention that 24 years older, I may have a little problem remembering the new one. <grin> CIS's owners, AOL, aren't as sentimental as I am; in the forums, even the CompuServe logo has been replaced with Netscape. But at least they haven't shut it down, and if I sometimes have to explain what this "compuserve" in my e-mail address is, I'm always happy to do that. Try and stop me!

Peter Creasey
May 20th, 2009, 09:39 AM
That's about it so far concerning the e-mail changeover. CompuServe is also shutting down its ISP service, on or after June 30, and when that happens my old login, with the PPN and original password, probably won't work. Easy enough to recover access with a new, AOL-style "screen name" and password, but I'm sentimental about the login that's served me for nearly 24 years now, not to mention that 24 years older, I may have a little problem remembering the new one. <grin> CIS's owners, AOL, aren't as sentimental as I am; in the forums, even the CompuServe logo has been replaced with Netscape. But at least they haven't shut it down, and if I sometimes have to explain what this "compuserve" in my e-mail address is, I'm always happy to do that. Try and stop me!

John, Well stated! And similar to my "loyal" sentiments.

All in all, I submit that Compuserve handled a difficult situation and transition remarkably well.

I know I am well pleased. And glad to have a modern-day email handler now...even it is connected with AOL.

Judy G. Russell
May 20th, 2009, 07:39 PM
On Monday at 1:00 PM EDT, the plug was pulled on CompuServe Classic's e-mail service. Beginning then, TAPCIS (and other e-mail software) could no longer connect with compuserve.com. So the end of the TAPCIS era, about a (human) generation long, has really come.I'm really still amazed that it lasted this long, John.

Mike
May 21st, 2009, 04:29 AM
Presently Mail2Web doesn't recognize the new systems' servers at csi.com and can't be used until it does; soon, I hope.
If you use the Advanced Login, and specify the correct POP server, then mail2web can retrieve the mail. Since the server's domain is not the same as the email address' domain, mail2web cannot associate the two, and m2w has indicated that it does not (and will not) create a table mapping between the domains.

heinz57g
May 21st, 2009, 07:04 AM
yes, using ADV LOGIN does work if you put in the settings manually. but again strange:
it does NOT work if you use the very same settings on your Personalized M2W Home Page,
where you can have several accounts on the ready (but PW).

wow, a lot more to find out, and to do ...

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 21st, 2009, 10:37 AM
(From THE diehard clinger to TAPCIS.)

My experience in making the transition wasn't quite as smooth as described here.

The original memo last month from CIS, talking about the 6/30 shutdown, recommended switching to Netscape or AOL as ISP; I opted for the former and had no difficulty signing up. (First month is free, and from then on $9.95/mo, the same as I'd been paying CIS; even less if one agrees to a long-term sign-up, which I've declined at this point since I might move to DSL. Not yet; too many changes could be severely traumatic.)

As to CIS's behavior with all this, it was less than ideal. The more recent memo was self-contradictory and left up in the air how and when the mailbox migration would take place; the implication was that users themselves would effect the change any time between 5/18 and 6/30. It certainly wasn't clear that the out-of-the-blue disappearance from the old servers would take place as abruptly as it did on 5/18 and users would find themselves unexpectedly messageless. CIS user support turned out to be not only unhelpful but less than helpful, since it later emerged that the tech I got gave me erroneous advice. Everything got straightened out only much later with the help of my local advisor, and I'm getting my mail without difficulty now.

TAPCIS, as noted, won't work with the new CIS mail service. I chose Thunderbird as my new e-mail client. Thus far, I'm pretty happy with it, since it seems friendly--probably because its interface is so similar to that of its sister software Firefox, which I've been using as my main browser for the past couple of years.

But I'd like to be able to use Mail2Web as well. Can someone (Mike?) detail how to get that to look in the right place for mail with the new setup? Right now, it still announces that I have no messages (when I definitely do). TIA.

--DS

heinz57g
May 21st, 2009, 11:21 AM
>> as abruptly as it did on 5/18 and users would find themselves unexpectedly messageless

yes, thats what it looked like, but luckily wasnt: the mails all re-appeared once you switched to the
new system. as far as i can tell (several accounts checked), nothing got lost.

>> CIS user support turned out to be not only unhelpful but less than helpful

that is putting it politely. when i called their european support few days ago, the initial response was
that CLASSIC had been out since years ... took another 5 minutes before they found someone who
knew what i was talking about.

>> I chose Thunderbird as my new e-mail client

excellent choice, and probably the easiest to get into without too much pain. once you are 'fluent',
check out some of the add-ons it offers.

>> like to be able to use Mail2Web as well

suggest you wait a few days, they might sort out that server problem. at the moment it seems to
be too much of a workaround to get it done. their system with a personalized homepage works fine
with all other services, and i am sure it will with CSI too.

eventually.

but if you are really impatient, i would be happy to give you a step-by-step guide to get into it, with
the Advanced Login mike was talking about.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
May 22nd, 2009, 04:50 AM
Before you try to use Mail2Web to access your mail, are you able to retrieve it with Thunderbird? I'm asking because some people can access webmail.compuserve.com with no problem, but are unable to check the mailbox with POP3 (the protocol used by Thunderbird and Mail2Web).

If you are able to use Thunderbird, then Mail2Web can be used this way:


Go to www.mail2web.com (http://www.mail2web.com)
Click Advanced Login
Enter pop.csi.com for Server name or IP address
Enter your complete email address (s****z@compuserve.com) in User ID or Login name
Enter your password in Password
Choose POP3 for Mail Protocol
Click "Check Mail"
Mail2Web will display a code and ask you to type it into a box (to confirm you are a human). Type it as requested and click "Check Mail"

Note that CompuServe's own web mail page (http://webmail.compuserve.com) gives you more control over accessing mail, including the ability to tag spam to train the spam filter, to mark messages read or unread, and to search for the sender or subject throughout the mailbox.

heinz57g
May 22nd, 2009, 06:49 AM
let me add a few things to mikes very clear listing:

- USER ID or LOGIN name: if you have both (many
people even dont remember they do), only the LOGIN name
(also called 'friendly name') will work, NOT the actual
numeric ID.

- the PASSWORD is the new password you set up when
changing systems a few days ago. with some people it seemed
to have worked to set this to the same as the old mail-only
password, with others not.

many greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 22nd, 2009, 11:08 AM
Many thanks, Mike and Heinz!

Yes, Mike, I've had no trouble handling my mail with Thunderbird. (I'm certainly not, um, on intimate terms with it after less than a week--but we've become dependably friendly, and it's been forbearing with my fumbling.) Its ability to sniff out junk mail is truly impressive.

I've printed out the advice from both of you, and I'm about to go see if I can bring Mail2Web back to functioning life. I'll report results.

-DS

Dodi Schultz
May 22nd, 2009, 11:41 AM
Okay, guys, here I am again, having attempted to resuscitate Mail2Web.

No joy.

I used Advanced Login. As instructed, I entered pop.csi.com as server name and my e-mail address as Mail2Web has always known it (what Mike specified).

I chose POP3 for protocol.

As to password: Heinz, it did NOT want the new CompuServe password I set up a few days ago. When I tried to use that, it repeatedly said it was an error and asked for a new password.

Then, I tried the special password I'd originally set up with Mail2Web (different from both my old CIS password and that new one I recently set up). It seemed to accept that--it didn't call it an error--but kept repeatedly returning me to the login, asking me to copy a new "code word."

I gave up.

Apparently, it has no connection with the new CompuServe mail servers, as far as I can see.

Have you--either Mike or Heinz--actually got Mail2Web to read mail on the new system? Or do you know anyone who has?

--DS

heinz57g
May 22nd, 2009, 12:35 PM
>> Advanced Login

correct.

>> pop.csi.com as server name

correct.

>> my e-mail address as Mail2Web has always known it (what Mike specified)

must be the 'friendly name' you set up years ago, not the numeric one, and include the
@compuserve.com part, i.e. dodis@compuserve.com

>> POP3 for protocol

correct.

>> it did NOT want the new CompuServe password I set up a few days ago

thats the one it needs if all other points are correct. check spelling, capitals or not, etc.

>> Then, I tried the special password I'd originally set up with Mail2Web

M2W does not use passwords at all. it just asks you for passwords that belong to the
mail account you use. in this case, the above CSI password.

>> It seemed to accept that

dont get angry: could it be you are mixing passwords up?

>> asking me to copy a new "code word"

thats why i asked about the mixup. this request only comes if email and password are OK.

and here might be a hiccup: if you use any of the FIREFOX popup or script blockers (such
as NoScript), you might not SEE the code it is asking for. check that, and allow FIREFOX
to permit any scripts for that page. or, just for this testing, use IntExpl.

>> I gave up

dont. we will have you going within minutes.

>> Have you--either Mike or Heinz--actually got Mail2Web to read mail on the new system?
>> Or do you know anyone who has?

me, yes for sure, some 15 accounts so far. my own and friends. all work.

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 22nd, 2009, 09:49 PM
Well, Heinz, I'm thoroughly baffled.

I followed all of the instructions. I used, yes, the address I've always been using, since the letters replaced my account number years ago. That hasn't changed at all; it's my continuing e-mail address, and it's what I've been using at M2W right along.

I did all the other things you mention. No, I don't have my passwords confused. When I used the brand-new password I made up the other day for the new CServe mail set-up, M2W declared it an error.

A special password *had* been set up for M2W years ago; it *wasn't* my original CServe password. M2W does *not* declare that an error; it just repeatedly brings up the "enter the code word" screen, with a new word each time. And yes, I can see the words perfectly clearly. There's no problem with that. (Lots of sites ask you to do that, in order to prevent robot access. I've never had any trouble with any of them, and there's nothing in my browser that interferes.)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Any other ideas?

Heinz? Or Mike?

--Dodi

Mike
May 23rd, 2009, 03:31 AM
Have you--either Mike or Heinz--actually got Mail2Web to read mail on the new system? Or do you know anyone who has?
Yup. I just tried with a test account, and it worked fine.

I hadn't used m2w for a long time, because all of the mailboxes I check have their own web interface that does what I need, and I prefer not to share my password with another provider. Thus, I didn't know about the step to enter the code word. (I've gone back to edit my post to reflect that.)

I'm wondering if m2w is remembering your old settings and trying to use them? Is there a way to tell m2w to forget them?

heinz57g
May 23rd, 2009, 03:55 AM
>> Well, Heinz, I'm thoroughly baffled

so am i, so you are not alone at least.

>> When I used the brand-new password I made up the other
>> day for the new CServe mailset-up, M2W declared it an error

that is strange and should not be the case.

>> A special password *had* been set up for M2W years ago

and THAT is the part that cannot be (or where i simply misunderstand you): M2W
has not password, anywhere. so thats also the part where we need to hook into.

>> Any other ideas?

for right now, only one. you will get a PM on this.

greetings - heinz -

heinz57g
May 23rd, 2009, 04:03 AM
mike,

>> and I prefer not to share my password with another provider

thats the main issue with M2W: they do NOT use or STORE passwords, at all. you have
to enter it, for every account, every time anew. it is not recorded or stored anywhere, just
passed on to your actual system in real time.

that also is the neat thing about their personalized homepage: you can have dozends of
accounts sitting ready there, with all the names and login data, BUT the password - which
you then enter manually. there is NO option to override this safety feature.

wait: you own computer could do this, your browser for example. it could fill in passwords
for you if set up to do so, but this again has nothing to do with M2W.

>> didn't know about the step to enter the code word

that is fairly new, weeks only, and also does not show up at every time you log in. seems to
come up only if you have not logged in for some time, or if previous attempts have been faulty.

greetings - heinz -

John Francis
May 23rd, 2009, 10:05 AM
The more recent memo was self-contradictory and left up in the air how and when the mailbox migration would take place; the implication was that users themselves would effect the change any time between 5/18 and 6/30. It certainly wasn't clear that the out-of-the-blue disappearance from the old servers would take place as abruptly as it did on 5/18 and users would find themselves unexpectedly messageless.

Perhaps you didn't get CIS's follow-up e-mail, "REMINDER:Important CompuServe Classic Account Notification, dated 5/15/09, which said:

The transition to the new mail system will occur on May 18, 2009. After this date, all access to your CompuServe Classic email will be provided
through the new system - and the existing CompuServe Classic email system will be shut down.

It went on to say that users have until June 30 to "migrate" their accounts to the new system, but not that meanwhile they would somehow be able to see their e-mail somewhere else. When the whole CompuServe Classic service is shut down on June 30, presumably everything still on it, including unmigrated e-mail accounts, will go into the bit bucket. But at least CIS gave us 6 weeks' grace period (though they didn't call it that) for whatever we choose to do, or not.

To be fair, CIS's first e-mail, same subject except the REMINDER and dated 4/15/09, did not say this. Whether it was poorly written, or CIS hadn't yet worked out exactly how the transition was going to work, I've no idea.

I chose Thunderbird as my new e-mail client.

FYI, the default setup in the new e-mail system has a spam filter set to Medium. Any messages in the Spam folder, including false positives of course, won't be seen by a POP3 e-mail client. (I'm told that if the client is set to use IMAP, the Spam folder will be visible in the client.) The only way to deal with this is via the Webmail interface. Since I don't want to use Webmail unless I really have to, on the road, I tried to turn the spam filter off, so all incoming messages would go into the In-box and I could deal with them in Tbird or Mail2Web, when and if. But like most users, I found that after I logged out of Webmail, the spam filter reverted to Medium. There's a workaround for this bug, however. Instead of logging in via http://webmail.compuserve.com, use http://webmail.aol.com. You'll see exactly the same CIS Webmail UI, and when you set the Spam filter to off and click Save, it really *is* saved.

Dodi Schultz
May 23rd, 2009, 11:14 AM
John, I'm not having any trouble dealing with my mail (reading, sorting, writing) via Tbird; that's working just fine (although quite a wrench switching from TAPCIS!). My only problem now is getting Mail2Web to function for me, which it has ceased doing.

My userid/e-mail address has not changed at all, so it appears to be a password question. Mail2Web seems to accept neither my new CompuServe password NOR the special password I'd set up for it via something called "virtual key" around five years ago.

See the intervening correspondence in this thread.

--DS

heinz57g
May 23rd, 2009, 01:59 PM
dodi, this is where the mixup and misunderstanding (could well be on my side) is: the latest mentioning of
VIRTUAL KEY in connection with M2W - the two have nothing to do with each other. virtual key was a security
feature of the old Compuserve software (OSWIN, CS4 etc), long before M2W was even on the market.

greetings - heinz -

davidh
May 23rd, 2009, 10:10 PM
CIS's owners, AOL, aren't as sentimental as I am; in the forums, even the CompuServe logo has been replaced with Netscape. But at least they haven't shut it down, and if I sometimes have to explain what this "compuserve" in my e-mail address is, I'm always happy to do that. Try and stop me!
FWIW, even tho' I canceled Classic Compuserve in about '05, I discovered that I'm still a Compuserve member, sort of.

When I changed something in my Compuserve Instant Messenger (basically the same as AOL Instant Messenger) account recently , a confirmation message came from "Compuserve Instant Messenger" verifying the change.

So I'll probably remain a "member" as long as AIM still works, or until I drop off the planet.
DH

Mike
May 24th, 2009, 02:43 AM
thats the main issue with M2W: they do NOT use or STORE passwords, at all. you have to enter it, for every account, every time anew. it is not recorded or stored anywhere, just passed on to your actual system in real time.
I understand that m2w promises that. However, the password does go through m2w's system, in the clear.

Anytime I'm transmitting a password, I will only do it on a trusted connection, and only directly to the site where it is used. (For example, I won't use a web mail password at a site that doesn't use SSL if I'm not at home.)

Thus, my personal security policy is not to transmit a password to any site except the one that uses it for authentication. So far, none of my accounts anywhere have been compromised.

heinz57g
May 24th, 2009, 04:06 AM
technically 1000% correct, and for yourself probably the perfect solution. not for others (me!)
who HAVE to switch to totally unknown computers, providers, systems, countries, all the time.

>> understand that m2w promises that
>> However, the password does go through m2w's system, in the clear
>> So far, none of my accounts anywhere have been compromised

wish we could get M2W to comment on this. i did, quite a while ago, a check WWW-wide to see
if anybody ever complained about the pass-thru password being compromised or misused,
found nothing. has anyone here experienced or even heard of anything else?

greetings - heinz -

John Francis
May 24th, 2009, 07:25 AM
Oh, people can still subscribe to CompuServe and pay for the privilege - just not CompuServe *Classic*. CompuServe 2000, with the domain name cs.com, is unaffected by all this. I gather it's essentially rebranded AOL, like Quaker's Oats and Mother's Oats ("which are the same"), and presumably running on AOL's servers, as is the new Webmail I've just migrated to from Classic. Getting rid of Classic allows AOL finally to shut down the aging dedicated servers it's been running on - presumably still out there in Columbus, OH?

davidh
May 24th, 2009, 10:29 AM
Oh, people can still subscribe to CompuServe and pay for the privilege - just not CompuServe *Classic*. CompuServe 2000, with the domain name cs.com, is unaffected by all this. I gather it's essentially rebranded AOL, like Quaker's Oats and Mother's Oats ("which are the same"), and presumably running on AOL's servers, as is the new Webmail I've just migrated to from Classic. Getting rid of Classic allows AOL finally to shut down the aging dedicated servers it's been running on - presumably still out there in Columbus, OH?
Yeah. After I posted my msg. I realized that all the CS2000 are Compuserve Instant Messenger members whether they use it or not.

I think there are some differences between AOL and CS2000, but I don't know what they are. AOL used to provide free McAfee AV until just recently. AOL also had parental controls. I don't know what are the differences between AOL and CS2000 wrt these freebie services, if any.

I tried out a couple of the AOL freebies with my free AOL account (but without the regular AOL software loaded) a while back. IMO most of them were not worth bothering with compared to other free programs with similar functionality. I still keep my AOL account w/email but hardly ever check it and I visit one or two AOL message boards once in a great while. AOL abandoned their proprietary message board (forum) protocol some years ago and moved over to a HTTP based protocol for forums , requiring only a browser to access them. But different than the prospero/delphi system that Compuserve forums now use.

earler
May 24th, 2009, 12:13 PM
You need not keep your aol account. You will still have your email after canceling it. Why bother to pay?

heinz57g
May 24th, 2009, 12:30 PM
i think we all pestered Mail2Web too much: since a few hours their webpage
reports with something like ''mail2web.com is currently under maintenance.
Please try again later''.

or: they heard our prayers ...

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 24th, 2009, 01:06 PM
Interesting, Heinz, about the "maintenance" message at M2W; haven't been there today, but I'll stop by later and see what, if anything, has changed. (I never did get it to work yesterday.) I'm perfectly fine handling my e-mail with TBird, but it would still be nice to be able to stop by M2W when I happen to be browsing with Firefox and see what's in the mailbox.

--DS

heinz57g
May 24th, 2009, 01:58 PM
dodi, you have along PM from me. hope it makes sense. once we have settled YOU, we will publish this here in the forum.
i think there will be others who are also confused with the three(!)-level-password-system of COMPUSERVE ...

greetings - heinz -

davidh
May 24th, 2009, 04:12 PM
You need not keep your aol account. You will still have your email after canceling it. Why bother to pay?
I used to have a pay-for lite ($4.95) AOL account years ago to access their forums with their OLR, but I canceled it long time ago. The one I have now is a free one, just to be able to post to the AOL message boards if I ever get the itch to do so in future. I don't even know if it's possible to post on AOL forums with a mere AIM or CSIM account? I suspect not.

davidh
May 24th, 2009, 04:20 PM
Interesting, Heinz, about the "maintenance" message at M2W; haven't been there today, but I'll stop by later and see what, if anything, has changed. (I never did get it to work yesterday.) I'm perfectly fine handling my e-mail with TBird, but it would still be nice to be able to stop by M2W when I happen to be browsing with Firefox and see what's in the mailbox.

--DS FWIW to any lurkers, etc. The AOL Instant Messenger program or other multiprotocol Instant Messenger programs such as Pidgin will tell one if there is any new mail in one's AOL or AIM inbox. I have no idea if former Classic Compuserve members will be able to use AIM or CSIM with their Compuserve ID or not. I would guess that if they can't get into the Compuserve/Netscape (Prospero) forums with their Classic personal/friendly/alpha ID then they'd have to sign up for a free AIM or free AOL or free Netscape account (or pay-for if so inclined).

heinz57g
May 24th, 2009, 04:48 PM
mike, just checked: M2W DOES offer a secure SSL connection,
with just one click on their personalized homepage. would this
help your trust in them?

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 24th, 2009, 08:49 PM
As previously reported, my CompuServe Classic mailbox has been successfully migrated; I can pick up, answer, and send e-mail with Tbird (TAPCIS, R.I.P.), having established a new CServe password; I can still get into the CServe forums and am welcomed there by name; CServe dial-up stays operative and will do so through 6/30, according to them, and I've signed up with Netscape to replace it, at the same monthly price ($9.95; there is no charge for CServe mail).

There is only one thing I can't do, and that's use Mail2Web.

Here's what I did:

I established that there was mail in my inbox. Then I went to M2W and tried to see it four different ways via each of the ISPs (in case that made a difference, which it turned out not to): regular login leaving the old M2W password in place ("You have no messages") and with the new CServe password ("Login Failure"); advanced login with the old M2W password ("Login Failure") and with the new CServe password ("Login Failure").

I then phoned CServe tech support (800-848-8990; you don't have to wait through the automated menu; press 1211 for an instant human). The word: You can't use M2W with the new mail system. Period. End of story.

--DS

heinz57g
May 24th, 2009, 09:16 PM
... suggest you then tell that instant human at 1211 that both me and mike and dozends
of others are using M2W with the new mail system. Period. End of story. YES.

is there a way to include a screenprint here, with the mssgs? would be only too happy to
provide some, from several diff accounts, with M2W happily presenting a classic
COMPUSERVE account. WITH mssgs in it ...

greetings - heinz -

sidney
May 24th, 2009, 09:27 PM
is there a way to include a screenprint here, with the mssgs?

If you click on the Quote or the Post Reply button to get to the edit box, instead of using the Quick Reply box, or alternatively if you use the Quick Reply box and click on its "Go Advanced" button, then you can scroll down below the edit box to where it says "Attach files" and use the "Manage Attachments" button to upload file attachments to your message. They will each show up as thumbnail that can be clicked on to see the full image.

Dodi Schultz
May 24th, 2009, 11:52 PM
Heinz, I don't know what to say. I'm sorry that you're angry about this. I certainly wasn't blaming *you* for what is either CompuServe's fault or my own fault.

I described what I tried, following the suggestions you and Mike had offered earlier.

If the CompuServe tech support person is wrong, then I must not have entered the correct information. I know my name and address are correct. I could see, and faithfully copied, their captcha. I tried password variations. I "checked" pop mail. That leaves only the server.

Perhaps "pop.csi.com" isn't right? That's what I've been using in that first box in the Advanced login, based on what I was told here earlier.

Maybe it needs the actual address of the server (webmail.compuserve.com)?

Anyway: This isn't vital; it's just a convenience--less necessary now than when I was using the OLR, TAPCIS, for my e-mail.

--DS

Mike
May 25th, 2009, 03:32 AM
I'd rather be paranoid unnecessarily than take chances. :-)

Mike
May 25th, 2009, 03:43 AM
M2W DOES offer a secure SSL connection, with just one click on their personalized homepage. would this help your trust in them?
Well...

First of all, I get an error that m2w has an invalid security certificate (see the second screen shot). I'm not going to add an exception.

Second, that only means the password is encrypted from my computer to m2w's server. At m2w, it must be decrypted so that it can be sent in the clear to CompuServe's POP3 server. From the perspective of m2w, there's really no difference.

And to be clear: I didn't say that I don't trust m2w. I stated my personal policy is not to share a password with any site except the one on which it's used. I have no reason not to be believe that m2w is any less trustworthy than CompuServe (or AOL) itself. And even though that's my policy, I have been known to make exceptions when I feel the net benefit is positive.

heinz57g
May 25th, 2009, 03:47 AM
dodi, dear, i am not angry at all - maybe frustrated, but not angry. or better: angry that we cant
get your system going the way you want it, and that CSI support knows so little about what
they did during that migration.

>> I could see, and faithfully copied, their captcha

wonder if mike can confirm this: the captcha only shows up if the login name and password were correct.

>> Perhaps "pop.csi.com" isn't right?

no it is, its the one i use in all cases. except when i once misspelled it into the old CIS instead of CSI.

>> Anyway: This isn't vital; it's just a convenience

vital maybe not. but what will they do next? block off certain providers, empty the mailbox for you?
read it aloud to all the neighbors, and THEN not letting you in anymore?

greetings - heinz -

Mike
May 25th, 2009, 04:05 AM
I then phoned CServe tech support ... The word: You can't use M2W with the new mail system. Period. End of story.

And CompuServe's outsourced tech support has such a great track record.
Heh, even when tech support was handled in-house, it had a similar great track record.

The people providing tech support seldom use the system. They sit in a big room, and each rep has access to the knowledgebase. If a question is asked for which they cannot find an answer, the reps create an answer. On the spot.

Take it from someone who has been providing support to CompuServe members in one way or another for well over 16 years: CompuServe tech support often (perhaps "usually") is wrong. Period. End of story.

Take a look at the three attached screen shots.

Mailbox via CSWebMail.jpg shows my test mailbox as seen through CompuServe web mail (http://webmail.compuserve.com).

M2W Login.jpg shows my response to the fields to log into m2w.

Mailbox via M2W.jpg shows my test mailbox as seen through m2w.

It's quite possible for some mailboxes not to work properly. For example, we've learned that some mailboxes were quite accessible via web mail, but would refuse POP3 access. Then we discovered that often, if the user changed his/her password and tried again, POP3 would work just fine.

Since you (Dodi) can access your mailbox with Thunderbird, there's something else causing the problem, but m2w can be used to view a CompuServe mailbox. Period. End of story.

heinz57g
May 25th, 2009, 04:21 AM
>> no reason not to be believe that m2w is any less trustworthy than ...

mike, thats the part i was wondering about, if you or anybody else had heard anything
negative in this respect, about M2W. but apperently not ... so i can go back to sleep again.

>> CompuServe tech support often (perhaps "usually") is wrong. Period. End of story
>> but m2w can be used to view a CompuServe mailbox. Period. End of story

mike, love you.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
May 25th, 2009, 04:23 AM
wonder if mike can confirm this: the captcha only shows up if the login name and password were correct.
From what I can see, it appears that when the server, login, password, and protocol are entered and "Get Mail" is clicked, a server script is called to validate (but not verify) the fields, and then the CAPTCHA is returned. Once the CAPTCHA has been entered, the information is transmitted to the right server.

However, it's 1:23 am in my time zone as I type this, so I may not have read the HTML and Javascript correctly. I'd welcome someone else's review/opinion...

heinz57g
May 25th, 2009, 04:59 AM
mike, you are right, it only verifies correct entries after the CAPTCHA is used.

which means any of the three entries of dodi can be the culprit.

greetings - heinz -

John Francis
May 25th, 2009, 01:59 PM
There are differences between AOL and CIS2000 ISP and e-mail in features and price, and CS2000 ISP has apparently been rebranded Netscape for new subscribers, just as the CompuServe forums (aka "Community") has been rebranded Netscape. What I meant is that the e-mail user interface, and likely the software behind it, are all but identical. And the same UI etc. has now been extended to the "new" e-mail system for CompuServe Classic users.

John Francis
May 25th, 2009, 02:09 PM
I would guess that if they can't get into the Compuserve/Netscape (Prospero) forums with their Classic personal/friendly/alpha ID then they'd have to sign up for a free AIM or free AOL or free Netscape account (or pay-for if so inclined).
The folks in the CompuServe Classic Support Forum tell us that after June 30, when the old servers are shut down and the last vestiges of Classic go away, we who've been logging in to the Forums with our Classic usernames/screen names of whatever kind (with or without Virtual Key) will find they no longer work. We'll then have to set up with an AOL/AIM login. I'm putting this off to the last minute, as I don't want to kill off 71600.xxx before CIS/Netscape/AOL does. Call me sentimental...

Dodi Schultz
May 25th, 2009, 05:42 PM
Mike, I know very well, from prior experience, that CServe tech support is, um, less than well-informed. Indeed, they came up with erroneous advice during the migration, necessitating undoing what they'd told me to do before I could accomplish that successfully. Of course I didn't believe what they said about M2W not working with the new CIS mail system, since that had been contradicted here. I just reported what I'd been told, for the record.

Your screen shots were interesting, although not necessarily helpful. The third one showed messages as I've been accustomed to seeing them listed at M2W. The M2W screen where you filled in stuff is exactly as I've been doing it! I am assuming that the password to be entered is the new one created when I set up the new mailbox, NOT the one I used to use with TAPCIS, and NOT the one I used to use at M2W, which was different (as reported earlier, I tried that, just in case).

As you say, something is clearly amiss--but WHAT? Any ideas? I DO consider you the most reliable advisor about all things CompuServe. If you don't have the answer, I can't imagine who does!

--DS

Mike
May 26th, 2009, 02:55 AM
I am assuming that the password to be entered is the new one created when I set up the new mailbox, NOT the one I used to use with TAPCIS, and NOT the one I used to use at M2W, which was different (as reported earlier, I tried that, just in case).
Thank you for the compliments, Dodi.

Yes, your assumption, which I quoted above, is correct.

My primary suspicion is that m2w recognizes you from your <s****z@compuserve.com> address, and then tries to use the information it has on file for you.

Here's how I would test, were I in that situation: I would create a new CompuServe email address (http://www.tunome.com/registerDomain?domain=compuserve.com). I would try accessing that via m2w. When it's successful, it will prove that m2w works on your computer, via your ISP. You then can ask m2w to delete all the data associated with your current email address, so you can regain access to your CompuServe account.

Mike
May 26th, 2009, 02:57 AM
Or all of Dodi's entries are correct, but m2w is doing something behind the scenes that causes problems!

Mike
May 26th, 2009, 03:00 AM
Even if you don't use the ID regularly until the end of June, you might want to set it up and make sure it works beforehand, so you're not stuck on July 1 without forum access.

You could use it in your alternate Firefox profile, or in Chrome, to prevent it from modifying any of your current access cookies.

earler
May 26th, 2009, 05:00 AM
CompuServe had, in fact, a very good technical support structure that was built up in house. Its decline in later years was regrettable but not imputable to the management that had built up CompuServe.

Dodi Schultz
May 26th, 2009, 11:43 AM
Mike, thank you--but now you've got me thoroughly confused. (I have to add that, when it comes to technology, I'm *easily* confused, so this state of bewilderment is doubtless my fault and not yours.)

You seem to be suggesting that I change my e-mail address--the same classic address I've had for years, the one everybody knows. But the fact that I can keep it, and *have* kept it, is the main reason I've stayed with CompuServe through this server migration). It's hard-wired into my software. It's what a number of sites know me by. It's what M2W has always known me by. It's *me*. It *works*--i.e., it ain't broke--everywhere but M2W (and we're not sure that's what's wrong *there*, are we?).

At some points, you and others have referred to getting in direct touch with the M2W people. How do I do that? Is there an e-mail address or, preferably, a toll-free phone number? I don't *think* I saw anything like that at the M2W site--although maybe I just wasn't paying attention...

--DS

heinz57g
May 26th, 2009, 03:03 PM
dodi, you can even talk to them directly from their website, just by clicking.

though i doubt it gets you anywhere ...

greetings - heinz -

sidney
May 26th, 2009, 04:10 PM
You seem to be suggesting that I change my e-mail address--the same classic address I've had for years

Dodi, if I understand Mike correctly, I think he is suggesting that you set up a new Compuserve e-mail address only for testing purposes, while you still can before all the old Compuserve stuff disappears, and see if you can get M2W to work with that. If it does work, then you know that the problem is not with your settings, your browser, your computer, etc. At that point you can more confidently as the M2W people to delete whatever saved information they must have associated with your real CompuServe email address so you can try again configuring that one, and never use the test address again.

Dodi Schultz
May 27th, 2009, 01:13 AM
Heinz, thank you! I think I may call that number in the morning.

Sidney, my computer advisor (who is not and never has been a CServe user and isn't familiar with M2W) installed and set up Tbird for me, along with my new Netscape dialer, and guided me through the CServe migration. All of that now works and, to be frank, I'd be crazy to mess with anything in any of those places, even as a "test", because I'd be sure to screw something up.

Let's see if I get anywhere talking to M2W.

--DS

Mike
May 27th, 2009, 05:16 AM
In the early years, in-house Technical Support was pretty good, as you state. Reps actually used the service and were familiar with all of its offerings. AAMOF, many people in Technical Support were promoted to other jobs within the organization.

However, the sudden growth in the 1990s meant the Customer Service department could not keep chairs filled, and the company cut back on training so as to get new reps busy answering phones and email.

Mike
May 27th, 2009, 05:30 AM
You seem to be suggesting that I change my e-mail address--the same classic address I've had for years, the one everybody knows.
Uh, no. When trying to illustrate a point, I've used an example email address that is based on what ISTR is your old email address (the alpha one, not the numeric one). Whether I'm close or not, it doesn't matter, as I'm only trying to provide an example.

If your expectation is to use your numeric address, then I guess some education is in order: the new system treats the alpha address as the primary, and the numeric is an alias for inbound email only. This means you can log into the system only as alpha_address@compuserve.com, but not as 71234.5674@compuserve.com. As well, mail sent from the system always will appear as "From: alpha_address@compuserve.com."

[There are some hacks to allow sending email to appear as "From: 71234.5674@compuserve.com, but they require access to another SMTP server besides smtp.csi.com. Right now, let's focus on solving the other problems.]

At some points, you and others have referred to getting in direct touch with the M2W people. How do I do that?
I think Heinz has covered that one. In general, I look for "Contact Us" links on a site, sometimes found behind "Help" or "Support" links.

Mike
May 27th, 2009, 05:40 AM
Sidney: thanks for catching that point!
Sidney, my computer advisor [...] installed and set up Tbird for me, along with my new Netscape dialer, and guided me through the CServe migration. All of that now works and, to be frank, I'd be crazy to mess with anything in any of those places, even as a "test", because I'd be sure to screw something up.
You won't need to modify either of those things--and I would highly recommend that you not do so--to do the test I was suggesting, because my recommended test is completely, 100% web-based.

Perhaps, in your situation, perhaps a discussion with m2w is your best course of action. I'm just skeptical--from everything I've read here and elsewhere, I get the impression that the m2w people don't understand the new CompuServe Classic mail architecture, and simply assume it's the same as any other ISP's.

Dodi Schultz
May 27th, 2009, 03:59 PM
E U R E K A !

I thought that before I made that phone call to the M2W folks, I'd make one last stab at seeing messages at the site; *then* I'd call, with the screen right in front of me.

Guys, I have just seen a flock of messages at M2W! No, I did absolutely nothing different from the other umpteen times I've tried in the past several days. Honest. Nothing different at all.

The only thing I can think of is that their recognition of the new CServe system and passwords is/was being handled gradually (who knows why, when all of the mailboxes could be whisked away in one fell swoop)--perhaps alphabetically, and they just today reached the letter "S".

I can't think of any other explanation of the fact that it was working for some users a day or two ago and for me, just this afternoon--can *you*?

In any event: It *is* working now. Whew!

--DS

heinz57g
May 27th, 2009, 05:04 PM
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !!!

heinz57g wrote on 21may:

>> ... suggest you wait a few days, they might sort out that
>> server problem. at the moment it seems to be too much of
>> a workaround to get it done. their system with a personalized
>> homepage works fine (- it doesnt, quite, yet -) with all other
>> services, and i am sure it will with CSI too ...

greetings - heinz

PS: assume, though, it was still with the ''advanced login'', no?

Dodi Schultz
May 27th, 2009, 07:49 PM
Yes, Heinz, it was indeed with the Advanced Login.

--DS

heinz57g
May 28th, 2009, 03:16 AM
same here. still sad: i hope standard login, and with this the most important
login with your personal page, will also come thru - some day.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
May 28th, 2009, 04:17 AM
Excellent. My work is done.

heinz57g
May 28th, 2009, 05:05 AM
>> ... My work is done

again those withdrawal symptoms. no chance, mike, after 2400++ posts.

>> hope standard login, and with this the most important
>> login with your personal page, will also come thru

any ideas/suggestions/tips/thoughts on this one?

figured out how to send mails as numeric 12345.678@compuserve.com (yes,
seperate SMTP server), which was important too. found one you paid for (BORTNET)
a while ago already, but it seems to work worldwide and in locations and with
providers and ISPs that have otherwise failed (and/or blocked intentionally).

good combination with ePrompter, if anyone feels like trying that. setup 30 seconds.

greetings - heinz -

sidney
May 28th, 2009, 06:15 AM
figured out how to send mails as numeric 12345.678@compuserve.com (yes,
seperate SMTP server)

Gmail is free and lets you set up a choice of sender address as long as you can prove that you have access to the email account of that address. If you don't already have a gmail account, the simplest way to set it up would be to create a gmail account on that address, otherwise you can "add account" in your gmail settings and enter the email address you want to be able to send from. Once you do that and respond to the verification email to prove that the address is yours, you can send email from that address using the Google mail smtp server.

heinz57g
May 28th, 2009, 06:46 AM
>> Once you do that and respond to the verification email to prove that the
address is yours

for some strange reason, the verification between GMail and COMPUSERVE
does not (did not, for a long time) work - from rather scetchy responses of
GMail's hotline i presume on purpose (as with several of the free
webmailers). must have to do with their love of AOL ...

anyone here tried it, and with what results?

also, the GMail smtp server only works with webmail 100%, with POP3 clients
it is very 'sensitive', many ISP/provider combinations are blocked, specially
abroad and in many closed (ie airports, McDonalds, starbucks) networks.

greetings - heinz -

PS: just tried it quickly, on 3 diff GMail accounts: all of them can send normal mails
to COMPUSERVE, but the verification mail never leaves GMail, neither to numeric
nor to 'friendly' addresses. doubt that such a filter would be on the CSI side.

PPS: i stand corrected, and am amazed: i assure you i tried this over 100 times, over
two years. but now one of the 3 came back OK, and verified! took 15 minutes, which
for email is ages, but of all the ones i tried, it is the numeric one i needed most.
! ! ! - HURRAY - ! ! !

sidney
May 28th, 2009, 11:47 PM
And as CompuServe Classic fades into the sunset, it is now official that Time-Warner is spinning off AOL (http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090528-711935.html), presumably into oblivion, for an approximate $100billion less than AOL's nominal worth when it used that supposed worth to buy Time-Warner nine years ago.

Someone pointed out that AOL bought Time-Warner to get all that content, e.g., movies, TV shows, music, that TW owns and sell it over the net to all those online customers that AOL had. They never got through the fear of "piracy" and never were able to come up with a DRM scheme that would work to allay those fears. So by doing nothing they have lost $100 billion in nine years.

How long would it have taken to lose $100 billion to "piracy" if they had simply created a market for all that content?

Dodi Schultz
May 29th, 2009, 01:09 AM
And here's the latest, at 1 a.m. Friday in NYC. NOTHING is working anymore.

An hour and a half ago, I picked up and sent e-mail with no trouble. Now:

M2W is back to its nonfunctioning condition.

Worse, I can't get to my mailbox at ALL; T-bird, after contacting those people, is suddenly asking me for a password and reporting back that "mail server pop.csi.com responded: account information not available."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

--DS

Mike
May 29th, 2009, 04:59 AM
>> hope standard login, and with this the most important
>> login with your personal page, will also come thru

any ideas/suggestions/tips/thoughts on this one?

I'm unclear what you mean by that, Heinz. Could you please elaborate?

figured out how to send mails as numeric 12345.678@compuserve.com
Your current solution (using another SMTP server is the best at the moment). The mail team is working on allowing that from web mail, too--giving the sender a choice in the Compose window.

Mike
May 29th, 2009, 05:13 AM
Once you do that and respond to the verification email to prove that the address is yours, you can send email from that address using the Google mail smtp server.
I've been using that for a long time. However, it has a "feature" that really annoys me.

Gmail's SMTP server inserts a "Sender: Display Name _address_@gmail.com" header into each email transmitted. Thus, anyone inspecting the headers can see the Gmail address, which one might prefer to keep private.

To counteract that, I created a Gmail account that I don't check for incoming mail. Then I learned that Microsoft Look Out Outlook incorporates that value into the headers it does display, so an Outlook user sees this:

From: GMail Display Name [mailto:_address_@gmail.com] on behalf of MailClient Display Name
Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:59 PM
To: recipient
Subject: whatever

Yeah, I realize that Outlook is the real problem here, but I wish that Gmail wouldn't include that information in the headers. Gmail's logs should provide the information about the sender should there be spamming complaints, and I can't see any other reason someone should need to know that.

Mike
May 29th, 2009, 05:15 AM
[a] Can you get to web mail?

[b] Are you still getting the POP3 server error?

AOL is doing some maintenance to respond to some issues that were discovered on Thursday. (And if T-bird is getting the error, you can bet m2w will be broken, too, since both are using the POP3 server.)

heinz57g
May 29th, 2009, 06:32 AM
dodi, at the moment it seems to be on and off, changing by the minute, so again: patience.

mike:

>> hope standard login, and with this the most important
>> login with your personal page, will also come thru
>> any ideas/suggestions/tips/thoughts on this one?
** unclear what you mean by that, Heinz. Cld yu pls elaborate?

at the moment M2W/CSIclassicNEW only works using the Advanced Login, right?

but M2W also offers the Personal Homepage ...

- http://services.mail2web.com/FreeServices/PersonalHomepage/

... for which it asks the same info as for the advanced login, but does NOT come thru, it
errors out when verifying the password already.

assumed (hoped!) once the standard login would work, also the Personal Homepage would.

greetings - heinz -

heinz57g
May 29th, 2009, 06:37 AM
mike, the spam filtering really does not seem to be learning: a domain or actually the
same addrs i am getting mails from some 50 times a day, and has since 10 days now
always manually been marked 'NoSpam' still does not adjust the behaviour.

we also talked about the spam filtering with black and white lists.

what it looks like to me, there is no WHITE list at all, which is the most important
one for a spam filter.

have a careful look at their wording: they permit certain addrss and domain to come
thru ONLY, but then ALL others would be considered spam. not really the point.

a white list should say: permit certain addrss or domain ALWAYS, on the rest just
guess or apply other rules. or let them tru.

the 'ONLY' seems to be the (wrong) keyword there, in their listing. what is missing in their
drop-down list is a choice ''ALWAYS permit this addrs / this domain''.

correct?

greetings - heinz -

PS, the funny part: all mail coming in from ****@compuserve.com is ALWAYS in SPAM !

sidney
May 29th, 2009, 06:59 AM
I've been using that for a long time. However, it has a "feature" that really annoys me.

Gmail's SMTP server inserts a "Sender: Display Name _address_@gmail.com" header into each email transmitted

Oh, that is annoying. I had not noticed that header. FYI now that you have an account with Sonic.net, they let you use their SMTP server for outgoing mail, connecting using SSL and authenticating with your account userid and password. If you are extra paranoid you can create another mailbox (you get some number of free ones depending on what kind of account you have with them) and use the userid and password of that. In any case, as long as you are using an authenticated connection to the SMTP server they will let you use any From address you configure and don't insert any headers that I have seen that include the userid you authenticate with.

heinz57g
May 29th, 2009, 07:37 AM
>> as long as you are using an authenticated connection to the SMTP server

thats the very issue that usually stops me when travelling, on foreign machines, and on
networks that expressedly dont want it.

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 29th, 2009, 09:53 AM
Mike, if your questions were for me (you didn't say):

It's now about 9:45 a.m. here.

I am still having the same problems I had eight and a half hours ago.

M2W has stopped working (you'll recall it started performing normally, I think it was day before yesterday).

As to trying to get mail with T-bird, which had been working perfectly and had still been working perfectly at 11:30 last evening (I received and sent several e-mails at that time): After reaching wherever it normally goes to look for my mail, it asks for a password, which it does NOT normally do. I enter my password. It then says that it's "Sending login information." It then reports (with a little "Alert" box): "Sending of password did not succeed. Mail server pop.csi.com responded: Account information not available."

I realize that this doesn't really tell us anything, only that CSI wasn't responding properly to the T-bird connection.

Can I reach the CServe Webmail page with my browser? Yes, but it's malfunctioning, too. Aside from the ghastly ad-filled interface (yecch): It told me that I had one message; that in itself is suspect, since I would normally have a dozen overnight. I was unable to actually read the message (which was from Dixonary).

When I came *here*, I could tell that there was far more than one message in my mailbox, since I'm a Dixonary player and I play by e-mail; I can tell from checking the Parlor forum that more than one message has been sent to the list since I last picked up my e-mail. And I'm sure there are non-Dixonary messages waiting for me, as well.

Any thoughts? Aside from abandoning CompuServe? (Yes, but I need to get past this before embarking on a move involving a change of the only e-mail address I've ever had.) Right now, what do I do besides sit and wait? I thought ever-so-fleetingly of phoning tech support before realizing that would be a *total* waste of time; over there in Bombay--oops! Mumbai--they probably know less about what's going on than I do.

--Dodi

Dodi Schultz
May 29th, 2009, 10:14 AM
Postscript to the message I left here about 20 minutes ago:

Things are even more dire than I thought.

I have just spoken with someone who attempted to send me e-mail within the past few minutes. He got back a Mailer Demon advisory reporting that the message was undeliverable, that [my e-mail address] was a "user unknown."

That's really great.

What NOW?

--Dodi

Jeff
May 29th, 2009, 02:59 PM
dodi, at the moment it seems to be on and off, changing by the minute, so again: patience

but M2W also offers the Personal Homepage ...

- http://services.mail2web.com/FreeServices/PersonalHomepage/

... for which it asks the same info as for the advanced login, but does NOT come thru, it
errors out when verifying the password already.

greetings - heinz -

Again a bad rub, heinz. m2w errors out not when you put in an invalid password as it states, but when it cannot reach the designated server. IOW, it will return some version of 'bad password' as long as it cannot reach the designated pop. For some reason m2w doesn't understand that method cannot reach pop.csi.com or a number of other major email systems like pop.comcast.net. That's why they have 'advanced login'.

Bad error msg, BAD error msg. Go to your room!

- Jeff

sidney
May 29th, 2009, 05:06 PM
>> as long as you are using an authenticated connection to the SMTP server

thats the very issue that usually stops me when travelling, on foreign machines, and on
networks that expressedly dont want it.

Sonic.net lets you get around ISPs and firewalls that block port 25 by allowing SSL connection to their SMTP server over port 587. And if even that is blocked, they also provide a free VPN service that allows their customers to get a direct VPN channel to their network that bypasses any port blocking at your local connection. There are some corporate firewalls that would block employees from using an outside VPN, but I have never seen an ISP connection that blocks that. Once you are connected to Sonic.net over the VPN there is no way that an ISP can see or block the packets that you send out over it.

Of course this doesn't help you if you are not a Sonic.net customer, but Mike mentioned that he recently signed up with them for his DSL, so I brought it up in this thread. If you have a reason to host a website with them, you would get those extra benefits, however, but I doubt that the $9.95/month for their least expensive web hosting plan is worth the cost if all you really want is to get access to their VPN and mail server.

heinz57g
May 29th, 2009, 06:31 PM
>> Bad error msg, BAD error msg. Go to your room!

from the very far corner of my room, and literally on my knees: M2W has, asides from their
commercial and specialized versions, three login versions and screens:

- a ) the standard one, also called Intellilogin (?), just asking for your mailbox
name and the password

- b ) the 'advanced login', asking for (1) the pop server or IP, (2) the login name (which
often is NOT the mailbox name, but in the case of compuserve, it is the friendly one incl the
@compuserve part), the (3) password and (4) the mailbox system (POP/IMAP/SSL)

THIS IS THE ONE THAT WORKS. for most of us.

- c ) the login setup of the M2W Personal Homepage, which looks like and asks for the very same
info as b ) above, and at the end says it will verify the setup by using, this once only, your password.

this produces an error, but as you point out, nobody knows if the error is really caused by a wrong
password (NOT!), by a non-reached server, or by whoever knows what.

my thinking was: as the input masks of b ) and c ) look so much the same, they also would use the
same method getting into compuserve - apperently wrong. but: would it then not be easy for the
M2W techs to trace what the difference between their, to the outside very similar, methods was,
and so find out what was wrong and where and why?

and fix it? if not for me, for dodi? and a little for me?

greetings - heinz -

Mike
May 30th, 2009, 02:35 AM
a domain or actually the same addrs i am getting mails from some 50 times a day, and has since 10 days now always manually been marked 'NoSpam' still does not adjust the behaviour.
Likely the spammer is using a bunch of different networks to send, so the incoming spew doesn't appear all to be from the same source.

what it looks like to me, there is no WHITE list at all, which is the most important one for a spam filter.
Correct--there's no true white list. One can create a list of allowed addresses, and everything else will be blocked, but that's not truly a white list.

PS, the funny part: all mail coming in from ****@compuserve.com is ALWAYS in SPAM !
I wouldn't go that far, but definitely anything from my address @compuserve.com or @csi.com is spam. So, I added my addresses to "Always block..." That cut my spam in half.

Mike
May 30th, 2009, 03:00 AM
FYI now that you have an account with Sonic.net...,
Oooh, good point! Yep, I get 15 mail accounts with my DSL (which consistently works, day or night, unlike Comcrap). I'll go ahead and configure an extra account for sending only.

No "Sender: xxxxx@sonic.net" header.

And nothing else that displays an email address I may not want to share.

Perfect! Thanks for the idea, Sidney!

Mike
May 30th, 2009, 03:04 AM
Yep, the questions were to you, Dodi (which is why I replied to your message, as shown by the thread map).

Based on your response, it does appear your mailbox has been "forgotten." I will report it to the mail team.

Over the weekend, a process will be running to check all mailboxes, so it's possible that your mailbox will start working again. If not, however, the team will address it on Monday.

Would you mind sending me a private message to confirm your email address and numeric ID? ...thanks!

Follow-up: it appears, from the messages in The Parlor, that your email now is working. If not, I will be checking the forum a couple of times this weekend, and still can submit the problem on Monday morning, if needed.

heinz57g
May 30th, 2009, 05:34 AM
mike, tks a lot for the filter list reply.

unfortunately, none of the workarounds would create anything like a white-list, for me. i simply
cannot (easier: am not allowed to) lock out the rest of the world.

do you see any reasons why they 'forgot' the white list? any chance this could get corrected
once they have more time?

filter learning: checked the headers as detailed as i could, these are routine mssgs from an
airline, and appear to be very much the same (server, routing, etc) every time. so the
ideal case for a white list, or 'learning' - which is not done.

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
May 30th, 2009, 12:59 PM
Mike, thanks for your concern. Yes, I'm back in e-mail business, both sending and receiving; it returned sometime last evening, the outage (as far as I can figure out; I don't do minute-by-minute monitoring) lasted perhaps 24 hours.

In the interim, just for the heck of it--not, of course, for genuine help--I phoned the CServe 800 tech-support number. After a bizarre conversation involving questions ranging from the usual spelling of my first and last names with alpha references ("D as in--") to requests for address, old octal account number, credit card number (which of course I refused; I was waiting for an inquiry into the maiden name of my late mother-in-law), I pointed out that all I wanted to know was (a) what the heck was going on and (b) if I was the only one affected.

At that point I was told I'd be switched to the tech department (what had I been talking to all along???). The idiot there went through a similar litany and, only after pressing questions from me, admitted that the server was down and a whole lot of customers were affected, not just me, and they were working on it.

Could they not have said this up front????!!!!

Yeah, I'll switch out of there at some point. Right now, I'm too busy getting accustomed to the new e-mail software (T-bird is lovely, but it's a far, far cry from TAPCIS, which I'd used exclusively till now). And I do have a rest of my life to deal with! Now is not the time for a change of e-mail address. Not, at least for this technologically challenged person.

I do hope their new servers are now stable.

Thanks for all your help. And for being nice through this whole ugly mess.

--Dodi

Jeff
May 30th, 2009, 01:10 PM
Remember heinz, m2w is a free service, with limits accordingly on what they can invest in it in effort. Since I'm also a paying hosted customer I wound up with level two support on the phone who told me that they know OF "the problem", but they likely won't chase it. AOL changed, not m2w.

- Jeff

heinz57g
May 30th, 2009, 02:10 PM
dodi, great that you are 'going' again. there might be further adjustments in the next few days,
so watch out: all of a sudden the standard and personal login will work too, the spam filter will
stick, and include a white list - positive thinking.

jeff, yes, the issue of being a 'free service' is one, really. many times i would rather pay, specially
on the WWW. but so is compuserve (the new one), so is YAHOO, so is ... hundreds of them,
always with another idea in the back of their mind. having talked to M2W support several times,
and having had email exchanges with them on several issues, i have to give it to them: never did
they insinuate that the FREE services were second class, or received minimal attention only.

and somehow i have the feeling they will have these problems sorted out quickly, too. wish we could
assure one of them reads here too. it would help them.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
May 31st, 2009, 04:23 AM
You're welcome, Heinz.
do you see any reasons why they 'forgot' the white list? any chance this could get corrected once they have more time?
No idea on that, but you can make your feelings known to AOL. At the bottom of virtually every page in web mail is a link labeled "Feedback." I'd suggest you use it and tell the mail team (who reads all the feedback) about your needs.

checked the headers as detailed as i could, these are routine mssgs from an airline
Ah! There's a good chance that the airline has registered itself with AOL and is whitelisted at the server level. In that case, the server whitelist would override any uses of the "Spam" button.

Check http://postmaster.aol.com/ for more details.

Mike
May 31st, 2009, 04:28 AM
You are welcome, Dodi. From what I've seen, there still is some instability, but I do know the mail team (quite a few people) is at work on this. They're aware that people are losing access, and the team definitely is not happy about that.

earler
May 31st, 2009, 01:12 PM
White listing is usually as follows: only accept mail from senders on the white list. Some people like this method. But, it makes it impossible for you long lost mistress or buddy from kindergarten to reach you. Most email services use one or more filter systems, plus the black list to which the user may add senders, either because they are spam or unwanted people. So, in a certain sense every isp uses white listing as you describe it. But the real sense is as I have described it.

earler
May 31st, 2009, 01:23 PM
>PS, the funny part: all mail coming in from ****@compuserve.com is ALWAYS in SPAM !

As it happens this type of spam is widespread, not only for CompuServe addresses. The idea is that the recipient will look at it because he sees his name and address. The spam system uses the same address as the one to which the message is sent. Back in the days when CompuServe members numbered in the millions, the method of creating addresses at CompuServe was very simple: just increment 7.1 and 10.1 until you reached 77777,7777 and 177777,7777. Name addresses required more computing, since it would be difficult to generate every name from a@ to zzzzzzz@.

And, there are the cases where your address has been harvested from the address book of someone. But, the same principle of duplicating the addressee's name as the sender still applies.

earler
May 31st, 2009, 01:25 PM
Sidney, speaking of vpn, I'd like a method to hide my ip address in france and make it look like one in the states so I can access things on sites like hulu that block access to durty furriners. Any suggestions?

Dan in Saint Louis
May 31st, 2009, 03:55 PM
White listing is usually as follows: only accept mail from senders on the white list.
The kind I have seen are configured to always accept mail from the whitelist even if it meets the other parameters for spam.

Mail from non-listed addresses is subjected to the filtering tests.

Mail from blacklisted addresses is always shunted to the spam bucket.

heinz57g
May 31st, 2009, 05:25 PM
>> White listing is usually as follows: only accept mail from senders on the white list

earl, dan ist right (and above is wrong): whitelisting means a particular address or domain (such as
girlfriend238@highschool.com or even all of them *@highschool.com) are allowed through, all other
go thru the standard filter screening.

any other system, and you would be in trouble with whoever you are with these days ....

greetings - heinz -

earler
May 31st, 2009, 05:47 PM
Yes, a white list accepts mail from people on that list and rejects mail from those on a black list. The problem occurs with the method where the sender must confirm who he is or something like that before his message will be accepted. It's a nuisance for people and anyone who tries that with me just gets dropped from my address book.

earler
May 31st, 2009, 05:49 PM
I have encountered white listing systems that won't accept mail unless the person sending the mail goesl through hoops to be accepted. It's a nuisance and I won't bother to do that. Those whom it annoys the most are newsletter organizations who just won't bother to go to the trouble.

sidney
May 31st, 2009, 09:03 PM
Sidney, speaking of vpn, I'd like a method to hide my ip address in france and make it look like one in the states so I can access things on sites like hulu that block access to durty furriners. Any suggestions?

That's exactly what one uses a VPN for, and as a Sonic.net customer who lives outside of the US I do that quite often. A less comprehensive method is to use a web proxy, but 1) it only works for web access, and may or may not help with some streaming access like hulu; and 2) even though there are web sites that compile lists of free open proxies, they are so popular with spammers and malware users that any such thing that is free and open usually does not work reliably or for very long.

The only reliable method I have found is to get access to a machine in the US that provides a VPN service. A quick Google search shows that the going rate for a plain VPN service is $8 to $11 per month. I saw a Socks 5 proxy based VPN service offered for only ten cents per day, but I tried using Socks 5 for a while when I was working at a company whose firewall blocked ordinary VPN and I would not wish the difficulties involved on anyone. Socks 5 works well as a web proxy but is a bear to get working with streaming media.

Consider that for $9.95 per month you can have a domain hosted web site at Sonic.net that gives you email accounts and a VPN as a side benefit. I don't know anything about the reputations of the VPN services that came up in my Google search. So for now I have no recommendations except to try to find someone who has a VPN server in the US that is available to you, or if you were thinking about having a web site, consider hosting it with Sonic.net.

heinz57g
June 1st, 2009, 02:42 AM
earl, a white or black list is usually (!) set by the recipient only and alone. what you are talking about
are those opt-in/opt-out systems that the sender sees, a totally different thing, specially when talking
about Compuserve's new WebMail.

>> a white list accepts mail from people on that list and rejects mail from those on a black list

and all the rest will run thru the standard filter system if any, or just show up in your inbox. the whitelist
forces mail to go to your inbox, even though your filter system might have considered it spam.

sidney, had an (admittdly very brief) check on sonic.net looking for the VPN offer. couldnt find anything,
so it might be hidden in the extra or help files somewhere. could you kindly point me to it?

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 1st, 2009, 04:01 AM
Here are a couple of suggestions from Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com):

AlwaysVPN Takes U.S.-Only Sites International (http://lifehacker.com/5081829/alwaysvpn-takes-us+only-sites-international)

Access US-Only Web Content with Hotspot Shield (http://lifehacker.com/394410/access-us+only-web-content-with-hotspot-shield)

heinz57g
June 1st, 2009, 04:49 AM
mike, tks. have used HOTSPOTSHIELD for a long time, it was on and off and on, and always rather slow.

but if you were persistent, it worked.

since a few weeks it only comes up with an error mssg 'Firefox cannnot connect to server 127.0.0.1:895',
and checking on the WWW sure makes me not feeling alone. have not yet found a way to really work around it.

anybody any experience with AlwaysVPN? 5GB for $8.95 is used up awefully quickly if you do streaming.
which i dont, but for many others is the main reason for a VPN.

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
June 1st, 2009, 10:46 AM
Mike, I see that the CompuServe "servers" are out of commission again today, after working reliably all day yesterday. Have you any word from your friends there as to whether they will EVER perform reliably?

I'm asking because e-mail is really a necessity for doing business and everything else these days, and one can't go on like this, never knowing whether or not communication is going to be possible. I assume that now, anyone trying to reach me--including GoogleGroups, which hosts "Dixonary"--is again receiving Mailer Demon notices that I don't exist, which is what happened the other day.

This won't do. Is it time to bite the bullet, and change the address I've had ever since I've been online, registered at uncounted places, etc.? (The very notion is paralyzing, but if CServe is never going to function again...)

--Dodi

sidney
June 1st, 2009, 03:45 PM
had an (admittdly very brief) check on sonic.net looking for the VPN offer. couldnt find anything

That's right, I forgot, they only advertise it as a feature of their wireless hotspot portal service, but it is available free for any Sonic.net customer from anywhere on the Internet, not just over their wifi spots. It is mentioned at

http://sonic.net/hotspots/portal/

-- sidney

earler
June 1st, 2009, 03:46 PM
Thank you, sidney for the advice. In other words, sonic.net not only provides web & mail hosting, but also vpn that can be used to access sites like hulu and abc?

sidney
June 1st, 2009, 04:51 PM
Is it time to bite the bullet, and change the address I've had ever since I've been online

If you decide to do that I would suggest doing it through Google Apps. You can register a domain name with them and get mailboxes for it at the same time for just $10 per year. That way, even if Google disappears you still have the domain name so you would never have to change your email address again even if you have to change providers. Google mail is accessible from their web interface (the same one as GMail) and also from Thunderbird and any other email client you like. They have good spam filtering and a good track record for reliability.

Dodi Schultz
June 1st, 2009, 06:56 PM
Thanks, Sidney. You're not the first one to mention Google as a good alternative. My problem is mainly that it's difficult to cope with everything all at once. Until now, I've been handling just about everything with TAPCIS, the DOS-based OLR; except for the two or three things one needs to know to use a browser, I'm not real well acquainted with Win.

At the moment, mail seems to be getting into my mailbox, and I can see it by going to webmail.compuserve.com with Firefox, but T-bird tells me it can't connect w/pop.csi.com in order to pick it up. Since I haven't done anything to change T-bird, I assume that's due to some fault of CServe.

I want to handle mail with T-bird; I don't want to have to keep going to that offputting CServe/AOL interface.

<sigh>

Mike: Any comment on the above???

--Dodi

sidney
June 1st, 2009, 07:09 PM
Thank you, sidney for the advice. In other words, sonic.net not only provides web & mail hosting, but also vpn that can be used to access sites like hulu and abc?

Yes, the vpn is a side effect of the wifi hotspot service that they offer. They have set up a number of hotspots at various places such as coffee houses in their local area, which are free for Sonic.net customers and available for daily or hourly charges for anyone. To provide security at the hotspots they set up a VPN server. But as long as they were doing that, they made the VPN service available to any Sonic.net customer from anywhere, not just associated with the hotspot service.

Sonic.net's currently least expensive standalone product that would make the VPN available is their $9.95/month Value Hosting web hosting service. It comes with domain hosting (if you register a domain name with them for about $10/year, or with anyone else), MySQL databases, PHP and cgi, and some number of mailbox accounts. The VPN is not advertised as part of the web package, but it is in effect part of it.

sidney
June 1st, 2009, 08:28 PM
anybody any experience with AlwaysVPN? 5GB for $8.95 is used up awefully quickly if you do streaming.
which i dont, but for many others is the main reason for a VPN

I just noticed on the AlwaysVPN web site that it says "Access US only web content. (Hulu, ABC and other video networks are blocking our IP addresses. Please contact us for more details)"

If you don't use streaming, and would not require 5 GB per month, then it seems like AlwaysVPN would be the most economical solution I've seen so far, with the big assumption that they provide good reliable service.

Lindsey
June 1st, 2009, 10:17 PM
Yep, the questions were to you, Dodi (which is why I replied to your message, as shown by the thread map).

To be fair, if you are reading in linear mode, nothing shows up to indicate what message is being replied to if the message does not include a quote with the link back to the parent.

In an earlier version of this forum software, there was a link included back to the parent in the title bar on the message whether or not there was a quotation from the parent message, but that feature disappeared when an enhancement was added to allow quotations from multiple messages (because in that case, there is more than one parent message).

Yes, it is possible to switch to another reading mode, but when you do that the displayed message numbers change, and in a long thread it can be very difficult to try to find in the thread map the message you were reading in linear mode.

sidney
June 1st, 2009, 10:50 PM
In an earlier version of this forum software, there was a link included back to the parent in the title bar on the message whether or not there was a quotation from the parent message, but that feature disappeared when an enhancement was added to allow quotations from multiple messages (because in that case, there is more than one parent message)

I found a way to add one. In the relatively rare case that someone adds quotes from multiple parents, I don't know what it will do, but whether it picks the first one, a random one, or doesn't display the link in that case, the overall effect is better than never having a parent link.

-- sidney

Dodi Schultz
June 2nd, 2009, 12:52 AM
Here's the situation now (I'm really bewildered and feeling totally lost):

First, I checked the Parlor forum here to see if there were Dixonary messages since the last one I'd seen; there were. Next, I tried T'bird; it still gets rebuffed and can't connect with my mailbox. Then, M2W, which is now again reporting "login error" when I fill in all the correct data in "advanced" login.

Right after that, I checked in at webmail.compuserve.com; my address and password were totally accepted, and there were messages in my mailbox, including the Dixonary votes I'd seen in the forum.

What seems to be happening now is that mail is reaching my mailbox, but CompuServe isn't permitting T'bird or M2W to access it.

Can anyone comment on what might be wrong or what I can do about it?

--Dodi

heinz57g
June 2nd, 2009, 02:34 AM
>> Can anyone comment on what might be wrong or what I can do about it?

unfortunately only with bad news: same here, all CSI mailboxes not accessible thru POP3 (any client),
so right now only the webmail works. as much as this is a pain, i am sure they have this fixed soon.

greetings - heinz -

sidney
June 2nd, 2009, 04:58 AM
all CSI mailboxes not accessible thru POP3 (any client), so right now only the webmail works.

It would be interesting to see if imap.csi.com works for IMAP access while pop.csi.com does not. Webmail clients usually use IMAP for their mail, but CompuServe's own webmail could very well be using a server that is not available to the general public. I wouldn't suggest that Dodi try to set up a mail client to use IMAP, but perhaps you could try it out using Thunderbird without messing up your usual mail configuration.

heinz57g
June 2nd, 2009, 05:05 AM
sidney, had tried that imap access (at imap.csi.com) last night, also no go, then and now, a minute ago.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 2nd, 2009, 06:28 AM
I wouldn't suggest that Dodi try to set up a mail client to use IMAP, but perhaps you could try it out using Thunderbird without messing up your usual mail configuration.T-bird is quite happy to have one account for POP3 access and another for IMAP. My CS2K mailbox is set up that way, as are both of my Classic accounts.

I use the POP3 to create my off-line store of messages, but do most of my message manipulation in IMAP.

Now that I'm used to working with IMAP, I'm seriously considering changing my Gmail accounts to IMAP access.

Mike
June 2nd, 2009, 06:30 AM
To be fair, if you are reading in linear mode, nothing shows up to indicate what message is being replied to if the message does not include a quote with the link back to the parent.
But why in the world would someone want to operate without a thread map?

Mike
June 2nd, 2009, 06:43 AM
There have been some problems with individual mailboxes' access to IMAP and POP3. I know the mail team worked on a half-dozen on Monday. A small subset of boxes have had the issue with bouncing mail.

A little after 5 pm EDT, something broke POP3 and IMAP access for quite a few mailboxes... possibly all of them. I don't have any after-hours contact, but I assume a sufficient number of disgruntled members have contacted Customer Service to report the problem.

In just a few hours, people in Dulles and Clumps should be arriving at their desks, and I'm sure the situation will be addressed at that time.

Sidney has some good ideas for you. One I will add is that you don't necessarily have to close/abandon the CompuServe account. I'm sure you will have email straggling in, even if you attempt to notify everyone you believe has that address.

Yeah, there are some issues right now, but I do know that AOL is committed to getting them resolved, to the point that there is a team of people pulled from other projects that is addressing this situation.

heinz57g
June 2nd, 2009, 07:09 AM
>> But why in the world would someone want to operate without a thread map?

sorry mike, would assume most do: i do for sure, as i otherwise would miss much too much
of the confu ... sorry, fun, here. but now i know how and why you sometimes skipped mssgs ...

>> you don't necessarily have to close/abandon the CompuServe account

what are you trying to say, mike? there are people out there who are even thinking that way?
glad i missed that part of the thread ...

greetings - heinz -

heinz57g
June 2nd, 2009, 10:48 AM
good news: as of 16:45h (CEST) pop3 in all forms is working again, incl M2W with AdvLogin.
at least here in europe (tested with 3 accounts).

there is still a hiccup somewhere: a lot of mail going into compuserve does not show up in
the mailbox, even after 30 mins. and also does not create an error on the senders side.
hope it does not get lost in cyberspace again.

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
June 2nd, 2009, 03:29 PM
As of around noon today, thing seem to be tentatively working right again. That may, of course, change two minutes from now (conducting online correspondence is getting to be like trying to outguess New York weather; for those not around here: we can have four seasons in a week)--but C'Serve webmail seems to be now giving T'bird and M2W access to mailboxes.

Crossing all digits...

--Dodi

heinz57g
June 3rd, 2009, 05:47 AM
>> Crossing all digits...

well, it didnt help: as of about 2 hrs ago (10am CEST) all is out, POP3, webmail, whatever.

yes, i do remember that sentence with the patience ...

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
June 3rd, 2009, 09:58 AM
Yeah, Heinz, we're back to square one again. As of 03 June 10 a.m. EDT, access to the mailboxes is again cut off.

Mike, do your hard-working friends think they'll ever get it going, or should we all bail out (in the sinking-boat sense) right now?

--Dodi

heinz57g
June 3rd, 2009, 10:47 AM
dodi, lets call it square two: it is back now, after about 4-5 hours. this is fun, no? who needs
'The Parlor' when you can have this?

actually (almost a day later), it seems to be on and off and on and off, at times for hours at a
go. which, with positive thinking, means 'they are working on it'. right, dodi?

greetings - heinz -

Lindsey
June 4th, 2009, 02:22 AM
I found a way to add one.

Oh, I see it! Wow, thanks Sidney! You're a genius! (I know I have said that before, but I mean it sincerely every time.) That makes life much easier for those of us who prefer the linear format.

I don't think we get enough quoting from multiple messages on this forum to worry about what might happen to that link when somebody uses it. (I'm sure it has been used at some point here, but I certainly don't have any specific recollection of it.)

Lindsey
June 4th, 2009, 02:27 AM
But why in the world would someone want to operate without a thread map?

I find it much easier to navigate. I pull up a thread, I click the "View first unread" link in the message title bar, and then I just page through the new messages in order. It's not all that hard to follow the conversational threads, and if I want to go back and refer to the message that one of them is addressing, I click on the link in the quote. (But now I can click on the link in the title bar, thank to Sidney's tinkering.)

I find trying to navigate the thread map to read new messages in a thread I have already read part of to be very confusing.

Mike
June 4th, 2009, 03:59 AM
Very early on Wednesday morning, the mail team discovered a significant glitch that affected a small number of mailboxes, but in a major way: those boxholders would see inconsistencies in their mail. They could access their accounts, and the first time, would see waiting mail, and the next time, the mail would be gone. The team discovered the issue and took those specific mailboxes offline to rebuild them. (Neither Dodi's nor Heinz' mailboxes were affected by this.)

A few hours later, the mail team discovered some other issues with the configuration of the servers, so new software was loaded and the servers were reset. The most significant of those issues severely affected access by POP3 and IMAP.

Since that time, the number of complaints in the support forum has dropped CONSIDERABLY. Many people who'd been reporting problems indicated that their access was restored and all mail is arriving normally.

At this point (past midnight, Thursday morning), I'm cautiously optimistic that we're past the worst of it.

BTW, the mail team now is updating the status on the web mail login page.

Having had considerable correspondence and conversations with the mail team, I have no doubt that AOL's intent is to make the new Classic email system a reliable service.

heinz57g
June 4th, 2009, 04:28 AM
hello mike, and thanks VERY much for the update, late at night on your side (?).

>> ... Wednesday morning ... significant glitch ... small number of mailboxes ... inconsistencies
>> in their mail ... access accounts ... see waiting mail ... next time, the mail would be gone ...
>> Neither Dodi's nor Heinz' mailboxes were affected by this ...

there i have to disappoint you: when things go wrong, heinz seems to be always in it. lucky me, eh?
in my main mailbox, looking at it with the webmail interface, i could see all the mssgs, but could not
access and read them individually. also reading them thru POP (any) was impossible during that time.

>> I'm cautiously optimistic that we're past the worst of it.
>> I have no doubt that AOL's intent is to make the new
>> Classic email system a reliable service

others might disagree, but i have the same feeling.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 4th, 2009, 04:41 AM
there i have to disappoint you: when things go wrong, heinz seems to be always in it. lucky me, eh? in my main mailbox, looking at it with the webmail interface, i could see all the mssgs, but could not access and read them individually. also reading them thru POP (any) was impossible during that time.
That wasn't the same individual mailbox that affected a (relatively) small group of users, Heinz. The problem you're describing is an access issue--the mailbox was fine, but you had trouble getting to it because of server issues (which should be resolved now).

The other problem that affected individual mailboxes meant those users would log in and see 20 messages, read a few, reply to a few, delete or move a few, then log out. A few hours later, they'd log in again, and none of the messages would be there. Or the mailbox would appear in the same state as a few days prior, as if no mail had arrived for the interim. Then the users would log out, and a few hours later, log in again, and find the same mail they'd seen the first time they logged in.

However, upon finding the cause of that problem, the mail team is confident that it won't happen again, and the team took several hours today to manually rebuild and restore the affected mailboxes.

Dodi Schultz
June 5th, 2009, 01:04 AM
Mike,

I saw that update note at the Webmail site Wednesday when I went there to see if I could find my mail (which I couldn't; that was the morning *no* kind of access to the mailboxes was possible). They (websuiteblog@aol.com) invited feedback, so I sent them kind of an anguished (not irate) note. I received a reply that afternoon (things were back online by then) acknowledging "issues" and promising that they were "working diligently" to resolve same. Things seemed to be functioning pretty well all day Thursday (all digits crossed).

--Dodi

Mike
June 5th, 2009, 03:21 AM
For sure, there are improvements, Dodi. The number of people raising issues in CSSoftware is dropping!

And let's not forget that even the old CompuServe servers had their burps.

Usually at 11:30 at night.

On a Saturday night.

When you really really really needed that email from your Realtor about the open house the following afternoon.

Dodi Schultz
June 5th, 2009, 12:12 PM
Haven't you noticed, Mike, that almost all dire events occur at the most inconvenient times? If e-mail failed only when you weren't expecting any messages anyway and couldn't care less--where's the excitement, the irony, the tension, the drama in that?

--Dodi

Judy G. Russell
June 5th, 2009, 04:19 PM
where's the excitement, the irony, the tension, the drama in that?Life in general has quite enough excitement, irony, tension and drama, thanks anyway!

Mike
June 6th, 2009, 04:29 AM
...almost all dire events occur at the most inconvenient times...
I guess they wouldn't be dire if they occurred when they were inconsequential!

heinz57g
June 12th, 2009, 05:50 AM
mike, sorry, but me again:

a lot of my correspondents, many but certainly not all, get errors
back when sending mails to me. and it is increasing day by day:

-- A message that you sent could not be delivered to one
-- or more of its recipients. This is a permanent error. The
-- following address(es) failed:
--
-- ***********@compuserve.com
-- SMTP error from remote mail server after end of data:
-- host mta-in.gmta-in.mx.aol.com [205.188.249.97]:
-- 554 5.2.1 : (DYN:T1) http://postmaster
-- .info.aol.com/errors/421dynt1.html

the data is all correct: they can send ten mails to me, all with
the same addressing, 8 or 9 will go OK, 1 or 2 will fail as above.

any idea what causes this? any remedy from senders/receivers
side? or just wait?

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
June 12th, 2009, 11:43 AM
OMG, Heinz, I really didn't want to get word of anything like that. Mail seems to be reaching me now--both from individuals and from lists--without difficulty. But I seem to be getting an unusually *small* amount of mail (compared with before the migration). Now, based on your report, I wonder if I'm just not hearing about mail that's bouncing back to senders!

This thing threatens to make us all paranoid.

I'll be interested in any comment Mike may have on your message, given his contacts with the C'Serve team.

--Dodi

Dodi Schultz
June 12th, 2009, 01:00 PM
Follow-up to my earlier message above:

Heinz, try visiting the C'Serve Webmail site. Quite an eye-opener.

We had discovered, via a roundabout route, that messages from one friend were simply not reaching me, although he was not getting bounce notices. I now know what happened to them.

At the C'Serve site, after logging in, you can call up a list of what *they* have seen fit to categorize as spam--items that are then *not* made available to your e-mail software (or to Mail2Web).

To my horror, I found three messages from that friend sent earlier this week in that batch of stuff--although messages from him before and after that period have *not* been so categorized. (In the interim, we had both been puzzling over what could be happening--was the problem in my computer, or in his?--and he was messaging me via forwarding by a third party). I also found there several messages from a government agency whose mailing list I'm on (by choice).

BTW, Mike, I don't know where your friends are, but the updates on fixes are apparently not being composed in this country. "We are working diligently," says the main announcement, "to resolve all the issues you all are experience with the new CompuServe mail system...". And later: "For a more information on our progress...."

--Dodi

Mike
June 13th, 2009, 03:33 AM
-- SMTP error from remote mail server after end of data:
-- host mta-in.gmta-in.mx.aol.com [205.188.249.97]:
-- 554 5.2.1 : (DYN:T1) http://postmaster
-- .info.aol.com/errors/421dynt1.html

That looks like just a fragment of the error message, Heinz, but the URL buried within explains:

421 DYN:T1
http://postmaster.info.aol.com/errors/421dynt1.html

EXPLANATION AND SOLUTION:
If you are getting DYN:T1 blocks and you do not send bulk mail, marketing, or advertisements via this IP, please open a support request (http://postmaster.info.aol.com/waters/other_issues_form.html).Please include the IP, what kind of mail you send, and mention that you are getting DYN:T1 errors.

Please be as accurate as possible about the type of mail you send so that we can accurately evaluate your mail stream.

If you do send bulk mail, marketing, or advertisements then your IPs are receiving temporary email failures due to reputation issues or a lack of whitelisting.

If you are a bulkmailer and have not previously applied for whitelisting: once you have a good 30 day (minimum) mailing history built, we recommend applying for whitelisting (http://postmaster.info.aol.com/whitelist/whitelist_guides.html).

If you are already whitelisted it is important to note that whitelisting protects your IP from many of AOL's filters, but is not a guarantee of delivery. Whitelisting does not affect the routing of email to users' inboxes. Mail from whitelisted IPs can be delivered to either the inbox or the spam folder, or tempfailed (421:DYNT1) if the sending IP's reputation is poor or not yet established. The best way to improve your inbox delivery at AOL is to establish a good IP reputation (http://postmaster.info.aol.com/guidelines/reputation.html).

We are still delivering a portion of your mail, and we will recalculate your reputation based on the performance of that mail. If the cause is reputation-related, the failures will cease as your IP reputation improves. For best deliverability, be sure you are following AOL's Best Practices (http://postmaster.info.aol.com/guidelines/bulksenderbp.html).
The people who administer your correspondents' mail servers (ISP, company, whatever) should be able to address this, particularly if you forward the URL.

Mike
June 13th, 2009, 03:41 AM
Dodi, visit web mail and click on the "Settings" link, then the "Spam Controls" category.

There, you can change the level of filtering to suit your preferences.

As far as the text on the login screen, the person who composes it is way overloaded, and I suspect he didn't have someone else proofread the updates. While it doesn't serve the best impression, some could see that it's a sign that the team is focusing on solving problems.

heinz57g
June 13th, 2009, 04:31 AM
dodi,

>> At the C'Serve site, after logging in, you can call up a list of what *they* have seen fit to categorize as spam

the only way to overcome their rather strange spam filtering i found was to switch it off, which
i did - and then still check occasionally if anything is in there. in this case, the mssgs were not.

mike,

they were just bounced, and only some of them. for the recipient, they just vanished - see the
worries of dodi above. what might be 'hidden' in the header or bouncing notice only the sender sees,
i as as the recipient got only told about it when by chance i asked. a sender is NOT always in
alternate contact with the recipient, no?

the hidden part might make sense to you, and after re-reading it 10times even partially to me,
but not to a normal sender - if he sees it at all. 99% not.

and this bouncing also occurs when i send mails from one compuserve account to another, again at
irregular intervals. should i then inform compuserve (AOL) to whitelist compuserve (AOL)?

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 13th, 2009, 04:49 AM
AOL has a Hobson's choice.

It can try to maintain usable mail servers by limiting the ability of unfamiliar mail servers to dump large quantities of mail into the system, with the risk that some legitimate email may be returned to the sender with an explanation.

Or it can try to accept mail from every server, and risk overwhelming its servers with too much junk mail, delaying delivery for everyone, along with the complaints from people who demand that no spam ever disgrace their mailboxes.

The solution that works for you may not work for others.

As far as the bouncing when sending between CompuServe accounts, if you can get me complete (unedited) bounce messages, I can provide them to the mail team so that the systems can be adjusted.

Dan in Saint Louis
June 13th, 2009, 10:27 AM
Mail from whitelisted IPs can be delivered to either the inbox or the spam folder, or tempfailed
Now that sucks! The purpose of the whitelist is to specify that I DO want mail from that sender, not that I want my mailserver to decide for me.

Dodi Schultz
June 13th, 2009, 12:10 PM
Mike, I'll follow your advice and go look at those spam settings--and I'll admit that MOST of what I found in there was, in fact, spam--but why on earth would mail from my friend, as well as from the FDA, be permitted to get through to me uncensored before June 7th and after June 9th but zapped out of sight for that three-day period?

--Dodi

Dodi Schultz
June 13th, 2009, 05:47 PM
I looked at the spam settings at the C'Serve Webmail site, Mike, and I'm afraid there's nothing there that would prevent the situation I described. Indeed, a note accompanying that screen suggests that, in order to prevent nonspam's been "accidentally" classified as spam, it's well to visit the site and check the list every few days.

I figure to stop by there around once a week as long as I'm using C'Serve.

The previous C'Serve Classic mail service didn't do this. Do other services? If so, how well do they function? I'm not sure, actually, how they could ensure against this kind of problem.

--Dodi

Mike
June 14th, 2009, 03:50 AM
Now that sucks! The purpose of the whitelist is to specify that I DO want mail from that sender, not that I want my mailserver to decide for me.

The whitelist is maintained for bulk mailers who apply to be included, based on their sender names. Bulk mailers can request to be added--it's not a case where an individual can tell AOL, "let that sender through."

IP address checking overrides whitelisting.

If a legitimate bulk mail sender has been approved for the whitelist, but is sending from a host that others are using for spamming, the bulk mail sender may find its messages treated as spam (as will anyone sending from that host).

Mike
June 14th, 2009, 05:02 AM
...why on earth would mail from my friend, as well as from the FDA, be permitted to get through to me uncensored before June 7th and after June 9th but zapped out of sight for that three-day period
I don't think the term "uncensored" applies in this situation.

All incoming email is analyzed by the spam filters, which consider a variety of criteria, such as IP addresses in the headers, URLs within the body of the messages, or presence of certain key phrases (e.g., "viagra") within the messages, and even the number of addressees for that message. That analysis assigns, to every message, a probability the message is spam.

Once the spam probability is determined, the system then goes to deliver the message to the destination mailbox. Each mailbox can choose, through Spam Controls, the level of filtering desired. If "none" is selected, then all messages will be placed in the inbox. Otherwise, based on the selected level of:


Low: only mail that's very likely to be spam will be diverted to the spam folder (in AOL terms, "Only obvious Spam messages will be identified and delivered to the Spam folder. Some Spam messages may be delivered to your inbox.")
Medium: mail with a moderate probability of being spam will be diverted to the spam folder (in AOL terms, "Almost all Spam will be identified and delivered to your Spam Folder. Check your Spam folder every few days to make sure wanted email was not accidentally delivered there.")
High: mail with almost any probability of being spam will be diverted to the spam folder ("Virtually all Spam will be identified and delivered to your Spam Folder. This high level of filtering may inadvertently send wanted messages to your Spam folder. Check your Spam folder regularly.")

The same message sent to your CompuServe mailbox on different days may get different ratings, because it may have been routed differently, or as the spam analysis system is "trained" continuously (see below), certain characteristics of the messages may not trigger as likely to be spam.

As mentioned, the spam system can be trained. As you look at web mail, at the top of the list of messages in any folder (except the Spam folder), there's a button with a label of "Spam." If you select a message by clicking the box to the left of the message, and then click "Spam," that moves the message to the Spam folder, and simultaneously sends a copy of the message to AOL's "spam complex."

At the spam complex, the message is reviewed for much of the same criteria as mentioned in my second paragraph. The spam complex also compares the message against others that were submitted by using the "Spam" button, so if a certain number of people use the "Spam" button on a message that didn't trigger the spam system before, that message's characteristics will be included in the analysis of all messages received in the future.

Similarly, the Spam folder has a "Not Spam" button. When a legitimate email lands in the Spam folder, the user can click the checkbox to the left of the message, and then the "Not Spam" button. This moves the message to the inbox, and simultaneously sends a copy to the spam complex, where it is analyzed, and the criteria may be adjusted. Again, if a large number of users use the "Not Spam" button on a particular message, it's possible to make the system less sensitive to such messages in the future.

Add to all the above that bulk senders (e.g., legitimate mailing lists, merchant mailings, etc.) can register with AOL to be permitted senders. This will lower, but not eliminate, the "probability of spam" rating for messages from that sender.

...a note accompanying that screen suggests that, in order to prevent nonspam's been "accidentally" classified as spam, it's well to visit the site and check the list every few days.

I figure to stop by there around once a week as long as I'm using C'Serve.
Yes, that would be a good thing. Also, you might want to keep the current settings for a couple of months to see whether you get used to the system as it works now. For example, I find few false positives in the spam folder, but the majority of my spam gets diverted there. I use the "Spam" and "Not Spam" buttons as necessary.

However, if you decide you cannot work with the system as it is, then using Spam Controls, turn the spam filtering "Off," and all mail, legitimate or not, will land in your inbox.

The previous C'Serve Classic mail service didn't do this. Do other services? If so, how well do they function? I'm not sure, actually, how they could ensure against this kind of problem.
Indeed, the old system did not do this, though it was a regular request in the support forums! The old Classic mail system was developed in a time when spam hadn't reached the levels that plague us today. It was developed on an architecture to support WinCim/CS3/CS4, Tapcis, and POP3. It could not evolve as other mail systems did, and AOL was unwilling to invest any more money into it.

The old Classic mail system did have spam filtering, but users had no mechanism to flag mail as spam or not spam, and the system had no capability to segregate suspected spam into a separate folder. Thus, if the system suspected a message to be spam, it simply was tossed.

Yes, other services have similar spam handling as the new Classic mail system. Most definitely, Yahoo mail and Gmail have had that capability for many years. They, too, cannot prevent false positives. However, they do provide a "Not Spam"-equivalent button, and it seem to work.

Dan in Saint Louis
June 14th, 2009, 09:52 AM
The previous C'Serve Classic mail service didn't do this. Do other services? If so, how well do they function? I'm not sure, actually, how they could ensure against this kind of problem.
My Web and email host, 1&1.com, sends me a message every morning listing the subject and sender of every message it has diverted to the Spam folder. I need only scan that message to see if they included any false positives.

If they did I then use the 1&1 Webmail interface to mark them "not spam" and whitelist the sender for good measure. I wind up doing this two or three times a week (out of about 1200 spams/week). Let's call it a false positive rate of 0.25%.

Dodi Schultz
June 14th, 2009, 11:50 AM
Thanks, Mike and Dan, for your informative postings. Most enlightening! Perhaps I should change my spam setting to "low," rather than leaving it at the default "medium"; I'll think about that.

The three-day change in handling messages from these two sources is still puzzling--i.e., the fact that they weren't diverted until then and suddenly ceased being diverted thereafter (*before* I'd visited the site and marked those in the folder "not spam"). The senders had ".edu" and ".gov" addresses, BTW. None of the messages contained any references to Viagra, Cialis, insurance, body parts, money, hot babes, or secret bank accounts.

--Dodi

Mike
June 15th, 2009, 03:18 AM
I can't speak for AOL's specific implementation of spam filtering, but most systems do not place high significance on the sender's address, because that's almost always forged.

Sidney, if you're monitoring this thread, what's your experience with Spam Assassin?

sidney
June 15th, 2009, 08:08 AM
Sidney, if you're monitoring this thread, what's your experience with Spam Assassin?

See the fourth name down (http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/spamassassin/trunk/CREDITS) :)

Mike
June 16th, 2009, 05:04 AM
See the fourth name down (http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/spamassassin/trunk/CREDITS)
That, I knew. :cool:

I'll rephrase the question.

I can't speak for AOL's specific implementation of spam filtering, but most systems do not place high significance on the sender's address, because that's almost always forged.

Sidney, if you're monitoring this thread, what significance does Spam Assassin place on sender addresses?

sidney
June 16th, 2009, 05:14 PM
That, I knew.
Oh! I read the question out of context :)
what significance does Spam Assassin place on sender addresses?

In the general case, not very much. SpamAssassin has hundreds of rules (individual tests of spamminess and some for non-spamminess), most of which contribute only a little towards a total spam/ham score for a given email. Of those hundreds, only a handful have anythiing to do with the From name and address, and those are looking for patterns that are commonly used by some spammers but not in ordinary mail. There is one example of those very few that is notable to this discussion which I just noticed while checking over the rules to answer this question: An email address that begins with six or more consecutive digits will get dinged a couple of points. That isn't enough to bring an otherwise ordinary email from one of the 6 digit numeric Compuserve address over the 5 point threshold, but it does reflect that there are a number of spammers out there in the habit of using numeric From addresses. Hmm, I should run a test to verify how many of the spam hits on that rule are forging Compuserve style addresses and refine it to not hit on the Compuserve ones if none of the spam is doing that.

There are some rules that use the sender address combined with some other information, such as SPF checking that matches up the domain of the sender address and the mail server that the mail was sent through, with an SPF record in the domain's DNS. If such a record is there, it specifies valid mail servers for mail sent from that domain. DKIM is a similar mail verification standard that has sender address as one component. All of those are meant to detect when a sender address has been forged, based on some criteria that the person who really owns the domain of that address has set up to make that possible.

The individual user of SpamAssassin, if they are running it themselves, or if their mail ISP gives them access to their configuration settings, can whitelist or blacklist based on the From header. Those entries are worth enough points by themselves to declare an email as either ham or spam. However, even the whitelist entry can be set to contain the From header plus something else such as the domain of the mail server used, and that is the recommended way of using the whitelist. For example, if I see that mail from you comes via the sonic.net mail server, I would make the whitelist entry be for your email address only when sent through that server. A spammer forging your address would not then match. If you sometimes send mail from the same address but through gmail, I could add another whitelist entry for that if I wanted to.

If I'm getting a lot of spam that always uses the same name with different forged email addresses, or even the same address or addresses that match some distinctive pattern, and I know that I will never get legitimate mail that looks lke that, I can add the From address or a pattern that matches it to my personal blacklist.

Then there is the Bayes learning engine, which usually is enabled only in a local setup, such as running SpamAssassin on your own machine or by the IT department of a small business. That optional component of SpamAssassin learns characteristics of the ham and spam mail that comes in, and it pays attention to all the headers including the From header. If you are running Bayes, then when you get enough ham or enough spam that has some particular words in the From header that don't appear in the opposite category of mail, then future mail that also has those words in the From header will tend to be scored more in the corresponding direction.

Mike
June 17th, 2009, 04:17 AM
Wow! Thanks for the comprehensive tutorial, Sidney!

Larger organization and ISPs don't use the Bayes learning engine? Is that because there's no consistent method to report suspected spam, unlike our mail client-based filtering?

heinz57g
June 17th, 2009, 04:21 AM
sidney, mike used that word already, but WOW again. why cant you offer your services to AOL?

greetings - heinz -

sidney
June 17th, 2009, 04:52 AM
Larger organization and ISPs don't use the Bayes learning engine? Is that because there's no consistent method to report suspected spam, unlike our mail client-based filtering?

No, making an interface for reporting is pretty easy... You automatically learn anything as it is marked by SpamAssassin and provide the user with a button for "This is not really spam" or "This is spam" to correctly report the mistakes. If you don't want to trust the user to do that reliably you only report mail that scores high or low enough that there is very little chance of error, then you get that reported plus whichever mistaken ones the user does click on. I guess it would be tricky to do that with a standard POP based mail client, but you could get away with a setup in which you don't really count on the feedback but still make available email addresses to forward as attachments mis-classified spam or ham for those users who are willing to bother to do that for the purpose of improving their spam filter's accuracy.

The problem with a larger organization or ISP using it is that either 1) they have to maintain a separate database for each mail account, which requires too much resources as the Bayes databases get very large and require a lot of I/O to update with data extracted from each email, or else 2) they have to use one combined database which does not serve the purpose of dynamically customizing the spam filtering to the particular ham and spam emails that someone is receiving.

sidney
June 17th, 2009, 04:54 AM
sidney, mike used that word already, but WOW again. why cant you offer your services to AOL?

SpamAssassin is free software under the Apache License, available for anyone to use as they want. If AOL can't figure out how to make use of it in way that serves their customers better, that's really their own problem :)

Mike
June 17th, 2009, 04:59 AM
...one combined database which does not serve the purpose of dynamically customizing the spam filtering to the particular ham and spam emails that someone is receiving.
Ah. I didn't realize that the filtering still would (should?) be personalized to each user. I was thinking of the Yahoo/Gmail/AOL model where reporting an item as spam updates the global filters.

sidney
June 17th, 2009, 05:14 AM
Ah. I didn't realize that the filtering still would (should?) be personalized to each user. I was thinking of the Yahoo/Gmail/AOL model where reporting an item as spam updates the global filters.

That doesn't work very well for general Bayesian learning systems.

I don't have any information to say that Gmail doesn't keep individualized databases for their spam filters. That would be in line with Google's style, and they are in a position to throw more hardware at the problem than the typical ISP. Yahoo and AOL may be examples of a global system not working so well. I have a Yahoo email account and I haven't seen it work so well at filtering out spam. Dunno about AOL, but that does seem to be what people are complaining about here.

Mike
June 18th, 2009, 04:09 AM
That doesn't work very well for general Bayesian learning systems.
Care to expand? <g> Is this because of the difference for a system to learn one person's preferences to apply to future incoming mail, versus trying to assimilate all the input from a broad base of users and apply that learning against all incoming email?

I have a Yahoo email account and I haven't seen it work so well at filtering out spam. Dunno about AOL, but that does seem to be what people are complaining about here.
From what I've heard, the AOL system apparently considers fewer characteristics in the reported email than, say, Thunderbird or Eudora.

sidney
June 18th, 2009, 07:54 PM
Care to expand? <g> Is this because of the difference for a system to learn one person's preferences to apply to future incoming mail, versus trying to assimilate all the input from a broad base of users and apply that learning against all incoming email?

The Bayesian learning system takes each email and splits all of it up into "tokens", which is roughly the same as splitting it up into all of the individual words. I say "roughly" because after we first did it with just words, we found that some characteristic strings from some headers should be in there too even though they are not each a single word, so they have to be parsed specially. Also SpamAssassin takes some of the metadata it extracts from an email, for example that the language is English, and creates a label like X-Language:en that is added along with the actual words that the message is split into.

Once all the tokens are extracted from an email, each one is looked up in a database, and is added to the database if it is not found there. With the token is stored the time it was last seen, and two counters, one that is incremented for each spam email it is found in, and the other for ham. The counter is only incremented once per email, even if a token appears in it multiple times, and only if the email is "learned" as spam or ham. It is a matter of configuration when email is learned. One option is to enable "autolearning" in which all mail whose score before applying Bayes is either greater than some spam threshold or is below some ham threshold is learned. Another option is to only learn mail that the user specifically indicates is spam or ham and sends to the learning program.

The time stamps are used to periodically "expire" the database, which means to cull old entries. That keeps the database from growing endlessly, and also ensures that it keeps pace with changing content in both ham and spam.

Once the database is full of data, only certain tokens will be "interesting", the ones whose spam counters have very much higher numbers numbers than their ham counters, or vice versa. These tokens can be useful at distinguishing spam from ham. You can see, for example, that words like "the" or "exciting" are reasonably likely to appear in spam and in ham. For some people, e.g., some doctors, the word "viagra" would not automatically indicate that the email is spam, while many other people would never see that word in a legitimate email. But "v!@gr@" may be a good spam indicator for both of them.

The Bayesian scorer takes an email, splits it up into its tokens, looks up the entries for those tokens in the database, and asks the statistical question, "Given that each of these tokens have appeared in spam this many times and in ham this many times, what is the probability that this email is spam?

The way that question is answered uses what is known in statistics as Bayesian methods. The database gives you information that by itself most directly answers the questions "If you know some email is spam, how likely are you to see the word 'foo' in it? How about if you know it's ham?". Bayesian statistics tranforms the numbers to turn the question around to what we really want to know -- Given that the word "foo" is in some email, what is the likelihood that the email is spam.

To finally answer your question, the Bayes method will be most accurate the more tokens there are that appear much more frequently in spam but not ham, or in ham but not spam. In my own email, there may be words that appear in a significant percentage of my normal correspondence, but rarely in spam. If my Bayes database is combined with other customers who have that word but rarely in their email, the overall frequency of that word in spam and in ham may make it no longer useful as a ham indicator. The overall effect of combining data from many people's email is to muddy the system's ability to make fine distinctions that may exist between the spam and the ham that an individual receives. When you consider that the database includes metadata about emails too, there is a wealth of information that is significant when compiled from one person's email that would not be able to be used as strong ham signs in a combined database.

That said, a combined database is usually better than nothing, but not enough to be worth the high computational, storage, and I/O costs that you get if you try to scale it up to the size of the customer base of a large ISP.

Mike
June 19th, 2009, 05:12 AM
Will this be on the test?


Ok, seriously, thanks much for the comprehensive education. It actually does make a lot of sense, and I see why it's much less effective when a single system is used across a broad base of users, such as a typical ISP's customers, yet a small- to medium-sized company (whose employees' email all should have roughly the same context) might still get benefit.

Dodi Schultz
June 19th, 2009, 12:17 PM
The CompuServe forums have just become unavailable to CompuServe Classic users--well, to me, anyway. Or have they closed? The bookmark takes me to a completely different (AOL) site.

Not that it's a major loss; my visits there were quite rare. Just curious.

--Dodi

Mike
June 19th, 2009, 07:30 PM
The CompuServe forums have just become unavailable to CompuServe Classic users--well, to me, anyway.
My forum had more traffic today than the previous two, so it sounds like it's just you. Do the usual "delete cookies, clear cache, exit browser and restart" dance.

Dodi Schultz
June 20th, 2009, 01:48 PM
Thanks, Mike. Since that routine can cause nuisances at other sites, I thought before I performed it, I'd go rap on the forums' door again, just to see what happened. Today, instant entry. Go figure.

I am convinced that most of the electronic stuff we deal with is afflicted with borderline personality disorder and operates mainly on deranged whim.

--Dodi

P.S.: Hope the graduation ceremony for your friend was a blast. I thought Judy's gift suggestion was excellent.

Dodi Schultz
June 21st, 2009, 12:22 PM
A follow-up about the further whims of the new C'Serve mail servers:

I've just discovered that, the past three days, they have again been labeling "spam": (a) mail from an FDA mailing list I'd previously expressly told them was NOT spam; (b) mail from another legitimate mailing list; (c) three e-mails from a friend whose prior messages (including those since the change) had sailed through without question.

I'm about to go tell them to set my spam controls to "low". That may get me a lot more offerings of Viagra, cheap watches, and secret Nigerian bank accounts, but I assume it'll also let me received the mail I actually want.

We'll see.

--Dodi

Mike
June 22nd, 2009, 04:49 AM
You're welcome, Dodi, and glad to hear the retry was successful.

When I delete cookies, I only delete the ones that are relevant (or might be relevant) to the site in question. Thus, when I have problems logging into the forums, I delete anything that's ---.aol.com and ---.compuserve.com. That usually solves the problem.

Indeed, we had a nice time at my friend's graduation. We did get her an Amazon gift cert.

heinz57g
June 25th, 2009, 03:57 AM
well, i hope you out there do not depend on the CSI mailbox as much as i do.

for the past 10 hours a total OUT: no access at all, neither POP nor webmail
(compuserve or workaround AOL), nor web2mail, nothing.

wonder what the reason will be this time? they increasingly (sorry, mike) start
sounding like plain excuses.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 25th, 2009, 04:30 AM
There's no general outage at this time, but there could be a situation affecting just your mailbox.

What error message(s) are you getting?

(Note that I generally check in here only once a day, so you may want to post in the forum (community.compuserve.com/cssoftware) so that it can be addressed more quickly.

heinz57g
June 25th, 2009, 05:51 AM
mike, before i post here, i always have checked at least 3 or 4 mailboxes, and all of them multiple
times, with multiple methods.

neither webmail, nor m2w, nor manual pop, nor the regular calls of automatic pop services, nothing.

example mssgs when using webmail:

- Service Error
- Error Code: C0FE2302
- Report ID: 30510-east-20090625-094224

mssg when using M2W (adv): ''Error : A run time error occurred.''

when using POP services or clients, most mssgs are rather ambiguous and not to the point, like
SERVER ERROR or similar. mostly plain silence, and timeout.

in the 'other' forum, most recent mssgs start with '' ... Cannot connect ... POP3 Not working
again ... '' - so i am not alone. and it has been a long time now, close to 12 hrs.

update: it worked for a while just now, some 10-20 minutes, then OFF again. but - the mailbox
shows empty. lets anyhow just consider it a step into the right direction ...

greetings - heinz -

heinz57g
June 25th, 2009, 09:44 AM
things are working again, some 15 hrs later. not terribly well though: all mails show up, but the new ones
must have been stored (some rather simple backup system somewhere?) where they weres stripped of all
formatting, all mails are just one long line - readable, but tough. but better than nothing.

they also come in totally unsorted, early ones first, then a few older ones, then a brandnew one, then again
one from yesterday.

well, something to do for the night ...

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 26th, 2009, 04:35 AM
I learned around 10 am PDT that one server failed overnight, which affected a subset of mailboxes. That's why mine had no problems. Obviously, your mailbox is on that server.

heinz57g
June 26th, 2009, 01:47 PM
thought so too. but plenty of other people too.

and them having no parallel server, no proper (quick) backup, and taking 15+ hours to somehow fix it,
is pretty poor. in 15 hours entrie cities can vanish. if you depend on email, 15 minutes can be terrible.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
June 29th, 2009, 03:04 AM
The total length of the outage is unknown, but the mail team has taken steps to ensure such a failure gets reported to the 24-hour NOC much more quickly, leading to faster resolution.

heinz57g
June 30th, 2009, 09:33 AM
hey mike, you are not getting away that easy. comes from trying
to help people ...

>> total length of the outage is unknown

if I can time it down to +/- 15 minutes at 15hrs ++ (for several of
my boxes/servers), they can not?

>> such a failure gets reported to the 24-hour NOC much more quickly

wow. they live in 1989 like i sometimes do (or so my wife claims)?

but: overall, just acknowleding such a thing really happened, is
already a step forward.

greetings - heinz -

Dodi Schultz
June 30th, 2009, 05:44 PM
Mike, a quick informational question, if I may, since you seem to know a great deal about how CompuServe works.

The new servers seem to be behaving properly now--I gather that the initial kinks really have been worked out. My question is about the spam designations. I'm unused to this system, but I've been learning that I need to visit C'Serve Webmail with some frequency, rather than just sending T'bird to fetch the mail.

Their spam handling is pretty good, but some spam is still getting through, which is mildly annoying. Far more irritating is the fact that some NONspam is still getting sequestered, even from people whose mail they've previously let through. Result: I've been visiting their site once a day (sometimes more) to see what they've put in my inbox and what they've labeled spam and correcting their sorting when I find they've erred.

Is the system supposed to "learn" from that? If so, should I find stuff from Spammer XYZ in my inbox more than once, or mail from Friend ABC in their spam folder more than once? Or does it take a couple of repeats for my corrections to get through?

--Dodi

Dodi Schultz
June 30th, 2009, 06:05 PM
Postscript to the message I left just a little while ago, Mike: I just visited the Webmail site. From one friend--who always uses the very same e-mail address--there were two messages. One had been put in my inbox, the other in the spam folder. How to explain THAT?

--Dodi

Mike
July 1st, 2009, 05:02 AM
hey mike, you are not getting away that easy. comes from trying to help people ...
Ah, but I can stop participating at any time, should I choose.

if I can time it down to +/- 15 minutes at 15hrs ++ (for several of my boxes/servers), they can not?
Based on what appeared to have happened, apparently not.

but: overall, just acknowleding such a thing really happened, is already a step forward.
Indeed. I get regular updates from the mail team, and from what I've personally heard, management really wants for this to work.

Mike
July 1st, 2009, 05:29 AM
First, Dodi, I assume you are using the "Spam" and "Not spam" buttons to "train" the system. I know it sounds like a dumb question, but there are a few people who believe that simply moving messages between folders does the training!

The spam system uses a variety of criteria to judge messages, and believe it or not, with one exception, the sender's address isn't considered. The sender's address is too easily forged (and spammers use so many) that it's completely unreliable as a test to determine whether a message is spam.

The exception noted above: a sender's address that is found in the Contacts will reduce the likelihood that a given message will be considered spam. It won't eliminate the chances, because there are other criteria, but unless all the other criteria overwhelmingly insist the message is spam, then the message should land in the mailbox. Thus, when you encounter a false positive, you might want to add that sender to the contacts within web mail.

When the "Spam" button is used, the message is copied to AOL's spam complex, where it is analyzed for several factors, including the servers through which the message was routed, any URLs noted within the message, and some other characteristics.

A single individual reporting a single message as spam isn't likely to get similar messages automatically filtered in the future. However, multiple reports of the same message, or of messages with the same routing, or messages containing the same URLs, would lead to other messages with the same characteristics being treated similarly.

The filters change dynamically as the "Spam" and "Not spam" buttons are used by everyone with any email address using the AOL systems, including AOL.com, AIM.com, compuserve.com, cs.com, netscape.com, and many additional domains. Thus, two messages from a single correspondent, sent separately, could be scored differently for likelihood of spam. If the messages indeed differ (e.g., the sender may have used different networks when sending, or may have included a URL in one but not the other, or one might contain a forward of a message that was reported by many AOL/AIM/CS/Netscape users as spam), then they would be scored differently for likelihood of spam.

In summary:


Two separate messages from the same sender may be treated differently by the spam filters
The sender's ID rarely is considered as a flag for spam
To avoid having mail from a specific sender treated as spam, add that sender to the Contacts in web mail

earler
July 1st, 2009, 06:40 AM
Based on my own experience, I find gmail has better spam handling than aol or any of its brands. Much better, in fact. Attglobal has a decent system and I've never had problems with false positives. Virtually as good as gmail's system is orange, a major isp in europe, especially in france and the uk.

Dodi Schultz
July 1st, 2009, 10:54 AM
Thanks, Mike!

Yes, I'm using the Spam and Not Spam buttons.

Hm. One of the two messages from the same friend handled differently yesterday did, in fact, contain a URL--but now, I can't recall which one. Would that make it more or less likely to be seen as spam?

Now that you mention it--stupid me--of COURSE sender's address wouldn't make the difference. A goodly proportion of the spam I get has ME as the "sender," and I assume that much of the rest is using innocent people's addresses as well. (Do you know any way that can be prevented? Too late with an address the spammers already have, but...)

Anyway: I've hesitated to list "contacts" partly because that's sharing other people's addresses, and I feel iffy about that. The other thing is that some of what has been labeled spam is stuff from organizations and other sources where the return address may vary--and I don't even have a list of those.

Now, I'm off to do my morning check at the C'Serve Webmail site before I send T'bird to collect my mail.

Mike
July 2nd, 2009, 02:56 AM
The point isn't whether a message contains a URL, Dodi--it's whether a message contains a URL that's also contained in messages that others have reported as spam.

I don't think adding your correspondents' addresses to web mail Contacts is "sharing" the addresses any more than receiving email from them into the mailbox.

I just add addresses to Contacts when I clear a false positive.

Dodi Schultz
July 2nd, 2009, 10:27 AM
Mike, thank you yet again! Your explanations and advice are, as usual, clear and helpful. (Do you, perchance, do any teaching? If not, you should.)

From now on, I'll list as contacts those I find mistakenly pegged as spam.

--Dodi

heinz57g
July 2nd, 2009, 02:53 PM
>> Ah, but I can stop participating at any time, should I choose

can, yes. but one doesnt do that with friends.

greetings - heinz -

Mike
July 3rd, 2009, 02:52 AM
You're welcome, Dodi. My only "teaching" actually has been technical training--usually, "train the trainer" sessions at various employers.

Dodi Schultz
July 3rd, 2009, 10:53 AM
It's a marketable skill, Mike, and you've got it.

--Dodi

Mike
July 3rd, 2009, 08:34 PM
Thanks, Dodi. I neglected to mention (probably due to the summer bug that has been squeezing my brain for the past 36 hours) that for many years of my professional career, I've had to explain technical issues to non-technical people, and vice versa.

jsreckley
July 5th, 2009, 08:56 PM
As someone who has been paying for Compuserve for multiple years without access, maybe the change will let me in.

I upgraded my computer and tried to save out my TapCis email and files. Then I tried to get into compuserve using the web site and couldn't remember my password.

To make life more interesting, I could not use my CSIM password to get in and didn't get a person to answer the customer service number. Let alone, I fear my alternate email in their records is on another service that is now defunct.

Maybe with the change, I have a prayer of getting in.