Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ironic Spam

I blogged a few days ago about inane password reset questions, and now another amusement from the LA Times ...

I can't remember now why I ever went there - no doubt I was following a link to an article - but in that I don't remember and never go there, I ignored a recent flurry of emails requesting that I visit or my 'subscription' would be canceled. Well, I didn't mind them canceling it, and they said the cancellation would be on a date within a few week, so I gritted my teeth and ignored the (frequent) requests. The problem would solve itself.

My subscription is canceled now, so what do I get? Another email:

"Why have we stopped sending you e-mails?"

As if. I could only wish.

Between the password questions and now this, I'm not sure I'll follow a link to them if I ever get one again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lemonade for teachers

Remember lemonade stands? When I was a kid, if someone wanted to earn a few bucks on a hot day, they could make some lemonade and sell glasses to passing pedestrians or motorists. Maybe go a little further, and sell cookies or brownies or something. It was something of a cultural icon, featured in comic strips and so forth. Lucy even went so far as to sell psychotherapy.

Roll forward to these days of education funding cutbacks and I'm seeing lemonade stands with a difference: kids are selling lemonade and cookies just as before, but the money is being donated to a school PTA or Education Foundation (as the case may be) to help cover teacher salaries that can't be funded out of payments from the State. Sure, some of these 'stands' are bigger productions, organized by the PTA or school principal. But not all. Some of those little kids selling on streetcorners (now there is an image I didn't need) are donating their quarters to keep their favorite teachers in the school.

And it isn't surprising, seeing as they know exactly who is being cut. One morning last week when dropping my kid off at school, I saw a display of empty chairs with a teacher's name on the sidewalk of the drop-off circle. Some kind of post-economic performance art or something, apparently organized by some parents.

Even Brownies aren't safe. Brownies and Girl Guides have been selling cookies for ages to support their programs, but I saw an email yesterday afternoon saying the Brownies are going to donate part of the proceeds.

Please, support your local schools.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thunderbird with IMAP hangs during new message scan

For a while now I've been annoyed when Mozilla Thunderbird hangs while I'm typing an email, during its periodic check for new messages. I'll be merrily typing along (hunt-peck-hunt-pause-peck-backspace), and the composition window will just freeze for upwards of 10 seconds, and come live again when the new message alert pops up to say I have some new messages.

Like I said, I've been annoyed for a while, and today I finally decided to do some digging. Lo and behold, I found this thread from 4 years ago describing exactly this problem.

That thread may have petered out, but the problem is still alive and (?) well. Sadly.

It definitely seems a locking problem and not just the desktop being busy. My client is a fast quad-core, and I can't imagine that an IMAP check and pop-up alert could consume all that ... it seems that a critical resouce must be locked during folder scan or perhaps the related local cache update or update of message counts in the main Thunderbird window.

No doubt the delay is related to how much stuff it has to scan. Admittedly, I have two email accounts configured, to IMAP servers on the same host, and some have some pretty large folders. And that host isn't all that speedy ... But still, it shouldn't block at all.

For the record, I'm using Mozilla/5.0 Gecko/20100429 Thunderbird/3.0.4 under Gentoo x86_64. The thread above mentions this problem in Thunderbird 1.5, so it has been a very long time.

For the record 2: This is still vastly superior to how Outlook handles IMAP.

PS. I tried to first post this as a comment in the other blog, but comments there seem to be busted. So I'll post here and trackback.