RD's Blog

The Hobbyist Machine Store

Email Problems

The RDS store and my entire email system, business and personal, has been suffering with some very unusual problems. I have been using email from the day it was invented and I never had the problems I have experienced in the last few months.

Email spam filtering and security has come off the rails. A real train wreck. I don't think it is going to get better and I am hoping it gets no worse. My email system stop sending reply emails to my customers.

I written a series of BLOGS on the subject which I posted in Ramblin Dan starting the first of December. They need to be here too as my biggest concern is for the potential customers who are certainly thinking I don't communicate well. That's not true. One thing I can do is communicate!

What follows are a series of posts explaining my plight...

POBOX Has Gone Berserk

I have been using an email service called pobox.com for four years. It is a purchased service that I began to use to provide a "collection point" for the dozens of email accounts I use with my many websites. It also provided a great email filtering service.

I use a process where I direct all my accounts to their one email address that I use to send (SMTP) and read all the mail from all the accounts at one location.

They use various commercial filtering services which I have noticed add a HUGE amount of header information to all emails. There is a whole host of obscure acronyms like DIKM, and SPF. Also other codes not specified. So it is not just POBOX, but a very paranoid system of junk mail and spam control.

I have been testing and trouble shooting one of my website mail handling features that has severe mail passing constipation, due to all the newer mail restrictions and filters. My mail activity has increased but by no stretch to any conceivable spamming level.

Twice, POBOX has closed my SMPT access and forced me to change my password. That requires changes to every device and website that sends email. Especially my webstore accounts. It's killing my business communication.

I have been forced to abandon POBOX.COM and their extremest measures. I fear the entire POBOX.COM email service is on the verge of collapse because of alleged customer abuse and them exercising the extreme "Denial of SMTP Service" measures to prevent or control that imagined abuse of their system. No one can write the perfect algorithm to monitor good email from bad. POBOX admits to that flaw and can only say they are "sorry". I am "sorry" too. Goodbye.

Broken Threads

Emails that are like a conversation and are exchanged back and forth, with each participant adding their comments above or below existing text is called threading. It lets each participant read the complete conversation as parts are added.

That threading on my email servers was broken without my knowledge. I was responding to friends and customers as I usually do by adding my text and pushing reply.

Customers were telling me they were not hearing back from me, but there was no indication of undelivered email. No bounce, nothing. Most of my send / received email was working just fine.

I had trouble with my email about the first of December and I wrote the post before this one about my issues with POBOX.COM. I was assuming any issues were perhaps left-over from that fiasco.

But the occasional complaints continued. So I had a friend of mine (call him Mike) help me with some email troubleshooting. Mike was a non-customer who was having the problem of not seeing my email replies to him.

It took a while, but what I discovered was that my local email SMTP server was not sending any email that was a threaded or chained email. No error message, no undelivered mail, just not sending it on.

My ISP is named Site 5 and I have ranked on them before in this blog (do a search) Email has been a problem from day one. Not sending a threaded email is a total new-one on me.

I have switched my SMTP server to Amazon Cloud SES (Simple Email Service) and all is working fine with threaded and all email messages.

Site 5 works well enough for most things, but they are very much a disaster with managing email. The certificates on the email server I use at Site 5 are reported to be wrong and not trusted by Microsoft Outlook.

Site 5 also gave me a terrible time last year restoring my SSL certificate after they moved my websites from IXWebhosting. They seem to have no concept how business websites depend on SSL security for business.

To my customers who must think I can't make a decent reply, I am sorry. From my side it looked like all was well. I was thinking you were just not replying back again.

It's fixed now. Threads should not be a problem. We will move on from here. ~Dan

 Getting' A Move On!

This "Ramblin Dan" blog and about 15 other of my websites have moved (physically changed servers) from the US East Coast to the US West Coast. I not giving exact locations as I consider that information should remain confidential.

It's not secret, but I don't want to endorse my choices. Ask, and I will tell, and you can decide if my choices would be good or bad for you. For me, I had to make the change.

My previous ISP website server provider was not a choice I made. I have written about the grief they gave me here in Ramblin Dan. Initially they were terrible. All my websites were "sucked" from the servers in Ohio and deposited in severs in Virginia. Emails service and database passwords were a mess.

Eventually, all the problems were sorted out and fixed. Everything was going fine for about six months. I thought I was over the moving pains. Then the email started doing very strange things. Microsoft Outlook reported the mail servers had bogus certificates. I had to click through two "challenge screens" each time I opened Outlook. That was a PITA but not a killer.

But then I found out my customers were not getting replies from me when they sent me questions. This went on for some time until I was able to determine the SMTP server at the ISP would make my "threaded" email disappear without a trace. No error, nothing. It would accept the email with my reply attached and vaporize it. I think it looked at the multiple email headers in the threaded message and classified it as SPAM and sent it to the bit bucket.

Totally unacceptable as I figured I could have lost close to $10,000 in possible sales.

I packed everything and took the first data bus to the West Coast.

The heavy lifting is done, and most websites are operational in the new digs. It was a several days process, but I had total "hands on" with every detail. I like the results so far. But time will tell the truth. That's the reason I need to be a bit confidential and not brag up the new home.

I like the term, "Getting a move on". I remember my grandmother using the phrase many times on us kids. It really means, "Hurry up! Get off yer butt, and get the job done now!" Lovin' it! ?

Taig Super Micro-Mill
Lost Wax Carving with a Taig CNC Micro-mill


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