Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Second Class Citizen at the Verizon Wireless Store

A couple of days ago, a new, large Verizon Store sprung up down the road.  At about the same time, Verizon finally announced the availability of the new and long awaited Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone - The phone that was hyped by Google and Samsung in early October, announced in Late October, promised to be released in November, and then delayed and delayed until the middle of December.  It's been all over the news and in people's faces.

I figured the timing was no accident, and sauntered in to see if I might be able to have a look at this Ice Cream Sandwich laiden beast.  To be honest, I was half expecting them to tell me they didn't have one.  As a Verizon Wireless customer in Vermont for over 15 years, I've gotten used to being a second-class citizen.  We are the usually the last to get network upgrades, good stores with good phones, or sales people who can handle technical questions.

I walked in and quickly surveyed the store, before I was immediately swooped down upon by an overly-smiley sales lady.  The first red flag: all of the showroom phones were phonnequins (faux plastic mock-ups with stickers instead of a real display).  There were no functional units anywhere.

I asked her if I could see the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and she said "sure". She "just needed to know my account info", so she could look it up.  This was new and weird to me, as all I wanted to do was look at a phone.  I gave her my account info, and she returned a few minutes later with a brand-new-in-box Galaxy Nexus.  It had never been opened (and, as you may have guessed, was not activated).  She took it out and fiddled with the phone, which was sitting at the activation wizard.  She tried to subtly ask her colleague what the "unlock code" was for the phone (lol). Unsurprisingly, he was not much help.  She then cheerfully handed me the phone, saying "well, at least you can get your hands on it!".  Today would not be the day I would get to play with Ice Cream Sandwich.

As I inspected the phone's physical attributes, namely its bigness in the hand, and the appearance of its SuperAMOLED 4.65" high def screen, the sales lady pointed out that it was about the same size as the Samsung Charge, but, and I quote, "the big thing with that is the face unlock."  I almost burst out laughing, but she was serious.

I'd had all I could take, and I got out of there as fast as I could.  I think I'll wait until one of my friends gets a Gnex so I can look at it for real, since I apparently can't see one at my local Verizon Store.  Wait, what am I thinking?  I can just download a face unlock app to the Samsung Droid Charge, and I'd basically have myself a Samsung Galaxy Nexus!

Congratulations, You're BLACKLISTED!

A long time ago, I posted The Trouble With Greylisting.  My latest rant is brought to you by the current state of e-mail server blacklisting.  I'll relate to you the following anecdote, to help with the specifics:

My client recently purchased a new internet pipe from their ISP - (I won't specify, but let's just say they're "Vermont's largest wireline provider.")  Along with this new connection came a new block of public IP addresses.  This has been standard fare - they have switched connections 3 times in the last 2 years, and for a variety of reasons, each time it's been a fiasco to get everything migrated to the new block.

This time it almost went incredibly smoothly (without question, this was at least partly due to the help of an Astaro Security Gateway, and its almost infinite flexibility).  The only snag was when I moved the mail server over to the new IP block.  Within 20 minutes, people were reporting bounces (undeliverable message reports).  The new IP address was blacklisted for sending spam.  I moved the server to another IP in the block, and an hour or so later, received another report of the same issue.  For the record, this server is totally clean, and sends maybe 50 totally legit messages an hour, during peak.

The only explanation is that some (perhaps all?) of the IPs that were given to us were previously used by spammers.  As I played the scenario through in my head, it all made sense.  Due to the severely overtaxed IPv4 address space, addresses are constantly recycled.  Furthermore, every IP address in that space has probably used by a spammer at some time or another, given the number of spammers in the world.  Ok, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still...  It was enough for me to get the picture.

I moved the mail server back to the known good IP, and then set out to start the long and arduous process of delisting all these IPs.  Even though I don't plan to use more than one for sending mail, I need to have options, as obviously I can't predict what is going to happen to my IP reputation, regardless of what is actually my fault.

Throughout the process, one interesting thing I got to see was the variety of different types of blacklists out there.  They range from reasonable and responsible (think Spamcop), to strange, and obscure.  Some blacklists are very straightforward about removal requests.  The policy is simply "check yourself, and then click the removal button."  Some blacklist providers investigate reports of spam before listing a host.  However, the lower end providers take a very lazy approach to blacklist management.  They blacklist everything based on loose criteria, don't expire anything, and make it very difficult for hosts to request removal.  One delisting form was actually punctuated with a lecture about how

So, to review, we have 2 problems:

1. (some) ISPs sell IP blocks with no guarantees about the reputation of IPs within that block

2. (some) Blacklist providers use lazy tactics to manage their lists, including listing without due process, with complicated and indefinite delisting requirements, and without expiration of highly outdated listings.

With these 2 factors at work, it's a very disconcerting direction for private mail hosting in general.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Whether Steve Jobs Liked It Or Not, Apple Created the Market For Android

As Steve Jobs' authorized biography is released, we are getting some of the first public looks at his perspective.  I'm not surprised to hear about his view of Android as a "stolen" product.  Android is a smartphone OS that features a lot of the same usability aspects as the iPhone OS.   However, the reality is that Android fills a need that the iPhone's closed architecture doesn't: The freedom to run almost anything you want on the device you own.  Apple created the market, now largely owned by Android, when they decided to withhold that freedom from their developers and users.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alt Rock Band Mutemath Quietly Rocks Vermont's Higher Ground

After 3 successful albums, several appearances on the late night shows of David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, and others, Mutemath, the 2007 Grammy Nominated alt rock band known for their creative and energetic performances finally descended on Burlington's only "little big venue", Higher Ground.  Why then, was the show tucked away in the smaller Showcase lounge, with only around 70 or so people in attendance?
Concert review, photos, and video after the jump.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dear Indie Rock Musician,

A Letter From the Sound Crew 

Dear Indie Rock Musician,

It has come to our attention that we will be working your show at our venue.  This letter is to identify the  preparations we have made, in order to minimize any responsibilities on your part.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Victor Wooten To Vermont Bass Players: Take Better Notes, Bathe.

Last Sunday, I, along with some of Vermont's highest profile bass players (which I don't count myself among) attended the Victor Wooten bass clinic held at Daddy's Junky Music in Williston, VT.  Wooten, who was in town for the Flynn Theater show with Bela Fleck and (the original) Flecktones, held the clinic from 1-2pm. While the chance to meet and talk to one of the worlds foremost electric bass players was at hand, the Vermont bass players in attendance also received some assertive and off-the-beaten-path advice.

Friday, April 01, 2011

3.31.2011 Toad The Wet Sprocket at Higher Ground

We saw Toad The Wet Sprocket at Higher Ground last night. It was a great show. The last time they came to Higher Ground was apparently 15 years ago, before they had broken up. The band played a few new unreleased songs, as well as, of course, all of their most popular songs from the 90's. As a 6 piece, the arrangements and overall sound of the songs were pretty much exactly as they are on the albums, with the addition of lap steel and keyboard player Johnny Hawthorne to fill out the sound.

Friday, March 25, 2011

November Guest Receives Airplay on 30 U.S. Radio Stations

This afternoon we were delightfully surprised to receive a report containing 30 RADIO STATIONS across the US who have picked up November Guest this week. Here is the current list of radio stations you can now hear us on:

KAXE (Grand Rapids, MN)

WROQ (Greenville, SC)

KRSC (Claremore, OK)

WKPS (State College, PA)

WKWZ (Syosset, NY)

WMSR (Auburn, AL)

KCLC (St. Charles, MO)

WIZN (Burlington, VT)

WMBR (Cambridge, MA)

WMEB (Orono, ME)

WNCW (Spindale, NC)

WOAS (Ontonagon, MI)

WQAQ (Hamden, CT)

WSUP (Platteville, WI)

WUMD (Dearborn, MI)

CFMU (Hamilton, ON)

KDHX (St. Louis, MO)

KFAN (Fredericksburg, TX)

KOTO (Telluride, CO)

KPUR (Forest Grove, OR)

KSUT (Ignacio, CO)

KUMD (Duluth, MN)

MSPR (Moorehead, KY)

WBZC1 (Atco, NJ)

WJHU (Baltimore, MD)

WMLU (Farmville, VA)

WMNF (Tampa, FL)

WMPG (Portland, ME)

WPMD (Norwalk, CA)

WUTK (Knoxville, TN)

And btw, wow, there's a place called Farmville, VA? I wonder if they'll be sued out of existence by Zynga.