Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Media

We've had a good New Media day. We got a new website up yesterday due to popular acclaim and linked it here (I need to figure out to easily link here to there: www.lavarre.org...)

Spent a good part of the day "fixing" DNS settings and Thunderbird.

The DNS (Domain Name Server) settings are handled through NetworkSolutions.com. Pretty good service, but there is some latency in becoming familiar with all the terminology.

For example, consider the domain lavarre.org:

You can create a zillion sub-domains, like  
     www.lavarre.org
     whoever@lavarre.org

and any number of subdomains: pat., penny., christina., etc.

And then you can have sub-subdomains, like:

www.pat.lavarre.org
whoever@pat.lavarre.org
www.penny.lavarre.org
whoever@penny.lavarre.org

And so forth.

you can use the A (address) record to point a subdomain at an Internet Protocol (IP) address.

This is good in that an IP address (IPA) is very, very explicit.

But this is bad in that some services change the numerical address regularly despite keeping a fixed canonical name (CNAME), such as ghs.google.com.

Now, I don't yet really know, but my guess (without further googling) is that ghs stands for Google Hosting Service. And a clever bit of kit is is:

You enter ghs.google.com as your target CNAME in your DNS hosting service (e.g., www.networksolutions.com). Then on the other side of the link (in Google itself) you tell Google what DNS names they should expect to have come knocking at their door.

And it works.

A few whines:
  • The NetworkSolutions.com site only allows the numerical IPA in the A record. So you have to ping ghs.google.com to find that number (currently  74.125.53.121)
  • Their CNAME section allows you to put in the CNAME, e.g., sites/google.com/site/whateveryoursitename is
  • But you can't do both: either the numerical A record or the generic CNAME but not both. I'm not sanguine that they will always use the same IPA for ghs.google.com, so it would be better to be able to include the CNAME in the A record but it is what it is. We shall see.
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Once past setting up the site and the DNS (the web works [www.lavarre.org and some others] but still need to solve email) it was on to fixing Thunderbird.

GMail defaults to the IMAP protocol, which leaves all your email on the server. But aside from privacy issues, it is a PITA in that you get all kinds of duplicates. Very confusing. Better to have a POP account that downloads your mail and then you are then responsible for your destiny. (I found a number of I HATE IMAP sites, but I digress). So I set out to kill this particular bĂȘte noir. And succeeded.

But as they say, it's easy if you know how, but if not then a challenge. First you have to create a new account and then notice the tiny little Edit button that lets you change a drop down button from IMAP to POP and then change your home directory for the file and then change the IPA for the server and then...

Well, I won't spoil your fun, figure it out, but rest assured, it can be done.


==========

In the process, I recovered a former gmail account file (the last POP file I had successfully attained) that had some very precious work-related messages that I had thought I had lost forever. The sender had moved on so could not be asked to repeat them, nevermind the embarassment of having to ask him to do so...

So I was well pleased with myself... :-)


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OK, with all those bragging rights, then I set about cleaning up and reconciling the several POP, IMAP, POP3, IMAP-1, and so forth files. I figured out that deleting the various .msf index files does no harm and allows them to be rebuilt based on the raw data files, e.g., Mail, Sent, Drafts, etc. But after reviewing those accounts and transferring to Local Folders or deleting all their files the data files were still in huge fractions of gigabytes in size. What's going on?!!

Well, just a bit more googling solved it: You have to compact.


http://kb.mozillazine.org/Thunderbird_:_Tips_:_Compacting_Folders

And now they are all tiny.

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OK, so while we're bragging, we did realize that with all this consolidation we were generating a whole bunch of duplicates in the various folders of Local Folders. So google again, and we first found a Thunderbird addon something like Remove Duplicates (Alternative) with five stars. Woohoo!

Except I couldn't make it work. So then I tried
     Remove Duplicate Messages 0.1.1.10
that works a charm. It even looks across subdirectories to find the dupes, then lists them with its recommendations: delete this, save that.

Of course by now, what with consolidating some four different email accounts over some eight years, I had thousands of dupes, but checking the first few results, they seemed really to make sense. So, close my eyes and (it turns out I had some 60,000 messages) click Delete Selected so that now, poof!, there are only 19,182 left...

The 40,000 are gone, but safely gone, to Trash, so if you really want to wade through some 40,000 messages then you are welcome to do so. Knock yourself out, but also go to counseling for being seriously anal-retentive, and that advice from an accomplished AR veteran.


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So, all in all a very good day:
  • DNS solved
  • POP/IMAP solved
  • Critical files recovered
  • Files reconciled
  • Strong recommendation for a work well done:
          Thunderbird Add-on Remove Duplicate Messages 0.1.1.10

Recommended.

Oh, and OBTW, sites.google.com is really sweet. Well done.