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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Is yahoo a lost cause? Probably!

Today I got an email from Yahoo,  they were very concerned for my account security.  So concerned in fact they told me.

Our external forensic experts have been investigating the creation of forged cookies that could allow an intruder to access users’ accounts without a password. Based on the ongoing investigation, we believe that a forged cookie may have been used in 2015 or 2016 to access your account.
That is nice.  Someone accessed my account.  I wonder what they actually accessed?  Yep, you guessed it. No information form the nice folks at yahoo on that subject.  Just a bland generic suggestion that I "Review all of your accounts for suspicious activity."  really,  this tells me what they accessed how?  Was that email from the Japaneese company I was negotiating the export contracts with in the account when it was accessed?  Was that why the group for Bangladesh managed to undercut my price?

Now this account has only one purpose,  it is one I created to test Thunderbird against the ever more bizarre processes used by Yahoo.  Looking back over the account from the time it was created on the 16th February 2011 it has received exactly two email not originating from me.  Both were from Thunderbird users trying to navigate the complexities of Yahoo. (the last of those emails was in 2014).  But it appears from Yahoo that I have been the victim of state sponsored hacking for the purpose of just peeking in I suppose.

We have connected some of the cookie-forging activity to the same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the data theft we disclosed on 22 September 2016

Now this is where I get a little concerned.  They have connected "some of the ... activity" to that source.  So are they telling me that the account has been hacked by multiple parties on multiple occasions?  Are they telling me anything at all or just pressing the flesh and selling their new authentication protocol that offers them further advertising opportunities and more information about me as a person. I actually think both.  They are I think admitting their accounts have been an open door for years for those in the know.  I must wonder why Yahoo got those information requests from the US government.  Perhaps they are not as good at hacking as other nations

The older I get the more aware I am that TNSTAAFL  but the marketing spin and the sheer cheek here is astounding.  At this point, Yahoo have whatever details I gave them to create the account and they will not be fiction,  but may well be a long way from what my credit provider calls the truth.  This blog has more personal information that my yahoo account,  and that is no accident.  But this email does not encourage me to give Yahoo any more insight into who I am, they proved they are not capable of managing any personal data at all. Giving them a phone number is not something that will be happening.  Closing the accounts will be first.

But lets look at what they did say, "the creation of forged cookies" is what their external investigators are looking at. Almost everyone knows,  once you log into a web site it gives you an authorization cookie that validates you against subsequent pages,  like opening an email, so you do not have to enter your password for every page load.  Apparently Yahoo had an issue with these cookies, their algorithm for producing a secure authorisation was too simple or to well known and multiple unknown parties had unfettered access to just about everything they had in peoples accounts over a number of years. Now yahoo wants to put the genie back in the bottle. by replacing one single factor authentication method (A password) with another.  (Pressing ok on a phone app when I try and access their web site or mail.) 

What have yahoo done to stop the use of forged cookies?  Well, they invalidated the forged cookies. This implies that the forged cookies were still being used until very recently, like this week really. Good hey. That is like closing the garage door when you see your car turning the corner at the end of the street.

They (Yahoo) are also  "constantly enhancing our safeguards and systems that detect and prevent unauthorised access to user accounts".  Hey guys.  Just a concept here.  But I have been accessing this account from the same IP for years.  perhaps I do not need a phone app or a password to identify my connection as me.  Instead you come up with safeguards that make using your service a burden instead of a pleasure.  I do not need a new log in method.  I need a new provider of email. Sorry but bungling ham fisted bulk admissions really do not leave me feeling any better about Yahoo that I felt the day I first heard they had been hacked. 

For others that actually used their yahoo account;
  • Did you have photos stored on yahoo that your would not like public?  They probably are now. 
  • Did your business have sensitive document or email stored on Yahoo?  They are probably public now. 
No amount of generic admissions can excuse this breach of trust.  But to add insult to injury  Bob Lords email contains web beacons.  That is not what I would call a contrite apology.  More like meeting some legal requirement and garnering proof of doing so for use in subsequent litigation.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Anti Virus again

For a very long time I have been banging on about anti virus (AV) programs and how they appear to be designed to make email clients look bad.  Early on I though it was just me,  but then I found an MVP for Outlook Express that also had issues with Anti virus products and their continual ability to mess up email and email applications. Microsoft kindly removed his web presence.  I did get a copy of what he said in my post here though

Today I stumbled on a series of articles and discussion by people whose opinions I think are worth taking notice of.and they are all denouncing Anti virus products.  Some (most really) of this is not new.  But it would appear the cat may be out of the bag.  But You draw your own conclusions.

Robert O'Callahan, was a developer with Mozilla until about 12 months ago.  He has just posted to his blog a recommendation to Disable Your Antivirus Software (Except Microsoft's) a fairly strong statement followed up by a suggestion that. "At best, there is negligible evidence that major non-MS AV products give a net improvement in security".   So there we have it.  But why now?  Because when he tried doing something about the appalling way anti virus affected Firefox in 2012.  He was shut down for shaming Mozilla "partners".  Now having been away from Mozilla he feels he can freely express his opinion.  I encourage you to read everything he says on that blog post.  It really does not reflect well on so called "security" products.

This all gave me some vindication for my prior distaste for AV products,  but  then I wandered into  the twitter sphere of Chrome developer Justin Schuh where he said "AV is my single biggest impediment to shipping a secure browser." and "I could rattle off a laundry list of total security breakage due to worthless AV code."  So now we have developers involved with two major browser projects that are not at all happy with the way things are going with Anti Virus products.  Looking through that discussion you might notice a current Mozilla employee with a grime about AV caused problems,  and a computer technician that does not want thing to change because he makes his money fixing the mess left by anti virus products.  So who actually think these things are doing their job and making things more secure.

Logic would indicate that at east those selling Anti virus product would be supporting them as a good thing.  Not so. Anti virus products are "doomed to failure," according to Brian Dye, senior vice president for information security at Symantec, the maker of Norton brand of anti virus products.

"Antivirus products are catching less than half of all cyberattacks", Dye said, in May 2014.  For a company that is aware of the playing field,  I wonder why they are still in the market all these years latter. (As the Wall street journal article is behind a paywall.  I will link to the ZDNet report for further reading.)

To give Norton a break, they have concentrated more on whitelisting applications that their firewall will allow to access the internet in the past few years.  But this has issues all of it's own.  Thunderbird releases a new version and the support forums light up with users who can no longer get their mail because Nortons firewall has blocked the new version.

But the question is still open.  Is their software leaking?  Is it secure? I really do not know.  Norton had issues last year.  but given the speed of their releases, can they really be doing much more than patching vulnerability as they are notified of them?
The SecurityIntelligence article that reported the Norton issues stated. "It’s a relatable conundrum: Security companies don’t want to lose their share of the market and often choose speed over safety, something corporate IT departments struggle with on a daily basis. But the continuing parade of bad medicine stories suggests that it’s time for a change; using kernel privileges carries the risk of Heartbleed-like failure and simply isn’t worthwhile in the long term. "

The reality is all anti virus products have issues,  just how bad they are is still open to some discussion.  But I think everyone should take just a little time to actually consider what their anti virus product is doing for them, and what issues it might be causing for them.  Not the least of which is slowing your system down.

For once a bibliography.
ZDNet article that set me off on this journey 
Twitter discussion Justin Schuh
Robert O'Callahan's blog post
Antivirus Hall Of Shame discussion on
Security intelligence report on Norton's vulnerability.
ZDNet report on comments by Brian Dye, senior vice president for information security at Symantec 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Blind Carbon Copy and

For some time now there have been issues with Blind Carbon Copy appearing in support forum where the mail provider is, in searching for a solution it bacame obvious that the issue encompased all mail clients wsending mail with SMTP, indicated it was a bug, or change of policy at
The effect of this issue was that mail send using BCC was not delivered by  It appeared that BCC addresses were simply stripped  and dropped from the email.  The mail would be delivered to anyone in a CC or To field,  but BCC recipients simply did not receive mail.  At one point I had contact with folk who were able to get some BCC mail addresses to work,  but not reliably and they were doing nothing different to others.  This reinforced my view that indeed there was a bug with

I have had a support request with the Outlook folks for some time on this matter and I have now been notified the yes they do have a bug. Yes, they have a fix and are testing it.  Hopefully BCC will soon work again for those using SMTP in the near future.

I will update this post when the fix is released. If I am notified of the release.

Update:  All mail accounts should not work with BCC

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Outlook Calendar in Thunderbird

This has been something of a thorn in many peoples side.  It is simple to press the publish button in an account on the web and add the resultant ICS file to Thunderbird as a read only calendar.  But what if you want a calendar you can update, one that syncs both ways.  Until now I had though it was simply not possible.  But it appears I have been mistaken.

So how to do it.  It is in fact fairly simple,  but has a crucial step that has to be executed before you try and set up the calendar.

Click this link.
You will be asked for your password and user names.  These are the same username and password you use to log into the web site.  In my case my email address and associated password.  Once you are authenticated you will see a web page advising you that your have created a service and giving a lot of instructions about how to create a code file.

Not important in our world.  What we have done is enabled EWS on the URL for ourselves.  Up until this point is you put in the URL into Thunderbird using the ESW add-on it would simply give an error about being forbidden.  Now it just works.

So the next part is easy;
  1. Locate the EWS exchange add-on. download link here 
  2. Open Thunderbird's  add-on manager by clicking on the on the tool bar and select add-ons
  3. Drag the entry for exchangecalendar-v3.8.0.xpi from that page to the Thunderbird add-on manager and drop it.
  4. When the install dialog opens (it will take a little while as the add-on is downloaded) click install. 
Or use the instructions here

Once the add-on is installed and you have restarted Thunderbird before configuring a new calendar.
  • Open the calendar tab.
  • Right click in the calendar list pane
  • Select New calendar.
  • Select "On the Network" and click next.
  • Select Microsoft Exchange 2007/20110/2013 and click next
  • Give your calendar a name and select the email associated with the calendar
  • Click next 
  • Select Hosted Exchange
  • Server URL
  • Primary Email address <Your primary outlook email address, no alias>
  •  User name  the user name you enter to log into  For me it is my email address again.
(The following were the default values. I did not change them)
  • Domain Name is blank.
  • Share folder Id is blank.
  • Folder base is "Calendar Folder"
  • Path below folder base is /
  • Check the server name and settings and complete the Wizard using it's defaults.
I have not yet tested this over a period of time.  But after a number of hours I still have a rad write calendar in Thunderbird.

Please  let me know if this does not work.  I have not found it anywhere else on the web, and I doubt my own abilities.  Perhaps it only works for a day.  Only time will really tell.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bigpond mail changes.

Today I got an email from Bigpond/Telstra advising me their mail system was changing.  It was full of nice touchy feely vibes and after I read it all I knew was at some future date something was changing.  Congratulations Telstra.  This is important stuff and you have dumbed it down to the level of a marketing email.  Then I check the date the change is scheduled for and it is today.  Talk about forward planing.  The email they send today said "We'll email you in a few weeks with the exact move date of your email service listed below".

By searching around on the Telstra web site. They do have the information, and I must admit the email has a link to the starting point. I learned that the changes to  me really involve their closing up of shop of the Bigpond brand, and finally modernizing their email system to use secure connections. Minor really,  but enough to stop my Thunderbird accounts getting mail without changes.

So my ancient Bigpond server settings will need to be changed when the day comes (Today).  Telstra recommend I also convert to IMAP.  That is a whole different issue.  My existing email accounts are POP and I just want then to keep working.  So here are the changes I will have to make to my existing Bigpond mail accounts.

To summarise the changes to "just keep on as it was"  the following information will need to be changed

Incoming information in your account.

Field Existing Setting New Setting
Server Name:
Port: 110 995
Connection Security: None SSL/TLS

Outgoing Server (SMTP)
This is at the bottom of the list of accounts in account settings.

Field Existing Setting New Setting
Server Name:
Port: 25 465
Connection Security: None SSL/TLS

I have included the recommended settings. However Telstra also allow for the use of Port 587 and connection security STARTTLS. As this is actually more secure, I suggest you try those first, before using the recommended less secure settings.

It is always possible to add a new account as IMAP,  but that is not the purpose of my posting.  My purpose is to offer setting that will allow your existing account to just keep working.

Source links at Telstra. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My experience Windows 10 and Thunderbird / Firefox freezing

This posting is somewhat off topic for me,  but then it is on topic, because the issues I am discussing initially appeared to be in Mozilla branded products.  I am a glutton for punishment sometimes, and as a result I run daily builds of both Firefox and Thunderbird.  The result of this is a mostly reasonable experience with occasional disaster days where you get a Thunderbird or Firefox that basically does not load at all.

In July I bit the bullet and updated Windows to version 10,  the motivation was more a case of I had seen many people in the support forums with Windows 10 issues and really they appeared to be largely inexplicable than any desire to use the latest and greatest from Microsoft.

In all the upgrade of my Dell Vostro went well.  I read the options closely enough to find the tiny option to keep my existing settings and after a number of hours  I was away with the new Windows 10.  I turned off all the phone home things Windows 10 wanted to do, I stopped Cortana and got rid of all the rubbish in the start menu.  Things were looking positive. 

So here I am in August,  frustrated by Mozilla Firefox.  It is horrible and getting worse.  It just stops responding for anything from a few seconds to a minute or more.  Typing in reply dialogs on just stops mid word. When it returns large chunks of what was typed is simply not there, not in some buffer waiting for the freeze to end, just not there.

Then Thunderbird started to display this same abhorrent behaviour.  It just stops responding.  Sometime it says it is not responding,  other times it just does nothing.  At least it is not as bad as Firefox.  But it appears to be getting worse

Then I noticed something new.  The command window in Windows 10 was also freezing.  This was when I realized I had an issue with Windows, or some other software freezing windows,  not Mozilla branded software at all.

I started searching on the web and it really only took a few moments to see I was not alone.  There were lots of folk apparently experiencing hangs or freezing.  In my usual approach to these things I read a few of the first hits I got from Google, looking for similarities and common solutions.  Then I clicked on a link to a YouTube video that offered to fix windows 10 freezing.  Cynic that I am I though what are they selling.  Well nothing is the answer! Except a free solution for me.

I found that of the settings mentioned in the video,  only the PCI express setting appeared in power on my desktop.  So like the guy in the video I tuned the setting in power management off.  That was a couple of days ago now.  I have experienced no  freezing at all since that change.

 The lesson for me was just how much of my computer time is spent in Firefox and Thunderbird.  I had the problem for weeks and never even considered I was looking in the wrong place for a solution.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hotmail Proxy errors

The longer I deal with Microsoft the less surprised I become by there aggressive and underhanded marketing.  The latest from Microsoft is that they are converting all of their existing Hotmail/ Live/MSN accounts to their new What these good people forgot to mention is, if you have been getting your mail via the pop protocol until now,  they are going to turn that option off for you.

How did I become aware they had done this for me.  Thunderbird no longer received mails from my Hotmail accounts.  Instead I got this lengthy and opaque  error message.

Sending of password for user {MyEmailAddress] did not succeed. Mail server responded: Authentication failure: unknown user name or bad password. [Error="ProxyNotAuthenticated" AuthResult=0]

So now I am aware of this blatant decision to ignore the users settings in favour of some that favour vendor lock-in. I think it is high time for some user instructions on how to set things back to rights.

First log into your account at Hotmail/Live/MSN/Outlook using your browser.   Once you get there you will probably be facing a user interface that is entirely new to you.

To start locate the cog on the right of the toolbar pane. It displays the following menu, and is included in the image

Select options from the menu entry and you will be taken to the following page, where you will need to click on the POP and IMAP settings entry on the left.

Change the POP options to on. and click the save "button"
Click on another folder and then click back on the POP and IMAP settings entry.

You will now see that the settings for the account, including the server name are shown   Make note of that server name.  Currently simply turning the option back on will restart downloads to your mail client,  be it Thunderbird or any other POP client.  However for future proofing, I strongly suggest you change the server name you are using to the one provided by the web site. There is no telling when they will simply remove the old server names.

Right click your account in the folder pane of Thunderbird, and select settings.
In the server setting page for the account insert the server named in your settings on the web page.

In my case I was advised the server name was so that is what is shown in the image above.   When I changed the server name Thunderbird warned me about filters.  This is not an issue, as all that is changed is the server name.  Everything else remains the same, really it is the same account on the same server, so just acknowledge the warning. Your user name will not change from what you are using currently, which should be your full email address.

Saturday, January 23, 2016 / Office365 Imap subscribed folders disappear, difficulty in subscribing

Over the past couple of days it has become apparent that there has been an issue with IMAP accounts hosted on office365 and  Support has received a number of complains of subscribed folders disappearing from Thunderbird and attempts to re-subscribe failing.

A workaround has been identified by turning off the Thunderbird option "Show only subscribed folders".

To turn off this option;
  1. Right click the account in the folder pane.
  2. Select the menu entry Settings
  3. In the server settings for the account,select the advanced button.
  4. In the advanced account settings dialog, un-check the option "Show only subscribed folders"


Microsoft have now acknowledged the issue as EX41924 and are posting updates here. At the time of writing this post the latest update (update 4) is suggesting a code solution has been developed and is currently being deployed across the office365 and web sites to remediate the failure their previous patch caused.Affected users that wish to follow the Microsoft support thread on can find it here.

While it is unfortunate,  there is nothing the Thunderbird community can do in this other than offer the workaround until such time as Microsoft resume normal services.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

LogJam and Thunderbird.

Recently the Firefox core developers patched the LogJam vulnerability in Firefox.  As Thunderbird shares code with Firefox at a low level,  Thunderbird inherited the patch and it made it's largely unannounced debut in Thunderbird 38.1.

Are you affected?  The easiest way to check is look in the Error console Ctrl+Shift+J

The error message is quite distinctive and will take the form shown below;

What this means is that any server using SSL/TLS and 512bit encryption keys is not going to work with the updated Thunderbird.  These keys have a long history.  Introduced in the 1990's to meet US export restrictions on Cyphers.  By the year 2000 these restrictions were lifted.  But by that time the use of the so called Export Cypher suites was well entrenched.

Now 15 years on, when it was assumed basically no one would be using these obsolete suites, up pops a security vulnerability in them and we find that the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach to things is alive and well on the Internet. Here on the bleeding edge of technology,  many large organisation, such as the NSA, are still using these obsolete and inherently insecure cypher suites.

There is a short term workaround for those using Thunderbird, by installing the add-on Disable DHE. This add-on is listed in the add-on site as for Firefox,  but it will install in Thunderbird if you download it and drag it over the add-ons entries in the add-on tab.  This is not a long term solution.  You are still at risk of a man in the middle attack using it.  But it gives breathing time to actually make arrangements for new key pairs to be generated for the server. You should contact the server administrator or your mail provider to make these arrangements.

I can not say it better than the team that found the vulnerability, so the following is extracted from their web site
What should I do? 
If you run a server… 
If you have a web or mail server, you should disable support for export cipher suites and generate a unique 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman group. We have published a Guide to Deploying Diffie-Hellman for TLS with step-by-step instructions. If you use SSH, you should upgrade both your server and client installations to the most recent version of OpenSSH, which prefers Elliptic-Curve Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange.
If you use a browser… 
Make sure you have the most recent version of your browser installed, and check for updates frequently. Google Chrome (including Android Browser), Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari are all deploying fixes for the Logjam attack.
If you’re a sysadmin or developer …
Make sure any TLS libraries you use are up-to-date, that servers you maintain use 2048-bit or larger primes, and that clients you maintain reject Diffie-Hellman primes smaller than 1024-bit.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Filter Import/Export

For a short time until Thunderbird V5 was released there was a message filter import export add-on.

This appears to have been abandoned by it's original Author, and around the time of Thunderbird Version 19 someone fiddled the max version and again added it to Thunderbird addons at AMO. I have done the same to increase the max version to 38.  So the add-on should install for a while yet.  I have not used it as yet.but I appear to lack an import option.Looks like I will have to investigate further.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sync Hotmail/ contacts with the Thunderbird address book.

For as long as I have been using Thunderbird there have been those folk who wanted to synchronise contacts with Hotmail/  This has been relatively simple for Google account holders, with multiple add-ons available, with relative strengths and weaknesses.  Whilst chasing information on an unrelated subject in the past week I stumbled upon the TZ Push add-on. Something of an unfortunate name as it does not allude to it's ability with activesync or  This add-on connects to ActiveSync data sources. The add-ons page states Z-Push, Zentyal/Zarafa, Horde, and other Activesync providers.  So there are two things here.

  1. TZ Sync is an activeSync address book synchronisation tool. So any service that offers activSync or Exchange ActivSync should be supported.
  2. There is a truly viable way to syncronise contact information between Thunderbird and

Lightning and CalDav

While the title of this [post is CALDav and Lightning,  most of the space is going to be taken up with Googles implementation as it is problematical and Google are all over the place with their documentation.  It has taken hours of trawling through Google help and support articles as well as support forums to finally put together all of the necessary bits for Google.  Yahoo on the other hand mange is in about 10 lines on one page.

Traditionally Mozilla have recommended the use of the gdata provider with Goggle calendars to create read write access to those calendars using XML. This process pre-dates Googles adoption of CalDavand requires the Gdata provider add-on as well as Lightning.   CalDav read write synchronisation requires no third party data provider and just works and works the same for other CalDav.

To create a CalDav connection to your Goggle calendars, first you need to establish your personal CalDav URL for connection to the calendar.  If you have a single calendar the calid is your email address.

  • In this example if your email address is then the URL is
  • Additional calendars have a calid issued by Google so using the base URL replace the calid with the correct Id for your calendar.


Enable CalDav synchronization.

Even though it is not referenced anywhere else the page says Select calendars to sync to your iPhone/iPad/iCal* following the asterisk shows or any other CalDAV device.So in typical style the option in there, but well navigate to and enable CalDav.

Note:- I had trouble with my CalDav Calendars on Google and found that I needed to use the config editor to change the preference network.http.spdy.enabled.http2draft to False  

Note that there are other network.http.spdy.enabled. preferences but only the http2draft appears to affect he outcome.  Bug 1081613 refers

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Backup up Gmail with Thunderbird.

I see people in the support forums all the time asking about backing up their gmail mail with Thunderbird and I really do not understand why they are doing so.

Google offer a direct backup of your Gmail mail, as well as all of your Google data, but it is mail that appears to be the thing people want to back up. Google create a backup MBOX mail format file with your mail which they then compress so it is smaller and offer it to you to download. The MBOX format is used by Evolution, Thunderbird, Mac Mail and lots of other mail clients and is a de facto standard for mail storage and exchange.

This archive file can be unzipped and imported into a mail client at any time, now or in the future.

In the case of Thunderbird, the Import/Export tools will import the MBOX file into Thunderbird for you, without fuss.

Sure there are other ways to backup your gmail,  but this is probably the least difficult and most sure of any and uses significantly less bandwidth than any other method to boot.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Basic troubleshooting for Thunderbird.

Like all communications, email to is prone to drop outs and minor and sometimes major faults.  So when you mail is not working,  what do you do.

The following is a list of checks you need to make.

  • If your mail is not downloading, check on your mail providers web site that they are not having some sort of outage, or server down issue.  After all, whilst things have become quite reliable in recent years, there are no guarantees.
  • Next restart Thunderbird with add-ons disabled. (Thunderbird safe mode)  Thus us on the help menu (Ctrl + H). If Thunderbird works like normal, there is an Add-on or theme interfering with normal operations, you will need to re enable add-ons one at a time until you locate the offender.
  • Restart Windows in Safe mode with Networking. Windows 8 Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows XP OSX  If this fixes your ussue, it will be resident software loaded into your computer other than Thunderbird that is the cause.  Common problem applications that are not loaded in "safe mode" are anti virus tools, malware detection programs, memory and disk optimisers, privacy protectors and legitimate spy-ware installed by employers to monitor staff.  No naming of names here,  usually in a home environment it will be anti virus programs, but all security and net nanny type software is suspect.

Finally if you have the urge to say suddenly my mail stopped downloading / working.  It is more than likely not an issue with your mail client.  Sometimes it is the mail provider changing connection settings so these need to be confirmed. Other times it is following an update to Thunderbird, then it is more than likely the firewall component in your internet security suite / anti virus.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Windows Contacts

For a long time it has irked me that Thunderbird supported read access to the OSX address book, a really minor player, but did nothing for Windows contacts.  Especially given that windows represents some 70% of the installed user base it just appeared like the developers had lost the plot.  Imagine my interest (and surprise) as I stumbled upon the fact that Thunderbird has supported the Windows Address Book since XP and that the contacts folder is likewise integrated into Thunderbird, in the same manner as, and using the same options, as the Windows Address Book.  It would appear that this functionality is there, just not enabled by default.

So to share this with the world, and get your windows contacts into Thunderbird please warm up your mouse and open the Thunderbird Config Editor.and add the following preferences.

Right clicking on the heading Preference Name will present a menu, select new and then either String or Integer as required in the instruction.

  • First Add a string with the name "ldap_2.servers.OE.description" , when you click Ok set the value in the dialog that opens to  "Outlook Express"
  • Next add a new integer ldap_2.servers.OE.dirType , and when you click Ok for adding it set it to 3.
  • Finally Add another string this time names "ldap_2.servers.OE.uri" , and when you click Ok set it to "moz-aboutlookdirectory://oe/" 
When you are done you will have three new preferences, that look like this

Now for the best part for those using Samsung phones.  The Samsung Suite places your contacts into the windows contact folder and synchronizes them from there.  So with this preference edit contact synchronised from your phone will also synchronize to Thunderbird.

One Caveat.  Contacts in this address book will not have a "show remote images" flag, so remote images for them will not show.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Expand your filter use

Filters are one of those things, we all expect the mail client has them, and mostly they are used for really mundane tasks like a block list.  But filters have many many uses and if you understand the process, you can probably think of a new use often.

But before talking about filters, there is the issue of when and where they will work.  The default out of the box arrangement for Thunderbird is they work on the inbox of a single mail account. As discussed below, that can be expanded for IMAP accounts and with the use of the Send Filter add-on you can run filters on mail as you send it.

If you have an IMAP mail account the filter will only run on the inbox. The functionality to enable filters to run on all sub folders has been around since Thunderbird version 3, but they never got around to placing a setting in the user interface to set it up, so you need to do it manually.

In Thunderbird select options from the tools menu. Then select the Advanced tab and finally on the General sub tab select the config editor button.  Promise to be careful

In the list of settings, right click and select New and then string from the fly out menu

in the enter preference name dialog, place the following text and click Ok
The next dialog asks for a value for mail.server.default.applyIncomingFilters. Enter the value
and click Ok

Note: These settings are case sensitive, so be sure to copy them exactly, including the camel case.

Now all your filters on IMAP mail accounts will run against all folders. This is a good thing if you want to say auto archive mail based on age.  It is a bad thing if you want to move mail from the inbox to somewhere else..  Enter the filtaQuila add-on.  This add-on, among it's list of features makes it possible to include the folder name in Filters,  so a filter that used to move mail from to the folder snoopy  now needs a folder name in the mix, either as if folder is not "name" so the filter will run on all folders but the destination, or folder is "name" so the filter only works on that folder.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Date and Time in mail lists.

The dates and times used by Email are UTC.  This means that for Thunderbird to set up the correct date and time on emails your operating system must be set to the correct timezone and daylight saving settings.

Simply because the little clock on the bottom right of your screen shows the correct time does not mean your time zone is correctly set.

Instructions for changing the timezone are;

XP    Vista Windows 7 and Windows 8  OSX

Thunderbird has only ever displayed the time on messages for today.  The logic involved is fairly simple.  It makes todays messages easier to identify in the list, and you don't need to be shown todays date as you already know it.

If for some reason your feel you must have a date MozillaZine have detailed instructions on overriding date and time formats in Thunderbird.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Images do not display.

Sometime the remote images in an email do not display  This could be due to the permissions.default.image hidden preference in Thunderbird. If you never see the allow images button on emails from senders not in your address book this setting is the probable cause of the images and the button not appearing.

As I understand this preference, it blocks remote images. 2 blocks everything 1 allows images from the original server, 0 allows images from any server. With 1 being the Thunderbird default.

Go to Tools menu > options > advanced > config editor

Type into the search box permissions.default.image or as much as you need to double click on it in the list below.

When changing this setting, it is advisable to reduce the setting to it's current value -1 as each reduction in values is a reduction in security as well as an increase in convenience.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The RETR command did not succeed. Thank ATT and YAHOO for the need for this post

This post is about the "conversation" that occurs between a mail client and the mail server when the client is downloading mail using POP3

Because email is one of the early developments of the internet, everything about the connection and download of mails is done in plain text in the English language.  So much so that you can log into a mail server and get you mail by typing text commands in response to text prompts from the server

But we are not going there. If that is your interest there is an article here that discusses how to use Telnet to connect to the POP3 server.

I am concentrating on only Three of those POP commands STAT, LIST and RETR.

STAT is the command issued to the server to ask if there is mail to download.  The server replies with a message that looks like

+OK nn mm
where nn is number of messages and 
mm is the total size of those messages. 

LIST is the command that follows and is designed to get the server to provide more information about the messages it is holding.  So when your mail client issues the list command to the server it get a reply that looks something like this.

Thunderbird: LIST
Server: +OK 2 messages (320 octets)
Server: 1 120
Server: 2 200
Server: .
In this example there are 2 messages available  
The important information for the mail client such as Thunderbird is that the server has allocated the messages a number (in the examples case 1 and 2) that proceeds the message size information.

This allows for the Third command, RETR.  Using the information obtained in the proceeding LIST the mail client can now proceed to ask the mail server for the message.  This is done using the RETR command and the message number.  This command is issued once for each message to initiate a download of that message and looks something like this.

             Thunderbird: RETR 1
             Server: +OK 120 octets
             Server: <the POP3 server sends the entire message here>
             Server: .

As you can see, for the RETR command to fail, there basically has to be a problem on the server as the mail client (Thunderbird) is only asking the server to provide that which it has already said is available.

Further information can be found in RFC 1939 which is the standard that all POP3 compliant mail server and clients must comply with

Friday, March 15, 2013

Importing CSV files

Now this post is very much driven by the fact that there are still plenty of major players in the email world that have never grasped the more advanced methods of exchanging address information and we are continually relying on that old nugget CSV.

It is fine for those that have been using computers for 20 years or more, we used to exchange data between dBase and just about everything else, so CSV is no stranger.  To those that have grown up in the point and click world of Microsoft Windows on the various Mac operating systems, anything that can not be done with a Mouse is foreign territory.

Enter Comma Seperated Values (CSV), a true "blast from the past" having a history that goes back into the 1960s, long before Apple had a computer and well before the mouse was even an idea. CSV is unfortunately a term used to describe a collection of data formats, about the only thing they have in common is that between each pierce of information there is a comma and the information is in "text".

Because there is so much difference between what is called CSV between the programs that generate is (some put text inside double quotes, "This This", others do not. It becomes important to actually have a bit of a visual at the data in the to get some idea of how the data is laid out.  It is to this end that you will often see a recommendation to open the file in a spread sheet application.

The actual data stored in the file looks something like this

 First Name,Last Name,Email Address,Home Phone,Mobile Phone,Business Phone
Rob Roy,mcgregor,,,,

Developers of Spreadsheet applications have spent many years developing sophisticated import wizards for CSV files so you can tweak the import using options to make the data look like it is in columns under headings.  Ultimately this process results in a "more standardised" data format and your CSV file opening in your spreadsheet looking like a table.

This data layout is generated by Windows Live.  Thunderbird expects there to be a first and last name, but it also expects a display name but Live simply does not include this, so we have to massage the data supplied by windows Live to make things work.  Having the data in LibreOffice it is a fairly simple process to add a column for the display name.  But first things first. You need to save the document as an ODF file, as Libre is stubborn about what you can and can not do with a CSV file.

Right clicking on the letters and the top displayed a menu and you select insert columns from it.

I do this twice, and create two columns on as a temporary display name and the other as the final display name.

Now to get the display name data.  Obviously the information we want is in the first two columns, so we need to include the information from both of these columns into on. ie Concatenate the data.

To do this we use a formula.

For those not used to formulas, once it is entered the first time, you can use the little black square on the bottom right to drag the formula down the list to the end.  What we have now is a formula generated display name, but the cell contains a formula and displays what we want.

The next step is to copy and paste the information from the temp column to the final "Display Name"  when you paste, use the paste special and change the options so all you paste is text.

Now we should have  the Diusplay name in two columns, so right click the Temp Display name column and delete it. so things end up looking like those shown in the image below.

Now  File menu, select "save as" and select the file type of CSV. 
Thunderbird will not do anything but choke if you forget this step.

For those using LibreOffice, it automatically changes formulas to the display value when you save as a CSV file. I have no idea is this is the case with other spreadsheet programs.  Needless to say you can skip the copy and paste text part if you are using Libre office, just name the column to "Display Name" in the first place and only create one now column.  For myself, I will continue the two column approach because that way I can see and be sure, I am not relying on the computer program to get it right for me.