Monthly Archives: September 2007 vs. STARTTLS

I’m sorry, dear reader, if your eyes glaze over when you see acronyms and acronym-like things. If you aren’t interested in the usually fascinating world of email client configuration, feel free to stop reading now. I won’t feel bad.

Still with me? (Seriously, this is dry stuff…)

Okay, okay, I’ll get on with it already.

I’ve had a problem with my mail setup for some time due to the fact that I run two separate mail servers, but they live behind a NAT device on a single IP address. It doesn’t matter what the reason is; suffice it to say that (a) I won’t use an unencrypted mail connection over the Internet and (b) it’s not possible to map the same port – in this case the IMAP SSL port, TCP port 993 – to two different machines. Thus begins my odyssey into Mac OS X’s and IMAP account configuration.

What I discovered is this: when configured with an IMAP account, does indeed support the IMAP STARTTLS command. While I didn’t perform an exhaustive search, I believe this is not documented. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Configure a normal IMAP account, if you don’t have one set up already. (It’s up to you to figure out where you can do this. This particular exercise is beyond the scope of this article.)
  2. Edit the account, and on the Advanced tab, look to the bottom to find the “Use SSL” checkbox. Notice that it doesn’t mention TLS. Check it anyway.
  3. Finally, change the port from 993 back to 143. Magic happens here. Just trust me.

Now, if your IMAP server supports TLS, will automatically attempt to use it. Beware; if you are using a self-signed certificate, or a certificate that is not signed by a trusted certificate authority (CA), it appears to fail without so much as a peep as to precisely why.

With this setup, I’m now able to access both mail servers, one on port 143 with STARTTLS, and the other on port 993 with a standard SSL connection. w00t!


Who is this weirdo, anyway

i’ve (re-)discovered a note that i had written some time ago. It goes like this…

Subject: Odd thing to think about
Date: October 17, 2004 8:22:13 PM CDT

double cheeseburger without pickles
pickle-less state

i have no idea, whatsoever, where i was going with this thought. i assume it was amusing at the time.

The Early Adopter Tax (an open letter to Apple, Inc.)

Dear Apple,

I’m not happy.

Not at all.

Thanks for dropping the price $200 on my phone… 27 days after I bought it. Yes, I realize that this is long after your return policy applies, by a whole 13 days. Still… two hundred dollars?! One word: ouch.

Some people are looking for a refund. Some people want iTunes Music Store credits. I really don’t agree with either proposal, because to a certain extent I agree with those who said that the phone was worth it when I paid for it; clearly it still is now. These things are essentially cash out of pocket for you and it’s hard for me to condone penalizing you solely for selling something at a price that the market will bear. However, the magnitude of the price drop suggests that I was, perhaps, being gouged. That, precisely, is why I’m not happy.

What I propose to you is this: give the early adopters free AppleCare on our pre-September 5th iPhones. It doesn’t cost any real money up front, and won’t cost anything for the majority of your iPhone customers (unless there’s something you aren’t telling us, of course). It’s certainly a lot cheaper than cash refunds, and seems likely to be less cost than the equivalent number of iTMS credits.

So, how about it, Apple? Are you willing to make a small concession to us, your faithful fans? You don’t have to admit you sold us something at a grossly inflated price. Just tell us you care. You can’t make everybody happy, but I suspect that a lot of us would accept this token of goodwill.


Scott R.

UPDATE: Steve Jobs posted an open letter of his own today. I’ll cut to the chase:

Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple’s website next week. Stay tuned.

I feel a little better. I probably will get AppleCare for the phone, anyway.