Category Archives: Geekstuff 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!


Computers suck, redux

This poem was written on May 11, 2006. Sadly, i haven’t actually been able to share any of the new music that floats around in my head since… but i was recently inspired by someone, and have taken the keyboard out again. (You know who you are… thank you again!)

Anyway… original post follows. I’m preserving it from oblivion, because it reminds me of who I was on that date. Today looks a little brighter, by comparison.

Computers suck.

You know, like a vacuum. Which is where I feel like I’ve been, in a vacuum.


This is the sound
of my head hitting
the wall.


And again.

… and again.

Fifteen days ago I tried to upgrade
one of my computers.
It died.
I was sad.

I spent every
resurrecting the stupid thing.

When it lived again,
I cried with joy.

And then, another computer
decided that THIS TOO
was the time to get cranky.
Oh no, it didn’t crash.
It just decided to make life
for Michelle.

Not me.



Spent money getting a happy,
big, new, fast, quiet disk.
Spent a day getting it into one computer,
whose drive I stole for the cranky one.
Spent a day getting the cranky one installed
and another day getting things back to
How They Should Be.

And then, the first computer…
yes, the one mentioned at the beginning…


There I go again.

I stayed up all night
and got a few hours of sleep
and worked on it all day.

And it LIVES!

And I can go on with my life.

And extract these things from my head
and share them, again.

and this makes me


Parsing natural language

Is the following statement true or false?


This is true, right? I mean, it’s obvious. Whether you think of this as being a simple algebra problem or just common sense, that’s the answer that most of you just gave.

The problem is, you’re wrong. Sort of. Without other cues, a machine attempting to parse this statement could legitimately look at this as involving a set of things labeled “one” and “two.” In this light, if “one” is taken away, you have only “two” left. It is true that we can write the question without ambiguity, usually by adding quotation marks, but this is much more difficult with spoken language.

Just something to think about the next time you’re cursing an automated phone attendant…

Server crash

After running for several months without incident (not counting the time one of the kids pushed the power button and put it to sleep), the rev A iMac that runs this site decided it was unhappy. I have no idea why. It just stopped. Sure, the mouse moved and everything, but nothing responded. An animated icon was suspended in the middle of a movement. “Nothing to do but pull the plug,” I thought, so that’s what I did.

As a result of all of this, of course, I’ve reviewed several of the logs with a more keen eye than usual. Apparently it doesn’t take long for the hackers to notice. I’ve got some security changes to make. But don’t worry – you won’t feel a thing, I promise.

Converted from iBlog to WordPress

I’m annoyed with iBlog. It’s nice enough, but there are a few problems.

  1. Development has slowed considerably.
  2. It uses a proprietary and ugh-ly way to store and refer to other entries.
  3. With the exception of the iLife applications, getting information into and out of iBlog isn’t very convenient.
  4. Moblogging is only possible with the addition of a paid service.

I just don’t want to deal with a single license of a proprietary product any more.

Besides the fact that I can update things from a web browser, there are tools that support the WordPress format like ecto and MarsEdit. One cross-platform browser, Flock, is even geared toward updating weblogs, with a built-in editor and a “Blog This” function.

There are likely to be some issues. I think I’ve caught most of them but please do let me know if you find a broken link or an image that doesn’t load.

Is this the return of the blog? I don’t know. We’ll see. There’s no shortage of material, only time. This conversion might make things a little easier.