Let’s Revisit: Sending Mass Emails The Right Way

envelopes photoThe concept of sending an email to multiple people the right way seems to have eluded the populace as a whole lately. I’m looking at you, schoolteachers, soccer coaches, and party invitation senders. I write to you today because, in recent months, it seems I’ve been included on more and more emails where I’m one of 50 people whose email address is awkwardly stuffed into the CC: field of the email you sent, right there with all the others for everyone in the list to see. I even got an email from the manager of the local Sears store I had recently purchased an appliance from, that got sent to all the people who had bought something there recently, and everyone’s name and address were easily viewable in the CC field.

The problem here is that you are being inconsiderate towards peoples’ privacy, and you are sending around a large list of real email addresses to possibly be harvested by spammers.

There is a way to do this that protects peoples’ privacy, doesn’t annoy the nerds and geeks in your email list, and makes you look like you know what you are doing. What trifecta could be better than that?

The easiest way to do this is by using the BCC: field instead of the CC: field. BCC stands for “Blind carbon copy,” which means that any email address entered in it will not show up to the recipients of the email. The CC: field does show them, so don’t use it.

The trick is that you should enter your own email address in the To: field of the email, then enter the long list of room parents or party invitees in the BCC field. That’s it! Now you too can look cool.

There are some detailed instructions, with pictures, available here, in case you need more info.

TrueCar.com Violates the CAN-SPAM Act

Update 4.23.15: I received a promotional email (spam) from TrueCar.com today, even after I was assured that they had unsubscribed me! I let them know by responding to their tweet from 3.31. They asked me to DM them about it, and they requested me to forward the email I received so that they could investigate an apparent “bug” in their system. The person on the other end of the twitterator said they I was indeed unsubscribed, so they weren’t sure what was going on. I’ll keep you all posted!

Update 3.31.15: TrueCar tweeted me today, saying that the issue I describe below is a display issue of some sort. They assured me that I was in fact unsubscribed from their email communications.

Thanks for looking into the matter, TrueCar.com!

—————

I run across this sort of thing all the time: companies that violate the rules of the US CAN-SPAM act, the law that is intended to protect consumers from unwanted email. If I have time, I stop to email companies I find violating the law to kindly point out what they are doing wrong. Call it some sort of self-satisfaction, Robin Hood vigilantism, or pure geekish annoyance, but I can’t help myself sometimes. Here’s one I sent today to TrueCar.com.

To: feedback@truecar.com
Subject: True Care website feedback

Hi, I noticed that when I go to “Subscriptions” in my profile, there is an issue with unsubscribing from emails.

If I uncheck all subscription options, then check “Unsubscribe from all,” then click the Save Changes button, it says my options have been saved.
However, if I go to another page and return to “Subscriptions,” the “In-stock offers from your dealers” button is checked again. How is that “Unsubscribing from all?”
You guys might want to fix that, as it violates the US CAN-SPAM act.
Thanks,
Will
Sneakily re-subscribing me to a category of emails, after I have specifically opted not to be a part of it anymore, is blatantly in violation of the CAN-SPAM act. Particularly, the part that says, “You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you.”
Yes, they include that option, but it doesn’t seem to fully work.
I will let y’all know if I hear anything back.

Apple Mail “smtp.xxxx.com:xxxxx” offline

I have 2 gmail accounts configured under “Mail” and over the last few days 1 of my accounts when sending a new email shows the “smtp.gmail.com:xxxxx” as “Offline”, if I forced a send from it, I would have to type my password in again. Then it would send, but go back offline.

Even when re-setting the password under the Mail Account Prefs, no difference.

Here’s what worked for me.

1. Start a new message

2. Pull down the “smtp.gmail.com: xxxx” menu and select “EDIT smtp server list”

3. Click on the account that’s going “Offline”, select “Advanced”

4. Fill in the password and close.

I don’t know why, but the account that was having issues did NOT have my password saved (even though it was “saved” under the normal account preferences area).

All seems well again, even after closing and opening mail etc.

The very strange thing is, the “EDIT smtp server list” seems to be a sub-menu under the normal Account preferences, that can’t be accessed except the above way. Odd.

Hope this helps.

Redirecting root’s Email on Red Hat

red-hat-logo-bigIf you are a conscientious system administrator, you like to keep tabs on your server by checking root’s email at least once a day, correct?  If you manage more than one server, or get tired of having to log in to check your mail, you can redirect where email for the root user gets sent.

I ran into problems on Red Hat Enterprise 5.2 doing this, so I thought I’d post the resolution here.

Continue reading

Bellsouth Rejects Email

For two years, I have battled with this issue of Bellsouth.net (and AT&T in general) blocking email from any domain hosted on my web server.  I set up all kinds of security precautions, set up SPF records, and ran all sorts of tests in order to subdue the fears that somehow my server was being used as an open relay for spam.

I was so sure that it was all correct, and was so frustrated that the problem wouldn’t go away.  It only appeared to happen with Bellsouth addresses.

I used the AT&T Unblock request twice, which helped for a short time, but I would soon find email being blocked again and many of my hosted clients complaining.

But today, scouring through the CPanel user forums, I discovered the cause and solution!

I had a hosted client who wanted me to forward all of her email to her Bellsouth account a couple of years ago.  I did this, and then she soon complained that she wasn’t receiving any email. I never stopped to consider the fact that the forward itself was the cause of the problem, and that Bellsouth thought that there was spam being relayed from my server!

So, I have removed that forwarded email account (got her to set up a GMail account), have re-filed a request with Bellsouth to unblock my server, and all should be good again.

I hope this helps someone out there!