Unconscious Inertia


This is my tiny blog/newsletter. No one is sponsoring me, or would be interested in sponsoring me. This is not to make a request for, or even to express a desire for, sponsors.

But doing the 100 Days to Offload has me writing more, and so I naturally wonder what it’d be like to do this professionally. People do, to one degree or another. Maybe one day (or not).

Anyway, as I say, this is not a sponsored post, but I wanted to write about a product I use, just because I like it: HEY. HEY’s pitch is essentially “what if we designed the email experience from scratch, but using the lessons of the last 40 years? (and also blocked tracking pixels)”—and, just one man’s opinion, but I think it really does live up to the hype. It’s not free ($99/year as I write this), but I much prefer being a customer to being the product.

I don’t feel like I can do a better job than their own site does of showing off its features, so check it out there.

#100DaysToOffload #email

Despite there being no rule about posts being on any sort of schedule in the 100 Days to Offload manifesto, I had good intentions about establishing a Tuesday/Thursday cadence for these posts, just to provide a bit more structure for myself. But here it is, Wednesday nonetheless, as I write this.

As I mentioned in № 1, my children went back to school this week, to their likely relief. But with them going back comes a daily flurry of all the irritating text messages the school district sends out about transportation issues and reminders about assignments or tests. The ones about transportation—i.e., such-and-such a bus route is starting late, or will be driven by a substitute driver, or will be consolidated with an adjacent route, and so forth—are, individually, unworryingly practical. Their frequency does mildly concern me—but I suspect buses are like tanks in their need for maintenance, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that some one (or more) of them needs work on any given day.

I am more irritated by the ones which say “Don’t forget such-and-such assignment!” or “Testing coming up!” These schoolkids already have district-issued iPads and Macbooks bombarding them with notifications and reminders; enlisting their parents seems a little unfair—or at least liable to encourage helicopter parenting and a default of making the adults responsible rather than the kids. As Proverbs 23:6 says:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

And frankly that’s for good or for ill. So mostly I try to ignore these reminders unless it’s particularly egregious or impactful, and I feel like I need to bring it up. (The way to teach children responsibility is to give them responsibility and, therefore, consequences; but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember that they are still kids and cut them some slack sometimes.)

Incidentally, I learnt today that Proverbs 23:6 is one of the differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text. It simply isn’t in the LXX. I don’t have a point here, I just thought it was odd.

I signed up for HEY email today for one of my domains. After going through some of their website and videos, I realized that they’re doing out of the box some of the things I have been trying to make happen manually with email rules—do this if the email is from this sender, or that if it has a this subject, and so forth. I don’t care for the fact that it’s a proprietary system, but I see why it is: obviously (as I have found) the kind of things they’re doing aren’t well-supported with existing protocols and applications.

#100DaysToOffload #childrearing #education #email

Here’s some things that came across my desk this week:

  • Fellow Mississippian Blake Watson presented a talk this week on home-cooked apps at MagnoliaJS.
  • MagnoliaJS is a—previously unknown to me, but been around since 2021—software development conference in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Antoni Sawicki explored a niche of a niche: Windows NT 3.1 on DEC Alpha AXP.
  • Chris Siebenmann explains your email’s “Sent” folder and notes some potential issues.
  • Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld magazine notes some techniques for blocking AI bots.
  • Glad to see somebody’s put together a gateway for your Chaosnet Lisp Machine LAN to talk to these new-fangled systems using TCP/IP.

#software #retrocomputing #email #LLM #networking

“Can an email address be case-sensitive? The answer is ‘yes…if you’re evil.’” — Dylan Beattie, Email vs Capitalism, or, Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Although in practice these days an email address is case-insensitive, strictly speaking—that is, according to the standard—it doesn’t have to be. As Beattie notes in the talk linked above, in the early days most email travelled on Unix systems, on which alice, Alice, and alicE are all equally valid, and, importantly, separate users. Mail administrators, even today, could theoretically enforce this if they had a reason.

But there is an important exception to this! The current email standard, RFC 5321, which updates RFC 821 (August 1982) and RFC 2821 (April 2001) requires in section 4.5.1:

Any system that includes an SMTP server supporting mail relaying or delivery MUST support the reserved mailbox “postmaster” as a case-insensitive local name.

#TIL #email #trivia