EBay Uses Snail-Mail to Hook New Users

Link: EBay Uses Snail-Mail to Hook New Users
I got one of these "snail mails" from eBay the other day. Good on them for doing their part to support the postal service.

I'll tell you this, with the advent of e-mails and private courier services, I was beginning to wonder when the Canadian Postal Service would close down their operation. :-) The quality of their delivery service lately leaves something to be desired. I'm speaking from personal experience. Ever since I moved into the new address a few years ago, I've noticed that they've misdelivered my mail more times than I can count. The first was their mail forwarding service. I specifically ticked the box on the form that said "Only forward if full name matches". Yet, they ended up forwarding every piece of mail intended for everyone of my family members. They had effectively forwarded based on Last Name match instead of Full Name match.

And then there's the thing where they would delivered my neighbours' mail to my mailbox: same street number, but next street down the block.

And then there was the time when I sent a payment cheque into my Internet Service Provider, located within the same city. Eight weeks later I called and the ISP still hadn't received my cheque. I guess I could have used registered mail, but at the time I had too much good faith in regular mail. My mistake I guess.

So I don't know...I want to help them improve their service, but I've made numerous complaints that really didn't get anywhere. So I just gave up.

You'd think I'm being over-dramatic, but I'm telling you, if their service doesn't straighten up their delivery service over the next few years, I wouldn't be surprised if Canada Post closes down or gets privatized. ;-)

The health benefit of blogging

Did you know that Blogger has this cool feature where you look at a blogger's profile, each of the blogger's attributes is a clickable link that takes you to all the other people in the bloggersphere that have similar characteristics? I was bored enough last night to be clicking through my own profile just to see how many others have the same messed up interests as I do. From this little experiment, I've formulated a hypothesis as to why people blog: peace of mind.

Allow me to explain. Sometimes, people need to vent some cooped-up frustrations that otherwise can't be let out. So what more appropriate means to do it than a blog?

In the olden days people used to write diaries to help sort out their emotions, because writing forces them to think more analytically about what they're thinking and feeling, and helps them better come to terms with it.

Well, now in the twenty first century, people blog. With my brief perusing, I had encountered a variety of people, from a fourteen-year-old venting her teen angst using the spelling skills that I can never comprehend but people around her age could probably relate to very well, to a lazy ass housewife who complains about being too lonely because her husband works too much, to a highly intelligent professional--with a theoretical reasoning ability that's way beyond my comprehension--trying to get his thoughts out to the world before it disappears forever from his brain. And all these people have the same interests as I do? Scary!

For the fourteen-year-old trying to get her grounding in this crazy world, it could keep her from going berzerk due to those teenage hormonal imbalances (Of course, I'm exaggerating...to prove a point). For a lonely housewife, she might be able to get comments from other fellow bloggers to help solve her boredom crisis, God help her. For an open minded professional, he could be opening up avenues for theoretical debates with people all over the world, people whom he's never even met, intellectual challenges that otherwise would not be possible.

Me, I'm not sure which category of bloggers I belong to--perhaps a little bit of each (except for the lonely housewife bit). But it feels good to get ideas out in the open, eventhough you're not sure if anyone will ever read them, and those who do will probably think your thoughts are idiotic. But don't give a damn! It's a free world, and it's your God-given right of free will, to be totally entitled to your idiotic thoughts, so don't you let anything or anyone stop you from expressing them freely. :-) Just kidding about the "idiotic thoughts" part.

So go on, my friend. If your life is a little messed up and your emotion a little unstable, instead of going to a psychiatrist, I suggest you start a blog. It's a lot cheaper and will probably work just as well.

Your blogiatrist :)

Firefox humour

Have you seen this? It's quite funny. I like number 11:
GetOffYourLazyButtAndWalkToTheFrontDoorForPetesSake 0.01 - Snail mail notifier

SpamAssassin kills spam dead on its track!

Got the new spam filter for our Microsoft Exchange server up and running in the office network for a few weeks now, and I'm totally thrilled as to how well it works straight out-of-the-box, so to speak. SpamAssassin is another testament to the power of free and open source software development.

There are a couple of available SpamAssassin plugins for Exchange Server, but I used Christoper Lewis'
Exchange SpamAssassin SMTP Sink
(Thanks, Christopher!) since it worked best for me. Initiallly, I installed SpamAssassin on the same server as the Exchange Server, but soon found that Perl's performance on Windows platform was really bad. Some of our incoming emails eventually arrived at their recipient's inbox six, eight hours late. So I switched to running it (spamd) on a Linux server, and then made the Exchange sink connect remotely to the SpamAssassin daemon. It seems sort of counter-intuitive, doesn't it, when you first think about it, but the performance is much, much better this way. Perl likes being run on Linux better than on Windows.

So far, the spam filter has caught about 99% of the spams that have come through our server. That's an acceptable success rate--And no false positives, unlike the spam filter that we've tried previously. The installation was relatively straight-forward, a credit to the documentation. I also like the fact that in addition to the usual DNS black list lookup approach, which other typical spam filters use, SpamAssassin's Bayesian filter weeds out spam contents quite well. That's smart stuff! And that's with me barely scratching the surface of functionalities after a couple of days of playing with it, without training the filter whatsoever.

Who would have thought ten, fifteen years ago that spam e-mails would become such a big problem to our corporate netizens. They are a complete waste of bandwidth, not to mention a waste of every body's time spent in deleting them. But thanks to great open source tools like SpamAssassin, coupled with strong legislation from our law makers, we'll soon put an end to this net parasite yet.

Skype me

I've been playing around with Skype for about a week or so. It's a nifty telephony app that let's you have voice conversation with other Skype members (free service), and even lets you make phone calls to regular phone numbers (paid service).
The voice quality is extremely good; I've tried other similar apps before like Net2Phone a while back and the quality was really crappy. Not Skype. You do need a microphone headset to use this thing; otherwise, your calling partner will hear weird feedback echos of their own voice.

So go ahead. Give it a try, and once you've got yourself an ID, skype me. :-)

Hello again, world!

Just emigrated from Bloglines. Trying out this new blogging home to see if it's better or worse.
First impression: I've got to say I like the WYSIWYG editing interface. Support for comments is also a plus. Not too crazy about the look-and-feel, though, but I guess it takes some getting-used-to.