Email setup suggestions

Get a good spam filter, and use it. I don’t recommend setting it to automatically delete junk, since nothing is perfect and you’ll every now and then find an important email accidentally filtered into your junk mailbox. Be sure to white list it (remove it from the junk folder.)

I cannot imagine why anyone would want to keep spam emails about Viagra and “beautiful Russian women” – but some do. That choice is yours.

It’s my experience that no junk filter is perfect, so I still do a quick visual scan of my junk folder to make sure something I actually want didn’t end up marked as junk. IOW, I don’t just blindly delete the contents of my junk folder, nor do I allow for “automatic” deletion.

Yeah: not perfect, and annoying, but that’s just the way things are.

Second: I don’t know how Yahoo works. I personally stay away from the general public, free mass email accounts, such as AOL, HotMail, Gmail and Yahoo. Why? Because those are what spammers use as well, and they pretty much identify you as an occupant of the “low rent district.” I recently saw a TV add for a new business with a @gmail account listed. Had to slap my forehead…Besides looking cheap, what business would willingly allow Google free access to all their customers emails?

Next, while you can have email accounts all over the place, you’ll also need to have a separate account in your Mail client for each as well. Each one will need to individually check for incoming email. In other words, more complexity. You’ll need separate IMAP and SMTP settings for each, or email you send out might bounce back to you.

Rather than a multitude of accounts, I have set all my “other” accounts to simply forward emails to my main acccount. Then all I ever that I have to do is check that one main account.

So, yes I have a gmail account, (but only so I can access other Google stuff – I never release the address.) On Google, that account is set to “forward only” and points to my main email account “” (not real, as I don’t want my main account harvested from this post.)

My iCloud account is also set to forward to “”. And the “tracy@…” email addresses from the dozens of other domains I own are all set to forward to “” as well.

My email client (MailMate) has one active account: “” and that’s what it automatically checks. So I get all my emails from all my accounts thru one “funnel.”

Of course I can see where each one was addressed, and I can just use filters (AKA “rules”) to sort them into different email boxes, if that’s important.

Managing email is much easier (at least to my mind) this way.


Security in the Cloud

Just thought I share what I use so that I can keep copies of important stuff (log-ins, passwords, bank accounts, credit card numbers) in “the cloud” (I hate that euphemism), and be able to have them on all my devices (Macs, phones, etc) without worry:

Yes, I pay $48 a year to have access across all my devices, but the basic setup is free for personal use.

The encryption it uses happens on your device, not at the service, so the files you’re moving around the next are always encrypted. The files are stored at the place of your choosing, and apparently, the are completely inaccessible to the BoxCryptor personnel as well, since the encoding key is local to your devices.

Using it is drag and drop simple, once it’s set up. It creates a desktop “volume” with folders for whatever cloud service you’re using (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox etc). I’m using Dropbox, so all I do is drag and drop my file into the Dropbox folder on the Boxcryptor volume. That’s it.

To see the unencrypted file, I just double-click it. On my iphone, I run the BoxCryptor app, and double click the file.

No fuss, no muss. And yes, I’ve download the file directly from DropBox, just to see what it looks like without BoxCryptor: it’s encrypted nonsense.

There’s no “commission” for me sharing my positive experience: I just thought this might interest a few folks here.

Happy New Year.


AV software, Part Two, (BitDefender removed)

My mini report:
So: I uninstalled Intego (Virus Barrier / VB) because its RTS was so slow when copying files. [It was fine, otherwise, and didn’t seem to generally slow my Mac, but I do make a lot of clones….] to try BitDefender. BD was faster while copying files, but would slow my machine (50% of 1 CPU’s load) for about 45 minutes once, perhaps twice a day.
Uninstall BD, and try ClamXAV, but it quarantined suspect emails, screwing up my email database.
Uninstall and reinstall Intego.
(We lower the curtain on this performance for a week, to denote the passage of 7 days…)
Uninstall Intego, and try Norman.
Norman uses the BD engine.
Uninstall Norman and try G-Data.
G-data uses the BD engine.
(I should note that having installed BD and then removed it, both Norman and G-Data saw whatever detritus there was left over from that, and complained that I had an invalid license, and the demo would not run. However, given that they were virtually -identical- interfaces, and they admit online that they are using the BD-engine, I simply assume that because of that, they will exhibit the same behavior. Maybe not, but I wasn’t about to spend $60 to find out.)
uninstall G-data and try Kaspersky… which is where I am now.
At least Kaspersky doesn’t seem to be BD in disguise…
I suppose that there’s a 50-50 chance Kaspersky will be OK or that I’ll end up going back to Intego’s VB, and just leave RTS off.
At the very least, I’ll end up with hands-on experience with all of them… not to mention having wasted a bunch of time.
On 5 Aug 2015, at 12:43, Chris Gehlker wrote:
On Aug 5, 2015, at 12:20 PM, Tracy Valleau <> wrote:
Yep. I was looking at this:
Really useful data.
Allahu Akbar Ricin
This email is part of the NSA job security program.
_______________________________________________ mailing list. To unsubscribe, send an email to: <>.
_______________________________________________ mailing list. To unsubscribe, send an email to: <>.

Anti-Virus recommendations for the Mac

 (Without wishing to revisit the whole AV discussion on Macs, but because I have decided to use it for myself, I’ll submit this note:)

For reasons I don’t recall, yesterday I found myself investigating the latest reviews of AV (anti-virus) software.

Based on the info found at URLs below, I ended up downloading and installing BitDefender for the Mac.

I used the built-in “upgrade from free trial to paid” and was able to purchase the product for $27 / yr.

It does prompt you to install a couple of browser plugins for extra protection features, but the thing that prompted the switch from Intego was the fact that it offered the least “real-time scanning’ slow-down. (Since I’m often cloning drives, I had found it expeditious to disable that (in Intego’s Virus Barrier) when copying lots of files. I found that annoying.)

I’ve had no problems so far, but it’s also been only 24 hours.,2817,2406379,00.asp

To get BitDefender for Mac, visit, and click the download link for a trial, and, as I noted, use the built-in upgrade path (for one machine) to (hopefully) get the $27 ($28?) price.



Windows 10

I never expected to find myself saying this, but the time has finally come: I can actually recommend Windows 10. Not over OS X, mind you, but I’ve been a charter member of the “Windows sucks” club since day one.

However, I’ve been playing with W10, and honestly it’s not bad.

When it comes out in about two months, you can get a copy for free if you have a legit (& non-OEM) version of W7 or W8.

Based on everything I’ve seen so far, I’d say go for it.

My choice for best backup software

If I was going for one-package-most-versatile, the solution is Chronosync.

The price ($40) is right, and includes -lifetime- updates; no more mucking about with buying “the next version.”

The product has been around for a while, and has a sterling reputation. I’ve been using it for years. (I also have SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner, both also excellent products, but not as versatile as Chronosync.)

A few days ago, I finally got around to testing Chronosync for it’s ability to clone a drive, like SuperDuper and CCC. It passed with flying colors. (Yes: I wiped a drive; cloned my large boot drive; and then actually booted from it and snooped around to verify success.)

Now, what makes Chronosync so special?  The answer is that it can do pretty much whatever you can think of in terms of backups.

You can backup files; folder; or entire volumes in pretty much any combination you want. You can choose to exclude certain files or folders; you can choose to archive old versions when replaced or deleted. You can set schedules for automated backups or do it manually. You can choose local or remote volumes as the destination. You can choose to backup remote (networked) machines (altho that is helped by the $10 extra cost “ChronoAgent.”)

The degree of control you can exercise is fantastic and quite detailed. For example, when the source has an older version of a file than the one on the destination, you can specify what is to happen: pause and ask user; copy anyway; archive new one; add to log file etc…)

Chronosync can also be used as a replacement for TimeMachine (yay! I never had any success with TM; my setup is just too large for it to handle without choking.) Of course it doesn’t have TM’s fancy interface when restoring, but neither is it incomprehensible: just look in the archives and find the file you want.)

The trick to all this is the use of single-operation sheets of instructions, which may be sufficient by themselves (think backup a folder or volume) or can be combined into sets of sheets to perform comprehensive operations. Then, these single or grouped sheets can be automated (scheduled) if you like.

Once you understand this, the process becomes  quick and simple.

Here are some examples:

I have one sheet that backs up several different volumes on to a 4 TB removable drive,  whenever I insert that drive. In short: a full backup of my working environment in one full swoop.

I have individual backups of individual volumes.

I have a set of rotating clones of my boot drive.

When I’m working on an intense project, such as programming for the iPhone, I have one sheet backing up and archiving older states, every 30 minutes. That way, if I seriously goof up, or disaster strikes, I’m never out more than 29 minutes of work.

I have one sheet I use as a template for random folder-to-folder syncs: I load the sheet; drop in the source and destination; and hit the go button. (What makes this worth doing is, of course, that Chronosync only transfers changed files, so the process is quite speedy.)

And finally there is this: Chronosync has never failed me… and I’ve been through them all, from Retrospect on forward.

Chronosync is where I finally settled.  FWIW.

ExpanDrive vs DropBox et al

Well, there’s,, Google’s Cloud, Apple’s Cloud… and gawd knows how many more places there are to store your stuff on there on someone else’s server.

Of course, if you happen to have your own server, or FTP access (or a bunch more protocols*) there’s one more possibility: ExpanDrive, at .

With it, you can mount pretty much anything as a standard drive would mount, on your desktop.

So you can drag-n-drop to it, or you can use CarbonCopyCloner (et al) to backup up files to it.

And, like DropBox-n-More, if you have ExpanDrive on your other computers (like your laptop) – well: Bingo! the drive appears there too, so you can move files around at will.

Other than the cost of the software, there are no fees associated with it, and the storage you use is entirely up to you.

BTW, ExpanDrive makes doing websites much easier too.

Been using it for years now. The developer is conscientious and the software “just works.”


* ExpanDrive works with:

  • SFTP
  • FTP
  • Amazon Se
  • WebDAV
  • Rackspace Cloud Files
  • OpenStack Swift Storage
  • Dreamhost DreamObjects
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive

Your passwords are likely useless.

Odds are they are too easy to decipher.

Even a kiddie with a single computer can try 3 Billion guesses a second.

(That’s the same as the number of seconds in the last 100 years.) 

The really bad guys can try 350 Billion in a second.

Want a secure password?  Here’s what it should look like:


Here’s what it should NOT look like:


Yep: that means you need software to keep track of your passwords… unless your memory is a lot more capable than most.

I’ve recently switched over. It was a pain to redo dozens of passwords, but now mine are pretty brute-force proof.

Further, I changed the answer to my “security” questions:

What is your mother’s maiden name?
Answer: 37Fc8{<RtG9p&78492p

I did this on my important accounts first – the ones where money is involved: bank; iTunes; PayPal and so on.

I’m also no longer using the same password for two different sites.

This is a real PITA, because now I need something with me to get my passwords, and I have to keep my devices sync’d with that information.

Welcome to the information age.


Oh… Ars promises a review of password software soon. I’ll post the listing.  I use 1Password.

Window complaint #1

Here’s my Numero Uno complaint about Windows software: it lies to you.

If you don’t use it all the time, and you invoke the system update, here is what you’ll see:



A screen with “Windows is up to date” in large bold letters. Just to drive it home, the screen also says “There are no updates available for your computer.”


“Excellent!” you say, and leave the screen, having been assured that your computer is up to date, right.



If you click on “check for updates” in the sidebar, here’s what you’ll get (or something similar) about 99% of the time:



YEP – anywhere from 1 to hundreds of updates needing to be installed.


It seems that the first message is actually left over from the last time you updated!

This is seriously crappy software engineering. It should NEVER appear in professional software. 

And it is probably a huge part of why so many PCs are infected with malware.


If this happened in a programming class, I’d fail the student. Why can’t Microsoft get even this right?

At the very least, the message should say: “It has been 20 days since you last checked. Software updates may be available. Please click on “check for updates.”

What it should absolutely NOT SAY is “Windows is up to date – There are no updates available for your computer.”

What junk.