bbPress experiment

Well, you know, I’m a sucker for anything that’s related to WordPress, so when I found out that they’re working on forum software, bbPress, I had to try it out.

I’m playing with theming a bbPress site right now, though if anybody has toyed with it in the past and can offer any tips, don’t hesitate.

Oh, and don’t think this has anything to do with adding forums to this site. I don’t think my dozens of fans readers are clamoring for a place to air their opinions on Hypercrit.net. This is just for fun.

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Gmail woes

I am so pissed off right now. I decided to take on a little experiment, eschewing Outlook in favor of routing all of my e-mail through Gmail. Combined with auto forwarding, POP3 checking and the “send mail as” feature, this should have been a no-brainer. I should have been able to use Gmail as my mail hub without difficulty.

Should is the operative word here. The endeavor met with great difficulty.

As it turns out – and I’m certainly not the first to discover this – whenever you send via Gmail’s smtp server, it adds your Gmail address in the “sender” field of the e-mail header. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem since the “from” field of the header would display the e-mail address you think you’re replying from.

For example, if I allow Gmail to send mail from my hypercrit.net address, the messages will come through with me@gmail.com in the “sender” field and me@hypercrit.net in the “from” field. Most e-mail programs display only the “from” field by default, keeping the “sender” field hidden, for the most part.

But as it turns out, Outlook has another way of doing things. Outlook displays any message I send via Gmail’s smtp server as “From me@gmail.com on behalf of me@hypercrit.net.” Apart from looking unprofessional, some people are now responding to my Gmail address rather than my hypercrit address.

(Oh, and of course most of the people I e-mail on a given day are using Outlook. Heck, most of the business world uses Outlook, so they’re all seeing my unprofessional address.)

This feature is well-documented and has been complained about for years. It’s in place to prevent spam from being marked with Gmail headers and therefore earning the trust of your e-mail program. But this feature also – almost with no warning – gives your private Gmail address to people. Not cool.

The only warning I could find from Google is on the help page related to the “send mail from” feature, where the note about “on behalf of” is relegated to the last paragraph.

I know that Gmail will not get rid of this feature; the service says it’s obeying some arcane industry standard e-mail regulation (one that no other major service adheres to – them’s principles for you), and I’m sure it really does reduce the amount of spam sent via Gmail and forged headers.

Tell you what I’d like to see: A bit of text that warns you of this possibility when you elect to add a “send mail from” address to Gmail in the first place. It would save a lot of people a lot of headaches.

Meanwhile, I must continue to use Outlook to manage my mail, which sucks. Really sucks. Or I could generate a Gmail account for each of the addresses I want to send from and then add them all to a desktop client. (Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a professional-looking Gmail username these days?) (Oh, and since one of my e-mail accounts is on an Exchange server, it makes using any e-mail program other than Outlook mighty difficult.)

Considering that my whole point here was to avoid having to use a desktop client in the first place, I’d call this little experiment a total and utter failure. I am chained to Outlook it seems, at least until my business makes the switch to Gmail later this year.

I’m counting the days, but inwardly, I know I’ll still wind up checking everything through a desktop client anyhow. Sigh.

On 25 random things

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. …

It’s not easy to pick 25 random things about yourself to share on Facebook.

A new chain letter of sorts is making its way around Facebook: the 25 random things letter. Recipients are asked to jot down 25 random facts or anecdotes about themselves and pass the note on to 25 other friends. Some of the entries are serious, some are smart and some reveal facts about people that you might never have otherwise found out.

One of my Facebook friends admitted in her profile that she recently had a brain tumor removed. Another recounted her habit of picking at a scar on her lip. A guy I have friended likes eating sardines right from the can. Another friend admits that she can drive a tractor and vaccinate a cow, though most of her students think her a city girl.

Some of these letters are the kind of randomness that comes from sitting down at your computer trying to generate randomness. You can tell these ones by the way the facts run into each other, as if thought up as a stream of consciousness. Others letters are itemized studies in brevity and wit. You can tell these by their longer entries, each with their own point and vaguely hidden message.

As I sit deciding whether to write a list of my own 25 random facts, I also wonder whether this sort of sharing is healthy. On one side, there is the everyday “be safe on the Interwebs” argument, the one that reminds us that sharing too much information online can have awkward, unhealthy, immoral or even dangerous consequences.

A second point to consider is whether I want to jump onto another Internet meme. I stopped responding to e-mail chain letters last century, and I don’t do things like join Facebook fan groups or play little games online. I don’t read “I Can Haz Cheezburger,” and I consider most of the things people laugh about online to be old news. I’m a dastardly Web elitist in that way, so joining a popular meme like this at a time when it’s actually popular makes me squirm a little.

But I have to think that the another side of this is the psychological side — it might be good for us to take a good, hard look at 25 points about ourselves. Sharing those things, things we might not be comfortable admitting, could be a catharsis. It could actually make us feel better about ourselves.

Frankly, I don’t think anything, even slightly embarrassing things or even too-personal things, you post to a 25-things list is going to have that much of an effect on your friends. It might help them understand you better, and no one’s going to laugh at you behind your back because, inwardly, they all want to write a list of their own and are just waiting for the invitation to do so.

The perfect epilogue to this little post would be for me to have an answer to the quandary that inspired the post. I don’t. At least, not a complete answer. I’m almost certain to write a list of 25 things, but I’m sure that when the time comes, my mouse pointer will hesitate over the “post” button as I wrestle with these same issues over and over again in my mind. To share or not to share…

Slow weekend

Blogging has been put more or less on hold this weekend, as I have actually been opening a printed monograph or two instead of huddling over my laptop’s keyboard. Don’t worry. I’m sure this is just a phase. I’ll be back with vigor on Monday.

Until then, you can always enjoy all the bookmarks and links I save to either http://www.delicious.com/superjaberwocky or http://www.diigo.com/user/superjaberwocky. I have manage to maintain those a bit this weekend.

An off afternoon and my son’s birthday

It’s my baby boy’s first birthday today, and that means cake and lots of mess tonight. Lots of mess.

Anyhow, it also means that I am taking the afternoon off — to make up for having to work a bit on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (a u-system holiday here). So off I go, home to the family and to some present-opening, cake-diving fun.

Perhaps I’ll do a substantial update tonight…

One benefit of maintaining a homemade news site

I’ve been maintaining a little homemade news summary site for myself. I visit my local newspapers’ and television stations’ Web sites, read their stories and summarize the news for myself. Then I post it to this little blog – no more than three paragraphs per summary, less if I can help it.

The benefit of this: I’m becoming much more well-versed in what’s going on in the community around me. I guess I just needed a little more of a push than plain old civic engagement provided. I needed to do something with the news in order to actually motivate myself to read it.

I hate Internet Explorer

Apparently, if you look at this site in Internet Explorer, the newest version, the name “Hypercrit” at the top of the page is massive, gargantuan. It shouldn’t be. No other earthly browser displays the name like that, because that heading’s size is clearly marked out in the stylesheet – I should know; I’m the one who marked it out, after all.

Also, why in the hell does IE have tabs now yet insist on opening every address I type into the address bar IN A NEW WINDOW? What is the point of tabs if the program automatically opens a new window whenever I type “google.com”?

I don’t use IE willingly, mind you. I thought I would check the site out in the browser since it’s sitting on my work PC unused all the time. I felt sorry for the old guy, briefly. But after trying to navigate the labyrinthine and almost nonsensical arrangement of the preferences window, I have decided that I shall never again open IE, unless I have no other choice.