May 30th, 2006


another spam filter rendered ineffective

A while ago I turned up as much spam and junk mail protection stuff as I could find in my Postfix configuration. Specifically, I had the following options set:

smtpd_helo_restrictions =

Last week, Amy was contacted by somebody who had tried to send her an email but the email was rejected by my mail server. We hadn't yet got back in touch with him to try to find out what the problem was. I started to pay more attention to my spam rejection logs just in case something was amiss. Today, I noticed that my mail server rejected some sort of newsletter from Google. Upon further investigation, it seems that the Google server that sent the mail was using a HELO name that wasn't resolvable. This condition is checked by Postfix on the reject_unknown_hostname restriction.

I decided that if even Google can't always get it right, then I should probably stop rejecting email for an unresolvable HELO name. So I turned off the three restrictions listed above.

Later today, we got a phone call from the company here in New Zealand who is handling the import of our household goods. Apparently, they had tried to email me earlier but the mail had been bounced back, rejected. I looked through the mail server log and found that they, too, had sent from a server with a misconfigured HELO name (it even ended in .local). The mail had come through on a retry after I had removed the HELO name restriction.

That pretty much does it for that filter. If companies as small as a local goods importer and as big as Google can't get it exactly right, I run the risk of rejecting all kinds of legitimate incoming email. As much as I dislike getting spam, I dislike losing real email even more.

decibel45 keeps telling me I should be using one of those scoring filters that doesn't outright block a message for just one SMTP transactional failure. It might take a while for me to get motivated enough to mess with my Postfix configuration again.


tracking our stuff

Back in August 2005, we packed up 29 boxes of our stuff while we were still in the house in Round Rock. We stored this stuff in a spare room in the cowhouse (thanks bovineone!). Fast forward to March 2006, when we returned to Austin to finalise various things before we left for NZ. The same day we were to leave on the plane, a local moving company came to pick up our 29 boxes of stuff. They did minimal repacking as we already had everything mostly ready to go.

Yesterday, I found out where our world-traveling stuff has been. It had first been taken to Houston, then loaded on a truck to Los Angeles. From there, it was put into a container and loaded onto a ship bound for China. Sometime in April, it arrived at the port of Chiwan which is very close to Hong Kong. On April 30, it was loaded onto a different ship bound for Melbourne, Australia. May 15, it arrived in Melbourne and sat on the dock for two weeks. May 29, it was finally loaded on yet another ship bound for Auckland. That is scheduled to arrive on June 7, then a local shipping company will bring it to us here in Christchurch.

We hastily packed our boxes nine months ago and haven't looked in them since. It's going to be like Christmas around here when we finally get to open them up!