Moved Domain Email to Google Apps

I’ve been getting a ton of spam in my random process domain inbox, so much so that it’s a pain to filter through it to retrieve the comments and contacts I’ve received legitimately through the contact form here. I’ve enabled the spam filter provided by the web host and I’ve been generally careful with where I’ve posted the email (only in comment forms) so I’m not certain why or how I’m getting crushed with spam. I’ve been gritting my teeth and dealing with it.

Spam email

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it earlier, but I realized that there was a simple solution to the problem – outsource. That’s right, I’ve now outsourced my email system to Google Apps, using Gmail. The spam filter is actually good and I’m able to use the Gmail interface that I’m use to, and not the terrible, non-user friendly UI of the webmail service provided by default through my host.

It’s quite simple really, and very beneficial.

  1. Set up a Google Apps account. The personal, free one will do.
  2. Verify that the website is yours. This involves either uploading an HTML file to your web host or creating a new CNAME value. The verification may take up to 48 hours as per Google’s warning message, but is typically verified much, much quicker than that.
  3. Now it’s time to send a few back and forth emails using the temporary email address before we go messing with MX records. Google provides a temporary test email – send a few emails back and forth to an email you can check.
  4. Once you’ve determined that all is working fine, it’s time to modify the MX records. My host uses cPanel, where the option is listed as ‘Modify Mail Exchanger’. Specify that you want to change an MX record and change it to the Google suggestion, ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. (Requires the dot after the address).
  5. You’ve completed the setup, so just perform another test to make certain the emails are flowing back and forth properly. There’s no need to use Google’s test email address; use whatever one you created.

This is a much nicer solution that using my web host’s webmail service. I only wish I thought of looking for a solution earlier as it would have saved me a lot of hassle.

And They All Complained About IE7

When Internet Explorer 7 was in beta, numerous people cried out about its lack of standards-compliance.

But seriously, compared to Internet Explorer 6, version 7 is an absolute dream to work with. I’ve been doing all my development work for the new design in Vista, which means I’ve been testing with Internet Explorer 7, and not 6. It was only by chance that I thought I’d try it out in IE6 on someone else’s computer and was shocked at how terrible it looked. The major issue is with how Internet Explorer 6 interprets the ‘Box-Model’. Instead of applying margins, borders and padding on top of the specified width/height, it includes it within it. That means if you specify width and padding properties for the same element, it’s not going to look the same as Firefox or IE7.

As a result, I’ve spent a good portion of a day’s work revamping the design to nest an additional div layer to separate width properties from margin and/or padding properties. It’s quite a pain, but I’m almost done and things are starting to look good in Internet Explorer 6 as well. If it wasn’t for the 30-40 some percent of people who still visit this site using IE6, I would’ve left it as it was, but I thought it wouldn’t be fair for those users to see a broken design, despite what Microsoft decided to do with the rendering engine in the past. There are still some issues in IE6 which I haven’t yet figured out, but hopefully will start to clear up as I work at it more.

Another week or two and you should see it adorning this site. Its early forms can be seen over at the sandbox already.

Joost Revisited

Okay, you’re probably wondering what’s with the revisited title since I never ‘visited’ this topic in the first place. I got in the beta of the program very early – when it was called The Venice Project. I thought it was going to be like streaming NBC or something, but that definitely wasn’t the case. I sort of forgot about the whole thing after a little while, but with Joost hitting the headlines recently, I thought I’d give it another whirl.

The UI is absolutely fantastic looking, but sometimes a little difficult to use. There are a lot of menus and I thought I was stuck with the initial stock of channels; I didn’t know that you could add more. The initial bunch of channels that come with Joost weren’t particularly inviting for me, but after a bit of searching, I managed to add some comedy and news. There’s a lot of content to look through. You’ll probably find something you’re interested in. Another factor will be how often new content is added. Joost has said they typically add content every week, which seems like an okay rate, but if they really want heavy use of the service, they’ll probably have to step that up.

The service in its current form is mostly supported by ads. Most of them are targeted at the main user group, young-ish males, so hopefully they won’t be too annoying. If it’s something you want to try, I have, well, unlimited invites to the thing so just leave a comment with your email address and I can get that going.

Ready, Set, Go!

Getting started is always the toughest part, so I’m glad to say I’ve now started the design phase. I’ve already gotten the CSS blockwork done. Now there’ll be a lot of detailing and nitpicking. One thing I can say already though; this won’t be designed with you 800×600’ers out there. Around 3.5% of you who view this site are still using that archaic resolution; I’d suggest upgrading your monitor or upping that resolution slider in display properties. 🙂 As well, I finally got around to upgrading to the final version of IE7. As much as I want to, I can’t leave out support for that browser you love to hate. Plus, the percentage of IE viewers creeps up with each passing month to this site; that’s probably because the readers are diversifying from the core group of WordPress bloggers who’ve come in search of some templates. That crew knows where it’s at (*cough*Firefox*cough*).

I’ve also found a few nice effects that I want to include. I’m looking at you Justin; I found that Lightbox thing. It looks pretty darn awesome.

But enough coding, I need my rest. My throat’s still bugging me and this cough won’t go away.

Get Those Creative Juices Flowing

Blogging for me has really been a very unstable little hobby. There are times when I absolutely despise the thought of posting anything; I sometimes just write something only because I feel guilty about neglecting it. It’s like an unwanted pet that you try to ignore but still have to feed, otherwise that’d just be mean. On the other hand, there are times when I’m so pumped to do something big for the blog. I want to make it much more than it is. Truth is, I’ve been hard pressed to find the time for it over the past while. Between school and work, it seems like I can’t catch a break where I can just sit down and get some stuff done on this site. Last work semester was pretty slack; this one is definitely not.

Nevertheless, this past couple days of me sitting around getting better from this awful sickness has given me some time to think and plan. Just like when I designed the site you’re currently looking at, I’ve drawn up, by hand, a design for the next version. I’m looking at something a little more static for the homepage and a little darker. The brightness of the current design doesn’t reflect on my thoughts and feelings. (not saying I think about deep, dark thoughts; it just looks a little… toyish) Of course the two biggest obstacles standing in my way are graphics and coding. Well, that sounds like just about everything that goes into creating a design now doesn’t it? 😛 Well, I’ll shirk the graphics by sticking to the simple stuff and coding I’m going to learn. It’s about time I did some of that; this semester has definitely not been kind to any coding abilities I may have had left from the first semester.

I think I’m really going to like it if I can transform this design I’m envisioning into digital form. With that, I’ll going to go prepare to head back to Mississauga. I’m going to endure these sniffles and head back to work tomorrow.