guest - flak

action of no action required

From AT&T

From: "AT&T" <> To: Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:07:07 -0500 Subject: Ted, Action required. We're writing to confirm that this is your current email address. If this email address is still current, you don't need to do a thing.

Translation: action required -> no action required. Jerks.

Posted 2016-11-18 19:29:33 by tedu Updated: 2016-11-18 19:29:33
Tagged: mailfail

html email comments

Normally I don’t look at the source for HTML emails, but sometimes I end up scrounging around for some important data that didn’t survive the conversion to plaintext. And so that’s how I stumbled upon these gems.

<!-- The phone number module is hidden on Mobile. 20150122 [JAMES] - Add left-to-right direction to phone number td so phone number shows correctly for right-to-left languages 20150219 [YVONNE] -Updated variables for Venere - added 1px orange birder for Venere 20151019 [YVONNE] - Removed ATde_AT from TUV logic 20160831 [GREG] - Remove Phone Number for VN //-->

<!-- /*------------------ Email Change Log ------------------*/ 140515 [JAMES] - Launch Functionality 141126 [JAMES] - Apply exclusion logic for emergency emails M_BZ_OFC 150213 [JAMES] - Switch to Partners Tool data for localisation 160531 [GREG] - Switch from MHotel_Hcom_Destination DE to HCOM_MHotel_Destination -->

I’m not sure which is more disturbing. The decision to embed version history in every email they send, or the inconsistent date formats, or the strange mix of HTML, C, and C++ style comments. Using -- is a particularly poor choice of decoration within an HTML comment, by the by.

I’m also having a fun time imagining staying at a hotel 50 years ago, then receiving a follow up letter spattered with white out covering up various notes from the marketer to the secretary. “Insert reference to upcoming holiday here.”

Posted 2016-09-08 15:45:41 by tedu Updated: 2016-09-09 12:20:59
Tagged: mailfail

refined spam typography

From a random spam:

font-family: Cambria, "Hoefler Text", "Liberation Serif", Times, "Times New Roman", serif;

So we’ve got Windows, Mac, and... Linux? Well, some Linux. No love for DejaVu fonts I guess.

Posted 2015-08-10 00:33:22 by tedu Updated: 2015-08-10 00:33:22
Tagged: mailfail

choose your own translation

Received an email from United today. I guess one way to do translations is to just dump them all in the email and have the user select one?

$select(lookup(ML_LANG_CD), EN, MileagePlus Monthly Statement, ES, Estado de cuenta de MileagePlus, PT, Extrato do MileagePlus, JA, 月マイレージプラスご利用明細書, CH,前程万里 (MileagePlus) 邀约)$
Posted 2015-01-15 21:50:40 by tedu Updated: 2015-01-15 21:50:40
Tagged: mailfail

conditionally mitigated by

Sometimes I receive mail from people with (or or email addresses. Legit mail, even including patches for OpenBSD (crazy!). Unfortunately my IP address was blacklisted, so my direct replies would bounce back to me. The good news is that Microsoft has a support form you can use to resolve this issue. The bad news is it asks 30 (thirty!) questions (all required!) about my business and my mailing list.

“What OS are you using?” OpenBSD

“What mail transport software are you using?” smtpd

“Provide the URL of your web site.” ok...

“Provide the URL of your Privacy Policy.” uh...

“In what manner(s) are recipients added to your mailing list(s)?” I type it in the To: box. Sometimes I click reply.

“Please copy/paste samples of a few of the messages you’re sending.” (An email containing a patch for src/lib/libfuse. Bet they haven’t seen that before.)

The good news is somebody at Microsoft has decided I “qualify for conditional mitigation” until such time as I have “established a good reputation” according to the form letter response. The bad news I don’t know if anybody read my answers to their inane questions and had a chuckle, or just clicked the green button and moved on to the next spammer trying to cheat the system.

Posted 2014-05-20 01:34:34 by tedu Updated: 2014-05-20 01:34:34
Tagged: mailfail rants

secure email hashing

Received an email this morning about a package containing a large amount of cash being held by DHL (yippee!). As befits important email of a security sensitive nature, they tried to sign the message, or at least I think that’s what they were trying to do.


While it’s comforting to see that they chose the more secure encrypt-then-mac construction, RIPEMD-160 is hardly cutting edge. As such, I’m not sure I can trust this message.

Posted 2014-03-23 21:21:26 by tedu Updated: 2014-03-23 21:21:26
Tagged: mailfail

Heroku subscription status

Several years ago, when Heroku was young and fresh, I had a question about their service. The only way to ask them a question was to create an account and file a support ticket, so that’s what I did. Some time passed and then suddenly I started receiving monthly Heroku newsletters. While I don’t recall there even being such a checkbox when I signed up, I am always fastidious about not opting in to receive such junk, even with fiendish “By not unchecking this box, you agree to not unsubscribe from our crap” phrasing, but nevertheless I find myself enrolled in their newsletter.

I have been ignoring the newsletter because unsubscribing is usually more trouble than it’s worth and my spam filter knows exactly where to put it. Eventually, somebody (or something) at Heroku caught on and a month ago I received this email:

“You are receiving this email because we do not have a current subscriber status on you for Heroku emails.”

You’d think no status would imply no newsletter, right? That email was followed an hour later by the January newsletter. The status email itself continued,

“If you would rather not opt-in to receive Heroku emails, you do not need to take any action. We will automatically change your status to opted-out within the next 30 days.”

Today I received the February newsletter.

Today I received the March newsletter. Looks like Heroku has decided to change my status to opt-in instead. Thanks.

Posted 2014-02-20 22:14:34 by tedu Updated: 2014-03-20 16:48:16
Tagged: mailfail rants

erroneous delayed shipment notification

Not really a failing of the email format, but of its contents. Last weekend I ordered a new iPhone for my dad. It was supposed to arrive today. Yesterday, Apple sends me an email that it’s going to ship soon and will arrive next week. That’s no good. I call Apple and talk to a real person on the phone, who confirms the phone is in Apple’s warehouse, they’re going to ship it real soon now, and I should expect it next week. That’s too late, so I cancel the order, but it’s too late for that too, so instead it’s converted to a return request. Today the phone arrived after all. What a waste of time and frustration.

I looked up the tracking number after it arrived. It was shipped UPS ground from a nearby warehouse last night. It’s close by (and presorted, etc.), so even ground shipments arrive in one day. Apparently Apple’s actual shipping logistics program knows this, which is why I was originally promised a delivery date of today. (Or conversely, it explains why the software knew it could meet the promised deadline even with a last minute ground shipment.) But Apple’s email the customer software doesn’t know this.

Instead, I imagine the notifier was triggered when my phone was being taken off the shelf and prepared for shipment. It then looks up my order in the database, sees ground shipping, and then just slaps the usual 3-5 day bracket around the delivery estimate. The problem is the 3-5 day window from the front page of doesn’t apply to this route. ( even has a shipping calculator which will tell you that this ground shipment only takes one day. I don’t know where Apple’s email notifier gets its misinformation.)

Root cause analysis: don’t use two databases when only one has the correct information.

Posted 2013-12-19 21:40:44 by tedu Updated: 2013-12-19 21:40:44
Tagged: business mailfail rants

surprise gift from Amazon

Amazon has a trade-in program where they buy back electronics (and books, etc.) and give you store credit. If the item isn’t in good enough condition, they’ll return it to you. About two weeks ago, I sent in a Canon camcorder I never really used. Got a credit. Then today I received a package from Amazon. The magic camera elves in Kentucky (where the Amazon trade-in depot is located) turned my camcorder into a Canon DSLR camera. The box even included the camcorder packing slip I printed out and sent with the first package.

I assume the traded in DSLR was found wanting in some respect and on its way home when my packing slip and address got shuffled into the mix. I would forward it on its way, but the only address I have is my address. If it had a lens, maybe I could even use it for a while, but alas it’s only the body. Guess I’ll just stick it in the corner for a while until somebody asks for it.

Posted 2013-10-08 22:17:26 by tedu Updated: 2013-10-08 22:17:26
Tagged: mailfail rants

amping up my expertise

I’m not sure what trickery LinkedIn uses to trick my connections into endorsing me, since they don’t seem like the kinds of people who would do so voluntarily, but LinkedIn never fails to notify me of my ever growing reputation. (I wonder if and how many people I’ve endorsed.) Today’s email was pretty sweet:

I've just endorsed you for new skills &amp; expertise!

Amp expertise is definitely going on the resume.

Posted 2013-06-25 19:36:37 by tedu Updated: 2013-06-25 19:36:37
Tagged: mailfail

Windows 8 order mail fail

I order my Windows 8 upgrade and get an email receipt. “See this email online here: http://localhost/NeptuneEmail/Templates/Confirmation.aspx?cid=...”. Hey, that’s a neat trick. They put a copy of the email on my computer for me so I can view it online even when I’m offline!

Posted 2012-11-10 02:16:15 by tedu Updated: 2012-11-10 02:16:15
Tagged: mailfail

AppleID confirm mail fail

I realized I was using an old email address for my Apple account. Besides some bizarre rules which make it hard to juggle active and backup emails, they send broken confirmation emails.

Here’s what I read:

Just click the link below to verify, sign in using your Apple ID and password, then follow the prompts. Verify Now >

Yes. That’s the link. They oh so helpfully took the HTML part of the email:

Just click the link below to verify, sign = in using your Apple ID and password, then follow the prompts. <br><br><a hr= ef=3D"" cla= ss=3D"aapl-link" style=3D"color:#0088cc">Verify Now ></a>

And converted it to text for me. Thanks! The ... part of that, btw, is about 400 chars of base64 encoded something. I approve, except unquoting and line folding it by hand is quite the chore. The strangest part is I have three slightly different emails from Apple, regarding my primary email, my backup email, and my security questions. Some of them have the above link, but omit other links.

Posted 2012-09-01 21:04:15 by tedu Updated: 2012-09-01 21:09:44
Tagged: mailfail

mail fail

I’m going to start posting examples of broken emails that companies send me. It’s 2012. What are you using to send this crap? I plan to exclude spam, which is almost always broken in some way (perhaps on purpose, the theory being that spam is designed to target the people who don’t filter it), but large companies which should know better.

Posted 2012-08-31 17:32:48 by tedu Updated: 2012-08-31 17:32:48
Tagged: mailfail rants

amazon mail charset fail

Amazon can’t pick a charset in their order emails. I bought an MP3 album by The Crüxshadows (let’s not discuss that right now, or ever). Here’s part of the email:

------=_Part_10851441_1164149591.1346373530449 Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable ... <meta http-equiv=3D"Content-Type" content=3D"text/html; charset=3Diso-8859-1"> ... The Cr=C3=BCxshadows

Yes, it’s quoted printable and it is utf-8. So why is there a meta tag saying it’s latin-1? End result? This shit: The Crüxshadows

Posted 2012-08-31 17:32:33 by tedu Updated: 2012-08-31 17:32:33
Tagged: mailfail

unable to view this email

Every couple days I get an email from some group because I found my way onto their mailing list. The message body: “Our system has detected that your e-mail reader does not support HTML and you are therefore unable to view the content of this e-mail.” Thanks for trying, maybe? Really, the message just infuriates me far more than typical content free text emails because I know your system hasn’t detected shit. Maybe you should upgrade to a system that detects I don’t want your email.

Posted 2011-12-17 00:10:15 by tedu Updated: 2012-08-31 17:33:20
Tagged: mailfail