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View How do I delete all messages at one time?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I delete all messages at one time?
Date: December 27, 2006 8:33 PM
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Users ask how they can delete all the messages in their Inbox (or other folder) without having to do them one at a time, or 20 at a time (default page size).

Click the Folders link on the left, and on that page you can delete all the messages in any folder with one click. Deleting from that page does NOT move messages to the Trash, it deletes them permanently, so use it carefully.

You can also change the messages-per-page setting under Preferences / Web Mail Options and set it as high as 200. Then select all messages on a page at once by using the topmost checkbox. If there is one you want to leave alone, just uncheck it. You can delete or move all checked messages at one time. Note that a higher messages-per-page setting will result in slower loading.

View Users reporting session timeouts in Web MailGeneral

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Users reporting session timeouts in Web Mail
Date: December 20, 2006 6:00 PM
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Several users have reported that sometimes when they have Web Mail open for a little while, and then go to perform another operation like sending a message, they get a "Session Expired" message, and have to log in again. And if they were trying to send a composed message, unfortunately that work gets lost. Understandably, this is upsetting.

We believe we have found the cause, and it should be fixed soon. Tracking this down was due entirely to user reports in the Web Mail feedback mailbox, so thanks for letting us know.

Normally, the session timeout is controlled by your setting in Preferences / Web Mail Options, and the default is 8 hours. This is for your own protection, so that you don't accidentally stay logged in indefinitely. You can change the default setting to as high as 24 hours if you prefer. But lately a few users have been getting timed out in 30 minutes due to an issue we tracked down today from your reports. It is happening at times of high usage and folks are working on fixing it.

Be aware that even when this is working right, once you hit that 8 hours (or your setting) you will be timed out anyway. I have a planned enhancement to Web Mail so that we would save any composed message you were working on, and you could just log in again and not have your work lost. I'm making that a high priority for an upcoming release.


View How We Monitor Web Mail PerformanceGeneral

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How We Monitor Web Mail Performance
Date: December 16, 2006 7:26 PM
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We care a lot about performance. One of the tools we use to make sure Web Mail is working well for you is a set of monitoring agents that constantly run from 10 cities all around the United States. The "agent" is basically an automated script that runs on a computer connected to the Internet, and opens the Internet Explorer browser to load and use Web Mail just like a real user. So this isn't a simulation, it is doing exactly what real users do on their own computers, and using the most popular software used by real users. These monitoring agents are connected to one of several different network backbones to represent a good cross section of users in different areas without skewing the results with faster or slower network paths to our servers.

Ten times every hour the script opens Internet Explorer and runs through twelve steps performing common tasks in Web Mail. It begins by loading the Web Mail login page and logs in using a regular account just like yours. Then it proceeds to refresh the Inbox view, open a message, delete a message, compose and send a message, and all the basic tasks that you do in Web Mail. And unlike your own browser settings, this test browser has the cache turned off, so it gets no speed advantage from loading locally cached files like you do. Everything loads fresh from our server on every test.

I pulled up some graphs of the results for the last 24 hours at the time I was writing this. You can see the steps in the script below, and the average times for the 24 hour period. These times are measured from when the link in the browser is clicked, until the task completes and the resulting page finishes loading.

kn-trans-times.png
Dec. 15 4:34 PM EST - Dec. 16 4:34 PM EST (average times)
These results are probably not what you will see at home, unless your computer is plugged in directly to the nearest Internet backbone node like these agents are, and you have a top-speed computer. So we aren't measuring the performance of your home connection here, but we are measuring the performance of Web Mail. On my own cable modem connection at home, when I run the same script I usually get results in the same range as those shown. But it is probably a little slower on average. Note also that the script doesn't wait for advertisements to load (and you don't have to either). It clicks the next task as soon as the Web Mail page has finished reloading. And things like sending messages do depend on the size of the content; the script sends a one-word email on that step (the message says "Testing"). Robots can type pretty fast too.

Here's another graph showing all the tests runs during the same period (this past day) as shown in the task list above. This one shows the total time for all twelve steps to complete. These times are one of the things we watch carefully, and if we see a test that has an unusually high time, we can drill down using the information in the top chart above (and a lot of other detail we get) to find the problem.

kn-graph.gif
Total Script Time

The charts above show that Web Mail is working fine today. The different times in the graph are showing that the different cities and networks we measure from have slightly different performance (see how they repeat every hour), but they are very consistent today and it looks like all is well. This test is only measuring the Web Mail pages and checking and sending email, it isn't measuring some of the other related systems like setting Preferences. We have other monitoring tools to do that.

So these end-to-end tests of our Web Mail system are one way we are working to keep everything in top shape for you. When problems show up from these monitoring tools and others that we use, alarms go off and a team of people acts to get it fixed as quickly as they can. Of course the results aren't always as consistent and nice looking as these, but we do work hard to keep it that way.

View Web Mail 5.12 released 12/15Releases

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Web Mail 5.12 released 12/15
Date: December 15, 2006 10:02 AM
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You may notice a couple of changes in Web Mail today, as version 5.12 went live early this morning. It is a minor release with a couple of great new features, and a few bug fixes. Here's a list of what changed:

  • Protection Pack - You'll see a new link on the left side of Web Mail that lets you set up Anonymous Email Addresses. These act like an alias to your regular email address, so you don't ever have to give out your real address on web sites or when shopping online, and you'll keep a lot of spam out of your Inbox. Email sent to these addresses comes into your same mailbox but is conveniently sorted into its own folder by address. You can even write new messages using this as your return address, and your real address is completely hidden from the recipient. You can have up to 10 of these active at a time, delete them whenever you want, and get more whenever you need them.
    aea.gif

  • Get More Anonymous Email Addresses - although we have had the AEA feature available on the main EarthLink web site for a few months now, you could not get more after you deleted your first batch. Now you can. Once you have signed up for AEA, just click the Protection Pack link to manage your addresses or add more.
    protectionpack.gif

  • International character support - now you can read and write email in any language, and use any special characters you like. This includes messages, preferences like your From name, vacation messages, and your signature. Web Mail will let you enter any characters or language that your computer is set up for, and will properly view and reply to non-English messages you receive. Before this change, everything had to be plain ASCII (basically just what you see on an American keyboard). There are still a couple of kinks in the spamBlocker auto-reply that will be fixed in January, so keep that one in English for now or your recipient may get a garbled message. Everything else should be working.
  • Fixed this bug.

  • Fixed an issue that was causing Address Book groups to be lost when syncing the Total Access Mailbox to the online Address Book.
Look for another release in early 2007 that will fix a lot of outstanding bugs and add a great new interface. More on that later.

View Norton Security doesn't like our AJAX featuresBugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Norton Security doesn't like our AJAX features
Date: December 13, 2006 8:01 AM
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It seems that every time we add an AJAX feature to Web Mail to improve the usability for the vast majority of users, a few users report strange problems with those features being blocked or not working right. These problems almost always turn out to be that some security software running on the user's computer is blocking the use of those features, but doesn't give them any warning or information about what is wrong. Keep reading for instructions on how to fix this problem.

AJAX involves using javascripts and style sheets in creative ways to make web pages more interactive and to not require a full page refresh every time you click on a feature. We have several features built this way, including:

  • The folder tree in the left panel - you can expand and collapse the folder tree and any nested branches you create, and these update immediately when clicked without having to refresh the page.

  • The Write Message view - when you click this to compose a new message, the view updates immediately without having to refresh the page.

These features make Web Mail faster and more interactive for the user. But sometimes users report them not working. On Write Message, the problem usually shows up when replying to a rich text (HTML) message and usually doesn't interfere with plain text messages. See this post for more information. On the folder tree, sometimes folders don't show up at all, or don't respond when clicked.

If you encounter either of these problems, there is a very easy fix. Go to Preferences / Web Mail Options and turn on the option to use a "Secure Session". This will encrypt the content to and from your browser, and a side effect is that it "hides" the javascripts and AJAX features from security software like Norton Security, so that they can't block the features from working. If you do choose this option, also be sure to read this post for some more information.

View Web Mail 6.0 Sneak Peek (updated)Plans

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Web Mail 6.0 Sneak Peek (updated)
Date: December 8, 2006 10:38 AM
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I've updated this post and moved it back to the top of the list to get some user feedback now that our blog is fully live. I had originally posted this before we got the blog linked to Web Mail for all users to find it.

We're working on a new and improved layout and style for Web Mail to release in Q3 2007. Web Mail 6.0 will fix a number of usability problems, make the layout more logical, and have an updated, cleaner look-and-feel. Here's a mockup that is still being refined.

[ Click to view larger image ]

new-sp-sm.gif

Over time the left navigation panel has become cluttered with additions and become somewhat disorganized. The new layout takes the task links out of the left panel and puts them in a convenient toolbar over the main content area. The left panel will then only contain folder links and not primary tasks, which are all being moved to the toolbar. Some of the other changes are:

  • Moved the signout link to the top.
  • Made the Inbox the topmost folder, as it should be.
  • Grouped the protection features and spam folders together at the bottom.
  • Improved the "Move to" control to be a one-step action.
  • Made the preview toggle much more obvious and intuitive.
  • Eliminated the visual clutter of all links being underlined as almost everything is a link.
  • Allow hiding the folder panel to get a larger Inbox view.
  • Updated the syling to be more visually appealing.

The improved layout and particularly the toolbar will pave the way for some performance changes we plan to make using AJAX to dynamically refresh the content area when task buttons are clicked. That will eliminate some of the full page refreshes that occur today when you change tasks or views. We already do this today with the Compose view. Click on "Write Message" in Web Mail today and you'll notice that the view changes instantly without fetching anything from the server and without refreshing the page. This idea will be expanded to other tasks.

Something we won't be doing to Web Mail, is going in the direction we see a lot of other Web Mail providers taking, where they are making pages very graphics-intensive in an attempt to make Web Mail look more like a stand-alone email software application (client application) running on your own computer. We believe a web application must first and foremost be light-weight and responsive, and that it shouldn't try to imitate a heavy client application. The concept shown here will have about the same weight as the existing Web Mail, hopefully even less.

As always, feedback is welcomed.


View Sending to list servers with Suspect Email blocking OnBugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Sending to list servers with Suspect Email blocking On
Date: December 2, 2006 9:47 AM
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In the "Ask Email Guy" section of this blog user Paul Camp reported a problem about sending messages to list servers. The problem was that when using Suspect Email blocking (spamBlocker on High setting) if he sent messages to a list he belonged to, the copy that came back to him was caught in the Suspect Email folder, even though he had added both his address and the list sender address to his white list (contact list).

We investigated and found out there is in fact a bug preventing these messages from being white-listed and going straight to your Inbox, and they are always being caught in Suspect Email. The specific circumstances are


  1. You have spamBlocker set to High (Suspect Email blocking).
  2. You subscribe to a list service that doesn't come from within EarthLink.
  3. You send messages to the list yourself.
  4. You have correctly added both your own address and the list sender address to your contacts.

In this situation, you will receive all messages from the list in your Inbox except those you send yourself. Those will be caught in Suspect Email no matter what addresses you put in your white list (contact list).

Self-sending is a special case that requires special handling, to prevent any spammer from simply putting your own address on the From line and bypassing spamBlocker, So it has special rules. The problem with sending to list servers is related to these special checks for self-sending. We hope to get this fixed soon. The correct behavior would be that when both the list sender address and your address are in your contact list, the message will bypass spamBlocker and go to your Inbox.

View Effective domain blockingTips & Tricks

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Effective domain blocking
Date: December 2, 2006 9:39 AM
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In my earlier post about using the Blocked Sender list, user Eli Polonsky gave us a terrific trick about how to effectively block spam from foreign domains that you would never get any real email from anyway. Here's his tip:

To the person who asked about blocking foreign domains, there is a way that you can block a good deal of them without using up many of your 500 alloted blocks. Here's the hint: if you enter the two last dotted suffixes into your block list, it will block all e-mails with those two last suffixes. For example, if you block co.uk, it will block all e-mails from all domains that end in co.uk. It won't work if you just enter the last suffix (just entering uk won't work), but the last two does work.

I've blocked the following suffixes to greatly reduce foreign domain spam: ac.uk, bk.ru, co.il, co.jp, co.kr, co.nz, co.uk, co.za, com.ar, com.au, com.br, com.cn, com.hk, com.tw, ne.jp, net.au, net.mk, net.pk, net.tr, org.uk. That block all e-mails that come in with those domain suffixes, regardless of the domain prefixes.

Posted by: Eli Polonsky | December 1, 2006 7:18 AM

Thank for the great tip Eli !

For more information about using the Blocked Sender List, see this post.

View Did EarthLink delete my messages?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Did EarthLink delete my messages?
Date: December 1, 2006 10:43 PM
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EarthLink will never delete any messages from your Inbox or any other folder you create in Web Mail for storing your messages. Only Trash and Spam are ever automatically deleted.

If you can't find your messages, see these articles for help:

http://mailblog.earthlink.net/webmail/2006/11/where_did_my_messages_go_1.php
http://mailblog.earthlink.net/webmail/2007/01/how_web_mail_works_with_your_other_email.php

(Ed. Note - I backdated this entry as it was created just to put another common form of the question in the FAQ list)