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Port 25 blocking from Internet Service Providers to solve spam: a false good idea

imageFor the last month, I noticed occasional problems with sending e-mails from my professional POP-based account (I also have a professional Exchange account but I don’t use this one very much for a lot of historic reasons, like me having a BlackBerry subscription which only worked with POP-based accounts, until I got my new phone). The hosting company that was hosting this POP account was having a lot of problems for months and I was using their SMTP server (requiring SMTPAuth) to send my e-mails from this account. I was busy at that time and just wanted my urgent e-mails to get out so thinking they had yet another breakdown, I switched to my Internet Service Provider (ISP)’s SMTP server (on port 25) and it worked fine. However, that obviously meant that as soon as I would plug my computer to a network using another ISP, this SMTP server would block my e-mails because they are sent from an Internet line leased by a competitor. Of course, changing the SMTP server every time was an unacceptable time loss and bother to do every time, so I set out and investigated.

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Open-Sorcery: the default answer to a feature request is "no, do it yourself"

Open-Source Open-source is often acclaimed by its supporters for empowering the users using the products rather than big corporations only out for the money and leaving users with closed and static software. My point here is not to start another holy war about Open-Source vs Proprietary Software but to debunk some myths about open-source and how many of the advantages promoted by the open-source movement simply do not work as smoothly in the real world. In this article, we will see how getting a little and insignificant feature (like adding a command-line switch for an already existing feature available through the GUI) implemented in an open-source software often feels like an assault course, especially if your feature request happens to be rejected for a more or less acceptable reason: priorities, not useful to most people, laziness, or just because you can do it yourself, so doing so should you!

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When the product life begins...

It is usual for companies investing massively in research and development to have a strict product information disclosure policy. For months, engineers work in a relative secret, without being able to tell anyone what they do… until the D-day arrives, when the product is officially announced, when the product life begins in the outside world…

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How to recover data from an unrecognized dual-disk external drive

image Several weeks ago, I built a Media-Center using a spare laptop I had. The point of this move was to be able to watch holidays pictures and movies on the Plasma TV of the living room along with music, so that the TV can also serve as an Hi-Fi system. This system also replaced the bulky (desktop) home server that was in the food storage room. Obviously, a laptop’s internal hard drive is way too small for such activities and I plugged an Iomega 1TB external (2x500GB) dual-disk USB hard drive that was previously used on the desktop. Unfortunately, that external drive was doing so much noise that it couldn’t be left switched on all the time: what was acceptable in the food-storage room wasn’t in the living room, so I switched it off and decided we would switch it on only when needed. All was well until last week-end, when I decided to switch it on and the disk wasn’t recognized by Windows…

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C# generics vs. code analysis

A few days ago, I published an article on heterogeneous collections in C#, proposing various possibilities to solve this problem given a specific set of constraints. My final pick was using generics, the built-in template feature of C#. But what the story did not say is that this solution triggers a code analysis warning at compile-time...

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Anonymous: final boss of the Internet?

AnonymousThis article is going to be a little special as I’m going to break the first and second rules of the Internet, which respectively are "do not talk about /b/" and "do not talk about /b/". I sure hope the lord of this universe is going to bear with me and spare this sin. At a time when a mysterious group called Anonymous reserves a bigger and bigger place for itself in the Internet and the conventional media’s headlines, it is a good opportunity to shed some light on this enigmatic movement. Please fasten your belts, we are embarking on a voyage to the hidden side of the Internet…

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The PAQ compression algorithm

We all know about the most popular file compression formats available, from the rather outdated and outperformed ZIP, to the quite popular 7-Zip, with the RAR format in between. In the last few years, the 7-Zip format gained a lot in popularity and is regarded by many to be the compression format offering the best ratio, but is it really the truth? If I were to tell you that there exists a format able to compress the 438 MB of Office 2007 Setup files down to 7MB archive, you may not believe me or worry for my mental stability, but after having tested it, I can confirm it is the truth and that there is no magic here, but just a very advanced algorithm: PAQ.

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Heterogeneous collections in C#

During my previous software development project, I found that the handling of heterogeneous collections was one of the most interesting development problems. Because there are many possible solutions whose validity depends mostly on your more general problem, this issue is very representative of software design in general: making the best choices and finding the best compromise for a given set of constraints.

In this article, I will focus on a very specific problem: designing a C# interface for an easy read/write access to a list of settings. This list is not fixed and depends on the implementation class, but as part of a more general API, the interface must also be quite secure, especially in terms of type casting.

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The recent Microsoft ads

In several recent conversations between Fred and me, we discussed a lot about Microsoft’s marketing strategy, which tends to lag a bit behind compared to that of Apple or Google. The recent advertisement from Microsoft featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld was hardly a response to the marketing war led by Microsoft’s competitors who do not hesitate to criticize Microsoft and make its customers like fools. But for now, let’s think about why the Gates/Seinfeld advertisement couldn't be as popular as they could have expected...

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Updates on Romhack.Net

Almost three months after its launch, Romhack.Net is still evolving (and will hopefully keep evolving in the future). We have just finished an important round of updates, in order to improve the internals and refresh the layout. Your alternative IT magazine is now using the latest version of the excellent blogging platform Dotclear, and has a new set of features (including social bookmarking and smooth display of external links).

Moreover, we will try in the future to have regular updates at fixed dates, twice a week. One of these updates will happen at mid-week, while the other one will happen during the week-end. But one thing will not change: our commitment to give you the best analyses on selected topics of the information world. Stay tuned!

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