Monday, July 14, 2008

Keeping spam off my iPhone

I absolutely hate spam, whether it's email, junk snail mail, text messages, etc. When I got my new iPhone one of the first things I did was connect it to the exchange server at work. It was a beautiful thing, as with a few entries within minutes I was live via activesync just like my Outlook client on my PC. But then the spam started coming in. I was completely baffled when I looked on my iPhone and noticed 3 new messages. Wow, lots of email coming in. But when I looked they were your typical "enhancement" or "get your degree now" emails.

I spent a lot of time tweaking Outlook to be quite good at keeping spam out of my inbox. So I couldn't understand why the spam was zipping through to my iPhone. After doing some googling I learned that there is no spam filtering software on the iPhone. My next step was to go look at my Outlook/exchange settings and figure out what wasn't working. What I learned was that my main spam filtering rule was a client-only rule. So it only runs when the Outlook client is connected to exchange. Eureka! But why was it client only and how do I fix it?

After more googling I found a site that explained the problem. It seems I had a condition in my rule that forced it to be client only. We use Spam Assassin at work to filter messages. When it determines through its magic that a message is spam, it inserts a line into the email header that says "X-Spam-Flag: YES". My rule would look into the message header and if it found that string it would mark it as read, and permanently delete it. I believe the culprit was the mark it as read part. I took that out, and instead of permanently delete it I changed it to move it to the deleted items folder. Voila. When I saved that rule it didn't put the little (client-only) tag next to it.

The good news? I haven't had a spam email on my iPhone since. Rock-on iPhone.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My iPhone 3G Story

I've been waiting for the iPhone 3G for many months now. The anticipation was becoming overwhelming to the point that my wife told me she doesn't want to hear the word iPhone from me again. This morning I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and headed over to my local AT&T store. I had done my research ahead of time. I talked to the employees at that store and they said that the Boulder store would be a madhouse, but with their obscure location, they should be fine. I took no chances anyway and got there at about 4:30.

While driving there I was an obsessive, paranoid freak. Every car I saw in front of me on the road I thought was going to the store and was going to get there in line in front of me. It turns out that none of them were going to the AT&T store, so it's a good thing I didn't speed (I figured that getting pulled over would take longer than just going the speed limit). When I finally arrived there I was thrilled. I was 5th in line. No matter what happened, I figured they had to have at least 5 iPhones, and my odds of getting the one I wanted were very good.

I met some of the other iPhone obsessors and the time actually passed rather quickly. There was a Starbucks next door, but I only got a grande knowing that a venti would likely push my bladder over the edge. At about 7:45, the store manager came out to talk to the line (at least 100 people at this point, likely more) to tell us the basic rules, etc, and also to inform us that they only had 55 phones. Shock and dismay rippled through the crowd, but what do you expect when you arrive 30 minutes before the store opens when trying to get the most widely sought after mobile device ever?

8:00 comes and they open the doors. A woman says she wants the first 7 people in line to enter the store. I got in and was directed to a sales associate. He asked for my current phone number, brought up my account and asked which phone I wanted. "The 16 gigabyte iPhone white please." Once the box was laid on the counter in front of me I knew I was golden. "Do you want the AppleCare plan?", "Yes, since you can't replace the battery." He asks if I want any accessories and I plunk down a strategically shelved Jawbone 2 bluetooth headset. He activates my phone, gives me a new sim card, and tells me, "you're all set, just take it home and synch it with iTunes and it will finish activation." I leave the store on cloud nine, with my AT&T bag stuffed with goodies even Santa can't get his hands on.

I walked into my house at 8:25. The 15 minute activation process promised by AT&T actually lived up to the billing. I plopped down on the couch and started opening boxes while booting my laptop. All is good, all will soon be great. I get everything out and plug in the USB cable. The 2 seconds it took for iTunes to recognize it and display "iPhone" in the left side navigation area were excrutiating. Then the store area went all white with only the silver words "iPhone". I waited as patiently as possible while the little bar spun and the words "Accessing iTunes Store" were displayed above it. Then I got the popup window you see for this post. Oh, yeah, tons of activiations going on, it's going to take a few tries.

It's now almost 1:00, and after at least 100 tries, I'm still not activated. So I have the most amazing, powerful, revolutionary mobile computing platform in the world in the palm of my hand, and all it can do is call 911. I called the rep from the AT&T store to see if they could do something, but immediately got a voice recording explaining that activations are overwhelming the system, apologies, try later in the day. The wait continues.
UPDATE: OK, I guess if you bitch about Apple the Jobs-God hears and corrects it. At 1:02 p.m. I got in and activated my phone. I am now synching calendars, contacts, email, bookmarks, etc. It's ALIVE!!!!