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Daily Service Bulletin Chebucto News Archive Permalink

Updated: 21 November 2006

Second round of delayed mail being delivered

[Photo: Five new mail scanning machines in the Chebucto Office.] Chebucto users are seeing a rise in the amount of spam in their inboxes and messages delayed for days in a second round of mail problems.

This new round of delayed mail, the vast majority of it junk, is from a queue of mail processed by one of Chebucto's new mail filtering servers. The mail was scanned for spam and viruses then awaited delivery to the main Chebucto server where the user inboxes currently are. While most of the mail from this mail scanning server went through without problem, a small percentage was timing out when trying to be delivered. This mail built up for about 72 hours before its presence was discovered, by which time there were some 300,000 messages in the delayed mail queue.

It had only been a few days since the original delayed mail problem, which was caused by a three-fold increase in the amount of incoming mail, virtually all of it junk. Chebucto went from two mail scanning machines to seven and in the space of a week delivered a week's backlog of the increased mail while keeping up with the increased flow of new incoming mail.

As of Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 21) at 2 pm there were 172,000 scanned messages on Chebucto's main server being processed with an estimated 12-14 hours delivery time, which includes delivery of new incoming mail received in the mean time. Chebucto's main server, which hosts user mailboxes and webpages, is going to be working under a heavy load all day so webpages and email access may be slow or unresponsive. The new incoming mail, still at triple previous normal volumes, is being delivered from the mail scanning servers to the main Chebucto server as fast as it can be accepted so users will see a mix of new and delayed mail.

The latest deluge of junk mail, mostly promoting garbage penny stocks and pharmaceutical products, is hitting mail servers all over the Internet. It is coming from botnets - hijacked home computers, vulnerable to takeover because they have not been kept upgraded and patched. These zombie computers are now being linked up to tens of thousands of other hijacked computers to act in unison sending out uncountable billions of junk emails.

The spam itself is cleverly designed to make it difficult to filter, containing random text and inline graphic files that are altered for every individual spam. A certain amount of junk mail will pass by any mail filter. When the amount of incoming junk mail keeps increasing as well as being more difficult to filter, that certain amount starts to grow in actual numbers of delivered spam.

Chebucto wifi development ongoing

[Photo: Johnathan Thibodeau and his new directional antenna.] Development work continues slowly with the current mail system issues taking up almost all staff time but Johnathan Thibodeau this week constructed a directional antenna for use with the new wifi system. The antenna will be finished and tested in the near future.

The Chebucto Community Net plans to bring non-profit high-speed Internet to the metro Halifax area by building a mesh network of wireless nodes hosted by users themselves.

Currently in active development, Chebucto's plan would offer free public access to local metro and government websites and full Internet access to Chebucto Plus level memberships, currently $100 per year for individuals.

The areas to be served by the new wireless access will be determined by the residents of metro themselves.

Chebucto is looking for residents able to host wireless nodes, the cornerstone of the network, and when we get enough nodes in a neighbourhood, we can look at bringing network access where it is needed. A node sign-up form is online here.

Chebucto's project was the cover story of The Coast's August 3, 2006 issue. It was first announced to members at the Annual General Meeting this past April.

Due to other pressing technical issues - mostly mail system management and system upgrades - there has been little time for further wifi equipment testing. We hope to get back to this testing soon.

Big mailboxes still on the way

[Photo: New mail servers] Work continues, albeit slowly, on the plan to greatly expand the size of Chebucto mailboxes. Hardware for the expansion has been purchased and is in place. Software configuration is mostly complete except for some final software installation to be done on Chebucto's main server.

Progress has been delayed due to the recent increase in incoming junk mail and lack of technical volunteer time.

Chebucto's mail system, which offers more mail options than any other internet service provider, has been custom written, evolving over the past thirteen years tightly integrated with the rest of the software running on Chebucto's main server.

The mail system is being re-organized from top to bottom. The first priority is to make sure it all works properly before the switch rather than rush to get it into place. Chebucto supports many different ways to access email - the standard POP3 and IMAP as well as Webmail and our text-only inline PINE. We also support strong encryption for all forms of email access on Chebucto.

Help promote Chebucto!

We invite our members and supporters to help promote the Chebucto Community Net in the community by printing off and distributing Chebucto brochures and posters from our website.

We have added a new brochure for promoting our new wireless service in your neighbourhood.

Chebucto services maintenance window

The Chebucto Technical Committee wishes to advise Chebucto users of upcoming regularly scheduled planned maintenance downtimes. Chebucto Community Net services may be unavailable between 3:30 AM and 4:30 AM Tuesdays to allow for system upgrades. Some or all Chebucto services may go down with minimum or no warning during this maintenance window as systems are shut down and restarted.

Chebucto Community Net RSS how-to guide

Chebucto Community Net has posted a guide on how to use our RSS news feed here:

Our RSS feed is our way of letting people know fast about important software updates and security alerts as well as new developments at Chebucto. Stay informed with the news as soon as we have it ourselves with our RSS news feed.

Updated - Recommended software list

With the recent interest in Internet security and the rise in various exploits meant to take over user machines, the Chebucto Office has compiled this list of recommended software for user computers running Microsoft Windows.

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox free from
Upgraded to version 2.0.

Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from
Upgraded to version

Anti-Spyware Software:

Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from

Free anti-virus programs for home users (Note that both of these programs also have paid versions which offer additional features):

FTP Software: FileZilla free from

RSS Newsfeed Reader: RSSOwl free from RSSOwl.Org

The Chebucto Office does not recommend using the Internet Explorer web browser for any use except for accessing Microsoft's own Windows Update page. The popular web browser has been repeatedly successfully targetted by virus writers in particular seeking to break into home computers to use them for criminal purposes such as sending out spam, sending out viruses to break into other computers and being used to disrupt services on other computer systems.

After many reports about vulnerabilities for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express email programs, and the constant stream of user complaints about randomly altered program settings and difficulty using the program, the Chebucto Community Net Office and the Chebucto Technical Committee recommend our users do not use either Outlook or Outlook Express as their email program.

Keeping Microsoft Windows up to date is also very important. Windows XP users should have Service Pack 2 installed. All Microsoft Windows users should make a point of using Internet Explorer to visit the Microsoft Windows Update site at least once a month and download all critical updates.

Cool Chebucto hats available!

[Photo: Cool Chebucto hat - click to see larger photo]   We have available these excellent quality Chebucto Community Net hats. Click on photo to see larger version. These fashionable stone coloured washed cotton Chino twill hats are low fitting with adjustable strap and antique silver ring buckle for a perfect fit and are embroidered with the Chebucto Community Net logo and web address. Machine washable and drip dry with a pre curved peak, this hat will provide years of comfortable wear as well as showing your support for Halifax's own one-of-a-kind independent Community Net.

You can get your very own Chebucto Community Net hat from the Chebucto office for $20 or we can mail it out to you for an additional $10.



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