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Updated: 22 November 2006
Mail system updateChebucto users are reporting a rise in the amount of spam in their inboxes after the last of the delayed mail from earlier in the week was delivered overnight. As of Wednesday evening (Nov. 22) all delayed mail sent to individual mailboxes has been delivered and there is no delay in new incoming email. Chebucto's majordomo mailing list manager is still delivering queued mailing list mail at this time.
This delayed mail, the vast majority of it junk, was from a queue of mail processed by one of Chebucto's new mail filtering servers. Chebucto added five new mail scanning servers last week to cope with a three-fold increase in the amount of incoming junk email.
Some mail (which had been scanned for spam and viruses before being delivered to the main Chebucto server) had accumulated on one of the new mail scanning servers without being 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.
The latest deluge of junk mail, mostly promoting garbage penny stocks, weight-loss 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 terms of actual numbers of delivered spam.
Technical staff Johnathan Thibodeau and Technical Committee Chair Ed Dyer
are working on improving the efficiency of the spam filtering servers to
catch more of the incoming spam.
Chebucto wifi development ongoingDevelopment 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 by wifi nodes, the backbone of 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.
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 wayWork 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
Chebucto services maintenance windowThe 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 guideChebucto Community Net has posted a guide on how to use our RSS news feed here: chebucto.ca/rss/
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 listWith 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 Mozilla.org
Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird free from Mozilla.org
Firewall: Zone Alarm free and paid versions from Zonelabs.com
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 FileZilla.SourceForge.net
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!
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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