Google Mail stupidity

I just received an email on my Gmail account. It was an odd email, apparently from Microsoft, but that’s another subject. As I often do with suspicious emails, I checked out the full headers, and the To: address was wrong. My Gmail address has a dot in it, and this address was dot-less. Next to the address was the comment:
(Yes, this is you. Learn more.)
So I clicked on the link, and this is what I read:

Am I receiving someone else’s email?
Google Mail does not recognise dots (.) as characters within a username. This way, you can add and remove dots to your username for desired address variations. Messages sent to and are delivered to the same inbox, since the characters in the username are the same.
Keep in mind that hyphens (-) and underscores (_) cannot be used in a Google Mail address. In addition, usernames are not case sensitive. Therefore, it does not matter if you enter upper case or lower case letters.
If you created your account with a dot in your username and you wish you had not, you can change your ‘Reply-to address’. To change your reply-to address:

  1. Click ‘Settings’ at the top of any Google Mail page.
  2. Enter your without a dot in the ‘Reply-to address’ field.
  3. Click ‘Save Changes’.

When you log in to Google Mail, you need to enter any dots that were originally defined as part of your username.

This seems utterly clueless to me. Not only does it ignore the spirit (if not the letter) of the relevant RFCs, it also violates the principle of least surprise. In every other email system that I know of, the strings “” and “” represent different addresses. To Google, these are the same address. And they aren’t even consistent, as the final sentence makes clear.
Case-insensitivity is fine. After all, everything after the “@” in an address is case-insensitive, and we’ve got plenty of experience with Win/Mac file names. But ignoring punctuation? Of those folks who try adding or subtracting dots, how many will realize that it only applies to the left of the “@”, and only with Gmail? And just think of how many systems require you to use your email address as a username. I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to allow you to add random dots to your address when you log in….
I’m still thinking through the many different ways in which this sucks – with spam, digital signatures, inter-system forwarding, whitelisting/blacklisting schemes, etc. Once you screw with the identity function in any system, bad things are likely to follow.
Sorry, Google – you just lost about 6 INT points (and a couple of CHR as well). What a stupid design. Even though it will be a tedious chore, I think I’m going to dump my Gmail account and switch to Yahoo! – they allow punctuation characters and don’t mess around with them.

So much for good intentions

I had planned to spent this morning on a bunch of housekeeping chores that I’ve been putting off. So much for good intentions…. While I was having my first cup of coffee and checking my email, I “accidentally” found myself unwrapping a DVD that had just arrived from Alec, and slipping it into the conveniently-placed slot in the front of my PowerBook. And so for the last couple of hours I’ve been transported across time and the Atlantic….
Divine Comedy at the Palladium
It’s a wonderful performance, anchored by six songs from the just-released album Absent Friends and including most of the older favourites like “National Express”, “Generation Sex”, “Tonight We Fly”, and “Something for the Weekend”. For me, the highlights are probably “Leaving Today” and “Sunrise”, with which he closes.
The only disappointment is the complete lack of songs from Regeneration. I know that it was a stylistic departure, and doesn’t match the range of the instrumental ensemble in this show, but it would have been nice to hear “Note to Self” or “Perfect Lovesong. Never mind.
Thanks, Alec. And now I guess I’ll have to reschedule the rest of my weekend….

River's back

River’s back. I’m sure I’m not the only person who checked her blog regularly, saw no new postings, and wondered with a sinking heart whether she had fallen victim to the violence that engulfs her country. As she said,

This has been the longest time I have been away from blogging. There were several reasons for my disappearance the major one being the fact that every time I felt the urge to write about Iraq, about the situation, I’d be filled with a certain hopelessness that can’t be put into words and that I suspect other Iraqis feel also.

And then she rips into those who are criticizing the latest Johns Hopkins/Lancet study.

There are Iraqi women who have not shed their black mourning robes since 2003 because each time the end of the proper mourning period comes around, some other relative dies and the countdown begins once again.

As Andrew Sullivan puts it, “How to disagree? She is living this nightmare. We are merely watching it unfold.”

What starship do I belong on?

Via Terry:

You scored as Moya (Farscape). You are surrounded by muppets. But that is okay because they are your friends and have shown many times that they can be trusted. Now if only you could stop being bothered about wormholes.

Moya (Farscape)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Serenity (Firefly)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


FBI’s X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

A test (to see if is picking this up)

Lorem ipsum, something, something something. It appears that the ex-Sun community aggregator lost track of my blog, which is ironic since mine was the first to be included. Oh, well. Thanks to Oz for catching it, and Linda for (hopefully) fixing it.

UPDATE: Well, it looks like it still isn’t fixed. I’m back on the list of aggregated blogs, but my stuff isn’t showing up. I’m not sure why: this is a pretty vanilla WordPress configuration…..

An informed alternative viewpoint

The Iraq Body Count project has analysed the new Johns Hopkins/Lancet study and disagrees with it. It’s worth noting, of course, that the apologists for the war who have attacked the Lancet also get hysterical about the Iraq Body Count. Sane people agree that tens of thousands of civilians have been killed as a result of a morally indefensible war; the only disagreement is over the exact number. The IBC view:

There has been enormous interest and debate over the newly published Lancet Iraqi mortality estimate of 655,000 excess deaths since the invasion, 601,000 of them from violence (and including combatants with civilians). Even the latter estimate is some 12 times larger than the IBC count of violent civilian deaths reported in the international news media, which stands at something under 50,000 for the same period (although the IBC figure for this period is likely to considerably increase with the addition of as yet unprocessed data). The new Lancet estimate is also almost the same degree higher than any official records from Iraq. This contrast has provoked numerous requests for comment, and these are our first observations.
The researchers, and in particular their Iraqi colleagues who carried out the survey, should be commended for undertaking it under dangerous circumstances and with minimal resources. Efforts like theirs have consistently highlighted that much more could be done by official bodies, such as the US and UK governments, to assess the human suffering that has resulted from the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
However, our view is that there is considerable cause for scepticism regarding the estimates in the latest study, not least because of a very different conclusion reached by another random household survey, the ILCS, using a comparable method but a considerably better-distributed and much larger sample. […]
What emerges most clearly from this study is that a multi-methodological approach and much better resourced work is required. Substantially more deaths have occurred than have been recorded so far, but their number still remains highly uncertain.

John Quiggin also has some interesting thoughts about the continuing air war in Iraq, based on the US Air Force’s own reports. (Apparently the mainstream media doesn’t think it’s worth reporting. Liberal bias, innit?)

PSB on Guy Fawkes' Night

I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under, but it took Andrew Sullivan’s poignant review of the Pet Shop Boys’ American tour to get me out from under it. Fortunately the PSB don’t hit Seattle until November 5, so I was able to score a ticket (MEZ15, H9). Now all I have to do is find the Paramount Theatre…. (OK, that was easy.)

[I’ve noticed that most US tours by European artists progress from east to west. I figure that if I watch for reviews in Boston and New York, I should still be able to buy tickets in time for Seattle shows.]

what goes around….

Brief summary of flight so far. 5pm BOS-ORD is delayed until 7:20pm. ATC flow control into ORD. Some passengers had been at BOS since 6am: several flights cancelled. Flight uneventful (at FL260 to stay below the weather.) Approach controller at ORD screwed up, so our flight was waved off about 5 miles out. The missed approach/go-around delayed us until 10pm CDT. Fortunately UA rebooked me on a later SEA flight (sched at 10:10pm, but now set for 11:15).

Fun and games…..

UPDATE: The ORD-SEA flight didn’t actually take off until around midnight CDT, and despite efforts to shorten the routing we landed at 1:30am PDT. There weren’t any cabs to be seen, so I wandered down to the bus stop and finished Anansi Boys while waiting for the next bus to Seattle (at 2:40am). I’m rather glad that I did: the clientele on that bus was “colourful” (and occasionally noisy)! I finally got to bed at 3:30am, woke at 7:00am, and was just 2 minutes late for my 8am breakfast meeting at Andaluca on 4th and Stewart after walking across town.
I expect to sleep well tonight…..