Tag: gmail

Safety of Information In the Cloud

Posted by – October 19, 2009

This will be me someday...

This will be me someday...

Most of us have probably heard about how T-Mobile failed pretty epically by losing all of their customer’s sidekick data (as the device has no storage of it’s own, it’s all stored in the cloud).  Luckily Microsoft has stated they have been able to recover “most, if not all” of the information.  However consider the fact that when this news broke, T-Mobile openly admitted to not having backups.

Like many Internet users I rely on Google a great deal of the time.  I use their email service, their RSS reader, their office document suite and of course their search engine.  It appears to me Google has a lot of relaly smart people in their ranks and I not only assume but can pretty confidently say I KNOW they keep backups.  How comprehensive these backups are, and how often it’s backed-up I don’t know.

So it seems I put a lot of faith in Google to keep my information safe, but then again I would have thought T-Mobile would have the same obligation.  This is why I was quite amazed upon hearing of The Data Liberation Front which is a team, well I’ll quote the website:

The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products.  We do this because we believe that you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product. We help and consult other engineering teams within Google on how to “liberate” their products.

So basically Google is working to allow YOU (the user) to keep and regulate your own backups without having to find crazy work-arounds like many other services (where their business model is to make it difficult for you to leave).

While most of their help will only help those who are technically minded (such as knowing  to use their forwarding/popmail to grab a copy of all your email as a backup) it’s definitely a step in the right direction.  While cloud computing is definitely making lives easier, it also raises the stakes for catastrophic data loss and we need to be careful to ensure a bad day at Google isn’t a bad year for us.

I’m probably going to write a few guides over the next several weeks on configuring tools and scripts to automating the backup process (as I have been backing up Gmail and other web services for years).

Using Gmail’s IMAP Through Alpine

Posted by – July 5, 2008

Alpine is the FOSS version of Pine, which is now dead software. It’s an excellent command-line text-only email and newsgroup reader which I use as I prefer to do all my work through an ssh shell as opposed to a USB drive as some others choose to do.

I thought I’d quickly help anyone who may be having troubles setting up Google’s GMail IMAP server through Alpine as it took me a little bit of messing around to come up with a solid answer. It’s a pretty easy setup if you know Gmail’s IMAP server addresses and especially easy if you’ve used IMAP in the past.

Simply replace the following variables in your .pinerc configuration file (in your home directory):
# Over-rides your full name from Unix password file. Required for PC-Alpine.
personal-name=YOUR NAME

# Sets domain part of From: and local addresses in outgoing mail.
user-domain=gmail.com

# List of SMTP servers for sending mail. If blank: Unix Alpine uses sendmail.
smtp-server=smtp.gmail.com/submit/user=YOUR USER NAME@gmail.com/novalidate-cert

# Path of (local or remote) INBOX, e.g. ={mail.somewhere.edu}inbox
# Normal Unix default is the local INBOX (usually /usr/spool/mail/$USER).
inbox-path={imap.gmail.com/user=YOUR USER NAME@gmail.com/ssl/novalidate-cert}Inbox

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d strongly suggest checking out this page as well as it’s full of useful information on using alpine and other tips and tricks.