backup gmail

I’ve been tasked with backing up and archiving email messages from google apps accounts for a client of mine.  We sat down and came up with a plan to follow.  The goal was to export the email accounts by year from google.  This would put them as mbox files.  These files will then be loaded onto a computer so they could be accessible by thunderbird.

Along the way I’ve realized I am working with 100 GBs of data.  I’ve also come across another way to export.  I can export the messages and save them as pdfs.  I can also export all the attachments to their google drive and from there move them to wherever.  Ideally these files will then all be indexed to make them easy to search.

To me this sounds great.  I love everything to be indexed.  However, the way I search for things can be drastically different than how others LOOK for things.  For example, a person could use labels or folders to organize their emails and then when they want to look for something they navigate to that folder or label.  For me, I search by keywords.  Well, if the emails are converted to all pdfs and indexed then they probably are not labeled or tagged in anyway there by confusing the person who searches by folder/label.

With my initial idea of exporting by date I have found out that searching by date in gmail doesn’t work exactly how they say it would.  I’m not able to select ALL messages.  it doesn’t select sent messages or it doesn’t select hangout conversations.  It also sometimes thinks 2014 is the same as 2013!  I’m not sure what is going on with this but I have wasted too much valuable time.  Also, to create a filter you can’t filter just by date but by date and a keyword.  I can’t believe this oversight on their part.

I think what I am going to test next is to just download the whole email box and break it out manually by year in thunderbird.  I will be using the inporting/exporting plugin.  My next problem is my file server doesn’t have the 100 gbs free on it and it is on a DSL connection.  It would take forever to transfer all that data.  What I am going to try is to put the data on S3, mount it and see if thunderbird can read the data.  I don’t mind if it is a bit laggy.  Sure, I could setup another server on EC2 for it but that would run a larger monthly cost and/or setting up an off and on script isn’t something I have done before.

With this in mind I will propose both ways as options and setup tests for each one to see how they work out.

Since I started this post a few months back I have gone through the steps to try and get the archiving to work.  I am still failing at this!  Thunderbird has a 2 GB folder limit (4 GB in linux) at I can’t even archive 1 email address for 1 year.  I was going to do it by year but now after filling up my 2012 box I am about to say screw you thunderbird.  You SUCK.

My next attempt will be to setup this open sourced mail archive program called Mail Piler.  It is light on the details.  My first install attempt didn’t go so well.  The best install guide out there for this is with CentOS but while I feel confident in getting it up and running I am not so confident in my abilities to fix something if something goes wrong.  All my linux servers are Debian varieties.  With this in mind I am going to make another attempt with Piler.  It sure seems like it will work for me.  They even have a demo site that looked great.


My Reflections on using Custom Firmware in a Router

My Reflections on using Custom Firmware in a Router by Jacoi Frett.

I am going to talk about my experience installing my first custom firmware on a Buffalo Airstation WHR-G54S router. My goal was to get the router to connect to the internet wirelessly and ultimately to change the firmware on it. I was told that this process would provide me an insight as to why people take the time to use special firmware on their routers.

The first step for me was to get the buffalo router to connect to the internet wirelessly.  I thought I could just plug my modem into the router and then connect to the wireless internet.  Unfortunately,  I ran into a problem. I couldn’t get internet access to my router even though i had my router hooked up to my modem properly! Turns out the router was stuck in bridge mode and I just needed to disable bridge mode in the settings.

Once bridge mode was disabled the first thing i did was see if i could access the internet on the router if i hardwired it to my computer. Once i hardwired the router to my computer i still couldn’t get internet access. My next troubleshooting step required a modem reset.  To reset my particular modem (motorola) all you have to do is hold in a pin into a small hole on the back of the modem for 30 seconds.  Normally a person just pulls the power cord out but this modem comes with a battery in it. I also unplugged the router.  After the 30 seconds I waited another five seconds and replugged in the router.  This little trick allows the modem to bind the mac address to the buffalo router. Success!  After resetting the modem i was able to access the internet with wireless and by hardwired.

My next challenge was to get the rest of my devices to connect to the router.  I ran into another problem though. Two of my devices wouldn’t connect to the router!  After checking the settings I realized that I was using the wrong IP addresses. This is because i changed the buffalo router subnet to and my previous router was set to On the two devices that wouldn’t connect to the internet i had set a static IP that corresponded with the subnet. I had to change it to the same subnet as the buffalo router for it to connect.  Once again it worked!

To be certain I was getting a handle on this I setup some port forwarding to make sure that worked.  My test application was UltraVNC.  I was able to connect on the first try!

Next, I changed my firmware from DD-WRT to Tomato. The purpose of this test was to get the hang of several different firmwares and to see what they could do.  I was told that you coul d turn a $25 routers into a $2000 router and I was interested to see why.  Thankfully even switching firmwares to Tomato turned out to be a breeze.  No bricked routers and no issues.  Doing that was simple and I didn’t run into any issues. I downloaded tomato, unzipped the file and in the settings upgraded firmware.

Author: Jacoi Frett, St. Thomas, VI. 

Edited by Ben Uecker

Fake Microsoft Tech Support Calls are back!

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Fake Microsoft Tech Support Calls are Back!  Woohoo!  Last time they called me was a month ago. I spoke to them 4 different times and pretended to enter in their information.  They always start off similarly.  It’s either that your computer is sending out viruses or in this case it was that they needed to show me my computer ID that it is the computer they are talking about.  It’s still the same scam. They want you to enter in a malicous website address in the command prompt by having you hit WINDOWS+R and then typing in cmd.

So last time I spoke with a “supervisor” and confused the hell out of them when I kept telling them that nothing was happening.  This time I just came out and asked how many people do they talk to a day. They said between 10 to 15,000 people a day they “help”.  Somehow we ended up with a lost in translation episode.  They thought I asked them for a job when I said I was in IT.  They transferred me to their “supervisor” who then asked me again if I wanted a job.  I obviously told them no.


In any event keep an eye out for these scoundrels.

DOTA2 should be Banned and Valve can Kiss My Ass for it’s Insensitivity

DOTA2 should be banned.  DOTA2 could be an amazing game but until they get rid of the players being called vulgar words and putting down others it will never be any better than Redneck Rampage.

First time i have played in months and I was called a “noob” and “faggot”.  First, being called a “faggot” should be on the same level as the “n word”.  Second, with over 100 hours logged there is no way I am a “noob” which is suppose to be offensive to those that are called it.

I have complained several times publicly but obviously those piles of money is muffling the sound going towards Valve’s ears.

I played DOTA2 before it went free to play and it was tons more fun than now.  I can’t believe how rude this game is.  What a waste of a Saturday night.

Microsoft Security Essentials Sucks

Microsoft Security Essentials also known as Windows Defender is just no good anymore.  I have been recommending it for years now because of how light-weight it is and for the great price of FREE.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case anymore.  The amount of infections that I have been seeing on Windows 7 machines is worse now than ever.  While I don’t have hard evidence to support that it is a direct result of MSE not being efficient I can point to numerous instances of terrible infections that had an anti-virus installed.

Certainly the best course of action is to just stop using Windows.  We can’t all do that yet and until that day arrives I need to find a way to not spend hours rebuilding infected computers.

As far as recommending a replacement is concern I have only begun to do the research. I do like light-weight and cloud-based security options really entice me on that front.  I have installed Panda on a computer recently and I need to figure out a business solution.

If you use derogatory words you will be Labeled

If you use derogatory words you will be labeled appropriately.  This isn’t a tech post on a very superficial level however this affects everyone on a much higher level.  I want to address this here due to the amount of hits I get.  While I have not had my Christmas ruined I have decided that to take the time to address this behavior.

I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to play a multiplayer game online only to quit and/or report people using derogatory words.  People shouldn’t be using words demeaning to one’s sexual orientation or skin color.   I don’t want to be associated or even have the company of people like that.  In fact, are they even people?  Think about it for a second.  They are demeaning individuals by claiming that a particular thing that they do is wrong based on a characteristic they can’t control.  Is there some type of test one could take to determine if they have the brain capacity to comprehend simple situations.  For example, can these “individuals” even eat from a plate of food while using an eating utensil?  Do they even know what the word “utensil” means?

I wish there more sites and especially the ones that get millions of hits that start to stand up for people’s rights and address this lack of respect.  Some games I have played have addressed these issues (DOTA2) while others have not.  One can see these trolls in comments all over the internet.   Youtube switching over to Google+ comments was partially to address these types of trolls.  I’d much prefer these companies take a vocal and active stand instead of a passive stand.

What is a good Pen PDF application?

thinkpad-stylusI haven’t found a good pen PDF application for android or Windows.  I don’t have an iPad so I don’t know about pen pdf apps on it.  What I mean by a pen PDF is being able to use a stylus to write directly on a PDF and have it save.  First, the adobe reader app for android does do this.  However, the stylus I use has a fat rubber head and I am not sure I will get the lines thin enough with a more pen-like stylus.  I need more accuracy to fill out entries on a pdf.

PDF apps on my Thinkpad 2 tablet are not very good either.  I have tried 3 of them thus far and they have all sucked.  Adobe reader doesn’t support stylus, foxit shows that it can do it but I couldn’t get my stylus or finger to draw anything and the other program I downloaded I can’t even remember it’s name now.

Lastly, Windows built in PDF Reader happens to work the best if I can even use that word.  First, there is no undo, Second, it is lagging and lastly, writing on the table while it is in vertical mode is a waste of time.  It is virtually useless.   You might think that all I would need to do is to turn it back to landscape then, well, at least this tablet has a very difficult time rotating.  For some reason it just won’t rotate if I am looking at a PDF.  Sometimes it doesn’t rotate even if I am in the desktop!

I work about once a week doing independent contractor work at different sites.  As you can expect I have lots of paperwork to fill out.  Instead of wasting the ink and paper to print and bring with I much prefer to have it all in my tablet.  Even if it was printed on paper I would be scanning and emailing the document once I was through with it.  From what I can tell there may be some excellent apps on the iPad that would do what I am looking for.  Unfortunately, I can’t justify the cost of an iPad for just one purpose. Believe me when I say just 1 purpose because I can’t stand how the iPad is locked down.

I am going to keep on searching but I hope I can figure out a solution to this.

Don’t Believe the Articles About the lack of IT Skills

Don’t believe everything you read about the USA companies lacking skilled workers in IT.  I think that the problem is a failure of companies to pay employees properly.  If you look at many of the job descriptions companies want numerous years of experience and then once they find that person they want to provide entry-level pay.

It’s not just IT.  The problem is in many industries and has been around for at least 10 years.  IT gets the coverage now because of the growth in technology.  Companies aren’t going to change their policies overnight but the ones who decide to spend money on training will definitely prosper the most.

Google has combined Currents and Magazines into one app

I have no idea when this happened but I saw it today when looking for the Google Play Books App. Apparently, Google has combined their Currents app and their Magazines app into a new app called newsstand.  If you are not familiar with Currents it was Google’s alternative to Flipboard.  A very poor alternative in my opinion.

I do  get Sports Illustrated digitally but ever since SI got rid of their own app I have never used the Google Magazine app.  After trying to check it out today I can see why.  The app doesn’t seem to work on my tablet.  I open SI and it just flickers on me.  Can’t do anything.

The rest of the newsstand app looked pretty impressive.

Blog Comments are Shifting

Over the past the year I have noticed that many sites have started to change how they manage their blog comments.  Some have changed more than twice in the past year.  I think I changed from the built-in wordpress comments to Disqus over 2 years ago but I may be wrong.

With the Google+ commenting system maturing and with more people gaining experience with it, for better or worse it seems, I am considering moving away from Disqus to Google+.

This isn’t to say that Disqus sucks or is bad or any of that sort of thing.  I was just interested in moving to a different system.  My biggest concern is losing all the current comments.  I will have to research to see if that stuff is saved.

I would also like to mention how much I hate facebook and refuse to use their facebook login when it is offered on the site.  Facebook isn’t the only ones ofcourse but is it fair that these companies get to track our moves and we don’t get compensated for it? It’s like the credit ratings companies.  They get to create profiles for every individual and can literally make or break your life and while it is “your data” you have no say on what they do with it or how they sell it.  Same goes for facebook.  At least with google I use several of their services for free with ads unlike facebook.

Another company out there that I have seen more and more customers use is Livefyre.  Their comment system isn’t too bad either.  No matter what I would like to maintain control over my own content.