The Technical Side of Email Marketing & Other Ramblings

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MacBook Pro Fan & Battery Issue Fixed, I’m a “Genius”

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m not an Apple Genius but I am a Genius Googler which was how I ultimately solved my issue.  However I did recently overhear a genius at the Apple Store asking another genius how to fix an issue that I knew the answer to so maybe I’m a junior genius.

So here’s the situation, my parents went away on a weeks vacation.  Wait that’s a Will Smith song sorry wrong situation.  About six weeks ago my less than two year old MacBook Pro went from getting between five and six hours of battery time down to around two and a half hours if I was lucky.  I didn’t think much of it at the time because I usually have it plugged in and I wasn’t traveling anywhere so it wasn’t a big deal.  After a few weeks, I realized that I could barely make it through my DVR’d @HistoryChannel Swamp People and Pawn Stars before completely draining the battery.  Now it was getting annoying and I needed to get this issue solved.  Before making a genius appointment and heading over to the Apple Store I figured I would try a few things on my own to see if I could fix it.  I used my mad Google skills to search for things like “MacBook Pro battery draining”, “MacBook Pro eats battery” and finally, “Why the F is my MacBook Pro battery life sucking even though nothing is running” but all the things mentioned didn’t seem to solve the problem.  I tried a few more things on my own like:

* Checking Activity Monitor for rouge apps running
* Removing old applications that I don’t use anymore
* Removing some new applications I had recently installed
* Reduce the size of my Entourage database (I know reducing it to zero and removing it from my Mac would be better but I have been lazy in that aspect.)
* Archive old files
* Run the battery out and charge it back up

During the process of trying out these things it would trick me every once in a while and show me three and a half hours so I felt like I was making progress then it would quickly drop down to under two hours shattering my hopes that I was truly a genius.  None of these things seemed to do it and it was starting to get annoying so I broke down and made a reservation at the Genius bar.  I gave them the long and short of what was going on as my personal genius processed it all.  They ran a diagnostic test on my baby and she came back healthy as a horse.  They then ran a battery test on it and it showed that it was more than 50% used up.  He then suggested that a new battery would probably fix the issue.  I excitedly agreed because the test seemed to verify that the battery was on it’s way out since 50% use seemed logical that I would be getting only about 2.5 hours of use.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the battery in stock so they had to order it.  My luck seemed to continue when I received a call the next morning that my battery was in.  I made another genius appointment so I didn’t have to wait around.  The genius had the new battery in, in about 10 minutes which unfortunately didn’t have a full charge.  When I turned it on I was not very optimistic when I saw that the battery life at around 50% was reading around 1.5 hours.  This was about where I was before.  The genius asked that I go home and charge it up fully and check it again.  I reluctantly left the store and went home to charge it up.  After a full charge, the time had come to pull the plug and test er out.  I pulled out the plug and watched after a few minutes as the battery was being eaten up.  Now here is where most people would call Apple and freak out, not my style, I was determined to get this fixed without freaking out.

I called Apple Support and spent time on multiple calls over a two day period however my brand new battery was no better than my old battery.  After almost giving up I changed my google search criteria a little bit after realizing that my fan was ALWAYS on and my mac was running very hot.  I searched for “macbook pro fan always running” and low and behold, I came across this article by Tom Meagher from June 2009.  After reading Tom’s article, I checked my printers under preferences but didn’t see any rouge print jobs.  My hopes of getting this resolves yet again seemed shattered but I read on determined that I was on the right track.  I noticed one of the posts mentioned using the Unix utility lpstat  I wasn’t familiar with this utility but knowing that many unix commands and utilities are built in to the OSX, it seemed logical that this could be my answer.  I typed in “lpstat” and saw a job that was trying to print to my home Canon color printer. I used the “cancel” command to cancel the job and like magic the fan shut off and within a minute or so my battery life shot up to 7 hours.  I literally jumped for joy that my ordeal was finally over. I called my wife to tell her the good news. When I told her the details including the date of the print job she paused for a moment and asked me if I knew the significance of that date.  I thought for a second and then it clicked. The day in question was my daughters birthday and the print job in question were pictures of her and her friends for an art project that kept getting g stuck. I ended up printing it from another computer and forgetting about it because I was in a rush.

So I guess the moral of this story is that if you continue to refine your Google search and don’t get frustrated then you too can feel like a genius.  Oh and some patience, you gotta have some patience.

ISP Deliverability Information – FBL, Postmaster, and Much More

As I’m putting the finishing touches on one of the three blog posts that I have been working on, I took a side step to publish this list.  I have been compiling this list for a while of ISP information and noticed that it would come in handy for my upcoming post regarding email deliverability myths.  This list includes ISP information and links to their feedback loops and who operates them, bulk sender forms, RBL (Real-time Black Lists) lookups and removal forms.

NOTE: This list is a work in progress and if you have any information you would like to see added, please send me a message and I will include it and of course give you credit.

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
Bulk Sender Form –
Yahoo Mail Delivery Form –
Operated By – Return Path

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
Whitelist Signup –
DKIM Information –
Operated By – AOL

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
RBL Lookup –
Operated By – Return Path

BlueTie (Excite, IWon, My Way)
Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
Operated By – Return Path

Microsoft Smart Data Services – Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, MSN
SNDS Signup –
Postmaster –
Operated By – Microsoft
Note: You must have a Windows Live ID to signup

SpamCop (SPAM Reporting Service)
Signup –
Operated By – SpamCop
Note: This is the signup page for “ISP features”

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
Operated By – Return Path

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
RBL Lookup –
Operated By – Return Path

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
RBL Removal –
Operated By – Return Path

Feedback Loop Signup –
Postmaster –
Operated By – Return Path

United Online (Juno Netzero)
Postmaster –
Trusted List Signup –

Bulk Sender Form-

Feedback Loop –
Operated By – Return Path

Postmaster –
RBL Removal –

Feedback Loop Signup –
Operated By – Return Path

Feedback Loop Signup –
Operated By – Return Path

Whitelist Signup –



I have been following the OLPC Project for a while and found it to be incredibly valuable as well as something that is extremely important to me being in the technology industry as well as having a child of my own. The people behind it are doing something so monumental for children in developing countries; they are giving them the chance to LEARN. For most of these kids it’s an opportunity to have a tool that can give them the confidence to get ahead. Well, while watching House tonight, my wife was fast forwarding through the commercials when I saw one of the little green laptops fly by. I asked her to go back so I could see the commercial and that’s when I learned about the “Give One Get One” program (which you can read more about HERE.) As soon as I got in front of the computer, I signed up. Not only does it give a child in a third world country the chance to learn, it also gives my daughter the chance to learn as well. She doesn’t know it yet (I will tell her in the morning) but she did something great for a child who needs it a lot more than she does. Some of the stats are amazing…“While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States).”I will be writing more on this topic soon as well as keep everyone posted on what it’s like when it arrives.

How Open Source Stacks Up – By Joe McKendrick

How Open Source Stacks Up – By Joe McKendrick

The following article was published in Database Trends and Applications Magazine
as well as on their online version:

For a number of years, there has been a great deal of momentum behind Linux, the
open source operating system. Now open source is proliferating up the stack, to
the database level, to middleware, to development tools, and to applications
themselves. Companies are increasingly moving to mixed stacks, which comprise
the best open source and commercial solutions, depending on business

For example, ETAI, a leading provider of technical information for the
automotive, manufacturing and retail industries, uses a mixed stack that
includes open source software, but proprietary products as well. Philippe Bobo,
director of software and information systems at ETAI, told DBTA that this was
necessary because the company works with a variety of database formats,
including MySQL, DB2/ 400, Access, SQL Server, Oracle, Excel, and XML.

While there are a wide variety of open source solutions emerging in all parts of
the stack, a new survey conducted for the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG)
by Unisphere Research found that most open source applications are still being
deployed to support peripheral functions, versus core mission critical
enterprise applications.

While companies are receptive to the concept of open source software its stigma
of being unsupported ‘freeware’ evaporated some time ago many IT managers still
crave the guaranteed support and robustness that commercial grade products
promise. For open source databases, for example, “the greatest challenge is
meeting the ‘three Rs’: reliability, reliability, reliability,’ said Eugene
Ciuranae, director of systems infrastructure for Leap Frog, a major toy
manufacturer. Clustering, grid, and other forms of replication aren’t as mature
in open source databases. Their reliability is still relatively low when
compared against the major commercial vendors. Even with the increasing
reliability of many open source offerings, there’s another obstacle simply
cutting through commercial vendor hype, or finding the time to test various
products. For example, Ciuranae pointed out that the market is not fully
educated yet when it comes to open source middleware options. The open source
middleware pieces are in most cases more robust than commercial offerings
because they are engineered toward truly embracing heterogeneous systems, he
said. Unfortunately, many enterprise people are too afraid to go open source, or
the company’s policy doesn’t allow it, or the architects are receiving only
partial information from their entrenched vendors, and have no time or means of
learning about other options.’

Caution Still Advised

While open source software up and down the technology stack offers many
advantages, both experts and end users advise caution, and weighing the
advantages of going open source versus sticking with a commercial brand. In
fact, 54 percent of 226 executives and professionals responding to the IOUG
survey said one of the greatest limitations to open source was that it lacked
the robust enterprise support that many commercial packages have. Another 47
percent added that they are concerned that many open source packages do not
offer 24×7 support, while 35 percent question the security such software offers.

End-users agreed that support is still a sticking point for open source
solutions. While Rich Moraski, director of knowledge engineering for RealOps,
finds there are ‘fewer and fewer issues all the time’ with open source
solutions, support still remains the largest drawback. To some extent, ‘you get
what you pay for’ is relevant here, he told DBTA. That said, online forums are
typically regularly monitored by knowledgeable people who can either point out
what you’re doing wrong, or identify the issue as something in the process of
being corrected. Michael Weisel, CTO at
Gold Lasso, an
email marketing company, agreed that
there is less support with open source products, and that while it is available
out in the community, companies need to be proactive in going out to find
answers to issues. ‘It is important for us to make sure to keep up with systems,
grow and remain up to date within the open source arena so that a company can
keep making their product better,’ he told DBTA. ‘Gold
is constantly researching limitations and bugs, which is more of a
challenge than using another type of product. At other companies, such as
Microsoft or Oracle, if someone finds weakness, a patch is put out. Open source
has a community, and solutions are available, but you have to search for the
answer. Twenty-four percent of the IOUG survey respondents also expressed
concern about the availability of skills to build, manage, and use open source
solutions, a sentiment echoed across the industry. Seth Hishmeh, co-founder and
chief operating officer for USAS Technologies, which runs both MySQL and
Microsoft SQL Server within its data center, told DBTA that open source skills
might be difficult to find. ‘In some cases, it may still be more beneficial for
companies to use products such as Microsoft SQL Server it may be easier for them
to find Microsoft developers.

For less technical users, it may be better to utilize more well known
applications such as Crystal Reports, and to have a central company to contact
for support issues.’ ‘The biggest challenge is finding people that know the open
source database. Many will know Microsoft or another major database,’ agreed
Weisel. Overall, the IOUG survey uncovered a mixed picture with open source
adop­tion. The survey found that open source is prevalent at many levels of the
enterprise, and most organizations intend to increase their use of open source
over the coming year. In fact, the percentage of enterprises running a majority
of their applications on open source infra­structure is up from early 2006, the
first time this question was asked in an IOUG survey. At that time, nine percent
ran most applications on open source, compared to 13 percent at present. Leading
types of open source products include Web servers such as Apache (adopted by 60
percent), operating systems such as Linux (58 per­cent), application servers
such as JBoss and Tomcat (45 percent), and databases such as MySQL and
PostgreSQL (35 percent). The IOUG survey also found that open source tools and
platforms are also being adopted to aid IT depart­ments in developing and
managing data center environments. For example, 30 percent of companies use open
source development tools such as Eclipse and NetBeans. Another 21 percent are
adopting open source frameworks, and 13 percent are using open source
man­agement environments.

Adoption not Deep

ETAI, which needs to process and man­age data in a variety of formats, turned to
an open source data integration solution Talend Open Studio to address handling
disparate open source and proprietary databases and files. ‘At ETAI, our
business consists of producing and selling data,’ Bobo explained. For example,
in the automotive industry, ETAI collects raw data from suppliers vehicles and
parts manufacturers consolidates and reconciles this data, and sells
applications based on the thus created technical database. Each time a new
version of a database product is released over a hundred times a year all of the
repositories need to be processed, which is very time consuming and always
presents data quality challenges.’ However, adoption of these solutions
typically does not run deep, the IOUG survey also found. In most cases, fewer
than 10 percent of enterprise application portfolios are supported or interact
with open source systems. Leap Frog’s Ciuranae concurred, noting that in the
database arena for example, Oracle remains the database to go to for mis­sion-
critical systems. Open source databases are being adopted for non mission
critical, non transactional operations. Leap Frog, for example, uses MySQL for
some caching func­tions but not for business sensitive data.’ Still, there are
critical areas where open source adoption is well suited, such as projects that
may not have required funding. ‘Open source databases are a great resource for
new projects or ideas that require information technology infrastructure at very
low cost,’ Oscar Zamora, senior database administrator for Global Resource
Systems, told DBTA. ‘Many new companies that have a low budget will tend to use
an open source database to accomplish a core solution for its businesses. It can
be used for URL tracking, content management, storing redirect statistics and
reporting.’ Open source approaches lower a barrier to entry for companies that
are just getting established. Gold Lasso’s
Weisel told DBTA that ‘from the very
beginning, Gold Lasso started to use open
source, and migrated their existing programs to PostgreSQL for mission critical
application as well as to MySQL. We did this to avoid paying big license fees.
It seemed to be the only way to do business without raising huge amounts of
money first.’

Growing Use

The more a company relies on one open source part of the stack, the more likely
it will also be moving to open source for other functions up and down the stack.
LAMP [Linux Apache MySQL Perl/ Python/PHP] stack solutions are widely used with
open source databases,’ he observed. ‘It is common to see a Linux server running
Apache Web server and a MySQL instance, to track and deliver dynamic content.’
Ross Turk, community manager for, agreed that there is a strong
connection across the technology stack between various open source solutions.
The project database ‘is bursting with technology built upon
open source database engines, with just over 10,000 projects that specify a
requirement for either MySQL or PostgreSQL,’ he told DBTA. These two databases
have unquestionably established themselves as best of breed choices to support
open source applications.’ He added that ‘many open source Java projects make
heavy use of Hibernate, an ORM solution, or rely on JBoss, Tomcat, or a
combination of the two.’ The IOUG survey found a strong cor­relation between
adoption of open source databases or middleware and adoption in other parts of
the enterprise. For example, those companies with open source databases (such as
MySQL or PostgreSQL) were more likely to be running open source OSs such as
Linux (72 percent versus 60 percent for the general survey group) and more
likely to be running an open source application server such as JBoss or Tomcat
(72 percent versus 45 percent overall). The survey even found that open source
database sites are much more likely to be receptive to open source desktop
applications such as OpenOffice (23 percent versus 13 percent).

The correlation also applies to open source middleware or application server
adoption. Those companies with open source middleware solutions (such as JBoss)
were also more likely to be running open source at the OS level (73 percent
versus 58 percent) and using open source development tools such as Eclipse (51
percent versus 30 percent).

For some companies, the mix of open source solutions has delivered performance
gains as well. For example, Journyx, a provider of online time and expense
tracking solutions, has been running 200 customer accounts on PostgreSQL since
1999 without so much as a hiccup. ‘We have never had any downtime related to
bugs in this system,’ Curt Finch, CEO of Journyx, told DBTA.

Journyx has extended its operations with a range of open source solutions. ‘ All
of our software is written in Python, an open source language, and runs on
Apache, an open source Web server,’ Finch related. ‘We have the full support of
Red Hat and IBM for the OS and hardware respectively for our SaaS setup. Many
businesses run their criti­cal payroll, billing and project account­ing
functions through our system, and we are committed to providing a stable
platform. We couldn’t do this nearly as easily without open source technologies
that are mostly virus free and relatively but never completely immune to
security attacks.’ Finch added, ‘Microsoft platforms are ill-suited to a high
availability SaaS data center envi­ronment.’ Many products are now bundling a
range of open source solutions together into a single package, SourceForge’s
Turk observes. ‘A good example of enterprise software that relies on open source
middleware and database engines is Hyperic HQ, a systems man­agement and
monitoring suite, which comes bundled with PostgreSQL, Tomcat, and JBoss.
OrangeHRM, an HR information system, and Zimbra, an enterprise messaging and
collaboration suite, rely on MySQL. And, of course, there are many examples of
enterprise software that support both open source and proprietary database
solutions, such as Pentaho, a business intelligence platform, and OpenBravo, a
Web-based ERP. Also, Jasper Reports, a very well ­established reporting
framework, plays nicely with both open source and pro­prietary databases through

Shopping around for Collocation, do I really need my Retinas Scanned?

Armed with the knowledge that I needed, I began shopping around the Washington Metro and Baltimore Areas for a new home for our servers and thought I would share our story.It all began when we received a certified letter from our Collocation facility, that they would be kicking us (along with everyone else that is colo’d there) out at the end of November. We have been very fortunate over the last three years to have been in a facility that fit our immediate needs. I always knew in the back of my mind that we would eventually outgrow the facility and that it would only be a matter of time before we started shopping around. For what we had, the price was right, the proximity was ok (about 40 minutes away with no traffic) the internet pipe was great, they had a decent backup in place, yet the service always lacked. Fortunately for us we didn’t need a lot of help, but it seemed that the times we did, we couldn’t get it. With that in mind, I had a few features that I definitely wanted when we inked a deal with a new facility. First and foremost I wanted an established, reliable facility with a reliable internet backbone that could grow with our growing needs. Secondly, I wanted security with someone on site 24 hours a day. Next would be an above average backup scheme with a good disaster plan. Lastly, I wanted something fairly close in proximity.Thus, my journey had begun…I started my search like anyone else in our situation would, fired up my browser and went to Google. Of course my initial search was overwhelming and pointed me towards everything from web hosting, to bargain racks, to bunkers, and everything in between. After tweaking my search criteria I was on the right track. At the same time I spoke to some colleagues throughout the region looking for some recommendations.First off there are a ton of facilities in our area, and a lot of them are very expensive for our needs. Although our data and our clients data is extremely important to us and our business depends on it, I have hard time justifying thousands of extra dollars to have biometric hand and retina scanners, bomb proof bunkers, and multi layered infrastructures. I definitely understand the need for high security, and I know that there are many companies that need that type of security, but we aint one of them. Our client’s data security is one of my top priorities, but I’m not sure any of them would want to pay more for our services so we could get our eyes and possibly other body parts scanned.I spoke with one facility in Northern Virginia which will remain nameless that sounded fantastic if I wanted to raise my family there in case of a nuclear holocaust. Some of the stats that I was told made my techie eyes light up and got my thinking that if maybe I sold off my first born on eBay, by golly we could afford to move our servers there. Although, I started thinking about it and realized that my SuperMicro and mid tier Dell servers may not be welcomed in such a high class facility. It would be like buying Donald Trump’s Penthouse and furnishing it with lawn chairs and empty recycling bins for tables.During my search, I came across a company called COLOTRAQ out of New Jersey which is a free service dedicated to finding collocation facilities in your area. For the facilities, it’s a subscription based service that they can choose or choose not to be a part of. After filling out my initial requirements in an easy to use online form, I was contacted the next day by Doug Egeth of the Client Support Group. Doug explained to me the process and informed me that facilities would be contacting me for their business which I definitely liked since I didn’t have the time to make phone calls all day. After asking me a few questions to tweak my profile, he informed me that I should start hearing from facilities in the next few hours. He was correct; I was contacted a few hours later by a number of facilities in Baltimore via email and by phone. Most of the prices that I received were right on target with one another but still a little bit out of our budget range. I was quickly realizing that our current facilities pricing scheme was way below the regions average and had to prepare my team for a big bump up in price.

Before I had contacted Doug at COLOTRAQ, I had spoken with I had spoken with Scott Samborn at Mosaic Technologies in Rockville, MD. Scott was very knowledgeable and very willing to try and make something work. After my initial conversation with Scott, I had a better understanding of his business model, and began leaning towards the local guy. Like many of the facilities that I had researched, Mosaic was a reseller of space within an already established facility. Scott and I went back and forth for a few days comparing needs and pricing until we moved in to an affordable pricing plan with plenty of room to grow that met all of our companies needs. One of the most enticing pieces for me was the location, downtown Silver Spring a couple of blocks from the Discovery Building and another couple of blocks from the Verizon CO. This to me meant bandwidth up the wazoo!!

Next up would be to arrange a tour of the facility which I was pretty excited about. Without any traffic, it took us about 20 minutes to get down there including parking which we had to pay for. I wasn’t crazy about the paid parking, especially since I only had one quarter with me. I asked a Ride-On bus driver for change but he shot me down before I could finish my sentence. I found another Ride-On bus driver across the street and when I asked him he said he didn’t have any change so desperately I said to him, “I will give you a dollar for fifty cents.” He was about to say no when I think it clicked in his head what I was offering and he coughed up two quarters. Did I really just give a guy fifty cents to feed a meter? Oh well, fifty cents is a small price to pay for not getting at least a $15.00 parking ticket. None the less, I could cross off number four on my mental list with regards to proximity. When we arrived at the suite, I noticed the sign on the door read, “ATLANTECH” which I immediately recognized from years of being in the IT industry. Atlantech had been around since the dial-up days and I knew they had their act together. I was able to cross number one off my mental list for established and reliable. The first thing that we noticed was the entry to the facility which was housed with a 24 hour a day manned security booth. This checkpoint is the entry way in and out of the facility. Number two was now crossed off my list. Another plus was that the guys in the security booth are also tech’s so you always know that there is someone there if need be. After we were checked in, and no my retinas were not scanned, we were then given an impressive tour of the facility. There were cameras everywhere to ensure that people were where they were supposed to be and not walking out with someone else’s servers. They also had a separate room off of the main server room that was setup so that if you needed to work on your servers you could do it without sitting on the floor like we had previously had to do. The room was equipped with security cameras, as well as a DHCP’d network jack so that we could plug in a server or a laptop while we worked on it. This to us was a nice added touch. The facility was expanding to add some new state of the art features so there was some construction going on which we didn’t mind. It was nice and cool as it should be and there were multiple AC units placed strategically throughout the floor. We were also shown the electrical features, as well as where the internet pipes come in which again was pretty impressive. They showed us where our servers would go if we decided to go with them, which was in a nice convenient area. Once that portion of the tour had concluded, we were taken down to the garage area to see the backup system. Opening up the door, revealed a huge Mercedes diesel generator connected to a 1,000 gallon fuel tank with an endless supply of power. The fuel tank can be completely filled in 3 minutes. In the eight years located in Silver Spring, they only had to fire it up once and people were begging them for power. All in all, the facility was quite impressive for the price and barring any issues, it will be our server’s new home in another few weeks.

Now comes the fun part, organizing a move!! Stay tuned for the next adventure…