Friday, 21 January 2011

Blocking an email address in Gmail

I, like almost everybody else I know, use GMail as a primary or secondary email account. But there is one design feature that I don't like: it's not obvious how to block email from a specific user. Yes Gmail has a fantastic spam filter, but your always going to get that annoying person that is going to send 15 jokes, virus warning, government conspiracies and anything else they receive themselves.

To block a specific email address in Gmail isn't difficult, but it's not very obvious to the casual user. This really could have been a lot simpler, Gmail could easily have added a 'block sender' button, but have chosen not to.

Step 1: Open your Gmail account, at the top of the page, beside the search bar, select the option Create a filter

Step 2: In the From box enter the email address you wish to block. Then select Next Step.

Step 3: Place a tick in the box beside Delete It and then select Create Filter.

That's it, you will not receive any more emails from the blocked address.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Push your free Yahoo mail to K-9

One of the constant problems that keeps on arising in forum after forum post is that users are simply unable to manage their messages from the Yahoo free mail through K-9 the Android open source email client. This annoyed me as I have an old Yahoo account that I still use and I was desperate to get this to work.

A lot of posts simply conclude that it is not possible to do without paying for Yahoo plus, however there is a workaround.

Before we start make sure that you have the computer switched on and it is online.

1. On your Android smartphone, open up the K9 mail application, then press menu and select add account.

2. Enter your yahoo email address and password as instructed and then select Manual setup.

3. Then on the next screen it asks for the type of account, select IMAP.

4. The next screen will be headed Incoming server settings, configure them as shown below:

Username: {your full email address}

password: {your password}

IMAP Server:

Security type: none

Authentication type: PLAIN

Port: 143

If you click on next at this point you will be given an error message about a wrong username and password combination, if you see this simply click on Edit details to return to the previous screen. This is where the majority of users have a problem.

5. At this point return to your PC and go to the Yahoo website, log into your free mail, then immediately log back out.

6. Back to your Android phone, assuming your still at the page we setup in step 4, select next and this time the server check should complete without any errors. This can be a bit temperamental so if this didn't work select Edit details, re-enter your email and password and repeat steps 5 & 6.

7. Now setup the Outgoing server settings as shown below:

SMTP Server:

Security type: SSL (if available)

Port: 465

ensure their is a tick beside Require sign in.

Authentication type: PLAIN

Username: {your full email address}

password: {your password}

But don't click on next just now.

8. Repeat step 5: return to your PC and go to the Yahoo website, log into your free mail, then immediately log back out.

9. Back to your Android phone, assuming your still at the page we setup in step 7, select next, the server check should complete without any errors. Again this part can be a bit temperamental so if this didn't work select Edit details, re-enter your email and password and repeat steps 8 & 9.

10. You are then greeted with a variety of Account options, make sure that there is a tick beside Enable push mail for this account. The other options you can set as you wish. When your happy with your settings select next.

11. Give the mail account a name, although this is optional it is very useful if you plan on running multiple email accounts. Type the name you want others to see when they receive an email from you.

12. Click Done and that is you finished.

You should now have the ability to send and receive emails from your Yahoo account, without the added expense of Yahoo Plus.

This issue gave me a lot of grief, but I hope that this post will save others a lot of time. It's not perfect but it's a workaround.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Ubuntu One music store - without Ubuntu

Purchasing online digital music for me personally is always a bit of a pain. I actively seek to support free formats like Ogg Vorbis, but at the same time I want to listen to a wide variety of music, which often means that I'm restricted to MP3s.

In the past I've purchased a few songs from Amazon, along with a variety of other companies. When Canonical announced that it was launching a music store I thought: great, at least I can support an open source company. I was very disappointed initially when I found out that you had to be an Ubuntu user to benefit from this.

Having used Ubuntu some 4 years ago when I started using Linux, I have worked my way through a variety of distros (and still do to this day) before settling with Gentoo. However the music store is not owned by Canonical, instead it is using 7digital's music store with an Ubuntu front. Ubuntu get a part of the sale, but it is actually 7digital's business, Ubuntu is the agent.

In order to get to the Ubuntu One music store we need only two things:
1) an Ubuntu One account
2) an internet connection

If you are reading this then I'm assuming that you have an internet connection, to sign up to Ubuntu One simply go to to get your free 2GB account. Notice that there is no Ubuntu operating system on that list.

Once you have an account simply go to and your in the Ubuntu One music store. You can now purchase music and support an open source company. To prove this is not an Ubuntu screenshot take a look at the kernel.

The files are sent to your Ubuntu One cloud account where you can move them to your PC very easily. The only issue is that their progress never appears to move, don't worry: they're being downloaded to your Ubuntu One cloud server as you wait. I'm not quite sure why Canonical have tried to limit the music store to Ubuntu users, I am always happy to support open source companies and this view is shared by a lot of other Linux users I know.

Happy musical purchases and please keep supporting open source whenever possible.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

UK Anti-Terrorism poster

The UK has had it's fair share of official muck ups, in fact we almost seem to be famous for it. A while ago a poster was made about our modern day terrorist. This has been passed around a lot of users' email accounts, the poster in question is shown below:

Now myself, along with most of the people that read this had a good laugh, but it did get me thinking: how are the not so "tech savy" people around us reading this?

Well I started looking at what I had in my van, yes that is the start: I drive a van. Terrorist no, I am just a practical minded guy who was sick of ripping up the back seats when I was transporting wood around in my car. I carry a ruck sack all the time with my gym gear in it, it is certainly well packed and bulky. I have two digital cameras, I like to take pictures, but I do not even class myself as an amateur photographer. Anybody that knows me is aware that I have my mobile phone in my hand almost twenty four hours a day, I'm constantly using it to post messages on The final piece of information is a computer, that is the key to tell if somebody is performing illegal activities. Well I do not only have a computer I am well down the geek line, I do not simply use it to play solitaire and write the occasional letter. I am most definitely a power user, and as a result spend a considerable amount of time at my PC.

Do I hit every target that is on the poster telling people to watch out? Yes. Does this mean that I should be treated with suspicion by those around me? I think that a severe lack of common sense was despatched in the design and distribution of the poster. They have chosen everyday objects that many of us own and use without a second thought. A much more realistic alternative was created to put our minds at ease:

I'm sorry that I have to take a serious issue like this in jest, however I think a severe lack of thought went into this part of the campaign. My concern is that geeks in general may be looked at with a lot more suspicion. Will the geek carrying the netbook become the new target for automatic searches at airports? Will the techno-fobs among us actually believe the poster and call the number, legitimately believing that they're doing the right thing? I already feel like we are interrogated enough whenever we travel without adding to it.

I seriously hope that this poster campaign is taken down permanently, if it has not been already.