ViMbAdmin and Vacation / Out of Office Auto-responders

An FAQ post for future reference because, well, it’s a FAQ!

ViMbAdmin is primarily a database frontend for managing virtual mailboxes with mail services such as Postfix and Dovecot.

A frequently asked question is does it / can it support vacation / out of office auto-responders. The short answer is no.

The main way to handle OOO responders is via SIEVE (e.g. Dovecot’s version). To put a front end on this, you need a server configured for external SIEVE management and a client with SIEVE support (which ViMbAdmin does not have).

I’ve done it in three ways in the past:

  1. directly editing the .dovecot.sieve file. This is only really good for people with access to the server and some clue.
  2. Using a Thunderbird plugin allowing editing of SIEVE files. Again, clue required.
  3. For one customer, they can do it via the SoGO web interface we installed for them. This is a very nice interface for people migrating from Exchange.

We did look at fixing a Thunderbird Out of Office plugin but didn’t get very far.

What we all need here is for someone for write / sponsor a decent SIEVE based Thunderbird OOO plugin. Here’s some prior art: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/sieve.

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Cordova, Facebook, Android and no Eclipse

This post relates to creating an Android application with Facebook support (via phonegap-facebook-plugin using Cordova 3.5 and, specifically, without Eclipse. Most existing documentation expects you to spin up Eclipse to link the Facebook libraries – but, we’re using an automated build system with Grunt so that’s not a possibility.

Firstly – the steps to get it working:

  1. Add the Cordova Facebook plugin:
    cordova plugin add https://github.com/phonegap/phonegap-facebook-plugin \
        --variable APP_ID="1234567890" 
        --variable APP_NAME="Test App"
  2. Edit platforms/android/project.properties and add:
    android.library.reference.2=FacebookLib
    

    where n is the next available reference index. Also note the target parameter here as you’ll need it next:

  3. Update the Android project for the plugin:
    cd platforms/andoird/FacebookLib
    android update project --target android-19 -p .
    

     where android-19 should match the target parameter from above.

  4. Prepare and build your application:
    cordova prepare android
    cordova compile android
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Net Neutrality

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Shatter’s Donation

Our Taoiseach – who cannot seam to string a coherent sentence together most of the time – said, if you can parse it, the following of Alan Shatter’s donation:

“I think nobody can complain about the benefit that the children who are in the care, the subject of attention from Jack and Jill, nobody can complain about it.”

He was of course referring to Alan Shatter donating the €70,000 severance pay he is due to the Jack and Jill foundation.

What’s effectively happening here is that Alan Shatter, a member of the governing party and a cabinet minister until recently, is effectively saying that he doesn’t trust his own partners in Government to spend this money more wisely than he can.

Typical of Shatter’s arrogance. And a damning critique of Kenny.

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Development Contracts

At Open Solutions, we tend to undertake a lot of fixed price contracts to develop web applications. In fact, clients usually insist on fixed price contracts as they want to know in advance what the bill will be.

However, fixed price contracts have big negatives for both parties:

  • for the client, a fixed price contract can often limit them to their earliest ideas. Now, as a service provider, we want to be flexible and so we’re happy to chop and change as a project develops. But, this leads to:
  • for the service provider, if change and revision requests are not carefully managed agreed and billed for, the service provider could very quickly end up making a loss on the contract and thus find themselves in the position of funding their clients project!

To this end, we’ve recently been reviewing various web development contracts and have found some nice inspiration for basing our own on.

Following the success of Killer Contract, Andy wrote a plain language NDA (also available as a Gist).

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EU Data Retention Directive Declared Invalid

The Court of Justice of the European Union today declared the Data Retention Directive invalid in a joint case brought by Digital Rights Ireland and an Austrian group. This is a great win by privacy advocates against a law that was over reaching, uncontained and unsafe. The courts own press release is a short three page read but some of the key elements include (all emphasis theirs):

  • the data “may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented”;
  • the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data
  • “the directive covers, in a generalised manner, all individuals, all means of electronic communication and all traffic data without any differentiation, limitation or exception being made in the light of the objective of fighting against serious crime”
  • “the directive fails to lay down any objective criterion which would ensure that the competent national authorities have access to the data and can use them only for the purposes of prevention, detection or criminal prosecutions concerning offences that … may be considered to be sufficiently serious to justify such an interference” and “the directive does not lay down substantive and procedural conditions under which the competent national authorities may have access to the data and subsequently use them”
  • “the directive does not provide for sufficient safeguards to ensure effective protection of the data against the risk of abuse and against any unlawful access and use of the data.”
  • and, shockingly (if none of the above was shocking enought), “the directive does not require that the data be retained within the EU“.

This is indeed a good day for digital rights, privacy rights and common sense. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers at Digital Rights Ireland.

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