Easy Photo Gallery released

The new Photo Gallery (which has been in testing on the beta site for some time) is now available for everyone to use. Here you can see examples of the photo gallery in action:

To use it

  • upload your photos into a folder in your file storage
  • go to Websites, and create a new website for that folder (perhaps “photos.yourusername.fastmail.fm”), specifying Publish As: “Photo gallery – slides” or “Photo gallery – film strip”

That’s it! Now your friends can view your photos by going to photos.yourusername.fastmail.fm.

You can specify comments for your photos by going to the folder with your photos in file storage, selecting the Action: “View as photos”, and then clicking “Do”. Now you should be able to enter a comment for each picture.

I’ll be adding a detailed FAQ section in the next day or so.

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Frontend services now on new replicated infrastructure

I’ve switched our frontend services (IMAP, POP, Authenticated SMTP, FTP, Web) over to two new machines in a replicated infrastructure.

Each service has two IP addresses – which are prioritised to run on different servers – but if either of the servers fails or is shut down for any reason, the IP address will migrate quickly (maximum timeout, 20 seconds) to the other host.

These machines will be placed (eventually, still waiting on cabinet migration plan to complete) in different cabinets on different power supplies, giving us much greater safety against power failures in future (though our IMAP servers aren’t replicated yet – so there are still failure modes that take us totally down)

Anyway – nice to be started on the path to full replication!


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Upgrading fixed again

Ooops, we broke some of the upgrading code, so some users trying to upgrade would just get an error message. And just after we started a special pricing. Doh!

It should be all fixed now, so feel free to upgrade away!

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Full/Enhanced special price now until end of May

Coinciding with the addition of unobtrusive advertising to the web interface for Guest users, we’re offering a special to new users and existing users upgrading their accounts to Full/Enhanced for the remainding days of April and through May. For the next month, we’re taking $5 off the price of all Full and Enhanced subscriptions, which means that each year is now only US$14.95 for a Full account and US$34.95 for an Enhanced account.

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Unobtrusive advertising added to guest accounts

We are currently running a trial to investigate the effectiveness of some advertising on Guest accounts only. Paid subscribers will remain free of advertising. If this trial is successful, we hope to be able to be able to invest the revenue gained back into the company to improve our services and features.

We’re using single-line text advertisements, so there are no graphics to slow things down.

Currently we’re only showing advertising for FastMail.FM features and upgrades, but once we’re confident that the mechanism is working properly, we’ll be introducing external advertisements.

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New backscatter spam protection

Backscatter (bounces to emails you never sent) are an annoying problem due to spammers abusing the way internet email was originally designed. Unfortunately most backscatter was not correctly detected by the existing spam filter. Fortunately, we now have a new more advanced system for detecting and stopping these backscatter emails.

To enable this improved protection, just go to Options -> Spam / Virus protection. If you already have Normal or Aggressive level protection enabled, just click Done, this will enable the new protection. If you have Custom settings, select what you would like to do with backscatter from the Backscatter Action pop up menu, then click Done

For more information on what backscatter is, how it occurs, and how the new proection system works, see this FAQ entry.

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New “Test” option for Pop Links

When entering a new external Pop Link on the Options -> Pop Links screen, previously there was no way to actually test that the information was correct without explicitly going back to the Mailbox screen and doing a retrieval. There’s now a Test button after you add a Pop Link, which will test that the connection and login to the remote POP server works correctly with the supplied details.

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File storage increased to 1G for Enhanced users

For Enhanced users we’ve increased their file storage space from 250M to 1000M (1G), and the monthly bandwidth transfer quota for file storage from 750M to 1000M (1G). This will allow Enhanced users to store significantly more files in their file storage, including a much larger number of photos, which will be useful for our photo gallery feature which is currently in beta testing. To try it our, see this forum thread.

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Increased domains and aliases for Full & Enhanced users

To reduce complexity, we’ve significantly streamlined our aliases/virtual domains system. Previously, the limits for Full and Enhanced users were:

Full – 3 aliases (5+ chars)
Enhanced – 5 aliases (5+ chars), 1 virtual domain, and 10 virtual domain aliases

We also allowed people to purchase extras “ala-carte” for a yearly fee. This has resulted in some complexity for people working out what is the best service level to choose, and how many extra aliases/virtual domains/virtual aliases to purchase.

We’ve decided that this “ala-carte” purchasing was creating unnecessary complexity for users, so we’ve decided to scrap it, and just increase overall aliases for Full and Enhanced users. As such, we are now offering:

Full – 6 aliases, 1 short alias
Enhanced – 30 aliases, 3 short aliases, 50 virtual domains, 200 virtual domain aliases

In most cases, this means people can stay at their same service level, but save money because they don’t have to pay extra for their aliases/virtual domains above their service level quota. We’ve emailed these users to let them know this. For the small number of Full accounts that purchased an additional virtual domain and virtual aliases, we’ve upgraded those users to Enhanced for free for the remainder of their service period. Some of these users may have to pay a bit extra at their next renewal (1 additional virtual domain + 1 virtual alias is $13.80 a year while an Enhanced account is $19.95 extra a year), though an Enhanced account also includes significant extra storage, bandwidth, file storage and many other extras, for what is only about $6 a year extra. We’ve also emailed those users to let them know this.

FastMail already includes many, many features and services, and it can be quite complex for users to work out exactly what service level they need to satisfy their needs, without the added complexity of additional “ala-carte” services and prices. We believe that this change makes the choice of service level signficantly easier for new users, with very few downsides. Most users (any who have purchsed extra aliases/short aliases, and any enhanced users who have purchased additional virtual domains/virtual domain aliases) will save money with the new levels, and only a few users (full users who have purchsed an a virtual alias and virtual domain) will have to pay about $6 more a year, which will include many extra services and much higher storage and transfer limits being at the Enhanced level.

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Unnamed files no longer so

About 100 files managed to be created (I think mainly via FTP) with filenames that were invalid UTF8. This was across a bunch of users, and the symptom was that the filename was totally blank.

I’ve fixed that for all but one file (assumed that the characterset of the file name was the user’s default characterset) – and in that case the user had already managed to upload an identical file with the same name so I removed the broken file and sent an email about it.

I’ve also made the code do that explicit fix during the “Create” path so we won’t have this problem in future.

Feel free to discuss in this forum thread.

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