Photo gallery uses ImageDescription EXIF tag

When you use the photo gallery feature of the file storage area, previously photo comments would be taken either from what was entered via the web interface, or if nothing entered, what was present in the UserComment EXIF tag of the image.

As pointed out in this forum thread, there is also a widely used ImageDescription EXIF tag as well. We’ve now changed the photo gallery so that the comment displayed with each photo is:

  1. If you’ve specifically provided a comment via the web interface, it uses that (comments entered via the web interface are stored in our database, they’re not written back to the image file)
  2. If no web comment, it looks for EXIF ImageDescription tag first
  3. If not found, it look for the EXIF UserComment tag
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New Virtual Domains screen

I’ve setup a new Virtual Domains screen on our beta server. More details in this forum post. The main advantages of the new screen are:

  1. Users can explicitly control sub-domain handling for their virtual domain (e.g. Yes, No, or Drop)
  2. Users can set a domain to be “external”. This allows them to use sub-domain addressesing by default, but explicitly exclude certain sub-domains. For instance, say they have mydomain.com, and want xyz.mydomain.com and blah.mydomain.com to work as regular sub-domains, but don’t want lists.mydomain.com to be captured by our servers, they would set:

    domain.tld, subdomains=yes
    lists.mydomain.tld, active=none

  3. Users can set a domain to be “web only”. This means we ignore DNS checks for the domain, don’t resolve the domain internally for email, but allow them to add the domain on the Websites screen. Of course they still have to point the DNS for the domain to us, but we don’t actually need to check that.
  4. Users no longer need to contact us to activate their domain. There’s two procedures they can use:
    • Regular
      1. Add the domain on the virtual domains screen
      2. Change the DNS to point to us

        Normally the race condition where the domain isn’t activated but some systems see the DNS pointing to us is solved because we now return a 451 response to any delivery attempt until the domain is activated, so other systems should just keep retrying until the domain is active.

    • Paranoid
      1. Add the domain on the virtual domains screen
      2. Change the DNS so the MX records for only active.domain.tld point to us
      3. Wait for the notification email that the domain is active
      4. Change the DNS so the MX or NS records for domain.tld point to us

        This fixes the race condition, but allows users to do it themselves without intervention from us. This in most cases means that a domain can be activated within about 2 hours

I’ve also split the documentation for aliases and virtual domains, and cleaned it up to be more explicit. I’ve currently put the new docs here:

http://www.fastmail.fm/docs/faqparts/Aliases.htm
http://www.fastmail.fm/docs/faqparts/VirtualDomains.htm

If people want to check it out or test it out, it’s currently available on the beta server, and should be working all correctly.

Update: The new screen has been rolled out to all production servers now

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/beta fallls back to main servers now

If /beta is down for any reason, the URL will now just access the main servers as if you hadn’t specified /beta at all rather than returning an error.

Also, the actual beta server is down for about 6 hours today.  You won’t notice anything though, because of the above (except the beta features having gone away!)

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Timezones updated to support Australia/Perth change

Since my suggestion of “lynch all politicians” suffered from some implementation challenges, we have gone with the next big thing and updated our timezone database to support the experiment with daylight savings going on in Western Australia.

Apologies to those who were affected for the couple of days it took us to find a viable upgrade solution. Unfortunately while the Debian Stable linux distribution is indeed very stable, it’s also not good at reacting to the real world changing around it!

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Interface irony

I installed the Microsoft’s Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta the other day. From what I can tell, it’s sort of a free successor to Outlook Express to access Windows Live Mail (the online web based version that’s succeeding the Hotmail brand name) and other IMAP/POP accounts and RSS feeds from desktop software. There will also be Windows Mail included with Vista, also I believe based on Outlook Express, but different again (no duplicated effort or confusing marketing names there!… *sigh*)

Anyway, here’s the interesting bit. With the message list, there’s a little envelope icon in the left hand column, but when you move the mouse over the row, the envelope icon turns into a checkbox. To select that email, you can click on the checkbox. So then if you want to select multiple emails, rather than having to hold down the CTRL key and click each email, you can just move down the list, clicking on each checkbox. This is exactly like most webmail systems (including FastMail) do it!

Now head on over to the new ajaxy yahoo mail, and you’ll see they’ve tried to copy the old behavior of most email clients where to select multiple emails you have to hold down CTRL to select multiple emails, or SHIFT to select a range.

Ironic isn’t it, we’ve got webmail people trying to copy the desktop email interface in webmail clients, and the desktop email software people trying to copy the webmail interface in desktop email clients.

Discussing this the other day with some people, I can see why the webmail approach might actually be better. At a guess, 80% of computer users probably don’t actually know that holding CTRL will allow a multiple disjoint selection in standard multiple-selection list environments. Additionally, if you forget to old down the CTRL key just once, you’ll loose everything you selected and be back to a single selection. I find that often even happens to experienced users and it’s damn annoying. Having checkboxes to “hold the state” of a selection seems pretty useful to the average user.

So will this change over spread to other clients? I haven’t installed Windows Vista, but have a look at Windows Mail again. From the screenshot there:

It appears to have a checkbox column as well, so it seems both the standard “basic” email programs from Microsoft (e.g. not Outlook) are now cloning the webmail interface more. I wonder how long it will be before other developers that have spent so long trying to clone the Outlook/Outlook Express interface in a webmail client will start changing back.

Discuss on the forum

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