Webmail bug fix for Japanese characters

We’ve fixed a bug in our Webmail system that could, in rare cases, make Japanese language symbols display incorrectly. This change shouldn’t affect anything else, but as always, feel free to contact us if you have any trouble.

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Unexpected internal systems problem 2010-01-15

Starting at about 1:30 PM (Pacific time) today, some of our internal database systems had an unexpected failure. This lead to problems with our control panel (“My Account”), support site, and blog. Some customers may have also had problems with some aspects of Webmail (in particular, with the address book).

No customer data or Web sites were affected, and no e-mail was lost.

All systems are running again, so no one should see any problems — please let us know if you do! Some things are running on backup systems, so we’re working on finishing up the fixes and restoring everything to its normal status.

This was an unplanned and fairly horrible (and embarrassing) problem. This is the first time our own account management database has completely failed in the 10 years we’ve been providing Web hosting service. Obviously, we consider this sort of thing to be unacceptable, and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused.

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Webmail “Thread View” is now a preference

One of the features of our new(ish) Webmail system is “thread view”. This groups similar messages together based on their “Subject” and other headers, which can occasionally be useful if you’re trying to see all the replies to a particular message and you want them grouped together.

However, thread view has a potential downside: it you have several active threads going with several messages each, new messages can sometimes appear on the second page of the incoming mail screens, instead of the first page.

That’s not a problem if you’re expecting it. However, since we introduced the new Webmail system, we’ve had several complaints from customers who accidentally clicked “Switch to Thread View” without realizing what it does, then thought some of their incoming mail was missing because they aren’t used to looking for new mail on other pages. Since thread view is “remembered” even after you logout and login again, this caused some people a great deal of heartache.

From our logs, we’ve found that very few people actually use thread view. Because it seems to cause frequent problems and few people use it, we’ve made it an optional feature instead of being always enabled.

If (like most people) you don’t use thread view, you don’t need to do anything. If do you want to use thread view, it’s still available: just click “Preferences”, then click “Display Preferences”, then change “Show ‘Thread View’ Link” to “Yes”.

Software updates: Webmail, Ruby, Perl, MySQL

We’ve installed several software upgrades on our servers. First of all, updates to our new Webmail system over the last few days fix:

  • An incompatibility with Mac OS Internet Explorer version 5.1 and earlier.
  • A problem that could cause an outgoing message to have an invalid “Reply-To” field in rare circumstances.
  • A bug where messages in the Sent folder could appear out of order.
  • An issue reported by one user that prevented viewing of a message with bad HTML code.

These fixes solve all the bugs that we know of in the new Webmail system (although we have plenty of feature requests that we’re working on). If you’re still using the old system, now’s the time to switch, or to let us know why you’re using the old system so we can address that.

In addition, we also upgraded the following software on our servers Monday night:

  • Ruby security updates (including libopenssl-ruby).
  • Perl and PCRE security updates (this update was intentionally delayed due to the need for extra testing mentioned in the Debian PCRE announcement).
  • MySQL client libraries that provide MySQL 3.23 and MySQL 4.1 backwards compatibility. (Updates to MySQL 5 are forthcoming but not yet ready.)

As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Major improvements to our Webmail pages

We’re pleased to announce that our new Webmail system is available. You’ll find many improved features:

  • A flexible search feature that lets you search through subjects, senders, and more.
  • The ability to optionally view “unsafe” images in HTML messages.
  • Preferences that permanently remember things such as your time zone and date format.
  • An easier-to-use address book.
  • Optional threaded message display.
  • Message filters (sorting incoming mail into certain folders) and highlighting.
  • Automatic conversion of many foreign-language character sets to UTF-8 display, making it easier to read messages written in other languages.
  • And much more…

If you’re already a Webmail user, you’ll see the new pages the next time you login. If you haven’t tried Webmail before, this page explains how to get started.

By the way, we’ll be keeping our old Webmail system around for a couple of weeks at this special address, just in case anyone experiences any problems and needs to temporarily “downgrade”. If you have any trouble with the new system, do let us know right away so we can address it before the old pages are permanently removed.

We’d also like to thank the more-than-200 people who helped us test the new system over the last few weeks. The new system is better because of your efforts.

Sneak Preview: New Webmail

We’re pleased to announce that our new Webmail pages are available for public “beta testing”. The new Webmail system is a modified version of the popular SquirrelMail software, which has many features the older system lacks.

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