Tony Finch's work homepage

I help David Carter to run the University's central email services (hermes and ppsw). Although these pages are hosted on the Unix Support web server I don't actually work for the Unix Support group, I just share an office with them.

I have a personal homepage on another server, a blog hosted by LiveJournal, and you can look me up in the University directory.

Support miscellanea

The main Computing Service email documentation page is at www.cam.ac.uk/cs/email

Users who want to run Exim 4 as a satellite of the main Cambridge email systems might like to use one of my supported Exim 4 configurations. There is a configuration aimed at computer officers who want a simple setup to run on a server that wants to send mail from cron or web forms. There is also a configuration aimed at Hermes users who want to send email from anywhere via smtp.hermes.

Users who insist on using Postfix despite the availability of a perfectly good locally-developed MTA might like to read our advice on how to configure Postfix for use on the CUDN.

Users who like to read email using Emacs VM might be interested in Matthew Vernon's sample configuration.

You might be interested to see a few pictures of Hermes.

Publications and talks

On Wednesday 2008-04-23 I gave a talk to many of Cambridge University's to computer support staff entitled "Email and Hermes". You can see the slides here.

On Wednesday 2007-11-08 I gave a talk at CIO 2007 (a meeting of ivy league law school IT managers) about "email in Cambridge". You can see the slides here.

On Wednesday 2007-02-21 I gave another Techlinks talk entitled "Central email services overview". You can see the slides here.

On Wednesday 2006-11-29 I was part of the Computing Service's introduction afternoon for new IT support staff, for which I produced a Mail Support crib sheet.

On Tuesday 2006-01-31 I gave a brief presentation to the IT Syndicate Technical Committee meeting about my proposal for a Jabber service for the University. You can see the handout here, and there are some earlier proposal documents here.

On Wednesday 2006-01-25 I gave a talk to my colleagues entitled "Techlinks email update". You can see the slides here.

In May 2005 I wrote a project proposal for implementing email rate-limiting in Exim.

In March 2005 I wrote a quick guide to Client SMTP Authorization. More information about CSA can be found at the Certified Server Validation home page.

On Thursday 2005-02-24 I presented a paper about spam backscatter detection at the UKUUG LISA Winter Conference.

On Wednesday 2005-02-23 I presented a paper about our Exim configuration at the First International Exim Conference.

On Wednesday 2004-10-13 I gave another techlinks talk entitled "An overview of the central email services". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

On Friday 2004-08-13 I gave a talk to the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory Security Group entitled "email forgery protection". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

In July 2004 I wrote a project proposal and outline for Protecting against email forgery in Cambridge. Other documents related to this project can be found here.

On Wednesday 2004-05-19 I gave another techlinks talk entitled "The new ppsw". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

On Thursday 2004-02-26 I presented a paper about our new message store at the UKUUG LISA Winter Conference.

On Wednesday 2004-01-21 I gave another techlinks talk entitled "Migrating email from CUS to Hermes". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

On Wednesday 2003-09-10 I gave another techlinks talk entitled "Email Scanner Deployment". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

On Wednesday 2003-05-28 I gave another techlinks talk entitled "Centralized Email Scanning". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

On Tuesday 2003-04-08 I gave a talk to SAGE-WISE entitled "Evolving Email in Cambridge". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

On Wednesday 2003-01-22 I gave a short talk to CUCS entitled "Hermes and PPSW: past, present, and future". You can see the slides here or look at the plain-text source code and notes.

The slides for my talks are created using MagicPoint. The diagrams are created with pic (one of the troff preprocessors). The graphs are produced with some evil shell scripts and Gnuplot.

Some of my talks are about how we've redesigned Hermes from the ground up. In August 2002 I created (using graphviz) a functional diagram (gif, ps, source) of the future Hermes architecture. Although it needs some revision it isn't all that far away from what we ended up with two years later.

Software

The following software has been made available on the basis that it might be useful to someone, but without any promise of detailed support.

I've written a library called selog which unifies error reporting, activity logging, and debug tracing. It allows programmers to give their users flexible control over which messages are written and where they are written to.

I've written a small SMTP client for testing complicated MTA configurations involving cryptography and authentication. It's a bit rough-and-ready at the moment.

I have an anti-SiteFinder script which automatically identifies top-level domains with wildcard MX records. These break anti-spam address verification checks and other email error-checking, which causes all sorts of trouble.

David has written a new email notification tool which hooks into utilities like xbiff and uses the IMAP IDLE command. (It therefore requires an IMAP server that supports concurrent access to a folder by more than one client, i.e. not the old Hermes UW-IMAP message store.) It works very well against the new Hermes Cyrus message store since no polling occurs, neither on the client nor on the server.

Contact details

You can email us on <mail-support@ucs.cam.ac.uk> or phone us on (34502), but users' first point of contact is either the Help Desk or their departmental or college computer officer.

Amusing but irrelevant fact: One member of the Computing Service (Will Smith) has probably the best 'phone number in the world, viz. 01223334444; Another (me) has probably the best email address in the world, viz. dot@dotat.at.


Tony Finch <fanf2@cam.ac.uk>

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