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Does SPF Really Help Curtail Forged Email Headers? 90

Intelopment asks: "My Domain name has recently been used a lot in the 'Reply' field by some inconsiderate spammer, and my ISP has suggested that I consider using the Open SPF service as a way to stop spammers from using my domain name for in their mail headers field. From what I can tell, it requires the receiving mail server to actually participate in the SPF service, which is where I have my doubts. Does anyone have any experience with this service? Does it work? Are many ISPs using Open SFP?"

A Whitelist for Phone Calls? 151

javacowboy asks: "I've been getting lots of strange phone calls lately. Most of the time, my phone would ring less than three times and then stop before I can answer. Then, a couple of nights ago, I got a call at 3am in the morning. It had stopped ringing by the time I woke up. *69 revealed a number with an area code of 632, which does not exist. I called the number, and the call would not complete past the area code. I want a product or service with which I can set up a -whitelist- of numbers that I allow to make my phone ring. Any number not on the list, or an unlisted phone number, tries to call me, and the phone doesn't ring at all. I would pay as much for this service as I would pay to have my number removed from the phone directory. Is something like this possible? If so, how would I do it?"

Simple, Stand-Alone Internet Communication Devices? 69

ashitaka asks: "One month ago my father-in-law died leaving his wife to live alone for the first time in her life. She lives in a somewhat rural part of Japan, north of Tokyo, in an area with few neighbors. My wife is her only daughter and we live in Canada; her only son is an engineer for Fujitsu and spends many days on the road. We know she misses our kids and we try to get over to Japan as much as possible, however more than once every year or two is a stretch." What ashitaka is looking for is a simple device that can be used for video conferencing or instant messaging, that can be controlled with a remote and administered remotely. Assuming something like this doesn't exist, what would it take to bend a PC to this task?

Better Communication with Non-Technical People? 164

tinpan asks: "I've got a communication problem. When non-technical managers ask me to explain technical choices, they often make choices I recommend against and they later regret. I can tell that they do not understand their choice because of how they are explaining things to each other, but they usually refuse further explanation. So, it's time for some education. I want to get better at communicating technical subjects to non-technical people. More accurately, I want to get better at helping non-technical people make better technical decisions and I'm willing to accept it may include some understanding of 'selling your idea.' What advice do my fellow readers have in accomplishing this? What books, online courses and/or seminars do you recommend and why?"

What Can You Do to Stop Junk Faxes? 156

olddoc asks: "I am having a growing problem with junk faxes. Unlike email, it costs me money when I get a fax so junk faxes really tick me off. A while ago, I gave my number to a removal number and now I am getting more junk faxes than ever." What options are there for dealing with this? If you've also had this problem, what did you do and how effective was it in stopping unwanted faxes?

Text Messaging Device For the Hearing Impaired? 86

spaceball1 asks: "I was in the army and served in Iraq — one of the side effects being some permanent hearing loss. I now wear hearing aids all of the time, in both ears. Talking on a cell phone has become nearly impossible. I have considered moving to a device more geared towards text messaging, but they are all very expensive and have a lot of the features that I will never use. Are there any devices out there that are geared only towards simple text messaging? The No-Frills-Cell-Phone concept has been largely ignored in the US; does a No-Frills-Text-Messaging device exist?"

Which Shared Calendar Package Would You Use? 78

Bob McCown asks: "I manage several websites, both internally and externally accessible. Many of them have event calendars or schedulers. We'd like the ability to have these calendars shared, with the ability to modify them by both a web interface, and at the application level (via Sunbird, an Outlook plugin, or something similar). The web side of our system uses an Enterprise Linux distribution that runs Apache. Ideally, the web side would be written in PHP to minimize time to integrate with the rest of the sites. What's out there that can do this? What have you used before?"

Customers Treated as Culprits in Support Calls? 245

ApolloX asks: "I've worked in the software industry for a number of years and I understand how volatile large computer and database systems can be. Most of the time, I'm only called in when something breaks. I know first hand that issues such as a lack of concurrency control, or just a bad database optimization, can lead to corrupted or even lost data. What I don't know is, why most customer support representatives, in the event there is a data error, will treat the customer as if they are liars or are trying to scam them. I can recall many similar support calls to other companies over the years in which the phrase 'our computer system is never wrong' was repeatedly used as justification for an issue the representative knew little about. Since when did computers become so infallible such that the customer is always wrong? Why does it take multiple escalations of support calls before anyone starts believing that maybe the computer made a mistake?"

What are the Best Cell Phone Services in the US? 239

James Hewfanger asks: " has run an article on the five best cell phone services in the UK. These include a text-based service that gets you the number of a licensed cab company in London, Google Maps and Gmail on your phone, a service that can tell what artist and song you're listening to, an online service that backs up all your cell phone contacts and a text-based service that answers any question you can throw at it. What, however, are the five best cell phone services in the US?"

Boosting Cell Phone Signals in Strange Places? 40

hedgemage asks: "I work at a retirement home and we have trouble with the cell phones that our nursing and maintenance staff use. The problem is that our nursing home area is built into a lower level that was originally constructed as a fallout shelter in 1960. There's a lot of solid concrete in the walls and ceiling. We have paid out tens of thousands to try and get an on-site mobile to work using NEC Dterm PSII phones, but they have proven absolutely unreliable (not just in the bomb shelter but throughout the campus) and the only solution our telecom provider has is to install several thousand dollars more in transceivers. If we could use ordinary cell phones, it would be ideal for everyone. Is there an off-the-shelf solution that could boost regular cellular signals in our bomb shelter?"

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In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982