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February 7, 2009

“Let me through, I know Unix”
Posted by Patrick at 11:12 AM * 129 comments

Request for help with, yes, procmail—below the fold.

I need a procmail recipe that will forward a copy of all incoming mail on my local machine to my GMail account, except for the incoming mail that’s forwarded from my GMail account.

Everything being forwarded from GMail contains the following header:

X-Forwarded-For: patricknh@gmail.com pnh@panix.com

—so it seems like it should be possible to set up a conditional recipe. However, my Unix man-page fu is weak, so I’m not grasping how to do this.

Without getting into undue detail, my ambition here is for both my GMail account and my local mail account to have pretty much the same message store. Yes, I do have procmail running on my local machine, doing routine sorting of mail into mailboxes. No, for a variety of reasons, I don’t want to implement this with a .forward file, or with tricks involving multiple GMail accounts.

Comments on "Let me through, I know Unix":
#1 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:33 AM:

Let's see, you've got two accounts: @panix.com and @gmail.com.

You are currently forwarding mail from @gmail.com to @panix.com.

You want both mailboxes to contain the same stuff, i.e. stuff sent to you at either account (one copy thereof).

Is that an accurate summary?

#2 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:43 AM:

If my assumptions are correct, I think you want something like this:

:0 H
* !X-Forwarded-For: patricknh@gmail.com pnh@panix.com
! pnh@gmail.com


(Pattern matches if the headers do not contain the X-Forwarded-For line; action is to forward the message to pnh@gmail.com.)

Note that this script doesn't do anything about local delivery.

#3 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:46 AM:

Patrick, try adding this at the head of your procmail:

# Forward to Gmail, unless it came from there.
:0 Hc
* ! ^X-Forwarded-For: patricknh@gmail.com
{
        # Use original sender when forwarding
        SENDER=""
        SENDMAILFLAGS="-oi -f "
        # Deliver selected mail to gmail
        :0
        !  patricknh@gmail.com

}

#4 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:50 AM:

The extra funkyness inside the brackets which Charlie didn't bother with is to make it so the mail forwarded to Gmail has the original sender when it gets there.

Also, the c on the first recipe header (:0) is important; that makes it deliver a copy of your mail to gmail, rather than sending the mail to gmail instead of your mailbox.

#5 ::: Pedantic Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:53 AM:

Shouldn't the title say 'through', not 'though'?

#6 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:58 AM:

Final comment - the man pages for procmail are notoriously hard to follow, so don't consider yourself at fault if you found it difficult. (If you do want to figure something out in the future, don't look at the main page, use "man procmailex" first for examples, then "man procmailrc" for reference.) Just be glad you've never had to look at the source code.

#7 ::: Doug Faunt ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 11:58 AM:

If those don't work (or even if they do) panix.questions would be a place where the focus would be tighter. There are lots of procmail questions and answers there.


#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Thanks to all!

#5, PedanticSerge: eek. Yes. Fixed.

#1, Charlie:, yes, those assumptions are exactly correct.

#s 3 & 4, Clifton: Thanks. A further question. The first statement in my existing .procmailrc is:

:0 Wh: msgid.lock
| formail -D 8192 $PMDIR/msgid.cache

Followed by several statements that redirect various kinds of mail to /dev/null. Would it be best to put your recipe before this first statement or after it?

#9 ::: Steven M. Bellovin ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:20 PM:

That first statement drops inbound mail that has already been seen, based on the Message-ID field. It should probably remain first, because you don't want to forward something that's already been forwarded. Similar reasoning applies to the clauses that send mail to /dev/null -- if you don't want them at all on the local machine, is there any reason you'd want to forward them to gmail?

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:28 PM:

Steven, #9: Right, that makes sense. Thanks.

#11 ::: Kirby ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:35 PM:

I found a really good procmail tutorial recently, that helped me do some rather complex stuff:

http://www.perlcode.org/tutorials/procmail/proctut/

Enjoy!

#12 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:43 PM:

Yes, what Steven said: you might as well put the forwarding after anything you want to drop. That "formail -D" thing's a well-known [*] recipe for dropping duplicated mail.

and uh... wait. I'm following up advice from SMB, Unix security guru and author of the Firewalls book? Wow. Things do get interesting around here.

* For suitably obscure values of well-known....

#13 ::: Christian ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Re: an old post on the Dormition, here's what the Catechism says about the Assumption:

974 The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.

I note it's careful not to say whether Mary died, feel asleep, or none of the above, which may be beyond our understanding. I 'assume' that has never been revealed, and that establishing the Assumption as dogma did not disestablish the idea that she may have gained heaven without dying, but through 'Dormition.'

I agree the artistic treatment varies from East to West, much as that of the Resurrection and the Anastasis, without a disagreement over the event itself.

#14 ::: Jon Meltzer sees religious spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 12:52 PM:

#13: I wasn't aware that the Virgin Mary was a gmail expert ...

#15 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 01:02 PM:

That post is highly literate and doesn't seem to be pushing a particular dogma, so I doubt it's spam. It sounds like it might be referring to a discussion on an old closed thread, perhaps the one on artistic apotheoses.

#16 ::: lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 01:21 PM:

Folders? How XX century. Why not forward everything to gmail and use labels and search? If you need stuff locally use fetchmail to sync via imap periodically.

#17 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Re the non-spam of different threadiness...

I think it was in response to Dueling Icons.

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 02:05 PM:

#16, Lee: Thanks.

(1) I'm well aware of the virtues of GMail; that's why I want a copy of all my mail to live there. I certainly have no problem with using tags instead of containers; the tag metaphor is predominant in lots of software I use. My problem with relying solely on GMail is simple: they have no customer service. If my GMail fails, there's nothing I can do about it except wait and hope.

(2) I've done the GMail-via-IMAP thing, both as a primary interface to GMail and as a means of backing up GMail locally, and even with the Google Labs "sync only selected mailboxes" feature enabled, it's maddeningly unreliable over any but the most robust net connection. For having a complete copy of my mail archive always available locally, what I'm doing instead works better--for me.

(3) I'm sure you mean well and I don't mean to pick on you, but this kind of comment is the bane of online threads of this sort. When someone asks how to accomplish $FOO with tool $BAR, they generally really do want to do foo with bar; they aren't looking to have to explain why they don't want to do something different with some other tool altogether.

As it happens I would be delighted to go on at mind-numbing length about the nuances of my personal mail setup and why each detail is the best available adaptation to my particular needs and circumstances, including all kinds of intricacies I haven't even touched on here, but I was keeping things simple so as to avoid paralyzing everyone (except, possibly, Charlie Stross) with waves of brain-freezing boredom from beyond time.

#19 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 02:08 PM:

You have certainly nailed it, Terry. I am pretty sure that was well before I started reading ML.

#20 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 02:28 PM:

waves of brain-freezing boredom from beyond time.

Hmmm, I bet that's going into Charlie's notes for the next-but-next Laundry novel. "Great Old Ones - freeze sapient brains with procmail recipes?". Come to think of it, procmail syntax is rather squamous and rugose - could it be descended from....

No! Coming in through the angles of the corners! That mouth! Those burning eyes! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

#21 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 03:19 PM:

P.S. I was remiss in forgetting to note that I was being devoured alive as I wrote the last comment, blah-blah-blah.

Yours etc. C. Royston, posthumously.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Being pedantic, I would note that lee at 16 is not the Lee who comments here more frequently.

Can't beat Serge for pedanticism, though.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 04:06 PM:

Patrick, #18: For the record, the lee at #16 is not me. There are some kinds of rude that I try very hard never to be, and that's one of them, for precisely the reasons you enumerate. It is SO Not Helpful, and makes the person who does it look a complete fool.

And I see that abi has already gone to bat for me, thanks!

#24 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 04:18 PM:

Clifton: one of the great things about ML is how even the most pedestrian and brain-freezingly boring thread always gets a little excitement from some ancient evil or other.

#25 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 04:25 PM:

Happy to have the two Lees sorted out. I'm not annoyed at the "lee" of #16, though. What I should have also said is that the urge to say "Why do you want to do it that way at all! Do it this obviously much simpler way!" is pretty universal, and very hard to fight; I've succumbed to it many times and will do so again. (It's not even always the wrong thing to do.)

#26 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 05:22 PM:

Oh, and by the way, Clifton Royston's recipe appears to work perfectly. I inserted it into my .procmailrc after all the statements that delete various kinds of junk, and then arranged to have a friend pepper me with different emails, some addressed to my panix address and some addressed to me at GMail. All of them wound up arriving at both destinations, and to the best of my knowledge the internet was not turned into gray goo by an out-of-control mail loop.

#27 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 05:24 PM:

Having just gotten home from an ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum talk on gaming and evolution, which entailed trying to comprehend a chat between Ken MacLeod and some synthetic biologists after quaffing one too many free gin and tonics, I could really do with some brain-freezing boredom right now, KTHXBYE?

#28 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Thanks, and glad to be of service. I've used a slight variation on that recipe for years to send all mail to my shell account off to a spam filtering service I created which then sends the good stuff back to the shell account, so I have strong confidence in the approach.

#29 ::: CKL ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Aw, now you've gone and made me all nostalgic. I recently switched from procmail to a DirectAdmin web host and Gmail filters. It's just not the same.

#30 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 06:57 PM:

Charlie, the standard recipes for brain-freezing boredom include commercial margarita mix, very cheap tequila, ice, and a blender.
On the other hand, there may still be some of those plums in the icebox, sweet and cold enough to get the job done...


(Still wondering why my procmail isn't marking messages mailed with The Bat; it's probably something to do with header delimiters on forwarded mail or the order in which I'm checking for them.)

#31 ::: Lisa L. Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:07 PM:

I want Claris Emailer back, under Leopard.

And if I can't have that, I want traditional full-fledged completely functional Eudora back, under Leopard.

#32 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:13 PM:

CKL @#29: Aw, now you've gone and made me all nostalgic

Yeah, ditto. Glad you got a good answer! During the early days of Walkers, I was running the list using procmail on a shell account at the World (an early ISP). It took me a while to realize that I was the reason their system kept crashing.... ;-)

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:23 PM:

Patrick, #25: However, there are ways and ways to ask that question, and #16 struck me as one of the less useful. Dissing someone else's methods as hopelessly out-of-date doesn't add anything to the conversation except discord. Even if that's what I think about them, I don't have to SAY so.

Charlie, #27: a chat between Ken MacLeod and some synthetic biologists

Wow, cloning has made real progress in the last few years!

#34 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Jon Meltzer at #13:

If Steven M. Bellovin turns up to offer procmail advice, it would not surprise me to learn that the Blessed Virgin Mary is not far behind.

#35 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:48 PM:

#34: If she does show up, it will be in a thread about vi versus Emacs.

#36 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 07:52 PM:

Lisa @ #31, I want traditional full-fledged completely functional Eudora back

Amen, sister! I had a motherboard die and downloaded the latest greatest Eudora to the new machine, only to discover it was the last version extant, the one which didn't "learn" junk mail, wouldn't let me register as a paid owner for 9 years, and in all respects is awful.

From Infinity Data Systems, which is trying to replicate Eudora:

As of January 28th, 2009 Odysseus has reached 1.0 Beta 14. Although this build of Odysseus is close to being complete, this software is still beta software. Therefore, the usual precautions should be taken, such as backing up your email before importing into Odysseus, etc.
Download Links:

To download the latest beta, please go to our Forums and sign in. Once signed in, you fill find the download links to Odysseus 1.0 Beta 14 in the Odysseus General Forum.
#37 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 08:01 PM:

#14, 15, 17, 19: FWIW, I read #13 as being a riff on the "assumptions" by Charlie in #2...

#38 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2009, 10:48 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

I'm sure you mean well and I don't mean to pick on you, but this kind of comment is the bane of online threads of this sort. When someone asks how to accomplish $FOO with tool $BAR, they generally really do want to do foo with bar; they aren't looking to have to explain why they don't want to do something different with some other tool altogether.


This is exactly the behavior that I was thinking of when, eons ago, I asked if there was a name for when someone tries to help you with X by recommending Y when you have no need for or interest in using Y on the problem and when using Y would actually make your life harder. In my case the capper was when I found that a website that an authority had recommended would not load the data I needed on my Mac and asked if he knew of a site that would work. "Install Linux--it works fine on my Mac!" was well-meant I'm sure, but left me wanting to run around in circles and scream.

As I remember it, the most popular nominee was "Helpfulness," with a nod to Stephen Colbert...

#39 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:08 AM:

"Helpiness"?

#40 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:52 AM:

Helpy: as when the child empties the cupboard to help you find the hunny... the cupboard the child can reach, not the one in which the hunny resides.

#41 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 02:45 AM:

IJWTS that "helpiness" is an excellent word and we should spread it to the far corners of the net as soon as possible.

That's all. I'm going to bed now.

#42 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 03:34 AM:

This thread reminds me of a classic John Caldwell cartoon with the text: "Everybody back! This man's swallowed his nose! Don't panic, I'm a sheet metal worker! Someone bring me a pail of water and a catcher's mitt!"

#43 ::: Ingvar ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 06:30 AM:

Clifton Royston @ #20:

I suspect that the mail manipulation syntax that is more truly directly from the Old Ones is the original sendmail.cf syntax. Sadly, I find it more understandable and admin-firendly than the new-fangled (can I say "new-fangled" about something thats 15+ years old?) M4-based configuration.

#44 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 07:51 AM:

Ah, that brings back memories of the bat book -- sendmail.cf in a nutshell -- all 900 pages of it.

#45 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 10:54 AM:

Lisa@36

I'm running Eudora v6.2.4 (paid) under Leopard.
It seems to learn about Junk mail.
Is the issue that the free version doesn't learn about junk, and you can't get the paid version anymore?

If so.. would it be legal and moral to spread around the reg code that turns the free version into a paid version? (& would that really solve the problem?)

#46 ::: Steven M. Bellovin ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 11:43 AM:

How could I not respond, when the first answer is by Charlie Stross? I mean, I'm 90% certain that whatever I next publish on firewalls will contain this quote from The Jennifer Morgue: "What do you think happens if you open a gateway for an ancient evil to infest our departmental LAN?"

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 12:45 PM:

Allen, Eudora is not abandonware, it is still in development as an open source project with version 8.x.

#48 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:27 PM:

Awesomeness. (Can I trouble you to sign my copy of "Firewalls and Internet Security" some time?)

#49 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:38 PM:

Earl @ #47, the problem with the Penelope plan is that it's built on Thunderbird, Mozilla's mail client. A lot of Eudora's former users (myself included) have tried T-Bird and found it wanting. Hence Odysseus, linked to by me @ #36.

#50 ::: Jaws (CEP) ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:53 PM:

Actually, there are several very good reasons for not relying on "tags" (or some other contemporary organizational meme) instead of putting data in containers.

First — and, as the subthread on Eudora makes obvious, not exactly hypothetical — that method presumes that the new meme will remain technologically supported for the entire potential time that one might need the data. Umm, no. Ain't never happened; ain't gonna happen. OTOH, if the data can be moved at all to a new storage medium, container organization can also be replicated. In other words, the container metaphor is non-tech-dependent.

Second — of more interest to the predators and carrion-eaters in my field — there is nothing that opposing counsel likes better than having free reign at your entire unstructured database... and there is nothing that your own counsel will warn you more strongly against than segregating personal from other material (and even within that vast store of other material).

Third, tagging and other memes still require human attention to ensure their accuracy — no less attention than does a container system. No automated system is good enough (at least not yet) to entirely rely upon it; if it was, we wouldn't even need the tags, now, would we? In other words, tags (and other memes) are just different metaphors for the prior human attention required for reasonable accuracy.

Fourth, containers make backing up to offline media easier than do tags.

IMNSHO, the most important of these is the second one... because legal considerations will not change any time in the forseeable future. Just ask any financial-industry employer who has ever been sued for employment discrimination — or will be in this employment environment — whether they were happy to have opposing counsel let loose in the HR database.

#51 ::: Jaws (CEP) ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 01:55 PM:

Oops. In the second point, that's "not segregating personal..."

#52 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 05:05 PM:

Linkmeister, Allen Baum, this is just to say that there are alternatives to pirating the paid version of Eudora.

#53 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 07:12 PM:

Ingvar @43: I suspect that the mail manipulation syntax that is more truly directly from the Old Ones is the original sendmail.cf syntax.

There's a quote I came across somewhere (from memory so this probably isn't word perfect): "It is not true that sendmail configuration syntax resembles line noise. In fact it resembles the result of banging one's head against the keyboard for five minutes. Anyone who has worked with it will understand why."

#54 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 08:26 PM:

Ross Smith #53: In fact it resembles the result of banging one's head against the keyboard for five minutes.

Yep.

#55 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 08:38 PM:

Ok, sorta OT but... "Let me through, I know Unix" It's got quotes around it, ergo, it's a quote, right? Where's it from, cuz I wanna use it. The one from Jurassic Park (my first guess) was "It's a UNIX system! I know this!"

#56 ::: Steven M. Bellovin ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:23 PM:

Charlie: I would be more than honored. There are minor logistical problems, since the next time I'm scheduled to be on your side of the pond I'm likely to be a lot nearer Portsmouth than even London, let alone Edinburgh, but I'm sure we can work something out offline. (And I'm sure the men, women, and Others of the Laundry know the real reason I wrote RFC 3514.)

#57 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 09:44 PM:

Earl @ #52, my objection was that I'd been dutifully paying the ever-increasing price for Eudora to upgrade and register my copy, and Qualcomm abandoned it with very little notice and dumped it onto Mozilla as a w-in-p open source project.

If it had been a freebie to begin with, well, tant pis and sucks to be me. But there was a large base of paying registered customers just like me, and Qualcomm walked out on that base without providing much of an exit for them. I think we deserved better.

#58 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 10:04 PM:

Prof. Bellovin's RFC 3514, linked in his comments above, is one of the more subtly funny pieces of net lore I've seen in quite a while. Nice one.

#59 ::: Lisa L. Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 10:09 PM:

Allen @45 I'm a paid registered version person; but some of the features I depend on--templates and filters, are problems in the last commercial release.

And Linkmeister@49, exactly. I want the Eudora-built-by-Steve-using-standard-mbox-files and such.

I'm annoyed enough that I'm strongly considering going back to PINE and Vi or emacs, (no, no I don't care which).

That said, I still have to try Mailsmith from BareBones; I'm currently using mail.app; spent almost a year on Thuderbird, and it just hurt too much.

#60 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2009, 10:09 PM:

Steven M. Bellovin, #56, that may not be so difficult since Charlie will be in Boston in about, hmmm, eight hours, I think. He'll be at Boskone as well as signing books. I don't think he plans to go to NYC this time, but at least you're on the same side of the Atlantic.

#61 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 03:24 AM:

Scott Martens@55: It reminds me of this xkcd strip.

#62 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 08:53 AM:

Scott Martens, 55,
David Goldfarb, 61,

perhaps a variation on:
"Does anyone here speak leet?"

#63 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 10:47 AM:

Ross Smith @ 53:

The quote as I found it on the Memorable Quotes from Alt.Sysadmin.Recovery page reads,

When I first started working with sendmail, I was convinced that the cf file had been created by someone bashing their head on the keyboard. After a week, I realised this was, indeed, almost certainly the case

Sadly, it is only attributed to Unknown there. There are plenty of other good quotes there too, some mail-related and some not.

#64 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 12:27 PM:

abi @22: Can't beat Serge for pedanticism, though.

Wouldn't that be "pedantry?"

Ahem. (You can hit me now.)

#65 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Jaws #50: "there is nothing that opposing counsel likes better than having free reign at your entire unstructured database..."

True words. But there is, buried in there, the implicit assumption that opposing council is any good.

As a young lawyer I learned to take the measure of opposing counsel by their response when you'd point them to a room full of file boxes and say "have fun!" as the rules of discovery often seemed to require.

Bad, or unserious, lawyers would rummage around in the room for hours or days and emerge with a few file folders for copying.

The true professionals would smile an evil grin and make a phone call. An hour later there would be a flying squad of outsourced paralegals in there, with their own photocopiers on wheels, making a copy of every scrap of paper in the room.

Every bit of tech has probably changed since I made this observation, but I'm confident the fundamental distinction still exists.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:03 PM:

Abi @ 22... Can't beat Serge for pedanticism

Kirk: "I'm not sure, but I think we've been insulted."
McCoy: "I'm sure."

#67 ::: Wouldn't you like to be a pedant too? ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Re #50 & 65
Shouldn't that be "free rein"?

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Pedant Too @ 67... Are you saying that with unbridled enthusiasm? Is this thread about to fall off its mane subject?

#69 ::: Jaws (CEP) ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 12:28 AM:

67 No, that's a purposeful pun... because when I get access to somebody's data, I rule it. ;-) (Ask AOL.)

#70 ::: Wouldn't you like to be a pedant too? ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:02 AM:

Whoa, Serge! I say neigh to that. Don't take the bit in your mouth and lead us on a wild (steeple)chase.

#71 ::: ingvar ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 10:45 AM:

Charlie @ #44:

I have, mostly, stopped dreaming in sendmail.cf. Once I am sure it's been 10 years since the last recurrence, I shall consider myself cured. It used to be a frequent occurence in the early 90s, when I was side-tracked from a crypto-dev job into fixing public-sector mail routing on the side and that almost exclusively involved whacking sendmail up the head with some well-crafted cf.

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 03:13 PM:

I have always considered pedantry (pedantic behavior) to be the product of pedanticism (the state or affliction of being a pedant). However, I am willing to concede that "pedanticism" is a neologism*.

-----
* neologry?

#73 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 04:35 PM:

Are we sure it isn't pedanticity?

#74 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 04:39 PM:

No, pedanticity is the city of being pedantic. Pedanticism is the state of being pedantic.

Unless being pedantic is like being a 5th-century Athenian. (In that you're living in a city-state.)

#75 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Would 'Pedantician' be the appropriate name for a citizen of the country of Pedantic?

And where are its borders? How many of us are living there?

#76 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 05:01 PM:

Isn't a neologry one of the inhabitants of Neo-Logres?

#77 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 05:02 PM:

Just remember that in the country of the pedantic, the‡ authoritative man* is king*†.

-----
‡ or an authoritative man*, if there is more than one such.
* or woman/queen, if the‡ authoritative figure is female
† Assuming that the country of the pedantic is a monarchy**
** Otherwise, the‡ authoritative man* is president*** or Prime Minister****
*** If the country of the pedantic has a presidential system and the‡ authoritative man* has fulfilled the requirements†† to assume the office
**** If the country of the pedantic has a parliamentary system and the‡ authoritative man* has fulfilled the requirements†† to assume the office
†† As stated in the constitution of the country of the pedantic‡‡
‡‡ Or tradition, if the country of the pedantic has no written constitution

#78 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 05:08 PM:

I love you, abi.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:14 PM:

I thought that 'pedantic' referred to the works of writer Pedante Alhigieri.

#80 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 06:15 PM:

Unless being pedantic is like being a 5th-century Athenian.

Yeah, I've definitely got more pedantic as I get older. I guess if I lived in Athens for over 400 years, I'd be picking at errors all the time.

#81 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:10 PM:

I thought your pedant was married to your peduncle.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:20 PM:

Rainflame... Don't you really mean a pedaunt?

#83 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:25 PM:

Pedantiness.

Abi @ 77: You might want to try § and ¶ as footnote markers.

#84 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 07:59 PM:

Clifton Royston #76:

And they're really furious at young people today & their habit of coining new words?

#85 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Serge
The quickness of your wit does not pedaunt me in the slightest.

#86 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2009, 11:33 PM:

A peduncle won't drive, while a carbuncle will.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:16 AM:

What is the impedance of a pedant?

#88 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 12:57 AM:

Serge @ 87: "What is the impedance of a pedant?"

Depends on the density of pedons present in the pedant, one would think. Or are those "impedons"? The "particle zoo" keeps expanding too fast to keep track of all the current terminology . . .

#89 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:17 AM:

Let's think this through. A gedunclexperiment is what we need.

#90 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 07:14 AM:

Neil @80:
I guess if I lived in Athens for over 400 years, I'd be picking at errors all the time.

Fifth century BC[E], so more like 2400 years. You'd be right crabby by then, I betcha.

#91 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 07:27 AM:

Isn't pedantophilia a serious social problem?

#92 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 08:27 AM:

No, not around here, Fragano.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 08:33 AM:

We are quick at being pedantic around here, which I suppose makes us into velocipedants.

#94 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 10:22 AM:

abi (90): I think he was parsing "5th-century Athenian" as someone who was in his fifth century of living there. Probably deliberately, as a joke.

#96 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Mary Aileen @94:

Are you saying I'm being too pedantic to get the joke?

It's possible.

#97 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:14 PM:

abi (96): Or it's possible that you got the joke, and were pedantic about it as another joke. In that case, I'm the one who was too pedantic to get your joke.

I'm so confused.

#98 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:46 PM:

abi's recursive footnotes @77 would make a nice test of AI logic crumple zones.

#99 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 03:48 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 98 ...
abi's recursive footnotes @77 would make a nice test of AI logic crumple zones.

Why? They're just traversals.

#100 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:20 PM:

Serge asks what is the impedance of a pedant.

The answer is usually complex.

#101 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 06:28 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @ 58

I just read through the RFC; that's very funny, for values of "funny" that geeks like me find highly amusing. Given that it's an IPV4 extension, I'd like to propose something a little more comprehensive for V6:

An alignment field consisting of two subfields, one to denote the tendency of the packet towards or away from ethical and moral operation, with possible values GOOD, NEUTRAL, and EVIL, and one to denote the tendency of the packet towards or away from consistent, deterministic behavior, with possible values LAWFUL, NEUTRAL, and CHAOTIC. Thus it's possible to have packets transmitted for innocuous purposes, but which are intended to result in confusion on the part of the receiver, and have them announce themselves as CHAOTIC / GOOD. This allows a much wider range of behaviors on the part of routers, network services, and firewalls in handling packets which may have purposes other than e.g., transmitting requested information. Note: unrequested packets, such as spam email, AJAX advertising packets, etc., MUST have their alignment fields set to CHAOTIC / EVIL.

#102 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2009, 09:58 PM:

xeger #99: Why? They're just traversals.

Sigh. I suppose this means that you've actually studied logic more recently than three decades ago; that's what I get for trying to slip in a vague Futurama reference....

#103 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 10:43 AM:

Picallili kumquat, picalilli kumquat, pedunkle pedunkle eek!

Dave "for abbie" DeLaney

#104 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 11:42 AM:

David @103:

At first glance, I thought what you wrote was ROT13'd. I need to have my eyes checked.

#105 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 07:39 PM:

Protecting my limited time and mental energy, to help retain some fingernail-edge grasp on whatever shreds of sanity I try to gather 'round me, I've had to develop, inter alia, Pedantry Crumple Zones.
I still feel shame and guilt when, seeing an error and a chance to teach and spread truth, I pass by the other side of the road. But there are so many other things to feel shame, guilt and anger about that the pedanticism is well down the priority list :)

BTW, threading back to email: for giggles and prettiness, I put a theme on my Gmail account with a landscape and sky background. Later I found it reflects the time in your account's time zone setting, showing dawn, day, dusk and night in the scene. Nice. Recently we had bad weather and it showed clouds, rain and tossing trees! Good fun. Much better than the pretty season/day-night shareware icon on my Windows 3.11 screen that couldn't be adjusted for southern hemisphere seasons.

#106 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 08:32 PM:

Obligatory xkcd.

#107 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2009, 09:00 PM:

I'm not pedantic; I'm pompous, you clod.

#108 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 02:12 AM:

Mez, what theme are you using? I've been using "Tea House" for the last year or so; it shows a Japanese tea house with a fox in a straw hat, adjusting light and activity for the time of day. I haven't seen any storms or other weather, that could just be me being unobservant. Right now it's night, and the fox is sitting at the end of the wharf next to the tea house, with a paper lantern on a stick for light, wathing a bunch of candles in paper boats floating on the lake. The background is full of lightning bugs, which makes me nostalgic for the US East Coast where I grew up; fireflies are common back there, but don't exist here in the west where I've lived the last 35-odd years.

#109 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 02:39 AM:

I've been using the "Tree" theme which must be the same one Mez has noted. The weather isn't always right, but it's probably about 75% right as to general tone (rainy, sunny, stormy).

#110 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 01:43 PM:

Bruce & Clifton, you're both right. For some reason I was mentally conflating Tea House, which I enjoyed so much I had to change it because it was distracting me from getting quickly in and out of mail, and Tree, which I have now. That's enjoyable in a more austere way, not distracting.

Just checked Tea House again this evening, and it looked as Bruce describes, but without fireflies. Later the fox is shutting up? or hanging lamps? with a big fish lantern glowing on the garden table, and that must be them above the birdbath? near the trees.§

Now I'm intrigued to find others which may have such quirky little features.
*checks effect of changing themes in 'plain jane' work Gmail account*
OK: Tree; Beach; Mountains; Summer Ocean; Phantasea; Graffiti; Planets; Bus Stop; Ninja; and Tea House ask for localization information, whatever use of it they may make. But I can imagine themes doing stuff that doesn't depend on place ... Any news from your local infosphere, anyone?

§ In The Good Old Days, I'd have thrown myself into making a local version, Bush Shed (aka Time Sink). From dawn choristers in the mist, to cockies above a tin roof in 'the purple noon's transparent might', to the mass migration of flying foxes across a rainbow sky at dusk, to possums lolloping and tawny frogmouths lowering in the dark under glowing stars. Wattle, banksia, eucalypt, distant mountain ranges and a macropod should preferably be present. *wistfully contemplates huge list of essential, urgent and important tasks*

#111 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 02:17 PM:

Patrick, if you don't mind my asking, why do you maintain duplicate emails? I ask because I'm contemplating my email options, and I might want to plagiarize your strategy.

#112 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 03:31 PM:

One good reason to use multiple email addresses is to find out if someone in particular has given your email address to a third party without your permission; it's a great use of a personal domain name where you control all of its allowed email addresses.

#113 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Mez, Bruce and Clifton @105 on:
After reading your comments, I finally tried Gmail themes. Now I am transfixed by the Tea House foxy cuteness. This is not good for productivity.

#114 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 05:33 PM:

Maintaining duplicate email repositories is one way of ensuring that, no matter if you are at home or on the road, you can deal with your mail from the point where you left off.

#115 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2009, 06:58 PM:

I just tried the Tea House theme too. Oh man, that little fox is too cute - I had to switch back to the Tree theme because I was spending too much time checking the bottom of the frame to see if he was doing something different. (This afternoon he was using a hose to water a little bird in the birdbath, and then sweeping up leaves near the bookshelf on the side of the teahouse.)

#116 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 03:23 AM:

While we're talking about UNIX, does anyone here know anything about getting trn to send authentication to a news server? UC Berkeley has shut down its USENET server, and I haven't been able to get trn to work with news.individual.net.

#117 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2009, 02:26 PM:

I used to know how to make newsreaders do authentication, but it's been too darn long. Assuming your copy is built for it - it's a compile-time option IIRC - I think it's an environment variable.

UC Berkeley has shut down its USENET server

... and that's a tragedy writ small right there. Sigh.

#118 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 07:38 PM:

Pendrift, Clifton ... there was a warning in my Tree House story ...

#119 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2009, 09:33 PM:

does anyone here know anything about getting trn to send authentication to a news server?

trn - can't help you.

Forte Agent knows how, and is a generally wonderful Usenet appliance and emailer. I still use it for email. The cost is modest.

#120 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 08:36 AM:

Thanks to you luminaries I switched from Mountains to Tea House yesterday. Last night the fox wrote something in a book; I like to think he was writing a poem at the end of the day, but he may just have been doing the accounts. This morning (I'm an early riser and it was still dark) he was asleep under a mat. Later he used a hose pipe to fill the bird-bath, and now (it's around midday here, whatever it says up there) he's sweeping up.
(He may of course be a she, but my screen resolution is too low to, er, resolve that question.)

#121 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 08:40 AM:

But why does s/he grow chips/French fries in hir garden?

#122 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:39 AM:

Dammit, yooguys have made me sign up for gmail just to ogle the little foxlet.

Someone has catalogued 13 different variations of "Tea House" here, though I can't tell whether the "clock animals" are always represented during their particular time.

#123 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:52 AM:

(And there's also a matching iGoogle theme, though I don't think it's been cataloged as extensively.)

#124 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:39 AM:

tykewriter, Julie: he does bonsai too, usually mid-afternoon.

#125 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 07:52 PM:

Carrie S.: This image? (The urls are indexed by the numerical center of each "double hour", except for noon, midnight, and 314am.)

#126 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 04:37 AM:

And the French fries are really chrysanthemums.
(Could be the last line of a limerick...)

#127 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Julie: Yeah, that's the one.

#128 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:52 PM:

tykewriter @ 126: I tried, I really did. It's going to take more than the traditional limerick opening phrase, since I can't find any place name at all that ends in mums, or a good name.

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