My MSU Email Debacle

For like a week or two now, I noticed something strange and yet not entirely unpleasant happening to my inbox. There were no angry emails from students complaining that I didn’t grade their homework submitted 3 weeks late the very second when they submitted it on Sunday evening at 3AM. My spam filter has already learned to automatically and quietly file away the mail from all the MSU specific mailing lists to my SPAM folder so I didn’t really notice any decrease in traffic.

Here is a side note for those of you who haven’t attended my lovely alma matter, and current teaching grounds. When you start as an undergraduate and get your university based email address you get automatically subscribed to 5 million mailing lists with creative titles such as [allstudents], [undergraduatestudents] and etc. The mailings range from weather announcements, information about campus events, bookstore deal, off campus events, local events, events that have nothing to do with the school, job opportunities, random shit and a etc. On average you can get 60+ emails per day. If you are silly enough to come back as a grad student you get signed up for another million mailing lists, some of which double up on functionality with the undergrad ones so you get upwards of 100+ emails per day. If you become a faculty member or an adjunct after that you… Well, you get the picture. Naturally, your mailbox has 15 MB quota so if you go on vacation and don’t download any of your emails for a week your mailbox will fill up, and new emails will get rejected. Best system evar!

Before they took away my school unix account I was using a simple procmail script to sieve all this crap to /dev/null. The script was actually written by my former mentor who was also sick of this crap.

But let’s get back to the matter at hand. Apparently several of my students told me they were trying to reach me via email for days with no success. I went digging in my inbox and my SPAM folder, and my fears were confirmed. There was no recent email there. Everything was few weeks old. What happened?

Worst part is that there was almost no way for me to notice this. There were no error messages, no notifications, no bounced emails. KMail had no problems connecting and authenticating against the POP server and kept telling me that there was simply no messages on the server. Hell, I could even log into the school’s web mail service to see this:

MSU Webmail

I called OIT today and confused the hell out of them too. Apparently I was still using my student email account and these expire after a year. But while my email expired, my login was inexplicably tied to other services which I was still using – such as the course management service, the online storage, and dozen of other things. So it appears that I appear as a teacher in some school systems, as a student in other, and even as neither in some. In other words, whatever was done to my account(s) last may was done wrong and it set off a time bomb destined to explode in a year. And that’s what happened here. And the timing couldn’t be worse either since this is the very end of the semester – the time when students always have tons of questions about their grades, projects and etc.

I guess few grad students turned adjuncts stick around for longer than a year around here. It seems that my case is fairly unique and unusual. Let’s hope they can figure out how to fix it without totally fucking up my login to all the school services.

Update 05/19/2008 09:56:29 PM

It’s probably worth posting a quick update. The issue got fixed on Friday. They managed to un-block me in their system so that I was able to create a faculty netid with a new and improved email account with 200MB quota. I can actually use IMAP on this one and don’t really have to worry about deleting stuff other than spam. :)

They also unblocked my temporary email, mentioning it will get discontinued soon. Why did it get stuck? Apparently it had something to do with me using POP to access it, but the tech support person I spoke with did not know the details. Oh well. I’m glad the issue got resolved. :)

[tags]msu, montclair state, email, webmail, email trouble, oit[/tags]

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12 Responses to My MSU Email Debacle

  1. Teague UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Bad Joss, Taipan!

    You’ve been beaten up and robbed of 15 Million emails!

    :mrgreen:

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  2. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    15MB limit? *shudder*

    For a few months in-between real jobs I tortured my soul and worked inbound phones for a telco. We had 15MB limits there four years ago, and even though there wasn’t much in the way of email traffic, it couldn’t hold a month’s emails. I contacted management pointing out that the seiving of emails to make enough space cost more in wages dealing with it than extra servers to hold it. Not interested. This is the same place that had a heavily locked down web access. Interestingly we could see the site for one of the products we supported, which helped directing customers having problems navigating it. Unfortunately one of our other product sites was blocked – management: “IT have not requested a clearance for that site” IT: “Management have not requested that site to be cleared”. Great – it’s not like I’m going to waste worktime browsing a telco site for laughs, and the customer suffers for it.

    So yeah: “Increase the limit? But there are thousands of students!” … and thousands of tuition fees and virtual thousands of man-hours wasted juggling inhouse spam.

    Corporate IT has a mix of the smartest and the dumbest people…

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  3. :) Spot the change in my information.

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  4. Miloš UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    On the 27th it will go up to 150 MB for students and 500 MB for faculty and staff. :) It’s no gmail or anything, but still much better. Also, soon after it will have a built it calendaring solution and few connectors which will work with Outlook, Thunderbird and others.

    Btw, hopefully it will all get resolved tomorrow.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    [quote post="2467"]I contacted management pointing out that the seiving of emails to make enough space cost more in wages dealing with it than extra servers to hold it. Not interested.[/quote]

    Heh, the other company that I work for has totally opposite view on email. Their philosophy pretty much be summed by:

    “what do you mean I can’t send a 80 MB attachment file???? Get the email people on the phone right now!”

    So yeah, there is no email quota. It’s just that sometimes we go around and beg users to un-check that damn “leave emails on the server” setting in Outlook and download the 800MB of emails from the server already.

    But yeah – you just can’t win.

    [quote post="2467"]Corporate IT has a mix of the smartest and the dumbest people… [/quote]

    Or perhaps the smartest dumb people… Or the dumbest smart people. :P

    [quote post="2467"]Spot the change in my information.[/quote]

    New URL? I’m not sure. I don’t really look that closely on people’s emails or IP’s. I mostly go by name+gravatar and alternatively their blog if they have one.

    [quote post="2467"]On the 27th it will go up to 150 MB for students and 500 MB for faculty and staff.[/quote]

    Yeah, you mentioned that before! Can’t wait. IMAP will finally be a valid option. :)

    Sigh… At times like these I miss my pegasus email. I will have to track down Joe one day and see if he can give me the account back while I’m teaching here.

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  6. ths UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    obviously the process of boarding a teacher does not work or has not been followed.
    or the process has changed or augmented and the process for changing the process has not been followed ;)

    my colleague used to call this “technology in a process-free domain”.

    Reply  |  Quote
  7. Posted using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.13 on Linux Linux

    For some reason… The updated Ubuntu (harion?) does not display its name… Is that because its still not in your system?

    Reply  |  Quote
  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    [quote post="2467"]Posted using Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.13 on Linux Linux[/quote]

    Ah, congrats! :mrgreen:

    Oh, and I believe that the Ubuntu package maintainers do not edit the user agent string when they package Firefox anymore. This seems to be a common practice on other systems, but not in Ubuntu community for some reason.

    I usually edit it manually and add “Ubuntu Linux” to the end of the: general.useragent.extra.firefox in about:config. :)

    Reply  |  Quote
  9. I updated mine.. :) But not with that

    Reply  |  Quote
  10. you should have NEVER showed me that trick… I am going to enjoy myself.

    Reply  |  Quote
  11. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    LOL! Yeah, user agent strings are not very reliable. It’s easy to lie about them. ;)

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  12. :) I was “Fucking on linux” :D

    I like this version better.. I think I will leave it at this.

    Did you see my invite to box.net ?

    Reply  |  Quote

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