BigU's dumb-A DNS

Most of the servers of BigU have been unreachable since this afternoon. Thank gods for Google's cache... By this evening it all got too much for me and I decided to check the WHOIS information at http://www.ac.za/ to get some information about the setup. This is what I found out.
  1. The contact e-mail addresses of the administrators are in the domain which they administer. Google is brave enough to do this, but CNN is not.
  2. All the nameservers are on BigU campuses. Ditto re Google and CNN.

At least a neighbouring large residential university has had the sense to specify a nameserver in the far-off Eastern Cape. BigU is, however, ignoring the stipulation
[A]t least one secondary name server must be on a different network from the primary server

on the registration form. In my understanding, this means that a problem with the nameservers on the BigU campus will make the entire BigU network inaccessible, except by IP address. In any case, the problem actually appears to be worse because the servers cannot be reached by IP address either... Ouch. If I remember correctly, they are in the examination period.


Tidying up GMail IMAP

I am one of those backward souls still using a standalone e-mail client (Mozilla Thunderbird) for most of my e-mail reading and sending. My three main reasons are:

  1. good Afrikaans localisation in Thunderbird, which GMail still lacks;
  2. using a standard protocol for offline copies, allowing me easy offline access (which I know GMail now kind-of has); and
  3. the range of add-ons for Thunderbird, with some nifty productivity tools.

That said, GMail is the subject of constant improvement and I am a big fan of the nice new themes and the option "Include original attachments" which has recently appeared and often switch to the GMail interface just to use the latter.

GMail has also recently made it possible to select which labels (hence, folders) are visible to the IMAP server. Although one could also manage this using the IMAP client's Subscribe feature, I like the clean look that is now automatically there when I use any IMAP client to access my GMail inbox. This feature requires (free) subscription to the GMail "Lab features".