Google Mail fails again with an idiotic “sender” field

I am chomping at the bit to get off of POP3-based email clients. I am tired of being bound to specific machines to handle email.

Two days ago, I figured out how to get around the biggest shortcoming (for me) in Google Mail. I had over 20,000 email messages accumulated from when I created the account (explanation), but Google gives no easy way to mark all of these messages as read. I figured out a workaround: just download them via POP3 into Outlook Express, being sure to configure Google Mail to archive downloaded messages.

With that problem fixed, I committed to exclusively use Google Mail. It worked well. It’s very nice to have all your email available in a well-designed, efficient interface no matter where you are. Even the PDA interface was usable!

However, a major design flaw screwed up everything.

I send my emails as I want to hold on to that email address for life. Google can send emails using a address with a caveat: Google adds a “sender” field to the email’s header data, and this “sender” field gives away your actual address.

This stupid sender field totally screwed up Google Mail for me.

First, anyone using a sophisticated email client will see my address immediately. This is how Outlook shows my email address to the recipient of my emails:

I don’t want my address published because I don’t want to be attached to it.

That isn’t the worst.

I am subscribed to a few email lists. Less sophisticated mail list programs like majordomo don’t care about this sender field. However, better email list programs interpret the sender field as the actual sender of the email. Why is this a problem? Smartly-configured lists only accept emails that come from subscribed addresses. In my case, the sophisticated email list software sees that the email was sent by my address. Since I am subscribed as, the email list software rejects my emails.

In a stroke of genius, Google does not provide a way to disable this feature.

Gee, Google, thanks again for arrogantly making dumb design decisions that don’t work well.

Apparently, I’m not the only person with this problem, and this is not a new problem (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4).

St. Augustine Decline and Palmetto

It looks like all the grass I planted in Sept. 2004 may be infected with St. Augustine Decline (SAD). What bad luck!

SAD is an untreatable virus that causes the grass to weaken and die away within a couple of years. SAD shows up as a mottled yellow appearance on an otherwise normal grass blade.

Last summer, I noticed some of my new grass had the mottled appearance. I didn’t think much of it because the grass seemed fine otherwise. This year, the temperatures are now warm enough for the grass to start coming back. Early last week, I noticed this same mottled appearance. After looking around, I noticed areas all throughout this new grass that has the mottled appearance.

Here are some pictures of this mottled grass:

I called my grass supplier to ask about this, and they were surprised. I spoke to the office manager and then the company owner, and both were certain that the variety I purchased, Palmetto St. Augustine, was as resistant to SAD as Raleigh. Palmetto is presented as being a step up from Raleigh on their site (link). In fact, the owner said he had a planting of Palmetto himself (not sure if it was in his own lawn?), so he was especially concerned. At first, he wondered if it could have been something else like gray leaf spot. However, I can find no other St. Augustine problem that matches the appearance in the photos. Compare for yourself: Google image search of SAD and an especially good, high resolution photo of SAD-infected grass.

The company owner promised that he or or his office manager would come out in the next few days and take a look at the grass. I put orange flags in the lawn to delineate a few significant spots of the affected grass. Each of the bright orange places is a flag:

This is just one section of the back yard. This problem shows up all over the new planting.

As far as I am aware, the only sure-fire treatment is to remove the grass and a few inches of soil and replace it all with new soil and grass. This is a major undertaking. I don’t look forward to this even if I don’t end up having to do it. It is possible to plant a SAD-resistant variety like Raleigh and hope it overtakes the existing grass as it dies out. However, by keeping the infected grass, I risk infecting the rest of my yard, which is almost 100% St. Augustine and which could be the SAD-susceptible common variety. (It’s quite possible that it is the original stand of grass from the 1950s. Raleigh came out in 1980.)

So far, none of my original stand of grass–the whole front yard and a little of the back yard–are showing any symptoms of SAD. This could be in part because I mow the front yard first, then mow the back yard. The mower sits for several days in a hot garage before it gets used again. If I was to transmit the virus anywhere, I think it would probably be to the small original stand in the back yard.

The fact that I have no SAD anywhere else eliminates my existing lawn as a culprit. Furthermore, neither I nor the previous owner use a lawn service, so there is no chance that this lawn picked up the disease from another lawn.

I really hope this is ends up being a false concern or a misidentified, treatable problem. I don’t want to go through a yard replacement.

Stupid products

Items sold in “real” hardware stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, should be reasonable quality, right? The truth is often “no.”

These stores now carry doors with encased plastic blinds. Yes, “encased.” You never have to clean them because they are encased in the door.

I knew they were a pending disaster the first time I saw them. Plastic blinds are disposable, and, consequently, they break easily.

What’s the logic in encasing cheap blinds inside a door?

Apparently, little. Here’s a demo product at my local Lowe’s:

See any problems?

I am a stud muffin

All my life I have wanted to develop a better looking physique. Now I am well on my way.

Last summer, I probably looked like any other pasty computer nerd. Mediocre muscle tone, no particular strengths. Since then, I have regularly worked out at the SMU gym 3 times a week, concentrating on upper body exercises.

In that time, I have made considerable improvements on increasing my lower back strength. I can use all 190 pounds of weights on a torso rotation machine, and I can push 180 pounds of weight by extending my back on another machine.

I have also dramatically increased my arm strength; I can now do a few pull ups unassisted. (These are much harder than chin ups: palms facing away instead of towards your head.) I can also do several dips unassisted. I haven’t been able to do this since my undergraduate years when I held a marching baritone, the most difficult instrument to keep upright!

In the fall semester, I consistently worked out 3 times a week. I haven’t been able to maintain that schedule this spring.

For one, I caught 5 colds and a stomach virus in the 6 weeks following February 1. (Thanks, Alec!)

I also pulled a muscle in my back two weeks ago by allowing myself to go too low on the dip machine. I tried working out on Monday (10 days after pulling the muscle), but I only re-aggravated the muscle. This time I am sitting out for at least two weeks, and when I return, I will start with lower weights and build back up to where I was. Pulling muscles is a major problem because they take weeks to heal.

The only thing missing from my workout regimen is aerobic exercises. I need to get back into jogging. That is how I had planned to exercise my lower body. It’s difficult to make the time to jog with two classes and other commitments, but I look forward to resuming jogging once this semester ends and I gain back at least 12 hours a week.

I am at the best physical shape I have ever been in my life. I am beginning to get improved muscle tone. The only thing holding me back is a little pooge around my waist.

Now don’t misunderstand how I look. I am no He-Man, and I do not look anything like the Governator, and neither is my goal. Regardless, my newfound Adonis complex has propelled me well beyond where I used to be.

My weird musical tastes

I have strange music tastes.

My Southwestern Bell DSL account comes with a free subscription to Yahoo Music LaunchCast Plus. A nice feature is that I can create my own radio station. As it plays songs, I can rate the songs or authors or albums. The ratings influence the songs played so that songs and artists I like get played more often. After over a year of tweaking, I have ended up with a list of artists:

Artists I Like Artists That Suck
.38 Special
3 Doors Down
98 Degrees
Adam Sandler
Alien Ant Farm
Blind Faith
Blind Guardian
Bobby Goldsboro
Bon Jovi
Bonnie McKee
Bryan Adams
Chad Kroeger
Christopher Cross
Counting Crows
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Daryl Hall
Def Leppard
Derek & The Dominos
Duran Duran
Elton John
Five For Fighting
Geri Halliwell
Gerry Rafferty
Goo Goo Dolls
Guns N’ Roses
Gwen Stefani
Hot Chocolate
Hues Corporation
Indigo Girls
James Taylor
Jim Croce
Jimmy Fallon
Joe Cocker
John Mayer
John Phillip Sousa
Kim Carnes
Lee Ann Womack
Level 42
Limp Bizkit
Luscious Jackson
Matchbox Twenty
Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
Meat Loaf
Meredith Brooks
Michael McDonald
Modest Mouse
Natasha Bedingfield
Neil Diamond
Neil Sedaka
Nelly Furtado
New Radicals
Night Ranger
No Doubt
Oingo Boingo
Our Lady Peace
Papa Roach
Powerman 5000
Puddle Of Mudd
Ray Scott
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Reel Big Fish
Rob Zombie
Robert Palmer
Rupert Holmes
S Club
Sandie Shaw
Scatman John
Sheryl Crow
Simply Red
Sinead O’Connor
Siouxsie & The Banshees
Sister 2 Sister
Sister Hazel
Spin Doctors
Starland Vocal Band
Steely Dan
Swing Out Sister
System Of A Down
Talk Talk
Tears For Fears
Ted Nugent
Tenacious D
The All-American Rejects
The Allman Brothers Band
The B-52’s
The Bee Gees
The Black Crowes
The Carpenters
The Cranberries
The Doobie Brothers
The Free Design
The Killers
The Left Banke
The Mamas & The Papas
The Moffatts
The Moody Blues
The New Pornographers1
The Police
The Pretenders
The Prodigy
The Righteous Brothers
The Rumble Bees
The Shangri-Las
The White Stripes
The Who
They Might Be Giants
Third Eye Blind
Three Dog Night
Tom Cochrane
Tom Jones
Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Ugly Kid Joe
Van Halen
Village People
Warren Zevon
Weird Al Yankovic
White Zombie
Wilson Phillips
Yvonne Elliman
A Perfect Circle
Bill Engvall
Chris Rock
Cradle Of Filth
Denis Leary
Eddie Murphy
George Carlin
Grace Jones
Guerilla Black
Jeff Foxworthy
Jimi Hendrix
Joan Rivers
Lil’ Romeo
Lil’ Wayne
Linkin Park
Lisa Marie Presley
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Michael Jackson
Pink Floyd
Ralphie May
Rodney Carrington
Rodney Dangerfield
Ron White
Why rate?
William Hung
Wu-Tang Clan

1The New Pornographers is not about porn. It’s really a good band with a weird title.

This isn’t a comprehensive list. It’s only the ones I’ve rated. I tell Launchcast to exclude country music, so you don’t see many of them in the suck column.

Some artists may suck overall but have a couple of good songs. Because of the way Yahoo works, they end up in my good column. T.A.T.U. ended up in the good column for this reason. (I am getting sick of T.A.T.U. It seems like a concocted lesbian band with marginal talent.)