The secret to disconnecting? Email does it better.

This Wall Street Journal article points out that "disconnecting" from your always-connected online life when you want to go on vacation would be a whole lot better if SMS had an "away" message feature (as they called it in AOL Instant Messenger and Internet Relay Chat), or as we like to call it in email land, an "out of office" reply. And they're right. And your old friend email has got you covered, better than those newer technologies do.

Google Hangouts? You can set a status message but nobody ever reads it. Apple Messages? No such feature. The WSJ author suggests a cumbersome workaround to try to allow you to respond to Apple Messages with a sort of half-manual "go away" reply macro, but it doesn't sound that great.

I never thought I'd say this, but here we are: When are we going to get "Out of office" replies for SMS? I want that.

To me, this is just another reminder that email is useful. Once upon a time I thought OOO email auto-replies were uncool, but this article got me thinking, and it reminds me that I've been neck-deep in the corporate world long enough to see the value in making sure that people know immediately that you're not going to be able to respond to their request in a timely manner.

Return Path launches Universal FBL

If you manage ISP Feedback Loop (FBL) subscriptions for a set of sending IP addresses, you'll like this.

Return Path just launched what they call a "Universal FBL," an ISP Feedback Loop signup and management process that encompasses almost every single ISP FBL known to humankind.

RP currently manages 18 different ISP Feedback Loops, from the looks of it. In the past, when you have a new range of sending IP addresses come live, you had to register that new range of IP addresses with each one of those FBL registration pages separately. No more! Now you can combine it all into one subscription, one configuration, so that when you have a new IP address range go live, it takes just a few minutes to add your new range to all 18 different feedback loops.

Read more about this here.

Note: This is something that ESPs and ISPs sign up for; this is not something that end users or individual marketing senders would typically sign up for. If you use an ESP to send your mail, work with that ESP to ensure that they've enrolled your IP addresses and domains into all possible ISP feedback loops.

Happy birthday, spam (the good kind)!

The news is so chock full of horrible stuff lately that you might be struggling to look for something positive to celebrate this Independence Day. I know I am. Spam to the rescue! America's favorite canned meat turns 82 years old just one day later, on July 5th. Read how it became an American cultural icon.

A spam score of 33.8!

Since I've enabled a "reject" DMARC policy on my domains, I've been reviewing the various failure reports that come in to see what crazy spam those crazy spammers might try to send. Amazingly, they are willing to try to send some really bad stuff to see if it gets through.

The email problem no one is talking about: mistaken identity

Mashable's Chris Taylor talks about the problem of misdirected emails. A good read and it helps to expose a real issue that I don't think many people stop and consider.

I'll add my own questions here. What if, because of this, a sender is exposing PII (personally identifiable information) to a random third party? Couldn't that lead to some sort of legal liability at some point? How does a recipient stop emails like that? Are you, as a sender, putting a "this is not me" link in your transactional messages?

I have a bunch of spamtrap domains. One of them is a typo variation of a very popular ISP domain. The number of misdirected order confirmations and password reset requests it gets is ... staggering. If I was a bad guy, think of all the bad things I could do with that information being fire-hosed directly to me. I could probably take over hundreds of Instagram accounts. I could probably cancel or redirect orders from online stores. Or worse.

More reasons why you can't just assume that any email address given to you is correct. is 11 years old today

I've long had a little banner at the bottom of my DNS tools site that says "since 2008" but it looks like I'm going to have to change that. Looking through my notes, the site actually launched eleven years ago today!

XNND exists because back then there was a commonly used "DNS stuff" site out there that I felt like was trying to scare people into buying services from them and I didn't like it, so I decided to put together my own little DNS lookup site that was bullshit-free and simple to use. I registered the domain on June 14th, 2007 and then launched the site on June 17th.

I redesigned the site recently to make it a bit easier on the eyes. And yep, that's all done with HTML tables, like it was built in 1997 instead of 2007 or 2018.

I've had to erase and reload the server so many times, I don't even know how much traffic it really gets. But it seems to be a busy little guy, and I hope folks continue to find it useful.

I've got setting up a server to be down to a science. Every time there's any sort of hint of a security or hardware issue, I just nuke the whole thing and populate a new installation. Sometimes servers crash, sometimes weird stuff happens, and I've even had one hosting provider just up and disappear from the internet.

Special thanks to Don Berryman and Steve Atkins who were very helpful with bits of code and hosting when it was first getting up and running.