Withdrawal of multi-year signups

We’ve just withdrawn signups for Full and Enhanced users for more than one year. You can still renew these subscriptions, but the initial signup is now a maximum of one year.

This is due to a requirement from our payment processor that we no longer offer these signups to reduce credit card fraud.

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Custom DNS for Virtual Domains available on beta server

For people with virtual domains who are pointing the name server records for their domains to our server (ns1.messagingengine.com and ns2.messagingengine.com) you can now change the DNS generated by our nameservers for your domain. This means you can point the web site for your domain to another system, or setup extra mail server records for your domain, all from the FastMail interface without having to use an external provider like zoneedit.

  1. Just login at the beta server
    http://www.fastmail.fm/beta/
  2. Go to Options -> Custom DNS
  3. And choose the domain you want to configure DNS for

There’s no docs yet, and while DNS isn’t that intuitive for most people, hopefully the interface is reasonably straight forward. One other thing, changes currently take up to 1 hour to become active.

For questions or discussions on this feature, please use this forum thread:

http://www.emaildiscussions.com/showthread.php?t=48363

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File modification times now work in WebDAV using Netdrive

Ooops, mea culpa. I had checked all the Modified time update code, and it all worked perfectly so I couldn’t see how it wasn’t working…

Finally wound up searching for anything else that might touch it. It appears that when you Set Properties, that updates the Modified time as well. Fair enough. Only problem is, the DAV PROPPATCH method also called SetProperties, right after it updated the modified time. So it was setting, then changing back to NOW() again immediately. Bah.

I’ve fixed this and rolled it out to all production machines. Please enjoy your new time-settable DAV.

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New spam checking servers online

We’ve just installed some new servers to help out with the spam checking of emails. Each of these machines are 1U IBM x3550 servers with dual Xeon E5320 CPUs, each of which contain 4 processor cores. So all up in 2U of space we have 16 CPU cores and 16G of memory.

What’s amazing about these machines is just how fast they are. We had just one of these machines setup, and were able to put ALL our email through it, something that previously took 4 separate machines each with dual 3.0Ghz Netburst Xeon CPUs to do.

I did a bit more digging, and it really shows just how good Intels new Core Microarchitecture which the E5320 processors are based on is, and what a huge jump the architecture is over the older Netburst one. Here’s a quick comparison of some figures.

Looking at the SPEC CPU2006 benchmark, we see that the perlbench component is basically a run of SpamAssassin against a corpus of spam and ham messages, which pretty much describes exactly what these machines are doing. Lets look at SPEC_rate, which is basically what happens when we parallelise the computing across all available CPU cores, which is something easy to do with servers processing email in parallel.

  • SPECint_rate for a dual CPU 3.8Ghz Netburst Xeon (2 cores, 2 chips, 2 threads/core) = 27.6
  • SPECint_rate for a dual CPU 1.86Ghz Xeon E5320 (8 cores, 2 chips, 4 cores/chip) = 103

That’s a 4 times increase for a dual CPU machine! If you look at the non-rate figures, you’ll see that each 1.86Ghz E5320 core basically equals one of the Netburst 3.8Ghz CPU cores, but because the E5320 has 4 cores per CPU package, it ends up with almost 4 times the performance! And what’s the cost difference? 

The E5320 is actually cheaper than the Netburst Xeon, and to top it all off, uses less power as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Xeon_microprocessors

  • Irwindale 3.8Ghz = 110W
  • Cloverton E5320 = 80W

A coprehensive smackdown for the new Intel Quad Core processors.

Disclaimer

Ok, so it’s not quite a fair comparison. The Netburst Xeons also come in dual core variants. Even so, you can guess that a dual core Netburst Xeon is at most double as fast, so still half as fast as the quad core Core Xeon.

From what I can see though, there’s been no SPEC2006 CPU submissions for the dual core Netburst parts that operate in a dual cpu mode which probably gives you an idea that they’re performance is in no way competitive. There has been a submission for the dual core 7150N in a quad CPU mode however, lets check that.

About the same as the dual CPU E5320 value, but try actually buying one of those CPUs. They’re designed entirely for high end servers. Price comparison sites don’t really list them, and the initial price was apparently $2622 and used 150W per CPU, so 600W for 4 of them, and you get the same performance (at least for perlbench) as 2 E5320 processors using 80W each, or 160W total.

To top it off, compare a top of the line Quad core Core processor, the X5355

  • Specint_rate for a dual CPU 2.66Ghz Xeon X5355 (8 cores, 2 chips, 4 cores/chip) = 146

Which costs:

And uses 120W per CPU, or 240W for 2 CPUs. Amazing performance.

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New Define Rules screen forwarding options on beta server

I’m playing with the forwarding options on the Define Rules screen to try and make them more consistent (previously the “Forward message” option would really “redirect” the message as the original From address on the message was preserved, while the “Forward summary” option really did forward a summary, using your account name as the message From address).

If you login at the beta server (http://www.fastmail.fm/beta/) right now you’ll find the following forwarding options are available:

  • Redirect message
  • Redirect summary
  • Redirect squeezed summary
  • Forward summary
  • Forward squeezed summary
  • Forward notification only
  • SMS summary
  • SMS squeezed summary
  • SMS subject

You can interpret the main actions as:

  • Redirect = “forward message and preserve the original From address”
  • Forward = “forward message and use your username as the From address”
  • SMS = “forward message to phone, use your default personality for the originator phone number”

And the parts to forward as:

  • Message = complete original message
  • Summary = first 160 characters or so of the message body
  • Squeezed summary = message body with spaces stripped and some compression (eg great = gr8)
  • Subject = only message subject
  • Notification only = only the text “New email arrived at $username$”

This is a bit more orthogonal and keeps the terminology of “redirect” vs “forward” more consistent, including being consistent with the use of “Redirect to people” in the Action menu on the Mailbox screen (preserves the original From address), and the “Forward” button on the View message screen (creates a new message with your username as the From address)

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Access your file storage from Vista

You can now access your FastMail.FM file storage area directly from Windows Vista, just as if it was another standard hard drive! Here’s what you need to do:

  • Right click on ‘Computer’ and choose ‘Add a network location’
  • Click ‘Choose a custom network location’ and then Next
  • Type ‘https://dav.messagingengine.com/’ and click Next
  • Enter your username (including the ‘@fastmail.fm’ part) and click Next
  • Type ‘FastMail’ when asked for a name, and click Finish

You can now double-click on the ‘FastMail’ folder and directly access all your folders and files! You can drag files to and from these folders to copy your files and folders, and access them from the FastMail.FM web interface.

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Feeds have full posts again

Due to a typo, the RSS feeds from the FastMail blog and FastMail status blog didn’t have the full blog post in the feed. This should be fixed now

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