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Olson’s Observations

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Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Gmail Back up via Fetchmail

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GmailTaking my life out of Outlook and placing it fully into Gmail + Google Calendar has been great. My personal productivity is way up and accessing my e-mail and schedule has never been easier. However, as soon as I made the move I began thinking about the back up issues since I depend on having my e-mail archives for a number of things. Sure, I could POP everything to Outlook or Thunderbird but I wanted a better solution than that. Thanks to Lifehacker that solution came a couple weeks ago and I finally implemented it this weekend.

The basic solution is to use the old command line and fetchmail. Since fetchmail was originally written for Unix you’ll need a Unix emulator. I went with the one Lifehacker suggested. It’s called Cygwin and it works like a charm.  For instructions on how to get Cygwin up and running check out this Lifehacker post.

The solution that Lifehacker presents not only backs up all of your Gmail easily into a mbox file that can be accessed in either a text file reader or an e-mail platform like Thunderbird, it also explains how to set up a batch process that will run your Gmail back up automatically at a set time each day. Now that’s a solution!

Here are a couple notes from my installation that should make yours easier:

  • When you create the .fetchmailrc file you should create it via the Cygwin command line
  • Make sure to modify the first line of your .fetchmailrc file with “service 995″ - it should read poll with proto POP3 service 995 and options no dns
  • If you want to use Thunderbird to view your mbox file make sure to download this extension to make importing the file easier

The command line can be scary but if you follow Lifehacker’s instructions you shouldn’t have a problem. This solution shouldn’t take too long to implement and it is well worth the time. Click here to head over to the Lifehacker post and set-up your automatic Gmail back up and sleep easy.

Written by Eric Olson

March 4th, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Get Your Site Mobile in Under 5 Minutes

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Nokia 9300I recently started using my Nokia 9300 quite a bit to do some web surfing on the go. In fact, some may say I am addicted to the on-the-go web but what do they know? Anyways… since I am surfing on the GPRS network which is just around 56k I noticed how slow my site loads on a mobile device. Also, Opera Mini (and other mobile browsers) load from left to right meaning that if you have a left rail full of stuff a mobile user will have to scroll through all of that before they can hit your content and then your right rail.

All of this got me thinking about how to quickly put together a mobile version of The Wannabe VC and VentureWeek. An idea John had a while back seemed to be the perfect solution and it would take under 5 minutes to set up. Here is a quick tutorial on how to get your site mobile ready in under 5 minutes. Enjoy!

1. Set up the subdomain for your mobile site - I would recommend placing your mobile site at as that is the “industry standard” from what I hear. Other popular methods are (what Google uses) and

2. Create a stripped down version of your site on the new “mobile” domain you set up - This is super easy if you are a FeedBurner user as you can just use BuzzBoost (under the “Publicize” tab) to create your mobile site. Head into the BuzzBoost set up tool and customize your output. Save those changes, grab the script that is automatically created for you and add it to the new mobile domain either via text document (which you can then upload to your server) or right in your ftp if your ftp allows you to edit files. The new file should be labeled index.html and it should be placed in the mobile subdomain. Your full mobile URL is now (make sure you have the html and body tags set up in the doc of course otherwise the script won’t work properly). Save the new index file and then head over to your mobile site to see what you have done!

Important Note: If you are already using BuzzBoost as I do you will need to set up a dummy version of your feed in your FeedBurner account if you want your mobile site to have different settings then your current BuzzBoost. You need to do this because if you were to go in and change the BuzzBoost settings they would cascade to all other uses of BuzzBoost. In my case, I only BuzzBoost that last two headlines for the cross promotion I do between the sites and I wanted to BuzzBoost the last 5 items in full content format for the mobile site.

To create a second version of your site for your mobile BuzzBoost you can simply burn your FeedBurner feed again inside of your account. I suggest naming the dummy feed YourName - Mobile. Once the dummy feed is burned you can go ahead and create your BuzzBoost code.

3. Set up a redirect that will forward all mobile devices to your new mobile optimized page - Insert the block of code below into your .htaccess file. This code will forward all mobile devices listed in the code to your mobile site. This code came from Pocket PC Thoughts where it did not include Opera Mini. You’ll notice I have added Opera Mini into the code below. It’s really simple to do that. All you need to do is figure out what the user agent for the particular application is and then add a new rewrite condition with the new user agent to the code. Wikipedia has a great list of user agents for your reference.

Note: Change the bold below to your schema. Also, where it is obvious the lines wrapped in order to fit in my site design you will want to keep that info on the line it is attached to when you place the code into the .htaccess file otherwise the code may break.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “Windows CE” [NC,OR] #Windows CE and Pocket PC
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “Opera Mini” [NC,OR] #Opera Mini
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “NetFront” [NC,OR] #PalmSource WebBrowser 2.0
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “Palm OS” [NC,OR] #Eudora Web Browser for Palm
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “Blazer” [NC,OR] #Handspring Blazer Browser
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “Elaine” [NC,OR] #RIM Devices
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “^WAP.*$” [NC,OR] #WAP Browsers
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “Plucker” [NC,OR] #Plucker Offline download client
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} “AvantGo” [NC] #AvantGo Service
RewriteRule ^index\.php [L,R]

Other options: You can also use javascript to do this type of redirection but I would highly recommend using the code above if it at all possible. The javascript version of the redirect seems to be less universal and reliable.

4. You’re Mobile! - You can test your implementation by heading to the Opera Mini simulator. If you have done everything properly you should be able to type in your usual URL and Opera Mini will automatically resolve to the mobile optimized site you just created. I should note that it probably took you longer to read this article than it would to implement all of this so get to it. Help your mobile brethren out!

Written by Eric Olson

July 30th, 2006 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Technology, Tutorials