Wednesday, July 22, 2015


In the last week too much has happened for me to properly assimilate.  No biggies, just small stuff.  Think swarm.  I went "up" to the next level of Macintosh Operating System, called "Yosemite", which changed where things were, how they looked and how they interact.  There are still things I am working on that are lost in the bowels of some code-writer's labyrinthine head.  I finally found my image archive, which I need as soon as I figure out this gizmo that makes slides into jpg.  Among the other insults, I can't link readers to the best photos of the "Reynolds Creek Fire" in Glacier Park, which are pretty spectacular.  

While I was trying to figure all this out, I got complaints that emails were bouncing.  This is not trivial since I sometimes am actually expecting responses to writing.  I haven't tried to sell writing, but I do free work like reviews for environmental organizations.  It's messing with other people's lives for email to bounce.  This is a sign of a problem no one is facing:  the Internet is not dependable.  It still throws things down dark holes.  And here in Valier it's sitting on an old freaky phone substructure.  The advertising says that fiber optics are going in, all is marvelous, but the real facts are as political as anything else in Montana.  One town is perfectly happy to make sure another is not as upgraded, hamstringing their business.

Through the day I went through a sequence of techies.  They are "laminated"-- at the bottom newbies and the naive are where you begin.  They pass you up higher through the use of a work ticket, so you need to keep that number.  As I went "up" the ladder, one was cheerful, the next was guardedly grumpy;  one knew things and the next stone-walled. I write down the names.   Finally I got up to the "office" where the lady (it's always a lady) tries to soothe me and assure me that there was nothing anyone could do.  

So I added all that stuff in one email and sent it to some of the people who have been bounced.  (They knew I had a gmail account.)  The crux of the matter was that 3Rivers insisted that they had no control and that the persons who are getting bounced are on a black list, not as individuals but as an ISP for crimes like spamming.  3Rivers uses "Barracuda" to filter what comes to my email.  There are levels.  They have nothing to do with my standards.  They are set by thirty-year-olds with no life experience except keyboards and carrels.  (If I'm wrong, I'd like examples.)

I cannot reconcile this with what 3Rivers tells me.

The only way I can know that a correspondent is being bounced is if that person tells me -- but how can they tell me if my email won't accept their messages?  (Hint: my landline is in the phone book.)  The 3Rivers people couldn't grasp that fatal flaw.

Pretty soon I was at which is a website that keeps track of who is blacklisted and provides a way to "whitelist" them.  So I asked to whitelist the ISP in question and they bluntly refused.  No reason.

I sent this info to the blacklisted people.  It turns out that the person who was most upset about being bounced knew all about it, but had never told me.  He sent a belligerent message to me which I sent on to 3Rivers.  Suddenly all was white-listed.  Unless someone is out there bouncing without my knowledge.

Except that now I have my own little black list. 

What this reveals is that the Internet is not like a phone call or snail mail.  It is not straight-forward, esp. in transit.  Not only is the provider not keeping up with the mechanical equipment, the people who are doing the planning -- like the local board of 3 Rivers are naive to the point of being out of the loop.  And there are contracting interfering bodies, not just monitoring what you say, but deciding who can contact you.

Sub-sets are making decisions about what goes where, but they are layers on layers on layers.  At the bottom is Bill Gates et al  and their original primitive assumptions about to manage information: the frame breaks down, overwhelmed, inappropriate for the reality.   You know -- blue screens and rotating beach balls.  Along the way one person noted that a friend, an "old computer hand" meaning over forty, originally learned primitive DOS years ago, and recently discovered he could easily hack major supposedly-secure computer setups, because all the safeguards were developed years AFTER DOS and no one ever went back to reform the basic assumptions.  Bandaids can be peeled off.

Already the wicked and secretive are building their own networks.  I want one for old, uncomplicated people with poor eyesight and poor control of mouses who don't want dissenters chiming in with smart-alec remarks.  I don't want more, more, more clever apps that will make dumb writing interesting by putting photos with them or making them flip or change colors or link to something I don't care about.  I don't want my spelling corrected by a machine that doesn't know what I'm talking about.  I do NOT want to be censored.

I still have a stack of unused legal pads and a box of black ink pens.  I should figure out what it costs me to send an email.  Maybe it's more expensive than stamps.  

Now THAT's a Smoke Signal.


Anonymous said...

Good luck. Everything is breaking down. I yearn for the old copper-wire Bell system, where I could go years without trouble.I am bundled with Charter, which wants me to go paperless, but I won't because something goes haywire in its cable system every little while, and paper at least allows me to receive and pay bills by mail. CenturyLink, the Bell remnant, is no better. Computers were supposed to make everything easier, and for a while that was true, but now they get harder and harder to operate, and the meaning of their words keeps changing so I don't know what they are talking about.

Mary Strachan Scriver said...


Hello Mary,

With the new Yosemite it may not allow you to change your email settings.
If this is the case then the easiest thing to do would to be adding a
secondary email "account" with the same settings and change your outgoing
settings for:
Must use authentication. (Do not use full email address as the username)
Port 587

This way you can switch between the outgoing settings when going from on
your 3 rivers network to off of your 3 rivers network.

If you need further assistance with this, please feel free to contact us
at 406-752-4335 (Option 1) for our 24 hour technical support or reply to
this message.

3Rivers Internet Technical Support

Rebecca Clayton said...

Facing a similar problem some years ago, I changed my operating system. (Macs are nice, but Linux is free, and will run on very old computers.) In Pocahontas County we have Hobson's choice for an ISP--take it or leave it. I handle my email exclusively with a Web browser, and have for at least 10 years.