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June 18, 2015:
Revised: v2.0

Mailman? Mail? Email?

The Curse of Yahoo Email

I've been busy over the past few months developing a bunch of new designs. A further recent development, quite unknown to me as I'll explain, was the publication of a design of mine for a talking frequency counter in the March 2015 issue of the US amateur radio magazine "QST", published by ARRL.

I submitted that material to QST for consideration about three years ago. You'll forgive me if I didn't give it a lot of attention. Since I currently live in the Middle East, and ARRL like to send stuff back and forth by snail mail, I warned ARRL editors a number of times about sending letters to me. The postal service is not reliable in this part of the world. No-one seems to believe it, but it's true.

For example, what address do you write on the letter? Fourth sand dune to the left of the brown camel? OK, maybe not. The problems start, however, with the street names. They are, well, a bit "variable", shall we say? Some folk call their street by one name, others call it by quite another. Even if they agree on the name, then consider the variations in spelling those Arabic names in English. (Oh, my word!) Finally, and as you would expect, the postal staff are much better at reading Arabic addresses than ones written in English. That's just where teh problems begin, but perhaps you begin to get the idea.

Over the past six years, I've probably received perhaps ten letters, not all in (ahem) good condition. The neighbour's brown camel has seen to a couple, I reckon.

So when the ARRL sent me a letter telling me my article had been published in QST, it was a minor miracle that the letter actually got to me. I think it arrived about two months after the article was published. The letter promised they'd be sending me a copy of the magazine. By mail. I'm not holding out a lot of hope for that, but I'm also keeping a pretty watchful eye over that camel next door.

Meanwhile, I was thinking that questions about that design might arrive at my email address My Callsign (at) yahoo.com but nothing happened. Huh.

Finally, realising perhaps something was wrong, I tested my email. It was then that I discovered that Yahoo's camel had got to it. For some reason, Yahoo had changed my email address from MyCallsign (at) yahoo.com to MyCallsign (at) yahoo.com.au
See the subtle difference? Took me a while to figure that one out.

Well, of course, Yahoo. Send my email to Australia. Sure, why not. It's got sand. A desert.... What the...?

Did Yahoo tell me? Nope. Warnings? No. Looking at my email, I could see a date, which is not all that long ago, when email was arriving and answers were going out jsut fine, with the correct email address from my end added automagically, and then....Nix.

Checking around, it seems I was not the only poor soul affected by that Yahoo, er, change. Not by a long shot.

"I'll call Yahoo's Customer Care," I decided. "They'll fix it!" Ah, no. Doesn't seem to exist. Yahoo less than helpfully point almost all of such queries and concerns to "the community". Is that something like a group of similarly cursed doomed souls? So, yeah, good luck with that. After looking at a bit of that "community" email traffic, I think I'm beginning to understand why Yahoo may not be the success it once was.

So, rather than attempt to fix something that Yahoo's clearly not much interested in (although I tried...Oh, how I tried...), I've simply changed my email address to a new one on my own email server. 

So, sorry, folks. Really sorry.

Feel free to use that email address to ask any questions about anything on the website. Just note - I do have a day-job, so sometimes it may take me a few days to answer. And I have to feed that camel. The promised issue of QST may just turn up any day now...

Office Mail?

Ah, I can hear someone asking out there "Why doesn't Andrew simply get his mail sent to his office? That's a reliable method in that large Middle Eastern country." Hmmm, let me explain.

I work for a fairly large and quite typical enterprise. Mail arrives either directly to the post office box, or to our office building via courier, or by hand. i.e. Yes, it is quite standard for someone to send their driver with their letter on a two hour round trip drive across the city to this building to deliver a letter.

Alternately, post office box mail is collected about once or twice each month by staff in offices like ours. It's then put in a large (very large) sack in an office in the building. Occasionally, a handful of mail will be pulled out and delivered to a few lucky souls, but that's quite unusual. So, if I am expecting mail to the office, you must go to that room, periodically, and look in the sack. And, it's a BIG sack.

And once every couple of years, they seem to tip it out and start fresh. Don't ask where the old mail goes. Must be a quantum thing because, as far as I can discover, it's never seen again.

Oh, if you think using the courier is a good plan, well, good luck with that, too. Despite the fact our building is 15 floors high and visible across most of the city, and next to one of the largest universities in the Middle East, courier drivers often report being unable to find the building. But at least they can call me for instructions.

I had one call me
last week. He'd already been given the location (It's also on the corner of two really large and well-known roads in this city) and he had the GPS location to within 50m, but, nope, he couldn't find the building. We had this interesting Arabic-English conversation. His native language was, I think, Urdu. I don't speak Urdu, sorry. Sigh.

Anyway, I don't use couriers much for my own mail. I gave up on that a long time ago. (Huh, it took a bunch of us three years to actually spot the Main Post Office here in the city! Don't ask...) Besides, sending a standard letter by courier from here to, say, London or New York costs about US$100. Same cost to send couriered mail from those places to me here too. I don't get my parts that way.

Which all explains why we don't use the mail much in the desert. Camels are way more reliable. So was email, until Yahoo.




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