They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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In A Word: Blech!

Western Michigan University has forced me to abandon one of the safest e-mailing systems I know. For most of the years from 1984 to 2005, I've had access to a VAX and VMS-Mail. I have used honest-to-god DEC VT-100 and VT-220 terminals and a bewildering array of VT100 emulators (Kermit, Telnet, Hyperterm SE) and portable terminal devices (NEC Starlet, Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100, etc.) to connect from near and far.

It's not that you can't write a virus which might infect a VAX, it's just such a low probability event very few would bother.

When Evil Strikes, The Mainframe Says So What?

As others have succumbed to virus laded e-mails and malicious phishing attacks, I have looked at HTML-based e-mail and laughed. If there's no plain text provided, I can copy the crap and strip out the HTML using eCleaner. Or page through the HTML code and glance at the URL's.

One of the last pieces of e-mail I got on the VAX, purportedly from some bank in connection with PayPal Services (uh yeah, right), had a numeric URL and a web page title -- I kid you not -- called Sianara. And these morons expect me to blindly link to an address like that?

The End of an Era

Alas, back in March I first got word the VAX would go away on June 30th. I sent a reply back to the WMU OIT person who broadcast this alert and moaned about the end of my personal security, but got no reply:

Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 14:49:35 -0500 (EST)

Ah, too bad that VMS Mail will be phased out. I have enjoyed having a Secure mail system which doesn't get jerked around by the latest HTML webmail fad of trying to take over my computer. And using a VT100 emulator to get my mail has been a lot easier than using the MS Outlook "Please Kick Me" software approach.

Guess they don't appreciate someone who has either a divergent viewpoint or an ironic sense of humor.

Their e-mails ended with a promise that they'd get in touch with us:

The OIT Help Desk has geared up to assist with the migration process. They will be contacting you between now and June 30th to migrate your e-mail from VMS to e-communication services.

Hello? Hello? Hello?

By Wednesday 29 June 2005 I hadn't heard anything -- you think I'd volunteer to trash my life early? -- and as my big STEP registration effort was over, I figured I could endure the switch. So I called the OIT HELP desk and asked if the change was still going on.

Oh yes.
Well they said they'd get back to me.
I can migrate you now. What e-mail client are you using?
Do you have e-mail now?
Yes. That's why I have to migrate from the VAX.
So what browser do you use?
None. I use a VT100 terminal emulator.
Yes, but what Internet browser are you currently using for your e-mail?
I said I use a VT100 terminal emulator.
Are you a Microsoft Outlook user?
Do I sound so stupid as to allow Outlook to ever be fired up on my machines?
But you must be using a browser.
No... I use a VT100 terminal emulator. This is a VAX. I log into the VAX and type MAIL and I get my e-mail.
Oh... you're doing it directly?
Okay. Give me your Bronco ID name and I'll do the migration.
And your password?
I don't give people my password.
But I need it to do the migration. You can always change it later.
All right. ****************
How do you spell that?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
No... * as in ******
Okay. Oh, this will take a few minutes. You have 1154 messages to move.
And the 577 messages in the STEP folder.
Oh, right.
All done. I can change your password for you, if you'd like.
Um... if I didn't want you to have my password, why would I tell you my new one? (Actually, I was more gracious than that -- grin.)

Good Thing I Acted First

Shortly after I made my migration, I found the following notice on the university's website:
News and Announcements
2005-06-29 The VMS e-mail migration project will be culminating on Thursday, June 30, with a mass migration of those users who have not contacted the Help Desk for assistance in the move of their current e-mail mailbox from VMS to the Electronic Communication Services mailbox. If you are a VMS e-mail user and have not migrated, OIT will be performing the migration for you starting at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 30. You will not be able to access your e-mail for approximately 48 hours.

So much for promising to get back in touch with us.

Who wants to have their e-mail, at their place of business, unvoluntarily sliced off for two days? Especially just before a three-day weekend, when a lot of people are rushing to get out of town. Not that I was, my you, but people do not think about the system, only their own little parts.

There's a reason why I call my blog "They Didn't Ask Me..."

Well, Ye-eah... What Did You Expect?

* (07/01/05) We are currently experiencing an issue with receiving e-mail from outside WMU. Some e-mail is getting delivered and e-mail between WMU systems should not be affected. We are working with the vendor to resolve this issue as soon as possible.-Gf

Why do you think that I picked up secondary e-mail accounts from Yahoo! and wrangled an invite to Google's Gmail(Beta)? So I could contact some sources and tell them the e-mail connection via the university was about to become questionable.

I Want My VAX Mail Back!

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