421 Too many SMTP sessions for this host

This is not the message I wanted to get after sending an important e-mail to a supplier in Taiwan. To make things worse, this isn’t a message I received when connecting to my (e-mail) provider’s mail server. Instead, the mail server itself received this message when trying to relay my e-mail to Hinet, where my supplier has his account. Maybe somebody at Hinet had a brilliant idea of how to reduce SPAM (“let’s not accept more than 8 e-mails per month from other mail servers”) or their server was having temporary problems and nobody could be bothered to check if the error message sent together with error code 421 made sense. In any case, my e-mail wasn’t getting through.

Other than sending a fax, the solution I found was to connect directly to the mail server at Hinet (ms12a.hinet.net) from my e-mail software, thereby bypassing my provider’s mail server. On this illustration from Wikipedia, this would mean drawing an arrow from “Alice’s MUA” directly to “mx.b.org”. My first attempt failed (“relaying denied”) because I had forgotten to remove my own address from the BCC field. Since Hinet’s server (at least this one) isn’t an open relay, it only accepts e-mails for its own users (*@hinet.net). After I fixed this, sending the e-mail was no problem (and it actually arrived, too).

Luckily, it was easy to add an alternative mail server in my e-mail software (Becky!). Still, this wasn’t the first time I had experienced problems communicating with business partners in Taiwan who were using Hinet and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m really wondering how many potential deals were never concluded because of Hinet’s poor performance.

Corrupted ZIP file?

I was very happy today to discover that one of our suppliers had high-resolution product images available for download. Since taking good product pictures is not done in a snap, this had the potential to save me lots of time. Unfortunately, after downloading the 30MB ZIP I received the following error message when trying to open it: “The Compressed (zipped) Folder is invalid or corrupted”. Downloading the file again didn’t make a difference. Sure, I could’ve asked the supplier to provide me with an uncorrupted file, but I knew this would take a while.

That’s why I went looking for software which might be able to fix the ZIP file. I quickly found two affordable programs: Zip Repair Pro and Advanced Zip Repair. Unfortunately, the trial version of Zip Repair Pro only repairs files up to 5 MB. Not wanting to spend 29,95 US$ to find out whether or not the ZIP file could be repaired, I gave Advance Zip Repair a try. This software uses a different approach: It will try to repair the file and show a report, but it won’t output the fixed file unless you register (29,95 US$). Repairing the ZIP file I had downloaded was no problem for Advance Zip Repair. However, seeing the report it became clear to me that the file didn’t contain the images I needed anyhow. 🙄

Click thumbnail to see the repair report: Advanced Zip Repair Report

Nevertheless, since only the last file was not completely recoverable I became curious and gave WinZip 10.0 and 7zip a try, too. Both programs are “regular” un-zip applications and not meant to be used for repairing ZIP files. Indeed, both were unable to open the archive (“Cannot open file: It does not appear to be a valid archive”).

Now please excuse me while I uninstall everything again…

Romanization Converter: Beta 2 with Firefox Integration

Some new and very useful functions (at least for me):

Please note that all links below have been shortened to improve readability. To get the complete URL, you have to add http://www.gonnalearn.com/chinese/ in front of it or simply right click on the link and select “Copy Link Location” if you are using Mozilla Firefox or “Copy Shortcut” if you are using Internet Explorer.

1. Set your preferred input and output romanization system and then bookmark the URL (see below no. 3 for all options):

converter.html?in=pinyin&out=bopomofo sets Pinyin as input and Bopomofo (tone marks) as output

2. This is even better: Pass the string that you want to convert:

converter.html?i=pinyin_sfn&o=bopomofo&q=hen3hao3 shows ㄏㄣˇㄏㄠˇ right away!

Please note that the variables are now named i for the input system and o for the output system, q is the (urlencoded) text you want to convert. If you only specify q but not i and o , the text will be shown in the converter and then you’ll have to manually select the input and output conversion systems.

The best thing about this is that you can use the Advanced URL Builder Extension for Firefox to highlight some text and then have it converted with two mouse clicks. 🙂

After you installed the extension, go to Tools > Extensions, select Advanced URL Builder and click on Options. Specify a name, it will be shown in the context menu, so make it meaningful, then enter the url in the syntax as shown above, ending with &q=. The extension will automatically add the highlighted text and paste it to the end of the URL.

Example for converting Pinyin with tone marks to Bopomofo (my favourite):
Name: Pinyin TM > Bopomofo (or something you’ll understand)
URL: converter.html?i=pinyin&o=bopomofo&q=

Example for converting Tongyong with tone marks to Pinyin:
Name: Tongyong TN > Pinyin TM
URL: converter.html?i=tongyong&o=pinyin&q=

Example for a universal query, it will copy the highlighted text and then let you select the input and output systems manually:
Name: RConverter
URL: converter.html?i=tongyong&o=pinyin&q=

To use the extension in connection with the converter, highlight the text you want to convert, right-click, select “Find using…” and the appropriate conversion (the “name” given above).

3. Input and output romanization system values:

  • bopomofo: Bopomofo
  • gwoyeu: Gwoyeu Romatzyh
  • mps2_sfn: MPSII (numbers)
  • mps2: MPSII (tone marks)
  • pinyin_sfn: Pinyin (numbers)
  • pinyin_htm: Pinyin (numeric HTML entities) probably useless in this context
  • pinyin: Pinyin (tone marks)
  • top: Tonally ortographic pinyin (TOP)
  • tongyong_sfn: Tongyong (numbers)
  • tongyong: Tongyong (tone marks)
  • wadegiles: Wade-Giles
  • yale_sfn: Yale

You’ve got mail – from Malta!

Thinking about using a remailing service to save money? Think again!

Malta Postage PaidToday was a happy day for me as the software that comes bundled with my new managed server finally arrived. Actually, I had expected to receive it one week ago.

Looking at the postage stamp, I noticed the letter had not been sent from Germany (where our company’s web host is based), but from Malta. This might explain the delay and reminded me of an invitation to a trade fair a German supplier had sent me, also from Malta. It arrived about 10 days after the fair was over. 🙄