Sendio has done something amazing for TMC - they provided us with a review unit of an anti-spam box which slowly migrated throughout TMC and now many of us use it to send challenge-response messages to people who send us email. You know, the recipient of this email values your message but wants to make sure you are a living, breathing human and not a slimy spammer who continues to destroy the productivity of people like me.
The box works great. When you connect it to your email account, BAM - spam dies. It goes into a secret place in the Sendio Linux-based box and you use the web to access it. The interface is Flash-based which is not much of a problem - unless you need to get in via iPhone of course (no Flash support in this gadget yet).
Here is the interesting part. The box while great for spam detection can be impossible to get into - meaning the Flash-based interface just churns and times out. In the past we called tech support and they are awesome. Unfortunately for me they say I receive as much email in my inbox as a company. No surprise here.
What Sendio mentioned is their appliance does not use a database but instead records are in a flat file system. Some in our company like Tom Keating recently changed their email addresses just to minimize spam and if you get an average amount of messages like Tom may, the interface seems to be fine.
To circumvent timeouts I started to access the box at 5-6am and on weekends when it was more responsive. Lately this trick stopped working as well. Today I tried at 4:20am, 4:30, 4:40, etc and now at 6:14 I am staring at a blank screen which history tells me will timeout and then give me an error due to my inactivity. Ironic. As luck would have it the box just graced me with an error message which is pasted below in all its glory. Enjoy it -- I see it more often than I see my kid's faces.
First it tells you it is too busy for you
Then it goes idle due to inactivity -- exactly what activity does it expect from me while I wait for it to do nothing? (click to see larger images)
In fairness, TMC probably gets as much email as a Fortune 1000 company and the appliance doesn't seem to be designed to handle this load. Still, an upgrade to a database is mandatory for such an appliance. Sendio... What say you?
Readers - if you are a typical SMB this box is great. If you get massive amounts of email, you may not get the performance you expect.
To reiterate - the problem with this appliance was that it would not let me into the web interface to see what it marked as spam. Ultimately, legitimate emails always seem to get caught in filters (especially when the sender does not respond to a challenge-response request) and if you aren't checking them, you may be missing important messages.
Our internal MIS team sent this post to the company and they immediately found database corruption which they say had been going on for some time. We received this message from them:
The database has been completely rebuilt using the existing data and all database corruption has been removed. At this point the daily database maintenance is running and has been for a few hours. The problem is, since the maintenance has not run since September, it's hard to say how long it will take to complete. We will check the progress first thing tomorrow morning but if you could provide feedback on the responsiveness of the system it would be greatly appreciated. Finally, if you notice anything unusual at all please contact us immediately.
Thank you very much for your patience.
---Since Sendio worked on the appliance it has become responsive - instead of waiting for many minutes to see your spam messages (if ever) I can now get in and see messages in less than 10 seconds. I have been able to do this multiple times in the last 12 hours which seems to confirm that this was a database issue of some kind.
With that I would like to suggest one room for improvement - how about allowing more than 50 spam messages to be seen at a time. This would speed up the process of scanning messages for those of us who want to check hundreds of emails at a time. I also suggest a setting so a custom amount of messages can be seen at a time. This would make it easier to view all spam on a screen without the need to use the scroll bar on the right. On my screen for example I can see about 35 messages at once. I might want to set the interface to display this exact amount.
Other than the problems listed above I am not sure how I could live without the Sendio anti-spam appliance going forward.