email over ssh/socks with evolution (to dodge wifi cafe firewall)

December 1st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve just been working in a cafe whose wifi blocks outgoing email. So I had to figure out how to send mail through an ssh tunnel. That is, hussle it through the firewall by sending it encrypted to a server elsewhere, and send the email outgoing from there.

For future reference, and in case it’s useful to anybody else, here’s how. This is assuming you are running ubuntu on your own machine, and have ssh access to a server somewhere else that’s capable of sending mail.

We use ssh to set up a SOCKS proxy, over an ssh tunnel. This establishes a port on the local machine (here, port 1234). any traffic sent through that port will emerge from the server at the other end:

ssh -D 1234

Now, install tsocks. This lets you run another program, with all outgoing connections sent via SOCKS

sudo apt-get install tsocks

configure tsocks to use the tunnel you’ve set up

sudo vim /etc/tsocks.conf

look for the default server settings, at the bottom. Edit so that:

server =
server_port = 1234

Now start your mail program under tsocks

tsocks evolution 

In order to make external mail sending work under this setup, I had to turn off TLS in evolution. I’m not sure if this is a problem inherent to the socks/ssh setup, or just with my particular situation.

more info:


May 18th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

This is a great NY Times article, very much in the tradition of bringing in whichever outside expert knows plenty about the subject, and (presumably) giving them very thorough editing for language and comprehensibility.

The subject is aelf-tracking, automatically gathering data about your health, mood, daily activities, storing it in a form which allows you later to analyze it and unpick the interactions between aspects of your daily life:

A hundred years ago, a bold researcher fascinated by the riddle of human personality might have grabbed onto new psychoanalytic concepts like repression and the unconscious. These ideas were invented by people who loved language. Even as therapeutic concepts of the self spread widely in simplified, easily accessible form, they retained something of the prolix, literary humanism of their inventors. From the languor of the analyst’s couch to the chatty inquisitiveness of a self-help questionnaire, the dominant forms of self-exploration assume that the road to knowledge lies through words. Trackers are exploring an alternate route. Instead of interrogating their inner worlds through talking and writing, they are using numbers. They are constructing a quantified self.

The project most interesting to me was one of the simplest, the moodscape mood-tracking system. And even there, it’s less for the interface itself than for the list of mood elements, which I may well incorporate into a spreadsheet and skip the online elements entirely.

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