Delaying Email Delivery Using Procmail and Cron

Because I use Mutt, any mailbox that has new mail tends to get my attention when I check my email. This became particularly annoying because I kept opening my spam mailbox to check a single spam message. Therefore, I decided to come up with a way to delay the delivery of my spam to once per day.

I started by changing my “.procmailrc” to deliver spam messages to a different mailbox that Mutt does not check.

MAIL=`echo $HOME/Mail`
* ^X-Spam-Status: Yes

Then I created a new procmailrc file called “spam.procmailrc” that would deliver mail to my checked spam mailbox.

MAIL=`echo $HOME/Mail`


Next, I wrote a short Bash script to use Formail and Procmail to deliver all of the messages in the delayed delivery spam mailbox to the normal spam mailbox.

#! /bin/bash



# Make sure there is delayed mail and we can get the lock (retry once)
if ( test -s $DELAY && lockfile -r 1 $LOCK 2>/dev/null ); then

    # Add the delayed mail to the temp mailbox and empty the delayed mailbox
    cat $DELAY >> $TEMP && cat /dev/null > $DELAY
    # Process each delayed message

    # Delete the lock now that we are done
    rm -f $LOCK

Finally, I set the script to run daily using Cron. Now I am only interrupted by spam when I choose to be instead of every time a new message arrives. I have used the same technique to delay the delivery of emails to unimportant mailing lists so I only read them hourly instead of every time a message arrives.

OWA Sync on Ubuntu

Update: OWA Sync V0.6 (the current version) is not compatible with Exchange 2007. When I set this up, I was connecting to Exchange 2003.

I use OWA Sync to get all of my calendar information onto my Ubuntu desktop. I recently rediscovered the Little Brother’s Database and decided to make my OWA contacts available in Mutt on my Ubuntu desktop, too. (I used lbdb to make my contacts in Apple Address Book available to Mutt when I was still using Mac OS X as my primary operating system.)

The OWA Sync website has a decent explanation of creating a owaSyncrc file. After I created that, I wrote a script that runs as a cron job.

#! /bin/bash

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin/

/usr/local/bin/owaSync.kit -update

cat $HOME/.owa/Calendar/*.ics > $HOME/.calendar.ics
cat $HOME/.owa/Contacts/*.vcf > $HOME/.contacts.vcf

After a bit of trial and error, I figured out that “/usr/local/bin/” needed to be in the path for the owaSync.kit script to run. After the synchronization is complete, I then concatenate all of the calendar events into a single file and all of the contact cards into a single file. I now have a single calendar file that I can use with PHP iCalendar and a single contacts file that I can use with lbdb. It requires a fairly simple rc file that looks something like this:

METHODS="$METHODS m_vcf m_muttalias"


I add “m_vcf” and “m_muttaliases” to the “METHODS” and then I specify the locations of my OWA contacts and my Mutt aliases. Now when I launch Mutt, I can query for addresses that I downloaded from OWA.

The Typical Vim Reaction

Every now and then I feel permitted to go on a rant. It’s unfortunate because this isn’t even a particularly good rant. Why do so many of my (instant messaging) conversations with others about Vim look like this?

Chris: do you use an IDE?
Chris: and if so which one?
Zachary: um, I generally use vim:-P
Chris: gah

Vim is a great text editor. It’s a step up from Ed which is the standard text editor. I started using Vim five years ago. That was about the time that I discovered secure shell, and I started administering servers and other computers remotely. It turns out that Vim was the best text editor over a secure shell session, and since most of my machines ran Mac OS X at the time, Emacs was a terrible option. (I’m not really sure what you call Emacs on Mac OS X. You probably shouldnt’ call it Emacs.) I limped along using very basic Vim functionality over secure shell for a while. Then I discovered a useful graphical tutorial for Vim, and it became considerably more useful.

Now I use Vim because every other text editor or word processor is slower and requires the use of a mouse. (Gah!) I write most of my documents in LaTeX using Vim. I read my email in Mutt and compose emails in Vim. I use Vim almost exclusively to edit code and configuration files on my workstations and servers which works well because it does a good job of syntax highlighting and smart indentation.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be using Vim exclusively, and it was somewhat by accident that I switched, but now that I am using it, I would be unable to go back.