Open Xchange, Strato and the joy of mailfilters.

At my-vpa we are running an integrated groupware environment to ensure a consistant, stable and secure workdesk based on Open-Xchange for our employees.

Additionally we use strato as our primary mail-service in the open wild and have the OX connected to it. So far so good. The only problem is, strato doesn’t support the sieve protocol for external services, so we are not able to use mailfilters (think: autoresponder when you are on holiday).

So, my idea is, to set up an own mailserver, which fetches from strato through imap, serves imap locally via dovecot and uses dovecot-sieve, to enable sieve rules in OX. It could look like this:


I am going to write an update as soon as I’ve figured out, how that all sticks together, especially how I am going to handle the synchronisation and user setup (think: we have 100+ employees)


We do a relaunch tomorrow and I had some headaches with wordpress being slow on EC2

With our company mein-virtuellerassistent.com we were using a website we have built 6 years ago. Being the german market leader in the virtual private assistant soace, tomorrow is the german relaunch and rebranding to my-vpa.com. Besides many technical improvements under the hood (we`ve built a super sophisticated task management tool – I haven´t heard of something else coming near that, making it super easy to delegate tasks to outsourced resources) we are doing a website relaunch.

I´ve just been doing some performance tunings for the EC2 machine, the site is running on, and now found loader.io to do some performance-testing. For the moment (and the expected traffic) this looks somehow ok.


To the WordPress Amazon EC2 tuning part:

  • use Total Cache with worppress and MAKE SURE TO DEACTIVATE MINIFY (that causes and costs CPU power)
  • adapt apache prefork-conf to your machine size (for a t.3 this would be ok):


<IfModule prefork.c>
 StartServers       10
 MinSpareServers    10
 MaxSpareServers   10
 MaxClients       10
 MaxRequestsPerChild  4000
  • tune your mysql – there´s a proper preset coming with it (locate my-small.cnf) and mv my.cnf to my-old.cnf, mv my-small.cnf my.cnf, mysqld restart

So, keeping fingers crossed, the 301s from the old site will keep on carry valuable organic traffic to our site…


Und auf einmal drückst Du die „Windows Taste“

Letzte Woche gab mein „Late 2011“ MacBook auf einmal seinen Geist auf: nach ca. 29565 Betriebsstunden hatte sich die Batterie des Mainboards wohl verabschiedet. Da ich aber gerade mal schnell weiter arbeiten musste, nahm ich mir das nächst-freie-im-Büro-liegende Notebook (irgendwas aus Plastik von Dell) und startete es in der Hoffnung, nicht direkt von einer Ubuntu Live-CD aus weiter arbeiten zu müssen. Und siehe da: Ein Kastenlogo das irgendwie nach Windows 10 aussah, erschien.

Mit dem Passwort Admin/Admin kam ich natürlich sofort rein (bestimmt ein Bug von Microsoft, meine Mitarbeiter würden das nie tun) und suchte erst einmal nach Minesweeper, der letztlich mir bekannten Windows Anwendung aus 1995 oder so.

Doch mit jedem öffnen des Startmenüs (Apfeltaste=Windows Taste. Ja, natürlich Apple Tastatur und Cinema Display) wurde mir dieses Biest von Windows sympathischer. Rennt verdammt fix, selbst nach dem Start. Keine App hat seit einer Woche irgendwie gehangen. Dieser Office Fluch funzt verdammt gut. Und dann gibt es auch noch so was wie einen Ubuntu Kern (ich brauche eben täglich ein Terminal – aus der Windows Welt gibt es jetzt auch so was wie „Remote Terminal“ und ja: datt Ding spricht Private Keys).

Mit Mobile Net Switch emuliere ich die Netzwerkumgebungen aus OSX, weil ich häufig die Büroumgebung wechsle. Mit einer Mischung aus Outlook und Windows „Mail und Calendar“ versuche ich mein Email-Kontrolliertes-Chaossystem im Griff zu behalten. Geht – irgendwie. Noch ein wenig krampfig aber man merkt, wo Microsoft hin möchte.

Alles in allem muss man sagen: die Woche hat mir mit WIN 10 gut gefallen – wenn nur die beschissenen Hockeys nicht wären. Da ist man nun einmal Apple Kind – oder eben nicht. Apple wir ein wenig aufpassen müssen: Design mäßig finde ich Win 10 gerade fast eleganter, als Nationalparks. Ich bleib jetzt erstmal dabei und schau mal, wann ich an Grenzen stoße.

Update: so nen Dell Latitude E7240 mit Win 10 ist auch irgendwie: antihipster. Das find ich eigentlich ganz cool.

business IT

What is the filter economy?

Recently I noticed more and more companies rising, which don’t own an asset, which don’t manufacture a product or don’t create their own content. Instead they provide filters for existing stuff. Examples are:

  • Airbnb (don’t own houses, but let you find the best one for your needs)
  • Uber (don’t own cars, but get you a taxi ride)
  • facebook (don’t create content, but sample your newsfeed)
  • google (search engine) (don’t own content, but let you find the right one.)
While these examples are not new and have been described as players in the so called „sharing economy“ as well, I belive there’s a new aspect to it, when you understand them as filters. Like in a filter economy

What is the filter economy?

Seeing and understanding them as filters shows the underlying need, since more and more content is being created on the net: someone has to sort all the stuff, has to sort out the noise and display the relevant stuff. The businessmodell behind is quite obivous:

Who controls the filter, controls the money.

Controlling the permeability of the filter allows you to exactly target the needs of your customers while being more relevant to them, which usually leads to a higher conversion rate or pricetag. Identifiying the type of filter allows the user to chose what he really needs („I need recreation and spiritual time in the sun“ instead of „I need a flight to Bali, find me a hotel there…“ – you get the point)

Some companies are basically built on filters

Companies which play this to the best are currently:
  • buzzfeed (though they produce content themselves as well 🙂 )
  • Spotify (obvious algorithms and playlists)
  • Slack (filter communication in channels)
So, you can add is my company a filter? to your businessplan canvas when you are just starting or ask yourself which content, which services can my company filter for my customers.
  • provide a filter for video content on the net (youtube does no good job)
  • provide a filter for holidays (no one wants to book a flight, a hotel, a car himself anymore. Travel is still broken.)
  • provide a filter for work

Monitoring and restarting Open-Xchange

I started using monit for monitoring and automatically restaring process on some linux servers.

That is working quite well and you can find an easy setup guide here.

This is my setup in the /etc/monit/monitrc config file, to monitor and restart an open xchange server.

  check system localhost

    if loadavg (1min) > 4 then alert

    if loadavg (5min) > 2 then alert

    if memory usage > 75% then alert

    if swap usage > 25% then alert

    if cpu usage (user) > 70% then alert

    if cpu usage (system) > 30% then alert

    if cpu usage (wait) > 20% then alert

  check process open-xchange with pidfile /var/run/open-xchange.pid

    start program = „/etc/init.d/open-xchange start“

    stop program = „/etc/init.d/open-xchange stop“

It alerts about the status of the server, and if it  doesn’t find a running service, it restarts it.


Skinning Open Xchange

So, when you are up to have your own Open Xchange site you might want to do some basic skinning. This includes

  1. The colour TopBar
  2. The Logo

This is being done in 4 simple steps:

  1. Define the Topbar colour in the default themes .less* file:

    @topbar-background: #your colour

  2. Define the Logo in

    background-image: url(‚/appsuite/apps/themes/default/my-small-logo.png‘);

  3. Place the actual Logo in  „/var/www/appsuite/apps/themes/default/“ (notice the same path after „/var/www/….)
  4. run the /opt/open-xchange/appsuite/share/update-themes.sh script to re-generate the css files.

Bonus hint: in the default theme the logo has a width of 60px and a height of 22px.

That’s about it.


Textexpander: a handy tool for textcompletion

Textexpander comes as a handy osx tool: it let’s you create textsnippets being called by a hotkey, you can call and paste into any textfield… this is especially handy for textsnippets you need regulary (say standard email etc.). What is neat is that you can define variables which then can be filled in via a dropdown or textfield:

Screenshot 2015-06-22 20.59.13

It’s really worth the money.



PEAR PHP in local MAMP dev environment

Screenshot 2015-06-22 20.48.20


Depending on your php and MAMP version  you’ll find your pear installer somewhere like here:

cd into that directory and install your pear packages like this:
sudo ./pear install Net_SMTP

You can find a db of all available pear packages here: https://pear.php.net/packages.php


Creating a Feedly RSS Subscribe Button

I always found it a bit frustrating to copy/paste feeds to feedly manually, so I stumbled upon this workaround, it works quite well, as there is no official chrome extension of feedly:

Screenshot 2015-04-09 11.04.33

1. Install RSS subscription extension (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/rss-subscription-extensio/nlbjncdgjeocebhnmkbbbdekmmmcbfjd)
2. In options (chrome://extensions/ – click on options near “RSS subscription extension (by Google)) : click on “add…” button, put “feedly” in “description field and “http://www.feedly.com/home#subscription/feed/%s” in URL field.
3. Select feedly and click “Make default” (or optionally if you use only feedly, delete the other options it will be immediate when you click on icon if you have only one reader)
4. It’s done, now when visiting a website which provide RSS, you have a RSS icon in the multibox, clicking on it open Feedly and at the top of the feed, you have a “+Add” button letting you add it to feedly. Clicking on it open a dialog which allow you to select the categories.

(found here)

After a click on the „star“ the feed URL is pushed to feedly, and you just have to „+feedly“ there – pretty easy.


Working with Bamboo Paper and the iPad

You may remember the old, chunky Wacom Tablets, designers and illustrators were using with their Apple PowerPC G4 in the late 90s. Then the iPad came and some years later Bamboo Paper, a digital Notebook, made by Wacom (or acquired?!)


You can buy a pen as well (I got the solo), which really makes sense, though you can use it with your fingers also quite well.

Bamboo really changed the way I keep notes and even make concepts or presentations and use my iPad in a productive way. As I am into Keynote for presentation stuff, hand-drawn illustrations really give them a personal and individual touch – and it’s super simple.

You can organize your work into different notebooks with different paper styles – there is no OCR but I don’mind because I haven’t seen that working anywhere in a useful way yet.

You can share either single sheets or a whole notebook directly in your Dropbox in a Bamboo native format or as PDF.