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208 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 24360 22-Jul-2008 10:35

Just a heads up to everybody out there thinking they's getting a great deal via push-mail (aka Exchange Sync), BlackBerry or MobileMe services.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TRUE "PUSH-MAIL". read the fine print

I'd like to draw your attention to the following info:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/16/mobileme_not_pushing/
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997252(EXCHG.80).aspx
Note the use of the term "long-lived HTTPS request"

This/similar technology has been available for AGES, in the form of IMAP-IDLE:
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2177

For those wanting the short version:
Your client (mobile device, MTA, other mail client) establishes a connecting session to it's mail server, and sends a sync ping to the server periodically to keep the connection alive. When new mail arrives on the server, it uses the open connection to send a signal to the client REQUESTING THAT IT COME & RETRIEVE THE MAIL from the server. It DOES NOT PUSH mail in the true sence of the term, the way that SMS is truly push.

The markeing info out there is DECEPTIVE.
Your service provider is fiddling/masaging the numbers & hiding the traffic under your service charge (I also have doubts about the legality of this action, but that's a rant for another day).

This sort of service would have a significant data overhead, absolutely KILL your standby time (as you are esentially connected 24/7), not to mention the possible security risk of walking around with a device with all your personal info & a persistent open radio connection listening for any incomming commands.

I'm open to any correction if you are able to find fault with my logic




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BDFL - Memuneh
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Reply # 150153 22-Jul-2008 10:38
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In terms of user perception, "push e-mail" is to receive the e-mail on your device as it hits the server. This solution does it very well - I have Direct Push enabled on my Windows Mobile devices and I receive my emails at the same time - if not sooner - than a friend on his Blackberry.

So, really, what's the big deal?




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  Reply # 150154 22-Jul-2008 10:40
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Oh, about the security. The "open radio" is a data connection to a specific server. The data connection is over SSL, so the only way to anyone to send "commands" to your device would be if a man in the middle attacker could successfuly impersonate the server and hijack an existing session including the certificate keys - something I doubt can be easily done in real worl.




 
 
 
 




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Master Geek
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  Reply # 150161 22-Jul-2008 10:53

I would be inclined to agree with the bit about "user perpective", but the use of terms are deceptive.
"Instant mail retrieval" would be more appropriate/honest, otherwise I can come up with services & call it what I want, regardless of whether it's accurate or not.

By that reasoning IMAP-IDLE is push-mail.
Would it be prudent if I change my product(s) marketing to reflect this deception?

As for security, it's just a case of persistence/perseverence.
What if there's a weak implementation? What if there's a unfound bug inherrent in SSL client-side the way there was witht the recent DNS poisoning scare? (This may seem like a streatch; but is it realy?)
By leaving a device open to broadcast it presence & readiness to accept incoming connections, you're just looking for trouble.
A prime example would be to have a look how many people walk around with their BlueTooth permanently turned on (and the security shortcommings of BlueTooth has been WELL-documented).

And man-in-the-middle WiFi packet sniffing is not 'out-there'. Ref:WireShark (scary stuff)




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  Reply # 150165 22-Jul-2008 11:05
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Email shows up on my phone without me needing to do anything.  Beyond that who really cares?

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Reply # 150166 22-Jul-2008 11:05
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It is very different - the device is not waiting a connection. It's not a server. The device is a client, and it opens the connection to a server. The connection remains open until a timeout, or the server sends an update message through the channel.

Changing a connection means the encryption keys change so anyone "sniffing" would have a hard time getting in through that channel.




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208 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 150171 22-Jul-2008 11:13

This raises all sorts of questions about product & service developemnt, open/vendor-indepentent platforms, level playing fields, anti-comperitive behaviour & pricing collusion.

I have no qualms with the technology, but with the way it is marketed/sold.

I'm sick & tired of being deceived by telecoms companies & their deceptive marketing spin.

Call a horse a horse




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  Reply # 150173 22-Jul-2008 11:16
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But they are selling "push email" which is "perceived" as receiving the email as it hits the server. How the technical implementation goes is really something that doesn't bother me.

What would be the alternative? Having a server program on your device that would notify the server of its current IP address and then receive a UDP package to let them know when a new message arrives? 

Ok, go license this from RIM then...




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  Reply # 150175 22-Jul-2008 11:17
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freakalad: This raises all sorts of questions about product & service developemnt, open/vendor-indepentent platforms, level playing fields, anti-comperitive behaviour & pricing collusion.

I have no qualms with the technology, but with the way it is marketed/sold.

I'm sick & tired of being deceived by telecoms companies & their deceptive marketing spin.

Call a horse a horse


What would you have people call it then?



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 150180 22-Jul-2008 11:20

http://www.isode.com/whitepapers/imap-idle.html
"""""
The concept of "push email" has been widely marketed as a desirable feature of mobile email services, to enable users to get immediate notification of and access to new messages. This paper looks at various approaches to meeting user requirements, and concludes that the Internet Standard IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) IDLE command is the best way to achieve this service.
"""""




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Reply # 150182 22-Jul-2008 11:21
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Companies are free to implement what they want. Why do you want to force them to use IMAP IDLE if they decided for something else?

It is not like they are breaking the standard. They are just implementing something else.







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Master Geek
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  Reply # 150184 22-Jul-2008 11:27

"Instant mail retrieval", "dynamic mail" or even "instant mail"

You cannot use the term "push" when you're not acually delivering anything.

If I call my local pizza-joint & order something to be delivered, I do not consider it delivered if I have to get in my car to go pick it up.
The product or service is provided, not brought to me




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  Reply # 150186 22-Jul-2008 11:27

It's not the technology (which I this is really neat, btw), but the marketing spin




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Reply # 150187 22-Jul-2008 11:31
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Let me see this. The user wants emails to arrive on this device as the email arrives on the server. There's a technology that will provide under-second delivery times of new emails, and the user most of the times have the device on his pocket so it's really something that is "magic".

Does it matter what's the name? The "feeling", the "experience" is that something that hits your server is automatically replicated, synchronised, copied to your device.

I would be more worried about having it working in a transparent way, with no user intervention and with no delays (that a cycle pull would introduce) than worrying if it uses persistent HTTPS or pinging the device with UDP datagams.






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  Reply # 150190 22-Jul-2008 11:38
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The fact it's not a true "push" system become completely irrevelant - the term push email has become common terminology to describe a system where email is transferred to a remote system (by pushing it) when it arrives on the mail server.

You can argue all you like but the reality is that once something has become a common term there is nothing you can do to change it. Take "near miss" for example - it's a classic oxymoron.

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