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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Blocking a Sender in Gmail (2014)

Every now and then a person must deal with an acquaintance or family member who is sick and no longer communicates properly. Alternately, you may be in a dark place yourself. In either case, you may find email from certain parties to be inflammatory.

Recently a friend of mine complained about emails from a certain party, and mentioned that he hadn't figured out how to make them disappear from his Gmail properly.

I went into Gmail's settings and figured out what I think his solution would be.

This walkthrough will quickly demonstrate how to:

  • Create a Filter (or rule) in Gmail
  • Make emails from a known sender never appear in your inbox
  • And never give you a notification of it
  • And make it go away forever (you will not be aware that you were emailed!)
  • And not tip off the sending party that their messages are going in a black hole

Here we go. Start your engines and sign into your Google Accounts.

If you go to your main Gmail page in a desktop browser, you should see a gear below your user name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

Click the Gear icon, and then Settings in the drop-down box. You should now see the tabbed Settings page of your Gmail account.

Choose the Filters tab.

Conceptually, Gmail filters do two things;

  1. Match this kind of email
  2. Do this thing to it

With these two very basic tools in hand, we can do a lot of complex things. In this case, all we're doing is feeding the matching query the email address that needs blocking, and disappearing the (future) emails from there.

You can choose your own settings based on need. The settings shown here will make emails from the set party simply disappear, though you can make your rule send them to a folder for later perusal. This may be prudent if you have legal arrangements with the party and have to keep the emails even if you don't read them. Remember that the settings shown here will make you completely unaware that an email came from the sender in question!

After you get to the Filters tab, scroll all the way to the bottom (if you already have filters set up, it could be a long list) and click the text that says Create a new filter.

As you can see, we don't need much here. If all you want to do is block one sender, then all you need is that sender's address. In step one above, we've identified the sender we want to block.

Step two, the 'Do this thing to it', is below.

You'll note that I have checked above, Skip the Inbox (Archive it), then Mark as read, and then Delete it.

I'm probably doing more than I have to here. I want to make sure I don't get a notification in the middle of the night from Zaphod, so I'm making the Inbox completely ignore the email even though it's getting deleted.

Create your filter, and no more sleepless nights. Hope this helps.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Still Alive - PORTAL IS FREE

I could litter this post with cake and companion cube jokes, but let's just get right to the meat of it...

Portal is free, for a few days. If you don't already own a copy, GET IT NOW. Heck, even if you do already own one, it wouldn't hurt to have a...uh...second Steam account? With your second copy of Portal in it!

It's OK. You'll feel good about this. Click the button and get the game. Even if you're not sure that you'll ever, ever play it. Just get it. It's free.

Get Portal. There is no good reason not to.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Office, Pitch-Perfect

Please check out the excellent fan-written script for an episode of The Office, by Matthew Baldwin, the Defective Yeti himself.

If you're not already an Office fan, you might have trouble putting the right voices to the right people. But it's still funny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lan Party Time! Again! At Last!

So, yeah, I decided it's way past time for another LAN party. By my estimation, there wasn't one for all of '07, so we're way past due.

So here are the details for this year's LAN party:
Where: the Walker Residence, in Kaysville Utah. If you're invited, I'll send an address and a link to google maps. Any further info, you can contact me.

When: October 17th, 2008, we will start at 5:00, and the party will last into the night (my estimation is 11:00 or later, I will update this post as details become available.)

*Jake Wilcox
*Jeff Wilcox
*Andy Walker
*Krys Johnson
*Mark Wilcox
*Aaron Sitzman
*Julianne Wilcox
*Cody Walker
*Kyle Heath

EDIT: I've taken out our non-RSVPs and put them at the bottom of this post. I wanted to make the main list neat, but retain a list of those who couldn't make it this time for the sake of future parties.

Kyle Heath has also been added to the list. 15 Oct 1:00pm -Jake.

I updated the list last night. The people with asterisks by their names have RSVP'd, and I've removed the people who have RSVP'd that they won't be there. That's eight by my count.


Why: Because it's been too long.

What: Huh?

So, yeah, if you're on the list, you'll be receiving an email telling you that you're invited and requesting an RSVP.

There will be a cover charge, as the plan for this party is to have Garcia's cater again. I like Garcia's, and I've heard no complaints about them from fellow party goers in years past, so if you have a problem with it, you can go stick your head in a pig. The plan right now is to make the cover $15. It will almost certainly not go up from there, and it may go down. Again, keep an eye on this post as the most up to date details will be here.

This is what you should bring with you: Your computer, as we don't have enough spares to go around; a power strip, since everyone will need multiple places to plug in; network cables, so that your computer can talk to ours; A switch if you have one (a discount is being considered for those who bring one); headphones, if you want sound.

Expect to have one meal at the party, and a good time. Specific instructions for invitees will be sent via email.


Eric Widdison
Leon Walker
Gary Walker
Stan Wilcox
Eric Degroot
Sterling Canfield
Scott Barber

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2007 Abravanel Hall Messiah Sing-In Critique

I attended Saturday the 24th's Messiah Sing-In. Every year my wife and I bring along some family and friends (this year we numbered sixteen strong), and we always like to discuss what we like or don't like about that year's performance.

I've decided to post my thoughts this year, and I'll do some catching up on previous years along the way.

Here is this year's dramatis personae:

Susanne Sheston - Chorus Master
Shannon Kessler - Soprano
Erica Brookhyser - Mezzo-Soprano (Soloing the Alto parts)
Tanner Knight - Tenor
Chad Sloan - Baritone (Soloing Baritone and Bass parts)

Again, the annual Abravanel Sing-In is tradition for us, so we're quite familiar with Susanne Sheston by this point. She's usually energetic, and she likes to share a little trivia about Messiah every year before the performance. One year (was it 2006 or 2005?) she was feeling particularly talkative and held forth on the history behind the tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. When she finished up the explanation after five minutes or so, the audience had a fun, 'What was that?' moment.

In general, she seems a good Chorus Master, and her rapport with the Utah Symphony Chorus is clear. In truth, it's the professional chorus' job to keep the lay chorus sounding passable, and that's always been done well under Susanne's leadership.

Her results in conducting the symphony are more mixed though. In 2005, she just couldn't keep the strings together at all. For nearly the duration of the concert, they were all over the place. This was improved hugely in the 2006 concert, leading me to believe that the buffoonery was not missed, and they aimed to do right after missing the mark so badly the previous year.

This year the strings again had some discord in a couple of places, but overall they held together well. If 2005 rated at a 3/10 and 2006 a 9/10, then they turned in a mid eight this year. Quite passable, but still room for improvement.

My one real complaint with Susanne as a conductor is that every year, she allows the symphony to blow through the transition between the solo and choral portions of "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion." It's undoubtedly technically correct for her to do so, as the transition is written as quick and smooth. But Handel didn't know about Sing-Ins, and a lay chorus is unlikely to stand and sing without being directed to do so because of social pressure. This bungled transition is awkward and embarrassing for the audience members, but Susanne doesn't notice, because she's too busy directing the symphony and professional chorus, with her back turned to the audience.

I know that the idea must feel unnatural to her, but I hope that Susanne will resolve to pause the symphony, raise the audience, and then start the choral portion, as doing so will dispense with the most flustering moment of the performance for the people who paid for tickets.

Let's move on to soloists.

I'll not beat around the bush here. By far, the standout performance was commandingly delivered by Chad Sloan. He started strong, appropriately booming the introductory line of "Thus saith the Lord," and he continued to deliver rich, powerful reports for the rest of the performance. Chad ably, and, by the look of it, easily stole the show from his fellow performers.

Of special note was his performance of "The trumpet shall sound," in which his accompanying trumpeter was also well into a high-performance groove (with little-to-no warm up at that point). Both Chad and the trumpeter (I wish his name was listed in the program) ornamented sparingly but in brilliant fashion. Saturday night's performance of "The trumpet shall sound" was easily the best I've ever heard in person. The one small flaw in that piece was that in the second-to-last melisma (...this mortal must put on immortality), Chad finished his run a little more than a beat early, leaving the symphony to catch up. Notwithstanding that, it was superbly performed, and I'm glad that I was there to hear it.

I'm usually most critical of the Mezzo-Soprano and Alto parts of Messiah, as they put the singer in a range that gives her voice an unfortunate tone to my hearing. Anyone who's heard the 1996 Messiah album conducted by Sir David Willcocks and performed by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will know this kind of Alto; strained, airy, and unfortunately, often sounding much like a lazy hen. (I'm aware that in the above-mentioned case, the offender was actually Paul Esswood, a man, and a counter-tenor, but the result is too-often effectively the same.)

The standard slaughter of the Alto arias (and recitatives, but I'm lumping them together here) is why I was surprised by Erica Brookhyser, the Mezzo-Soprano, who gave the remainder of the remarkable solo performances of the evening. Erica's voice has a rich, warm quality that suits emotional pieces, like "He was despised," uncommonly well.

Sometimes, with the Messiah performance effectively kicking off the holiday season, the soloists forget the somber nature of parts of Messiah. The two stand-alone Alto parts included in the Sing-In are prophetic (Behold, a virgin shall conceive) and mournful (He was despised). In each case, Erica took the stage with proper decorum and delivered deep, soulful performances.

Indeed, the second (in order of prominence) standout piece of the evening was her "He was despised." Erica brought it to an emotional climax that had me riveted.

Sadly, the other female soloist, Soprano Shannon Kessler, didn't fare nearly so well.

Shannon gave "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion" a thorough butchering. This piece is full of melismas, during which she frequently missed notes or simply dropped the middle or end portions. She liberally ornamented--poorly, and far over-emphasized the "shout" portions of the piece, blowing them out and frequently sharping her triplet end notes in the process.

The soprano portions of Messiah are in my opinion, some of the more beautiful soprano parts around, especially from "There were shepherds abiding" through to "Glory to God." These were treated in a casual, blasé manner which did not do them justice.

Tanner Knight, the Tenor for the evening, seemed skilled enough for his class, but ultimately green. He also blew melismas, though not as badly or as frequently as Shannon did.

Tanner's main issue was consistency. For instance, he couldn't decide if "pardon'd" had two syllables or three, and it made his delivery feel off-kilter. His issues made him seem inexperienced rather than unskilled. I've no doubt that consistency will come to him with more performances under his belt.

It seemed that Tanner and Shannon were both given 'Come to Jesus' talks during intermission, as they each toned down their foibles for the second half. (I prefer this idea over the possibility that it took them each half the performance just to warm up.)

Keep in mind that in order to criticize well, one must be critical. Overall, the performance was very good, with some superb talent brought to bear by two of the soloists, which helped offset the talent that was perhaps uncharacteristically absent in the other two. The Utah Symphony Chorus backed the audience during the choral portions admirably. The symphony was in tune and on tempo in all except two short cases, and the First Trumpet made a simply extraordinary showing in the latter half.

It was a good year. I'm sorry it's over, and that I'll have to wait another year to go again.