Getting extra use from GMail addresses

My wife was doing something on a forum she frequents that required her to create a new account. In order to do that, she needed to use a different email address, so she created a new GMail account. Had I not been in the shower at the time, I would have saved her the effort with these two tips.

  • Use +. If your email address is, mail addressed to gets delivered to you, too. Of course, you can use anything after the +. This is pretty awesome, because it gives you the option to make filtering very simple. The downside is that not all websites think + is a valid character in an email address. It really is, but that doesn’t mean all sites implement a proper check.
  • Use . . Another option is to insert a . in your address. For example, instead of, you can use This has the advantage of passing any website’s validation check. The disadvantage is that there are only so many possible places that you can put the ., so you run out of options pretty quickly.

Not only are these tricks useful for pretending to have a different email address, but they’re great for filtering as I mentioned above. One common use I have is to automatically assign a label to a message based on what address it is sent to, which is much easier to filter for when the sender and subject are not known a priori. It can also be used to see if a site you registered an account on is selling addresses. Getting mail from anyone not to is a good sign that is handing out your address (assuming that you haven’t published it somewhere on the site).

Fedora 16 released

It’s that time again — a new release of Fedora is here! I’m about to eat my own dog food and upgrade, so while I do that, why don’t you check out the Release Announcement? This release announcement holds a special place in my heart because I mostly wrote it (along with contributions from others, of course!). That’s right, I’ve actually made a contribution. It sets a dangerous precedent, but I found writing the RA quite enjoyable. I’m particularly proud of my Jules Verne references in each of the “What’s New” subsections. Fortunately, we’ve got a little while to come up with “Beefy Miracle”-themed one liners.

So even though I haven’t yet installed it, I’m confident that Fedora 16 is just as great as the last 15 versions. I’ll have some notes about the upgrade process once it finishes.

How should we deliver documentation to users?

Dear Fedora Diary,

I’ve noticed that many people on Fedora Planet are posting daily-ish activity logs. I don’t contribute on a daily basis, so uninterested readers won’t have to put up with too much, but it seems like a reasonable thing to do. In the future, I’ll call it “Fedora Diary”, but today there are actual things to discuss.

It all started at 9 AM yesterday when I showed up in IRC for the Docs meeting. None of the usual leaders-of-meeting were around, so I took initiative and ran the meeting. I’d done this once before, so I didn’t screw up too badly. I’d say I need more practice, but I don’t want anyone to get any ideas.

At the end of the meeting, Pete made a comment about how cluttered the wiki is. His point is valid. With end user documentation mixed in with  internal minutes, agendas, etc., it can be challenging to find the right page. Even with a good search term, it’s not always evident which page is the right page, and that can frustrate users who just want to find the relevant nugget to fix their immediate problem.

Petr suggested that all user-intended documentation should be in the guides produced by the Docs team. I understand the sentiment, but I’m not sure it works. Certainly there’s a place for user documentation on a wiki, even if it gets reproduced in a guide. The real issue is that guides and wikis are different tools, and have different purposes. I’m not sure that there’s an advantage to exclusivity in medium.

This brings me to what I consider the more interesting question. How do users get the most benefit from documentation? I don’t know what sort of research (if any) exists on the subject, but it seems like something that should get figured out. Perhaps that’s a reasonable direction for my M.S. thesis?