Tweaking underlying email settings for TidBITS Talk soon

Just a heads-up that we’re going to be moving some back-end email stuff around soon (maybe this weekend, maybe early next week). We’ll be switching from SendGrid to Sendy and Amazon SES, plus easyMail for picking up incoming messages, and it’s entirely possible that things will go wrong. It’s email—something HAS to go wrong! It’s the rule!

So, if you interact with TidBITS Talk via email, rather than via the Web interface, that may explain problems with posting new topics or replying to existing ones. (In theory, you shouldn’t have to do anything different for new posts or replies to work, but that turns out not to be the case, I’ll say something.)

If you see a problem where a message you send doesn’t appear on the Web site at, either post in the #site-feedback category here via the Web interface, send me (@ace) a private message here, or just send me private email at I’ll probably know about it already, but it never hurts to ping me quickly as long as you keep it private or in #site-feedback.

DO NOT KEEP POSTING MULTIPLE TRIES VIA EMAIL! All that will do is cause everyone to get all the copies you post when I figure out what’s going wrong and fix it.

Thanks for your patience—this is the kind of stuff that’s devilishly hard to configure.

One of the reasons we’re making this switch is because the TidBITS Talk submission address is taking thousands of spam messages a day and trying to reject them, which is causing huge backscatter (all the bounces, since they can’t be delivered) in SendGrid. Our current setup has no way of filtering all this crud out, whereas easyMail will give us a spam filter in front of the TidBITS Talk submission address.

The other big reason is that SendGrid costs about $220 per month, whereas Amazon SES will probably charge about $20 to deliver the same volume of email.

cheers… -Adam

Heads up—I’m about to change the incoming email settings for Discourse. So if you’re interacting with TidBITS Talk entirely via email, it’s worth checking to see if posts sent via email have gotten through.

Posting via the Web interface for Discourse will be unaffected and remains what I recommend.

Here is what your message looked like in Apple Mail on Mojave 10.14.4, dark mode:


I can’t see anything (almost literally—it’s just a black blur) in Dark mode so I’m not sure what you might be pointing out.

Outgoing mail shouldn’t be affected at this point. Incoming mail isn’t working at the moment, and I’m trying to figure out why. MX caching is my best guess right now.

OK, incoming email seem to be working now—I think it was just MX records being cached so mail wasn’t flowing to the new system.

Sorry, that’s what I was trying to point out, your message was just “a black blur.” I read TidBITS Talk by email, and I have never before had a message show up that way. I had to visit the web site to see what it said.

Since it said that you were working on email, and that message was clearly messed up (and no previous TidBITS Talk messages were), I leaped to the conclusion that the two things were related. Sorry to jump the gun.


That’s really weird—I can’t think of any reason that message should have been different from any other.

I never use Dark mode due to the cognitive load it requires, but my understanding is that lots of apps still have small issues with displaying content properly.

I’m not using Mojave yet so I don’t know how Dark Mode is supposed to behave yet. Looking at the email’s raw HTML, it doesn’t explicitly define the body text color or background so in my Apple Mail it defaults to black text on white (it’s the same in the previous April 5th message). The message does specify the color of the footer text below the horizontal rule as gray (#666), maybe that’s enough to confuse Mojave’s Dark Mode heuristics.

I have seen advice for web design to always specify a background color if you specify the text (foreground) color. One of the reasons is it increases the chance that the page will be readable when Windows’s High Contrast Mode is enabled. It may be unintuitive but explicitly setting the background as white and the text as black in the Discourse outgoing email template may make it more likely that Dark Mode will do the right thing with the content.

In the meantime, if messages are unreadable, you can disable Dark Mode for email bodies in Mojave’s Mail Preferences.

Interesting. I find dark mode easier to read. When done correctly.