Reclaiming 2015

Image Credit: "Keep on Reclaimig" by Alan Levine

Image Credit: “Keep on Reclaimig” by Alan Levine

2015 was a rough year on many fronts. In the U.S. racial tensions continued to boil over; the richest few didn’t getting any poorer; mass shootings reached epidemic levels; and American politics have become even more farcical than many thought possible. Globally, ISIS continues to terrorize and their victims have become our targets. And to round it off, and the bizarre weather continues to freak us all out. I don’t live in bubble, and all these things effect me given I exist in this moment, but at the same time 2015 may have been one the best year on record for me personally. Which feels odd to write given everything that came before it. Anto and I have been dreaming of spending an extended amount of time in Italy with our friends and family their for more than a decade. This year we made it happen. I officially quit my day job at Mary Washington in June—where I worked for just under a decade—and the family got on a plane to Europe in September. I followed shortly after. The whole thing happened pretty fast, and the change has been refreshing on so many levels,* but watching the kids navigate a new language, culture, and extended family they’d only experienced in small fragments up and until now has been worth the risk alone.

But I’m not sure it was all that much a risk thanks to the insanely hard work and unbelievable organizational acumen of my partner and friend Tim Owens.
Reclaim Hosting went full blown in 2015, and thanks to Tim’s laying the groundwork for the previous year and a half we found ourselves in a situation where we both could go full time. We were also able to bring on UMW alum Lauren Brumfield and Joe McMahon this year, What’s more, we remain truly fortunate for the continued positive feedback and support from so many folks within the higher ed community of North America and beyond. We have built Reclaim entirely on word of mouth, and we try and repay the favor with exceptional support for whomever is trying to establish their presence on the web.

So for me 2015 has been humbling and exhilarating all at once. I love what we are doing,
and I think the Reclaim Hosting blog reflects the fact that we are #4life—long live the blog! And despite our blog, we still have individual and institutional partners who know who we are, what we stand for, and want to keep pushing on alternatives. We have a lot to be thankful for in that, and I really do think 2016 is going to see even more headway in making personal cyberinfrastructure, syndication, and the personal API easier and better.

And to echo Jennifer Vinopal, what better way to end 2015 then with a mention in William Fenton’s article “Beyond Taking Control of Your Online Presence” in PC Magazine.

Happy new Year, everybody, and thanks for reclaiming!

P.S. Did I mention 2016 is Reclaim’s year? We called it first :)


* Being outside the US has some real psychic advantages, especially given the list I started this post out with.

Using External SMTP Servers for Forwarded Email with Google Apps Address

In the spirit of Documentation December at Reclaim Hosting, I’m following up on a tutorial I wrote about Sending Mail from a Forwarded Email Address through Gmail. I was having issues adding my email account to my Gmail account as a sender. I checked and double-checked my SMTP settings, but no luck. I kept recieving the error message “Authentication failed. Please check your username/password.” I was stuck in a weird authentication limbo, and according to this forum thread I was not alone.

What was worse, none of their suggested solutions worked for me. I then went to the oracle Tim Owens who noted Google requires the use of external SMTP servers for sending to additional addresses, and given we are using Google Apps servers for our Reclaim Hosting email accounts, they’re probably not be considered external. And if there is anything resembling a theme in my life these days, it is the following: Timmmmyboy was right!

I used the SMTP servers and credentials for our Mandrill email account and it worked perfectly, the credentials look something like the following.

SMTP Host:
Port: 587
Password: yourmandrillpassword


Reclaim’s Daydream Nation

Spirit desire.
– “Teenage Riot,” Daydream Nation

Last week we christened yet another host node server at Reclaim Hosting (Fugazi filled up quick!), this one was named after NYC’s indie rock pioneers Sonic Youth. It was interesting timing because the first school we got setup was NYU—their Library will be running a pilot web hosting service for their community through Reclaim. Last week was also when Audrey Watters released the aspirational Kraken that was her post on Indie Ed-Tech. It’s a brilliant follow-up on her year-end post about the Indie Web in 2014. I read the post several times while listening to Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation (I recommend the experience), and what struck me is the strong, brilliant chorus of aspiration—a desire to challenge what’s peddled in the pedant realm of the possible, a bending of the very genre of what ed-tech is, was, and can be. And no one sees that spirit of desire more clearly; articulates what we can’t hear more soundly; or sings the story of our field better. #NOBODY!!!

…indie ed-tech underscores the importance of students and scholars alike controlling their intellectual labor and their data; it questions the need for VC-funded, proprietary tools that silo and exploit users; it challenges the centrality of the LMS in all ed-tech discussions and the notion that there can be one massive (expensive) school-wide system to rule them all; it encourages new forms of open, networked learning that go beyond the syllabus, beyond the campus. It’s not only a different sort of infrastructure, it’s a different sort of philosophy than one sees promoted by Silicon Valley – by the ed-tech industry or the (ed-)tech press.

We may fall, but not with giving those bastards everything we got!!!

It’s an anthem in a vacuum on a hyperstation
Daydreaming days in a daydream nation