MozillaZine

Strange Characters Appear in My Messages

User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird
rick7
 
Posts: 285
Joined: July 16th, 2005, 5:33 am

Post Posted April 27th, 2019, 2:51 pm

act39, I'm with Verizon/AOL as well, and your timeline for when the problem started happening sounds just about right. JimWalker, you're very welcome - but I only found the solution from another thread!

JimWalker
 
Posts: 31
Joined: November 17th, 2014, 2:22 pm

Post Posted April 28th, 2019, 7:52 am

Rick7 and Act39 I have AOL/Verizon and share your ISP. It makes sense that the problem is ISP related because there is not a huge number of complaints. The fix is holding for me with no problems created by the fix. I passed the fix on to a friend who had the problem and he will benefit also.

act39
 
Posts: 5
Joined: April 27th, 2019, 1:47 pm

Post Posted April 28th, 2019, 2:09 pm

I hope that everyone who experiences this problem will contact their ISP ( AOL/Verizon is the culprit for at least three of us ) and ask them to fix this problem. If you read the references I gave, you will probably conclude as I did that someone changed the "script" or program on the SMTP server which answers the request each of us makes when we send out an email. I know very little about email system administration, but it looks to me like an extra space might have been introduced in a program parameter that causes very little other change (hopefully none) except for these question marks. (maybe using "8 bitmime" instead of "8bitmime" ?) So we need to impress upon our ISP that when they introduce errors like this which for many of us have had serious repercussions, that we expect them to fix the problems they have caused. As users, we need to be reassured that there are communication channels between us and real people who can realize that the ISP has caused a problem, and find and fix it. Otherwise the next problem may be much more serious and not have such an easy work-around fix, and may stick around for a long time.

rick7
 
Posts: 285
Joined: July 16th, 2005, 5:33 am

Post Posted April 28th, 2019, 5:24 pm

act39 wrote:I hope that everyone who experiences this problem will contact their ISP ( AOL/Verizon is the culprit for at least three of us ) and ask them to fix this problem. If you read the references I gave, you will probably conclude as I did that someone changed the "script" or program on the SMTP server which answers the request each of us makes when we send out an email. I know very little about email system administration, but it looks to me like an extra space might have been introduced in a program parameter that causes very little other change (hopefully none) except for these question marks. (maybe using "8 bitmime" instead of "8bitmime" ?) So we need to impress upon our ISP that when they introduce errors like this which for many of us have had serious repercussions, that we expect them to fix the problems they have caused. As users, we need to be reassured that there are communication channels between us and real people who can realize that the ISP has caused a problem, and find and fix it. Otherwise the next problem may be much more serious and not have such an easy work-around fix, and may stick around for a long time.


act39, this is an important issue and thanks for reminding us. I went through some of the thread you referenced and find that the explanation is just a tad above my technical understanding so I'm not sure I'd know what to tell AOL tech support. Any chance you could summarize what needs to be communicated to them?

act39
 
Posts: 5
Joined: April 27th, 2019, 1:47 pm

Post Posted April 29th, 2019, 6:08 am

Rick7 and others: Here is what I originally sent to AOL:

Subject: I have verified that the AOL mail server is changing the tabs and spaces in my outgoing email to question marks.
Original Message: I am using Thunderbird as an email client. Within the last few days, I have learned that when I send tabs and spaces in my emails, somewhere in the email servers they are being changed to question marks. Here is an example: When I send these 2 lines:
15 spaces
10 tabs
Then the recipient sees this:
???????????????????????????? 15 spaces
?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? 10 tabs
When I use another ISP, this problem does not occur. So the evidence suggests that AOL/Verizon are the cause of the problem. Can you help me? Thank you.


I have had a couple of exchanges with Levi, and this is the latest response I received from AOL this morning:
Good Day.
Based on the information provided, the issue you experience might be caused by the use of 2 Step Verification. We recommend you to activate this feature. If you activated it for your AOL account, please note that third party apps require specific passwords in such cases. If you set up 2 Step Verification for your account, and would like to add an application specific password, you can follow the steps listed in the Help article below:

Create and manage third-party app passwords

If this is not the case and you continue to experience problems, the issue might be related to the email application you are using. For our member's safety, we block AOL Mail access from outdated third-party applications that can leave your account vulnerable. For more information about this and how to change your settings to allow access from your device, please refer to the Help article below:

Allow apps that use less secure sign in

I hope the information will be of use. If you need further assistance, please let us know.

Best regards,

Levi
AOL Email Support Specialist


Frankly, I find this confusing and less than helpful. It suggests to me that AOL still does not understand what they did to cause the problem. And while I appreciate the attempt to increase security by instituting a 2-step process, I can't imagine putting up with the hassle of using it on a daily basis.
So I wish you good luck in communicating with AOL about this problem. I'm still waiting for my good luck.
---ACT39

rick7
 
Posts: 285
Joined: July 16th, 2005, 5:33 am

Post Posted April 29th, 2019, 11:53 am

Yeah, this doesn't surprise me. My communications with AOL tech support in the past about various things have been less than impressive.

First he says the problem might be caused by use of 2-step verification, then he suggests turning on 2-step verification. Uhh...

I looked into using 2-step verification a while ago, but never understood if it means you have to use this "application-specific password" each time you use the app, or open the app, or ...?

And I certainly hope he's not implying that Thunderbird is an "outdated third-party application"? And if it was, according to him we wouldn't be able to use it at all since as he says AOL blocks email access to such apps.

In any case, I doubt our problem has anything whatsoever to do with security and everything to do with this encoding issue. He's just flailing around.

SPMad
 
Posts: 1
Joined: April 30th, 2019, 10:26 am

Post Posted April 30th, 2019, 10:45 am

Adding my thanks to Rick7 for finding solution/work around!

This is not an ISP issue, nor can it have anything to do with security.

Like Rick7, my issue started in past few weeks. Everything looks great when composing the email, but the recipient would see added question marks anywhere I had hit the space bar twice. (This can change the intended emphasis of the email with less than ideal results.)

My email is CompuServe, which is essentially AOL. I also run a GMail account via the same Thunderbird, and the issue does not exist!
Still unclear if the fault is with AOL or Mozilla.

act39
 
Posts: 5
Joined: April 27th, 2019, 1:47 pm

Post Posted May 1st, 2019, 10:47 am

I beg to differ with SPMad. This IS an ISP issue. Within the last 10 days, AOL/Verizon has changed something that caused our email to look different from how it looked before that change. Neither we users nor Thunderbird has changed. AOL/Verizon has. And they evidently are not going to change back, because I just counseled a friend today on the workaround. They have not fixed the problem.

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