Ongoing Email Issues on Website

For some weeks now, the forms on this site, such as the contact page, have been unable to send an email. It seems to be caused by an SSL issue outside of my control. All support channels to the web hosting company used by this site are down, which means I can’t even report the issue, let alone get it fixed. You can still post bug reports, but you will encounter an error message when the site attempts to email me that a new report has been posted. The report will be saved in the database, but (unless your account is permitted to bypass the reviewing system) it won’t show up in the bug tracker until its status has been changed from Pending to Open. Similarly for comments, feature requests, and other notifications. I will pick up the error messages in the server’s log file, which will include the email message, but there will be a delay as it’s not something I can constantly monitor.

I will update this post when I have further information.

Update 2022-10-08: the problem with reporting this issue to the web hosting company was quite frustrating. They had removed their telephone support number, the online chat wasn’t available, and whenever I tried to open a ticket I got an access denied error message (even though I was logged in and could access the rest of the site’s dashboard). It turned out that in order to use the online chat I had to delete all cookies and then accept them all (which wasn’t particularly intuitive, but I should’ve thought of it sooner as that seems to be an increasingly common problem with websites). The ticket system still wasn’t working, but it’s possible I had to log out and in again, and maybe shutdown, reboot, switch things off and back on again, and perhaps count to 10 or whatever. Anyway, the chat operator has logged the issue and with a bit of luck it will be fixed soon. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this has been causing.

I’ve re-enabled the contact form in eager anticipation of the issue being fixed soon. If you get an error about the failure to send an email, don’t worry. Your message will be logged and I’ll find it in the log file, but there will likely be a delay of up to 24 hours before then.

Book Samples

The Dickimaw Books site now has a new book samples area. This provides a collection of sample images taken from pages of the selected paperback book with an accompanying audio track. At the moment there’s only one book listed (The Private Enemy) although I plan to add other fiction paperbacks at a later date.

The sample starts with an image of the jacket. You can navigate to the next available sample page using the “next page” icon (a right pointing arrowhead ), which can be found at the top right of the page image. Below the page image are links to further details about the book and to the book’s listing in the Dickimaw Books store . If there is an ebook edition (which there is for The Private Enemy), then there will also be a link to the ebook’s HTML sample.

The audio file accompanying the jacket image is simply an introduction. The audio files for the actual sample pages are of me reading out that page. This means that you can see how the text is actually typeset on the page of the paperback edition and you can hear the page content. If you prefer to just read the text then follow the link to the ebook sample instead. The navigational icons can be changed in the site settings page (see also the Sticky Hamburgers post).

Remember that the ebook edition of The Private Enemy is free for the duration of the “Authors Give Back” SmashWords sale (ends 31st May 2020), so now’s a good time to try it out!

Be Careful of Message Links

UK mobile networks are sending a “stay at home” message to everyone in response to the current nationwide lockdown. While the link in that specific message is safe, don’t click on links in text messages. It’s very easy for scammers to fake that message and replace the safe link with their own nasty version. It doesn’t take long to type “” into the address bar of your browser and you can follow the appropriate link from that site’s home page.

Don’t click on links in text messages. Get into the habit of not clicking links, even if when it’s safe. There’s been a rise in scams and phishing attempts that prey on people’s fears. Please do take care.

If you’re unsure about whether or not a web address is genuine, type it into the search box of your favourite search engine. If the search box is also an address bar (as is the case for some browsers), you need to make sure it doesn’t get interpreted as a URL, which would take you to the site rather than allow you to investigate it first. For example, if you get a link to “” then type something like “what is” or “who is” or “who owns” as your search term. That should hopefully ensure that it’s interpreted as a search rather than an address. (You can also use the ICANN lookup to look up the registration data for the domain, but an Internet search may show up warnings and alerts.)

The same advice applies for emails, and with email messages you need to be even more careful as links are more dangerous in HTML content than in plain text messages because they are hidden behind the link text. On a desktop device you may be able to see the URL when you hover the mouse pointer over the link text, but you can’t do this on a mouseless mobile device. You may be able to copy the link (using a context popup menu or a long tap) but you need to take care that you don’t accidentally follow the link by mistake.

Always be very careful about emails that encourage you to click on a link or open an attachment even if they seem to be sent from a legitimate source. Sender addresses are usually sent in the form “Display Name” The “display name” part can be set to anything. For example, “Some Public Health Body” So be careful not to trust the display name. Copy the domain part (after @) and paste it into a search engine to investigate it (bearing in mind the earlier advice about a search bar that doubles as an address bar).

The Dickimaw Books site has some functions that will send an automated email that may include a link. For example, if you report a bug and provide your email address for confirmation then you will receive a message informing you when your report is logged with a link to the topic page on the bug tracker. I’ve amended the template used for that message to additionally provide information on how to navigate your way to the topic page without clicking on the link. It’s less convenient but it’s safer.

Stay safe and practice both physical and digital hygiene.

RSS Feeds and Other Notifications

Did you know that the Dickimaw Books site has a number of RSS feeds? These are links denoted with RSS Feed. This means you can pick up the latest news in your news aggregator. Some mail applications, such as Thunderbird, have an aggregator function.

The main RSS feed can be found on the banner at the top of the pages on the main part of this site (outside of this blog and the shop). If you have hidden that area on the banner using the settings page, then you can find the RSS feed link on the news page. That main feed is for the brief news items, such as updates to the site or software or new articles. Each news item is usually no more than one or two sentences.

The feed for this blog can be found at the top of the blog side bar. This picks up any new blog post and includes the entire post in the feed. There are also feeds for individual blog categories. For example, if you go to the “site” category, there’s a link to the category feed after the category title. If you subscribe to that feed, then you will just get the new posts for that particular category.

There isn’t a specific RSS feed for the shop, but if you have a store account then you can sign up for the shop newsletter. This doesn’t go out very often, just when there’s some particular news that’s specific to the store, such as new products, store closures or promotional offers.

If you don’t have a store account but you want to be notified when a new book is released then you can sign up for new book alerts.

So there are a number of different ways of picking up the latest news on this site. Alternatively, you can just drop in on the site from time to time and look at the recent news page.