Consult Mail

Contents:
Introduction
Accessing Consult Mail
Answering by MH Mail
Answering by Zmail


Introduction

Besides showing up at the Help Desk in person or calling x7777, the users can communicate their questions to the Help Desk staff by sending email to consult@rpi.edu.  While some of the consultants have dedicated slots to answer those questions, all of the consultants are expected and full time employees encouraged to participate in responding to consult mail.  Incoming questions and responses will be logged to a usenet discussion called its.logs.consult. This and other "its" news groups can only be read on designated servers/machines.  Specifically, its.logs.consult is currently only available from turner.its.rpi.edu.


Accessing Consult Mail

Regardless of the mail reader that you use to read consulting questions you will need to be a member of either its:consultants or its:consult-mailbox. Once added (Pat Valiquette has the authority to do that) to a group you need execute the following shell:

/dept/its/consult/bin/common/setup-consult-mail.sh

Once you have set up this link you should be able to access the mail space setup for the consult@rpi.edu questions.


Answering by MH Mail

MH (mail handler) is the name of the mail program that consists of a set of routines that are used to view, claim, reply, delete, etc. incoming mail messages. The best place to get additional information on using mh is the mh man page.

MH Routines:

In order to send responses to the its.logs.consult newsgroup, the mail alias consult-watcher needs to be used.   Sending a blind carbon copy of the email message to consult-watcher will automatically post it to the usenet group its.logs.consult.  Blind carbon copy (bcc) is used because a carbon copy (cc) is seen by the user and this may confuse them. This confusion could lead to questions such as who is consult-watcher and why did my question go there, etc.

Typical mh session follows:
 

  1. scan +consult-new
  2. show #
  3. refile # +consult-mine
  4. scan +consult-mine
  5. repl #
  6. refile # +consult-closed
where the "#" stands for the message number, as it shows on the list of messages.  In some cases it is necessary to remove a message because it is a duplicate or makes no sense or the user is simply sending some information and does not require a reply.  One needs to remember that all the incoming consult questions are logged to its.logs.consult at the same time they are dumped into the consult@rpi.edu mailbox. In general, only incoming mail that requires answers should be Bcc'd to consult-watcher.


Answering by Zmail

Zmail can be used to read and respond to consulting questions. Unfortunately, Zmail users will need to use some of the mh routines to participate.  The procedure follows:

  1. Start Zmail.
  2. Click on Folder, then click on Open... under the Folder menu and select consult-new.  A list of messages will appear.
When the window opens you can read any/all of the mail messages. If after reading the messages you decide to respond to one, you will need to open a unix window and refile (move) the message to your own mailbox space. To do this use the MH scan and refile commands.
  1. scan +consult-new (this shows listing of messages)
  2. refile # +consult-mine (this moves message # to your space)
Back in Zmail
  1. Click on Folder, then open consult-mine.  You can now respond to the message through Zmail.
  2. Send a blind carbon copy of the response to consult-watcher.
  3. When you're finished replying to the question(s), select File -> Close Folder from the Zmail menu. You will get an error message: "Directory update not supported: convert to Zmail format?"  Do NOT accept this option.  If you've been claiming and responding to several messages, you may also get a warning about backup folders (don't bother saving it) and corrupted folder/new mail (safely ignore).