Ming the Mechanic:

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Mail2005-02-22 17:32
picture by Flemming Funch

I've used Eudora for handling my mail forever. Since 1994, as far as I remember. I have around 5G of archived messages I've sent and received. And it has worked pretty well most of the time. That is, until spam started becoming such a huge problem. A spam filter on my server and a spam plugin in Eudora helped greatly. But, increasing, the whole mail thing became really unwieldy. You know, 20,000 messages in my inbox, because I can't really find anything in all those folders, and at least I might run into it again if it stays in my inbox. Usually I don't. And Eudora has various quirks. It crashes once in a while, as it always has. And it doesn't show html messages very well.

So I switched to Thunderbird a couple of months ago. Took quite some time to convert all my mailbox folders from Eudora's format to the standard format. Thunderbird right away did a bunch of things better. For the first time I could see how all those pretty html messages really look. And it is much better at showing me what is new, so I could more quickly find out what is what. But with the volume of mail I have, it is unbearably slow on my computer, which isn't terribly fast. And it is still the same model, with a hierarchy of folders that I can't find anything in.

I had had a Google gmail for a while that I hadn't used, so I decided to forward all my incoming mail there to see how it works. And, somewhat surprisingly, it does most things faster and more smoothly than any of my local programs. No waiting for downloading, as it is already there. And searching for anything is as quick as typing in a word, and it will search through the full text for it, in no time at all. I was a bit skeptical about that apparently very simplistic model where there are no folders. You either have things in your inbox or you "archive" it. And you can apply a few labels to things. So, finding anything is a matter of either a full-text search, or listing anything that has any of the labels. It works remarkably well. The result is that for the first time in years my inbox can stay under 100 messages all the time, quite effortlessly. OK, there are a few things I'd like to have that it doesn't do perfectly for me. To select messages, you have to click a checkbox once for each of them. Yeah, that's simple, but it takes longer than if you just run the mouse over a series of messages. And to actually delete something I have to go and select "Move to Trash" from a menu. That's easy, but it takes at least twice as long as hitting a delete button, which doesn't exist here. It is because the philosophy is to not ever throw anything away. But some of the spam does end up in my inbox, and I don't have in mind archiving it. Archiving is deliberately made easier than deleting. Oh, and there's no preview pane. It shows the beginning words of each message, which is often enough, but it takes another click and screen refresh to see the whole thing. And even though it shows incoming html messages fine, I can't edit outgoing messages like that. But otherwise it has many amazing features that are camouflaged behind their apparent simplicity.

But now, I'm actually making a webbased mail client program myself. I probably wouldn't have thought of that myself, because there are plenty to choose from already. But somebody's paying me for it. Not much, but it is reasonably fun to work on. And since I'm doing it anyway, I might as well give it the features I'd like, most of them at least. So my program has a preview pane, and it edits outgoing messages in wysiwyg html format, and it has on-the-spot spellchecking quite similar to Google's. And I can select messages without clicking. And it handles international character sets.

I suppose I'll end up using some version of my own program, unless Google makes their thing even better. Anyway, I'm 36% full in my 1G gmail account, after less than a month and starting from scratch.

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22 Feb 2005 @ 17:44 by jmarc : i just got my gmail account
i applied for it a year ago! No spam yet. I have questions about how private is though. I guess i wont use it for more personal corespondance til i feel more assured. Google is getting so dominant, they're a bit scary. I like that it can be set up for pop mail, and can forward stuff to my hotmail box though.  

22 Feb 2005 @ 21:25 by ming : gmail accounts
If anybody else wants one, I have 50 invitations left to give.

Yeah, it is a bit strange when gmail presents ads targetted at the content of one's private e-mails. I feel comfortable with google, though. But, yeah, generally one shouldn't put anything that is very secret on a webmail account.  

23 Feb 2005 @ 16:11 by jazzolog : Deleting
I just started a Gmail. I found it interesting when I went to delete a message I don't need to keep, I got an initial response from Google asking me why in the world I wanted to do that. It said with so much room I don't have to. Seemed rather shortsighted to me. One thing I'm not sure I like about it is having a "conversation" strung together and all saved. I don't seem able to delete the part of the message and reply and reply that I want to. All or nothing. Maybe I'm just an obsessive housekeeper.  

23 Feb 2005 @ 20:20 by ming : gmail
Yeah, seems to be one of their key selling point, that you can store everything and not ever delete. But, realistically, I'm not going to keep spam, and there's a lot of other junk I get that isn't spam, but which I have no interest in saving. And, hey, I'd only last two or three months with 1GB if I don't delete anything.

The conversation thing is really cool. I had missed something like that in all other programs I've used. OK, it would be nice also to be able to see *everything* I've exchanged with that person in the past, whether it is with the same subject line or not.  

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