Recent email tweaks

Not too surprisingly, my email traffic has grown since I took this job, in volume, diversity, and importance. I’ve had to do a few adjustments to my email handling, and I figured I’d share.

First, to deal with the volume changes, I unsubscribed from a lot of mailing lists that I was subscribed to for less than ideal reasons. I’ll miss some community news, but that’s the lesser of N evils.

Second, after struggling with leaving stuff on gmail, I’ve given up on gmail as my primary email storge. Instead, it serves as an additional spam filter, a front-end for when I’m on the road without a laptop, and a good search engine. A lot of my email goes through gmail, but it gets forwarded to an IMAP account, which is my primary mail server. (Side question: does anyone know if gmail cheerfully does loop-detection, so that it’s safe to forward bidirectionally between a non-gmail server and gmail, in hopes of redundancy with two entry points?)

It’s easy to forget how much better IMAP is than POP. Folders that are stable across clients. IDLE push (although Merlin Mann would object). And with Lemonade, it’ll get even better. In particular, the iPhone’s mail app works wonders with IMAP, meaning that I can do some email processing (and I do mean processing, such as deleting, triaging, etc.) on my phone in interstitial times, and not have to re-process emails. I wonder if MailCo shouldn’t do a public advocacy campaign for IMAP over POP…

Finally, after watching Merlin Mann talk about Inbox Zero again, I looked around for Thunderbird extensions to help with my email workflow and settled on Nostalgy. It takes some personalization and isn’t quite ready for the mass market as is, but for old email hands, it’s just what the doctor ordered. What I use most so far: custom shortcuts to file emails into Archive, RespondTo, DoAction, and Personal with single keystrokes, and the very handy

`

key to do automatic subject/sender filtering toggles. I suspect there are a few more features that I’ll really love.

One of the beauties of the Mozilla extension infrastructure is that extensions like Nostalgy can be born, and grow up as extensions, and then the best ideas can be rolled into the main product. I don’t know that I can point to any specific feature of Nostalgy that I think qualifies right now (after all, I’ve only played with it for a few minutes), but some of its features like the

`

key toggle helps me think more broadly about how the product could evolve.

8 Comments

  1. Never having used IMAP myself, I’ve come to realize how much better it is simply from doing Thunderbird support and speaking with users that have it. I think a lot of moving mail forward and improving it for the user is going to be helping people find IMAP and convincing ISPs to provide it. Many people that come to IRC asking for features to help them with their POP or webmail really want IMAP, they’ve just never heard of it before.

    Like

  2. I use a pattern similar to Nostalgy, I think. I don’t actually keep up with my email properly, despite categorization, so of course this doesn’t *work*, but I don’t blame the tool anymore.

    Basically I just use labels, and move messages in batch. I like IMAP, but Thunderbird doesn’t do enough things asynchronously; for deleting and quickly going through things, labels are applied much more quickly, and it seems also asynchronously with the UI.

    I installed keyconfig to add keybindings for Shift+1-5, which mark the message and also move to the next message. This was really important over the default labeling. Actually figuring out the Javascript to bind those keys to was actually quite hard to do. Anyway, from there I use filters to do batch operations on the emails. If moving emails was more async this probably wouldn’t be necessary.

    Like

  3. Ian: I agree wholeheartedly about the need for more async UI. I’d love to see the Outbox concept implemented in TB, as it’s a good way to localize one of the currently kind-of-synchronous operations (sending) while minimizing UI clutter.

    Like

  4. If I remember correctly I once accidentally set up a loop with gmail and it was not a pretty picture.
    I saw and corrected it quickly, but nonetheless.

    Like

  5. Mailing lists suck

    Give me the opt-in nature of RSS any day. Or better still, a merging of mailing lists, newsgroups and RSS. Throw ’em all up and see what comes out. Hopefully:

    – Threaded public discussion
    – Threaded opt-in notification (threaded, perhaps digest, RSS)

    Only issue is that Google Groups does this already. Perhaps you need a means for more tightly/seemlessly integrating the benefits of a client with the flexibility of ‘groups’ ware. That way you can get Google to funddevelopment of MailCo like Google funds Firefox.

    Like

  6. You wrote: “One of the beauties of the Mozilla extension infrastructure is that extensions like Nostalgy can be born, and grow up as extensions, and then the best ideas can be rolled into the main product.”

    Which is true, in part, because there is still no (financial) reward (system) for the author doing all the hard work.

    So tell me; why is that? Lack off respect? Lack off business ethics? This has got to change one day soon IMHO.

    The result will be people holding off new features, looking for protection of their hard work. I mean, why should anyone else getting payed and credited for work done by others?

    Like

  7. Michael Vincent: I don’t understand.

    Is there something about Mozilla in particular that is prompting your comment, or is it a general comment about open source projects?

    As an aside, there’s nothing preventing people from making proprietary extensions to Thunderbird or Firefox and charging for them or otherwise driving revenue. That’s what Stumbleupon did and is doing, for example.

    From my perspective is that Mozilla is much more willing to let people choose how whether & how they want to be recompensed for their work than many other open source projects. You can even make your own browser and call it whatever you want.

    Sure, it’s still an open source project, which means that there is rarely a direct relationship between contribution and compensation, and there certainly isn’t much “protection” in the sense that I think you’re implying.

    I guess the high-level point is that clearly enough people have found it worthwhile to contribute without pay. As for credit, that’s different — I agree that credit should be assigned as accurately as possible.

    I may be misunderstanding you, though. Feel free to explain further.

    Like

  8. “Is there something about Mozilla in particular that is prompting your comment, or is it a general comment about open source projects?”

    A general one. I just took the the Nostalgy add-on as an example. I mean what if the author(s)
    don’t want you to take it in the main/official builds?

    “As an aside, there’s nothing preventing people from making proprietary extensions to Thunderbird or Firefox and charging for them or otherwise driving revenue. That’s what Stumbleupon did and is doing, for example.”

    This is not about the usual open source versus proprietary software, nor about making money. I
    know perfectly well how to do this.

    “From my perspective is that Mozilla is much more willing to let people choose how whether & how they want to be recompensed for their work than many other open source projects. You can even make your own browser and call it whatever you want.”

    Let’s take Flock for example. All neat Flock features can be copied without limitation,
    which makes it a bad business model to many people.

    “Sure, it’s still an open source project, which means that there is rarely a direct relationship between contribution and compensation, and there certainly isn’t much “protection” in the sense that I think you’re implying.”

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that things shouldn’t change, especially when Mozilla engineers are getting huge salaries and add-on authors nothing for their hard work. Not really equal thinking in my book.
    Protection of product name and logo can be done with a trademark, other than that you’ll need a patent (four in my case).

    “I guess the high-level point is that clearly enough people have found it worthwhile to contribute without pay. As for credit, that’s different — I agree that credit should be assigned as accurately as possible.”

    Which is good, and I will keep helping, but again that doesn’t mean that we should be blind for
    other people. It takes a few months and your salary will be available on the Internet too, which
    will probably raise questions by a number of people, just like it did when the MoCo data went
    public.

    I don’t care about people making $250.000 (don’t get me wrong here) but if people want to keep their work in a specific
    product, for them selfs, that should be possible without too much efforts. Open Source should
    not become rip-off software and claim to be innovative as all they do is copy other peoples work.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s