June 2008 Archives


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‘nuff said :)

I’m checking off some items on my “travel todo” this year. Earlier this year I climbed the Kilimanjaro, which was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. In one week I’ll be doing on more item on the ‘travel todo’: I’ll be putting on my motorcycle helmet and heading towards the North Cape — the northern most point of Europe (well, ok, only almost, but pretty close :) ).

It will be two weeks of motorcycling in the beautiful Norwegian landscape to get there, and Lapland and Sweden on the way back — during midnight sun too. Riding there on a motorcycle, will be beautiful, but it will also be a challenge weather-wise, because even though it is summer, it is 5 degrees and raining in a some of region at the moment. I’ll be packing my long underwear for sure.

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GMail musings

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I’ve now been using GMail at work for a 2 months time or so, and I must admit that my first impression still holds: It’s not good. Here are my main problems:

Filters ignore punctuation

Somebody at Google had a smart idea: Why not just use the normal Google Search for searching mail and hence also use it for filters? Sounds good at first thought, but it is simply not good enough. If I want to search/create a filter for a mailing list, I find that I’d really like to search for a specific string like “[cheese]”. Problem is that Google ignores any special characters so it just turns it into a search for “cheese”, and lo and behold that can match a lot of, unrelated, mails.

I know that I can use listid/list to specifically filter lists, but I still find I have the need for precise keyword search — including special characters.

All filters are applied, always*

Google also have no way of chaining/prioritising filters. I normally have filters that filter on specific items, and then a “catch all” that filters whatever has not been filtered yet. This is not possible, since you cannot say “if this matches, filter no more”.

Conversation mode is weird

Conversation mode is again something that at first thought seems like a good idea, but does not hold in the long run. First of all, since all letters stemming from the same root end up in the same conversation in a flat list. That makes it impossible (very tedious) to figure out exactly what an email was a response to, if a thread forks.

Moreover, if somebody on an list thread responds directly to me (i.e. off-list), the entire conversation suddenly keeps appearing in my inbox. Eh, why?

Threads are just better… end of story.

Lack of keyboard shortcuts

There are shortcuts for a lot of things in GMail, but for very common tasks I find myself clicking around with the mouse like a mad. For example:

A) Go to a label

Whenever I want to read a mailinglist (which I filter specifically), I have to click on it. Yes, I can also type “/ label: ‘full label name’” … but it ain’t exactly quick, or user friendly is it?

B) Mark all read

So the shortcut for “marking all messages in a label as read”, is:

  • Go to the label (see A)
  • Add “is:unread” to the search (or large collections will take forever)
  • Click “All”
  • Click “Select all conversations that match this search”
  • Click drop-down menu
  • Click “Mark as read”
  • Click “Ok”


C) Add a “cc” to a message

Have to click on the “Add CC” link

No way to insert text as quoted

If I have to quote some other source in an email, there is no way to insert the text as quoted.

Performance can be very slow

Sometimes Google just seems to hang for 10 seconds showing “Loading…”, and then “Still loading…”. Not sure what triggers it, but when you are used to instant feedback it drives you up the wall.

IMAP support is slow

It can take Google IMAP server up to 40 seconds to get the unread count for a “folder”. Guess how long it can take for my email program to update the unread count then …. ?

IMAP, mailing lists, and conversation mode is a bad mix

Google tries to be smart and only sends you each message (based on message-id) once to your IMAP client. But since Google also automatically saves every message you write in your “Sent mail” (which is good :) ), mails you write to a mailing list will not appear in the “folder” (filter) you filter on. Eh? How unusable is that?

All in all, it is not a particular good experience for me I must say. And I’m a bit stuck since both the web-interface and the IMAP support is sub-optimal, so I can choose between two things which are both bad… ggrrrr. I guess my next move is to move to a proper email program (again), set up an IMAP “caching proxy” to get over the slowness, and then live with the mailing list problem.

I’ve been thinking about moving my own mail to gmail, but that seems like a rather bad idea now.

Update: I am not alone it seems.

The Dutch

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That’s just how they are around here ;-)

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