Thunderbird is go!

So after pretty much a single day of using Thunderbird, Mozilla’s email client, I’ve permanently switched over to using it as my main client – after being a registered user of Ritlabs’ TheBat! for at least a decade. TheBat! has been reliable through the years, but has lacked a few features that I’ve always wished it had but that were never dealbreakers to the program’s continued use. I recall testing Thunderbird quite a while ago and finding it to have a very unfinished feel to it. But just as with Firefox, it apparently just needed a couple of years to mature and include some good user-sourced feature requests. Now, it’s awesome.

One of the things I really like about it is the unified inbox. Because I have multiple email addresses, it’s very useful to have a single virtual view of all of my email account inboxes so that I can read and reply without needing to click around in a folder tree, regardless of the accounts in which new mail has arrived. In addition, Thunderbird has the ability to create virtual views based on realtime "searches". So, for example, you can have a view of all your sent items, which consists of the folders named "Sent", "Sent Items" etc from not only POP3 accounts that have been sucked down into Thunderbird already, but also online-residing folders in IMAP accounts. In practice, what with my multiple Google accounts, this program is actually now allowing me to see sent items from literally years ago that I never knew were still hanging around – giving me the chance to delete and empty trash once and for all and feeding my voracious appetite for fastidious electronic organization in the process.

The addons are another bonus. Just as with Firefox, the program interfaces to an online app store containing plenty of plugins which modify/enhance/just basically add to the user experience. Silvermel is a very appealing skin that really makes me look forwarding to using the app. Am I becoming a glam-whore lately? Probably! The app store automatically detects when addons have been updated and you can update directly from within Thunderbird.

Apart from that, it’s business as usual for the program and I’d say it’s six of one, half dozen of the other versus TheBat!. The fact that I was able to import all of my emails from the other email client was a giant bonus. That was done through the use of a plugin. Betas are coming out for Thunderbird all the time, so in that sense it’s also on a slightly more frequent update schedule than TheBat!.

Anyway, that’s a wrap. Gotta go read and reply to my email.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Folder Menu: quickly jump to commonly-used system folders

imageLiking Folder Menu a lot. It’s a small, configurable app which allows you to switch to commonly-used folders in various apps. You can pop a list of folders up with the middle mouse button (for example) in a standard Windows file selection dialog. Choosing a folder will immediately change the file selector to show the contents of that folder. You can also ask the program to monitor other apps (eg Windows Explorer), or even the desktop. Using the latter functionality, you can choose a folder from the popup and you’ll instantly get an Explorer instance opening to that location. In practice it’s extremely handy for plenty of tasks which require you to browse different locations on your hard drive – saving files from a website, editing documents and plenty more.

The program also allows you to activate certain other functionality from within its popup. A nice touch, which unfortunately increases the time-to-appear by a second or so, is a "drive" menu which will show you the current free space on all your drives. You can also quickly perform tasks such as viewing recent files, restarting your PC, running miscellaneous programs or even visiting a particular website.

Completely free, x86 and x64 versions available. It has now replaced DirectFolders permanently on my system.

Folder Menu


Saw these in Micaël Reynaud’s Google+ feed. Freaking awesome. Lots more there too..


The flip: Firefox to Chrome, and maybe TheBat! to Thunderbird?

imageI find it interesting that over the last year or two I’ve done 180° turnarounds in opinion on various things that I once thought were complete wastes of time, only to turn right back round again later on as the biggest pain points to their use disappeared. Originally I hated Firefox due to the fact that there were a few things that completely wrong with it – long loading times, unable to “open” a file directly from a webpage like Internet Explorer does, and the horrible Find bar. As addons appeared that fixed these things I warmed to it. Witness my post on the topic from 2009. Well, lately I’ve been mildly annoyed with it because quite frankly the load time is starting to piss me right off again – I have a quad core machine and ten seconds for ANY single program to load is completely unacceptable – plus the page rendering is just laggy and I have no idea why. By comparison, Google Chrome is super-fast to load (it always has been) and loading large pages and scrolling up and down, it’s just nippier than Firefox. Very noticeable. So recently, I have copied across many of my common bookmarks to Chrome and started installing some good extensions into it – now using it at home and work and quite pleased. Some things are a bit annoying but I consider the fact that it loads in the blink of an eye to offset those things. This switch may be temporary – we’ll see how long I can last without FF.

So next up, email. At work I use Pop Peeper, a freeware, lightweight mail client, to check my personal mail. It’s done the job for about 3 years but once again there are small annoyances that are causing me to think about getting rid of it. Primarily, I may get an email with HTML in it and then wish to forward that to someone, eg my wife. PP doesn’t forward anything other than plaintext. You can’t EDIT in it other than in plaintext too. You can attach files, but that’s not the point. I want inline rich text etc. Blah blah. So, yesterday at work I installed Mozilla Thunderbird, from the makers of Firefox. It’s a full email client. I looked at it a couple of years ago and hated it. I’ve used Ritlab’s TheBat! for email for something like twelve years now and have been quite happy with it. There’s really nothing wrong with the latter, but I can’t install it at work as I only have a single license. So, freeware it was. Thunderbird, too, appears to be something that Mozilla have finally gotten right. It looks good, has LOTS of options, and best of all has a feature called the Unified view which allows you to view a single global “virtual” inbox that contains emails amalgamated from all your configured accounts. This allows you to reply to emails from multiple sources without needing to flip to different accounts to do so. Just eases the administrative process. I’m liking it a lot so far.

Installed it at home last night. Installed the Bird Import and the Minimize on Start/Close/To Tray extensions. I imported ALL my emails from TheBat! quite easily. I’m going to give it a shot as my regular email client as there are already some things I like about it that are far better than TheBat! (Yes, TheBat!’s official name contains an exclamation mark)

Need to revisit stuff a little more often, methinks! Just wish I had more time. Once again, freeware for the win.

Mozilla Thunderbird

TinyResMeter v0.98.0.2 download

Download here: [download id=”2″]

Main page for the software is here.

Remembering Steve Jobs – 1955-2011 – R.I.P.

imageI’ve been up and down about Apple products over the years. On the one hand, considering myself a dyed-in-the-wool computer techie, I’ve always kinda sneered at systems that never presented any major opportunities to utilize my talents – ie, things that just ran and didn’t require substantial amounts of configuration or maintenance to prevent things from going wrong, or in-depth troubleshooting when things DID go wrong. In latter years, however, despite the Droid X that I own and the Android “Nom” t-shirt that I’m wearing as I write this, I’ve found myself using Apple products more and more. I use my iPod Touch for ebooks and RSS, Twitter, Google Plus and a desktop clock at work, plus Facetime when the wife or I are out of town. I use my iPad2 for games, news and idle browsing. I did not agree with all of Steve Jobs’ philosophies – the concept of knowing what’s best for everyone and padding a computer’s operating system so comfortably so that nobody can poke their eye out with it, even if they tried – I don’t like that. But the man certainly was a visionary, and like the news sites are saying, the world is a lesser place without him in it. There’s obviously a place and an audience for what he made – and I acknowledge that as a tech guy, it was in no small part due to Jobs making computers “aesthetic works of art” in a way that made them appeal to the masses. It really dawned on me when my 2-year-old toddler picked up the concept of swiping his finger across a screen seconds after seeing it, that Apple products like the iPhone were completely intuitive – for everyone – without needing to know a lot about computers. Great for most people. For me, still fun. But, like a doctor without the prospect of sick people, I’m never happy unless I needlessly complicate things. If it ain’t broke, fix it until it is.

Hopefully the new CEO of Apple will carry the torch forward. Equally, I hope the flopdick hackers out there grow a pair and start TRULY working on hacking new versions of iOS instead of “withholding exploits” because they’re scared Apple will patch them. Physically break open the device, throw in a new chip, defeat whatever RSA encryption is present, break the master key and for christ’s sake let’s make this stuff fun again. I’m looking at you, Asia. Don’t just stop at game console modchips! Sheesh.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Rest in peace, Mr Jobs.

Thanks, Tony!

imageI wanted to post a quick thanks here to my long-time friend Tony. Years ago, Tony told me that I should register (I had been running the site in various forms since 1997 but always off some other hosting location such as Geocities) and eventually he went and registered it for me. He has owned the domain since 2004 and we only recently transferred it to my ownership. Ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ, Tony!

RSSOwl: free RSS reader which can sync with Google Reader

imageI’ve been a fan of information inhalation via RSS feeds for a long time. Originally I used to read them on the PC using GreatNews, but since then I’ve taken to caching a stack of RSS news via Google Reader onto my iPod Touch and reading on-the-go using the Reeder app. Google Reader really comes into play when you have multiple devices connecting from disparate locations so you can sync info on what you’ve read, what you’ve marked as interesting etc. After recently getting a tablet and starting the whole RSS bollocks up on that as well, I decided to hunt once again for a Windows RSS app capable of syncing with Google Reader. GreatNews doesn’t, and FeedDemon annoys the hell out of me by being feature-crippled and having ads.

RSSOwl is a very nice, free RSS reader which is built on the Eclipse framework. It’s very configurable, isn’t too sluggish with loading and saving tens of thousands of articles, and quite frankly decisively wins over both GN and FD in terms of look and feel. You can find a full overview of its features here. After less than a week using it, I already feel it’s deserving of the coveted Dhryland Hot Download Award ranking.


A note to all app authors (Google and Apple)

imageOkay, App Store authors (both Apple AND Google). Check out the list below before writing/publishing your next app. If your app does ANYTHING even REMOTELY similar to the bulleted descriptions, you’re doing something that at least five hundred other apps do and NO, your app WON’T be the best implementation or have the most original twist. Figure out something else to write. Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

  • Game where you need to draw a line with your finger to show a boat/plane/cat/rat/something else which boathouse/airfield/path across a road/path across a traintrack/etc to take
  • Game featuring “doodle-style” graphics which negates the need for you to actually spend more than ten seconds creating the graphics
  • A to-do list, or in fact ANY sort of list
  • A reminder app
  • A calendar app
  • A weather app
  • A clock app (with or without alarm functionality)
  • An app where you can write text and then have it sync to Dropbox as though that’s the coolest thing ever – ignore this bullet if your app syncs with SugarSync, though, since for some reason nobody’s written one of those yet and SugarSync is ten million times better than DropBox (oh, and here’s my SugarSync referral link before I forget)
  • A game which displays random items that you need to “slice” open/apart with your finger
  • A game where you use your finger to pull back a “slingshot”, thereby “firing” something at something else
  • A game featuring zombies where you’re supposed to do something, anything at all, to try and kill the zombies
  • A game where boring-arse creatures of some type follow a boring-arse predefined path across a crappily-decorated “field”, and you’re supposed to drop objects by the side of this path which will then “attack” the creatures as they pass by while you’re then expected to gibber and wring your hands in excitement and do absolutely nothing else except pray that you placed your stuff properly
  • A game where you have to “endlessly” either run sideways or climb/jump upwards
  • An app with one of the following words in the title, REGARDLESS of the premise or execution of the app: ninja, angry, tower, notes, balloon, ball
  • A game where the object is to take a character through a top-down view of lands and towns in the style of a Japanese RPG, where character interactions contain speech in bubbles which comprise 98% of the sum total of the code base of the game and require two hundred finger taps on the screen before the entire interaction concludes, whereupon you get about five seconds of actual "gameplay” before the next interaction
  • A game featuring “retro-style” graphics, either deliberately pixelated or else vectorized, purporting to transport the player back to the halcyon days of their youth where they played this type of game and wished for a future where graphics and sounds were cooler and you could do more than shoot blocky pixels at other, differently-colored, blocky pixels

Double marks subtracted if your app falls into two or more of the abovementioned categories simultaneously. K? Make it happen! (claps hands once, loudly)

Awesome idea – post “tagging” or “rating” on FB and G+

I heard a brilliant suggestion today from one of my workmates in the break room – the concept of mandatory tagging of your posts with keywords. Like "dead relative", "pets", “religion” etc. Would work great for both G+ and especially Facebook. We have it in WordPress and I have no idea why it doesn’t exist in the online social networks (yet?) Imagine being able to globally filter your friends’ posts based on keywords, so you never need to read about their dead relatives or pets or bollocks about God etc but you can read all the other stuff. Or maybe a "happiness ranking" that you can give your posts so that your friends don’t need to read anything that has a happiness ranking of –20 or a nudity ranking below 50. This way your fun, idle surfing time doesn’t need to be destroyed by having a story about your mate’s dead grandpa etc get thrown in your face, thus bringing down your entire week. Sensational idea. I should jump and patent it.