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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


signs his name with a capital G

i read this article on wired, Mozilla: Why Desktop E-Mail Crucifies the Browser, about the superiority of desktop mail to web-based mail, and i chuckled a bit.

disclaimer: i love me some thunderbird, i used it heavily before i abandoned my POP/IMAP accounts and moved exclusively to gmail. it's a great app.

that said, the app's engineer is missing a few things:

Wired News: With seemingly every aspect of our data moving toward online apps and away from the traditional desktop model, why is Mozilla still interested in a desktop e-mail client?

Scott MacGregor
: We believe the Thunderbird experience is better for moderate to heavy e-mail use. It's much easier to process incoming mail -- anyone who's had to use web mail on vacation to deal with dozens of e-mails can testify to how tedious it can be.
while the thunderbird experience is shiny, i'm just as capable of processing incoming mail in gmail as i am in the desktop client. i've become a huge fan of gmail's Archive feature... instead of sorting mail into folders or creating labels, i check a message and hit one button to make it vanish into the archives... then, when i want to find it, i search for one or two words that i know will bring it to the surface - "dad" or "NLT" or "Progressive Insurance". if there are messages i want to see frequently, i star them and i can hit the 'starred' option to show all of them. maybe i'm not a moderate-to-heavy-email-user from that aspect - but gmail has all the organization i will ever need.
WN: What advantages does Thunderbird offer that a web-based app like Gmail doesn't?

MacGregor: Some users want to have their data local for privacy and control. Furthermore, you can integrate data from different applications on the desktop in ways that you can't do with web-based solutions, unless you stick to web solutions from a single provider. For example, you can use your Outlook address book with Thunderbird. We'd like to continue to expand the kinds of data you can share between Thunderbird and other apps (both web and desktop applications).
i don't have any qualms about storing my data on a server as opposed to locally... if someone's worried about privacy in their mail, they should either PGP-encrypt it all, or don't send any. the owner of any relaying SMTP server on the public internet can read every single word of every email passing through it, if they so desire. plus, unless you're running your own SMTP server at home, chances are your mail is sitting in a mailbox on your ISP's mailserver til you download it.

control - whaa? i have far less control of my email content if it's sitting on my box at home vs. on the gmail servers... where i can access it from any intertube-connected PC, or from my phone using their java app. granted i could set up remote access to my PC and hit it using a commercial service like gotomypc or a free one like VNC... but that's a bit more tedious (not to mention a security risk) than logging onto a webserver. you could store it on an IMAP server and use IMAP clients from anywhere to access it, but then your mail stays centrally located on a server anyway, defeating the whole purpose!

finally - gmail (and most other web-based mail services) have API's that will support communication between it and a desktop system (i.e. a PC running Outlook). there are plenty of ways to sync your webmail stuff with your mail client - most of which are dirt-easy to set up.

sorry guys, AJAX killed the mail user agent star. i certainly wouldn't mind using tbird when they release gmail support for it - i've been eyeing the OS X app mailplane for the same reason. that said, google has done a fantastic job making the web-based gmail client a great place to hang out.


for this post

Blogger ryanham Says:

"AJAX killed the mail user agent star" - not sure that could be put into the same rythym as "Video Killed the Radio Star," but I guess it's worth a shot.

P.S.: Gmail has a POP option if you're so inclined...but why would you ever do that? I <3 gmail!

P.P.S.: Did you know my dad uses tightVNC to access his desktop at work? *cough*

Blogger ryanham Says:

Oh, and one other thing, you can actually have Gmail handle/bring in mail from your other POP-style email addresses, and you can reply with those addresses if you so desire.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

yeah i use gmail's pop to back up my mail every month. i used to pop to other accounts, but they're pretty much all spam now. no more justin@one.net unfortunately :(

Anonymous Artie Says:

Anyone know if the Google desktop integrates gmail with Spotlight. Not being able to search for everything in the world through Spotlight/Quicksilver is what's keeping me from being a webmail-only guy.

Blogger ryanham Says:

Google desktop allows you to search gmail and your desktop, so I'd view it as a spotlight replacement rather than something that integrates.


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