chuck.goolsbee.org  goolsbee.org, serving useless content from an undisclosed location since 1997

February 18, 2009

GyazMail update.

Filed under: Gyazmail from Eudora,Review & Criticism,Technology — chuck goolsbee @ 9:33 am
GyazMail on my MacBook Pro
GyazMail on my MacBook Pro

It has been several months, and to be honest… I’m very happy. So happy I stopped noticing the fact that I was “in transition” away from Eudora, and just got settled into using GyazMail. I still fire up Eudora about once every two weeks, usually to search for some obscure older bit of correspondence. I’ve moved most of my relevant mail archives directly into GyazMail anyway, so this need is really only for the truly obscure stuff. If you recall, I wanted to leave Eudora behind as it was becoming orphanware, and started showing some odd behaviors under 10.5. I know, somebody will chime in and say it is working just fine for them… but it was getting unstable in my case. I tried using Apple’s Mail.app. It reminded me of all the things I hated about NeXTMail, it’s predecessor under NeXTStep (which was really MacOS X Version Minus One… or perhaps MacOS X is really NeXTStep 5.5? …but I digress.) Mail.app is loaded with annoyances for me. So much so that I would rather continue using Eudora. Entourage is another one I looked at and dismissed quickly as it reminds me too much of everything else in Microsoft Office: overly mouse driven with buttons galore, screen real estate taken up by unused elements, and an odd focus on integration with other Microsoft products, rather than integrating with ME. When I found GyazMail I was intrigued, as it appeared to do 95% of the things I wanted it to do right out of the gate. Looking further I could bend about 3% of the rest of it to my will, leaving a small percentage (do the math, there will be a quiz later!) remaining for the developer to fix, should I choose to bug him with requests. To date I have made no contact with Goichi Hirakawa, GyazMail’s developer beyond sending him some money via my friend Kee Nethery‘s Kagi for his work.

Here’s a short list of the highlights and lowpoints, with full exploration to follow:

Why I left Eudora behind:

  • Lack of stability and compatibility with MacOS X 10.5 and beyond.
  • Lack of support for OS X technologies, notably integration with AddressBook and iCal. These were key to successful syncing with my smartphone, be it my old Treo, my current Blackberry, or whatever I use in the future.
  • It’s dead Jim.”

What I miss about Eudora:

  • The ability to search across multiple mailboxes and accounts, based on easy search terms.
  • Stationery: The ability to have pre-built mail content, complete with headers, available from the message menu. This is very handy for those of us who administer mailing lists. I had a bunch of mail templates I used for interaction with the list server, as well as canned replies for frequently asked questions from or situations with the list subscribers.
  • The “read through everything with the spacebar” nature of the inbox.

What I love, so far, about GyazMail:

  • Fast, lightweight, stable.
  • EXCELLENT integration with Apple’s AddressBook.
  • Easy to import old Eudora mailboxes into GyazMail.
  • Growl notifications.
  • Excellent multi-account & multi-server support.
  • Better handling (though still not perfect) of HTML-formatted mail.
  • Excellent preference/filter/rule UI and handling

GyazMail annoyances:

  • Overly “clicky” UI. Especially in multiple accounts, when reading new mail, I find that I spend too much “mouse time” bouncing between the left (accounts/mailboxes) pane and the right (message reading panes) of the main window. Eudora had this wonderful way of just space-barring your way through all unread mail. In GyazMail you have to click TWICE to change the mailbox you are reading. Once to change accounts/mailboxes, then once more into the message reading pane to change the focus of the spacebar’s reading emphasis. If you don’t make that second mouseclick
  • Some HTML rendering bugs.
  • Lack of finer control over HTML behaviors within incoming mail. A sort of “all or nothing” approach.
  • Mailbox-intense left pane can use up a lot of screen real-estate, making navigation a scrolling chore. Eudora’s choice to bury this in a menu was more elegant.

(Note: This post is still a work in progress, check back often)

(more…)

September 29, 2008

An old habit dies… hard.

Filed under: Apple,Gyazmail from Eudora,life,rants,Review & Criticism,Technology,Thoughts — chuck goolsbee @ 6:35 pm

I have a confession to make: I’ve been using the same email user agent for about eighteen years. Yes… EIGHTEEN years. How many software products from 1990 do you still use?

In 1990 I was using a Macintosh IIsi, System 6.0.7, and Eudora 1. If I recall correctly it was version 1.3 or 1.5. I used my wife’s student account at the University of Washington to get online at first. A shell account on a UNIX host, a newsfeed (Newswatcher!) and trusty old Eudora for reading mail. I had a Hayes 2400baud modem at first, then I joined the 90s eventually with a Prometheus 14.4k modem, with built-in fax AND voicemail. (I was doing full-blown telephony in 1991!)

But trusty old Eudora was my mailer. It stayed my mailer.

I went through many machines (MacII, Centris 650, PowerBook 170, Duos, the infamous green 2400c subnotebook, iMacs, G4s, a TiBook that wheezed itself to death eventually, and now my current, though aging aluminum G4 PowerBook.) But Eudora remained my mailer.

I upgraded operating systems (System 7, OS8, did my best to skip OS9, jumped to X when it finally stabilized, through all the iterations of OSX up to 10.4) and Eudora kept on chugging. I managed to keep just about every bit of mail I had sent or received from about 1994 through 1998… when the great Jaz drive failure hit me as I was moving machines in the UK. Did I give up? Nope, I just started again.

Now I have just about every mail I have sent or received since 1998… all carried around in a pair of “Eudora Folders” on my hard drive (and backed up here, there, and everywhere!)

I have adapted to Eudora and it has adapted to me.

I have two distinct mail modes: work and non-work. I don’t read non-work email at work (except around lunchtime) and I TRY not to read work-related email when I am not at work, at least not on my laptop (that is what my Blackberry is for!) I have YEARS of well-tuned mail filters built (I should screen-shot them… they would astound you! Want to see them? Ask in the comments) and a signature file that is very long (it is how I have packed the “random quotes” here on my site.)

Unfortunately Qualcomm announced Eudora’s demise a while back and I knew this day would come. I test drove several other mail clients, but to be honest… all of them sucked. I know people think Eudora sucked, but it worked for me and I liked it. Hell, I stuck with it for EIGHTEEN YEARS!

I thought about Entourage. Yuck. Way too MS Office-ish. That big honking monolithic mail database terrifies me. Eudora has always stored mail is unix mbox format – plain old text files. Dealing with a corruption was just a matter of firing up BBEdit or vi. Clickty-click. I think that has happened to me three times in 18 years. I have known way too many folks who have had one form or another of Microsoft mail database files go tango uniform on them at inopportune moments. Frequently. No thanks.

I tried Mail.app. I really did. Inertia almost drove me there. It was the one I have test driven the longest. But the rules/filtering is just abysmal compared to Eudora. The mailbox handling lame. And I noted that it becomes a complete pig when you try to deal with large volumes of mail like I do. Searching through my multi-gig mailing list archives for some string of words? Seconds in Eudora! Minutes or a system crash in Mail.app. Yuck.

I’m planning a jump to OSX 10.5, mostly so I can support my family members who all use it. There have been issues reported for the last version of Eudora (6.2) on the latest OS from Apple. I figured now is the time to make the leap away from my old friend.

I thought about Odysseus, as it is billed as a modern replacement for Eudora. However it seems to be in perpetual beta, that seems more like alpha from the users I’ve talked to.

I looked at Thunderbird. No thanks. The UI is just … well… bleagh.

I stumbled across a likely little application that seems to fit the bill: Gyazmail. It has a very flexible UI that allows me to make it behave very Eudora-like when I want it to. It has very good search, rules, and filters. It can import all my old mail(!)

I’m test driving it at the moment and liking it so far. Switched my work mail to it late last week, and my personal mail is still coming over one account at a time. So far so good. If you regularly contact me via email be patient while I work through this transition period.

Good-bye Eudora… it has been a good 18 years.

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