Back to GMail…

April 20, 2007

After using Yahoo Mail Beta for over a year, and Windows Live Mail for a little bit before that, I’ve decided to switch back to GMail.

I had some trouble with GMail almost two years ago and I decided to try out Windows Live Mail Beta (new at that time). I then had some trouble with Windows Live Mail and got an invite to Yahoo Mail Beta, so I switched over to that.

Lately, I’ve been having trouble with Yahoo Mail Beta so I looked around again to find the best webmail solution and it does certainly seem that GMail is the front runner. Here’s how GMail won me over:

  • Conversation view. Always use it in Outlook, been trying to manage without it in Yahoo! Mail for a while. Suprisingly, I can’t seem to find it on any other webmail offering (am I missing a setting somewhere?)
  • POP Access and Forwarding. Note to Yahoo: I’m not going to pay you $20/year for a feature that other services offer for free.
  • Ability to manage all my e-mail addresses in one place. You can set it up so that all e-mail goes to one GMail account and you can even set it so that replies look like they’re coming from whatever e-mail address you want.
  • Performance. Yahoo Mail Beta is unbearably slow on my computer now. The new AIM Mail Beta doesn’t feel much better (sorry Rose!)
  • Desktop notifier. No need to keep a browser window open anymore! Especially when Firefox seems to take up 200MB of memory with Yahoo Mail Beta loaded…

While some of the webmail solutions have some of these features I’ve just listed, only GMail seems to have them all.

IE 7 auto upgrade

December 21, 2006

Wow, Microsoft is being quite aggressive on the IE7 auto upgrading.

IE7 auto upgrade on Windows 2003 Server R2

That’s an automatic update prompt on Windows Server 2003 R2. I wouldn’t think they’d push IE7 onto servers so soon, but I guess they’re really looking to make IE7 ubuquitous ASAP.

Now if only they did the same thing for the .NET framework, maybe we’d be able to take advantage of the .NET 2.0 and 3.0 libraries!

I’m not sure how many people experience this, but some of my e-mail is really delayed in Yahoo! Mail Beta. Yesterday, I just received an e-mail message that was actually sent to me last Thursday. That’s actually slower than if my friend had wrote me a letter and physically mailed it to me via the post office! Now, if this was a one time occurrence, I’d chalk it up to some slow mail servers on the other end. However, I’ve been experiencing this for the past few months where random pieces of e-mail would be really slow.

So… goodbye Yahoo!

Yahoo Mail Beta

I had noticed a few weeks ago that Windows Live Mail now works in Firefox, so I figured I’d give WLM another try. I used WLM a while back and was pretty satisfied with it – until I switched to Mac. Back then, WLM only worked in IE, so I had no choice but to check out other alternatives.

Welcome back Windows Live Mail :)

Windows Live Mail Beta

While I was setting up e-mail, I figured I’d give AIM Mail a try too – especially since Rose works on the PM team over there now :)

A new challenger?

AIM Mail

Will I stick with WLM or AIM Mail? Who knows? (I’m sure many of you are thinking “who cares?” :P )

Mini-MSFT has a post up about an idea he had – starting a 3 month bootcamp for people when they’re hired at Microsoft he calls “Microsoft Academy”. I think that’s a great idea, and one that many other industries/companies have had for a long time. If they implemented this and they accepted high school students, that would be awesome.

Wait a second, did I say high school students? Yup. For me, spending 3 years at University of Michigan to get a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering was mostly a waste of time. I learned a lot about low level computer architecture, but as far as software is concerned, I already knew half of it and the other half I would’ve been able to pick up in a few weeks anyways. (And of course, it turns out I haven’t worked in the hardware industry yet)

Now, if there was a Microsoft Academy and I could’ve enrolled in that out of high school, I would’ve been all set – technically that is. Socially… well, I’m still probably not quite there ;)

We’ve been using Microsoft Sharepoint here at Plaxo to organize our projects and files. For those who have used Sharepoint, you know it’s a love/hate relationship :)

Anyways, we needed to get a copy of all the files in our Sharepoint site recently. Looking around on the web, we found a few solutions, but couldn’t really find one that did exactly what we wanted. So, I wrote up a quick little app to grab all the files we needed out of Sharepoint, while preserving Sharepoint’s directory structure. It’s a command line tool and it doesn’t have any options.

It’s really not that hard; here’s the source in case you’re interested:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Text;
using System.Data;
using System.Data.SqlClient;
using System.IO;
 
// replace this string with your Sharepoint content DB connection string
string DBConnString = “Server=YOURSHAREPOINTSERVER;Database=CONTENTDATABASE;Trusted_Connection=True;”;
 
// create a DB connection
SqlConnection con = new SqlConnection(DBConnString);
con.Open();
 
// the query to grab all the files.
// Note: Feel free to alter the LeafName like ‘%.extension’ arguments to suit your purpose
SqlCommand com = con.CreateCommand();
com.CommandText = “select DirName, LeafName, Content from Docs where (LeafName like ‘%.doc’ or LeafName like ‘%.xls’ or LeafName like ‘%.pdf’ or LeafName like ‘%.ppt’) and Content is not NULL”;
 
// execute query
SqlDataReader reader = com.ExecuteReader();
 
while (reader.Read())
{
    // grab the file’s directory and name
    string DirName = (string)reader["DirName"];
    string LeafName = (string)reader["LeafName"];
 
    // create directory for the file if it doesn’t yet exist
    if (!Directory.Exists(DirName))
    {
        Directory.CreateDirectory(DirName);
        Console.WriteLine(“Creating directory: “ + DirName);
    }
 
    // create a filestream to spit out the file
    FileStream fs = new FileStream(DirName + “/” + LeafName, FileMode.Create, FileAccess.Write);
    BinaryWriter writer = new BinaryWriter(fs);
 
    // depending on the speed of your network, you may want to change the buffer size (it’s in bytes)
    int bufferSize = 1000000;
    long startIndex = 0;
    long retval = 0;
    byte[] outByte = new byte[bufferSize];
 
    // grab the file out of the db one chunk (of size bufferSize) at a time
    do
    {
        retval = reader.GetBytes(2, startIndex, outByte, 0, bufferSize);
        startIndex += bufferSize;
 
        writer.Write(outByte, 0, (int)retval);
        writer.Flush();
    } while (retval == bufferSize);
 
    // finish writing the file
    writer.Close();
    fs.Close();
 
    Console.WriteLine(“Finished writing file: “ + LeafName);
}
 
// close the DB connection and whatnots
reader.Close();
con.Close();

Here’s my VS.NET 2005 project file. If you need help with the code, please let me know.

Aha, it looks like they’ve given me some invites for the Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta. If you’d like one, leave me a comment and I’ll send one along. I think I’ve got about 10, so first come first serve :)

I’ve used the Windows Live Mail Desktop client for a few weeks and I think it’s ok. Since I use it on my computer at home, which always has an internet connection, I don’t really experience the benefit of an offline experience. I haven’t found it to be any nicer than the Windows Live Mail web client, but if you’re a laptop user, I bet it might come in handy sometimes… 

Oh, in other beta news, I’m making this post from inside Windows Live Writer and I must admit, there are some really cool features. For example, in the post preview, they pull the CSS from my blog and apply it to the display so I can see exactly what my post is going to look like with all my blog’s styles applied. I’ve also used w.bloggar, qumana, and ecto and I think all the clients are approximately the same for my needs. I just write posts, assign a few categories, and publish. One feature request: I wish the editors would give me the ability to add new categories from their UI though. Other than that, I’m happy with any of the solutions I’ve used so far… anyone have any killer features that they absolutely love in one desktop blog editor that doesn’t exist yet in the others?

I downloaded the final RTW version of Windows Live Messenger a few days ago and it had been working well for the most part. Rose had mentioned that Messenger seemed to be crashing her computer, taking up almost 100% CPU and over 150MB of RAM. I thought that sounded a bit high, but her computer (my old IBM T30) is 4 years old, so I figured maybe it was just that it’s a bit outdated.

But lo and behold, a few hours later, my computer started getting really slow – quite a surprise since I wasn’t doing anything really and my computer is a totally decked out Pentium D 930 with 2GB of RAM and a 10k RPM SATA system drive. I looked in taskmgr and I see msnmsgr.exe going crazy at 48% CPU and using over 200MB of RAM (and the mem usage was growing while I was watching it). Looks like there might be a bug in there…

MSNMsgr.exe going bonkers

Note to Windows Live Messenger folks who might be reading this: it seems like a long haul bug. It only seems to happen after the client is running for a long time. Normally my messenger uses < 60MB of RAM and takes up < 10% CPU, even when I’m running a 2-way video chat session. Let me know if you need more repro details. Thanks!

Doodie Bot lives!

July 15, 2006


I saw a few weeks ago that MSN was running a bot contest, so I’ve been thinking of different bots to build. To get started, I figured I’d create something simple: a ToDo Bot (side note: it turns out, nothing is ever that simple).

If you’re on MSN Messenger, you can use it immediately – no setup required! Just send an IM to:

todobot@hotmail.com

Basically, you can chat with it and it’ll keep track of To Do items you tell it about. You can then access your list from wherever, whenever – especially if you use a web-based IM client like Meebo ;)

I got the basics of the idea from Lifehacker, which had an article about making a ToDo.txt file and then someone wrote a Perl-based AIM bot for managing your ToDos. Well, the problem with that was that it’s hard to setup. Anyways, give it a try and let me know what you think. It’s pretty basic right now, but then again, I’ve only put maybe 1-2 days worth of work into it so far :)

If you like the bot and want to link to it on your site, just copy and paste this code!

Kinda funny

June 30, 2006

So check this: Entourage has been dogging on my machine the entire time I’ve been using it and it also eats up a ton of memory. So far, I have yet to experience something that makes me understand why Mac zealots are always saying that Macs are faster…

Entourage Splash Screen

Anyways, I’ve been using Parallels for a while and a few weeks ago I installed Office 12 Beta 2 so I could check out the new Outlook 12. So I started using it and as far as I can tell, Outlook 12 running inside a virtual machine is faster than Entourage.

Parallels Config ScreenOutlook 12 Splash Screen

Now I know there’s a good reason for this (WinXP and Office 12 are x86 code which Parallels is probably piping straight through to the x86 Intel Core Duo processor while Entourage is being run in Rosetta mode in OS X), but I still find it rather comical.

To the Entourage team: please give me a universal binary version of Entourage ASAP (I’ll take Betas :) ). I’d much rather be running a native application!

I also like the new Outlook 12 user experience, especially the new search box inside the inbox :)

For native e-mail duties, I’m going to try Mail.app now. I’ve heard good things about it (mostly that it’s fast) and I can do all the heavy lifting (scheduling meetings and etc.) in Outlook 12.

So I’ve run into a few issues since installing Vista and I was hoping to file a bug. There’s a huge “Feedback” icon on my desktop, but that just takes me to a place where I can put in a support request. In the papers that they sent me the media kit with, it says to go to http://connect.microsoft.com, except all I can find is a place where I can read about other bugs. I can’t seem to find the “Report a new issue” button. It must be there somewhere, I’m probably just missing it?

msconnect

If anyone knows where it is, please let me know :)

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