Tag Archives: gmail


If you are a power user of Gmail you will want to at least give MailBrowser a try (http://mailbrowser.com). It is mostly a straight up clone of Xnobi, an excellent plugin for Outlook, that works in your browser with Gmail.  It installs as a regular application and runs in your system try.  On Firefox it also installs an addon called MailBrowser that I presume creates the sidebar MailBrowser runs in.

Once you’ve installed the program and given it your login credentials for your Gmail account, it downloads your contacts and all the attachments in your Gmail account.  The attachments are stored in a folder on your local machine by contact name, and are indexed by MailBrowser so you can search them.  The MB interface presents you with information about your contacts, and what they have sent you either by thread or as a list of files.

Among the helpful things you can do is edit files opened from the MB interface.  The changed file is synced back to your Gmail account and you can get a link to email the changes back.

This addon is still under heavy development but has lots of potential.  I would like to see it run in Gmail as a loadable gadget to give even deeper integration.  But even as is it is very usable.

As far as security goes, the developers say this addon only communicates with Gmail, nothing goes back to them.  Your files are stored and indexed on your machine and under your control.

Gmail Progress

Google is making progress, its slow but its progress, on some of the issues I’ve long complained about.  First among these is the lack of drag and drop attachments for Gmail.  Lo and behold last week this feature was announced for users of Firefox and Chrome.  Google says that drag and drop picture insertions is working for Chrome users and should be working soon for Firefox.  Great.

The Google mandarins also announced last week that all of Google’s applications (Picasa, Buzz, etc.) would be available for Google apps domains by the end of the summer.  Laudable since treating paying customers like second class citizens seems silly.

While these announcements are appreciated they are way over due, not having drag and drop attachments and photo inserts is so 2002, not 2010.  What took so long? And not letting premium customers have all the neat features.  What were you thinking Google?

Now that those are out of the way (or soon will be) they need to implement their actual top requested features:  revamping the look and feel of contacts to something modern and permitting users to turn off threading in the mail application.

Get with it dudes.

Gmail Gets Something Right

One of the big things I’ve been complaining Gmail lacks landed with a boom last week: drag and drop categories.  Thanks Google, it was a long time coming but it was an obviously correct thing to do.

But there are others:

1)  Give us the option to turn off threaded views.  Don’t take threaded views away, lots of people like threaded views, but lots don’t .  Surely this would be a trivial modification that would make many users happy.

2)  A preview pane.  Everybody else does it.  Its one of the hallmarks of modern mail interfaces.  At least give us the option.

3) A general refresh of the interface.  While the first two are trivial, this last is a little more substantial, but just as necessary.  The Outlook Web interface and Windows Live Mail interface look much sleeker and more modern while Gmail just looks dowdy.

4)  Give us better ways to make Gmail interact with our desktops.  None of the plugins for Firefox is worth a plugged nickel.  They either fail at supporting Google apps accounts or they don’t support multiple accounts.

Here’s a potential strategy that takes all of that makes all of that easy for Google.  Very easy.  Just modify the Outllook  Sync program Google just released so that it supports free accounts, supports multiple accounts, and syncs tasks as well as mail, contacts and calendars.  That would take care of everything.

Google Mail Native Interface vs. Outlook 2007


Here’s my list of pros and cons of using the Google Web Interface over Outlook (note cost is ignored because I already have Outlook).  What would you do?



Native Interface lets you use all of Google’s capabilities.

Does not interact with desktop, providing alerts on email arrival etc.

Reduces complexity by avoiding yet another program on the computer (Outlook), plus another synchronization with yet another program (SyncMyCal) .

Face it, Google is not very pretty .  And the Firefox add-ons that try and make it look better are mostly epic fails.

May improve computer performance, Outlook is a known dog.

Interaction with other MS Office applications.

Available everywhere on every device with internet access.

Viewing attachments can be more cumbersome.  No drag and drop, no instant native viewers etc.

Excellent Calendaring Services

No viewing pane for mail.

Recently introduced task list in Google Labs.

No offline viewing or composing mail.

Super fast searches of email and contacts.

No “home”, no one place to go for mail and calendar stuff.

Mad At Google

I’ve been trying to move my company to Gmail, or to be more accurate a Google Apps hosted domain.  I like the $50 a year per account price tag and I like the 25Gb per account. But I’ve hit some serious snags that should make anyone think twice about moving a serious email use to Google.

First a word about what we were trying to accomplish.  Our company uses about 100 IMAP mail accounts.  We would like to improve the uptime we are seeing over the CentOS Cyrus IMAP server we are running.   Its a good server, but the amount of traffic we are experiencing plus the current levels of Spam sometimes leave it choking.  We don’t have the staff time or expertise to “make it better” so we have been looking for an outsource solution that won’t break the bank.  Enter Google.

The first problem we encountered was Google’s lack of folders.  No folders is ok, there is nothing wrong with Labels, but that means that the migration tools Google provides for users can only see one directory in each of the existing IMAP accounts.  It expects to see one folder with all the mail in it that it can import into Gmail’s All Mail, the only folder it actually has.  The fact that NOBODY but Google does things this way apparently did not enter the mind of the people writing the software.

So we’ll do it manually using Thunderbird or something.  There are only 5 or 6 accounts with really serious amounts of mail in them.  Shouldn’t be a problem.  But nooooooo.  Google IMAP is a little different from other IMAP in ways that makes standard IMAP clients loose their connection rather more frequently than is really good, so uploading serious amounts of email can take more than a day for a single account.  Even then you have to spoon feed Gamil or it will choke.  There are more way’s that Gmail IMAP is not standard, here is a good article on the subject.

But then comes the worst part:  Lockdown in Sector 4 (failure).  If you’ve never experienced this it has to be seen to be believed.  Google has an algorithm that looks for patterns like too many attempts to send mail in a period of time, too many uploads or downloads etc.  The purpose of this is to defeat spammers and keep people from generally abusing their servers.  But if you have large accounts that you’re uploading to Google or downloading to a client for local access, whamo, you could be shut off from IMAP access for 24 hours.

And as if that were not bad enough, how about the inability to ever, and I mean ever, talk to a human being about any problems you’re having, even though you paid for Premium accounts.

Google needs to to a lot better than this if they expect to have companies depend on them for their infrastructure.