Wednesday 24 October 2007

Gmail, How do I Love Thee? Let me Count the Ways...

Here's a quick Gmail goodness grab-bag top-10...
  1. Spam filtering. It just works. I estimate it kills more than 99% of my spam, and the only occasional false positives I get are from Yahoo Groups (which is a spam cesspit anyway) and mailing lists that include spam samples (uhhh...)

  2. IMAP access. Yay, we've been asking and asking and asking for it, but it finally arrived yesterday.

  3. Local front-end servers. Recently, Google moved the POP/IMAP/SMTP servers I connect to. They're not now in the U.S., but much closer to me (in the UK?). Some sort of routing cleverness, I dare say. This means downloading a load of messages is now very, very fast.

  4. Search and Filters. Fast, flexible, frequently-very-useful. Especially when combined with the saved search extension for Firefox (using Greasemonkey or the Better Gmail extension).

  5. Labels. I know some people hate 'em, to which I say, "Just think of them as folders." But they're so much better than folders, mainly 'cos you can "file" a message in more than one of them.

  6. Fetchmail. Integrated, as way of grabbing your email from other accounts, using POP. Saves auto-forwarding, which is increasingly broken.

  7. AJAX. Not as ground-breaking as OWA, not as flashy as Oddpost/Yahoo/SWA, not as mashable as Zimbra, but fast and usable all the same.

  8. Keyboard shortcuts. A big productivity saver. I hate to move my hands off the keyboard to find my mouse -- that's a key reason why I don't "do" Mac OS.

  9. Google Apps. A white label version of Gmail is included in Google's hosted applications service.

  10. Free. Yes, as a confirmed cheapskate, this is a good thing. Even Google Apps is free for up to 50 mailboxes. No more do vanity domain owners have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous email forwarders.


Anonymous said...

Could you explain no. 8? I don't get it. Their are tons of keyboard shortcuts on the Mac. Probably more than in Windows. Most people experience a lift in productivity after switching to a Mac.

Richi Jennings said...

I just knew I'd get this comment ;-)

The thing is, every time I use a Mac, I get frustrated by the number of times I have to take my hands off the keyboard. Yes, there are shortcuts in Mac OS and many of the applications, and yes, you can add more shortcuts where they are missing, but it often seems like an afterthought. Whereas the Windows widgets and menu system seem to have keyboard access "baked in", if you will.

Case in point: in Windows, I can access every single menu item using the Alt key, whether or not the developer gave it a shortcut. So in just about any Windows application, I can do a Save-As with a simple Alt+FA, even if the developer didn't define a shortcut for it, like Ctrl+Shift+S).

Stupidly (IMHO), Windows 2000 onwards try to hide these "accelerators" (AKA "access key underlines"). Raymond Chen wrote an interesting post about this.

Anonymous said...

Hi Richi, Wow. 5 months and I still remember this start of a conversation. The mac apps usually have more keyboard shortcuts baked in in my experience but even when they aren't, you can enable full access keyboard shortcuts by typing ctrl+F1. Then you can access the menu bar with ctrl+F2...just like the alt thing in windows. more details here:

Talk to you later.

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