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Heard of GMail?

There are many interesting things about GMail, so this is either going to be a long post or one of a series. First things first: GMail is now my primary email provider. Yes, you heard that right. It's free, does a great job with spam and I can continue to use Outlook. Life is good.

First of all, what is GMail (for those of you who have been living under a rock!) GMail is Google's free, web based, email service. Its major claim to fame, at least initially, was the 1 Gig of free Mail storage they provide. Kind of amazing isn't it? When it first came out, that got all the attention. In fact it seems to have forced Hotmail and Yahoo mail to increase the amount of free storage they provide. I don't believe that they are up to 1 Gig though.

But that's not what attracted me. My issue was spam. I was running on a private mail server which didn't have a spam filter. Instead, I ran Matador's Mail Front, which is a very effective client solution. But what you really want is a server side solution. In my case, the reason was that I also download email to my Treo phone, directly from the server, and hence, no spam filter: phone is flooded with junk mail.

So as an experiment, I redirected all my email to my GMail account, and then used GMail's new free POP service, to pull that email into Outlook as well as into the phone. Sweet!

GMail, with no training, was catching spam with what feels like 99% accuracy. Other than that, my Outlook experience is unchanged, and my Treo phone based email is much much better (no spam.)I recommend it.

Interesting questions to ponder: How can they afford to give me all this service for free? What might their long term stragegy be? Whats the story with the GMail invites and how do you get one?

In this morning's Blog reading, I saw two references to Seinfeld episodes, in each case the reference was just thrown into a headline without further comment. Shows how Seinfeld has shaped how we think and speak!

My social theory of blogging

We all love reading blogs (right?), and some of us even use their valuable time writing blogs. In my evangelism of blogging, a common question is " Why?." Why would you spend your time writing, for a small (for most of us) mostly anonymous audience, for free?

Well I have a (lower-case "t") theory that many bloggers (like me) work alone, at home, or as a consultant, or perhaps wor in a company but not among like minded people.

In this scenario, the blog becomes an outlet for casual little thoughts, insights and discoveries (like this one), which usually would be shared around the office coffee machine, by popping into someone else's office, or when running into them at lunch or on the elevator. When none of these outlets are available, a solo worker becomes a blogger and shares those nuggets with "the world."

I don't know if this rings true to other bloggers, but it does to me.

[GEEK] Java Web Start

You might think it's a bad idea for me to complain about Java Web Start. Well the truth is that I really like it and so am really frustrated by it's failures. In my own small way I am hoping to wake up someone at Sun to see the importance of this little bit of technology to their grand Java strategy.

In my interview with ClientJava I again made some pointed comments about Java Web Start, and in the comment thread some annonymous person (coward) asked me to elaborate. Here is what I said.

"Why has WebStart been such a disappointment? I've written about this in my blog, here and here.
Basically, the promise of WebStart is great: a cross platform way to deploy, install and update Java based desktop apps. The disappointment is that it comes close to working but then fails in so many different ways. It's a tease.

  • There is no reliable cross platform way to check and then install a java environment. And then to add insult to injury, there's no user friendly URL to send users to that does it for them. Try looking at It's so sad. Lots of useless and confusing marketing and a little link in the corner to install Java.

  • Java Web Start is the very first experience my users get with BlogBridge. And it is the #1 cause for problems. I would say about 10% attempts don't work. People will only give an app like BlogBridge one chance so those are all lost sales. If you are really technical, you might be able to fight your way through and figure out how to install the jre or re-install it because it was corrupted.

  • Even when it works it does absurd things like telling the user that installation is strongly discouraged if there is no digital signature. This might sound like it makes sense but if you really think about it, a digital signature from BlogBridge Inc. would add no confidence whatsoever to the user that bad things wouldn't happen. All I need is $300 for a certificate and a postal address.

And there are lots more reasons. The thing that is hard to understand is why Sun doesn't see that if you want Java to take hold on the desktop, solving this problem, really solving it, is more important than probably any of the improvements in 1.5. And the only way to solve it is to have hard-core experts in each platform (Windows in all its flavors, Mac in all its flavors, Unix in all its flavors) building the solution. Becuase a working solution will be very difficult to build. But it is the keys to the kingdom IMHO. "


There's an amusing new blog I came across: "Gapingvoid", by Hugh Macleod. He's a cartoonist, and his postings often have a quickly sketched amusing drawing.

I caught today's posting with this quote on it:

_' "I can't take this shit anymore!" He said, mistakenly' _


From "Waiting for Godot":

ESTRAGON: I can 't go on like this.
VLADIMIR: That's what you think.

More amusing.

Is this a good idea?

I never was a fan of Tommy Thomson - what a name! I am no expert on terrorism, but it seems to me that saying this in his goodbye speech can't be a very good idea:

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Thompson said as announced his departure before department employees. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."

For the life of me, I can't understand why he'd let himself be quoting saying that!