I had a lead for a guy today. I sent him an email to tell him so and to put him in touch with the potential client.
I received back a Spamarrest email asking me to click on a link to verify that I am not a spammer. A pain in the ass, after all I am doing this guy a favour, but ok I’ll click it. I then have to click another link on the page which opens up and when I do that, I am presented with this CAPTCHA screen to fill out. Guys, CAPTCHAs are evil. Stop using them. Now.
I hate spam but I also hate people who are too damn lazy to put a proper anti-spam solution in place and instead throw the burden back on the email sender.
Ross Cooney of Rozmic contacted me recently to tell me of their latest product, EmailCloud.
EmailCloud is a server-side anti-(email)spam application which is accessible and configurable through a browser. The setup wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped (I messed it up!) but a quick email to Rozmic and I had the solution back in minutes!
As you can see from the stats below, up to 75% of the emails I get are spam! However, because EmailCloud is server side, my email client never sees those emails saving me bandwidth and hassle.
The great thing about EmailCloud is that, being a hosted app, you can simply set it and forget it.
[Full disclosure – Ross set me up with a free EmailCloud account so I could try it out.]
I quickly logged into my GMail account and Lo!, there was the IMAP option – wohoo!
Why is this a good thing? Well, previously if you wanted to read your Gmail in your email client application (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) you had to use the POP protocol. IMAP is a better protocol for doing that because as Alex Chitu pointed out:
you’re always connected to the server, more clients can connect to the same account, you can obtain the text from a message without the attachments and the state information is synchronized (you can add labels from the client, read or delete a message and Gmail will synchronize).
Of course Hotmail (or as it is now mis-nomered Windows Live Mail) still doesn’t even allow POP access (unless you pay for it), never mind IMAP. This leads to many people’s accounts being deleted and losing all their email (happened to me last year).
Hotmail used to be a ground-breaking product until Microsoft got their hands on it and slowly squeezed the life out of it.
I told him that I would publish the letter of apology on the blog and he was happy with that. Here is the email I received:
Thanks for taking my call this morning – I appreciate you taking further time to discuss the recent events with me.
As I said on the phone and wish to reiterate, I apologise for the issues surrounding the e-mail that was distributed and also for the amount of your time being spent dealing with this situation. Having thoroughly investigated all the aspects of the original mail, I have discovered that this was an error that occurred through the enthusiasm of a brand new recruit who did not understand the policies and practices of the company.
Monster has a strict policy regarding unsolicited emails, and all Monster employees are forbidden from sending such emails unless the individuals or companies in question have specifically opted in to receive group emails of this nature. I reiterate that the email in question was sent by an individual in contravention of Monster’s policy on unsolicited emails, and that Monster in no way authorised or condoned this behaviour.
On behalf of Monster please be assured that we will do everything we can to avoid incidents of this nature occurring again in the future.
James was also looking for suggestions on how to make this right. I made a couple of suggestions to him which he promised to look into but if anyone else has any suggestions they’d like to add, feel free to leave them in the comments or email them to me and I’ll pass them onto James.
It is taking me a while to get into this Vista machine.
On the Mac, I live in browsers (I generally have 4 running) and email. The browsers on Vista are pretty much the same as they are on the Mac but the email experience is very different.
The main choices I have for email client software are Thunderbird and Outlook 2007. I am using both for different email accounts and, frankly, I don’t like either!
Thunderbird has already crashed on me so it is not that stable and Outlook hangs from time to time, seemingly contemplating the task I have just asked it to do, before finally snapping to attention and displaying my mail.
Outlook also has an incredibly cluttered interface (seven panes) in comparison to the clean crisp interface of Apple’s Mail app. This can be very off-putting if you are not familiar with the program.
I also hate the way Outlook deals with IMAP. I like it as a protocol but it is unusable in Outlook (if I delete an email, I want it to disappear, not stay in my inbox with a line through it). I originally set up my mail account in Outlook 2007 as IMAP but when I realised Outlook still deals poorly with IMAP I decided to switch to POP.
This is where I hit another UI bug.
When I asked Outlook to remove the account it gave me the above error message which basicly says, “I know what you were trying to do but because you haven’t done it the exact way I mandate, I’m going to display this error message scolding you and make you do it again until you do it properly!”
Listen Microsoft, if the app is clever enough to know what I was trying to do, why not just do it, instead of forcing me to start all over again, the way Outlook wants me to do it?
Microsoft gave me a Sony Vaio laptop with Vista Ultimate and Office Ultimate installed to try out. I have been toying with the Vaio but not using it heavily. To be fair to Microsoft, I’m going to try to switch as much as possible of my work from my MacBook Pro to the Vaio to see how I get on over the next few weeks.
A lot of my work is done online so that part shouldn’t be too difficult (I installed Firefox on the laptop last night!). However, for presentations I will continue to use the Mac as there is no comparison in the quality of presentations created in Keynote versus those done inÂ PowerPoint.
Oh, and for my photos I will continue to use iPhoto because that is where my current extensive library of photos resides.
The most difficult move will be my email I suspect. I love Apple’s Mail app. It will take a lot to win me back to Outlook.
In the post, Richard Sim, Hotmail’s senior product manager says:
As we prepare to launch the final version of our new web mail service, we recognize the importance of ensuring that our 260+ million existing customers come over to the new service smoothly and without confusion. By adopting the name â€œWindows Live Hotmailâ€, we believe weâ€™re bringing together the best of both worlds â€“ new and old
Oh dear God Richard. Hotmail is a piece of crap that should have been updated or killed off years ago and it does nothing for Microsoft except serve as an embarrassment for anyone in Microsoft who is confronted with it in public.
You don’t believe me? Read my post on Hotmail and the 80+ comments by other frustrated Hotmail users on the post.
You don’t believe them, look at your main competition – Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. Check out the feature comparison put together by TechCrunch last night:
Hotmail is slow and it has no features!
Richard, the Hotmail brand is badly tarnished – take the opportunity to kill it now. Quickly and mercifully.
And for God’s sake, surely you can do a better branding job than Windows Live HotMail. Whose idea was that?
Short and snappy it ain’t. But maybe that’s not what you were going for. If not, how about “Windows (almost) Live (but really slow) HotMail (um, sorry about all the problems and lack of features)” instead?
It fits the non-snappy thing you have going on and has the advantage of being truthful. Although, considering Bill Gates’ recentperformances, truth doesn’t seem to be top of Microsoft’s current agenda either.
Richard, you guys need to drop the idea of putting Windows Live in front of all your Windows Live offerings. I understand you are going for consistent branding across your Windows Live offerings but if you have poor branding why tarnish all your products with it?
Here’s a thought, how about a snappy name? Everyone else is doing it. HotMail + Live Mail + [pain of using it] = HiveMail!
Or just Live Mail. Drop the Windows and the Hotmail in one go. People would go for that.
Don’t be afraid to drop Hotmail (people don’t love it as much as you seem to think) and companies change their brands all the time. In most cases for the better.
I have written previously about Microsoft’s Hotmail and what a lame excuse for a mail platform it is – in response to that Microsoft gave an account on their new mail platform, Microsoft Live Mail and I have to say it is a serious disappointment.
One of the biggest problems with Hotmail to date has been the fact that they delete all your mail if you don’t log in for 30 days. This has caused loads of people (myself included) lots of pain as we see several years mail disappear never to be returned.
With Windows Live Mail, that 30 day login has been changed to 120 days in an effort to overcome this problem. However, the proper way to fix this would have been to allow POP access to the mail. Live Mail’s main competitors (Gmail and Yahoo! Mail) both allow this functionality. POP access means you can access the email through an email application such as Outlook or Thunderbird and as these applications poll the servers every 30 minutes or so, it means as long as they are running on your system, you are logging into the servers and will never fall foul of the 30-day limit.
Another reason to allow POP access to email is so that you can read your mail when you are not connected to the ‘Net.
Furthermore, I was made aware of another deficiency of Live Mail this weekend at BarCamp Ireland where one of the speakers bemoaned the fact that you cannot export your contacts in Live Mail! As far as I recall this was possible in Hotmail.
It seems incredible to me that Live Mail would try to lock you into a crummy application by not allowing you to export your contacts. Then again, lock-in is Microsoft’s middle name, isn’t it?
Tom Raftery – Global VP, Futurist, and Innovation Evangelist for SAP, inspirational keynote speaker, and global influencer's take on how digitization and innovation are creatively disrupting our world