Tag: Email

Plaxo – good idea, poorly executed?

I have a Plaxo account. I set it up last year to try it out. It seemed like a good idea, an online address book where I could store all my contacts info and have those data available whereever I had an Internet connection.

The reality though is a little different.

When I set up my account I followed the instructions for importing my contact info from my Mac Address Book. The import failed. I tried again several months later. Same result. I didn’t try any more after that.

A contacts db with no contact data is useless and I wasn’t about to invest time in manually entering the hundreds of contacts I have into Plaxo one by one.

I get the occasional email from Plaxo telling me that someone else has added my details to Plaxo and that I can now add their details to my account. I worry about the amount of emails Plaxo sends out – it must get annoying for some people to be constantly receiving update requests.

I received such an email this morning so I logged into Plaxo for the first time in months only to be amazed at how slow it now runs. It was like swimming through treacle!

It is a shame really – I like the idea but the execution, in this case is very poor.

External storage options

My main computer is my laptop – it is a desktop replacement. The biggest issue with this is that laptop hard drives are, by definition, small 🙁

On my laptop I have all my music, all my photos and all my email going back to 1997! The laptop has a 120gb hard drive, but I am fast approaching that limit!

I have a La Cie 200gb external firewire which is fine for backups but what I really need is to be able to move my music and photos onto external drive(s), freeing up space on the laptop, and allowing me to grow my collection.

The drive(s) should be easy to add to, so that if I find I’m approaching the limit again, I can simply add another drive. I’d like to add drives in pairs so I can mirror them using RAID.

Has anyone any suggestions on a good way to set this up? And what is good kit to use (good = cheap and reliable).

GrandCentral – a couple of questions

GrandCentral is an offering from the original creators of DialPad, which gives you one phone number for all your telecommunications.

According to GrandCentral’s site, with a GrandCentral account you get:

  • One Number…for LifeTM – Pick a number that will not change when you move or change jobs.
  • ListenInTM on Voicemail – ListenIn on your messages from any phone before answering.
  • Screen Your Calls – Know who is calling every time, even for blocked numbers.
  • RingShareTM – Upload your MP3s to play for your callers instead of the standard ring.
  • Block Callers – Block telemarketers or annoying callers and never get bothered again.
  • Switch phones mid-call – Switch from cell to office or home your callers won’t know.
  • Customize by Caller – Pick phones to ring, greetings to play and music to hear based on who is calling.
  • Voicemail Everywhere – Get your voicemail online, through the phone or in your email.
  • Voicemail Storage – All of your voicemail messages will be saved online, for LIFE.

This all sounds great and it seems to be getting very good reviews but with the recent telephony problems I have had I have a couple of questions:

  • If anyone reading this post uses GrandCentral – is it good/reliable? and
  • When will it be available in Ireland?

Microsoft Live Mail, you suck too!!!

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.

Microsoft's Live mail

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?

Finally, an outstanding online RSS reader

I have had issues with Google Reader (Google’s online RSS/feed reader) in the past but in the latest update to Google Reader, released today most of those issues have been addressed.

Google Reader

Lots of people are posting opinions on this from Marshall Kirkpatrick on TechCrunch to Robert Scoble on Scobleizer to Richard McManus on the ReadWrite Web and all the reviews are effusive in their praise!

I’m not surprised. This time Google seem to have got it right. The old “Lens” look of the old Google Reader was, to my mind, sacrificing usability for looks. Now, you have a reader with a simple, fast interface not lacking in functionality. It even has a river of news option with an infinite scroll. And if you liked the old interface you can revert to that in the settings page too!

Added functionality includes the ability to create folders, bulk delete subscriptions, star, share, email and tag posts.

Several commentators have pointed to the continuing lack of integration with Google’s Blogsearch but personally with the dire state that is in, I think this is a good thing!

I have been slow to recommend online rss readers in the past but I think with the new Google Reader that has just changed.

Windows Live Mail's exclusionary philosophy

Robert Scoble (of Microsoft) wrote a post the other day claiming that “Windows Live Mail (formerly Hotmail) has a philosophy?“. I’m sure they do but the philosophy they have is far different from the philosophy Scoble claims. He says:

The Windows Live Mail team just got a philosophy. Companies that have pro-participant philosophies, especially in the advertising age, will end up with bigger audiences and more profit in the end.

Pro-participant? Really? Then why is the Windows Live Mail interface crap on anything other than Internet Explorer?
Windows Live in Firefox

This strikes me as a completely exclusionary philosophy – an anti-participant one if you will. You can use our mail application (to make us money by serving you ads) only on the (completely insecure) browser we make.

I see Mike Arrington had a similar issue with Windows Live Shopping. As Mike said:

Most bloggers and journalists use a Mac and/or Firefox and this audience was just completely alienated from Live Shopping.

Same goes for Windows Live Mail guys – c’mon, get a clue. This is 2006, not 1996. If you are releasing sites these days, they have to run on more than Internet Explorer. That war is over guys, and you lost.

If I had a suspicious mind…

I wrote a post a couple of weeks back about Hotmail deleting all my mails and it generated quite a bit of discussion (40 comments to-date).

One of the comments was from Omar Shahine – Omar is a program manager on the Hotmail team. I appreciated his dropping by and commenting.

Then over the weekend, Omar posted about the issue on his own blog – he said:

we have changed the policy for Windows Live Mail accounts to 120 day expiration… I just sent Tom a Windows Live Mail Invite to fix his storage issue and hopefully the expiration issue if he still cares to use the service.

All fair enough so far – execpt for the fact that I haven’t received any Windows Live Mail invite from Omar!

Then when I left a comment to that effect on his blog to that effect, the comment never appeared. Several comments left after mine have appeared so this looks a little bit dubious to me! What does anyone else think?

UPDATE: – Omar came back to me and explained that he had sent the invite to my Hotmail account! I haven’t logged into that account since all my mail was deleted – (why would I?) so I didn’t see it. He didn’t, however, explain the disappearance of the comment I left on his blog.

Microsoft Hotmail, you suck!

Really, I am furious right now. I wanted to use another term rather than suck (one which rhymes with suck) but I realise some people can be offended by profanity so I rowed back on the language.

Why am I annoyed? – Microsoft’s insistence that you have to log into Hotmail every 30 days or they delete all your info. I don’t use Hotmail much, but I have had my Hotmail account for years and there was tons of old email info in there. I logged in today (after obviously more than 30 days) and I find all my info has been deleted by Microsoft.

Microsoft Hotmail deleted all my info

Why impose such a shortsighted policy of deleting people’s info after 30 days when your main competitors (Yahoo! and Gmail) don’t have any such policies as far as I know.

Serves me right for trusting Microsoft with my information online, I guess! I won’t make that mistake in a hurry again.

Update: – I notice as well that my account has been downgraded from 250mb to 2mb! Insult to injury.