9/29/08

iPod Touch as a PDA

I've mentioned in the past in this blog how I really rely on a Palm handheld computer. When I first moved to Mac from Windows, I said that one of my criteria was
Interoperability with a Palm handheld. I use it a bunch for everything it does including the obvious (calendar, etc.) and the less obvious (eReader, Documents to Go, Expense).
I've used my Palm, with the aid of The Missing Sync for Palm OS. It works... good enough. But, sometimes it drives me crazy. I have about 2500 entries in my address book. Sometimes it messes up, losing data. Sometimes it takes hours to sync. In fact, it might get caught in a situation where when I will start syncing at night, I wake up the next morning and find it is still going. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of trying to sync and finding that I have to interrupt it to take my Palm and go off to work.. the next morning. I don't know if it is Apple's iSync of The Missing Sync's fault. I understand it is complex to do the mappings (categories on the Palm to groups on the Mac), but I don't care. I want to stop dealing with it and just use it.

As I said previously I don't really want an iPhone. But, iPod Touch and PDAs made me see that there is a viable alternative. Yes, the iPod Touch is not sold primarily as a PDA, but it might just give me what I need and want.
(You wouldn't know it from Apple. Mostly, all they talk about are the games and music, which are the things that make them money. But, I already have a 30G iPod. I need a more reliable PDA. I went crazy to try to figure out whether it had a Note pad application.)

Here's what I need (and I think "need" is correct). First, the "must haves":
  • Bible—I do regularly read the Bible and am used to having an electronic Bible in my Palm. The same company, Olive Tree Bible Softwarehas a mobile product for the Touch. I do not want to have to depend on an Internet connection.
  • ereader—I have numerous books I want to carry around. eReader has a free iPhone/Touch version.
  • iCal sync (including birthdays)—of course I want to sync with iCal. It
    claims to do it.
  • Calculater—yes, of course.
  • Address book sync—again, of course.
And "like to haves":
  • wireless access—it has it. I want it for email and web.
  • Notes or memos—I have Memos on my Palm. I don't think there is anything that is a direct replacement. I am hoping that Notes are syncable.
  • email—I have it with the Palm and want it with something new. The
    Touch has it.
  • To do/iCal Tasks—I am not sure, but I think I read that the newest
    version of iCal for the Touch does include To Dos/Tasks.
  • expense tracking—The little application that comes
    with the Palm is nice to track mileage and expenses and will produce a spreadsheet. It seems that there is a free app for this.
  • Secret!—this product from LinkeSOFT stores all my confidential data encrypted with a password of my choice. It uses 128 bit IDEA encryption. I really depend on this to
    store my passwords. It looks like a free application, LockBox, will do this.
    Or,maybe one of the other applications mentioned in Review: Secret keeper apps for the iPhone at Macworld.
I have Documents to Go on my Palm, that reads and writes Microsoft Offices files. I don't really use this much. I can do without. So. I still don't want an iPhone. I like my family plan with Verizon. But, I really would like an iPod Touch: not to replace my iPod, but to replace my Palm Computer.


I found this blog on the subject from March 2008

9/17/08

More on Mail and Gmail

In Mail and Gmail, I discussed the settings I used in Mail. Some are different than what Google recommends in Recommended IMAP client settings. I want to explain why.

First. Drafts. I did not select store messages on server as Google recommends. I have now changed that. Google recommends: "Store draft messages on the server > checked." I don't usually leave draft messages around. I usually write and send. But, I think storing on the server is a good thing. If I am writing email and need to come back to the draft to finish later, I can do it from my Mail client or—if away from my computer—from the web interface.

Sent. Google recommends "Store sent messages on the server > do NOT check." I'm sticking with "DO Check." Google's reason is that all email sent through their server will automatically be put in the Sent box. I believe this, but I am not sure of the harm in putting mail into Sent in the Mail application. Google suggests it will cause duplication of messages. I've not seen this. In Mail, I often Move a message from Sent into a project folder. For example, today I received an email message regarding an interview for a graduate school program. I replied to it. I was at my day job, so using the Gmail web interface. I labelled both the received message and the reply "Grad School. The messages were still in my Gmail Inbox, but labeled. So, I clicked, "Archive." The result when I got home and used Mail? The messages were in my "Grad School" folder. Brilliant. :-)

Trash. Google says "Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox > do NOT check" and "Store deleted messages on the server > do NOT check." Google's reasoning is that it makes no sense to delete. Google says, "Messages that are deleted from an IMAP folder (except for those in [Gmail]/Spam or [Gmail]/Trash) only have that label removed and still exist in All Mail."

But, (I assume) since that was written, Gmail has created a "Delete" button, which puts deleted messages in the Trash. There are some messages I do not wish to save. There are some messages no one wants to save. No matter how cheap disk space is. My set-up allows me to delete things I really want to delete, putting them in the Gmail Trash. . Further, they say "Do NOT save deleted messages to your [Gmail]/Trash folder because this will delete a message in all folders." Correct. When I delete I mean delete!

Junk mail and spam. Google says, "Do NOT enable your client's junk mail filters. Gmail's spam filters also work in your IMAP client, and we recommend turning off any additional anti-spam or junk mail filters within your client." The way I have things set up in Mail allows me to tag spam that Gmail's spam checker misses and have Mail move it into the Spam folder.

No regrets about the move to Gmail nor about using Mail with Gmail.

Now I remember why someone suggested not saving drafts on the
server. Every time the draft automatically saves, you end up with another
copy of the draft. You can see this in the screen shot I captured
looking at my Trash. On the other hand it is just in Trash, and so will be deleted
eventually.

Hawaiian Shirts

My observation... not just for Fridays anymore.

9/9/08

Mail and Gmail

In commenting on David Strom's column Ten years of email, I said,
I've long ago switched from POP to IMAP, but cannot imagine having to rely on Internet access to read or manipulate e-mail. I'd love for you to talk about the changes that doing that requires. I just cannot imagine.
He replied (see it in my entry Strom's Ten years of email) and it got me thinking.

Of course, I have used Google's mail (gmail). But, I never linked it to my avolio.com email, except to forward email to my gmail account to my avolio.com account. E-mailing back and forth with David convinced me to try it, but I wanted to do more. Dave is almost always connected. So, he just uses Google's webmail interface. It suits his needs and he likes the interface. I like using Apple's mail application (cleverly called "Mail"). So, I decided to use it to read Google Mail and go one step further: to have my avolio.com email hosted on Google. My avolio.com email was hosted by a "true friend". Google, with Google Aps, gives clear directions for setting up a Gmail account for a domain. In fact, you can start immediately using it, even before MX records are changed through temporary gmail email addresses. The MX record change took about 10 minutes, because Google automates it's side and my domain records are run, as I mentioned, by a true friend. That is to say, email to "username@avolio.com" started showing up on username's email box on Google. Coolness! It was working. (Now, almost nothing in DNS-land is immediate; information needs to propagate. So, I did check my old server location some that transition day.)

Set up on the Google side was easy and I set it up to be an IMAP server. (The major benefit is that it is stored on my client and on the server and I can access it from anywhere on the Internet.)

The next step was to set up my Mail application. Before I did anything else I backed up my email.

Google recommends setting for Mail and the Internet has many comments about the "best" settings. These are mine and my reasons.
  • I set the incoming and outgoing servers to be as Google instructs.
  • I set the IMAP Mail Prefix to be "[Gmail]" (This is under Advanced for the Account in Mail.)
  • The Trash mailbox showed up under my account in Mail. I selected it, went to Mailbox, and Use this mailbox for... Trash. I made similar settings for the Google Spam mailbox (use for Junk) and Sent.
  • I don't store drafts on the server.
  • I store Sent messages on the server.
  • I have Junk processing enabled. I do this so that the Junk mailbox shows up. Mostly, Google does a great job of Spam catching. When it doesn't Mail might. When it doesn't, I can click on the Junk button and off it goes.
  • I set "Move deleted messaged to the Trash mailbox" and Store on the server. (I know Google has this store everything forever, but there are some things that I want to delete: notices from the library when my requested books are waiting, Facebook notifications, "Send this to all everyone you know" email, etc.) See the Mailbox Behaviors.


I started moving IMAP mailboxes from my old account to my new (Google-based) account. I found that I needed to move one mailbox at a time. I have a lot of mailboxes and folders of mailboxes (see MailFolders, and I found that while the Labels were being created on Google (more on that in a minute), not all mail transferred. This should never happen, but it did. I am not sure if it is a client or server problem. A word about Google mail and storage. Google mail stores all the mail in one big mailbox called All Mail. It uses labels to organize email messages. So, when one "archives" a message, Gmail removes the "Inbox" label; it stays in All Mail. If I have a message in mailbox "Accounting," it is labeled "Accounting." (See Labels.)

There was one thing that really bothered me. My PowerBook now has 2 copies of every email message. Gmail doesn't; Mail does. Here's why. When I move a message from my Inbox to, let's say, "accounting," the files associated with that email message get moved in my directory hierarchy; the file(s) get moved. Gmail sees this as one file with 1 or 2 labels. When the client syncs with the Gmail IMAP server, I will end up with 1 copy in the place I moved it and an additional copy in "All Mail." Because the client sees the message in 1 mailbox and it sees another message in All Mail. It has no way to link them. Hence, 2 messages on my PowerBook. This really bugged me. Until today. What changed? Nothing. I just said, "Oh, what the heck." Disk space is cheap, and my email takes up less than 1G of disk space. I still delete some mail rather than keeping everything. I have started Archiving mail, which in my Mail application means moving it to "All Mail." Eventually, my local storage may become a problem. But, not today.

I mentioned Dave Strom's help. Check out a video he made How to become master of your domain for less than $20 a year in which he touches on some of the things to do. Consider buying his other video tutorials. (This one is free.)