Monthly Archives: August 2007

Trial Separation From Microsoft Outlook

I’ve been using the combination of Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Outlook for my work e-mail for over a decade. It hasn’t been an unhappy experience, so I kept using Outlook at my current job over the past two years even though we don’t use an Exchange server. That’s changing this weekend. I’m starting a trial separation from Microsoft Outlook, and it may lead me to divorce Microsoft products all together.

Up until this point, I’ve had Outlook connect to my mailserver using POP3 because it’s only really been important for me to be able to handle my mail from my laptop. Now though, I’d like to be able to check and reply to mail from my iPhone, and so POP isn’t going to work very well.

With POP, all your mail is supposed to be collected by the computer running your e-mail client and deleted from the server. There are ways to leave mail on the server so it can be checked from multiple machines/devices, but it doesn’t work very well, and it’s no help if you want to be able to do anything with folders other than your inbox. So, for example, if I stick with POP, I can’t refer to a copy of a message I sent from my laptop from my iPhone.

IMAP solves this problem by letting you manage folders on the server and keeping them in sync with a local copy on your laptop in case you want to do something when you don’t have a network connection. Unfortunately, Outlook is a horrible, horrible IMAP client.

Microsoft has crippled the IMAP user experience in both Outlook and Outlook Express in order to provide incentive to use Exchange server. For example, if you delete a message on a POP or exchange account, it moves the message to a Trash folder. If you delete a message on an IMAP server it leaves it in the folder and just draws a line through it, cluttering up the mailbox. Beyond that, it won’t let you set up rules for mail received via IMAP, so you can’t use it to automatically sort mail for you. I’d hoped they would have changed their stance in Outlook 2007, but from the reading I’ve done, the IMAP support just as bad as it’s always been.

I’ve been irritated by this customer-hostile crap for a long time now, but it is finally come to a head for me. For the most part, they could get away with this behavior to extract more money from customers when they were still able to leverage their monopoly position to squash competitors. Now though, this tying together of products by making customers lives more difficult is working to drive customers away. I don’t have Exchange server, I’m not going to start using Exchange server and now, I may be ditching Outlook. Even before this, I was becoming more and more convinced that I could do my job just as well with a Mac. I’d probably have to use some Microsoft applications, either via XP running in a virtual machine, or by using Mac Office, but it would certainly be another step away from Redmond.

iPhone Backlash

I was looking at Techmeme today and noticed a breakout of iPhone backlash. VC Fred Wilson noted that he still hadn’t opened the iPhone he bought and that he, in fact, didn’t want it.

Then someone at the Silicon Alley Reporter picked up on the post, amped it up a bit, and then sucked up to his boss by quoting him as he “reported” assertions that there is growing dissatisfaction with the iPhone by it’s early adopters.

Whatever, I’m not surprised there is iPhone backlash. In fact, when I got the thing, I fully expected it would have broken my heart by now. After almost two months with it, I wish the data network was a little faster, and I wish it had a decent IM client (or any IM client at all), and that it would support RTSP video streaming, and dozens of other things, small and large.

What surprises me is the degree of attachment my iPhone owning friends and I still feel towards the thing. We find ourselves using it for tasks that would be more easily accomplished at our computers, often when our computers are powered up and less than three feet away.

Apple gave me a polished, sexy, easy to use device that gives me access to nearly the whole web from my pocket. Many of its shortcomings can be fixed by software updates (though I expect some may not be in order to stay on good terms with AT&T). Maybe Google or someone else will come along and release a device that’s even better for a lower price. If they do, that will be cool, I’ll probably get one, but I’m not holding my breath.

Personal telecom industry realignment

Getting an iPhone has forced a realignment of our varies communication services. First, I switched to AT&T from Verizon, then I brought
my wife’s line over so we could get a ten buck a
month break for having a family plan. The shared rollover minutes are nice too.

It didn’t stop there though. Call quality at our house is actually acceptable on at&t’s network, so we can think seriously about making changes to our landline phone service. Some people have ditches their landline service completely, but I like the fact that the phone is powered off the phone network, so I can make calls in a power outage even if I can’t recharge my phone. I also like the higher voice quality of landlone calls.

I am changing our long distance though. We are better off buying more mobile minutes and curtailing our landline long distance. I figure we can save whopping $10 or more a month. We could save even more if we ditched landline long distance because there is a $7/month FCC fee no matter how much we use, but for now I still want the option, so I’m not dropping it all together yet.

Now I have to decide if it is really worth an extra $10 or so a month to use a third party ISP with my DSL line, or if I should just use Qwest’s offering. The most obvious advantage of my current arrangement is that I have a static IP, but I really haven’t made much use of it, though it might come in handy if I want to VPN in from my iPhone.

What’s new in the iPhone Update 1.0.1

Apple released their first update for the iPhone a few days ago. The only changes they’ve identified publicly are 4 security updates to Safari and the frameworks it uses, but they’ve clearly made other updates. I’ve published a long list of user identified iPhone fixes and enhancements over at my Iphone blog with the spammy domain name.