Not to belabor the point, as I’ve complained about it at length any number of times previously, but our email is still pretty screwed up. In response to the priority:critical support ticket I opened the other day informing ASP-One that after transitioning from one mail server to another they forgot to turn on the IMAP connection, I got a response instructing me to update my host file. Seeing as this had nothing to do with my original problem, it didn’t prove to be that helpful. Efforts to contact said host this morning failed when I didn’t have the endurance to sit on hold for over 20 minutes.
But being quite the fan of Neal Stephenson, I’m attempting to demonstrate some adaptability by configuring Exchange to reflect messages over to my Gmail account. A couple of quick thoughts on this unplanned transition (which will continue until I get IMAP restored):
- UI: I’m still a little surprised at just how easy the transition is from thick to thin; I haven’t had a single instance yet where I desperately craved a missing feature from my desktop client. The argument could be made, I suppose, that this is simply due to the limitations of my client of choice – Evolution – but I can’t see any UI features really missing from Gmail that I’d need (apart from the obvious offline shortcomings). I get by in Gmail just fine.
- Calendar: Functionality-wise, the lack of calendar integration is a definite shortcoming. Rumors abound that Google’s poised to deliver a next generation calendar app, and that might be enough to get me off Exchange, but for the time being the integration between Gmail and my Exchange calendar consists primarily of cut and paste. And yes, since you asked, it *is* 2005 and we *still* don’t have a seamless, universally accepted and implemented calendar format.
- Data: This is the big sticking point for me; there’s no easy way to migrate from Evolution to Gmail. So essentially what’s happened is that my email has been forked; there is pre-Gmail mail, and post-Gmail mail. If I could seamlessly import from Evolution, I might not ever go back. But I can’t, so any potential permanent transition to Gmail is made tremendously problematic.
- Spam: This is a huge advantage for Gmail – I get virtually no spam any longer. Their filters along with my custom rules have reduced the amount of spam that trickles through to maybe 1 or 2 messages per day. My Spamassassin equipped Evolution is not nearly as capable in this regard.
- Address: Gmail added a few months back the ability to select from multiple “From” address; i.e. my emails don’t have to go out as [email protected], but can rather be stamped with an [email protected] address. This is pretty much a must have feature for my little experiment, but I do have one complaint. As nearly as I can determine, there’s no autodetection and selection of the “From” address – merely a single default. This means that unless I select otherwise, everything goes out with the Gmail address (some of you may have seen this already). I’d love it if Gmail would detect which address someone had used to send to me and simply use that with no further input from me. In other words, I’d prefer that Gmail recognize when someone sent to my redmonk.com address and use the same address when replying. Not a big thing, but definitely a hassle.
Anyhow, those are my quick reactions after relying on a Software-as-a-Service email client for a couple of days. I wish I could say that I had confidence in ASP-One and that this would be the last such update, but I’m sure I’ll be stuck on Gmail for a little while longer so if I have any other experiences worth sharing I’ll be sure to let you know.