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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Wed, 09 Apr 2014

After a year or so, back to Thunderbird

I stopped using stand-alone mail clients about a year ago.

This week I decided to give Thunderbird another try. I'm keeping it simple this time around.

I'm using Thunderbird for a single e-mail account via IMAP. No Gmail. No shared Google Calendar. No newsgroups (yeah, I said newsgroups, which I had running in Thunderbird my last go-round)

What pushed me back to a mail client was the lack of speed in my webmail client of choice, RoundCube, with my mail provider.

So I'm keeping it simple and enjoying the speed and ease of a traditional desktop mail client.

Thunderbird has seen quite an update in its UI since the last time I used it, and that's enough progress for an app that has seemingly been abandoned by its parent company/foundation Mozilla.

As long as they keep it patched from a security standpoint, I don't need any new features.

Tue, 08 Apr 2014

You might want to pay for an e-mail service like the OpenBSD-running Neomailbox

I don't look on the OpenBSD Misc mailing list very often, but today a message from that list introduced me to Neomailbox, which offers services that include secure, encrypted e-mail and anonymous web surfing for prices that are very reasonable.

So why would you want to pay for e-mail? Well, you do get what you pay for, and while services like Gmail have a lot to offer, one of those things is Google's servers crawling the text of your mail and serving you ads based on what's in there.

And while Google is continually boosting its use of encryption, there are plenty of reasons why you might want an offshore, encrypted mail service that you actually pay for.

Did I forget to mention that Neomailbox uses OpenBSD?

Neomailbox also offers an anonymous web surfing service that uses encrypted tunneling and anonymous IP to add a whole lot of privacy and security to your daily comings and goings on the Internet.

And they do offer discounts if you get both e-mail and anonymous web, plus additional "family" discounts.

If your paranoid (or have reason to be) and don't want to run these services yourself on either home or colocated servers, Neomailbox is definitely worth a look.

Thu, 03 Jan 2013

My Hostgator e-mail setup: Roundcube webmail plus filtering in cPanel

While I continue to use Gmail for my work e-mail -- a decision enforced by my employer's move to Google Apps for Business, I've been seeking solutions for my personal e-mail that include less back-end effort and more flexibility on my part -- plus no spying/marketing in exchange for the service.

My chief concerns:

  • I don't want to manage a full mail-server system
  • I don't want Google/Yahoo/other spying on me and marketing to me on the basis of my e-mail's content
  • I do want webmail -- I'm tired of client applications on the desktop

The third point in this list means that while I maintain a Mozilla Thunderbird (or in my case the Debian-rebranded Icedove) mail client on my Linux desktop, I'd much rather use webmail day to day and only use a desktop client application for occasional archiving.

Read the rest of this post

Thu, 15 Nov 2012

Roundcube webmail gets new look

Webmail isn't just a Gmail/Yahoo Mail/Hotmail thing. Anybody with a mail server can offer webmail to their users. There are a number of different client applications out there, but my favorite is Roundcube, which I use with my shared-hosting account from Hostgator.

Just today I noticed that Roundcube got a nice new look that coincides with a new release of the platform.

It's nice, to be sure. I love the look and functionality of Roundcube. But what I'd really like in Roundcube is the ability to create and deploy filters. It's on the roadmap. With filters, I really could leave Gmail behind.

I know that Horde offers a filtering option, and I probably should give it a try. But I really like Roundcube ...

Wed, 02 Nov 2011

Could I believe in Evolution? I go deeper into GNOME

As I said in a recent entry, I don't consider myself a "GNOME user," though I find myself using GNOME all the time.

I guess that makes me ... a GNOME user. Since I run Debian Squeeze, that means the now-all-but-dead GNOME 2. Version 2.30.2, to be exact.

Though I've flirted with console e-mail in the form of Mutt and Pine, I came to the realization long ago that GUI mail clients are the thing for me. I've used Claws Mail, and I pretty much centered my mail-client universe on Thunderbird, running it on every platform I can.

But I have kept a fully configured Evolution mail client at the ready on my Debian laptop.

And lately I've been using it -- with IMAP so I can go back to Thunderbird at any time.

You know what? Evolution is pretty good. It's calendar integrates with Google Calendar. (And it that calendar is integrated into the app, unlike the plugin-based Sunbird/Lightning/Iceowl plugin that Thunderbird/Icedove uses and which doesn't work at all in the Debian Backports/Debian Mozilla APT Archive version of Icedove).

It looks great. I can actually understand how to configure it.

But as much as I'm liking this mail client, knowing that my future may very well be outside of GNOME, I'm keeping Thunderbird on the front-burner right next to Evolution.

Mon, 18 Jul 2011

Yes, I use e-mail client software

At times I've use web interfaces to access most or all of the various e-mail accounts I happen to be using.

This is not one of those times.

My work account, my "personal" account, even my Gmail account (half personal, half "other") -- I tend to use e-mail client software for all of them. I do occasionally dip into the terrible web interface for my work account, the not-terrible web interface for Gmail and the also-not-terrible Roundcube web interface for my own domain's mail account.

But for the most part I use mail client software.

Right now I have the following set up on my Debian Squeeze laptop:

  • Thunderbird (aka Icedove in Debian)
  • Evolution (the default mail client for the GNOME desktop)
  • Claws Mail (lighter-weight GTK mail client for Linux/Unix)

I use Thunderbird about 90 percent of the time. My main work account is on a horrible server that does IMAP poorly and slowly -- and I do not use POP, it's IMAP or nothing for me. For one thing, it's just about impossible to run more than one e-mail client on a single account if you are using POP, which brings all the mail down to your hard drive. IMAP leaves everything on the server where you can access it any number of ways.

I can't use a mail client that doesn't make the best of a bad IMAP situation. Evolution is horrible in this regard. It doesn't seem to multitask well at all, and often a long IMAP operation locks the whole thing up for minutes at a time.

Claws is better. When I first installed it, I added a couple dozen extensions. When I didn't end up using any of them, I removed them all. Still, I like Claws.

As I say above, I use Thunderbird most of the time. This is where I occasionally save messages to the hard drive. It's where my address book(s) live. It runs as fast as anything I've tried. I don't think even Claws can beat it.

I'm writing this because today I tried all three programs. As usual, I was quickly frustrated by Evolution. I wish it was better. It looks great.

Claws ran better than I remember it. There are a million things you can do to configure the program, but I can't seem to wrap my brain around the ultra-configurability of Claws.