Mozilla Thunderbird

How to Disable CTL-Return in Thunderbird

Thursday, September 23, 2010 

One of the stupidest keyboard shortcuts I’ve run into is Thunderbirds CTRL-Return automatic send function. Maybe I type sloppy, but I frequently CTRL-V to paste a link into a message and hit return just a little too fast to continue typing and, damn it, the embarrassing, incomplete message is gone.

It turns out I’m not the only one. I found this great link
http://blogs.sun.com/LetTheSunShineIn/entry/changing_thunderbird_keyboard_shortcut

which has, itself, a link to a pretty cool plugin that lets you remap the keyboard shortcuts.
http://mozilla.dorando.at/keyconfig.xpi

But it does not (at least with Thunderbird 3.1.4 on window) list the dreaded ctrl-enter stupidkey. Now windows 7 search is astonishingly stupid (how come windows, 20 years on, still can’t give a marginal search function when back in 1990 OnLocation could return every file on my Mac, including searching by content, in a few milliseconds? Progress my ass) but I found the right “prefs.js” (eventually) at C:\Users\dgessel\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\mwwkrsno.default.

As I’d modified a few keyboard commands with keyconfig already, prefs.js had a nice friendly indicator of where I should insert my own guerrilla modification (about the middle of the file) and there I pasted in
user_pref(“keyconfig.main.key_send”, “!][][“);
and when I launched Thunderbird, ctrl-enter was disabled. YAY!

(The following message was a “note to self” – I typed ctrl-enter and…)

Yep. Message still here… doesn’t work.

(…noted that the message was not sent thus ctrl-enter no longer works.  The fix, therefore, does work.)

If you want to customize your experience, there’s a nice command reference here
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Keyconfig_extension:_Thunderbird

I added CTL-ALT-RETURN as “send later” which I don’t think I’ll hit accidentally.

Posted at 23:33:40 UTC

Category: Linuxtechnology

Working Toward Workable Time Zones

Sunday, August 22, 2010 

PIMs (Personal Information Managers, what we used to call things like Outlook, or Sunbird, or Lightning, or Zimbra before they were integrated with email) haven’t progressed much in the last 20 or so years.  Actually, neither have email clients.   Perhaps the most essential of our daily tools, these classes of products have failed to progress much at all over the decades.

Sure, email has styled text now and you can compose a message in Outlook using Word, but these wizzy tricks distract from the function of email–communicating the written word.  There’s rarely any reason to style text in email and HTML mail has only been a boon for spammers and a distraction for users.  One of the few useful enhancements is inline images which I do find useful.

The best email clients ever, Eudora and  Mulberry (the BAT might qualify too, though I haven’t used it) have failed to keep up in OS level support. Thunderbird is OK, and pimped out with extensions to enable proper formatting, forwarding, text wrapping, etc. it is usable, though it still doesn’t handle frequent IMAP disconnections all that gracefully (it pains me to admit it, but only Outlook does this really well).

PIM functionality has actually gone backwards as the years have gone by. Calendar programs have always handled reminders and notifications and scheduled events fairly well.  DateBook was great in 1990 and there’s very little useful that has been added since .  In the mid-90’s Motorola shipped a great little PIM along with their TimePort phones called TrueSync Desktop.  You could create an event in a time zone other than the one you were in.  Wow.  Amazing.  The developers actually considered the possibility that you, the user, might have some business in a time zone other than the one you’re in.  At the time, some people pointed to Outlook’s then “dual time zone” functionality as the be-all end-all.  True, two time zones are better than one, but hardly a solution suitable for the whole of the US, let alone the world and the pixel heavy dual time zone stripe precluded anything more comprehensive.   At the time, the official M$ work-around was to change your computer’s time zone to the time zone you wanted to create the event in, create the event, then change the time zone back.  Brilliant.

Lightning (for Thunderbird) and Sunbird (stand alone) Calendar programs have finally incorporated some timezone functionality, you can at least set the starting and ending time zone of an event independently and differently from the time zone you’re in:

moz-screenshot-64.png

It is a start, but the time zone picker is still pretty much unusable:

moz-screenshot-65.png

This is a huge enhancement though, one I’ve been pushing for a long time:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=224905

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=364750

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=364751

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=364751

The right answer is a simple pop-up menu with my favorite time zones in it.  I can use the semi-infinite list of seemingly random city names as a geography quiz along with Wikipedia to figure out what my favorite time zones are as long as I don’t have to spend 10 minutes scrolling through them every time I’m trying to find America/New York for ET or America/Los Angeles for PT (or America/Dawson Creek for MST, no DST).

Oddly, Lightning actually has a half-decent map view that shows you the time zone you’ve selected, but you can’t click on it to pick the time zone you want (!?):

moz-screenshot-66.png

I really like worldtimezone‘s view as a graphical picker:

moz-screenshot-67.png

Something like this, plus a search tool into a database of time zones for cities would be just perfect for creating my list of favorite time zones.  Even the most worldly traveler is unlikely to need more than a dozen time zones in their favorites list and thus a popup would make selecting the start and end time zones very straight-forward.  Way back at the start of 2007 I proposed something like:

moz-screenshot-68.png

Which is pretty much a copy of  Starfish’s TrueSync Desktop (though TSD didn’t support different starting and ending time zones).  Someday… maybe someday I’ll have a calendar program as advanced as they were in 1993.

Posted at 15:58:40 UTC

Category: Linuxtechnology

Mulberry Mail is Excellent

Monday, November 5, 2007 

about_window.jpg

Not too long ago I got on a plane with Thunderbird, having transitioned to IMAP, woke my laptop in flight and found my imap mail cache had gotten borked. Five useful work hours wasted. So in my searches for “Thunderbird Disconnected Problems” I found mention of this program called “Mulberry” that didn’t have these problems. I had looked at Mulberry years ago and it was cool, but fee and Eudora was then current and free so I didn’t try it out. I am so glad I found it again. Mulberry handles disconnected IMAP perfectly, has a fast powerful search, and is well-organized. I’ve had no problems and I’m using it to write this now on an 11 hour flight.

Mail Compose Window.jpg

At the outset, it is clear this is the vision of a single programmer not the work of committee and as such it is quirky and has some unique solutions. I wouldn’t say it is more quirky than Eudora but at first one will definitely spend time searching for functions and consulting the somewhat thin documentation. The basics are easy enough, but some advanced features are non-obvious.

Further, Mulberry is Correct. That is it is a fairly precise implementation of just about every mail standard, including some that are still emerging. Not surprising as the author, Cyrus Daboo, has also written some of the key server-side programs that run the web, including some of the really hard bits like the SASL authentication engine I use on my server and one of the most popular IMAP servers. If something doesn’t connect it is because the other program (the server or whatnot) is making a mistake. This is great as far as it goes, but some non-RFC compliant usages have become commonplace and sticking to the RFC can cause problems. An example I found quickly was that the Message-ID: header Mulberry generates is constructed as unique-message-string@[client.dotted.quad] (something like 3499345954.0253243@[192.168.15.101]). This is correct, but the standard is to use @my.smtpserver.com, and using a non-fully qualified extension (the dotted quad, not a valid domain name). The dotted quad looks spammy to spam filters, and in particular when the client is on NATed DHCP, the private IP (192.168.etc) it looks bad. So Mulberry sourced mail might get a slightly higher SpamAssassin score (it is not a fatal test, but it can’t help) and my procmail spam filter looks for disagreement as a test so I can’t email myself notes to my own account – I have to send them to my MIT account.

Cyrus says he is going to fix this.

Which brings me to another wonderful feature of Mulberry: it has great support from the mailing list and author. You won’t go more than 24 hours without an answer to the most technical questions. And as it is in active development, any bugs are going to be fixed. Compare this to a MS product where that is not going to happen.

Mulberry’s mail interface took me a little getting used to. For example the mailbox list is organized a little differently and single clicks open new mailboxes in the next pane and the message in the pane below it, but this behavior can all be customized in the Window->Options… menu including, critically for me: do not mark previewed message as read.

Mail_window.jpg

Another good trick is automatically moving read messages out of the inbox. I haven’t been entirely satisfied with the sort options: the unread messages always seem to sort in the reverse order of what I want, putting the messages I need at the interface between the read and unread messages, rather than at the top or bottom. But the auto move mechanism works well for my inbox and lets me sort the inbox by date, it being all unread mail, the read mail automatically being moved to an archive.

I spent some time figuring out two wonderful features: Mulberry (along with GCalDaemon) supports off-line calendar sync with Google Calendar (YAY! I can answer email about my calendar while I’m on a plane and even schedule a meeting!) and I can sync to ScheduleWorld’s LDAP server (which syncs to my phone address book and my work Outlook address book). And since I use ScheduleWorld to sync my work Outlook calendar to Google calendar, I’ve got all my important information at hand, even in the air. I wrote up the steps to make these tricks work on the Mulberry Wiki.

calendar.jpg

Even the search function is fast – entirely tolerable though perhaps not quite real-time like Google Desktop, but then again you don’t need to open inane stupid brain dead IE to perform the search like Google Desktop forces you to.

Mulberry is great. It works really well, it is stable, it works offline (disconnected), it syncs right, it has a very good offline calendar client, IMAP support seems flawless, it has great keyboard shortcuts, and fast advanced search. It does everything I need and it is now free, open source, and available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX.

Posted at 00:00:20 UTC

Category: Positivereviewstechnology

I hate thunderbird

Monday, October 8, 2007 

So once, long ago, I moved to IMAP on my server. I wanted to move there with my trusty Eudora client that I’ve been using since about 1993. Sure, I flirted with other mail systems, but they screwed me and what I care about most was:

  1. Never Lose Data (early versions of Thunderbird were not so good about this for me)
  2. Search my several gigabyte database of mail fast enough to be useful.

Now outlook is absolutely intolerable about this last point. Search in all Microsoft products, indexed or not, is so painfully slow one might as well go on vacation. It is incomprehensible to me how it can suck so bad. I remember in 1990 using OnLocation and searching my entire computer (all 20MB of it) in a fraction of a second. Sure it was less data, but it was also doing it on a 33Mhz 68030.

Eudora lets me find my mail. Eudora lets me get my job done. Unfortunately Eudora can’t search an IMAP mailbox unless it is connected. WTF?

OK, time for Thunderbird. But Thunderbird is so not ready for prime time. There’s the massive delays to open any of my larger mailboxes, even to show titles (14,000 messages in a mailbox is NOT too many, who uses this? Kids?) Second it gets confused easily communicating with the IMAP server which tends to lock it up indefinitely. Still, it does cache locally and the built-in search, while interminably slow is faster than Microsoft Search (but doesn’t search across accounts! Hello!). I’m hoping Google Desktop Search will help. Initial results are promising. And Penelope could be very cool. Especially if they add indexed search.

One little change I had to make for Thunderbird was given at this fine site:

perl -p -i -e 's/^MAXDAEMONS=40/MAXDAEMONS=80/g' /usr/local/etc/courier-imap/imapd

perl -p -i -e 's/^MAXPERIP=4/MAXPERIP=40/g'  /usr/local/etc/courier-imap/imapd

Update - 9/9/2010

I’m now using Thunderbird (3.1).  It hasn’t lost data yet.  It has a nice fast search.  I still don’t like it as much as Mulberry for basic mail functions, but it shows pictures in line and I can quickly toggle between HTML mail (to insert inline pictures and screen grabs) and text mail.

These are useful basic features and I wish Mulberry had them.

Posted at 15:45:05 UTC

Category: FreeBSDreviewstechnology