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Monday, December 30, 2013

Email alternatives: A plea for help

Yahoo Mail keeps changing their system -- and to be honest, the results are infuriating. I don't mind the ads (after all, the service is free), but I do mind the lack of functionality. I can no longer open separate emails in separate browser tabs, and I can no longer copy and paste addresses. How do they expect me to put addresses into the "CC" and "BCC" fields? How do they expect me to copy and paste content into several different pieces of mail?

Lots of other people are complaining about Yahoo's revamp. The newspapers have even noticed the many outraged reactions.

It feels a bit silly to snarl over a free service. Then again, commercial teevee has always been free, and people have bellyached about that since the 1940s.

Yahoo has become so unusable that the time has come to seek alternatives. Gmail is out of the question for various personal reasons.

What I would prefer is a web-based mail service which can automatically retrieve my Yahoo mail and then make the messages available in a simple, old-fashioned, user-friendly interface. Going this route would save me the trouble of telling people that I have a new email address.

But if no non-Yahoo company provides that kind of service, then perhaps there is nothing for it but to switch over to another company. Another free service is what I'm looking for.

We return once again to that oft-heard question: Why do computer-related companies insist on changing things which do not need changing? The most obvious example is Windows 8, which absurdly upended the Windows-based computer experience. Unlike many of you, I'm not a Microsoft-basher (and I really do NOT NOT NOT want to hear from the "get a Mac" people or the "get Linux" proselytizers), but let's face it: 8 was the most ludicrous business decision of recent times.

Microsoft now understands that getting rid of the Start button was inane. The Start button at the bottom left-hand corner of your screen has one important characteristic in common with the little white buttons affixed your dress shirt: In both cases, the basic design has reached its apex; no improvement is possible.

(I may have made this comparison in a previous post, but the point bears repeating.)

One of these days, someone might be able to craft a slightly better shirt button, perhaps by attaching the little disc to the material with a stronger thread. Fundamentally, however, the device keeping your shirt together has been unchanged for hundreds of years -- and I predict that, long after your great-grandchildren have died, a shirt's button will still be a button will still be a button. The eternal button.

I guess programmers don't want to admit that many applications in daily use are, in a sense, a collection of shirt buttons.
You get no sympathy from this Mac owner, buster. You get what you pay for, and in my not- so-humble opinion PCs are total and complete crap. I wouldn't take one of those trashy things if you gave it to me.

Yeah, new Macs are damned expensive--so buy one used.
LoL, what did I tell you...?

This post is about Yahoo Mail. That's a WEB thing, not an OS thing. A whole lotta Mac users and Linux users have Yahoo accounts, and they are just as pissed off as I am.

I really do wish that proselytizers of all stripes -- fundamentalist Christian proselytizers, atheist proselytizers, Mac proselytizers, Twlight proselytizers, anti-Twilight proselytizers -- would just shut up. They've all had their say -- many times. Now they should all shut up.

Read your history. In ancient times, Christianity was the first religion to have a large-scale proselytization movement. And Christianity was the first religion banned by the Roman empire. Do you the see the cause-and-effect linkage there...?

A pair of lion cubs were born in the Baltimore zoo recently. Their names are Luke and Leia -- and they will discover a new dietary additive the moment anyone else tries to tell me about the wonders of Macs or linux.

Oh, and for what it's worth: Only pussies buy pre-made computers. Real Dudes build their own systems.
I understand. I moved off Yahoo to gmail years ago, but my wife stayed. Yahoo's constantly changing things drove her crazy. And me too, as the person who had to support her. So I finally bought her a Mac. Not that I'm recommending Mac, but it has a built-in email CLIENT. And that's what you probably need on your PC.

Windows Live Mail (formerly Outlook Express) is the built-in client on a PC.

Or maybe consider this one:

The key difference is that a client downloads the mail to your PC, not just a temporary copy. If you set it up to use IMAP access (Yahoo does support IMAP), you can leave copies on the server, and it will seem much like Webmail you've been using.

But beware if you have multiple computers or a smartphone. You need to set them up and use them properly (again, preferably with IMAP) - or you'll end up with some of your messages on one device, the rest on another. Or you'll think you deleted the message on your smartphone, only to find it reappear on your PC.

Plan B is to switch to gmail.

Doesn't Yahoo offer an auto- forwarding feature? I thought it did.
Mike -- can't do Gmail. But you may be right about doing things via IMAP. I've been web-only for so many years, it'll be hard to go back...

I should offer LoL an apology. But the Mac thing always gets a "Niagara Falls" reaction from me. Slowly I turned...

I used to like yahoo but after someone hacked into my account I never went back. I loathe gmail. With every non-improvement the hatred grows.

I had a "mail" account with a mindspring addy (lol,it was pre-earthlink) that I loved but I'm not sure how to reactivate it.

As to your question, why do the brat millennials insist on "improving" things that need no improving and thus wrecking them, I guess it's somewhere between justifying their existence and some sadistic thrill out of ruining it for the rest of us.

I mean, consider this. It's bad enough the knuckle-dragging whiz kids think that preliterate glyphs are an improvement over TEXT, but they then have to hallucinate that grey font over sky blue is somehow more legible or in any way more desirable than black. on. white.

That is the basic horror, before we even get to the functionality or lack thereof of their actual programs.

I like to think I taught my offspring better, but he is but one of legion.

zee, about the grey text thing -- this was my main problem with the "web 2.0" design aesthetic which took hold some years ago. Legibility suffered. (And adding round corners to everything was usually more trouble than it was worth.)

This blog has always kinda looked like crap, but at least you can READ it easily.

(LoL, I'm really sorry. I promise not to feed you to Luke and Leia.)
Test should be green on black,

Yahoo can be set to automatically forward all mail or to be accessible by POP or IMAP.

Why the fug don't you go back to Windows 7. That's what I use.They still support Win 95 so you can use that. Unlike Mac when it goes out of date it goes out of date. Uninstall 8 and go back to 7. Sorry you don't like gmail as it is infinitesimally better than any other. Have you tried Opera browser? Foxfire? I gave up on yahoo a few years back.
seymour, I DID just that. You didn't see the earlier post. I had 8 up for only a few days. I like Firefox, although it's getting worse...
Joseph, now you know why women complain about having their favorites lipstick shade discontinued! LOL
Look at I think they can do the things you need done. I've been using them for 3 years and have no complaints.
Perhaps there is a Firefox addon or a Greasemonkey script that will change the interface to your liking. I use Pentadactyl to make Firefox work just like Vim. Opera has a built in mail client, too.
Take a look at Hushmail. Free so long as you don't go more than 3 weeks without logging in. They leave your IP address out of the headers too.

Another question: what free service is best nowadays for 'private' email?

I've no illusion that any email is private from the NSA. And given that the invention of public-key encryption by mathematicians at GCHQ was kept quiet for so long, it wouldn't surprise me if number theory done for the spooks is way ahead of what gets published in academic journals. So I think encryption is overrated.

But I mean what's the best option that's fairly private for most purposes. You can't set up a Hushmail account using the Tor browser, although I think you used to be able to. Lavabit got taken down. So did Tormail.

Bitmail, the last I heard, only offered stupid addresses with gobbledegook on the left hand side.

So what the fuck is there??

No serious person would touch Gmail with a light-year-long bargepole, even for email they don't want to be private.

I should have added that by 'private' I mean email that I can send and receive for non-criminal purposes - such as, say, making FOI requests to non-spook agencies - using an identity that can't, unless special buttons are pressed, be traced back to me.
b, sometimes I think we're safer if we avoid email clients that brag about privacy. The spooks probably focus on those.
joseph, i am glad you brought this up. yahoo was fine up until a few months ago. the most recent changes are deplorable! i figured it had to do with them going over to the nsa dark side, but that doesn't make as much sense.. gmail and all things google are a very big turn off to me as well.. i have been using the yahoo account for the past 14 odd years, but these recent changes have me talking about going my own way with an e mail account connected to my website.. i don't understand why yahoo wants to piss off so many people.. by the way - apple is for great for bigots who think all things apple are superior.. they aren't.. another proprietary design stolen by a bozo named jobs who in turn is raved about by a large group of bozos.. happy new year - james
Well, I have never owned anything but a mac which meant I went through the dark (Gil Amelio) years when they were an absolute piece of shit (but the operating system was ok.) I kept looking at other peoples windows laptops thinking, "oh, that is so much better."

I'm also enough of an old timer to remember Mary Gates (Bill Gate's mom) long before I ever heard of Bill. Mary Gates had a reputation for being brilliant–I believe she was on the Board of Regents for my alma mater, U of Washington. When this small software company started up in Redmond and my brother asked me if he should accept a job there, I said–Meh. Why not

Over the last 10-15 years I've read a little about their "corporate culture" which to me seemed such a recipe for disaster, so deeply stupid, that I could only see very, very bad products emerging. This was largely under the influence (I think) of Steve Balmer–who, however, was hand picked by Gates as his successor. Here's a video clip of the "gorilla on cocaine" that was enough to convince me that not only should this man not be CEO of billion dollar corporation but should be quickly institutionalized for the safety of all.

(PS- I like Jobs sense of design but if you want an additional dose of hilarity check out a picture of the yacht he designed towards the end of his life. If you have anything to do with boats you will fall on the floor. The best way to describe it is as a floating Apple Store.)

I also would like a straightforward, intuitive-use, plain-spoken sort of design for an email system. I dislike several things about Gmail from day 1 -- their concept of usefulness was my idea of confusion. But I stuck with it out of inertia. Then there's that whole problem of how to forward when you get a new email address.

But with all the "improvememts" Google has made to their mail service recently, I've pretty fed up.

Sigh. Rather like Apple and how they've improved iTunes out of nearly all recognition. iTunes has never been a well-designed product for those of us who listen mostly to classical music, or pretty much anything other than pop homogenous muzaak crap.

--NW Luna
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