Month: August 2008


Well, work demands are forcing me to begin to use a fat client for my mail.  Up until now, I have been using GMail successfully.  So, I am choosing Thunderbird.

Here is what I like about GMail:

  • I can access GMail from any computer (I used to work on multiple computers depending on the client/day of the week)
  • I can manage multiple email addresses (Each client was giving me an email address with their domain name)
  • I like the GMail interface
    • threads instead of messages
    • labels
    • Ability to type the name of a person in the to box

But, there were a few features that I needed that forced me to switch to Thunderbird:

  • HTML Signatures (or at least formatting)
  • Different signature for each email account
  • Use a third party SMTP server — sending through GMail leaves an “on behalf of” message even if you choose to send with another email address.

I have started with two extensions that I thought were helpful:

One of the frustrations that I found was that when I replied to a message, it would put the quoted message above my reply.  Most email programs place the original programs below the new message.  I found a thread that explains you can change this in the Account Settings, Composition and Addressing settings.

The signature is in the Account Settings as well.  It is on the main page for each account.  I created an HTML file in my home directory and attached it to account.

Zindus was easy to configure.  You can access the setings in Tools > Zindus.  I just entered my GMail account information and I was off.  I did have an issue with duplicate contacts because I had already sent a couple of emails to people already in my GMail contact list.  Thunderbird automatically adds to your contact list people to whom you send an email.  I just deleted those contacts, and everything synced fine.

The Lightning settings were in the Preferences — that is in the Edit menu for Linux and Tools menu for Windows.

The Provider for Google Calendar was a little more difficult to figure out.  I finally found some instructions on the wiki.  I had to open the Google Calendar web interface.  Then, if you click settings on the calendar list, you get your list of calendars.  Next, click on the link for your specific calendar that you want in Thunderbird.  At the bottom of the settings list, you will find the XML links.  I right clicked on the XML button for the Calendar address and selected Copy Link Location.  Once I had the link copied, I went to Thunderbird.  First, I had to click on the Calendar button on the lower left hand corner of the screen.  Then, I could choose File > New > Calendar.  I chose a calendar on the Network.  Next, I chose a Google calendar and pasted the XML link into the Location.  Then, it asked me to log into the Google account.  Finally, it asked for a name/description for the calendar.

Proprietary Olympics

I got the great idea that we would try to watch the Olympics online last night.  But, I had to reboot to Windows!

WindowsOnlyOlympics by you.

The problem is that NBC used a tool called Silverlight to broadcast the video.  Currently, the version of Silverlight does not work on Linux.

I attempted to download Moonlight, the Linux version of Silverlight. but it did not help.  The download page says that they do have an experimental version 2, but I think this note explains why it still does not work: “Note: These are currently built without multimedia support. No video or mp3 playback is enabled on these binaries.”

I tried to do some quick searches to see if there was a way to recompile or enable Moonlight to playback video, but I did not find anything.

I did find many other people complaining about Microsoft though.  New York times wrote an article called Olympics Online, With a Hook.  My search also brought this article up a few times: Linux Users on NBC’s Olympic Videos: We Don’t Get No Respect.

I found another article, Ok, I admit it. I love! Now go make it work on Linux!, where the author makes this quote: “Now, one could get all huffy and puffy and blame Microsoft on this state of affairs, but in this case, I have to lay this problem strictly at the feet of the Open Source community.”  I have to disagree!  If I write a website, I have to make sure that I use tools and code that will work with my audience’s computers.  It would be ridiculous for me to write and test my website only for the Firefox browser or only Safari.  If Microsoft really wants Silverlight to be a success, I think they should donate the resources necessary to the Open Source effort.  Obviously, not that many open source developers feel that we need another Flash.

Anyway, I wish I had a good answer for how I made it work, but all I can say for now is we have to use Windows.