Tuesday Nov 20, 2007

Finally, no more Gmail blank page

For months, I couldn't use Gmail on my PowerBook. Instead of my INBOX, a blank page would load in Firefox 2 and Safari 2. Clearing cache and related cookies made no difference. Here's what it looked like:

My workaround had been to use a second computer but it's inconvenient. Then Gmail IMAP came along and at least I could use Mail.app. But Gmail IMAP hasn't been very reliable so it would be nice to be able to use the web version from time to time.

Then when Gmail 2.0 came out, the blank page problem was gone from Firefox, but Safari still showed constant "Loading...".

Today, I installed the OS X 10.4.11 update, which includes Safari 3, and now it's usable with Gmail again.

Thursday Nov 15, 2007

Email getting lots of attention

A quick rundown:

Nov 13, 2007:
  • Marshall Kirkpatrick from readwriteweb.com wrote "it took Facebook to introduce people to RSS in a way that was really compelling." and "The social network of the future will be populated by the RSS feeds of the activities of your friends and your friends will be determined by email."
Yesterday:
  • "The Death of E-Mail" on Slate said "Those of us older than 25 can't imagine a life without e-mail. For the Facebook generation, it's hard to imagine a life of only e-mail..." and "Instant-messaging, mobile text-messaging, blogging, micro-blogging, and social-networking profiles all help compensate for e-mail's shortcomings." and "It's not hard to imagine a future communications command center where, on a single screen, you'll be able to choose between sending an e-mail, instant message, status note, or blog post—or sending all of them at once—and then have all those bits of text neatly and securely archived."
  • Nick O'Neill wrote on "Email Becomes Center of Social Networks?" "I’m not quite sure how I feel about using my email for the center of my social network but maybe my feelings will change once it launches."
  • "Inbox 2.0 isn’t coming, it is here." on Xobni blog said "We realized after building Xobni analytics and playing with email data for 6 months that the most interesting data in email revolved around relationships."
  • Mathew Ingram wrote skeptically on Can getting social make email better? "for me, email is pretty close to broken."
  • Don Dodge wrote "Email contacts - the natural social network" and said "Email is where [people] naturally communicate and collaborate. Social networks are another isolated island of information."
  • Steven Hodson wrote "For me using email as my social network hub doesn’t depend on integration with outside environments or the need to be widgetized in some fashion or other. Instead my Inbox needs tools like Xobni and some serious attention to dealing with spam." and "We already have been using the original social network for a very long time - it just needs some fixing up and new tools to make it better."
Today:
  • Google announced the new Google Apps Email Migration API for customers whose existing mail systems don't support IMAP.
  • Sachin Balagopalan thinks it’s time to phase out email from the work place. "The profound difference [...] is that social networks enable you to participate in a virtual team or community and IMO that is conducive to the business environment - we all belong to a team at work and we interact with our team members. Email on the other hand was not designed with the community in mind rather it’s based on an “account” and you can send and receive emails from any account."

I shared my Messaging 2.0 idea with Han today and she seems to like it. I'm hoping to find some time during Thanksgiving holiday to refine and formalize the architecture.

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

How Gmail's spam filter works

Gmail does a marvelous job at keeping spam out of its users' INBOX—probably the best among free spam filters (and better than some paid ones, too). But they have not said anything publicly about how they're doing it or how effective it is until now.

These are the four elements that make Gmail's spam filter tick:

  • Gmail users participation
  • Google's compute grid
  • Other Google technologies
  • Sender verification
You could read the full article, or watch Brad Taylor, Gmail's top spam fighting engineer, talk about their techniques in this educational video:

Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

Gmail supports IMAP IDLE

About a week after Gmail begins enabling IMAP, my account has it.

To my surprise, Gmail implemented IMAP IDLE:

~$ openssl s_client -crlf -quiet -connect imap.gmail.com:993
depth=0 /C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com
verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate
verify return:1
depth=0 /C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com
verify error:num=27:certificate not trusted
verify return:1
depth=0 /C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com
verify error:num=21:unable to verify the first certificate
verify return:1
\* OK Gimap ready for requests from 11.22.33.44 q196f2e0411bog
. capability
\* CAPABILITY IMAP4rev1 UNSELECT IDLE NAMESPACE QUOTA XYZZY
. OK Thats all she wrote! q196f2e0411bog
. login username password
. OK username@gmail.com authenticated (Success)
. examine inbox
\* FLAGS (\\Answered \\Flagged \\Draft \\Deleted \\Seen \\\*)
\* OK [PERMANENTFLAGS ()]
\* OK [UIDVALIDITY 594706426]
\* 469 EXISTS
\* 0 RECENT
\* OK [UNSEEN 1]
\* OK [UIDNEXT 772]
. OK [READ-ONLY] inbox selected. (Success)
. idle
+ idling
(some time passes while I send myself a test message)
\* 470 EXISTS

I wonder what XYZZY does.


[UPDATE Feb 21, 2008] They added two more IMAP extensions:

. capability
\* CAPABILITY IMAP4rev1 UNSELECT IDLE NAMESPACE QUOTA XLIST CHILDREN XYZZY

What does XLIST do?

Wednesday Oct 24, 2007

Gmail finally enables IMAP

for all, according to http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/free-imap-for-gmail.html

But last I checked under Settings, I don't have a tab that says "Forwarding and POP/IMAP", only "Forwarding and POP". Guess I'll have to wait.

About

I currently live in San Francisco Bay Area. For the past seven years, I have been designing and building messaging solutions for Sun.

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