Hosted GMail Review

Months ago I submitted my email address requesting an invitation to the hosted GMail beta. Hoping to move the email for my domain and the few users I have over to google mail’s hosting. Around the same time, I forwarded my work and personal email to my GMail account and it has been the nexus of all my communication for some time.

Previously, I have had my email hosted at Dreamhost and the people I was hosting the email for were using Squirrelmail, I wasn’t particularly happy with this solution however it was simple and never required me to worry about administering anything. I have also had a Jabber server set up there for quite a while but it was a nuisance to add users and setting up the client is a bit troublesome.

So when I received my invitation for the hosted GMail, I jumped at the chance. Not only would this take the email storage requirements away from my server it would also allow the user accounts to be tied automatically into Jabber accounts, and have a web based IM client all ready to go.

I quickly flew over to Dreamhost, followed the instructions (which may I add were tailored to Dreamhost) to change my MX record to Google and enabled some users. This all went very smoothly, although I would have appreciated the ability to send email to old email accounts with the system generated password. Customizing the logon page is there, though it doesn’t seem very flexible, only being able to edit the logo, the colour of the boxes and the support information.

Using the actual mail client is pretty much identical to the normal GMail, I’m not sure the version is exactly the same though, as the back button breaks it, taking me out to the “Loading…” page. The other problem I’m having is my computer always taking me back to my old GMail inbox, I have to navigate to http://mail.google.com/hosted/wakeless.net or I can’t view my mailbox. These 2 bugs are extremely annoying but I’m sure in due time they will be fixed. I would hope that in the future I will be able to give it my own domain name for the web interface to use.

Setting up the individual users is simple enough with being able to submit a comma delimited file or to add them one by one. However it isn’t possible to import mailboxes. I would like to be able to upload an existing users mbox file or specify my existing GMail account and have my email imported. I was actually quite surprised when I didn’t see this capability and I really think it is necessary if Google wants to have businesses move onto the system.

It is clear that this will be a great application for Google to take some small business market share by providing them with hosted Gmail and calendar accounts, making the company desktops searchable with google desktop and completely removing the need for a Small Business Server. My company has been looking for a solution to supply to our customers and when and if Google takes this out of Beta and starts an affiliate program, I think it will really take off.

Having the built-in Jabber server may well give Jabber and instant messaging in businesses the kick-start it needs. Currently it is a real hassle to setup a IM server, maintain it and link it in to an existing IM network. This does it all for free and with a little bit more love given to the administration section, this could be a real killer app.

Some other features I believe will really help Google work there way into the business sector are shared mailboxes and public folders. These include allowing administrators to be able to view mailboxes of users if they need to. The other major requirement I forsee being implemented is Email retention policies, companies are requiring copies of email to be kept more and more and certainly may have issues with Google not properly deleting email when they think it has been deleted.

Firefox 2.0 Features

The other day I recently downloaded the latest Firefox Alpha, Bon Echo Alpha 2 and I’m really stoked with the majority of the new features. Originally I thought that cutting the Places feature was a mistake and possibly letting the release date slip was a better option, but seeing the features actually working leads me to think that this is really going to be a good release.

The thing that the Mozilla Foundation (Corporation?) is really good at is incrementally improving the functionality of their products. This doesn’t involve rewriting the whole product but adding a few more awesome features and fixing the implementation of some of the existing features.

The major features or fixes that have caught my eye are

  • Feed handling. I love this. I can’t believe it has taken this long to get this into a mainstream browser. I can’t believe how long it has taken for any sort of a standard across feeds.
  • The search box. I’m sure that this is one of the improvements that nobody is going to think about but I’m so much happier with being able to “manage” them right there.
  • Spell Checker. What is there to say about this? It works a treat and is there when you need it. Perfect.
  • Tab Implementation. I’m not going to way in to heavily about the new tab implementation. It seems reasonably but I think it will be far more helpful to new users.

With all of these improvements I’m hoping that they avoid the stability and memory problems that plagued 1.5 from the outset and then quickly release a 2.1 with the removed places features or at least provide a plugin to add this functionality.

Female Observation Skills (or lack thereof)

When I am riding I often ride past speed cameras. If this happens, I make sure that I try and warn any oncoming traffic to slow down and not get a ticket. I do this by waving my hand up and down, and if I think the driver hasn’t quite understood what I am doing, I imitate taking a photo with an imaginary camera.

Nearly every man sees me and then gives me a thumbs up or a wave as if to say cheers, but very rarely do I catch the eye of a woman and when I do, they give me a weird look like I have something on my face. This may seem pretty contrived but since I have been riding my bike regularly each time it happens I have the same results.

Now I know that girls can do a “girl look” and find something lost about 10 times quicker than a guy but when it comes to spotting the weirdo riding along the side of the road making strange hand gestures, they just don’t cut it.

Beer and Weightloss

Over the past 3 months I have been monitoring my body-weight reasonably carefully by weighing myself most days when I get to work after I ride in. One of the most interesting features of the data I compile in my head (Extremely scientific I know) is that after a weekend that involves a lot of drinking, I put on quite a fair bit of weight.

However, this weekend gone by I seem found that I didn’t put on any weight and if anything actually lost it. I certainly drank alot, but the day after, I played a game and a half of fairly intense volleyball. From this rock-hard evidence I am going to suggest that it takes about a day for the energy of beer to metabolise into fat. I’ll keep an eye on it.