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November 01, 2003

Google Calc, RSS & Outlook

I really do love the Google calculator, and RSS. According to Google RSS shaved 34.64 MB off my hosting bill this month. Of course that’s not entirely accurate. Some (many?) people who watch an RSS feed would never visit the site at all especially an unfocused site such as this, but then that is the beauty of having RSS feeds, I read most of the web now in FeedDemon first, then check out in a browser only those entries that really pique my interest. It used to be that Outlook and a web browser were always open on my desktop, now it’s FeedDemon. The browser is often open, but Outlook (which needs to be replaced now that the beta is over and I have no plans on upgrading) is opened twice a day only long enough to collect and process my email.

Based on a number of recommendations I did try the NewsGator RSS aggregator for Outlook. If I lived in Outlook, I would probably use NewsGator for my main RSS aggregator. While it is missing some of the features of FeedDemon and it seems incapable of posting XHTML compliant web log postings (it throws up tag soup), it does integrate into Outlook very well, which means that all the Outlook message search and organization features are available for RSS feed entries. It does add a considerable amount of system resource usage to Outlook when gathering feeds, and it slows startup time also–of course if you live in Outlook you never close it anyways, so you never have to open it.

But I no longer live in Outlook, and in fact I’m trying to rid myself of it. There is of course one major issue, years of email stores that are in PST files, many which I do still need and regularly use. I’ve locked myself in to Microsoft through Outlook. I use Open Office for everything that I used to use Office 2003 for, with some minor exceptions. 

Unfortunately it’s the mail that becomes a problem. At one time a few years ago I used an open source program called ol2mbox that converted Outlook PST stores to unix mbox format. Unfortunately someone killed that project, though I hear that they were nice enough about it, but they made it known they didn’t want the project to proceed. Thunderbird and Mozilla Mail both can convert some of the folders, but the fact that my PST files have nested folders seems to makes them choke and give up. Then there is the issue of attachments which neither of them handle at all. If they would even save them to a directory that would be fine, but they simply ignore them.

Other than it’s inability to import complex PST files I really like Thunderbird as an email client. It’s relatively lightweight and it handles everything I need for email. In truth it’s not Thunderbirds fault either, it’s mine–well mine and Microsoft’s. Mostly mine for not getting rid of Outlook earlier, when I knew they were locking me in with a proprietary email storage format, one that they had no plans–and really no incentive–to provide an exporter for and Microsoft’s for not have any sort of exporter for Outlook and shutting down ol2mbox, the only one that really worked well on any PST file you threw at it.

Eventually I guess I will have to set up an IMAP server here in the office, exclusively to move my message stores from PST to a more open format.

Posted by Eric at November 1, 2003 02:01 AM | TrackBack
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