Friday, May 30, 2014

I Love/Hate Technology

Technical alert! Computer geekery ensues. If you have no stomach for this stuff please come back for my next blog post. I promise I’ll quit with the diversionary tactics then. But meanwhile I have to get this off my chest. Or outta my head. Or something.

So. I needed a new email client. Why? Because Microsoft Outlook 2003 is definitely not cooperating with me. I’ve been using this as my email, contact list and calendar for more than 10 years now. It’s like an old friend but it’s also been getting more and more difficult to download my email and I have no idea why this should be. Does it have Alzheimer’s, a brain tumour, a grudge against me or what? Am I anthropomorphising my computer? Why yes, I just might be. Must be the movie “Her” I just watched the other day. But I digress.

Of course I have kind of a weird email setup as these things go anyway – Shaw is a cable company. You can’t get your email directly anywhere else except through the cable modem here at home. If I’m away I need to use the web access. It sucks. But you adapt.

And I’m really used to my vintage Outlook. You know how it is. It feels normal even when it’s getting slower and slower a n d  s l l l o w w e r r r…

And yesterday I tried 5 or 6 or 7 times to download my email and got a stinking error message every single time. It wouldn’t cooperate at all. Nada. Zip. Enough already! Even for Ms. Patience Me. Time for a new option. But what? There are LOTS of options out there. I sent my Google-fu to work and I discover that Mailbird claims to be the best email client for Windows and it even works with XP. Plus, most importantly it finally has support for regular email POP3 when it used to only work with Gmail addresses. (Yes, I am speaking English. Kinda.) I had rejected it when I was investigating software prior to the April deadline for XP support because of that lack of universality. It’s doable now.

Was it an easy transition. Not on your tintype!!! It was a crazy nightmare and I couldn’t have done it without Thom’s admittedly rusty assistance. The download insisted that I needed to update the Microsoft .NET. Yeah, you understand about as much as I do about that one! Still that automatically downloaded and installed ok but then the stupid Mailbird wouldn’t install. Do not ask me what Thom did to fix it. He had to manually start the Windows installer somehow. Eventually we got it going. Grrr…

But that’s not all! Of course it wouldn’t start downloading my email automagically after it was up and running. Nope. I had to fill in a whole bunch of esoteric info like ports and passwords and stuff. Ugh. There were some issues with the windows fitting on my oddly-sized screen when they wouldn’t conform automatically. I finally got my email to come in but…then I couldn’t send. More fiddling. Eventually success! I tested things out several times and am OK with how this works now. It’s different but not uncomfortable. I’ll get used to it pretty quickly I hope.

Lastly I was missing my calendar and contact lists as well but there are apps you can easily add to Mailbird to give you Google Calendar and an intuitive contact list. I haven’t figured out if you can add the old Outlook list to it yet. But at least I’m up and running. It downloads my email quickly. I can read it and reply. I can delete and star. I can mark things as important. I can click on links and have them come up in Firefox. We are functional.

Would I recommend Mailbird to others? I’m not sure. So far the program itself is fine. It’s pretty intuitive and easy to use. But it was a bear to get installed and up and running. I needed professional help. Would the developers have been any assistance? I don’t know since we didn’t ask them. Mailbird is free for a basic version, $1 per month (billed annually) for a pro account and there’s also a business account for multiple users. I have no idea what the advantage of the paid version would be unless you have more than 3 email addresses.

I’m done. Back to your regularly scheduled fibery goodness in the very next post. I’ve been spinning up a storm!

1 comment:

pao said...

Don't get me started...