Radio reminder

In less than an hour, Atheists Talk radio will be on! This week, they’re discussing how to talk to a christian proselytizer, and are also having a segment on fundamentalism. It sounds very depressing, but I’m sure it will be good.

By the way, I am back home, and my laptop is still dead. I’m using an older, slower, smaller laptop while the other is out for repair, and I’m just now beginning the slow process of doing a complete restore to this little machine. I’m feeling sort of brain-damaged, but at least I’m getting some functionality back.

One thing that never restores very well, though, is all my old email. I have an abiding hatred for Apple’s Mail software, and it gets even with me by being a PITA, and compounding that with the fact that I’ve been unable to get to my mail for several days, meaning that there is probably a backlog of a few thousand messages awaiting my attention, I suspect my email is probably hosed. I hope nobody is expecting too prompt a reply from me today.


  1. says

    I doubt anybody’s waiting with bated breath for your beaming, all-beneficent smile. Not when it’s usually succeeded by a beery belch and offers to share ammonite porn.

  2. says

    I hate Apple’s Mail app as well. I switched to Thunderbird, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s made by the same folks who release Firefox. Thunderbird handles RSS feeds as well as email, which is extremely useful; I now have my email and feeds updating in the same program. It’s probably worth giving a spin if you aren’t happy with what you’re currently using, especially since set up is a breeze.

  3. Charles Sane says

    I’m not one to usually give advice, but PZ this is all SO easily avoidable. Please take the steps to prevent it in the future.

    Whatever size hard drive your laptop has, go get an external Firewire 800 hard drive of the same size. (Or better yet get two of them – leave one at home and one at the office.)

    On the Mac it is trivial to make a bootable backup of your hard drive. I use a program called ‘Synchronize Pro X’ , but there are are others that do the same.

    Set it up so that it makes a weekly, every 3 days, whatever, bootable backup of your hard drive.

    When your laptop hard drive crashes you get a new hard drive. Put it in. Now boot off of the backup Firewire drive and you will be running YOUR computer. WIth your e-mail. With all your settings intact. Nothing to ‘restore’, nothing to ‘re-install’ – it will be your computer, but simply from a week ago.

    Of course copy the FW drive to the internal drive and keep backing up.

    Every hard drive will fail. A bootable backup takes away all the headache of it.

  4. Alan says

    The best thing I ever did with email is give up my mac, outlook, and thunderbird (it leaks memory and crashes your computer) and go to google. I have all my various accounts forwarded to one google docs account and from there I can reply as if I’d logged into each account. I can check my email from anywhere. I don’t store it locally so I can still search it even if I’m in Asia. I can use it totally without a mouse. It’s got a far superior spam filter to any of the other programs.
    I didn’t intend to leave the others but just found myself using the google one more and more and finally setting all the other accounts to point at the google one.
    Digg has a recent article of 40-50 hints for it that is quite useful to get started as well.

  5. says

    I second that recommendation of Thunderbird, though I’ve never used it on a Mac. Being a Mac user also means that you can use any mail app that runs on Linux, so there are plenty of alternatives.

    I long ago switched from offline email to webmail, but then my mail requirements are likely to be a tiny fraction of yours (I actually use email much less than I did ten years ago). The gmail interface is pretty good for my needs.

  6. says

    @6: FWIW, as a Googler I get hundreds of emails a day, and the gmail web interface handles it just fine. Of course, you should naturally take my rave review of a Google product with a grain of salt. ;)

  7. mayhempix says

    PZ… I feel your pain. Unfortunately most people learn the hard way that backing up is imperative, be it PC. Mac or whatever. I have never had a failure on my Mac laptops, but have had 2 stolen.

    You should be using Time Machine to back up your Mac. It is built into the OS and saves and compiles daily, then weekly, then monthly letting you access your computer exactly as was the day it was saved. It is automatic and runs in the background. The best thing about it is the first time it backs up everything including the OS so that your whole “computer” can be retrieved if a hard drive or something else fails. It reads what is saved and only adds what is new or replaces what has changed. You can either plug in another drive or use Apple’s combination Time Capsule, a combination wi-fi/hard drive to do it wirelessly.

    You should also be able to access your email directly on the web from any computer. Whoever hosts your email will be able to give you the URL to get to it.

    As far as the Mail ap goes, most people don’t use it correctly. You can run all email accounts through it… I have 4 including my own url, gmail and aim. Mine is set up so that it keeps my email on the web servers until I tell it to erase so that I if I’m somewhere without my laptop, I can check my mail. It also let’s you set up “mailboxes” to distribute incoming mail according to sender, subject, etc. But Thunderbird or Outlook will do the job if you have decided you must change.

    So if you back-up and get access to your email on the web, you will never have to suffer like this again.

  8. mayhempix says

    More about mail:

    Web based email like Gmail and AIM are the equivalent of going to the post office to read your mail. Your mail stays there and does not reside on your computer. The good is that it is there to be accessed from any computer. The bad is that you must be connected to the web to see it.

    A mail app is the equivalent of the postman who delivers it to your mailbox. It goes to the server on the web and delivers a copy to your computer. The key word here is “copy” because the original still resides on the server unless you tell it to delete or the host deletes after a certain period. usually can set preferences to delete after certain time period or not at all. You can have a Gmail account and still use the mail app to deliver you a copy. In this way you get the best of both worlds. Your mail is saved both on the server and your computer alllowing access when offline and from any other computer.

  9. LMR says

    The best solution is to use whatever mail application you like, but to use a mail server that supports IMAP.
    That way you can move machine to machine and always have your mail handy. I use Gmail, but use both the web and IMAP interfaces to get my mail. With the IMAP interface, you can always have a local backup of your mail in the event Google were to disappear.

  10. BobC says

    an abiding hatred for Apple’s Mail software

    Apple makes the best computers and the best operating systems. For everything else Google is the best. I use Google’s Gmail, Google spreadsheets, iGoogle homepage, Google Search History, Google Maps, Google Email Alerts, and as soon as it becomes available for Macs I’m going to use the Google browser. By keeping everything on Google’s computers I never have to worry about losing anything, and I can access it from any computer.

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    while the other is out for repair

    The malfunction was a ruse for the repair shop to install some special spyware developed by Bill Donohue and the Magisterium.

  12. scooter says

    We use Macs and PCs here at scooterHouse. My wife uses a Mac and has regular emale catastrophes.

    I got tired of pop server glitches. I’ve been on yahooMail for six years without a burp, and less SPAM gets through.

  13. Nerd of Redhead says

    The malfunction was a ruse for the repair shop to install some special spyware developed by Bill Donohue and the Magisterium.

    I have to catch up on these conspiracy theories. I thought Pete Rooke suddenly trying to pretend to be buddy-buddy with Pharyngulites was a ruse by the same group. They probably have several subplots in motion. Now, where is my tinfoil hat…

  14. Sili says

    What’s the point of Igoogle?

    I use Opera and a coupla Gmails for everything these days. My one complaint is a tendency for Flashplayer to stop working after hibernation. Wish I could figure that one out.

  15. BobC says

    What’s the point of Igoogle?

    iGoogle is Google’s personalized homepage. It’s the first screen I get when I turn on my Mac Mini. It’s wonderful. It can be custom made into anything and a person can have several iGoogle homepages. I have my most important bookmarks on it, including my favorite blog Pharyngula.

  16. Marty says

    I second the “cloning” ideas I have seen above. SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner, there are a few. So I “clone” my mac to an external hard drive once every week or two. Then I bring it into the office for a “disaster recovery” solution. If and when I have a problem, get a new machine, whatever, I simply clone the backup to the computer and use Time Machine to restore any data which has changed since the most recent clone. Voila. Works great.

  17. Arnosium Upinarum says

    PZ, is that the laptop you recently bought? Just curious. I know someone else who had the same type that met an early demise. Card thing.

  18. travc says

    I have never understood using pop for mail. Let the mail server hold all your mail.

    I’ve been using Gmail for a good long while now and love it. The chances of google loosing your mail are as close to nil as you’re likely to get. The only downsides are a lack of simple encryption and the fact that they have the right to read your mail (so they can produce relevant ads, which I’ve actually found useful on occasion). I’d love it if they had a nice PGP interface, but that would break their business model (the relevant ads).

  19. says

    Thanks a lot, PZ. Our hosting service decided it would be wise to move our server because of unusually high activity. You can keep your technical problems! Curses.

  20. says

    I’d make a snarky remark about how Mac laptops obviously aren’t as perfect as fanbois make them out to be, but the fact that my own (non-Apple, Debian/XP dual-boot) laptop just died would take all the fun out of it. There’s no perfection anywhere, and we’d be fools to expect it.