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October 20, 2006

I heard the news today, oh boy. My favorite email package for the last ten years, Eudora, is going open source (via Kevin Werbach). The current version will be retired and replaced with one based on Mozilla Thunderbird. I was surprised; the only clue I had was that the promised Cocoa-ized version for Mac was way overdue.

Time to panic? Maybe. While I do long for an end to Eudora’s handful of significant shortcomings (principally its woeful support for HTML mail), I’m not looking forward to giving up Eudora’s numerous charms, including a myriad of useful features and unparalleled performance.

I was glad to hear that Thunderbird would be the basis of the new Eudora, since it was already my second-favorite email client. (I used it briefly at work before returning to Outlook for its better compatibility with Exchange.) Since one major reason I still use Eudora is its outstanding performance handling large mailboxes, I thought I would take Thunderbird out for a little proficiency run to see how it handled.

Moving my mail into Thunderbird was no fun; it crashed repeatedly after importing a mere 2150 messages from a mailbox, so I gave up on that tactic. Since both Eudora and Thunderbird store mail in mbox format, I tried simply moving the Eudora mailboxes to the Thunderbird folder. (Thunderbird automatically creates .msf files for each mailbox.) This worked fine, and I was relieved that Thunderbird didn't have much of a problem with the biggest mailbox I tried (~12,000 messages).

In briefly playing around, I noticed two problems. The header area of the message window does not spawn scroll bars, so if you choose to view full headers and they are longer than the screen, you won’t be able to see all of them. Another problem is that some messages simply would not display. I noticed that these all happened to be HTML messages, but with a content-type of multipart/alternative. When I changed content-type to text/html, the messages displayed fine. These messages displayed fine in Eudora, but it must be more lenient with inappropriate content-types.

The new project is code-named Penelope; I hope that doesn’t mean we will have to wait twenty years for the first version. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye on the project page. Best wishes to the entire team!


i have 22k+ emails in my local gmail folder in Thunderbird along with a smattering of others in 4 different email addresses. works like a charm. i love me some thunderbird. i used it at my last job, but at the new one, the dark lord of MS Office is king so to Outlook i must go once again.

I like the way I can use Eudora's filters to direct incoming email to whatever folder I deem useful for me.... So far I haven't been able to figure to use Thunderbird's filters for the same purpose.... So I'm hoping that the new Mozilla Eudora will include the old Eudora's filter/mail-directing abilities.

I hsd no problem redirecting a clearly identified mail list into a folder in T-bird, as well as some very persistent smut mailings which it would never flag now go directly to the trash.

October 19, 2006

Even the Devil Thinks I Should Diet

I started a half-hearted diet this week. I try not to do anything half-heartedly, but I love to eat, hence half-hearted was all I could manage. I was a good boy for two days, eating only yogurt and a small bag of pretzels for lunch, and then having a small dinner. Today, however, I had a cheesesteak. It cost $6.66. If that isn't a sign I should get back on my diet, I don't know what is. Of course, it was the Devil (who landed on my shoulder right after dispatching the Angel with his pitchfork) who goaded me into eating that cheesesteak in the first place. Tricksy, it is.


Water! Lots and Lots of Water helps any diet, half hearted or not.

October 12, 2006

Star Trek Auction

I learned about the Star Trek auction from Dave Luna a while ago, but the mental note was assigned a low priority and didn’t pop up in my queue until Saturday night. By then it was too late.

No tears here, however. While it was cool that folks would have a chance to own actual stuff from the 23rd century, to me that stuff was mostly meaningless without the actors and the story to bring it to life. More importantly, I didn’t want to see for myself how cheesy it really was. I prefer to imagine that the Enterprise is a real ship and not some conglomeration of plywood, plastic and paint. Most of all, Star Trek simply wasn’t one of my favorite shows. As a big science-fiction fan, I watched most of the episodes of The Original Series, but it never captured my imagination the way Outer Limits did. Now that would be an auction. I wouldn’t mind having one of those bugs from “The Zanti Misfits” sitting on my desk.

Still, I’m sorry I missed the auction. Anybody get anything?

October 11, 2006

So You Say There’s a Race of Men in the Trees

They’re called botanists, and they are not just male, of course, but I had to use that quote. Anyway, this week’s New Yorker includes the story of the discovery of the world’s tallest tree (trees actually) this summer. The tree, a redwood, is 379.1 feet tall, and its lowest branches are two hundred feet up. It is fifteen wide at its base, which is pretty skinny. Imagine a 35-story building only 15 feet wide.

The article was written by Richard Preston, who last year had written a profile of botanist Stephen Sillett of Humboldt State University, who studies the biology of redwood canopies. The story fascinated me not just because of the challenge of climbing these giants, but because of the teeming life that thrives hundreds of feet above the forest floor. From last year’s article: “Sillett has discovered small trees—wild bonsai—in the canopies. The species include California bay laurel trees, western hemlocks, Douglas firs, and tan oaks. Sillett once found an eight-foot Sitka spruce growing on the limb of a giant redwood.” The canopy soil to support this growth collects on branches and in crotches and is up to three feet deep. Not just birds’ nests and squirrels, that’s for sure.


Rather interesting, but not too out of the ordinary.

Preston uses superlatives.

Actually "bonsai" means plant in a pot, as in man-made pot. Trees or plants growing in other trees is not all that hard to find in forests.

And with redwoods being larger and older sometimes, it's logical - not magical - that more of that would exist.

Either way, it's fun to look at.

Here's some images of the groves:

As you see, Preston is incorrect about only a handful of botanists knowing the locations.

I'm aware of others too.

There are several things that Preston wrote in the book, that could be construed as fiction.

Most of the forest facts are true.

Easy for you to say now that I have seen your page—amazing. Thanks for sharing. We were in San Francisco in June and while we didn’t see any big trees, we did enjoy walking among the toothpicks of Muir Woods. :-)

October 10, 2006

Crap Blog 101 [nanoblog]

“Slow trickle of useless content, annoyingly large RSS icon, lame blogroll...” The brilliant Hugh MacLeod must have seen my blog. How else to explain the inspiration for his cartoon, crap blog 101. I am honored. Via Karl.

October 5, 2006

An Alpaca Cap

I... I think I’ve forgotten how to do this blogging thing.

Let’s see, where was I? In my defense, I’ve been hard at work on my “photoblog” template, adding new places to my lobster-roll map (I stuck 16 pins in Manhattan alone. Ouch!), and importing the Dead Sea Posts (pre-2004) into Movable Type. But no actual blogging.

In other news, I got a new cap. Exciting, huh? It’s alpaca, bought when we visited an alpaca farm while on vacation in Maine. We were both interested in seeing the alpaca garments more than the alpacas, but the owner insisted on giving us a full tour. They breed alpacas primarily for show, but they also shear them, offering fleece and roving for spinning as well as yarn. The garments they sell (sweaters, hats, and even socks) are not made there, however, yet they are soft and toasty nonetheless.

I might get a chance to wear the cap soon, since yesterday may have been the last really warm day of the year. I’m especially looking forward to wearing this toasty topper seeing as how I have lost my natural fleece long ago.