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Finally nearing the end of the proposal trail. I don't think I've done enough work on background reading, still, but it seems you never can.

As a side note, I've been working in MORE the whole time. It still is the best tool I've found for organizing my ideas. I can slice, dice, show and hide things. Hoisting and cloning are wonderful; I've got a template which I wrote from, and another one that I used for my ideas. Being able to cut and paste rules is another thing that is so elegant, yet nobody does it! Try copying around style sheet rules in Word—you can't do it. That MORE is 11 years old, fast and solid as a rock doesn't hurt either. And I only discovered it about three years ago!

There's a MORE story I don't think I've told. My senior year of high school, I first started taking notes in class with a laptop—my first, a PowerBook 540. I did use an outliner, but it wasn't MORE, it was Acta. I had heard of MORE, of course, when it was considered one of the two top presentation programs for the Macintosh (the other was Aldus Persuasion, also no longer available).

In Mr. Stacey's English class, a fellow PowerBook user and acquaintance sat next to me, and took notes with MORE. He did continually point out how much better it was than Acta, but in my arrogance I didn't notice. I was far more interested in playing with PBTools and defining keystrokes to maximize my battery life by spinning down the hard disk at regular intervals. So, Channing, I'm sorry. You're right, MORE rules, and hopefully I've learned to be a bit more rational about things. :-)

Why don't they make desktop software like MORE still? The closest I've come to going “wow!” at a program recently has been the 2.0 beta of OmniGraffle. Although I must admit I haven't used business drawing programs in a while, so my nearest comparison is old programs like ClarisImpact.

Here's my saga of OS X mail clients today, from a post I made to the Boston BBS.

Well, I didn't have any comments on Apple's Mail app until earlier today, when Eudora started to crash on launch. So there's an attachment I need to download very badly, and because it's a Mac format file I can't just use a Unix mailer. Here was my experience with several OS X mailers.

– Apple's Delete prefs from 10.0 when I used it last. Start it up. Enter information about my account. It won't let me set up a account on startup, so I enter info for another account. It complains it can't connect to the IMAP server. (But it works fine later). Complains it can't connect to the SMTP server, but doesn't let me set up authentication until later. I try to add my account, and both accounts vanish from the Mailboxes drawer. Deleting prefs, try it again, same thing happens – when I add my account, both accounts disappear.

On to…

– Mozilla (Netscape 6.x) Mail. Sets up fine, the new account wizard seems intelligently designed. A couple of minor glitches, such as the “Read Mail” link doesn't work, I have to manually double-click on the mesasge. I download my message with attachment, notice the tiny, unlabeled attachment icon at the top right, click on it, and find a file with some cryptic name. It saves as a zero K text file owned by Mozilla. Uh, no.

On to…

– PowerMail. It has a non-customizable toolbar with absolutely tiny buttons, difficult to read icons, and no labels. Several dialog boxes are like this too, inexplicably – there's plenty of horizontal room for labels on the buttons (or it could be like Eudora, and intelligently add labels if you make the window big enough). Create my IMAP accounts. It seems that PowerMail supports only one IMAP account at a time, you have to choose between checking from one IMAP account or another with radio buttons. That certainly rules it out as a client for me, but all I really want is my attachment. So I go forward, it downloads mail. You can't use the space bar to go from one message to another, which every other mailer I've ever seen provides as an option. Find my message. The attachment icon is there, I try to drag it. Nothing happens. I try to double-click it, the attachment icon becomes disabled. Try to drag again, nothing. Try to double-click again, it displays a dialog box to the effect that the attachment has been moved and can't be found.

PowerMail goes into the trash, and on to…

– Mulberry. The installed folder was a little strange, with about 10 icons stacked on top of one another, but that might be an OS X bug. I start it up, click “Agree” to the license agreement, a mailbox window opens, and… the menus are disabled. All of them, except “Quit”, which doesn't work. Force quit. Try again. Same problem.

Mulberry heads for the bottom right corner of the screen with some resentment, and finally, I realize I have Entourage on my hard drive as part of Office X, though I've never used it.

– Entourage. Set up accounts, once I find “Accounts” in the “Tools” menu. The wizard is very thorough and sensibly designed, though it doesn't ask me to set up SMTP authentication. Close the accounts window with command-W. Oops, it closes the mail browser window instead. Try to find how to get the window back. It's in View -> Go To, which was rather non-obvious, but oh well. Find my message, click on it, the attachment looks great, nice big list I can drag from, or click on. Finally, I have my attachment.

I really wish the above were a joke. I spent about an hour trying to get my attachment. I'd stick with Entourage, as it looks very well designed (excepting the bizarre menu layout), but for the stories I hear about database corruption. I was especially disappointed in Mulberry, as my previous experience was that it was a very capable, if somewhat ugly and cumbersome to use, mail client.

Obviously, many people use and PowerMail, too. So I'm going back to Eudora when I get it to stop crashing, as it definitely beats the rest of the programs I tried. Thank goodness Qualcomm didn't kill its development.

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