Did you know Microsoft Outlook has supported type-ahead since Outlook 2003?
I didn’t. I upgrade my home PC to Outlook 2007 a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised to find type-ahead working. I fired up the old copy of Outlook 2003 and type-ahead worked in that version too. I am pretty sure it didn’t work in versions prior to 2003.
Type-ahead is great for using with the Move to Folder or Copy to Folder features. If you use Outlook to get your Gmail via IMAP, you’ll appreciate the type-ahead feature since you need to move messages a lot.
To see type-ahead working, in the Move Items dialog box (with a message selected, press CTRL+SHIFT+V), type the first few letters of any folder name. The current folder selection will move to the folder that matches what you type.
Gmail IMAP has been available for more than a month now. It’s been working great for me. I have read that some users are having trouble reading HTML messages on their Windows Mobile devices, but for some odd reason, I can see HTML messages (in HTML, not rendered) just fine on my i730 Windows Mobile phone.
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of Gmail IMAP. If you have not used Gmail IMAP, you can set it up by following the instructions from Google here. I personally use Gmail IMAP on my Windows Mobile 2003 phone, Outlook 2007, and Windows Mail in Windows Vista. However, these tips should work on any standard IMAP client.
1 – Be Familiar with Gmail IMAP Folders
Gmail IMAP has the following special folders:
[Gmail]/All Mail – This folder contains all of your Gmail messages.
[Gmail]/Drafts – Your drafts.
[Gmail]/Sent Mail – Messages you sent to other people.
[Gmail]/Spam – Messages marked as spam.
[Gmail]/Starred – Starred messages.
[Gmail]/Trash – Messages deleted from Gmail.
Each of your custom labels also becomes an IMAP folder. Messages that have more than one labels will be in multiple IMAP folders.
Your email client may create its own special folders such as "Drafts", "Sent Items", "Deleted Items". These folders only have special meaning to your email client and not Gmail. These special folders can be seen in the web Gmail client as "[Imap]/Drafts", "[Imap]/Deleted Items". To Gmail, these are just additional labels with no special meaning.
If you use Outlook 2007, you can configure it to use Gmail’s Sent Mail folder instead of its own "Sent Items" folder:
Note that you can create more than 1 level of folders. You can have folders within folders:
2- To Archive, Move the Message Out of the Inbox Folder
To archive a message, you can do one of the following:
Move the message to the [Gmail]/All Mail folder.
Move the message to one of your label folders.
Use your email client’s Delete Message feature. This won’t actually delete your message, but move it to a folder named [Imap]/Deleted Items. You just have to know messages in that folder are not really meant to be deleted.
Since I sometimes use the Delete button for its intended purpose (see section 3 below), I do not use it to archive.
Applying Multiple Labels (Updated Jan 23, 2008)
To apply more than one label to a message, copy the message to the respective folders. "Copy" does not actually create a new copy of the message. There’s still one message stored in Gmail. It just gets a new label.
To remove the message from a folder, move it to the special folder [Gmail]/All Mail. Don’t move the message to [Gmail]/Trash, as that will actually delete the message from all folders (it will be gone forever when you empty the trash), unless deleting is really what you want to do.
(I originally wrote incorrectly that copying will create multiple physical copies. Thanks to Hans Ref for correcting me on this).
3 – To Delete, Move to [Gmail]/Trash Folder
To delete a message, move it to the [Gmail]/Trash folder. If the message is in more than one folder, Gmail will delete those copies as well.
Using the email client’s Delete feature will likely not really delete the message, but instead move it to the [Imap]/Deleted Items folder.
Sometimes I use the email client’s Delete command anyway, because it’s faster to press the Delete key. Once in a while, I then go into the Deleted Items folder and move messages from there to [Gmail]/Trash. Same result in the end.
4 – To Report a Message as Spam, Move to [Gmail]/Spam Folder
See a pattern now? Most of what you need to do with Gmail IMAP involves moving messages around.
To report a message as spam, what else… move it to the [Gmail]/Spam folder. This is just like clicking ‘Report Spam’ in the Gmail web interface. Don’t believe me, it comes straight from Google.
Likewise, to mark that was marked as spam by Google incorrectly, move it out of the [Imap]/Spam folder.
5 – Import Old Mail
If you are like me, you have archived a ton of old email messages from years past. With Gmail IMAP, it’s easy to import them into Gmail so you can have all of your email messages from all time in one place, all searchable.
Just use the copy feature of your email client to copy those old messages into one of the Gmail IMAP folders. Google advices that you should copy the messages in small group because "uploading an excessive number of messages to your Gmail account via IMAP may lead to being temporarily locked out of your account." Anyone knows what the limit is?
There you have it, my 5 tips to get the most out of Gmail IMAP. For more information on how to use Gmail IMAP, see Google Help Center for IMAP.
I am still eagerly waiting for the upcoming release of the .NET Framework source code (ScottGu). The immediate reason is that I want to create a class like List<T> but allowing only unique items and having a Contains method that "approaches an O(1) operation" like Dictionary<T>.ContainsKey().
Software and Tools
SgmlReader is an XmlReader API over any SGML document including HTML and OFX for example. HTML is an SGML grammar, so you can use this tool to convert HTML into well-formed XML. I started to use this for my current project last week and it’s been working great so far.
One of the most annoying application behavior is stealing current focus. Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror) wrote on why stealing focus is never acceptable.
What’s Ailing ASP.NET Web Forms, by Rick Strahl, is a good article about some of the major problems/issues with ASP.NET web forms. Good read.
Software and Tools
XPathMania, by Don Demsak is a nice Visual Studio add-in to check XPath statements against the current XML document. Matches are listed in the XPathMania tool window as well as highlighted in the actual XML document. Double click on a match to move to it.
Picasa (from Google) is my current photo album/manager tool. It’s fast and fun to use. With Picasa Web Albums, it’s a very nice combination.
And Now, Something Different
For Richmonders, if you feel like driving around one night in December to look at all the nice Christmas lighting sites in town, check out InRich.com’s Richmond’s Tacky Christmas Lights map. I have done a company sponsored Richmond Christmas lights bus tour in the past and I found it to be entertaining. With the InRich.com map, you can do your own personal tour.
Here’s my apprentice programmer Dat Do at 14 months old. I try to teach him C# but his code doesn’t quite compile yet. Maybe I should start him on QBASIC instead?
Too busy with real work to read up on the soon to be released Visual Studio 2008 (by end of November)? Daniel Moth has put together a summary the top 10 things to know about VS 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 here.
For Oracle developers, check out Gojko Adzic’s article on the new function result caching feature in Oracle 11.
At my work it was announced that we will be switching to "Outlook" from Lotus Notes. We are currently on Notes 6 and it’s the most atrocious of a program I have had the pleasure of using on a daily basis. Some of the most basic features like Search does not even work. Argg! I had to create my own Notes index by periodically exporting all messages to text files so that Windows Search will index them. I can’t wait to get back to Outlook/Exchange.
Have you wondered why Windows Explorer doesn’t show the size of a folder? Here are the reasons (Raymond Chen via blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing).
And Now, Something Different
I’ve always been skeptical whenever I hear people say or write that we only use 10% of our brain. Well, it looks like there is no scientific evidence to suggest that. Read more here.
I have been telling myself that I need to set up some sort of automated backup solution for my data for years now. In the past, I have actually used various tape backup solutions but I eventually gave up due to the cost of buying new tape drives that could keep up with the increasing large amount of data.
I decided to give Mozy a try. If you have not heard, Mozy is an online backup solution. Their main selling point is that they will back up your home computer for $4.95 per month. Your data is transfered over your Internet connection and is backed up to Mozy’s servers. I figure $60 a year for a fully automated backup solution and peace of mind is worth it.
Installation and Configuration
The installation and initial setup process is pretty straight forward. By default, the software will automatically select files to be backed up, but I am sure most people will need to make changes to the backup selection. Each Mozy account will only support one computer. Yes, I tried to include a network location in my backup sets, but it wouldn’t allow it. External drives connected via USB2 are fine.
There are several configuration options to tweak. In the Schedule tab, you can tell Mozy to backup when your PC is idle, or at specific times:
And under the Options tab, you can control many additional settings:
For my backup, I leave most settings at the default values, except I checked “Don’t show restore menu in Windows Explorer”. I generally do not let any application install context menu handlers for Windows Explorer. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but I suspect that misbehaving explorer context menu handlers are the source of most mysterious hangs and slow-downs in Windows.
Backing Up Data
The backup process works fairly well. The initial backup will take some time to complete. How much time depends on the size of your backup sets and the upload speed of your Internet connection. My initial backup took about 3 weeks to backup 75 GB of data over a Verizon Online FIOS connection with 2000 kbits of upload bandwidth. Since then I have added another 10GB of data and it has been keeping up just fine.
While the backup is in progress, you can check Mozy’s progress with this informative progress window:
There are currently four different ways to restore files with Mozy:
Right-click Restore – Navigate in Windows Explorer to the folder you want and right click, then choose “Restore files in folder”.
DVD Restore – Mozy will burn your data to a DVD and send it to you via snail mail. Good for large restores.
Web Restore – Use Mozy’s web site to select folders/files to restore and download the files via the web site.
Virtual Drive Restore – Navigate to Mozy’s virtual drive and select files to restore from there.
I had some problems initially with Virtual Drive Restore. Every time I tried, I would get an error saying that it could not connect to the server. The error went away after I reset my account password. This is probably the simplest and quickest way to restore a small number of files.
Web Restore is also pretty straight forward. You log into the Mozy web site, choose Restore Files and follow on-screen instructions. One minor issue is that the files are not available immediately. Instead, you will get an email once the restore is complete. Then you can go to the web site to download the files. An additional benefit of Web Restore is that you can restore files from any Internet connected PC. In this way, you can think of Mozy as an Internet mirror of your files.
If you want to restore everything, then DVD Restore is probably the way to go. I have not tried this option.
The last Restore method is Right Click Restore in Explorer. I did not test this method either because I chose not to enable explorer shell integration.
I had to use Mozy’s tech support to resolve an error that I could not resolve myself. Email did not work well as I didn’t receive a reply at all after several days. However, when I tried the “Chat Live” option on the web site, and was immediately connected to a live tech support person. She was able to help me resolve the problem fairly quickly.
I feel a lot better now that my important files are finally backed up at an off-site location. I am probably better protected now than many small businesses. I can get to the files easily and wherever I need. Mozy works very well once you understand and work with its main limitation: the upload speed of your Internet connection. I have not heard of anyone running into a problem for backing up too much data. Finally, for $4.95 a month… you can’t beat that.
Tip/Trick: Hard Drive Speed and Visual Studio Performance (ScottGu via weblogs.asp.net). ScottGu doesn't need a link from me, but I feel that this post of his is very important for all .NET developers to know. Scott recommends a minimum of 2GB of RAM for a Visual Studio machine. I have 4GB on my home PC by the way and it's great, because it lets me do things like typing up this article in Visual Studio 2008 in a Virtual PC, for example.
Improve ODP.NET Performance (Mark A Williams, via Oracle Magazine) shows how Connection Pooling, Controlling Fetch Size, and Statement Caching can be used to maximize performance with the Oracle Data Provider for .NET.
Did you know that you can profile a selected Unit Test in Visual Studio Team System? Read more at Profiling a Unit Test (Noah Coad, via blogs.msdn.com).
Sysinternals (now part of Microsoft) has released a new version (v11.02) of their extremely useful Process Explorer utility. This is one of my must-have utility on any new system.
FileZilla is an open source FTP utility for Windows. It's free and has all the features I use. What more can one ask for?
I signed up for Mozy two weeks ago. The price is right: $4.95 per month for peace of mind. However, it’s been 2 weeks and the initial backup is still only 50% complete!! I have a Verizon FIOS connection with 2000 Kbps upload speed and about 37GB of data to backup. I’ll post an update on how restores work whenever this thing finishes.
Windows Mobile / Pocket PC
Google has just announced free IMAP for Gmail! Unfortunately, it's not available on my Gmail account yet. I am hoping that the IMAP with Windows Mobile Outlook is better than Gmail mobile (via Pocket IE or Opera Mobile).
Scott Hanselman's Computer Zen is one of my favorite .NET related blogs. I don't know how he does it, but Scott often writes several detailed posts a day. Don't forget to check out his Tools List post.
Did you know that the best Wikipedia content is often from anonymous "good samaritans"? "Anonymous contributors with a single edit had the highest quality of any group." Read more here.
And Now, Something Different
Alexa.com's current list of 100 Top Sites in the United States (sorted by traffic) has a couple of interesting entries. In addition to the familiar Yahoo!, Google, and Myspace, there are two Vietnamese related sites: VnExpress at number 70, and Vietfun, at number 80. Besides these two sites, there are no other non-English or minority-centered web sites on the list that I could tell.
Alexa rankings are way off base.
Vietnamese Americans are using the net much more than any other minority groups (unlikely). If this is true, there is an untapped market here.
I have been using Google Reader since the 9/2006 release. It’s one of my favorite apps. One of the feature that was missing from Reader that I wished it had was Search. Well, Reader is now complete with a Search feature!
My initial testing indicates that it works well. I could not locate any help page that describes the complete search syntax, but most basic Google search syntax seem to work fine. Below are some observations.
Common words such as “where”, “how” are not excluded like regular Google Search:
Phrase searches are supported:
Negative terms are supported. Example: bass -music.
The OR operator doesn’t work. Example: i730 OR i830.