Moving forward with Thunderbird

Although I’ve been using Thunderbird at work now for almost a year, the only extension I’ve had installed has been Lightning to display my work calendar.

Yesterday that changed, and I’m really glad. I’ve installed a few excellent extensions:

Quote Colurs adds inline colouring to nested replies. I didn’t think this would make much difference, but it’s suddenly made mailing lists a joy.

QuickMenu MC adds the folders you most frequently move mails directly under the “Move To” menu (so that you don’t have to navigate four or more menus down)

GmailUI adds a new option to the search box allowing GMail-like search syntax such as “from:andy” “to:phil” and so on. This is now essential to me – I use GMail all the time at home, and I’ve been constantly typing GMail-syntax searches into the Thunderbird search box in vain til now.

Thunderbird Header Tools allows you to change the headers of emails (I use this for editing subject lines to reflect the action I have to take on the mail) and add new headers; built-in is the ability to add X-Tags and X-Categories, which you can then create Smart Folders for, so that you can effectively tag mails and have them appear in certain folders automatically. Genius!

Thunderbird QuickMove assigns a shortcut key-combo to moving mails to certain folders. CTRL+1 now moves mails from my Inbox to my “Archive” folder. So now I can move mails quickly either by keyboard, or by mouse (via QuickMenu MC, above).

Creative Zen regrets?

A few months ago I bought a 1GB Creative Zen Nano Plus, and it’s really nice. It plays .mp3 and .wma files; has a built-in FM radio; mp3 encoding from line-in and a built-in microphone. It works really well but there are a couple of drawbacks:

  • You need a cable to connect it to a PC (my last mp3 player plugged directly into the USB port)
  • It doesn’t play .ogg files
  • There’s no “lock” switch, it’s software based, which is really annoying, slow and awkward
  • If you knock the jog switch in the middle of a three hour audio file, it moves to the next track, so you have to move back to the start of your three hour file and fast forward through until you get back to where you were

All I use is the mp3 playback and I had to re-encode some of my .ogg files to mp3 for this, which was quite annoying, but at the time there just weren’t any decent players which supported ogg. Now there’s the Samsung YP-U2.

At £61 for the 1GB version, it’s slightly more expensive than the current value of my Nano Plus (£56), but much cheaper than what I originally paid. It plays back both mp3 and ogg, has a hardware “lock” and plugs directly into a USB port. If it had been out at the time, this is what I would have bought.

However, the Nokia N91 is now on the scene, which is not just a phone, but a Wifi mp3 and ogg player with a 4GB hard disk. The odds of me upgrading to this from my Nokia 6630 are at the moment quite high (although it won’t happen until the wedding and honeymoon are over), and my mp3 player will likely be relegated to gym duty.

Profiles (and thus RDF) from University of Bath Person Finder

Work’s staff and student directory has just had an overhaul, and I finally got the change in to add the hCard profile to the <head> of the page.

This means that because the page is marked up with the hCard microformat, you can pass a page like mine to a tool like the RDF in XHTML processor and get RDF out the other end.

Don’t say I never do anything for you.

Make me stay with WikidPad

I drop in and out of using WikidPad. I’ve just picked it up again after a lengthy absence.

What would make me adopt it full time? Some extension ideas from the top of my head:

  • an RSS aggregator (a new “Feeds” tree maybe)
  • Trac integration (the WikidPad website is powered by Trac, so this would be nice, and we use it at work) – this could be a new item in “Views” where you can see “Project” then drill into milestones and see tickets etc.
  • “Blog this page” which takes the rendered HTML and bungs it off at an endpoint
  • or more generically perhaps, make it an Atom Publishing Protocol client