Thunderbird 3; I’m Not Impressed

Suffice it to say I’ve always loved Thunderbird by Mozilla. I loved it from the first time I saw it, probably mainly because it wasn’t Outlook. I know other folks loved Eudora, but it just wasn’t for me. I found Thunderbird gave me everything I wanted and more, and was happy.

Then came this latest version, and I find myself less than impressed. Thunderbird 3, which is now 3.0.4, has made some significant changes, which they say make it easier for new users, and offers some features they’ve never had before. But they’ve also messed up some interfaces, and if you ask me, there’s only been one good consequence from it.

First, they set up the default so it looks like Outlook; what’s that about? The idea behind Mozilla was that it was the anti-Outlook; if I’d wanted Outlook I would be using it. Maybe that’s the “easy” part for new users, using something they’re familiar with.

Second, they changed how you could save email addresses. Instead of opening up one of those Properties menus so you could add information and put it in any special mail category you’d created, now when you click to save the email address and you get the edit form you can add information, but you can’t place it anywhere special. Everything goes into a personal address book, and you have to open your contacts and move it to where you want it after the fact.

Third, let’s talk about the Contacts for a bit. That wasn’t even included as a default in the toolbar, and now that I’m calling it Contacts, let me back up for a minute. When I added it to the general program toolbar it was called Address Book. When you’re in an email you’re writing it’s called Contacts. And I had to add both; that was irritating. Sure, it will remember email addresses you already have if you just start typing it in, but if you’re doing multiple emails, and you want to BCC them, then typing each address individually can take up a lot of time.

Something they changed, which is why they didn’t put it on the toolbar automatically, was putting those tabs onto the email you happen to be reading. That’s not so bad if you want to keep all your email at the normal size it defaults to. I’m one of those people who likes opening emails to the full size of my browser so that I not only can read it easier by making it larger, but that way I only see one email at a time so that I’ll focus on that one email. Thing is, when you open an email all the way, those tabs aren’t always there. Oh, some are, but not all of them all the time. I find myself every time having to open it up, close it back, then open it again to get all those tabs back. If they’d just left it alone in the toolbar I wouldn’t have had to deal with it.

What did they add that they consider something good? They added a search bar which will search through your email to find something. When you do it a new tab opens in the program, something like if you click on some links in Firefox, and it will give you lists of where that word appears throughout the program. To the right it’ll give you 10 choices in a particular folder, then More will be there so you can click it to get 10 more. It’s actually kind of freaky; I like to have a better way of doing it.

And that leads to my one very good thing. It works much better with Google Desktop, which y’all know I love. Now when I download new email, it instantly indexes it, so that I can immediately find that email. Yeah, I know you’re saying who’d have a need to find something that fast. Well, I have 9 different inboxes set up in Thunderbird, so sometimes I’m not sure where an email actually went.

Now, the Mozilla folks are smart, so I figure in the next update, whenever it comes, they’ll have addressed at least a couple of my issues. When that happens, I know I’ll be a happy camper once more. For now, though, I’d have to say that I’m less than impressed with Thunderbird 3, yet it still beats Outlook by a mile.

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Firefox 3.6; Now That’s What I’m Talking About!

On Friday I got my first alert that there was an upgrade to the Firefox browser. It also said it wasn’t compatible with one of the add-ons that I liked, and I thought about not upgrading to it. However, Saturday night it popped up again, and I decided okay, fine, I’ll go that route. After all, one add-on does not a perfect browser make, right?

Let me say this; you’ve got to upgrade to Firefox 3.6, and you have to do it now! Man, this sucker is fast; I mean, I haven’t found a page yet that I’d have to wait longer than a second to get to, and that’s just phenomenal. I’m not going to get into all the technical stuff, mainly because I don’t understand it all either, but the main thing they did to improve speed was to address the issue of javascript performance. I’ve written here in the dark past how javascript issues can slow down a blog. Seems they can also slow down some browsers, and they’ve overcome that issue.

They also did something where the scripts will all run asynchronously, or independently from each other, which is what slows things down often. You know how you visit some blogs and you’ll notice something hanging, which is preventing your page to fully load for awhile? That’s not supposed to happen with Firefox 3.6, and so far in my own little tests it seems to be working great.

They’ve also added something new, which will probably pretty much get rid of themes. Instead of themes, now you can add a “persona”, of which they have more than 30,000. This bad boy changes the look of your browser to whatever you want, and I have to tell you, I’ve changed mine to some pretty bright colors, and just looking at it is making me smile because it’s always been dark since I bought the new computer, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

Firefox 3.6 will also now tell you if your plugins are out of date, rather than waiting until you get to a site and suddenly realize you can’t access something. I like that as well, and of course you always have the option to tell it to leave you alone for awhile.

I have to say that I feel they did a great job with this new version. Everything is easier to see, and I’m not even missing the one add-on that’s not compatible anymore, the AnyColor add-on, because what they’ve done is made the print on your open tabs bigger and easier to see, and the transparency also makes it easier to read, so you know exactly what each tab is. And obviously you don’t need it with the persona’s option.

The only minor gripe I have thus far is that, for some reason, every once in awhile instead of opening up a new tab it opens up a brand new window. There was that same issue with Firefox 3.5 initially, something they called tab tearing, and they quickly came up with a bug fix for it. I’m hoping they’ll do the same with this browser.

If you’re not using Firefox, well, I’m not sure why, but trust me, you’ll love this new version of Firefox whether you use it now or not.

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