DateThursday 9 December 2004

OK, I’ll say it: I hate Apple’s Mail

Ever since I got my hands on it and was able to compare it to Eudora, I’ve wondered what the fuss was about Apple’s Mail program.

Besides having a really non-intuitive way of showing your various mailboxes (can anyone explain the meaningful difference between “On my Mac” and the “In” mailboxes? Aren’t they both in some way on your Mac, even if they’re IMAP?), and bizarre limits on rules (why can’t you both redirect and reply to a message with a single rule?), and perplexing Applescript support (especially compared to Eudora, even though that program has what could generously be called scripting quirks), its principal failing is the simple one: it’s dog-slow. Especially in comparison to Eudora, which zips through things. I can live without pretty dissolves when I move from message to message; what I want to do is move fast between those messages.

The frustration is only made bigger when it starts automatically indexing large messages or attachments, a process that one appears powerless to stop and which leads to the Spinning Pizza Of Death which won’t go away until it’s done. The Junk feature is nice, but personally I use Post Armor which is Java and highly tunable to kill spam before you even have to download it off the server. If Mail looked at mail for spamminess before getting them from the mail server, that would be one thing, but it pulls it all down first, which is just dumb. (In POP language, it could do a TOP x 100 to find out the spam-indicating stuff like who it’s from, who it’s to, and what the beginning of the message looks like, and leave it on the server or delete it. Now *that* would be smart.)

Plus it is the very worst sort of processor hog, sucking up CPU even when it’s not frontmost. So why am I using it? To have something separate of Eudora for various bits of mail I’m trying to integrate from all over. (I’ve just tried another search for a message, which has sent it off into a frenzy of indexing that includes a 1.3MB files. That’s a cue for me to take lunch.)

Unless this program becomes radically faster in Tiger then I’ll be giving it a wide berth. Life really is too short.

Why can’t things all just work together? Well, why not?

Some wise words from Ian in a comment to the previous post:

In the end, this headline price thing may sound great but I wonder whether the consumers really will be done a favour. We seem to be in a time when even simple things no longer work as they should (eg try matching a DVD player, and a Sky box with a plasma TV and you’ll see what I mean). If commoditisation meant things becoming more consumer friendly, then it wouldn’t be so bad, but I think the opposite is happening!

Very true – a friend at the Indie kept asking me how you record to a VCR from a Freeview box. I had to say I didn’t know. (Is there a simple way?) The headlong rush towards commodity means we need things that just work together (through standard interfaces), but manufacturers want proprietary solutions so they can make money off them. Perhaps someone can tell us if Sony makes much money off its Memory Stick storage system, and how that compares for ubiquity – and profitability – to CF and SD cards.