Gmail server error

Like many others, I have now been hit by Gmail’s “beta” problems…

Here is what I get whenever I try to login:

Server Error

We’re sorry, but Gmail is temporarily unavailable. We’re currently working to fix the
problem — please try logging in to your account in a few minutes.

And there seems to be no fix for this – nothing has come up at Google’s site anyways! People are waiting for as long as 5 days…


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Moving back… from Outlook to Thunderbird

Finally, as expected, I had to move away from Outlook. I don’t have an Exchange account anymore and Outlook is pretty useless without an Exchange account! So I moved back to my old favorite, Mozilla Thunderbird again. This time, I decided to:

  • Use the nightly build, and to my surprise, it seems that Thunderbird is moving from 1.5 to 3.0! Will there be a 2.0 release (there are nightly builds for 2.0!)?
  • Use Lightning,  instead of Sunbird for my calendar!

Noticeable improvements:

  1. Tags Finally, there is an email client that allows me to create any number of text tags (as in gmail!). Just makes life so much  easier and structured! I wonder how the tags will be stored across different IMAP clients. As of now, I cannot see my tags through the web interface. I can even tag RSS feed (although, I will keep using Flock as my RSS reader!)
  2. Virus checking Every email can be checked by the anti-virus software before it loads up on my computer!
  3. Lightning makes the calendar an integrated part of Thunderbird. With the available Webdav and Caldav support, and especially, with extensions such as SyncKolab, which stores the calendar on the IMAP server, Thunderbird can  potentially compete with Outlook!

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Why I removed IE7 beta 3

Internet Explorer 7 has several improvements over IE6. But the "find bar" in Firefox tilts the scale against IE (and even Opera).

But, the reason that I had to uninstall IE7 beta 3 is the fundamental problem with a beta software, i.e., it is not yet ready! Several websites render so badly in IE7 that I wonder what is  the W3C standardization all about. We need a standard to represent, but should there be no standard to render?

For some sites, I had to "spoof the website" to make it appear as though I am in Internet Explorer 6. I got registry tweak from microsoft’s site. Here are some screenshots of the results:

  • The left menu in Seatguru is "rendered" useless

  • What is the use if one cannot download at Tucows?

  • Here is what it does to MSN.COM (the main Microsoft site itself!)

Here is how it looks in Flock  (which is also a beta software)

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Different renderings of Nikhil’s website in IE, Mozilla and Opera

This is how Nikhil Joshi‘s homepage renders in Internet Explorer 7, beta 3 (looks same in IE6):

Nikhil Joshi's website in Internet Explorer IE7

This is how it renders in Flock (looks same in Firefox and in Netscape which supports both Trident and Gecko engines):

Nikhil's website in Flock

This is how it looks in Opera 9:

Nikhil's website in Opera

All three of them are different! Assuming that Opera 9 is the correct version, IE7 has a different width for the left menu and adds in a right scroll-bar – an inactive one, while Flock/Firefox/Netscape moves the left menu down! Since there is no upper border, I am sure, Nikhil intended it to flush with the top.

On another note, I wonder why he has an “RTF” version of his documents.

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MAC and Viruses

The common perception is that MACs are “immune” to computer viruses. Apple even has an ad that hints towards this view

I wonder why companies such as Symantec, McAfee sell anti-virus software for Macintoshes, and why people buy and update them very regularly! And then there is a website called that provides “Macintosh Virus and AntiVirus Worms and Trojan Information!”

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Music library? iTunes? Yahoo! Music engine? Songbird?

For quite some time, I have been using iTunes for all my music needs – buying, listening, ripping my CDs. It is literally my big music library.

In the meantime, I tried Yahoo Music engine and Songbird (0.1?). I am impressed with Yahoo music engine and I was impressed with Songbird 0.1 Now, Songbird not yet 0.2 has been released. I did not test it, yet. I am waiting for the version of a software that can do at least the following:

  1. Import all the stuff that I have in iTunes – I have several playlists/smart playlists, etc.
  2. Use the iTunes subnet to listen to other’s music and provide access to others to listen to it.
  3. Directly let me buy from iTunes or Microsoft or Yahoo or Realplayer and play any of my purchased music.

Is this really possible?

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Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2

I tested Office 2007 beta 2, and immediately, I have moved away from two of my previously favorite software:

  1. Mozilla Thunderbird: Microsoft Outlook 2007 has excellent support for IMAP and also for replying to emails. In addition, I have an Exchange account and now everything can be managed easily.
  2. Openoffice: Already, I was unhappy with openoffice for very poor support for bibliography (limitations on length of the journal title, etc.). Microsoft Word 2007 is fantastic. The equation editor is good and there is a built in support for bibliography.

In addition, the ribbon UI of Office 2007 is amazingly easy to use. Hopefully, other software may take some inspiration and come up with something better, if not the same!

Windows vs Linux

My wife, Neelam, has successfully installed Windows XP Professional and several pieces of hardware on our home computer.

She tried to install Ubuntu Linux but ended up with, "now I know why people don't use Linux." After initial installation, I had to boot up a separate notebook (of course running Windows) and run several commands in a command prompt, before she could do anything.

When will a common man move from Windows to Linux?

  1. when Linux has good support for different hardware – my wife does not know what compiling and linking is supposed to do.
  2. when Linux has a very simple and reliable installation procedure .
  3. when Linux has good pdf support! Can I use Linux in a completely paperless environment. I cannot do any pdf editing or annotation as I can do in Acrobat. Acrobat does not support Linux anymore!
  4. when regular Linux users stop being geeky and showing off that using Linux is for geeks.
  5. when sites are not being designed for Internet Explorer… using wine is not a good enough alternative at all!

But, there is one promising solution – Ubuntu, which is really linux for Human beings. In my 9 years of using, installing and adminstration of a few flavors of Linux for the home and general office use, I have never seen anything as simple as Ubuntu.

  1. I did finally get around to run Ubuntu without having to use the command prompt at all.
  2. Every morning, I wake up with updates that come from the Ubuntu repository!
  3. It also has excellent support for WPA security. I don't understand how KNetworkmanager on KDE works on Ubuntu, but does not on Fedora.
  4. My friend's kids (aged 5 and 8) love Edubuntu. When they come to my home, they rush to use it! They have used it for several hours and several times and absolutely no problems. I don't have to monitor them at all!

Yet, Windows is difficult to go away with. Linux is playing catching up with Windows. Openoffice is doing the same with Microsoft Office, just as Internet Explorer is doing with Mozilla Firefox.

Dell moves to AMD!

Dell has decided to use AMD's opteron processor for its server machines. I never thought Dell would move away from Intel.

I have had several discussions with my friends from Intel and AMD. They are unable to confirm if one is really better than the other. In almost all cases, the choice seems to be on personal experiences of some people. For non-geeky users, perhaps, Dell's loyalty to Intel might have been one of the reasons that people thought Intel was better.

I wonder if it really matters, especially for the non-geeky user. I have used a desktop with Intel and another with AMD processor at my home. I am unable to say one of them is better than the other.