Please don't send me large files via email

email If you’ve ever sent me a large file through email, you probably know how much I hate it. No one escapes a lecture! Just because GMail and other services give you gigabytes of storage, doesn’t mean that it’s okay to send really large attachments. I was happy to read that one my favorite blogs posted about the subject today. From the Microsoft Office Outlook Team Blog:

Putting any issues with your e-mail service provider’s limits on large messages aside, sending large attachments through e-mail is still a bad idea for a number of reasons.

In the post, Outlook Program Manager Ryan Gregg outlines a few of the reasons why you shouldn’t send large files via email – mail servers may reject large files, mailboxes may go over their quota, attachment bloat, attachments may be out of date, etc. He also outlines a number of alternatives, including SharePoint or a Shared File Server, Office Live, photo sharing sites like Flickr, and video sharing sites like YouTube.

When you use one of these alternative ways to share files with your friends, family, or colleagues you help them keep your mailbox and theirs clean, and you can be sure that your file will be available no matter what service or program your e-mail recipients are using.

I would add a couple more reasons to avoid sending large files: slow Internet connections and small devices. If I’m checking email on an unreliable connection, the last thing I want to do is wait for your images to download. If I’m checking email on my iPod touch or a cell phone, I might not be able to read the files anyway.

If you’re sending photos, why not stick them on Flickr and email a link? Same goes for video – use a site like YouTube. Some other alternatives include, Amazon S3, and SlideShare.

It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to stick your file online somewhere first, so why not just do it? Send links to large files via email, not the files themselves!

Windows Live Hotmail with Outlook

Post ImageYesterday Microsoft launched the new version of Hotmail, called Windows Live Hotmail. I rarely use Hotmail anymore, but I signed up for the Windows Live beta quite a while ago to check it out. I will say it’s better than what they had, but it’s still not for me. I really wasn’t that excited about it at all, until I came across something interesting. From the press release:

Windows Live Hotmail will deliver a safer, more powerful and productive e-mail experience than previous versions with flexible access via the Web, on a mobile phone or with an e-mail client.

Say what!? An email client? That’s something I’d be interested in.

Available later this month in 11 languages worldwide, the new Microsoft Office Outlook Connector beta will enable people to view and manage their Windows Live Hotmail account from Outlook for free, with full contact, e-mail and e-mail folder synchronization.

I have Outlook open almost 24/7 as you know, so I’ll definitely be checking out the awkwardly named Connector. If they throw in the address too, I’ll be just peachy!

For more info, check out LiveSide.

Read: Microsoft

Outlook 2007 = Painfully Slow

Post ImageI started running Office 2007 recently, and for the most part I really like it. The new ribbon interface is incredibly intuitive, and the “live” preview of changes is really handy. PowerPoint is the one that impresses me the most thus far – it’s simply amazing what you can do with the new version! You really have to try the new interface to see what I mean, words just don’t do it justice.

I also upgraded from Outlook 2003 to Outlook 2007. If I had to describe Outlook 2007 in one word, it would be slow. I like the interface tweaks, and the instant search is handy, but the application itself is almost unusable. Downloading POP3 email takes at least ten times as long as Outlook 2003 (it is significantly faster using Exchange). Displaying messages takes longer than it used to. Loading the program takes longer. Outlook 2007 is just painfully slow. It’s amazing that this kind of a problem made it past the betas and into the final release.

I’m not the only one who has noticed the problem either. There’s a huge thread here, and a simple search turned up these posts.

I haven’t decided what I am going to do yet, but I might have to go back to Outlook 2003 until they release a fix.

UPDATE (3/14/2007): If your Outlook 2007 is slow, try this tip to help speed it up. Worked for me!

New Feed Icon

Post ImageYou might have read lately that Microsoft and Mozilla have decided to standardize their icons for feeds on the one used in Firefox. The Microsoft RSS Team reported they would adopt the Firefox icon a couple weeks ago:

We’ll be using the icon in the IE7 command bar whenever a page has a feed associated with it, and we’ll also use it in other places in the browser whenever we need a visual to represent RSS and feeds.

The Outlook 12 team has announced they’ll be using the same icon. Great news!

I think it is great news indeed! A standard icon will go a long way towards making web feeds even more mainstream, especially since I would expect many other companies to now adopt the icon as well. I have added the icon to my website, which you’ll see on the black bar above, next to the web feed icon. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll get rid of the web feed icon or keep it. I guess the new icon is really the “web feed icon” now!

The new icon is a departure from the RSS or XML icons, which is very good. Here’s what I wrote in August:

There’s some really simple reasons that we should be calling them web feeds. When you ask your friend or co-worker about something on the Internet, do you talk about visiting an “HTML page” or a “web page”? Does your web browser (not “HTML page browser”) load up “HTML pages” or “web pages”? Clearly, you talk about web pages, and that’s what your browser loads. There are three very good reasons we use the term web pages…For the very same reasons, we should be using web feeds, not RSS feeds.

Now that the graphic no longer says “rss” or “xml” or any word or acronym at all, I think it will become much easier to adopt the name “web feed”. And yes, we still need a name you can say in words, just like Prince was still called Prince after he adopted an icon to represent himself!

Using NewsGator Online

Post ImageAs many of you probably are aware, my aggregator of choice is NewsGator Outlook Edition. I like it because I always have Outlook open anyway, and I can take posts offline and read them when I don’t have an Internet connection. It’s also handy to take advantage of the search folders, flags, and other features of Outlook. Since installing Visual Studio 2005 and switching tablets, NGOE has not worked. I am told there is a conflict that they are working to fix, and I expect it’ll be working again before long. So in the meantime, I’ve been using NewsGator Online, or Web Edition, and I’ve made the following observations:

  • I really miss the ability to read stuff offline. You don’t realize how much you use it until it’s gone! And since I always have my tablet with me, I don’t find being able to access my subscriptions anywhere just because they are online all that handy.
  • I rather like the Web Edition’s “mark all items on this page as read” feature. It would be good if the Outlook edition had a similar feature that hid items you’ve already read. Each post in the Web Edition also has a “mark as read” button, but unfortunately the item doesn’t disappear, it just is grayed out. Would be much better if the item disappeared!
  • I find the online interface clean, but very pale. Sometimes it’s hard to read because everything is so white and grey.
  • The “My Clippings” feature works well and is akin to dragging a post to a different folder in Outlook, or perhaps flagging it.

So I guess that while it works quite well, I’ll probably go back to my Outlook version when the conflict is all fixed up.

Everything online? Not likely!

Post ImageIn a recent post, popular PR blogger Steve Rubel says:

It’s not to hard to picture a world without Microsoft one day if you believe these guys. ePlatform, now in beta, promises to deliver over the Internet virtually every application you need to effectively manage your life, all available on demand.

Sounds like a great concept, but it’ll never, ever fly. Why not? Let’s list the main reasons:

  • I very much doubt the majority of consumers would be willing to give control of their personal data to a third party. We’ve seen this time, and time again. Remember Hailstorm anyone?
  • Video games continue to grow, and you just can’t power Doom3 or Halo2 over the net. Even if we did get fast Internet access absolutely everywhere, there will always be an argument for rich clients. Games are just one example, video creation is another. It’s not feasible to edit your 20 GB of video using a program hosted on a server thousands of miles away.
  • How about taking content offline? That’s one of the main reasons I used NewsGator as my aggregator – I can take all the blogs I read offline on my tablet. As much as I want wireless everywhere, so that I’m always connected, we’re a long way from that goal.

There are lots of reasons both for and against so-called “thin clients”, but I think that the “rich client” world pitched by Microsoft is more likely to succeed, for the reasons I’ve noted above as well as many others. I’d guess that the closest we’d ever get to a thin client world would be if everyone had their own central server in their house or office. Actually, I guess that’s already happening with tools like the Xbox and Media Center PC. But a third party acting as the central repository and processing house?

Not likely.

As an aside, I think it’s interesting to note that the ePlatform application looks a LOT like Outlook 2003 and Outlook Web Access.

Read: Steve Rubel