A Terrifying Thought

As I was dropping off Athena at her school, which due to the small-town nature of where I live, houses all the schoolkids in the town from Kindergarten through high school, it occurred to me that the kids who are graduating this year, class of ’05, were mostly born the same year I graduated from high school — 1987.

And I realized, to my horror, not that I’ve been getting old — thanks to my hairline, I’ve been aware of that for a while, thank you very much — but that there’s now an entire generation of Americans for whom U2’s Joshua Tree has the same historical distance as I had with Abbey Road. And who don’t know a world before ALF. The first of these is kind of interesting; the second, horrifying. Clearly we need to build a time-traveling robot to go back in time and kill ALF. For the sake of the children.

Hello, Thunderbird

My migration toward all things Mozilla continues apace; I’ve just dumped AOL Communicator for my e-mail client in favor of Thunderbird 0.8, the e-mail (and RSS and news)reader from Mozilla. The reason for this is simple: AOL Communicator made a ridiculous imposition on my ability to send mail.

Specifically, it refused to send mail from one of my scalzi.com accounts because it was unable to get in touch with AOL. One of the things Communicator does is make contact with AOL everytime you use it; I don’t know why, it just does. However, this evening, it was unable to access AOL, or at the very least unable for some reason or another to verify that my AOL password was correct. So while I could receive mail, I couldn’t send it, nor would I be able to until the software was able to recognize my AOL password.

I’m sorry, that’s just stupid bad UI. If I’m not directly accessing AOL mail, I shouldn’t have to supply my AOL password for anything. You all know how much I love AOL (they give me money, after all), and up to this point I’ve had nothing but good things to say about the AOL Communicator software. But this is ridiculous. Life is too short to get a permission slip from AOL to access my non-AOL accounts. As it happens, Thunderbird works almost exactly like AOL Communicator (given the recent ties between Mozilla and AOL, this is not entirely surprising) and will allow me to access my AOL accounts as well. That works for me.

Migrating my saved mail, however, was easier said than done. AOL Communicator makes zipped backups for you, but saves the e-mail as .txt files, which are no good. Thunderbird, for its part, has an import wizard, but it appears to believe that the only e-mail clients out there are Outlook, Eudora and Netscape Browsers. I ended up having to go to my Documents and Settings folder, hauling up the .sbd e-mail documents from Communicator, and move them bodily over to the Thunderbird folder. But now I’ve done so and I have all my mail where I want it. I feel so, oh, I don’t know, computer competent or something.

So far I like Thunderbird a lot — it looks clean, runs well and hopefully won’t cause me too many headaches. I’ll let you all know what I think of it as time goes on.