Email Threading is Disorganized

thread I’ve noticed that I lose track of a lot of messages people send me, and the problem is getting worse.  Over the last few weeks I’ve realized part of what is going on.  The problem is GMail’s threaded message views.

Before I prove that, let me say that this is somewhat un-intuitive to me.  I’ve always used products that allowed me to thread my messages.  And I complained when I didn’t have these tools at my disposal.  The basic argument in favor of threading is that when you look at a large number of messages, if half of them are related to one topic, they shouldn’t dominate your message list.  This seems logical, and is also usually right.  With products before GMail, the products were primarily message based, and I used threading to keep my inbox small.  With GMail, you can’t avoid the threading; its there and you can’t even turn it off.

The problem, however, is that people write emails, and people do not abide by the strict topic of an email discussion.  A discussion with Joe may be titled “I will be out on Thursday”, and then digress into Joe’s work and whether it will be done before he leaves.  It then may digress into a technical thread about that work.  You’d think that search would save you – just search for the topic of Joe’s work.  But, if you get enough email from Joe which is all about Joe’s work, this fails.  The search result which reads, “I will be out on Thursday” will be the last result you click on.

So, the problem is that computers are too good at threading.  You tell them that this message is about “I will be out on Thursday”, and they diligently file it away as such.  Unfortunately, humans are not good at keeping on topic, and it makes threading fall apart.  The inability to break apart the thread manually and file two messages into different places is the final straw which makes keeping organized in a threaded and search only interface difficult.

I think I still like threading better than non-threading.  But, when I have action items or take-aways from email, I need to be able to extract those action items from the thread and store them elsewhere.  This is a time consuming task I don’t do well.  Maybe I’m being stubborn.

Anyway, if you are sending me email, try to stay on topic.  It helps me :-)

Turned off UAC

radioactive Well, I finally turned of UAC on my machine.  I must say, I’m quite a bit happier.  I’ll go into the details below.  But what I’d really love to see from Microsoft is proof (or non-proof) that UAC works.

The assertion from Microsoft is that you’ll be less vulnerable to attacks with UAC.  This is a nice claim, but lacks data.  A nice report would be really good.  I’m not talking about UAC on corporate accounts where they lock down the desktops.  We already know there it helps (and you could do that prior to Vista anyway).  I’m talking about UAC for home users.  Are home users with UAC hacked less often then those with UAC off?

The gripes which led to disabling UAC were these two things:

1) Macromedia Fireworks doesn’t work with UAC
In order for this program to run, you have to run it with “Run As Administrator”.  That is annoying, but doable.  But I want it to be associated with viewing all PNG files on my system, and when you double click a PNG, you just end up with a dialog box from Fireworks about not being able to load due to some whacky error.

2) Microsoft Visual Studio Is Silently Broken with UAC
If you do development of anything that uses COM, Visual Studio auto-registers components for you.  To do so, it needs to run as Administrator.  However, if you accidentally run as a non-admin, everything *appears* to work; except when you go to run your program, it doesn’t work right; or it gets an old version.  You end up spinning until you finally come to the realization that you just forgot UAC again.

So, Microsoft is right, most apps work under UAC.  But not all.  And the ones that don’t make it time consuming.  UAC off is better.

Don’t Keep Logs – The Funded Rocks

gavel As reported this week on TechCrunch, The Funded has been sued by EDF Ventures.  EDF is upset because someone anonymously wrote something bad (heaven forbid!) about them.

Fortunately, The Funded shares my views that websites should log nothing, and hasn’t been logging for quite some time.  As such, EDF’s subpoena is worthless.  This will save a lot of people a whole lot of time, grief,  and money in avoiding the courts.  I hope the major online sites follow suit before this gets really out of hand – because that is where it is going.

As for EDF – I hope they learn something from this.  If nothing else, they should get thicker skin!

We Aren’t Always Best

Here in America, when we have a problem, our politicians really can’t do anything to fix it.  Even if we all agree we need a problem fixed, we go through endless spiral debates that take years.

In Beijing, they have a lot of traffic.  They didn’t want traffic to be a problem during the Olympics – so they simply passed an odd/even driving rule for the month.  If your license plate is odd, don’t drive on even days.  Overnight, traffic dropped by 50%.  No problem!  Try accomplishing that in the United States.

We righteous in America always think we know best.  And in some cases, maybe we do.  But when it comes to just getting stuff done, you’ve got to admit, the Chinese are way ahead of us.