Thursday, January 05, 2006

How I manage email

Some time ago I received an email asking how I deal with my email. Here are my requirements:

1. I want to download my email to my laptop for offline access
2. When I'm away from my machine I want web based access
3. I don't want to pay for any of this
4. I don't want to download spam
5. I want my non-spam email automatically sorted
6. I want an email address that I control
7. I want access from my laptop to be secure

My solution is a combination of my own domain (which is the one thing I pay for), Google's Gmail service, Mozilla Thunderbird and POPFile.

Mail sent to any @jgc.org address is forwarded to a Gmail account. Gmail filters out the spam (and a number of hand written filters deal with some other unwanted mail for me). The nice thing here is that I've wasted no bandwidth on the spam or unwanted mail. (Some spam still gets through and POPFile handles that later)

If I'm away from my machine I can pop into Gmail and look at my waiting mail in the standard Gmail inbox. My laptop runs Mozilla Thunderbird which uses Gmail's POP access to download the filtered mail. But the mail is proxied through POPFile (using POPFile's SSL access for a secure connection to Gmail) which automatically sorts the mail into categories. A small number of simple rules in Thunderbird pick up POPFile's X-Text-Classification and automatically move messages to the appropriate folders.

The only thing I don't have is POPFile style sorting in the Gmail account. So if you're listening Google and interested, I'd be interested in working with you to add POPFile functionality to Gmail.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

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