I set up RemoMail on my phone today. Since I got the new Motorola SLVR a while ago, I’ve been looking around at reasonably affordable and workable ways to read e-mail on the phone. The Mobile Web 2.0 service for which I’m paying Verizon $5/month allows you to check HotMail, AOL, and Yahoo mail pretty easily. I do have a Yahoo account, but I get about 100 spam e-mails per day to that account, and only about 80% of them get filtered properly, so I pretty much gave up on that account. I’ve also got a HotMail account, but I really don’t use that one either. I do use Gmail, and you can check that from Mobile Web by just going to the Gmail site, but it’s pretty ugly.

There are a few other ways to check e-mail on the SLVR. One would be to use Verizon’s wireless sync software, which looks nice but costs $20/month. RemoMail, on the other hand, only costs $2/month, which is a bit more reasonable.

I looked around for reviews of RemoMail this morning, and I found a few things, but nothing really detailed, so I thought I’d write some stuff up, in case anyone else is interested. First, I should say that everything I write here is specific to RemoMail on the SLVR, via Verizon’s “Get It Now” function. It may look and/or behave differently on other phones. That said, here are some observations.

RemoMail allows you to configure up to 7 e-mail accounts. (I’ve seen indications that other versions of the software allow either 5 or 10 accounts, but the help file for mine states 7.) It can access your mail via POP or IMAP. It also has an interesting feature that allows you to access Domino or Exchange e-mail via what appears to be screen-scraping from the web interface for either product. It has setup options for a number of standard e-mail services (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc), but it seems like these are just consolidating some of the standard things you’d need to fill in for POP access — it’s not actually doing anything different to access, say, Gmail, vs any other POP mail account.

I’ve set up three e-mail accounts in RemoMail. The first would be my Gmail account. I’m not really enthusiastic about the way this works — it’s just standard POP access, so you get everything that comes in to the mailbox. Even if you’ve moved something out of your inbox on the web, you’ll still see it on RemoMail.

I also set up my .Mac account, using the IMAP option. This works well, since I keep my inbox pretty clean on .Mac, and that’s all IMAP is going to look at, unless you tell it to look at another folder.

I set up my work Lotus Domino e-mail account too, and that seems to work well. I mentioned above that the program uses an interesting way to pick up Domino mail. Rather than trying to get to it through IMAP or POP, it instead asks for the URL for your webmail site, and gets to it that way. That’s probably a good workaround for people who don’t have much control over their Domino server — most admins will have enabled webmail, but they might not enable IMAP or POP. (I checked the server log on my Domino server, and the program doesn’t seem to do anything crazy when it attaches to the webmail page. It just logs on as a user would and apparently parses some info out of the page that comes back.)

RemoMail is not a push e-mail solution; you have to launch the application, and check each of your e-mail accounts separately. Also, it does not appear to store any mail on your device between program sessions. So, basically, this is just a solution for doing a quick scan of your e-mail remotely, and maybe sending some quick replies. When you check an account, the program goes online and pulls down headers for 5 messages. (I think this is configurable from 3 to 10, assuming I understand the options screen correctly.) Then, you can select any individual e-mail and pull down the body text. You can’t download or view attachments, and you can only get “100 lines” of text, according to the RemoMail FAQ. The e-mail body is displayed in a nice readable font. There’s no support for HTML e-mail, but it seems to do an OK job of displaying the text from an HTML message.

Overall, I’d say it’s a good program for occasional use, just to take a quick scan through your e-mail and see if there are any fires you need to put out.

reference vs. value types, and LINQ

One of the people I work with was having some trouble with reference vs. value types (in C#) this week. This article seems to give a pretty clear explanation of how these things work. Always good to have a little refresher on the fundamentals.

And, in poking around on this guy’s web site, I found LINQPad, a tool for executing LINQ queries. I have to admit that I haven’t had any time to play around with LINQ at all, but I’m really curious about it. I like his idea of trying to do all your ad-hoc SQL queries in LINQ for a week, to force yourself to start getting used to it. Some of the stuff I’m doing this week is requiring me to do a *lot* of ad-hoc SQL, though. My brain is so completely wired for T-SQL at this point that I think I’d get really frustrated really quickly trying to use anything else.

WSJ for free?

Since I talked about the NY Times site going 100% free yesterday, I thought I’d post a bit on the possibility of the WSJ going free. This article indicates that Murdoch is interested in making the site free, rather than sticking with the current $99/year fee-based model. If nothing else, this possibility will probably keep me from renewing my WSJ subscription early! (With my luck, if they do make the site free, they’ll do it two days after I renew.)

NY Times for free

The NY Times has stopped charging for access to select articles on their web site. The whole thing, from 1987 to the present, should be free now. Yay! I never saw much point to their TimesSelect service; from my perspective, it seemed like they were charging for the stuff I was least interested in anyway.

Meanwhile, The WSJ still costs a bunch. I’m not sure if I’ll renew my print & online subscription next year. Maybe I’ll drop it and try and catch up with some alternative reading material instead.

weekend weirdness

My iBook stopped working on Saturday. I brought it to the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store, and they managed to get it back up and running again. For a little while there, though, I thought I was going to have to trash it and buy a new MacBook. I’m planning on doing that at some point next year; I’m glad I didn’t wind up having to do it today. Right now, I’m doing a full backup with Retrospect, just in case.

I found out that Citibank canceled my credit card today and issued me a new one. I discovered this by trying to log on to my account on the web, and getting a big red error message about how my account was locked due to a security problem of some kind. I called them to ask what was going on, and they told me that they’d canceled the card due to the TJ Maxx security breach that happened a while back. Now, I can’t access my account online until I get a new card in the mail (hopefully, early next week). And I’m going to have to change my card number with every merchant that has it on file — Amazon, eBay, and so on. Fun.

Life on Mars playlist

Life on Mars is a great little show on the BBC. I think season two is supposed to air on BBC America soon. They use a lot of great old 70s rock on the show, so, since I’ve been messing around with iMixes, I decided to try and create an iMix with all the music from season one. I used the episode guide on the BBC site to get the names of all the songs they used — there’s about 50 songs, over just eight episodes. Some are well-known, like “Baba O’Riley” and “White Room”, some are a bit more obscure. I managed to create an iMix with 45 of the songs. Here it is:

(Or rather, here it was. Embedding iTunes mixes doesn’t seem to work anymore.)

I only had about 5 of these songs in my collection already. I used up the last of my iTunes credit to buy a few more of them, and I’ll probably buy the rest by cashing in some American Express points for a new iTunes credit.

Listening to some of this stuff, I’ve definitely gained some new respect for bands like Thin Lizzy, T-Rex, and Deep Purple. Go ahead, laugh all you want, but this stuff is fun to listen to!

Intelligent Life playlist

Intelligent Life is a pretty interesting new web site, apparently affiliated with The Economist. They’ve posted an iMix playlist with some good stuff on it. I was looking for some random songs to download from iTunes this week. Convenient!

…and I’ve now made an iMix for this on the iTunes US site, since the other guy’s iMix was on the UK site only. Here it is:
(Or rather was. iTunes mix embedding doesn’t seem to work anymore.)