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Friday, May 18, 2007

Gmail? Y not!

It's common knowledge that I am a huge fan of Google's products, Gmail chief amongst those. I know anyone that takes their 'do no evil' mantra 100% seriously is being overly optimistic, as Google would most likely do what any other company would do if cornered. They would take the path that would keep them afloat, even if it meant doing something 'evil'. My take on it is, if I need to use online services (all of which have personal security risks) at least stick to the ones that do the job right, and come from a vendor that at least pretends to have a concience.

With that in mind, I have been trying to convince Natz to move from a Yahoo webmail account to a gmail one for ages, and with Yahoo's system slowing to an even more pathetic than usual crawl this week, she finally agreed. I immediately set to work, setting up a new address for her (I created on for her previously, but the name wasn't ideal because at the time she wasn't quite ready to commit to an email alias with my surname in it ;) ). I set up an extra account under settings corresponding to her yahoo address and a label that would be added to mail from this account. I added myself as a contact, and imported all of her contacts from Yahoo and finally I enabled POP to be able to grab all the mail into Thunderbird.
Then I hit a stumbling block. I am so used to Gmail's pop access that I assumed this was now standard across the board. No sir, if you are a Yahoo customer, the 'privelage' of accessing your mail from anywhere but the slow, banner ad infested Yahoo mail interface will cost you $20 a year! Now I'm not about to spend $20 for something that rediculaous, and I'm certainly not about to waste my time forwarding each and every one of Natalie's emails manually.
Thankfully, Google (search) held a solution, albeit clunky. I found a sneaky little application called YPOPS! which connects to yahoo mail, scrapes out the mail data and attachments and acts as a POP server through which this mail can be accessed. Credentials are provided by the calling application (typically a mail client). YPOPS can be bound to any of your ip addresses, but since we only have network IPs I had to bind YPOPS to localhost and use it in conjunction with another awesome little app. Chimera Internet Services in New Zealand has a free forwarding app that connects to any POP server and forwards all email from it, keeping the return and send addressing intact. Just set up the source POP (or POPs, since this app can handle multiple sources!), the destination email address and the SMTP server to use to send those mails. Unfortunately because this solution is dependant on the Yahoo site itself (which as I said before is painfully slow), it's necessary to tweak the sessions to ensure only one mail is retrieved at a time. Once that is sorted out though, you have a working solution to extract all your mails from a yahoo account (and which you can keep running for the longer term to make sure you dont lose any mails).

Now all I have to do is set Natz homepage to iGoogle and subscribe to a couple of celebrity and psychology feeds for her, and I'll have serious brownie points :)

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