Welcome to the Oddblog, where we prattle on incessantly about bug fixes, feature additions and all things Oddpost. Please note that if there are no announcements on a given day, it does in fact mean we were out blowing your subscriber dollars on handcrafted doilies and pink champagne.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

May we please pay you $75 for the simple privelege of watching you use Oddpost for about an hour and a half? Yahoo! is conducting an Oddpost usability study at their headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. If you'd like to participate, click here.

Update Note that when we wrote "Yahoo! is conducting an Oddpost usability study at their headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA," we meant that the usability study is being conducted at their headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. You must be able to come to Sunnyvale? California? USA? to participate. Thank you!
9:47:03 PM    

Friday, July 09, 2004

Thanks Dave!
3:43:31 PM    

Yahoo!! [Yes, we struggled with the punctuation on that one.]
3:18:59 PM    

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Just over a year ago today, we here at Oddpost demonstrated miraculous foresight by integrating news aggregation into email. Almost overnight, the worldwide intelligence quotient tripled as millions began absorbing mountains of information in a fraction of the expected time, sharing that information with their colleagues using a single click of the Forward button, and bracing themselves for the imminent cancellation of Friends. A well-earned huzzah echoed throughout the corners of the globe, and yet even before it threatened to wane, we began asking ourselves: is it possible that this could get, dare we say it, better?

Yes, it soon became apparent that while email and news aggregation are, in many ways, like cookies and milk, rainbows and leprechauns, and being and existential horror, their ideal user interfaces are more like, you know, two things that are complementary yet unique enough to justify treating them differently. For example, whereas an unread count next to a mail folder is an excellent way to give you an at-a-glance sense of pending load (good lord, I have 34 unread messages, I better stop reading Jack Harvey!), that same mechanism next to a news folder induces completely unnecessary stress (good lord, the BBC posted another 57 stories since lunch...wait a sec, I don't care!). Similarly, clicking on a feed and seeing dozens of bold headlines screaming for your attention made aggregation start to feel less like a convenience and more like a burden.

So we've introduced a better way. Next to each feed you'll now see an icon that calmly informs you when that feed contains new posts. Click the feed at your leisure and not a moment before. When you do, you'll notice a view that accounts for the fact that first and foremost aggregation is about reading. Simple controls allow you to set the font, font size and column width just how you like them. And rather than facing a stack of bold headlines that you have to click through to find the posts that interest you, you're presented with each post's full, easy to scan text. For blogs, it's a lot like reading them on their native web site, only 1) you get the convenience of new content notification, 2) you control the format and 3) posts are atomic, so you can easily archive them or forward them to friends. For news and other feeds where the post is merely a summary and link to a larger story, you can turn on the preview pane to see the full, linked to story (and maximize it using F11 of course). In fact, when you subscribe to a feed, we now automatically detect which view is most appropriate based on the feed's content. By default, blog-like feeds get no preview pane and a narrower column width more suited to reading large blocks of text, while news-like feeds show the preview pane and get a wider column width more suited to quickly scanning headlines.

Mercy, there's more. If aggregation is first and foremost about reading, then second and, uh, secondmost it's about sharing. So sure, you can forward a post as an email, but what about when you want to share something with absolutely everybody (or at least the absolutely everybody that reads your blog)? Wouldn't it be cool if you could post any message or news item to your blog without ever leaving your mail program? Wouldn't it be even cooler if you could do so using drag and drop? We are relieved you agree, because that's exactly what we've implemented in Oddpost. Head over to File > News and Blogs > Add External Weblog to add your TypePad, Blogger, Radio or other weblog to Oddpost's folders pane. Then, when you read an email or news post that you want to share with the world, just drag and drop it onto your blog. Forget about copying the text you want to post, pasting it into Word to spell check it, cutting it back out, logging into your weblog service and pasting again. In Oddpost you spot the story or email you want to share, drag and drop it on your blog (or choose Post to Weblog from the right-click menu), add your own comments, spell check it, give it a title, even assign it to a category, then click the publish button. And if you start composing a post and want to finish it later you can save it as a draft, just like an email! And I'm spent. In conclusion, there will be no conclusion, only happy subscribers sending love letters to Debbie.
7:22:56 PM    

While we're on the topic of potpourri, let's take a quick look into the cornucopia of little things that aren't bug fixes but aren't really features either: If you add "/classic" to the URL you normally use to log into Oddpost, you may notice a subtle but important shift in the interface. The feed URL is now displayed in the Subscription Properties dialog. You can toggle a folder open or closed by hitting the Enter key. We now show even more image types right inline. The calendar no longer slows to a crawl when it contains recurrent events. The view filter now clears when you change folders, as it should have all along. We now support the content:encoded and xhtml:body techniques for including post descriptions, meaning more feeds will display the full text of articles. We bought more fileservers, wrote code so that folks could live on any of them, and actually spread folks across them to improve performance.
7:15:02 PM    

Though Robbie feels it is nothing to stand on a pile of barnyard waste and crow about, we nevertheless present the following bug fix potpourri to gently freshen your Oddpost experience: We fixed the problem where using a new mail notification sound could occasionally hang IE6. We fixed some occurrences of Ctrl-P opening double Print dialogs and Ctrl-O causing double open actions. We now provide better error messages when mail cannot be sent due to a bad From or To address, a poorly formatted address, or a forbidden attachment type. We improved our error recovery from connection failures during Send and Save operations. We fixed a problem with fetching mail from Yahoo! accounts that use exotic passwords. And of course we fixed the problem where sometimes feed subscriptions would be permanently disabled, displaying a bogus error message that "Oddpost could not fetch or parse this feed for an extended period of time."
7:14:03 PM    

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Quite a few new features and fixes today. We'll post details tomorrow.
5:42:49 PM    

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Is there any faster buzzkill than starting to drag a message into a folder, only to find that the target folder is scrolled out of view, or hidden beneath another folder? No there is not, at least not when the folders pane fails to automatically scroll when you near its edges or automatically pop open folders when you hover over them. Situ-ation rrrrectified. And speaking of interface subtleties emblematic of the ceaseless attention to detail here at Oddpost, the name of the selected folder or feed is now displayed above the message table. Several folks felt the highlight in the folders pane was too subtle an indicator of the current folder. If you were not one of these folks, you can just click the close box to the right of the folder name, or uncheck View > Header Bar.
6:05:08 PM    

A few little things worth mentioning: We fixed the bug where some hyperlinks incorrectly included a ">" character at the end. We eliminated our dependence on the browser's Dictionary object, which is built right into IE but was somehow disappearing from a few subscribers' systems. We improved our support for folders and attachments with international (non-ascii) filenames. We moved our office – note the new address. We received many more unsolicited submissions of pet photos. We automated the password reminder system (click on "Lost Password?" on the main page and remember to keep an alternate address on file under File > Password Management). Finally, the main page now has a link to a system status page so that we don't have to crap up the blog with minute by minute reports of server hiccups and worm outbreaks.
6:04:36 PM    

The global village idiots continue to toss their digital sabots our way and we continue to rue every moment spent coding against them that we'd rather spend coding for you. But, you know, sometimes that's the way it is, and the result is that there's now a bandwidth limit on trial accounts and a human verification step during new account signup.
6:01:29 PM    

Not only will you no longer be seeing a little red x where there should have been a side-splitting Bush-as-orangutan photo from that Mac-owning hippie freak you call a stepbrother, you'll also no longer have to download the vast majority of pics sent your way, for image attachments now appear right. in. the message. pane. Oh yeah!
6:00:32 PM    

In this particular case the brevity of the post serves as counterpoint to the enormity of the feature: drafts. Superfluous instructions right here.
5:59:46 PM    

As you've surely already guessed, suggestions sent to features@oddpost.com are jotted onto a slip of paper, baked into a fortune cookie and tossed into an official Franklin Mint pewter cracker barrel cast to resemble the head of Billy Carter. Once a week, following General Tso's honorable discharge, we circle up round the lunch captain, who reaches into Billy's cranium, pulls out a cookie, closes his eyes, spins a few times, then wings it, invariably striking an engineer square in the forehead, drawing just a trickle of blood and breaking the cookie wide open. Recently this task assignment ritual directed our Robbie thusly: FILTERS 20 19 32 88 00 [IN BED --ed]. Though only nine numbers off from that day's Super Lotto Plus Mega Combinate, a fortuitous occurrence nonetheless, for FILTERS was our second most requested feature, right behind Opera support in bed. We therefore expect a tidal wave of good cheer from all those who lay eyes upon the scrumtralescence found within File > Edit Mail Filters.
5:58:11 PM    

Well drop your linen and start your grinnin cuz we got a whooole lotta sunshine to blow your way. Those aforementioned backend improvements are certainly taking a spell longer than anticipated, but we've been busy busy bees in the meantime. Read on!
5:57:10 PM    

Monday, April 19, 2004

We're currently tracking down a server issue that's making some accounts sluggish this morning. If you're experiencing login delays please access your account via www.mail2web.com. Thanks!
10:45:14 AM    

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

We apologize for Oddpost's sluggishness over the past few days. We're working hard to resolve the problem and very much appreciate your patience! UPDATE: We've identified the source of the slowdown and are working on a fix now. Delivery of some inbound mail is delayed, but no mail has been lost. Thanks again for your patience. UPDATE: We've temporarily disabled spam filtering while we work on the problem -- we expect to enable it again shortly.
3:10:51 PM    

Thursday, March 18, 2004

You may have recently received an email claiming to be from "the Oddpost.com team" demanding that you run an attachment to avoid an interruption in service. The message is of course fake -- similar messages have been sent to customers of many other mail service providers over the past several weeks. Oddpost will never ask you to run an attached file, and we will never send out a message with howlers like:

"Our main mailing server will be temporary unavaible [sic, sic, sick]" and "Pay attention on attached file."

If you pay attention on anything, let it be the sad fact that as long as there is email there will be grammatically challenged jokers using it to nefarious ends, and you must therefore be extra vigilant when opening attachments or sharing personal information of any kind.
4:35:18 PM    

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Yesterday we resolved the MyDoom-related problems with account login and outgoing mail, and now all our attention is focused on eliminating the delay on incoming mail delivery. Please take it easy on support@oddpost.com, who is actually a person named Debbie, and rest assured that we're working around the clock to get everything working smoothly again. It makes us feel only a very tiny bit better that MyDoom is being called "the worst e-mail worm incident in virus history."
8:20:35 PM    

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

After many long hours of toil, we've modified our systems to deal with the surge in email traffic caused by the MyDoom virus. Mail sent to you at Oddpost is currently competing with a large number of bogus messages spawned by the virus, so delivery may be delayed. We'll continue to tune our systems in the coming days to mitigate the impact of MyDoom as best we can.

Aside: if you haven't heard about MyDoom, please post an encouraging thought in the comments section causing us to regrettably forever disable comments, then read about it here or here. And if you have heard about MyDoom, and perhaps know who wrote it, click here to win $250,000.
11:41:49 PM    

Yikes, looks like we spoke too soon. We're still dealing with an onslaught of mail from the MyDoom virus. We'll continue to post updates here.
1:58:16 PM    

MyDoom update: all systems are back to normal. Delivery of some mail was temporarily delayed, no mail was lost. Still more info on the virus can be found here. [Update to update: please direct any questions to support@oddpost.com -- our support staff does not monitor the comments section of the weblog.]
12:44:05 PM    

A mass-mailing virus known as MyDoom is currently spreading through the Internet. More info is available here. Oddpost accounts are not infected with the virus. However, our servers are receiving massive amounts of mail sent by machines that are infected, which is causing degradation in the performance of the service. We're working on a resolution now.
2:02:47 AM    

Friday, January 23, 2004

Microwave popcorn was accidentally discovered by Percy LeBaron Spencer of the Raytheon Company when he found that radar waves had melted a candy bar in his pocket and made him sterile. Velcro was invented when Swiss engineer George de Mestral returned from a walk one day, noticed cockleburs clinging to his cloth jacket and decided to examine one under his microscope and did we already say "cocklebur"? Wheaties were invented when Minneapolis health clinician/Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner accidentally spilled a batch of bran gruel onto a hot stove producing a crisp flake that's very nearly edible when completely covered in sugar. And while out collecting tamarack root for what was otherwise an entirely ordinary birchbark canoe, Oddpost engineers Kevin and Don discovered that Internet Explorer stores even hidden iframes as part of a Favorite, which completely explained the double log-in problem that some subscribers were reporting for the better part of two years now. So, as part of yesterday's push that was primarily in preparation for the imminent switchover to the new backend, you received not only that fix, but a few other minor ones as well, which we could really talk about all night, but oh listen to us go on, we don't want to bore you, really enough about us, how are you, how's Judy, the kids?
2:27:48 AM    

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Publishing a development weblog can be a two-edged sword. On the one hand [think of, then insert something good about it here], but on the other it can set up some fairly unreasonable expectations. For example, when eight weeks recently passed between posts, we received a phone call that went something like: "Hello, Oddpost. Um, yes, just checking that you guys are still in business. Why yes we are. Are you having trouble with your account? No, just noticed that the blog hadn't been updated in a while, and..." Hmm-uh. Back when we were working on shrink-wrapped software, knocking out a release once a year was considered cooking. Now it seems that if we don't blog about a release at least once a month people start getting antsy. So, in lieu of compressing our development cycle from two-ish months down to one-ish, we've decided to just start indiscriminately blogging about whatever crap comes to mind, release or no release. Having thoroughly reviewed the state of the art, we enthusiastically present the following:

We have a serious fruit fly problem at the office (artist's concept). It all started when our trash bin was stolen. Golden Gate Disposal replaced the bin with one that did not lock. Few can resist the urge to pass an unlocked trash bin on the sidewalk and not dump in leftover chow mein, and few did. Next thing you know we've got fruit flies circling our heads, flitting up our noses and sipping on our lattes. We decided to do everything in our power to rid ourselves of this plague so long as that thing was not cleaning the trash bin. Aerosols were sprayed. Red wine was poured. Vinegar traps were set. Iain even began using the vacuum cleaner extension wand to suction them to death. There'd be complete silence in the office except for the quiet tapping of keyboards, and then WHAM somebody would slam their palm onto their desk or CRACK clap their hands above their head or VUZZZZ maniacally vacuum the surrounding air. Just when it seemed yours truly would need to move the appointment for his adult diaper fitting up by about 40 years, a nice man took away our old bin and replaced it with a new one that locks. Now we're just waiting to see if the flies die before we do.

So there you have it. Our New Year's resolution is to rein in our breakneck development speed so that we might produce a greater number of we're-still-here fluff posts like the above.

JK. Early in 2G4 your patience will be rewarded with a faster overall user experience (thanks to the forthcoming new improved backend), some features you've been expecting for a long time and several you never knew to expect but will wish you had expected in retrospect. Thank you for your business (particularly Ginny's business, because she sent us a holiday card) and happy New Year!
12:31:28 AM    

Friday, December 12, 2003

The UIDValidity bug is fixed. Backspace in calendar events is working again. You can enter carriage returns in the notes section of contacts and the description field of events. Closing the main application window doesn’t leave composition windows open that you cannot send. The wizard and external mail dialogs are much improved all around. IE no longer rapidly leaks memory when sending message after message after message. Or at least leaks much less. And never, ever again will the run control file have bad permissions. In closing, if what we’re saying is true, hmmf, these are very exciting times.
6:16:35 PM    

Friday, December 05, 2003

Oddpost is an amazing place to work. The benefits are great and our employees are well-paid. The hours are reasonable and the vacation plan quite generous. So it's really no surprise that we receive hundreds of resumes per hour, most of which we shred on the way to the company cafeteria where breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, second lunch, dinner and late-night snack are all prepared free-of-charge by a former chef of the French Laundry and which Zagat called "as good a place as any to possibly spot the Olsen Twins" while enjoying "mouth-watering chickpea crusted black grouper" in an "intimate Afro-Cuban setting." From there it's off to the 'loo where an intern/PhD candidate (pfff) stands at the ready to rush the triumphant conclusion off to Paris for infusion into the world's finest perfumes. It is into this milieu of uber-excellence that we bid benvenuto to Peter Hicks, kickin' the I straight to the melon farming T while putting together the aforementioned new improved mother of all backends.
5:29:15 PM    

To the ever-growing stable of highly proprietary Oddpost intellectual property (which currently includes, inter alia, a hard-won set of bookmarks into the deepest bowels of MSDN), we now add knowledge of how to cancel the browser's unbelievably tenacious default Ctrl-F Find behavior. What does this mean for YOU? Well just you go ahead and forward an email by typing Ctrl-F. Used to be that unless you possessed as light a touch as David Carradine's rice paper footsteps, the message would forward and you'd get the browser's Find dialog. Now you just get exactly what you'd expect, which, as we've come to learn from a steady stream of heart-warming correspondence, is nothing less than total perfection.
12:00:14 PM    

[engineer 1, wiping tear from eye] ...oh ha ha...gosh yes...and, and remember when pasting text into the body of a message sometimes moved the insertion point to the *end* of the message!? Man, we were so crazy back then...[engineer 2, breathlessly] Or wait, what about the time when if you hit the Backspace key in the main window the whole app would reload! [snort] Hold up, hold up: 8 words, 12 syllables: that bug where the toolbar's icons showed up doubled on monitors with Properties->Settings->Advanced [in unison] SET TO 120 DPI INSTEAD OF 96 DPI! [rofl rofl rofl] [engineer 1, shaking head] Good times, good times.
11:59:16 AM    

"Checking other mail." Three powerful words, shrouded in mystery. But not the good kind of mystery. No, the kind of mystery that makes you say "What the hummuna hummuna is taking so long? Oddpost suxxors." Well actually, Oddpost frickin' roxxors, which we now demonstrate quite clearly by displaying progress information as we fetch your external mail. But did we stop there? No! We also now load your Inbox before we go out and fetch your external mail, which means that when some other mail server is slow your Oddpost experience suffers not.
11:58:23 AM    

As someone who is already an Oddpost subscriber, you will probably not care that we have added a new user wizard to simplify the process of hooking Oddpost up to your existing email account(s). However, you really should care, because this, plus getting all nuded up, rolling around in a trough of hot mango chutney and posting the pictures to the Photographic Odyssey will make Oddpost more, how you say...sticky? which means more subscribers, which means happy long life for Oddpost.
11:57:31 AM    

We prefer not to draw too much attention to the fact that you can now use Oddpost to check your Yahoo! Mail (see File->External Mail Accounts or File->Account Setup Wizard). It's still in beta. Shhh.
11:56:46 AM    

Oddpost's performance degraded steadily over the month of November. This was primarily due to a memory leak on our servers, but was also somewhat related to strong subscriber growth. The memory leak has since been located and fixed (it was, by the way, unrelated to the leak mentioned back in September), and we're roughly seven weeks away from releasing a much faster and significantly more scaleable backend system. We thank you for your patience and apologize for the unusually stern tone of this post.
11:55:50 AM    

Monday, September 29, 2003

Our last push exhumed an IE 5.0 crashing bug which, for reasons we can discuss when we get home, did not reveal itself on our 5.0 test machine. Yet thanks to the bold asceticism displayed by the 4.62% of Oddpost subscribers who resisted the temptation to upgrade to IE 5.5 when it was released in July 2000 and fought what must surely have been an even greater urge to install IE 6.0 when it was released in October 2001, we were alerted to our shameful error and promptly corrected it.
11:44:16 AM    

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Hurry! You must consume more feeds! Others are consuming your feed, and you're consuming their feed, and you must keep up, lest you be the 3,427th lame-o to note that it's Talk Like a Pirate Day, and not the ultra-hip 781st! It is clearly our duty to facilitate this nonsense, so avast, up there in the File menu, OPML subscription import!
3:24:59 PM    

Is there a clever, i.e., not stupid, way to explain that we fixed the bug where text in the Views Bar would disappear when you switched folders? Doesn't seem like it.
3:24:25 PM    

Ah, sweet mystery of life! A 10 or 15 line plaintext email from Monster.com weighs in at over 80K and takes minutes for Oddpost to load. Why? Because it's formatted using several thousand whitespace characters, of course. Nope, no newfangled carriage returns there! Just the sort of thing that can choke a regular expression, until said regexp is tweaked a bit. A Spring shower cools the seething horde. (Oh, it's September? You're neat.)
3:24:06 PM    

You're putting the finishing touches on an email as lengthy as it is brilliant when the shakes make an inopportune return, thrusting your cursor diagonally upwards until it comes to rest directly over the Close box, right at the exact moment your life partner decides to give your hand a reassuring squeeze. Or maybe you were just typing quickly and accidentally hit the Escape key. In either case, we now ask you whether you really want to close the window and lose all your work. We programmers call this device a "lifeboat."
3:23:22 PM    

Nothing makes a programmer want to run to the vessel's prow and scream "I'm king of the nerds!" like fixing a memory leak. In this case, a bug in IE was steadily bloating Oddpost's memory usage over the course of a day's use. Rob had nothing to do with this bug, but he is a Leo, so we shoved him overboard.
3:22:49 PM    

We made the brave decision that changing your password should never, ever lock you out of Oddpost, and made it so.
3:22:12 PM    

OK, leaks, pirates, lifeboats...the nautical theme is not intentional, yet here we are, telling you that links in emails to ANCHORS within that same email now work, meaning that the links in all those great newsletters you subscribe to jump straight to the right spot in the message. It's the little things.
3:21:17 PM    

Friday, August 08, 2003

Had we fixed the bug where address auto-completion sometimes asked if you would like to add a contact to your address book that was already in your address book, dayenu (it would have been enough).

Had we made the calendar obey your preference for a day/month/year and 24 hour clock, dayenu.

Had we fixed the bug where messages opened into their own window sometimes lost the bottom arrow of the scrollbar, dayenu.

Had we optimized the RSS fetcher to improve site performance, dayenu.

Had we fixed the bug that caused a runtime error on some systems when forwarding attachments, dayenu.

Had we forbid POP and IMAP access to trial accounts, thereby increasing site performance by preventing the script kiddies from using Oddpost as a file sharing system, dayenu.

Had we fixed the bug that sometimes caused events to be placed on the wrong day in your calendar, dayenu.

Had we changed "Spread the gospel" to "Append Oddpost link," thereby reassuring one raving lunatic that we're less tools for the religious right than we are aspiring yeshiva students, dayenu.

EVERYBODY! Day-day-enu, day-day-enu, day-day-enu, dayenu dayenu! (dayenu)
12:24:53 PM    

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Oh how the mighty suffer. First the spammers launch a dictionary attack on our servers, temporarily clogging the outbound mail queue, then they sign up for trial accounts from which to spew demonic email bile, quickly landing Oddpost on SpamCop's blacklist. Are we embittered by these events? Hardly. Our hatches are battened down. We're off the blacklist. And while a very special place is reserved in Hell's seventh circle for those who assail us (meaning they will be guarded by centaurs and/or submerged in hot blood), we blissfully continue our ascent up the Karmic ladder. For rather than blow a bunch of money hiring ninja assassins, we chose instead to tally up our subscriber donations and write some checks. It wasn't a million bucks or anything, but it was enough to score us a handsome tote bag and several uplifting thank you letters. You're all welcome to stop by the office and tote things on a first-come, first-served basis.
6:23:23 PM    

You can now choose File > Password Management... to both change your password and set the address to which you want a reminder sent in the event that you ever forget your password. This will save Debbie the trouble of asking you your mother's maiden name, and you the humiliation of having to explain that you came not from woman, but from laboratory beaker.
6:22:34 PM    

Two new engineers.
Rob Wygand and Robbie Scott.
Oddpost grows again.
6:21:54 PM    

6:20:59 PM    

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Perhaps we should rephrase that. Would you like to be told the fascinating tale of Oddpost's deceptively simple interface design? Who wouldn't!? Read it! Read it now!
11:39:35 AM    

Monday, July 07, 2003

Have you ever wondered why Oddpost is only available on Internet Explorer 5.0, 5.5 and 6.0 for Windows XP, 2000, NT, Me and 98, when it could just as easily be made to work on Netscape 7.1, Firebird 0.6, Opera 6.01 for the Nokia 7650, and Safari Public Beta 2? The answer is right here!
4:03:12 PM    

Thursday, June 26, 2003

The cruel fate of the software engineer is that you can win PC Magazine's Editors' Choice Award, and PC World's World Class Award, both in the same month, yet remain entirely unknown to Halle Berry's mom. So who should we kiss instead? Thus far, our sorry options may or may not include this guy and this...dude?
12:44:50 PM    

Thursday, June 19, 2003

On the off chance that there is a reader of this blog who does not already know what RSS is, let us explain, for yesterday we launched RSS aggregation within Oddpost (please see our new, improved Learn More page). So what is RSS? Well, the problem with blogs, especially this one, is that you never know when they're going to be updated. So you bookmark the page, check back every once in a while, find no new content, get annoyed, and end up watching Gymkata on cable. If you read a lot of blogs, you run into this problem often, and nobody should be subjected to Gymkata more than once. Fortunately, RSS (which stands for Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, depending on your handedness) solves this problem and a few you didn't even know you had. Briefly, RSS is just another format that blogs are published in, only this format is not meant to be read by you, it's meant to be read by a computer. Specifically, RSS "feeds" are meant to be read by a new kind of application called a news aggregrator (please note that we're aware of the fact that aggregator is not a word, but it is the non-word that the people have chosen). A news aggregator lets you subscribe to a bunch of different blogs, so that new content comes to you, rather than you having to go search for it. So why is it called a news aggregator, and not a blog aggregator? It's because RSS has caught on with traditional news organizations as well, and now you can subscribe to feeds from the New York Times, the BBC, The Christian Science Monitor, and many, many more.

Now, the problem with news aggregators is that you have to go find one, then download, install and learn it. And when you're reading a story in your news aggregator and decide you want to forward it to a friend, you have to copy it, launch your mail application, compose the mail...wouldn't you rather just hit the Forward button? Of course you would. So, we've built news and blog aggregation into Oddpost. Just go to File->Subscribe to News Source... and get to it. Note that once you're subscribed to a feed, you can right-click on its folder and choose Subscription Properties to control how you view it. One particularly cool option is the ability to view a feed's link target in the message pane, which means you can view a story in Oddpost just as if you were viewing it as a web page. And hey, blogs that support comments have a comment link right in the message header area, and you can track your favorite news story or most-feared competitor using the Google News tracker. Please check it all out!
1:17:54 PM    

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Check for new messages...no new messages...check for new messages...no new messages...check for new messages...one new message! Bliss! Check for new messages...no new messages...check for new messages...no new messages...spiraling depression. Sound familiar? If so, you may be one of the millions of worldwide sufferers of SARS, which contrary to popular belief does not stand for the Swedish AMC Rambler Society, but rather Severe Acute Repetitive-mail-checking Syndrome. Up until today, we here at Oddpost have ignored your pains, but that is all in the past, and may bygones be bygones we rarely say. Yes sirree, Oddpost now checks for new messages every ten minutes. You can make the interval more or less frequent by selecting File->Preferences->Receiving Mail. As a special ridiculously cool bonus, you can choose to play a sound when new mail arrives, or SWEET SWEET SWEET even specify a url to any wav or mp3 on the net. Booyakasha!
6:11:48 PM    

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Or are you more the hyper-anal type who creates a new folder for practically every email he, she or it receives, weaving and weaving a folder/subfolder hierarchy that is but a peephole into the depths of his, her or its madness? If so, you were probably infuriated by last week's gift to Crazy Giant Folder Person and wondered when we'd get around to catering to your malady as well. Wonder no more, for today we give you super fast folder loading, even if you've got hundreds and hundreds of folders.
7:01:05 PM    

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Are you the sort of indolent half-wit who is incapable of summoning the modicum of energy required to file a single email, and who chooses instead to hoard thousands upon thousands of messages in his Inbox? Well good news, friend: your Oddpost experience just got a hell of a lot more satisfactory. Yes, today we take our first giant step into the Land of Optimization, a disturbing realm ruled by Compromise and inhabited by unfortunates with the sand to use made up words like "performant" and archaic ones like "sand." Put another way, loading, filtering and switching to and away from big folders is now much, much faster. And a lot less memory intensive. You'll also fail to experience those little hiccups as big folders load. So what's the catch? Well, if you've got a slow machine, you may notice that scrolling around the header table is now a bit slower (we'd explain why, but it would take a lot of words, and isn't a little mystery the key to a successful relationship anyway?). At any rate, we think it a small price to pay for all this nachas.
11:57:38 AM    

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Do you ever agonize over the possibility that someone, somewhere is having a better time than you? Perhaps you're cleaning your toilet when you suddenly imagine that an ex-flame is, at that very same moment, locked in the rapturous embrace of a significantly more exciting individual than yourself? Happens to us all the time. It's really not that surprising either, when you consider the circumstances:

After installing Service Pack 1 for Windows XP, we found that hitting the Enter key near a BR tag was a reliable way to crash IE 6.0, which is somewhat unfortunate, since signatures and the like often contain BR tags, so we fixed that, but in so doing introduced a bug that caused the cursor to skip down to the bottom of an email whenever you pasted some text into the message, so then we fixed that too.

After introducing the calendaring feature, we were chagrined to discover that IE 5.5 crashed roughly one out of every 60 times we logged into Oddpost. We still have no idea why, but after moving this here, and that there, the problem is fixed, in its own special way.

After doing everything in our power to make Oddpost's dialog box text look the same on every machine, we still received reports of the text in the Spam Settings... dialog covering the OK/Cancel buttons. What kind of sick, sick machines would have the audacity to ignore our CSS? Hopefully it's the kind that there are only two of, but just in case, we fixed this too.

Reply All including yourself? Not anymore. Dying to put apostrophes in the name of distribution lists but frustrated that they don't work when you click on them in the address book listing? Hogan's Heroes away, friend. Seeing 'null' before contact names in the To: dialog after importing your Outlook address book that happened to contain some contacts that had email addresses but no first/last name data? A fond memory.

So how often do you clean your toilet?
6:52:43 PM    

Monday, February 24, 2003

We are also pleased as punch to have appeared in the Sunday Washington Post and PC Magazine's DEMO 2003 Show Report. You will be delighted to know that neither of these articles are the AP story linked to ad nauseam in our last post.
4:24:59 PM    

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Hi! I'm Oddpost! You may remember me from such newspapers as The Detroit News! and The Modesto Bee! and the Chicago Sun-Times! and The Miami Herald! and The Ottawa Citizen! and The Knoxville News-Sentinel! and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer! and The Times Daily (serving Northwest Alabama)! and the Contra Costa Times! and well, you get the idea. Between the six of us, our grandmother clipping network covers, let's see, zero percent of these publications. So if you happen to have one of these stories on genuine news-print, we sure would love to get a copy! We're here.
12:42:20 AM    

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Greetings from the highest mountaintop, where we are currently singing the praises of Oddpost! Part Deux. The lyrics go like this.
4:19:04 PM    

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Were we to request that you please go to the Menagerie menu, select Status of World Domination, and do what you will, you might think to yourself: Terence, if they're blogging fluff like this, something really, really big must be just around the corner. And you'd be correct. We are such a tease. Suffer!
12:55:16 AM    

Thursday, January 23, 2003

We've been seriously remiss in not using this forum to officially introduce Debbie Kahn, our not-so-new Oddpost Community Liaison (a.k.a. customer support whipping girl). She's been graciously responding to your bug reports and feature suggestions for a few months now, and as far as we know has yet to hit the sauce. Please treat her as you would a human being, being that she is human after all.
6:55:54 PM    

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Was it a bug, or is it a feature? We don't know, but when you forward a message that contains attachments, the attachments now come along for the ride. Finally!
2:54:06 PM    

You are, of course, far too popular to ever have nothing in your Inbox, so you will not be interested to know that if you had absolutely nothing in your Inbox, then checked your mail, you'd get an error, which is now fixed.
1:11:08 PM    

You return home after an evening of one too many Kir Royales and are overcome by the sudden urge to check your email. But instead of entering your username as "partyboy," you accidentally type "pantyboy" and click Log In. Suddenly your life is thrown into utter turmoil, for an alert now appears claiming that an error has occurred on the server. Fortunately for us, you then pass out onto your keyboard and remember none of this in the morning, and by the following weekend, when you have two too many Kir Royales and make the same typo, the bug is fixed. It's true -- if you enter an invalid username, we now gently inform you of the error of your ways, not ours (though Lord knows our ways are not wanting for errors).

Speaking of which, if you just returned from the lobotomist and entered your username as "partyboy@oddpost.com" rather than just "partyboy," we also threw up an error. Not wishing to discriminate against anyone, least of all the recently lobotomized, we now happily allow you to log in with "@oddpost.com" appended to your username. But we subtly suggest that this is unnecessary by putting "@oddpost.com" next to the username field on the splash page.
1:05:28 PM    

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Hola, amigos. We know it's been a long time since we rapped at ya, but somebody had to hold your place in line for The Two Towers, right? It'll be at least another 10 months before we do that again, so prepare to be dazzled in the interim. Yes, there are a disturbing number of stupendous things cooking over here at HQ, and in the new year dinner, dessert, and a brawny digestif will all be served. You can't wait!

the Voice of the Oddpost Corporate Entity

P.S. Many, many thanks for your patience, inspiration, kind words, bug reports, unreasonable suggestions, pet photographs and $30 wire transfers in this, our 119th palindromic year. We look forward to your custom in 2003!
6:35:31 PM    

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

If there is anything sweeter in this world than Oddpost now having its very own Favorites icon, we don't know what it is, and we don't want you to tell us what it is, by clicking right here:
7:39:57 PM    

It's happened dozens of times. You're reading an email, and you say to yourself, "If only I knew this message's content transfer encoding..." You look around for a menu command, and finding nothing, curse us under your breath (and/or write to us repeatedly). Well you'll have to find something else to hate about Oddpost now, because as of today the Message menu includes the three sweetest words in the English language: View Full Headers. The command is also available via a right-click in the message table. P.S. For reasons not worth discussing, you won't find the View Full Headers command when you open a message into its own window, but nobody does that anyway, right? No? Not right? OK, we'll get it in there faster than you can say this.
7:26:47 PM    

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

While many of you wrote in to express your joy over the new Ask Me When I Send an Email to Addresses Not Currently in My Address Book Whether I Would Like to Add Those Addresses to My Address Book feature, a handful of malcontents begged to differ. One subscriber went so far as to accuse us of trending toward use of "pop-ups." What-ever! Before the days of the X10, a dialog box was called a dialog box, and [Remainder of this post deleted by moderator. Please note that in File->Settings->Miscellaneous you can now set whether you would like to be prompted to add new addresses to your address book, or have them never added, or always added. Can you feel The Love? May The Love prove worthy of your approbation.].
10:30:38 PM    

We are deeply ashamed to admit that two of our latest features, distribution lists and multiple external email account access, did not react well to the presence of that sadly extant beast known as Internet Explorer 5.0. In fact, if you clicked on this or that button, the browser would crash, and (one moment, the telephone, it is ringing). Yes, now as we were saying, IE 5.0, new features, crashing, et cetera et cetera. In summary, this is now fixed. Thank you (where you == the 13.03% of our subscribers using IE 5.0) for your patience.
10:14:18 PM    

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

In our continued effort to be Good, Oddpost is now donating ten percent of your subscription fee to the non-profit of your choice, where "choice" is defined as a selection from one of seven organizations listed when you sign up. We believe the groups, which include Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Borders, Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library, National Resources Defense Council, Habitat for Humanity International, North Beach Citizens and America's Second Harvest, are already Good, and we want to do our part to help them, and perhaps become Good by association. The program is not retroactive, so if you've already signed up and are brimming with philanthropic fervor, well, you'll just have to wait until subscription renewal time.
5:02:36 PM    

Faster Oddpost, Load! Load! Is it not the pussycat's pajamas that message headers load approximately 300% faster than before?
4:25:27 PM    

When you send a message to somebody or somebodies who is or are not currently in your address book, we now do you the courtesy of inquiring as to whether you would like to add that somebody or somebodies to said address book. You are free to say no, and freer still to say yes. Do we demand that you immediately fill out a fax number and home address for that person? Nope, you don't even have to fill out a name for him or hers. You do that later, whenever you feel so moved, like during your Just a Cup of Hot Cocoa, Oddpost, and Me time.
4:22:33 PM    

Why in sam hill would anyone want to access their address book via the To:/Cc:/Bcc: buttons when they could just type the first few letters of any name or address and let auto-completion do its thing instead? Well why the hell would we even ask such a question? The people have spoken! It is not our place to doubt them! We have made it so!
3:38:58 PM    

Close your eyes and imagine, if you will, a feature that would allow you to group together several email addresses under a single alias...For example, you could create a list containing the addresses of all the people you love, name it "inner circle," and the next time you receive a FUNNY FUNNY JOKE, forward it to all those people simply by typing "inner circle" in the To: field! Now slowly open your eyes...cold reality. But wait, what's this? A glowing hearth to warm yourself by?! Oh yes. Select File->New->Distribution List, or type Ctrl-Shift-L, or open your address book and click on the shiny New Distribution List icon, and let the merriment begin.
2:52:59 PM    

Does anyone besides Tony Rosner care that message table column widths are now saved between sessions?
2:27:05 PM    

Remember that feeling you had when you first saw the video for Lionel Richie’s Hello? Well multiply that emotion by ten, because you can now access not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but SIX external email accounts from within the happy shelter of Oddpost. Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, hold….and go to File->External Mail Accounts. [Bonus nerdliness: you can even check IMAP accounts!]
2:06:25 PM    

Friday, September 20, 2002

Do you consider yourself an "advanced" Oddpost user? OK fancy-pants, you will be thrilled to know that you can now change your From name, From address and Reply-To address on a per message basis! Just choose View->From in the message composition window and go to town. You can also make the From fields visible by default -- just go to File->Preferences.
4:04:39 PM    

The Bcc: field in the message composition window is now hidden by default. You can flick it on for a single message by selecting View->Bcc, or you can make it on by default by selecting File->Preferences.
3:59:29 PM    

Please note that Britain, Germany and Uzbekistan are not third world countries. Speaking of which, you now set the message table date format explicitly, via the Preferences dialog. We trust that this will suit your needs better than our old code that "automatically sensed your global position and displayed the date and time according to local tradition." The trouble with that method was that you might be a Frenchperson, visiting say, Paris, Texas on holiday, go into an internet cafe, and find that dates were not looking how you want them. So now it's a preference. And stuff.
3:54:19 PM    

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

A few micro-glitches were recently fixed. You can now shift-tab from a message's body back to its subject. You can now hide the message pane, arrow down until some messages from the top scroll out of sight, then arrow up until they return, and not cause the entire menubar to disappear. You can now view an email's body in the message pane without screwed up scrollbars, even when that message is in HTML and contains absurdly long strings. You can now stop reading about minutiae.
4:19:49 PM    

Say...you can now select and copy text (message subject, From address, etc.) out of a message's header! We were going to play it cool and just pretend that this was always working, because, well, it's kind of embarrassing that it ever wasn't, but then we remembered what our therapists said about communication, and immediately sat down to compose this blog entry.
4:09:29 PM    

Did you know that in some developing third world cultures, it is still customary to list the day before the month, and display time based on a 24 hour clock? Much to somebody's chagrin, the Received column in the message table was ignoring this rather quaint little practice. And who are we, you may ask, to affect progress? Nobody, nobody at all. Our code now automatically senses your global position and displays the date and time according to local tradition.
3:59:09 PM    

It seems that Oddpost had an unintentional maximum limit of 113 folders (we're engineers, so we like these nice round numbers). Subscriber M, looking for adventure, added folder 114 and suffered the unfortunate consequences. Now, because of his sacrifice, you can add 114 folders in the cozy, comfortable knowledge that it hopefully might work. (Just kidding. It works. Really!)
10:38:30 AM    

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Someone out there is going to be tickled to know that you can now type single quotes (apostrophes to the grammatically-minded) in a folder name. If that person is you, enjoy.
3:04:38 PM    

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Having suffered endless complaints about PayPal, we've officially switched to taking subscriptions via Authorize.Net. Now there's no payment signup process at all. Pudding cups!
3:00:55 PM    

Haters of the Message Pane rejoice! Pane visibility and size are both now saved between sessions. What more could you ask for? Window position and size perhaps? Hang on a sec...OK, that's done too.
12:41:57 AM    

You know that bug where you open a message into its own window, then in the main application window you select a different message, then you return to the message that's in its own window, then you hit the reply button, and then you observe that the text of the message is all wrong? Didn't think so. Nevertheless, it's fixed, and another baby step is taken on the road to electronic mail perfection.
12:36:47 AM    

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Ever had one of those days when you open up an email, and for some reason the font of the entire Oddpost user interface suddenly changes? Well that's fixed.
1:24:24 PM    

Preferences o' plenty. You can now go to File->Preferences... and control whether the sender of a message is automatically added to your address book when you reply to their email. You can also control whether the original text of an email is included when you reply. You can probably think of many, many more preferences for us to add. We have thought of all of these, plus twelve more. Popcorn!
1:24:22 PM    

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

You can now set the default format for message composition by going to File->Settings->Rich/Plain Text... As if it that weren't already too much good news for one day, pane dimensions are now saved between sessions. More preference persisting coming soon. News flash: there was a bug with saving out the pane dimension settings in some accounts, so we had to temporarily disable it. Should be back up soon.
6:40:40 PM    

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Greetings, world. A small but influential percentage of you may be interested to hear about the status of our paragraph spacing bug. What paragraph spacing bug? You may now leave. Gone? Okay, the rest of you remember the problem... Compose a rich text email, hit Enter in-between paragraphs like you so often do, and send it. Good so far. Now, look at the email in your Sent Items folder. Or, even better, view it in another email program (yes, such things do inexplicably exist). Leapin' lizards! Every paragraph now has a whole lot of extra space below and above. Unwanted space. Possibly nefarious space. Certainly space that can't pick up on those subtle social cues that it's not welcome anymore. Space that probably had a troubled childhood and... Well, anyway, it's fixed.
11:58:09 PM    

We added signatures, just like you told us to. Look in the File menu, under Settings. You know, we're really starting to wonder about this relationship. We just give and give and give. What have you done for we lately? Oh, that's right. You gave us $30. Our mistake. No no. You're right. That's more than enough. But we digress. Please note that the signature dialog uses a sophisticated AI ("artificial intelligence" to the layperson) algorithm to detect multi-line legal disclaimers. The name of the offending subscriber is automatically forwarded to the Disciplinarian, who may (or may not) take action, at her discretion.
6:59:51 PM    

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Remember how you would enter your username and password, and then at some unpredictable point in time you would get a message saying "The username or password is incorrect"? That sucked, especially since you entered your password correctly. Now that won't happen anymore. It was my first bug fix at Oddpost! Now you will only get that message if you really did type the wrong password.

I also added a little "feature" that may or may not be popular. Let me know. If you double click on the address book folder, then you get a new blank contact. If you double click on the mail folders, then you get a new blank email. I did this because I found that I didn't want to go into the menus to create a new contact. Let me know if we should keep this feature.

I'm still trying to track down a bug that has vexed me at every turn. You may get the message that says "the server was unable to understand the data sent by the client." I am going to fix this one eventually. Please send any relevant information to bugs@oddpost.com if you are experiencing this one. -Don
12:21:11 PM    

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Fixed! Autologin now opens one, and only one, pretty little window. Fixed! Turning autologin on or off no longer returns rude messages about your browser's personal shortcomings. Fixed fixed fixed! (We hope.)
12:15:31 PM    

Monday, July 08, 2002

Two new engineers.
Don Vail and Shawn Grunberger.
Oddpost expands. Cool.
11:44:50 AM    

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

If you drag and dropped a folder onto one of its subfolders, both folders would disappear and your account would be mucked up to the point where we had to bring in the Cleaner. If you drag and dropped a folder onto its parent, you'd get an error message. If you drag and dropped a folder onto your address book or outbox, you'd get the same error message. Now why anybody would ever do any of these things is beyond us, but it's all fixed up now. As you were.
2:14:12 PM    

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Under unrelenting pressure from our new subscribers across the pond, the "View Map" feature now supports UK addresses. That is, you can now enter someone's physical address into the contact editor and Oddpost will display a map to their address, regardless of whether the someone in question is a yank or le rosbif. Thanks to Jon Jenkins for pointing us to streetmap.co.uk!
11:19:34 AM    

Monday, June 24, 2002

We were in Britain's Sunday Times. If you happen to be a Times subscriber, the article is here. For everybody else, it was in a technical Q&A section and went like this:

I am fed up with Hotmail. Can you recommend a webmail system that offers the ease of operation of the dial-up service Outlook Express?

I like the new 'access anywhere' online e-mail service at www.oddpost.com. It looks and feels similar to Outlook Express, down to the Views layout and Menu bar. It is fast, will work with your existing POP3 e-mail service, and generates revenue from an annual subscription fee of £21, rather than through intrusive advertising. It works with the Windows version of Internet Explorer 5 upwards, and a month's free trial is available.

Shortly after the article ran, we received the following email:
"I look forward to trialing this over the next 30 days as on the face of it, it looks pukka."
2:47:25 PM    

Friday, June 21, 2002

Look at this. Everybody here has 500 business cards. Five hundred. What are we going to do with all of these? Hmmm...how about GIVE THEM AWAY! That's right, we've gone COMPLETELY INSANE and will send a collectible Oddpost business card (from the engineer of your choice) to ANYBODY WHO ASKS. Just send a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope to those who did not watch Zoom as children) to this address and camp out by your mailbox. You will not be disappointed!
6:08:45 PM    

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

I hope you're sitting down. By popular demand, we have added address book import. Now up! Dance for us! Dance! Be seated. Look for "Import Address Book" in the File menu. We support the CSV (comma separated values) format, and have tested against Outlook, Outlook Express and Yahoo CSV files. Other CSVs should work, but Palm's CSV is not supported because they chose to NOT FOLLOW THE RULES. If you must import a Palm address book, use their vCard format to get it into Outlook, then export CSV from Outlook, then import it into Oddpost, then spit nickels and crawl on your belly like a lizard.
11:17:09 PM    

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Enabling auto-login from many systems was causing two, 2, too many Oddpost windows to open. Many of you told us that this was "annoying." Thanks to that feedback, we were able to track this one down today. Unfortunately, another auto-login bug has taken its place. It appears that from other systems, auto-login can now not be turned on because "browser security settings prohibit it." Then reports trickled from people who were *still* getting multiple windows opening. Computers bring us our greatest joys, our deepest sorrows.
10:38:23 PM    

One of our subscribers recently requested that we display the target of all links as a rollover tooltip, so that he could avoid links that would open in the Oddpost window and destroy his mail session. It is a testament to our brilliance that we ignored this request to treat a symptom, and chose instead to treat the disease. Yes, today we fixed the bug that was causing some hyperlinks to open in the Oddpost window rather than their own.
10:58:22 AM    

Thursday, May 30, 2002

May 30th, 2002. Know it well, for it is on this day that we fixed the bug that prevented one from attaching files with apostrophes in the filename. We are living in the best of all possible worlds.
9:39:53 PM    

© Copyright 2002 Oddpost, Inc.

May 2002
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        
Mar   May


Isn't life too short to spend any of it looking at a blog that hasn't updated since your last visit? Of course it is. So do yourself a favor -- subscribe to this blog and let US come to YOU. In Oddpost, just select File > Subscribe to News Source and choose the Oddblog. And if you happen to use some other aggregator, right-click on the orange thingy below, select Copy Shortcut and, ahhh, nevermind. Just use Oddpost.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.