Experimenting with Mailsmith

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 24th, 2003 • 6:52 pm

Following yesterday’s item on the subject, and after reading some of the literature provided by Bare Bones, I’ve decided to try and put Mailsmith to the test again.

I’m still in the process of setting things up, but I’d like to report on a few things, some good, some less good.

First, I am quite pleasantly surprised with the performance improvements. These alone turn Mailsmith from something that was barely usable under Mac OS X INTO a program that is quite snappy. Of course, it helps that I have since upgraded my hardware — but even then, Mailsmith 1.5 on my G4/450 AGP was a slouch, slower than Mail, whereas Mailsmith 2.0 on my dual 1.25 GHz G4 is now noticeably snappier than Mail.

The other hugely positive improvement is the speed on the mail importing process. Under Mailsmith 1.5, it was unacceptably slow. In Mailsmith 2.0, while it still took some time to import my tens of thousands of messages, I was able leave the program running in the background, and continue using my computer for other tasks without any performance hit.

The Mailsmith 2.0 manual actually discourages you from importing large amounts of mail:

The amount of time required to import messages
from an older version of Mailsmith, or from another email client, will vary
considerably depending on how many messages and mailboxes are present. If you
have a very large quantity of stored email, e.g. tens or hundreds of thousands of
messages, you may wish to consider importing only the most recent or important
messages, and storing or archiving the remainder.

This is all well and good, but what exactly do they suggest we archive our older email in? As far as I am concerned, the whole purpose of an “archive” of older email is to be immediately searchable — and I don’t really see the point of HAVING to maintain two separate archives, using two different tools to search them, depending on how old or how recent the mail is.

In any case, I didn’t find the importing process too time-consuming, and the resulting mail database is only marginally bigger than my archive in Mail.

A more serious problem, however, is that some of my older email messages are now seriously screwed up. The screwing up happened a while ago, because it only affects older email, and I am not sure when it happened. It might have been in the process of moving from Eudora to Mailsmith and then to Mail, back in 2002.

Here’s what a screwed-up message looks like:

From ???@??? Wed Mar 27 11:28:32 2002
To: Joel XXXX <joel@xxx.edu>;
From: Pierre Igot <igot@mac.com>;
Subject: Re: Undeliverable mail for joelXXX@xxx.com
Message-Id: <p05101520b8c794a8035c@[]>
In-Reply-To: <B8C5D91C.510D%joel@xxx.edu>;
References: <B8C5D91C.510D%joel@xxx.edu>;
Date: Wed Mar 27, 2002 11:28:32 AM Canada/Atlantic

<x-html><!x-stuff-for-pete id="0">
<!doctype html public "-//W3C//DTD W3 HTML//EN">
<html><head><style type="text/css"><!--
blockquote, dl, ul, ol, li { padding-top: 0 ; padding-bottom: 0 }
 --></style><title>Re: Undeliverable mail for
<blockquote type="cite" cite>I blame four years of high school German
on any French misspellings.  :)</blockquote>


There appear to be two separate problems, possibly related to each other. One is the first line in the header, with the question marks. The other one is in the body of the message, where the HTML code is not processed properly by Mailsmith (or Mail). Normally Mailsmith would attempt to display a plain-text alternative, and Mail would attempt to render the HTML code. With this type of screwed-up message, both Mailsmith and Mail simply display the HTML code itself.

The second problem is therefore identical in Mail and Mailsmith. For the first problem, however (the "????" in the header), the problem is worse in Mailsmith, because Mailsmith completely fails to recognize the date of the message, and flags and displays it as HAVING been received on June 24, 2003, i.e. today!

Mail, on the other hand, is still somehow able to process the received date in the header properly and display the message as HAVING been received on March 27, 2002, which is obviously much better.

I am not quite sure what to do about this. I might have to go back to my old Eudora archive and re-import all the old problem emails, hoping that it will work better.

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