Monday, October 30, 2006


New Improved(?) Thunderbird

After uninstalling Thunderbird 1.07, I began the installation of 1.5. All went smoothly. The only installed extension, "Calendar 0.8", was de-activated: it is not compatible with this newer version. I expected that, and intended to install the newer calendar extension, "Lightning 0.3". The evolution of the version number from "0.8" to "0.3" was worrisome, but it is that or run year-old software. Maybe there is nevertheless progress on some of the things that annoyed me with the older version.

As recommended, I backed up my .ics calendar files. The instructions say "uninstall the Calendar Extension before installing Lightning. " Fine, it is already de-activated, do I really need to uninstall it, too? Meanwhile, I had already added the "Lightning" installation to the extension list, which indicated that it would be installed next time I started Thunderbird. I hesitated before electing to install, because it is not signed. All this fuss about security (T-bird now detects "scams" as well as "spams") and yet I can't remember when I found an extension for either T-bird or Firefox that was signed or provided with a MD5 to match. I selected "uninstall" for "Calendar", which appeared above "Lightning" in the list, and hoped they would be executed in that order, so that the uninstall would occur before installing Lightning. Hope is all I could do: it is impossible to remove an extension from the list if you change your mind about wanting to install it! At best you can toggle it to "uninstall", but what does that really mean when it wasn't yet installed?

"Lightning" appears to have been correctly installed. My first reaction is: I don't like it. I want to choose where it appears, I don't want it to amputate my list of mail folders in the sidebar. It is added to the menubar, but does not have a shortcut. And the clincher: it can't read the .ics files I could edit last week. It seems that the "old" Calendar extension was sloppy about writing and may not have used UTF-8 as required.

Another open source iCalendar application (Chandler from, 0.6 version--professedly only experimentally usable) can't read them either. However, phpicalendar can, and has a nifty annual view. Lightning adds a couple of megabytes to Thunderbird; Chandler adds about sixty-five (but is its own mail user agent); phpicalendar is relatively minuscule, but only displays calendars, it cannot edit them (nor display vjournals, I suspect). I've also found a Python library that enables editing, but haven't yet evaluated its ease of use (by me) nor whether it can read my .ics files.

Back to Lightning. Adding a couple of toolbar buttons helps: new event and new task.
I haven't yet tried everything, but so far I am underwhelmed.

T-boid itself.

What has changed? The two bugs I was most concerned about (because I spotted them and was among the first, the few, or both, to note them in Bugzilla) are obvious things to check. Both result(ed) from mishandling of character set errors or violations.

Why did I switch from OutlookExpress to Thunderboid? The spam filter, if I recall correctly, but it has been a few years so I'm not sure. The spam filter seems to work about 60% these days (I haven't checked lately), although the "learning" file is now about 10 megabytes. I haven't checked in detail whether the address book has improved, but it doesn't seem so (it is so poor, there are "extensions" to help prevent or correct duplicate entries!).

What justified adding "0.43" to the version number?

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