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 osafoundation.org, 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.
- It is possible to move events and todos from one calendar to another! How many times did I create an event in the wrong calendar (because there was no way to choose the "current default" calendar) in the old extension...
- The "suitable for printing" format seems absent, whereas it was useful for, say printing one's vacation plans to leave for one's (daughter|housesitter). BTW: phpicalendar does it very nicely.
- The category property is (still) single-valued, whereas the spec (rtf2445) says multiple values--lists-- are fine.
- The new task I tried to create disappeared;why?
- The list of events in the old display made it easy to find even events in the past (yes, I want to also use the format for journal/diary editing) but the current one doesn't.
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.
- The "worst" is the one which enabled spammers to send themselves "acknowledgements" when mail was read. Although Thunderbird prides itself on "privacy" measures such as preventing loading of images from remote url's unless the reader indicates she wants them, a bug made it possible for spammers to send spam which could nevertheless load the images. Good news for the spammers: it still works. The bug hasn't even progressed from UNCONFIRMED to New after ten months.
- A related (I suspect) bug which made some emails' content vanish when they were forwarded was not too scary, but indicated a clear weakness in coping with character-set declaration errors (or gambits). It has been in Bugzilla for over three years, and it still isn't fixed. (yes! it is NEW !)
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?
Tags: Thunderbird : Mozilla : Lightning : OutlookExpress : spam : bugs : Bugzilla