About this site's lack of design: Yes, it's supposed to look this way — I'm helping create a new sandbox theme for WordPress (see it on GitHub).

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

Archive for April, 2007

Setting up IMAP in Apple Mail

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Note: These instruc­tions still work under Mac OS X Leop­ard (10.5)

It has been brought to my atten­tion that a sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of peo­ple don’t know all the steps involved in prop­erly con­fig­ur­ing an IMAP account in Apple’s Mail.app. Though this has been cov­ered else­where I’m sure, I thought I’d share the steps in a quick-start way to help reduce the frus­tra­tion that results from assum­ing some things are done by default (know the basics already? skip to the last step »).

The Basics

Most of the IMAP setup process is iden­ti­cal to cre­at­ing a POP account. Within Mail.app:

  1. Go to Pref­er­ences (Mail → Pref­er­ences)
  2. On the Accounts tab, click the [+] at the bot­tom left to start the account setup process
  3. Change the Account Type to IMAP and fill in your details
  4. Set the Incom­ing Mail Server and Out­go­ing Mail Server details

Many peo­ple stop at this point and assume they are fin­ished. This is where prob­lems arise, and why I’m writ­ing this lit­tle tidbit.

IMAP Fold­ers

IMAP allows all mail (includ­ing your Sent, Drafts, Spam and Trash fold­ers, as well as cus­tom fold­ers) to live on the server. This is one of the main ben­e­fits of IMAP, since your account is iden­ti­cal whether access­ing your mail from any work­sta­tion or web­mail. The prob­lem is that hosts cre­ate dif­fer­ent sets of default fold­ers when you cre­ate a new account, and that Mail.app doesn’t auto­mat­i­cally con­nect the fold­ers on the server to its local func­tions (most impor­tantly, Sent mail and Drafts).

For exam­ple, Medi­aTem­ple only cre­ates your Inbox and Spam fold­ers; Dreamhost cre­ates your Inbox, Sent, Drafts and Trash fold­ers, but since Mail.app doesn’t auto­mat­i­cally assign those func­tions to the fold­ers on the server, it doesn’t actu­ally mat­ter in this case. This means if you don’t fol­low these next steps, you won’t have any sent mail or drafts saved any­where; this can be an annoy­ance or a major prob­lem, depend­ing on your spe­cific needs.

Cre­at­ing IMAP Folders

Cre­at­ing new fold­ers is simple:

  1. Control-click (or right-click if you have a multi-button mouse) on the Inbox for your account (if you have mul­ti­ple accounts within Mail.app, you’ll see sub-Inboxes in the left side­bar that have the names you’ve assigned each account), and select “New Mailbox…”
  2. In the result­ing dia­log, make sure that the cor­rect account is selected in the drop-down menu, and enter a name for the mail­box (e.g. “Sent” if you’re on MediaTemple).

The mail­box is cre­ated on the server, and Mail.app updates its folder list for that account. Do this as many times as you want, when­ever you need a new folder to help orga­nize your mes­sages (for our pur­poses, make sure your cre­ate what­ever function-related fold­ers are missing).

Set­ting Mail.app Straight

Now that you’ve made sure the fold­ers exist, in order for Mail.app to save your drafts or copies of your sent mes­sages it needs to know where to put them, so this final step is the most important:

  1. Click the folder name that matches the func­tion you want to assign (e.g. “Sent”) so it is high­lighted in the list
  2. Go to Mail­box → Use This Mail­box For → [func­tion name] (e.g. “Sent” again)

That’s all there is to it—your folder will dis­ap­pear from the list, and reap­pear as a sub-folder beneath the func­tion you spec­i­fied, with the same name as the account it’s con­nected to. So, if your account name is “My IMAP Account”, the “Sent” folder will now be located under “Sent → My IMAP Account” in the Mail.app sidebar.

Hope­fully this will ease some of the frus­tra­tion of set­ting up an IMAP account for the first time. After you’ve gone through the steps once, you’ll remem­ber them for the future and never be with­out your drafts and sent mes­sages again.

Update: Check out the com­ments below for some extra tips and tricks.



Web 2.0 Cultists

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Lately I’ve found myself hav­ing the fol­low­ing “dis­cus­sion” (I pre­fer “heated debate” myself) regard­ing ‘Web 2.0’, usu­ally with some­one who has con­sumed a cer­tain amount of Web 2.0 Kool-aid:

cultist: “I want to make sure we have enough Web 2.0 fea­tures in our application.”

me: “‘Web 2.0’ is just a term, and doesn’t sig­nify any­thing impor­tant in and of itself. Sure, it’s a way of eas­ily defin­ing things like improved usabil­ity, user-centric design, friendly appli­ca­tions, and other tan­gi­ble con­cepts that devel­op­ers and design­ers can and should take to heart, but it only refers to those prac­tices because we’ve decided it should, as a community.”

cultist: “But ‘Web 2.0’ is such a sim­ple way of say­ing all those things! It makes it much eas­ier for peo­ple to under­stand what they should be doing!”

me: “Just like ‘AJAX’ makes it eas­ier for peo­ple to lump ‘super­flu­ous JavaScript visual effects’ under the same ter­mi­nol­ogy as ‘com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the server with­out a reload’? ‘AJAX’ is not syn­ony­mous with ‘ani­ma­tion’, peo­ple! It’s impor­tant to know the dif­fer­ence as web devel­op­ers and design­ers; it’s up to us to be the respon­si­ble party.”

cultist: “But peo­ple don’t under­stand those things if there isn’t a sim­ple term to describe them!”

me: “Then per­haps they shouldn’t be using some­thing they don’t understand.”



OMG I’m Naked!

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

So, I had this dream last night, and I was stand­ing in front of the entire inter­net totally naked, and when I woke up, I real­ized it wasn’t a dream!

Today marks the 2nd Annual CSS Naked Day, Dustin Diaz’s lame inspired attempt to increase aware­ness of… oh crap, I’ll just let Dustin explain in his own words:

The idea behind this event is to pro­mote Web Stan­dards. Plain and sim­ple. This includes proper use of (x)html, seman­tic markup, a good hier­ar­chy struc­ture, and of course, a good ‘ol play on words. It’s time to show off your <body>.”

So join us as we strip down, take it all off, and skinny dip today. You’ll be glad you did.



New Logo, New Name

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Flickr old skool badge examples

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this site over the last few months, and my “per­sonal brand” if you will, and I’ve come to the real­iza­tion that peo­ple have a dif­fi­cult time spelling the name of this site. To help make it eas­ier on every­one, I’ve decided to change the name to “Super­flu­ous­Bits”—I fig­ure that should solve most of the spelling prob­lems with my URL.

To go along with that change, I’ve revised the logo a bit, giv­ing my spi­ral mark a lit­tle more impor­tance, and sur­round­ing it in a frame that focuses more atten­tion on the spi­ral shape and the “sb”. Over­all, it gives the site a more “branded” feel, and I’m very happy with it.

My only regret is that I didn’t announce this sooner, as it seems a few other peo­ple have also launched redesigned logos today as seen in this Flickr pool.

Update: It seems as though legal action may be taken against a list of design­ers.