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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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