The hottest news this week is release of Thunderbird 1.5. If you have installed one of the two RC (Release Candidate) builds, you should soon receive an update alert. Thunderbird 1.5, like Firefox 1.5, includes a program auto-update feature. However, my Thunderbird 1.5 RC2 when manually prompted is unable to find an update! Which seems quite strange. Inversely, its possible that RC2 is so close to the final build that it doesn’t really need to be updated.
While Thunderbird 1.5 offers lots of productivity-oriented features. Many extensions built for earlier versions are incompatible until their developers upgrade the max version to 1.6 or later. And while the current version (like its Firefox version namesake) can verify extension or theme compatibility. You still have to download the files before ‘seeing’ if they are indeed compatible.
I really like the Word-style (also in OpenOffice.org 2.x) spell-as-you-type feature that highlights mis-spelled terms. The included dictionary is also quite rich and you can add new terms to it. Just right-click the highlighted term and either choose a suggested correction, ignore or add the word. Thunderbird 1.5 junk mail controls have been improved to work with SpamAssasin and SpamPal. There’s also a built in phishing detector that I tested using the somewhat common PayPal and eBay account update notification messages. Drafts are not auto-saved and you can also remove message attachments. Filters too have improved with new actions for replying and forwarding. Search folders now search across multiple accounts.
The included RSS reader has been improved upon (although I prefer GreatNews). And now supports Podcasting too. There’s also message aging that I will test over the next week as I recently migrated to a new computer when my previous one died from old age.
All in all, Thunderbird 1.5 is more user-friendly that previous versions. But it remains a memory hog. And if you persist in running Windows with less than 256 MB of system RAM. Be prepared for the occasional lockup.
I also found GMail Manager, an interesting Firefox extension. Use it to manage multiple GMail accounts. You can view the message counts for the Inbox, unread mail and spam received for each configured account. Along with the total account usage. By default GMail Manager displays snippets for new mail received. And clicking a message will open a new Tab logged directly into GMail. The reviewed version (4.0) released December 15, 2005, besides resolving several bugs supports Unicode (UTF-8). Best of all you don’t have to “sign out” from one GMail account to check the contents of another account. And if you are among the (very) few who don’t have a GMail account, do write me to request one of the 20 Invitations On Offer. This offer ends February 15, 2006 or when the invites run out.
There’s also a new Total Commander 6.54 Beta 1 available. This Windows file manager replacement that uses a Norton Commander-like, dual-pane interface. It’s features include search, file comparison, directory synchronization, quick view panel with bitmap display, archive handling, and a built-in FTP client that supports FXP and HTTP proxies.
This new Beta introduces archive extraction support for the new BZIP2 and PPMd formats (also offered by Winzip). A complete list of changes is available in History654. Total Commander supports almost all mainstream archive formats out-of-the-box. And you can extend the archive feature with plugins for other formats, including the excellent 7Zip.
uTorrent 1.4 too has been released with lots of new features. In an aside if you download lots of Torrents you will be pleasantly surprised (as I was) with uTorrent’s acceptance on most trackers. The only other application to surpass it is the resource-hungry, Java-based, Azureus.
From some of the changes, its evident that most uTorrent user download Torrents in the workplace. There’s a new boss key. You can also disable multiscrape. And Torrent statistics are now part of the Help menu. You can also disable the application’s system tray behaviour. And double clicking a Torrent file will open the file. There’s also a new, secondary sort order. But Torrents are still listed in order of addition. Other changes include a new BitComet (until uTorrent’s appearance among the most widely-used Windows BitTorrent clients) style Torrent Add dialog. And also add labels to each Torrent queued including downloaded files.
And you may want to check out the excellent uTorrent FAQ that offers lots of tip on using this software. As well as improving your data transfer rates; both in- and out-bound.
And if you are a Windows user tired of downloading multiple updates. Microsoft has been listening. They have recently released a 98.7 MB ISO file containing all security and critical updates released on January 5th and January 10th, 2006. Do note that the ISO is Windows-specific and doesn’t include updates for other Microsoft products. It contains all language versions and is meant for corporate administrators managing large organizations who need to download multiple individual language versions for each update.
That’s it for this week. Stay safe until the next time.