Friday, February 27, 2009

How to consolidate your emails into Gmail using Thunderbird... For Free

If you're like me, having several active email accounts with Yahoo mail, Hotmail, Gmail, and maybe, AOL, etc., and have been wondering if there is a way to consolidate them to one place. I'll use Gmail here to be the centralized account to hold all your emails, I thinks is a clear choice here.

What you need are:

Thunderbird 2 (source), download and install it, if you don't have it already;

Webmail Thunderbird extensions downloaded and installed on Thunderbird, webmail extension is requred, other email provider specific extensions are to be installed as needed. The setup is pretty straightforward, one trick for Yahoo mail is that, after messing with different yahoo mail sites and configurations, to go to yahoo email interface and use "All New Mail" option, and use "Beta Production Site" for email retrieval.

A Gmail account of course;

  1. First set up Gmail using IMAP on Thunderbird (instructions here);

  2.  With needed webmail components installed, configure all the webmail components for your email account from different providers ThunderBird -> Tools -> Add-Ons. Also, set up email accounts respectively in Thunderbird -> Tools -> Account Settings -> Add Account, then follow the instruction from Thunderbird. I have hotmail, and serveral yahoo accounts, aol and other work as well. 

  3. (Optional:) Add email accounts in Gmail so you can send email using a specific email account in Gmail: at Gamil user interface -> Settings -> Accounts -> Add another email address you own and follow the instructions;

  4. The default location to collection should be the "Local Folder", if not, go to Tools -> Account Settings, under "Server Settings" for each email account, there is a "Advanced" button, click on it and select "Global Inbox (Local Folders Account)"; 

  5. Set up the Message Filter (Tools -> Message Filter) for the "Local Folders" to "Move all mails from Local Folder to your Gmail Inbox folder";

and that's it! This is really nice for those yahoo email account owners, 'cause without paying for Yahoo Premium, POP3 is not enabled. There are web service pull email headers but not the full message body without going to Yahoo email site.

If you know a better way of doing this, please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

imeem vs. vs pandora

So I listen to music online most of the time, I want to be able to listen to the my collections at work, at home, in my car, or just anywhere. I'm cheap enough not wanting to buy any mp3 from itunes or amazon, (would cost me a fortune if I did), and lazy enough not wanting to sync music onto my ipod and carry it around all the time. I've been using imeem exclusively for a while now, maybe I'm a little biased, but IMHO I think it has the most comprehensive collection of songs, any kind of songs, you name it. It lets you upload your own mp3s, compile your own playlist by dragging songs from any imeem member.

As for Pandora, seems to be used a lot by new users of online music, it lets you create a station of songs or artists you like, and find "similar" style songs for you. They achieve this auto suggestion using "Music Genome Project", but I really don't know how can they find "similar" songs based upon my preferences, they probably just do this using their tag system, which, by the way, doesn't meet my criteria most of the time. What really sucks about it is that when you're trying to look for a song, it may find it (may well not), but it may not be playing it right away but playing some "similar" songs first. When I want to listen a tune, I want it right away! By the way, it doesn't have "man in motion" by John Parr, I was watching "St. Elmo's Fire" on Hulu the other day, and wanted to listen to that song again, it's on Imeem and, but not Pandora. Pandora prompted a message trying to explain "why we don't play the song now", didn't bother to read it. I can see that the "create a station" idea appealing when you just want to listen to some similar songs randomly, or exploring new songs, it doesn't let you skip more than 5 songs. You cannot create your own playlist either.

Imeem doesn't have an iPhone application yet (does have one for Android), so I also looked at as well,  knew about it for a while, but haven't tried until now. It's a good mix between Imeem and Pandora, you can create a station like the way in Pandora, song collection is good, I found some of my all time favorite, Cui Jian's, songs, along with other Chinese rockers'. You get to listen to the song you searched for, one at a time. And you can created a playlist, but here is the catch: "Subscribers can listen to playlists once they contain at least 45 Playplayable tracks by 15 different artists.", so you have to pay and you have to have time, but at least you are able to if you want to. I don't think I'll have time to do that. Auto suggestion for song is nice, but I still miss the flexibity. By the way, you can only upload songs which you hold copyrights too, yeah right, I guess 99% of users is not on that list, so if they don't have it, you're out of luck then.

If imeem is missing something, it'd be auto suggestion (create radio station) option, it's not on iphone yet, and cannot be accessed without flash support (iphone users, sorry). I'm running it on skyfire on my HTC Fuze just fine. It's not application, so you need to open the browser and find the bookmark. So bottom line, if you can, use imeem, otherwise, use, maybe even pay for the subscription ($3/month).

so which one is it? I don't know, you can't get everything, that's life, live with it!