Welcome to InterconnectNow - Interconnected Technologies' blog about technology and other items of interest to small businesses and individuals.

The topics here will usually deal with productivity-enhancing technologies of interest to small businesses and individuals, but are often of broader interest.  Productivity is the goal of all of this technology that we use. Enabling productivity through refining or adding technology-based capabilities is what we're obsessed with at Interconnected Technologies, and so this blog is dedicated to discussions of all things related to that.


Entries in Email (10)


Finally! Gmail allows conversation threading to be turned off

OK, ladies and gentlemen.  I said when it first came out, and I still maintain, that Gmail (and Google Apps) web-based email, while powerful and very advanced in some ways, began and remains with one of the worst user interfaces I've ever seen.  From the start it was confusing, disorganized and inefficient.

"Hey, Don, don't hold back; tell us how you really feel!"  you might say.

I have watched the evolution of the Gmail web interface over the past couple of years as it has moved ever-closer to what people are used to, toward a more efficient, intuitive interface.  Pushed aside is the original avant-garde concept of "don't delete anything; just remove the 'Inbox' label instead and keep it forever" (and in Google Apps, this filled up more one user's mailbox in the process, with no abilty to obtain additional space, even if one is willing to pay, still!).  The buttons and actions on the main email screen have gradually been altered to be more "normal".  How many people really want to add multiple labels to a given email?  Not many.  Read/Reply/Forward/File/Delete.  That's what people do with email.  Concocting elaborate tagging schemes for email creates the same tangled and inconsistent mess that so many people who created hundreds of folders in Outlook created for themselves. 

Now, some say this is a concession by Google.  I guess I agree:  it's a concession to years of user interface design evolution that made email clients better.  Something Google initially just decided to throw out.

Enter the latest:  the ability to turn off threaded email.  Now, I don't mind threaded email: for some select situations in which it makes sense, like discussion groups with long back-and-forth discussions on which I might not keep up on a regular basis.  But for regular email the Gmail interface for threaded conversations (the only view available) is cluttered and confusing; has led to people forwarding or replying to the wrong "place in the thread"; is less than stellar.  In the vernacular: it sucks. 

Google has finally decided to let us turn it off.  This feature (really an anti-feature, I suppose) will be rolled out over the next week or so.  See the Google Help posting, below. 

Now, before anyone describes me as an Anti-Conversationist, let me say that I actually like the way Outlook 2010 shows threaded conversations.  It's not the function, it's the interface.  Until Google morphs the interface for conversations into something clearer, less cluttered - you know, better - I'll stick with unthreaded, thank you very much!

Here's the Google help page:


Gmail groups all replies with their original message, creating a single conversation or thread. In other email systems, responses appear as separate messages in your inbox, forcing you to wade through all your mail to follow the conversation. In Gmail, replies to emails (and replies to those replies) are displayed in one place, in order, making it easier to understand the context of a message -- or to follow the conversation.

When you open one message in a conversation, all of your related messages will be stacked neatly on top of each other, like a deck of cards. We call this Conversation View. In Conversation View, each new message is stacked on top of the ones that arrived before it, so that the newest message is always the one you see first.

To see all the messages in a conversation, just click Expand all. Note that a conversation will break off into a new thread if the subject line of the conversation is changed, or if the conversation reaches over 100 messages.

If you'd like, you can change this setting so that replies aren't threaded into conversations, but appear as individual messages in your inbox. To do so, go to the Generaltab of your Gmail Settings, and select the radio button next to 'Conversation view off'.

We're in the process of giving users the option to turn Conversation View off. Everybody should have this option within a week or so.

People ask me about Mac vs. Windows - here's what I say

OK, I don't have time to flesh this out right now, but I did pick up one example that supports one piece of this outline, and so I thought I'd start.  More as I have time. 

Please, dear Windows or Apple fanatics or opponents, before you say "well, that's not been MY experience!!", keep in mind that I'm talking TRENDS and AVERAGES and prevailing conditions here.  I deal with a base of thousands of computers in everyday use over more than 15 years.  One can always find a specific counterexample.  That does not disprove a trend or negate my view of the prevailing conditions.

And please, dear Apple fanatic, don't try to compare an ancient PC to a new Powerbook, nor Snow Leopard to Windows XP.  Unless, of course, you want me to compare Windows 7 to MacOS 8, or my ThinkPad x301 to an 8-year-old Mac.  

It's easy to get swept up in emotion here (especially since Apple has always sold, and Microsoft and the PC hardware providers are currently selling, emotion).  When you're dealing with your money and your life (which is where these very personal devices now intersect, even at the office), it's important to at least *start* with some level of objectivity.

AND, while there are those currently saying that none of this matters since everything will be in the cloud and everything will be appliances that interact with the cloud in real time and so who cares, I say:  yes, that's true.  But not right now,  And not next year, or the year after.  In 10 years, maybe.  Maybe 5.  But I'm addressing what people should think about right now, not in the year 2525.

And finally, to those who would say "well, you just don't like Apple," that's just simply not true. I've liked and admired Apple hardware and software (and style) since I encountered my first original Mac while recovering at Stanford University hospital after Knee Surgery Number One.  A dear friend brought me his (black and white, all-in-one) Mac to occupy my time while recovering from the barbaric type of surgery they did back then, and I've admired Apple ever since.      


  1. Apple hardware is purchased at roughly a 50% to 100% price premium over non-Apple hardware.  This immediately disqualifies them for most general business and general office purposes.  Yes, you can find Apple hardware on sale, and yes, there are Windows machines that cost more, and on and on and on.  I'm talking prevailing pricing, not special cases.
  2. While it is unquestionably among the best designed and most beautiful computer hardware out there, it is no more reliable than the typical retail HP or Toshiba laptops that one can buy.  Dell and Lenovo both make more reliable hardware than Apple, HP or Toshiba.  Lenovo makes more reliable hardware than any of them. There are few Apple owners whom I know who have *not* had to send their hardware in for service.  There are few Lenovo owners who have.
  3. With around 5% market share compared to 90+% for Microsoft, many applications are simply not available for MacOS.  Quickbooks used to be a prime example of this. Recently they put out a somewhat limited version for MacOS.
  4. With that small market share, users of MacOS, especially children that have used Macs through school and try to enter the working world, are at a skills disadvantage, facing a substantial learning curve that historical Windows users do not face.  And please, I can hear people out there saying "well, if everyone used MacOS everyone would be better off an nobody would have to face that" and "well, that's just because Windows is so much harder to use than MacOS."  I'm not arguing those points (although I disagree with both).  I'm just discussing the consequences of reality being what it is.  The overwhelming majority of schools and organizations use Windows. One argues with reality at one's own peril.
  5. With that small market share and user base, MacOS users face the challenge of maintaining compatibility with everyone else.

For the first items above, more will be forthcoming when I have time to pin it down and further support my assertions.

It is for #5, above, that I have an example, which I will reproduce here.  This is an email I recently received through a Yahoo group of which I'm a member.  What you'll see below could be blamed on all sorts of non-Apple things (Yahoo, Outlook, the weather), but the fact is that these only come like this from MacOS systems; never from Windows or web-based email systems.  It doesn't matter whose *fault* it is.   It's results with which we concern ourselves at Interconnected Technologies, and here is one result that strongly counters the claims of compatibility maintained by MacOS proponents:

(By the way, you don't have to scroll through the whole thing - you'll get the point quickly)

(Second note:  I put xxxxxxxx where specific identifying or email content information appeared, but I left all the special characters, weird formatting, etc. intact)


X-YMail-OSG: q5CLX88VM1kPm7yopulQfPIJdCn0Lq0VgblOH0GnkwE29kolL8BvLj8ID20n4QvadES2gRRIVYOU




















X-YMail-OSG: X-Received: from [] by web110801.mail.gq1.yahoo.com via HTTP; Sat, 16 Jan 2010 15:45:17 PST

X-Mailer: YahooMailRC/272.7 YahooMailWebService/

References: <71c399fa1001151424r79af082i291dbed073641e97@mail.gmail.com> <004601ca9671$63efef20$2bcfcd60$@us>

To: xxxxxxx

In-Reply-To: <004601ca9671$63efef20$2bcfcd60$@us>

X-Originating-IP: xxxxxxxx

X-eGroups-Msg-Info: 2:4:8:0:0

From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

X-Yahoo-Profile: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

X-eGroups-Approved-By: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx via email; 17 Jan 2010 17:46:33 -0000

Sender: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

MIME-Version: 1.0

Mailing-List: list xxxxxxxxxxxx; contact xxxxxxxxxxx

Delivered-To: mailing list xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

List-Id: <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx&gt;

Precedence: bulk

List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx&gt;

Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 15:45:17 -0800 (PST)

Subject: Re: xxxxxxxxxxxx

Reply-To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

X-Yahoo-Newman-Property: groups-email-ff-m

Content-Type: multipart/alternative;


X-pstn-neptune: 0/0/0.00/0

X-pstn-levels:     (S:99.90000/99.90000 CV:99.9000 FC:95.5390 LC:95.5390 R:95.9108 P:95.9108 M:97.0282 C:98.6951 )

X-pstn-settings: 1 (0.1500:0.1500) cv gt3 gt2 gt1 r p m c

X-pstn-addresses: from xxxxxxxxxxxxxx&gt; [1146/45]

Return-Path: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

X-OriginalArrivalTime: 17 Jan 2010 17:46:26.0935 (UTC) FILETIME=[FE397070:01CA979C]



Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable





- xxxxxxxxxx






From: xxxxxxxxxxxx

To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sent: Sat, January 16, 2010 3:01:46 PM

Subject: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx




documentation from him.  It has the sparse, cursory feel of something produ= ced by someone with either very thin, or quite extensive experience in an area.= =20 Clearly with him it=E2=80=99s the latter!





you =E2=80=93 you guys are amazing!





From:xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxx] On Beh= alf Of xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sent: Friday, January 15, 2010 3:25 PM

To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Subject: xxxxxxxxxxxxx [1 Attachment] =20 =20=20

[Attachment(s) from xxxxxxxxxxxxx

included below]=20















xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx=20 =20 =20


Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable


And on and on and on for page after page.  I have other examples of incompatibility that I can share.  And yes, sometimes it's not Apple's "fault".  Sometimes it's someone else's "fault".  That is beside the point.  The point I'm making is that there is incompatibility, and with over 90% of the market using Windows and Windows-based products and Windows-focused services, it rests with MacOS users to be compatible with the rest, not the other way around.


Quick summary- Exchange, Google, Palm Pre

This is an excerpt from a recent email.  It's captured here for reference, and will be fleshed out more later!

The topic:  what hosted email service to use when using a Palm Pre or other similar mobile device along with Microsoft Outlook.

You might want to look at these resources:

On my web site:




If you go the Exchange route, and you are not an InterConnected Technologies client, you might want to look at:




If you go this route, everything (email, contacts, calendar, tasks, memos) is sync’d between Exchange and Outlook.  Almost everything (email, contacts, calendar, tasks) is sync’d with the Pre.  Pre memos don’t sync with anything.

If you go the Google Apps route, and are willing to pay for Premier ($50/year), you can use Google Apps Outlook Sync:


If you go this route, email, contacts, calendar sync between Google apps and Outlook (and the Pre).  Google Tasks doesn’t sync with anything, yet. 

If you only want free Gmail or the Standard edition of Google Apps (free), you’re left with using IMAP in Outlook:


If you go this route, on the Palm Pre you’ll be relying on your Palm Profile to back up your calendar, tasks, contacts and memos, since IMAP is email-only.  For devices other than the Palm Pre, you will be relying on whatever backup you have for your Outlook data file.

Clear as mud, eh?

If you are willing to pay for the best, I’d get the best:  hosted Exchange.  Then, everything that can sync, will sync.  You get to use Outlook, the Pre and the web-based Outlook Web Access to get at all your data (with the caveat about Pre memos, for now).

Any option is doable by mere mortals, but having some experience doing it speeds up the process, a lot, and gives a better overall result!  That's where the service and experience of InterConnected Technologies comes in.  In addition, with Exchange, we can get better pricing for my clients than what is shown on those web sites.


Google may have something - marrying Gmail with one's own email address

Google offers the ability, after some occasionally-complex steps, to keep one's own email address while adding the benefits of some of the features of Gmail to the mix.  Those of you who've talked to me about it know that I'm not a big fan of the Gmail user interface (which I think is awkward, klunky, inefficient, unattractive, inconsistent, and so on), but the core functionality of Gmail is quite good, especially with the addition of Postini spam filtering (Google recently bought Postini). 

The steps to implement this are as arkane as the benefits are real.  One can obtain many of the benefits of a hosted Microsoft Exchange account (which is still the gold standard, and at $8/mailbox doesn't cost a lot of gold) for free and without having to become my-name-was-taken@gmail.com.  Gmail can achieve synchronization with a variety of mobile devices while at the same time allowing users who love a web interface to have mail/contacts/calendar that way, and users who prefer a more responsive local email client like Outlook or other mail clients to use them.

Setting this up is not for the faint of heart.  I've done it a few times now and still don't have all the subtleties completely documented (some of them are real doozies!).  That's where InterConnected Technologies comes in - we know how to do it now!


Surprising aspects of technology

"Why would I want to pay $8/month for email when I can get it for free?"

That was my first reaction when I heard about hosted Microsoft Exchange email. Boy has my thinking changed after using it!

In thinking about what I wanted to say about hosted Microsoft Exchange email on this new site, it occurred to me that amongst all the things that people usually say about Exchange, and things that I will no doubt say on this site, there is one aspect of it that hardly anyone focuses on, and it's one surprising aspect of it that perhaps is one of its best features: freedom from any one computer.

Think about it: if you use Outlook (as most people still do), and if you have regular email provided by your internet service provider, and if your computer failed right now, what is one of the first things you'd wonder. If you're like most people these days it's "how am I going to handle my email?"

Well, with Exchange, the answer is easy: on any computer, or on your mobile device. You see, the mobile device support and Outlook Web Access support provided by Exchange mean that even if your primary machine crashes, is stolen, is somewhere else, you can still access all your "Outlook stuff" - email, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes.

People who use web-based email have experienced this by default, but they're also experienced the drawbacks of purely web-based email: it's only email (until recently), it's relatively slow, and it's ONLY there when you are online. With Exchange, you get the best of both worlds: the speedy performance of Outlook on your local computer, plus the freedom to access that same information anywhere you are!

Some people will try to compare Gmail or other modern free email services to Exchange, but those comparisons rapidly reveal the value of Exchange.

If any of this resonates with you and you don't have Exchange, we should talk!

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