The Best System for E-Mail with Multiple Computers

Many people are not aware of mail client programs such as Thunderbird.  There used to be a time before the advent of the popular web-based e-mail systems such as gmail and yahoo mail when the only way to access e-mail was with an e-mail client program like Thuderbird.  Now, many people only know about webmail and don’t even know about such programs.

Yet using such a program is a much better way to use e-mail.  Why?  Because with such a program, the mail is actually transferred to your computer (or computers if you have multiple).  It makes working with mail much easier, and the features of mail programs like Thunderbird go way beyond what is offered through webmail services like gmail or yahoo mail.  I therefore recommend to everyone to use an e-mail program.  The popular ones that I know about are Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Windows Mail, and MS Outlook.

I have chosen to use Thunderbird because it is developed by an independent third-party, and can run on any platform – Windows, Mac, or Linux.  It also supports a lot of plugins, such as the integrated calendar addon called Lightning.  I have yet to determine whether using Lightning for calendaring is the most versatile option.  There are also a lot of other useful addons like one that can remove duplicate messages, some which can alter the display of messages, and some which add various types of features to the program.

Just recently I started using a second computer system in addition to the main one I use.  The additional system is more portable and lightweight.  I want to have the ability to take a small system with me, but still have access to all my data and especially my e-mail.  The trick to doing this was to use Thunderbird on both machines and configure it to access my gmail account using IMAP.  IMAP allows the e-mail messages to be stored centrally on the main gmail system where my account is hosted, amd both my client machines can access the mail when they need to.

It is even better than this though.  Say for example that I decided to create a new folder to sort some of my mail on one of the machines I use.  After I create the folder and put messages into it, it will automatically synchronize through IMAP with the central gmail system and that folder and all the messages in it will automatically be available on the other computer!  Totally brilliant!

Now I can read my mail anywhere using the Thunderbird client program with all its features, and read and process the mail, and not have to worry about it being out of sync with the other computer.

The next things I am working on are what is the best way for keeping a calendar across multiple computers, and also documents.  The document issue is interesting because I like to write a daily journal and have a copy on both machines.  Obviously it gets out of sync when I make edits to the journal on one machine.  What is the best way to keep a journal so that I can edit it from any machine and it will always be automatically synchronized with other machines?  Hopefully I will know soon…

Cool image comparing star sizes

A story is in the news today about the European Southern Observatory (ESO) having discovered a star that is 260 times as massive as the Sun, exceeding what was thought to have been the maximum size limit of 150 solar masses for stars.  It is the largest star ever observed.  Accompanying the article is this startling image, which is an artist’s rendition of the comparative sizes of “R136a1” with other more standard-sized stars:

Whoa! Moma!

Very useful article on OpenSSH installation under Cygwin in Windows 7

Cygwin, sshd and Windows 7

WMAP Reassessment Casts Doubt on Standard Cosmological Model

Scientists have done some re-analysis of the ground-breaking Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) data which has been so important for cosmologists, and their re-assessment suggests that some of the interpretations of the data were off, thereby casting doubt on the entire standard cosmological model which includes the concept of dark energy.  In other words, this new reassessment indicates that dark energy – which has never been actually observed, only theorized – might not exist after all.

If that’s the case, then the fact that the expansion of the universe is accelerating is due to something else.  Possibly the theory of gravitation, which has not changed significantly since Newton’s time, needs to be fundamentally reworked.

Stop sitting up straight!

Imagine hearing your mother telling you this, or a school teacher.  Yet it may be the truth.

I always knew this!  LOL

Sitting straight ‘bad for backs’

On another note, I once heard somewhere that, in the time of Jesus, people used to eat laying on their sides, in a kind of lounging out position.  I’d love to see that come back.

Pronation, Explained: Info from Runner’s World Magazine

Pronation, Explained: Info from Runner’s World Magazine.

Extremely Cool Tool for Creating Live Linux USB Keys

Universal USB Installer by is a really cool utility which automates the process of creating a live Linux USB key installation.  With this utility, you can easily transfer a Linux live CD image to a USB key.  It supports various versions of Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu, Knoppix, GParted, and many others.

All you have to do is download the iso cd image of the live Linux system you want, then copy the Universal USB Installer program into the same directory as the .iso, and run it.

I created a bootable Ubuntu 10.4 USB key with this utility in a few minutes.  It also has an option to set a persistence option for the system it installs, meaning that, unlike with a CD, you can actually read/write data on the USB key and save your customizations/configurations between reboots.

SOHO’s Successor

I had actually looked to see what was going on with solar missions with NASA and ESA, yet in my searching I had not found anything that appeared to be replacing SOHO, but then stuff on SDO has been popping up in the media lately, so maybe I missed it.  Today I found the main data page for SDO.  Wow.  Here is a list of instruments on the craft.  Unlike the SOHO which is in what is called a Lagrange halo orbit, SDO is in an inclined geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO).  At least part of the reason for this, I have read, may have to do with data transfer rates, as SDO is transmitting much more information than SOHO.  Its actually interesting to know what the Sun-Earth Lagrange points are, and why the L(1) was chosen for SOHO.

image of SDO spacecraft

image of Sun taken by SDO

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Incident Web Site

Deepwater Horizon Incident, Gulf of Mexico

As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations.

Customizing Windows 7 Save/Open Dialog Sidebar Links

I just installed an extremely useful utility which was mentioned in a thread over at the excellent site.  It allows you to change the default links which show up in the left sidebar in the Open and Save dialog windows.  By default, the left sidebar for Open and Save dialogs contains the following five links:

Recent Places

What is annoying about this is the conspicuous lack of a link for the most obvious place that anyone would want to save to or open an item from: their My Documents folder.  Another obvious one would have been the user’s home folder (one directory above the My Documents folder), which contains the My Music, My Pictures, My Videos and other folders.

This problem is solved with the following utility: Simpli Software’s Places Utility.  With it, you can customize the 5 slots which occupy the left sidebar with whatever links you want.  One trick I will mention that is necessary for getting it to work is that the utility must be run as Administrator.  Even if your regular user has administrative privileges, it is not enough to make the changes to the system.  You must right-click on the utility’s icon and select “Run as Administrator” to run it.

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