Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Aiki Computing - How I learned to stop worrying and love Google.

Over a process that's taken up a year or two, I've realized that simplifying your computer makes for a far richer experience.
I'll likely post more on this subject over the next few days, as it's something that's been on my mind quite a bit lately.

For starters, let's discuss email. Here is my list of why web-based email is a no brainer. Feel free (in fact, you're encouraged!) to comment if you disagree.
  1. Safer - Statistically, you are far more likely to suffer from a crashed hard drive or email database file than have Google, Microsoft or Yahoo suffer the same.
  2. Easier - Email Address, Password. That's all you have to know. Incoming and Outgoing Server Names? Username? SSL? Ports? Authentication? I have a headache and a list of possible combinations for every different local ISP already.
  3. More Secure - All the web-based providers pre-screen incoming emails for viruses and phishing with filters that are always far more up-to-date than what your little anti-virus programme can match. And they do it without having to install any software that can slow down your computer.
  4. Less Spam - Well, this could be argued, but not unless you specifically have your ISP pre-blocking your spam, or install more software to do it for you. The big names all have excellent filters that work better than you could hope to do on your own.
  5. Accessible - You have access to a browser? You have your email. Simple as that. I can't believe I lived without this ability for as long as I have... I can't count the number of times I've been at a client and realized I needed to look up something that was sitting in my Outlook Express at home and hence, useless to me. I even considered setting up remote access for my home computer just so I could check emails while out and about - dumb dumb dumb!
  6. Faster * - Well, this one will really only apply for those homesteaders who are still on dial-up. Web-based email will allow you to preview your emails, weeding out the movies and pictures of dubious value that insensitive louts with broadband constantly forward to their entire address book, using up 10-15 minutes of your connection time.
* In the interest of fairness, I should point out that web-based email does have the disadvantage of being unable to allow you to view ANY emails when you don't have internet access (how often does it happen that you want to read emails when you're away from an internet-connected computer?). I believe the time taken to download unwanted attachments is generally far longer than that taken to read and reply to emails. Even so, this could be mitigated on gmail by using their offline gmail feature.
Also, it is more vunerable to account hijacking, and as such, you need to have a stronger password than the average person likely does for their email.
All told though, I can't currently see myself going back to a desktop client unless circumstances force me there.

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