The best free email notifier!

Being greedy, I wanted a program to fulfill the following requirements:

Small footprint – No MS type bloaty programs thank you!

Taskbar – Icon notification in the system tray.

No popups! – There’s nothing more infuriating than a program that pops up messages from the taskbar/system tray (e.g. Windows XP!!!).

Multiple accounts – I have a number of POP3 email accounts via ISP’s and domains, so needed to be able to check them all.

Webmail – I also use GMail, Yahoo and Hotmail and wanted a program to check those for me too.

Cost – I prefer free or OSS software (obviously!), but don’t mind paying for something worthwhile or donating if I keep a program longer than 30 days.

Anything else was a bonus really, but they were the bare minimum requirements.

After a lot of fannying around looking through a number of sites, I came across PoP Peeper, which you can grab from www.poppeeper.com/. This tiny app managed to fill all my requirements and more besides.

It sits happily in the system tray checking email as often as you set it to do so. You can set up multiple accounts (as per my requirement above), including POP3 and web based email systems, assigning a specific colour to each account. Very nice touch that! Each account can be individually, or collectively password protected. So, if you have to share the PC with other people who you don’t want snooping, you can set a password to prevent anyone from even opening the program if you like. The security is very well implemented.

When an email comes in, you have a choice of how to have the program notify you (or not). I chose to have the icon in the taskbar change, along with a flashing colour according to which account the mail arrived at. You can also have a popup appear, Pop Peeper open or your normal email client open automatically if you wish.

Pop Peeper is capable of displaying any emails that arrive, without you having to open your normal client and can be used to reply. You can hide emails flagged as read and set the flags for emails to be deleted from the server when Pop Peeper next checks the account.

All in all, this is a very nicely designed application. After using it for the past few weeks, I can say it has been 100% reliable, takes up a tiny amount of resources (1.4Mb RAM when minimised to system tray) and does everything I could possibly wish for. It’s so nice not to have to open Thunderbird and my web browser with multiple pages every time I want to check email.

I’d highly recommend this program. I’ll be making a well deserved donation to the author within the next week or two.

Jim

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Linux live discs and the volume setting!

I’m a big Linux fan and run Debian, Ubuntu, Mepis and PCLinuxOS on my desktops and laptop. Being a serial distro hopper in the past means I’ve tried all the big distros and many of the smaller ones. Whenever a new version is released, I generally download the live CD and give it a whirl for interests sake.

Obviously, all the distros have different configurations for the live CD/DVD, but all seem to have one infuriating thing in common. I have yet to find a distro, or at least I can’t remember one, that doesn’t have this monumental problem. What is it?? The volume setting. Yep, big deal I hear you say. Well, bear with me here and if you’re a Linux dev, please take note!

I’m the parent of a small child and have other people living in the same house with me. Typically, I can’t get around to messing with the pooters until everyone (or at least the youngster) is in bed. So, I download and burn the latest and greatest distro to CD, pop it in the PC or lappy and wait for it to boot. What happens next? When desktop loads up, the devs have, without exception, seen fit to have the volume control set to 100% and the whole household is woken to the sound of some bloody cheesy startup jingle that nobody likes or wants to listen to at 100 decibels.

So, if you’re one of those people who’s working on the next live disc of your fave distro, please have a pause for thought and just set the volume level to 50% or even lower, so as not to deafen us all and wake the little ones.

Thanks,

Jim

The best free PDF reader?

I don’t much like Acrobat Reader from Adobe. It’s too big and bloaty, takes ages to open and just gets on my nerves in general.

So, after searching for something different, I found Foxit Reader which you can download free from www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php. It’s a nice program and opens like lightening, but…there’s always a “but” isn’t there? Well, there are two things I dislike about it:

1. It sometimes starts using 100% CPU and has to be forcefully closed with Task Manager.

2. It’s painfully slow to render some pdf documents. This is a showstopper with big documents.

After a couple of months of this, I started searching again. This time, I came upon PDF-XChange PDF Viewer, which can be grabbed free from www.docu-track.com/home/prod_user/pdfx_viewer/?act%5B69%5D=scr_shot.

Now, this program takes around 10 seconds to open, which, by comparison is fairly slow. However, I can live with that because it’s the fastest of the three programs I’ve tried when rendering pdf documents, is rock solid in terms of stability and isn’t bloatware (the app folder uses around 5Mb space). One very nice feature of this program is that you can add notes, comments, text and other objects to pdf documents. After something like three months of frequent use, I have yet to find anything wrong with this brilliant application. Go get your copy today.

Jim

iPhone madness

What is it about the iPhone that’s got everyone in such a tiz? It’s a phone! Wow, that’s amazing. It makes calls, surfs the WWW and plays music (DRM anyone?). Wow, that’s revolutionary. Apple. They are good at marketing, but their products are average, and I’m being generous.

When everyone was raving about the iPod, those of us with some rationality and sense were looking at products based on quality, features and price when looking for a multimedia player. Brand name and (very dubious) style just don’t cut it if the product is inferior and vastly more expensive than rivals. Think about it…By buying Apple products, just because they’re Apple, you are just one more sheep instead of a tech savvy consumer looking for quality. Think outside the box for a moment and you’ll realise how absurd it all is to spend a stupid amount of money on something just because everyone else seems to be. Who’s the idiot?

Needless to say, I never bought an iPoo (Creative Zen Vision M thank you very much!) and will never buy an iPhone. I have a great mobile/pda already.

It’s so bad now that I’ve stopped my subscription to a number of well known RSS feeds because I’m sick of hearing about the bloody iPhone. Every other news item is one more rumour. Who cares!?

Jim

The first one!

Looking through the templates for setting up this page, I decided to go with a nice, calm looking layout. The picture above goes a long way to setting the scene.

Although I’ve read dozens, I have never felt the need to bother setting up a blog of my own. It just seems like a waste of time and effort to write something I could say and that will probably never be read by anyone. Still, you never know until you try something!
Jim.