Mozilla 1.0 Not Ready for Prime Time -- Close but No Cigar and No Brass Ring!
Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite's E-Mail & News Quick Look
Mike Angelo -- 27 July 2002 (c) -- Page 2
Overall, the Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite E-Mail and News module has a robust and useful feature set. On the surface it is an attractive product. The Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite E-Mail and News module has lots of potential and is impressive in many ways. Unfortunately, there are lots of problems with Mozilla 1.0 in general and with its E-Mail and News module in particular.
AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization's release of its Mozilla browser suite as a 1.0 offering on 5 June 2002 was premature. This is reflected in the Mozilla 1.0 browser. It is reflected in the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News module too.
Among the more notable features of the Mozilla Mail and News module are:
Mozilla combines an e-mail client and newsgroup client in a single E-Mail and News module and desktop. If you do participate in or read Internet newsgroups, you likely will find it very nice to have a single client that handles both e-mail and newsgroup work.
One advantage to having the e-mail and newsgroup clients together in the same module is that the look and feel of both e-mail and news are pretty much the same. Compare the face of the Mozilla News client in Figure 4, below with the face of its E-Mail counterpart in Figure 5, below.
Figure 4 is a screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 News client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened. Figure 5 is a screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened. The desktops displayed in Figures 4 and 5 are just about identical. The main difference is the list of newsgroup verses e-mail folders in the side panel and the messages indexed and displayed in the main panels.
Actually both newsgroup folders and e-mail account folders and mailboxes all are in the same side panel. The Mozilla E-Mail and News client software knows whether to proceed in e-mail mode or news mode because it senses whether you have selected a newsgroup listed in the side panel, or you have selected a mailbox listed in the side panel.
On the surface, the e-mail and news front-ends are pretty darn similar. The client back-ends and the servers are where the bigger differences are located.
There is an important advantage of having the same basic look and feel for both the e-mail and newsgroup clients. Once you have learned how to use one client, you pretty much already know how to use the other client without the need for any further learning or training.
Additionally, the Mozilla browser, e-mail, and news clients share a common basic desktop or user interface (UI) too. So, once you have learned the browser UI, you have a good leg-up on learning the e-mail/news desktop -- or vice verse.
That's important to you as an individual. The less time you need to spend learning to use a software product, the more time you have to use the software and do other things. Your time is valuable to you.
On the other hand, if you happen to own a business or manage other people, cutting down the time it takes to learn to use software products is important to you too. It saves training costs -- plus it gets your people productive sooner.
There is a downside to the common user interface across the Mozilla browser-suite. The Mozilla browser-suite UI is chock full of bugs, annoyances, and issues -- across the Mozilla suite. So, not only do you get the same look and feel across the Mozilla browser-suite, but you get many of the same bugs and annoyances across the Mozilla suite too.
Have you ever have tried looking for an e-mail message or newsgroup posting that was from a particular person or mentioned a specific item or issue -- but, you cannot remember which particular e-mail message or newsgroup posting contained that item or information? If so you likely will appreciate the Mozilla 1.0 Mail and News Search Bar.
The Mozilla developers have placed a search-string input-box on its very own toolbar on the Mozilla 1.0 Mail and News desktop. It's right above the message index panel. Please see Figure 6.
The e-mail and news search bar makes it quick and easy to make a simple search for a message containing a specified search string in its subject or sender's name. However, you might want to search more than the message-subject or sender's-name parts of the message, or for more than one search string. If so, you can drop the Advanced message search dialog box on the Mozilla Mail and News desktop search bar. That gives you lots more search options and search power. Please see Figure 7.
Unfortunately, this layer of protection does not go far enough for people who are concerned about their privacy and the security of their computers. You should be able to block Web pages from being displayed in e-mail and news postings, and block hyperlinks in e-mail and news postings from sending HTTP Requests to external URLs. Mozilla 1.0 does not let you do that. However, Eudora 5.1.1 (paid edition) does let you block all that. So does KMail.
Although sending HTTP Requests usually is harmless, that's not always the case -- particularly in e-mail messages. Take a look at some of the hyperlinks in e-mail, particularly junk e-mail. In some instances you will see some rather complex URLs with lots of seemingly random number and letter strings.
These complex strings of seemingly random numbers and letters included in URLs can be trapped through Web server log analyses. Much the way cookies can be used to track who you are and what are your Web surfing habits, Spam artists and other Internet pests can use these complex URLs to track who you are and what are your Web surfing habits -- as well as letting the Spam artists and other Internet pests know that you received and opened their junk e-mail to you.
Disabling HTML in e-mail and news is planned for future Mozilla releases. However, an option to disable HTML in e-mail and news is not included in Mozilla 1.0! It should have been included in Mozilla 1.0.
Open Source E-mail Security by Richard Blum is an excellent resource for learning more about how e-mail works and fighting e-mail Spam and e-mail spread viri. (SAMS, 2002. Link in Resources section on Page 6.)
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