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Month: August 2013

Sanebox – Sanity for your email experience

Sanebox – Sanity for your email experience

Like most people who have been around the internet for a while, I get a lot of email. Much of it is spam – and most of this never makes it to my inbox due to spam filters in place. But even after taking out the spam there is still a lot of low priority/importance email that really doesn’t need to interrupt me when it arrives.

For the last year or so, I have enjoyed a significantly reduced load of email in my inbox, largely due to having adopted Sanebox [1]. Sanebox is a service which:

“filters out and summarizes unimportant emails – not spam, but legitimate messages that just don’t need to interrupt your day and can be processed in bulk.”

Sanebox works brilliantly, and behind the scenes by quietly analysing your email habits, and sorting the emails you receive so that those from your key contacts go into your inbox, and other emails go into a “SaneLater” folder. This pre-sorting means that a small volume of messages go straight to your inbox, leaving the bulk of low priority email for later review.

This triage takes a lot of interference out of email. When I am out and about accessing email through my iPhone or iPad, or in the office focused on core work, I can simply ignore the low priority stuff. Sanebox makes it easy to “train” contacts so that they appear in the correct folder.

Sanebox has additional features that allow you to defer emails until a later date. For example, placing an email in the “SaneTomorrow” folder will take it out of your current view, but place it back in the folder from which it came (Inbox, SaneLater or other) the next day. There are also options for handling mailing list or bulk emails, and reminder services to ensure that you don’t lose track of important messages you send and need a reply on.

Sanebox works with any IMAP, WebDav or Outlook Web Access email service, including services like Fastmail, GMail, Yahoo! Mail, iCloud and Exchange. It is a very versatile service

Sanebox has been around since 2010. Since then other providers have launched similar functionality, most notably Apple with their VIP mail in iCloud, and Google with their Priority Inbox feature. Sanebox has continued to offer a paid service against these powerful newcomers.

The ability for Sanebox to meet its goal of brining sanity to your email is perhaps demonstrated best by what happens when it has brief, unfortunate, outages. For only the second time I can recall in the year or so I’ve been with Sanebox, yesterday there was a significant downtime – about 10 hours. The Sanebox team communicated through Twitter and today followed up with a blog apology for the Sanebox outage and an email from the CEO.

I am an advocate for the concept that the true test of a service is not what happens when everything is plain sailing, but how issues are dealt with when faced. In this regard, there are two thoughts I want to share.

Firstly, my experience during the outage was not a loss of my email, but a loss of the behind-the-scenes filtering. Thus I lost no email, but had a much fuller inbox. It was a significant reminder of just how much of an incredible difference Sanebox makes to my email experience.

Secondly, the Sanebox response was great, with the blog post and an email from the CEO that:

  1. Admitted the problem
  2. Discussed the caused
  3. Outlined actions to avoid future occurences
  4. Provided compensation in the way of a free week of service to Sanebox users.

Two major outages in a year, totalling less than 20 hours, equates to an uptime of around 99.8%. Problems do happen, and providers need to learn from them and improve, just as Sanebox appears to be doing.

My annual renewal for Sanebox is a few weeks away. I’ll have no hesitation in renewing, based on the awesome difference Sanebox makes in my email experience, as well as the way they handle issues.

  1. Affiliate link. Thanks in advance 😉  ↩

ReadKit 2.3 Launches with Streamlined Sharing and a Snazzy New Icon

ReadKit 2.3 Launches with Streamlined Sharing and a Snazzy New Icon

ReadKit [1] has become my favourite desktop app for reading my RSS feeds, and reading and managing articles I save for later reading and/or sharing. ReadKit sports a clean, intuitive user experience, and supports a wide range of feed, read-later and sharing services, including Feed Wrangler, Fever, Feedbin, Feedly, NewsBlur, Pocket, Instapaper, Readability, Pinboard and Delicious.

I first started using ReadKit as a clean desktop app for both Instapaper and Fever. In the case of the latter, it was an interim solution until the long-awaited Reeder for OSX update which promises to support Fever and more.

Today the Webin team have released version 2.3, and along with a snappy new icon, it now supports a feature that I’ve long wanted – a one click ability to move an item from a web feed (such as Feed Wrangler or Fever) to a bookmarking service such as Pinboard or Delicious.

In fact, I requested this very feature via an conversation with the ReadKit team back in May, with the following post

@readkit In v2 beta, is it (or would it be) possible to have a single click to create a bookmark from a Fever post, bringing up the dialogue box to save to Pocket/Instapaper/Pinboard, etc? Thanks!

Within minutes, they came back with this reply:

@desparoz you can drag the posts between accounts. Just drop it on the unread folder of the read later/bookmark service.

My reply indicated I was aware of this, but outlined why I still wanted a one-click process:

@readkit I realise that, but then I have to go to extra steps to bring up the box to type in description, etc. I use IFTTT to pull from Pinboard to & Twitter. So it adds steps to my workflow.

I loved their response:

@desparoz I see. We’ll solve it soon 😉

This is a great example of a developer paying attention to the needs and wants of its customers. I’m hardly the most prolific of bloggers [2] and this simple automation allows me to the quickly share some posts I’ve found to be important and/or interesting.

The ReadKit team has put a lot of thought into my this process as simple as possible. Clicking on the share buttom brings up a list of choices that now includes Pinboard and Delicious. Selecting Pinboard (in my case) brings up a dialogue box with options to edit the title, tags and description. The title and description information defaults from the article being saved.

Simple Pinboard sharing with ReadKit

So far this works brilliantly. The only feature request I can see to date is to have an option for selecting whether a post should be private or shared from the dialogue box.

I now use Pocket instead of Instapaper, and Feed Wrangler instead of Fever. Even though Pocket has a beautiful OSX app, the simple integration of these services, and Pinboard, makes ReadKit an absolute winner. I’m no longer waiting for an update to Reeder for OSX [3].

If you’re using an RSS service, read-later and/or bookmarking services and you’re a Mac user I strongly suggest you give ReadKit a try.

  1. Affiliate link. Thanks in advance!  ↩

  2. I do try to be more regular, but there is a lot of good stuff going on in my world at the moment. So I’ve had focus my limited time and attention.  ↩

  3. I love Reeder for iPhone. On the iPad, I prefer Mr Reader. These and ReadKit on OSX allow me similar workflows to quickly share items using Pinboard with an IFTTT recipe to share to, Twitter and LinkedIn.  ↩

Brief Thoughts on Ocean Warming

Brief Thoughts on Ocean Warming

Clown Anemone FishAccording to The Conversation oceanic warming is leading to changes in marine life distribution and spawning patterns. While there are people who still hold onto a disbelief in climate change science, there is clear evidence from the oceans, nature’s power house that things are indeed changing.

As temperatures warm, marine species are shifting their geographic distribution toward the poles.

For those of us who dive in temperate waters, this might at first sound interesting – maybe we will get an opportunity to dive with species that have traditionally been associated with sub-tropical and tropical waters, closer to home. But given that the coral reef ecosystems that support much of this life take decades, if not centuries, to grow there probably won’t be suitable habitats to support the marine life on the scale it needs to exist at.

Essentially, these findings indicate we are seeing widespread reorganisation of marine ecosystems, with probable significant repercussions for the services these ecosystems provide to humans. For example, small fish of southern origin are increasing in the North Sea but concurrent declines of large-bodied, cold-water commercial species are likely to result in social and economic impacts.

Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world’s protein consumed by humans. The impact is likely to be felt most in countries with the lowest GDP. A September 2012 report by Oceana found that losses of up to 40 percent of catch potential can be expected in the tropics.

There are many wonderful initiatives to improve our carbon footprint. Energy efficient lightbulbs, hybrid vehicles and carbon credits are all critically important. But I wonder sometimes if the oceans are the proverbial elephant in the room that few want to talk about when it comes to environmental protection.