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Email failure

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Last night I got back to Jay & Holly's house late, but decided to do a quick email check before bed.

Eudora crashed partway through.

And this was not one of those ordinary no-problem "just relaunch and everything's fine" crashes. No, this was one of those awful "Eudora's TOC data gets messed up so it doesn't know where message boundaries are" crashes. I haven't had one of those in months, not since I made some unrelated changes to my email setup on the server; I had assumed that the potential for this happening had stopped.

But no. So I got some sleep, then made copies of the mailbox files that got trashed, fired up Rezilla, and removed the TOC data (in the resource fork) from the copies. This forces Eudora to rebuild the TOC, which means you lose all information about read/unread status of messages and about attachments, but at least you don't lose your messages. In the past, I've handled this kind of situation by getting Eudora to rebuild the TOC in a copy of the mailbox file, then copied over only the new messages into the old mailbox file, thus not losing much data--usually in the end I only lose the read/unread status (and attachment info) for the most recent few dozen messages.

But this crash was different.

It turns out that Eudora really seriously completely hosed a couple of the mailbox files. In my chat-list mailbox, for example, message boundaries have been unreconstructably destroyed going back to April of 2007. (I don't even know how that's possible, given how Eudora reconstructs TOC data--I don't see anything wrong with the underlying text files, so Eudora should be able to figure out where the boundaries are.) Something similar happened in my non-submission-correspondence mailbox for SH.

The good news is that I have a full and complete backup of everything as of this past Friday. The bad news is that it's at home and I'm not.

So. Upshot:

  • I don't think any SH submissions got lost; the submission mailbox was largely unaffected by the crash. However, as always, if you submitted recently and you didn't receive an autoresponse within 24 hours, please query immediately.
  • I may be slower than usual to respond to recent non-submission email to the fiction@sh address. I don't think any of that got irretrievably lost, but I could be wrong. (And of course Susan and Karen also have copies of anything that came in yesterday--S&K, if there's anything that needed my attention, please let me know.) If you're waiting for a response from me, it would be great if you could wait 'til this Sunday and then send again. Please don't send again right now unless it's totally urgent--more mail right now will only complicate things.
  • Likewise for personal mail. I don't think I lost anything, but I can't be sure. If you're waiting for a response from me for anything you sent me yesterday (Tuesday, February 5), feel free to ping me.
  • I probably haven't lost anything important in the long run, but I won't be able to really resolve the problem 'til I get home.

I'm really looking forward to the Odysseus beta, due any minute now. Even if I like it, it won't be a viable replacement for Eudora for a while yet, and certainly their SQL-based mail storage mechanism has the potential to lose/destroy data at least as badly as Eudora's mostly-text-based mechanism, but I'm really getting sick of the amount of damage Eudora does when it crashes, and the amount of time needed for me to clean up those messes; and I'm optimistically hoping that Odysseus at least won't have that particular problem, though I'm sure that, like all software, it'll have issues of its own. Still, up until its release date, it'll remain perfect in my head.

2 Comments

Umm...for what it's worth, I've never had a single problem with the Mac Mail program. Maybe it doesn't do what you need a mail program to do, though?


Yeah, the Mail app in OS X (a.k.a. Mail.app) just isn't powerful enough for what I need. I tried it a few years ago, and felt that the filtering system wasn't good enough, and was also annoyed by the single-window-centric approach. I'm sure it's significantly improved since then, and I was strongly considering switching to it (for Leopard and iPhone integration, mostly) before I heard about Odysseus; but all the die-hard Eudora fans I've heard from who've tried switching to Mail.app had a hard time with it.

Among other things, I need a mailer that can handle thousands of messages a day (plus about 10GB of archived mail dating back ten years), a strong filtering system (including the ability to filter outgoing mail), a good spam-detection system (which I gather Mail.app does have), a stationery/template system for sending form responses, easy use of multiple email accounts, ability to change the From line to whatever I want, the ability to have multiple windows for multiple mailboxes, very fast search, fast/easy/good sorting on various parameters (date, subject, from, etc), good keyboard shortcuts (or ability to assign same), and probably some other things I'm not thinking of offhand.

I would also like some things Eudora doesn't/can't do, such as good handling of non-ASCII characters, good handling of HTML, good handling of attachments, scriptability, better regular-expression support, even more filtering capabilities, even faster search, better integration with OS X (especially Spotlight and Time Machine), better IMAP handling, and more stability. I'm hoping that Odysseus will provide several of those things, plus strong Eudora compatibility and feel. If it doesn't, I may switch to Mail.app (or Thunderbird) after all.


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