Tomorrow will be the 14th day that my email has been broken. I'm just going to call it now, because I'm done expecting it to get fixed. Our IT department has bungled this so badly it has left my colleagues and me speechless. There are official statements like this one, which leads me to believe they rolled-out ZFS and are now paying for it, but the technical issues aren't my concern right now. I want to write about something else.
I have been amazed how badly this outage has broken my workflow. You see there is a "web" client (I have read the code, so I hesitate to acknowledge it as anything that belongs on the web), and it allows you to get your email, and sometimes send email. So why are we all still saying we don't have email?
It turns out that email is a good portion of my workflow. It's how I get my bug info and updates from Mozilla. It's how I see that changes to wikis I use have occurred. It's how I work with various groups through mailing lists. Thankfully it's not how I work with my students (we use irc, wikis, blogs, etc.) or I'd be completely dead.
But what I'm lacking more than anything else is the ability to work with my existing mail and address book. Writing mail means looking through old mail. I have tons of things I need to go look-up in order to answer questions for people. I have reports to work on, grant applications, open source projects, requests from other projects and professors, inquiries from students, etc. Almost all of it requires me to go get a name, a number, a link, whatever. And I can't do it. It's brought my productivity to a halt.
There will be people who will say that I should just move to gmail, that this is all solved that way. I know what they mean, because I also use gmail. But for me, and this is a personal choice I don't care to argue with you, a rich client is the only way for me to work. I've been made much more aware of this over the past few weeks.
So to those of you who are still waiting for replies from me, or who wonder why I haven't mailed--I will get back to you, but I'm struggling to cope with the volume of mail I get in a 1994-era "web" mail client. And to the Thunderbird team, who are working hard to release Thunderbird 3, I say this: I'm going to enjoy it even more when it arrives. There's nothing I can say to our IT guys at this point they haven't heard from the thousands of other people like me who are screwed.