InBoxer 2, Spam 0

It is round two for my favourite client-based spam filter, InBoxer. Regular readers may remember how much I liked this application, an Outlook plug-in that removes spam without removing email you might actually want to read – its incredibly low false-positive rate is what attracted me to the product, because I cannot afford to take the risk of important messages getting zapped. Whether from existing clients, prospective new ones or even you, dear reader, I need to know that I’m the one who decides what is read and what is binned.

InBoxer 2, Spam 0

The other thing I like about InBoxer is that it just goes about its business quietly, enabling me to go about mine. There is an initial training period when you need to hit the Block/Keep buttons quite frequently, but it is a fairly quick learner, and soon you will find yourself visiting the InBoxer toolbar less and less. I have been beta-testing the latest version, due for release by the time you read this (visit www.inboxer.com for the download), and I have been slightly confused by some of the ‘improvements’, especially by one of them, namely that InBoxer 2 adds email ringtones!

Thanks to the MailTones plug-in, you can associate specific tones – chosen from the substantial collection supplied – with emails, based upon user, subject or keyword. I do not know about you, but the idea of having my computer moo, quack or play Jingle Bells, Silent Night or Beethoven’s Fifth has little appeal. It is a gimmick, pure and simple, which is a shame – if there is one thing I really do not like it is application bloat, and this sure looks like it. Can you imagine a small office of, say, ten users all with these alerts turned on? It would sound like Old MacDonald’s farm! Pop-up screen dialogs linked to the same keyword filtering process might have been a different matter altogether, but InBoxer 2 seems obsessed with sound – another plug-in, MailCall, monitors your incoming mail flow and plays a WAV file of your choice whenever ‘good’ email arrives. Why not go the whole hog and have a toilet-flush as each spam is filtered out.

Mercifully, both these features are optional, thanks to the new plug-in management console – even if getting your head round the concept of a plug-in for a plug-in is not easy. All became clear after I delved a little deeper into the documentation and explored the options: it is actually a rather neat idea that will enable Audiotrieve (and presumably authorised third parties) to add optional functionality in an incremental way, leaving the user in full control of the ‘advanced’ feature set. You get five plug-ins with InBoxer 2 (unless any last-minute changes are made to the release version, of course). As well as the useless audio stuff, there is SendStats – an opted-in route for sending program-performance statistics back to Audiotrieve – but the really interesting stuff is left to the Redirector and PopBoxer plug-ins.

Redirector keeps an eye on the email flow within Outlook and copies all the good stuff (items not identified as either spam or requiring review) into a named folder, which is then synchronised with a BlackBerry device. Since support for BlackBerry is increasing all the time, this is a real boon, which means you can be pretty well assured of a clean feed of email instead of having to scroll past all the rubbish. Those messages not copied to the BlackBerry folder are retained, as usual, by Outlook and can be reviewed and processed back at your desk.

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