InBoxer 2, Spam 0

In a similar vein is the last of the provided plug-ins, PopBoxer, which is also perhaps the most universally useful. Essentially what it does, and does very well, is enable anyone with a PDA or smartphone to also get a clean email feed. There is a choice to be made between forwarding good messages to a specified address or deleting the crud, and if you choose the latter you can set the delay before the messages get vaped from ten seconds to two minutes – which you choose depends on whether you have a setup that leaves Outlook running when you are away from home or office. If you do, then the forwarding option works flawlessly, or at least it has for the time I have been playing with it here. There is a certain amount of duplication between feature sets as PopBoxer can also be used to send email to a BlackBerry, but that’s forgivable because it enables so much more. I tried it with a mobile phone that can accept email sent to a phone-specific mailbox, and when used in this context the collaboration between Outlook, InBoxer and PopBoxer creates, in effect, a highly efficient forwarding service.

InBoxer 2, Spam 0

If you are unsure of your Outlook uptime and still want email flowing to your handheld even when it is down – or the hosting PC is switched off – then choose the delete bad mail route instead. Helpfully, you can also choose between seeing only good messages or both good and review messages on the handheld. This is important because the way that InBoxer works means that it filters incoming email into three categories: Good, which are known to be spam free; Blocked, which are 100 per cent spam; and For review, which are those messages that are suspected of being spam but are on the cusp. Occasionally, good messages are chucked into the review bucket, from where you can give them the thumbs up or consign them to the blocked bin. It is this review process that teaches InBoxer your particular definition of spam, and also that enables it to achieve such a low false-positive rate.

This plug-in architecture, on reflection, is actually a step forward for InBoxer rather than the backward, bloat-inducing one I first feared. It should still ditch those quacking filters, but perhaps some pandering to the cheap end of the consumer market is necessary to increase the user base and provide the revenue streams to continue development. In that case I guess I would just have to put up with the barnyard.

All the plug-ins are installed from self-installing archives in the form of PYNE files (look for the PY9 extension) and are cryptographically signed and encrypted for good measure. There is a security worry in that users may install such a file that fails the signature check, and which could be malicious in nature, but that’s an unlikely scenario and one that applies as much to any other application that uses plug-ins.

The barnyard noise plug-ins come free of charge, but Redirector and PopBoxer come with an expiry date and have to be paid for thereafter, costing $20 to register the pair. Audiotrieve, the company behind InBoxer, has just confirmed that there will be a free upgrade for everyone who purchased InBoxer off the website after 1 September 2004, and that this free upgrade will include the premium plug-ins. Existing customers who purchased before that date can continue to use their version 1 without upgrading, or they can upgrade at a 40 per cent discount.

The Fat Lady Shrinks

Opera has been taking a bit of a back seat to Mozilla Firefox of late, at least so far as media coverage and market share goes. The release of Firefox 1 hit the headlines with quite a splash, and during the extended testing phase it has managed to chisel away at Microsoft’s dominance, with Internet Explorer (IE) losing market share for the first time ever. Let’s not get carried away though: the figures vary depending upon which reports you read, but Microsoft still has about 90 per cent of the browser market sewn up, so it is not exactly under a great deal of pressure. But Mozilla has achieved between 3.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent of that market (and rising), and a Mozilla Foundation spokesperson has been quoted as saying that the company fully expects a 10 per cent share by the end of 2005, thanks to the momentum it currently has.

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