E-Mail – A Fail – [En]


You probably wonder what’s with the title.
Well, the thing is the wide spread e-mail systems become more and more unusable every day. We get more spam, more graphics and less actual functionality and compatibility. That, added to some extreme stupidity makes current big provider e-mail systems a mess.
Both yahoo and google updated their e-mail UIs (User Interfaces) to some that work extremely slow and bad.
The good in this ? Nothing. There is no advantage compared to the old interfaces.
The bad: quite a lot. Old browsers will not work. Un-updated ones will sometimes work. On other than high performnace computers and fast internet connections everything will move worse than in the 56k dial-up ages.

Trying to fix some
For Yahoo, there’s a way to revert to the old interface: set your desktop resolution to 800*600px and open yahoo mail. It will ask you if to revert to the old interface.
Since that will not work forever, there’s another way: on IE, go to “Tools” and then on “Compatibility View” from the menu. You’ll get a window where you can add and remove websites to be displayed in Compatibility View. Add Yahoo.com to the list. Done.

For g-mail, use this link for the old html-based UI:
http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=html
Now you can actually read e-mail messages not strange inter-linked anomalies that cause inexperienced users to answer to themselves.
You can also switch off the new folder-based inbox:
On inbox view, click the ‘gear thing’ icon, then Configure Inbox, then un-check all the boxes except Primary (not uncheckable). Save.

To switch off the compose ‘feature’: Click compose as if starting a new email. Then click the south-facing triangle in the bottom right of the Compose window, and select “temporarily switch back to old compose”. An alert window will appear, with a condescending message to remind you that you shouldn’t expect this option to last. Click “temporarily switch back”.
I did not test how “temporarily” it is, but it’ll do. On some accounts it’s a permanent switch back option (“Switch back to old compose”) and on some the whole option seems to be missing. Very weird.
Anyway, it’s best you try it for yourself.

For yahoo’s conversation ‘feature’ (voted the most annoying feature of 2014)…well…it had the decency of asking me after a while if I like the new thing and I said no, so it reverted back automatically.
If it didn’t ask you, just click the “Gear thing” in the top right and select “Settings”. Go to the “Viewing Email settings”, uncheck “Conversations”, and click “Save”.

And now to the stupidity part.
All major companies that also offer e-mail services or any other login-based services for that matter keep trying to make people not use simple passwords by various means from minimum number of characters requirement to wanting your phone number in case of needed recovery.
As I explained in a previous article, it’s easy to make complex and easy to remember passwords. The stupidity that I was taking about: both g-mail and yahoo mail have no longer a visible logout button.
This is by far the most stupid thing ever done by anyone demanding security. To actually be able to logout you have to open a sub-menu that sometimes will work and sometimes will not, depending on the situations described above (browser, performance, enabled support, etc).
So you may find yourself on an internet cafe unable to logout. Nice. And as browsers like chrome and failfox make sure they remember everything, the next person coming by will have absolutely no trouble accessing your e-mail account.

On top of the bad things, yahoo fails even more: it has (even on high performance systems and connections) a big lag on the login interface.
So if you’re the quick-type kind of person, a few things may happen: it may lag you at the first few characters (and even crash a browser like failfox), it may lag when you tab for the password box – this is a problem since it will cause you to write your password on the e-mail address box instead of the password box, causing anyone around you to see it.
‘Nice’ ‘security’ again, Yahoo.

After knowing all this you have some options: either use fixes and try to persuade them (yes, the companies) into fixing their stuff or, much better, go for smaller e-mail service providers. Some even let you design your own UI.

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