So we were bored on a saturday evening when the five-year-old says, “Can we play Hungry Hippo?” Of course that got me thinking about Linux, more specifically KDE, more-more specifically KMail. How can one person’s mind jump from a plastic game featuring 500+ lbs mammals that choke on marbles to an open source POP3/IMAP/SMTP client? Hi, I’m Cliff. You’re here because it’s lunch time and you’re just as hungry as my email software. I’ve been letting my GMail account collect dust this past year. It wasn’t until recently that I began routinely checking it. I did like many software developers do. I signed up, over time, to about twenty or thirty different mailing lists. I used to have this trick back in the day where I’d register for a while, set an agent or filter or macro in my mail software of choice to move all the fluff into a specific folder but that was years ago and I forget how to set it up. I don’t have time to set it up. I’ve switched mail clients, computers, jobs, since then and I can’t even remember which lists I’m still registered for or why. I just know that I get a ton of mail from random places and its been too much to handle.
About a week ago I began speaking to some potential business contacts through what had become my spam account. I figured I better do something about my account since it’s the only other one aside from my professional account that I actually connect to. I started cleaning it up. I have messages from 3-4 years ago in there. Many that I need for reference, (Google search is so good I don’t need to file anymore) some that I need for evidence in case something jumps off, some contain critical password info to sites that I use, and some that I always say, “When I get a spare moment, I’m gonna check that out!” So cleaning (because I’m a pack rat) is a delicate tedious chore I’d been avoiding. I’d love to do a mass delete but there really are about 2-3 hundred mails sprinkled throughout that would cost me dearly if I lost them. Given all that, imagine my horror when I set and ran a filter from Kontact’s KMail that started lining out every message in my inbox. I think my initial count was like 1568 and when KMail finished I was down to about 957. The filter was only supposed to grab stuff from source forge and move it to a mailing lists folder. Something went wrong while it ran (a classic KDE seg fault window popped up) and when I restarted KMail was having lunch on all of my mail not just those from Sourceforge.
While I’m not sure why KMail wanted to chew on my internet bill pay stuff I thank God for the All Mail folder in GMail. After quitting the process at number 957 I was able to log into GMail and find everything that hadn’t been lunched on in the All Mail folder. It’s been a while and I try not to get carried away with email features so I don’t really understand how All Mail works. I mean, it appears to be a view of everything that’s in your GMail account but my user model doesn’t fit the actual program model. My user model says, “Anything in your GMail account will be visible through All Mail because it shows All Mail. Also, if you completely delete an item such that it doesn’t appear in the trash then it should no longer be in All Mail because it’s no longer in your account” In reality I believe (without confirmation) that GMail is using copying your mail to this special All Mail place because whatever KMail did with the messages it wasn’t supposed to touch, they didn’t land in the trash. They didn’t land in the folder the filter was supposed to put them in. they just disappeared completely from the inbox but remained in All Mail. (My filter was set to only touch the inbox.) Also, I noticed that I could drag mail out of all mail into other folders at which point they would no longer be part of All Mail. That’s when I got really concerned losing all confidence in both KMail and GMail. Whatever program model these two things employ is very atypical and complicated and even though it saved me from total disaster in this one case, it needs to be revised. With KMail the program model is likely broken where as GMail continues to confuse me.