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Eudora Watches Your Mouth

By Jim Bray

Eudora is a wonderful tool whose latest version can even help save you from embarrassing cases of giving online offence.

I can remember using the shareware version of Eudora when I was a “Net neophyte.” It was a basic program that handled all my normal cyber-posting duties, but it was still an entry level program – while Eudora Pro was more like a car with leather seats, ABS and traction control.

The downside was that you had to pay good money for Eudora Pro, which was undoubtedly a turnoff to many people who were perfectly happy with the Microsoft Outlooks of the world, or the e-mail programs that came built in to their Web browsers.

Qualcomm has figured that part out and, in true capitalist fashion, now gives you the best of both worlds. You can get Eudora for free, but you have to put up with banner ads. If you’ve had your fill of online advertising (good luck!), however, you can buy Eudora for $49.95 (suggested price) and the ads are blessedly nowhere to be seen.

Existing users of this “Paid Mode” (first introduced in Version 4.3) get a break; they can upgrade to V5 for free.

As hinted at above, the most promoted feature of Eudora 5 is called “Mood Watch,” and it could come in extremely handy if you tend to fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. It’s a patent-pending “flame retardant” that warns you if you’re writing – or receiving – an e-mail that may be a little, er, “hot” for polite company.

Mood Watch looks over the text in messages and, if it finds any well-known but unprintable words, gives you a “chili pepper” warning. Depending upon how vulgar the message is, you can have up to three peppers.

I did an experiment with this, using a variety of spicy terms, but I had a heck of a time coming up with anything that would generate one or two peppers.

Guess I’m just a three pepper type of guy…

I pity the poor soul who had to type all these terms into Eudora’s “cuss control dictionary;” I bet his or her peers got to hear a lot of colorful expressions during that assignment!

You can set the level of abuse at which the warnings are triggered, or turn off the warnings completely, while still allowing Mood Watch to be your “cyber censor.” You can also disable Mood Watch if you like to live on the edge – or you never send e-mails to your boss or your mother.

Other new features include ESP (Eudora Sharing Protocol), a way by which you can set up a group to share any file that can be sent as an e-mail attachment. This means that, once your group is set up and configured (using a Wizard), it monitors the files in your designated folder and, if any of them change, updates the rest of the group’s designated folders as well.

This is a nice way for people to keep shared files up to date, without having to keep track of what’s stored where. ESP handles the file distribution, notifications, and even the archiving of earlier versions of files.

There’s also a new set of e-mail usage statistics, which include charts that analyze your e-mail by day, week, month or year. I don’t really know why you’d want this, but it’s there if you do.

Eudora’s address book is marvelously flexible. It lets you manage individuals and groups, and you can set up large mailing lists in which the recipients’ individual names don’t appear. Version 5 offers you more complete information on your addressees, and it also lets you import data from programs like Outlook, Netscape, and Claris emailer.

One of the things I use all the time with Eudora, depending on which hat I’m wearing on a particular day, is its ability to handle multiple accounts and personalities.

If I’m “The Techno-dude,” for example, I use the default personality, but if I’m contacting a mailing list from a volunteer group with which I’m involved – or sending something on behalf of my consulting business – I choose a personality and signature more relevant to each task. It’s marvelous.

Available for Windows or Macintosh, Eudora 5 is easily the best version of Eudora yet.

Even with those hot chili peppers.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.


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January 31, 2006