RoboMail Quick Review
Many TPC BBS users plug the RoboMail mail reader, especially its database message management system. It allows you to easily "keep, archive, or delete" messages as you read them, and set up folders and file related messages in them. This is not a full review of RoboMail. I'll write only about the database system, which is the feature many people ask about.
The mail reader that I used when I got on the TPC BBS was OLX-TD 2.1. Some members suggested that I try a few mail readers before I became attached to OLX, but I found it so easy to use, and so well priced (free!), that for a couple of months I stuck to OLX. But I kept seeing positive posts from rabid RoboMail fans on the BBS, and I decided to try it when it was included in a "Disk of the Month" at the January meeting.
When I installed RoboMail I found the unfamiliar screens and commands intimidating and confusing. I kept looking up key combinations, and everything seemed to take twice as long as it had in OLX. But as I got used to the new keys and commands, everything gradually worked more quickly and easily. I soon began to appreciate the advantages of RoboMail. I set a goal of using it daily for one week before I made any "RoboMail vs OLX" decision.
The heart of RoboMail is its message database. As you read messages, you have four options. You can "archive" them for a specified period of time. You can "delete" them. You can "keep" them indefinitely, or you can "file" them into folders that you create.
I set all the conferences to a default of "archive." This means that if I hit the <enter> key to read and cycle through messages and conferences, the messages are kept ("archived") by RoboMail for a set period. The default archive period is seven days, but I set it to 14 days. After this period, RoboMail automatically clears out archived messages.
If I hit a lower-case <d>, the message is deleted, and will never bother me again! I find that out of a packet of, say 40 to 50 messages, I usually want to keep only half a dozen or so.
I don't use <k>, the "keep" key much, because I've settled into a rhythm of hitting the <f> key instead, which pops up a list of folders I save the message into. If a message is worth saving, I might as well file it in an easy-to-find place. I have folders for "Internet," "TPC BBS," "Scripts," "Japanese Culture," "Akihabara tips," etc. It's so simple to hit <f> to copy the message into an appropriate folder, then hit <d> to delete the original message.
I'll grant that it takes a bit longer to read and process messages, but I don't have to go searching through piles of old QWK packets to find something. It's already filed in a folder.
Some readers may wonder why I've set my default to archive, when I delete 80 to 90 per cent of the messages. True, I tend to use the archive option sparingly, as I find the "delete" and "file" options more incisive. They force me to make a choice as to whether or not I really want to keep a message. But, I prefer to consciously have to make the choice of whether to file or to delete. I can hit the <enter> key for any messages I'm not sure about, and feel secure that I'll have a second chance to review them (within the next two weeks).
A few more hints:
1) If you're concerned about deleting messages, don't worry. RoboMail has many settings that allow you to choose how to process your QWK packets. You can adjust how "automatically" you want the messages to be deleted. You can even set different "archive, keep, or delete" defaults for each conference that you read.
2) If you're already using a mail reader, changing to a different one can be difficult. This is true when you try any new software. Humans are creatures of habit, and it's hard to change the way we work. I suggest setting a goal to use any new product daily for a minimum of a week before you write it off. Assuming it's not a complete dud, it takes at least that long to give it a fair evaluation.
3) Make sure you download the 1.3 version (ROBOM13A.ZIP and ROBOM13B.ZIP) from the BBS. The old 1.2 version isn't as easy to run under Windows due to its demand for "expanded (EMS)" memory rather than "extended" memory. RoboMail 1.3 uses "extended" memory and runs under Windows with no problems. It also has other enhancements. If you have RoboMail 1.2, download and install the upgrade file ROBOM13U.ZIP.
4) RoboMail is shareware and the program will ask you to enter a randomly generated function key each time you start it. After 21 days, the program will delay its exit procedure, and the delay gets progressively longer. To avoid these "hints," you can register on-line by credit card at the RoboMail BBS in the U.S. for $33. This on-line registration takes only a few minutes, and you get a short "key file" to download. Simply put the key file in your RoboMail directory, and the next time you run the program, you'll be registered.
Note: RoboMail moved last year, and in my experience, most copies available on BBSs in Japan do not have the new information yet. You can reach RoboMail at:
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