Like most people in software, and especially open source, email is central to my life. It's how I do the majority of my communications, it's how I track things, it's how I spend a significant portion of my time. For years, Apple OS X was my main operating environment, and therefore all my mail was on whatever laptop I was using at the moment. First an iBook, then a 15" Ti, then another 15" Al, a 17" Al, another 15" Al (anyone want to buy one?) and now a 15" intel (dual core! dual core!). But when I want to IBM, I had a problem - the standard corporate system was Windows, and all corporate email was done on Notes. Now Notes on Windows is a totally different experience if you are used to ... modern mail clients. That's really because Notes isn't a mail system, it's an app dev environment, and I suppose that the Lotus people never understood that "software isn't finished until it can send mail" is really a joke.
Anyway, I schlepped around the world with both my Mac and my Thinkpad for 6 months. I joined intel, and did the same with Intel's Thinkpad (although it did have Outlook, which at least is a normal mail client). But last Christmas I gave up. After trying a few mail clients on Windows, I settled on Thunderbird and moved. It was painful for bunches of reasons. First and foremost, at some point Apple's Mail.app switched from mbox to their own format. Second, Mail.app is slick, and mail clients on Windows are pretty bad by comparison. I suspect that MSFT killed the ISV market with Outlook and Outlook Express. Thunderbird worked, though, and is multi-platform, so I switched to that.
Recently, I got a MacBook Pro because clearly I need it for evaluation of the core duo and open source and (mumble) and... :) Seriously - via the Parallels and virtualization, I can run both windows and linux, so I can do all my Harmony build work on the road on one machine (yes, I was carrying 2 machines again, and actually now three - mac, ubuntu thinkpad and windows thinkpad...). So I wanted to solve my mail woes once and for all. Enter IMAP.
Working on 3 machines, I wanted to have a consistent view of the Harmony mail list - what I had read, answered, etc, on whatever environment I happened to be working in. So I tried a few providers (pobox - who I adore for forwarding service, Runbox and Tuffmail) and settled on Tuffmail (www.tuffmail.com). The reasons were that they support server side scripting (necessary for having a consistent view of mail no matter what machine...) and it has the feel of a mail service provider that does retail only for beer money. IOW, they appear to be worrying about big clients rather than lots of people like me, and I figured that therefore I'd get great service. I wasn't wrong - I sent a note to support one saturday morning asking a question and I got an instant reply. I was able to chat with the support person for a few iterations asking about their machine room, reliability, the colo, and I got smart and useful information. If this was their 1st level support, I was darn impressed. (Ever call your cable provider about a mail issue???). So I started doing all my Harmony mail on tuffmail. Worked well.
Last week, the POP server that I have an account on died. As in "it's dead, Jim". It was the mail server of a friend's company, and he was letting me have an account there. Very convenient. However, there was no backup machine. Very inconvenient. So they switched over to Google Apps and wished me luck :), and I decide to go "all in" with IMAP. All my mail traffic (except Intel mail for security reasons) now goes to IMAP - personal, open source lists, everything. I've proven again to myself that Tuffmail's support is very good - I thought I had deleted a folder of important mail, and I got a response to my frantic email to support w/in minutes. They did inform me that it was my fault - I somehow did screw up - and then promptly gave me a new folder with a very recent backup of my whole tree. Within the hour of my first mail. And, as a bonus, they didn't call me a moron, which they had every right to. It turns out that I didn't actually delete the folder, I moved it accidentally to an adjacent one. I heart tuffmail.
Anyway, I'm now migrating all my old mail archives from the Thinkpad to the IMAP server. It's so convenient - add the IMAP account in thunderbird on the thinkpad, create the folders, and just drag. Simple. As a bonus, I can see my mail from Versmail on my Treo. One view of it all - what's read, what's answered, etc. Wish me luck :)
(And yes, I realize I'm a luddite...)