As the newest member of the TidBITS staff, I haven't yet adjusted to the increased load of email that arrives after an article or review appears in an issue. After last week's review of Claris Emailer 2.0 (see TidBITS-382), I received a number of messages pointing out more information about the product, including expanded documentation, AppleScripts that provide additional functionality, and what to do if your Mail Database becomes corrupted (which first happened to me that very day). Surprisingly, many letters focused on the tiny Ethernet network I set up at home to synchronize my email between my PowerBook and desktop Mac.
Expanded Documentation -- I mentioned that Emailer 2.0 includes a fairly comprehensive online help system, but didn't go into more detail because I rarely use online help (I've even remapped the Help key on my keyboard using CE Software's QuicKeys to stop online help systems from loading if I accidentally hit Help instead of Delete). Perhaps because they know I'm not the only one who feels this way, the people at Claris have created a downloadable "Emailer User's Guide PDF" file containing the same information as the online help system. A few readers pointed out that the 3.3 MB file is well worth the download and offers far more comprehensive information than the thin Getting Started Guide that ships in the Emailer box.
AppleScript to the Rescue -- A feature I wanted to see in Emailer was support for selecting multiple messages in my In Box (or any other folder) and saving them to disk as a single text file. I was promptly pointed to Fog City Software's Emailer Utilities Web page, where I found an AppleScript that does exactly what I asked.
The Export Selected Messages script by Dan Crevier saves all selected messages into one Unix mailbox format file (which includes mail header information). Another script in Dan's Sample Scripts collection, DB Stats, reports the total number of folders and messages in your Mail Database file.
One other AppleScript I was happy to find is Toggle Schedules, part of the Dave's Essential Scripts collection by Dave Cortright. At home, where I have dial-up access, I keep my schedules turned off. But at work, where I'm connected to a dedicated ISDN line, it's nice to have Emailer check for mail every ten minutes. Toggle Schedules enables me to switch to my "Office" schedule in one step.
These scripts are just the ones that I anticipate using in the near future. Others allow you to strip out quote prefixes (>) from messages, count the number of words in a message, provide automated hooks between FileMaker Pro and BBEdit, and more.
Phantom Messages -- If your machine crashes with Emailer open, you may find "ghost messages" in your In Box or Out Box. Everything appears to have been read, and yet the folder's icon still indicates unread mail. The only solution is to rebuild your Mail Database and Mail Index. Ironically, I had never had this problem until I started receiving mail about Emailer (insert your favorite conspiracy theory theme music here).
To activate this hidden feature, quit Emailer, then re-launch it while pressing the Option key. Then, selecting Typical Rebuild from the dialog box that appears will make Emailer copy your existing database and index, and rebuild the files. Although the process took 11 minutes on my Power Mac 7600, when Emailer finished, my 26 MB database was not only fixed, but also pared down to 25 MB due to the reordering of the data.
Building a Mini Ethernet Network -- Based on the email I received, one might think readers didn't care so much about Emailer as they did about the mini Ethernet network I run at home. After switching to Emailer 2.0 (which stores its messages in a centralized database instead of as individual files) I needed something faster than LocalTalk to synchronize mail between the 7600 and my PowerBook. My solution was to buy a $74 five-port (not four-port, as I had previously miscounted) DaynaSTAR Ethernet hub.
You can, however, create a two-machine Ethernet network without a hub by using a crossover cable. I was unable to do this, because the Ethernet PC Card I use for my PowerBook comes with special cables to connect to the card; I suppose I could have tried to modify the cable, but didn't want to have to order a new one if I inadvertently destroyed it. Having a hub also leaves me with some flexibility for adding new machines in the future.
If you want to try the crossover cable method, you can either buy one from one of the popular catalog dealers (most prices I've seen are between $5 and $10), or, if you have a cable crimper and some RJ-45 connectors, you can make one yourself. Here are the instructions, as sent to me by Roy Fenderson <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
There are eight pins in the RJ-45 connector at the end of the cable. Holding the cable in your hand with the connector pointed away and the flat side on top, they are 1-8 reading left to right.
The important ones are 1, 2, 3, and 6. The cable should be wired this way:
1 -> 3
2 -> 6
3 -> 1
6 -> 2
As long as you have a 10Base-T connector on both machines, the cable connection should work. Don't forget to reset your networking settings to support the new Ethernet configuration, and enjoy the speed increase!