Polymail

I’m super excited to write this blog post. I’m always interested in new mail clients (I miss Mailbox). When I found out Polymail dropped for both iOS and Mac, I jumped on it. Apparently so did everyone else, which lead to some problems.

If you’ve never heard of Polymail before, don’t feel bad. I didn’t hear about it until super recently, myself. Polymail has a super slick UI that doesn’t waste space with stuff you don’t need. It features killer email delegation and reminders (remember when Mailbox let you put off an email until a date in the future?), get information about the person you’re talking to, and keep all this organized and synced between all your devices.

Triage

Let’s talk about the follow-ups, first. I’m a huge fan of triaging tasks. If it’s not time-sensitive, it doesn’t need doing right now. Granted, if there’s nothing else that needs doing, that logic doesn’t apply. This is super helpful for those with noisy business inboxes where everyone and their grandmother is clamoring for your eyeballs to absorb their textual essences. Sorry grandma, I’ll take a look at that chain letter tomorrow at 4:30 PM.

You can choose to follow up on a conversation using one of the preset dates, be super noncommittal and say “read later”, or pick an arbitrary date in the future, because you’re a master of your schedule and you know you have sixteen time slots open right now between today and Christmas 2018. Those voids of sadness need filling!

On the flip side, you can remind yourself to follow up with someone else if they don’t read your email. This is a neat feature, but be careful. You can very easily become “that person” that everyone in your office hates. You know which person I’m talking about: “hey did you get my email?”

With great power comes great responsibility. Can I trust you to not abuse it?

Following Up

When you’re writing your digital prose to the person on the other end your email exchange, knowing who the heck they are is important. It’s even more important in cases like candidate screening or figuring out if the person is real, or not. Next time you get resumes for a job application, use their information Polymail will glean about them on your behalf.

The Downside of Cloud Sync

While writing this quick review and even attempting to use Polymail, I ran into two problems that I think are worth noting.

First, cloud sync is a very dangerous territory to enter if you’re not prepared. In the case of Polymail, I don’t think they were. The sign up process requires you give them access to your email accounts, which is fine. The problem here is, they do everything through their servers. The emails don’t go straight from gmail.com or outlook.com or your O365 account to the client. Nope. That’s too easy (or hard). I found this to be true when after about six hours, Polymail claimed I didn’t have new email. If only that was *really *the case.

Hi all! 👋 Initial mail syncing may take a little longer due to high traffic right now, but we're working on it. Thanks for your patience! 💌

— Polymail (@PolymailApp) July 21, 2016

That’s the tweet Polymail posted about the delays. Given I haven’t received more than one round of emails, I’d say it’s more than a delay.

My second problem is moving email accounts from one Polymail account to another. I wanted to use Polymail for work, too, so I created a work Polymail account. I also wanted to get my work email on my personal devices using Polymail. My routes were to use my work Polymail account everywhere else or move my work email to a personal Polymail account. I opted for the latter but ran into an issue.

My work email address is stuck in some sort of “account will be deleted” state that won’t progress. I didn’t think it’d take hours to delete an account, but I guess so. In the mean time, no work email via Polymail.

End of the Day

Originally I was pretty hesitant to jump in because of cloud syncing issues. This morning, I checked on it and everything seems to work well now and I was no longer getting the error in adding my work email account. So with all that being said, I’d definitely recommend Polymail.

You can pick up Polymail from polymail.io for the Mac and the App Store for iOS.


Testing Out a New Temporary Markdown Editor

I’ve been in search for a backup Markdown editor while my goto app is updated to fix a rather lethal crash bug. For those wondering, as of this writing, Desk PM is my goto and when attempting to work through the publish menus, the app always crashes, and always forgets my work. No good.

So in the meantime I had to find an alternative, if I’m going to restart my blogging habits for 2016.

The theme here is simplicity. All I need is a distraction-free space to write my thoughts down in Markdown format, and special formatting is optional.

The first app on my list is Typora. It’s not a very complex app but what it does, it seems to do well. Launching Typora takes you to a blank canvas, just like I’d expect. It comes with six themes out of the box and more can be added by way of CSS. Yes, it’s that customizable.

One of the first things I did was open the .css file for the theme of my choice, Pixyll, and edit the #write ID element and widened the max-width to 1200px from the default 854px. Given I want a full-screen write space, I felt 854px against my screen was a bit small. With 1200px, this set me up for about 65-75% width used depending on the resolution I’m at. I tend to operate at 1680×1050 equivalent, most of the time.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 3.32.49 PM

This is the editor as a whole. It’s super minimal, with little fluff. A settings pane is available under Preferences that allows you to make some tweaks to the app, including font size, window style, access to the themes folder (big plus) and a few other settings. Again, nothing totally crazy here, because it’s a simple app. It’s not claiming to be your word processor replacement, and I wouldn’t it want to be mine.

While it would be nice to edit some of the theme settings without having to modify css, I’m personally OK with that and once I have it the way I want, it’s a set-and-forget kind of deal.

The real question is will this become a permanent tool? Maybe. It depends on what my goals are. As it stands, today, I have to copy and paste into WordPress and publish from there, which takes a few extra minutes when I factor adjustments and image uploads, etc. If this app were to become a blogging tool, it’d need to be full service in order for it to fill that void for me. Right now, it’s temporary, and may always hold a place when I need to write some markdown for something non-blogging-related.

With that being said, it’s a good app. I don’t have any major complaints, to be honest. It’s free while in beta for Mac, Windows, and soon Linux.


A Post I Wrote with Writed

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting apps that make the desktop writing experience more enjoyable. I’m a big fan of Desk and iA Writer and wondered what other kinds of markdown-based writing tools were out there.

A quick Google search turned up more than a few and I only had time to talk about one, tonight, so I picked a free entry in the space, Writed.

I’m a believer of having a good-quality, distraction-free writing environment to craft stories, blog posts, news articles, and even school papers*, one of the biggest things to me is the ability to go full-on distraction-free mode and be able to just write, without anything else getting in the way. Writed does the full-screen writing mode well with several styles to choose from. Since it was night when I wrote this, I found it suitable to sit by a lamp at my desk and use the Night theme. The contrast is good and I’m not struggling to see. Plus, if I darken the brightness of my screen, the dark grey background becomes almost black, and the words still pop.

99% Distraction Free

A word and character counter sit at the bottom of the screen, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to make that bar disappear, so strictly speaking, I’m not operating in full distraction-free mode like my favorites would alow me to do, but we’re close. To be honest, I like to see the numbers from time to time because it feels like I’m increasing some magical word score and I’m shooting for a high score. I have this odd fascination with things that allow me to attain exceedingly high scores with no real reward at the end but an even higher score.

Basic Markdown Support

Writed does markdown writing well with it’s backtick ( ` ) code support, as well as proper emphasis with single and double-underscore and -asterisk support. Headers and code blocks work fine, as well as blockquoting with greater-than carats ( the > symbol).

If I was going to chang anything about this application, I’d only do one thing: make the bottom bar something I can hide. Given that it’s a slightly different color in the theme, it stands out from the rest of the editing space and is just a smidge distracting. Other than that, I like Writed and for the price of FREE with a couple optional in-app purchases, it’s super hard to say no to such an app that gets the basic markdown-centric-distraction-limited-writing-space job done.


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