Patrick Hunt Earlier today... err, yesterday since it's well after midnight (again), I had lunch with Patrick Hunt and Raymie Stata. That last name may sound familiar because Raymie's company, Stata Labs, was acquired by Yahoo earlier this year. Like Oddpost, another smaller company we acquired, they built an e-mail client. Stata's client is called Bloomba and I got a brief demo of it from Patrick (also from Stata Labs) before we headed over to URL's for lunch.

Boomba is an interesting product. Unlike Oddpost, which is a rich web-based e-mail client, Boomba is more of a traditional desktop application. Bloomba is designed to manage a large volume of both e-mail and RSS feeds. It has both folders and tagging for messages, which I'm now convinced is mandatory for anyone that deals with a lot of e-mail, and it provides a mechanism for "saved searches" or views if you're thinking of it from a database mindset.

The more we talked about Bloomba after the quick demo, the more I realized that it really is a good combination of ideas. Like Oddpost or NewsGator, it assumes that you want to use a single program and interface to handle incoming e-mail as well as news (RSS/Atom) feeds. The "saved search" feature is quite similar to the Smart Feeds that NetNewsWire offers for news feeds. (I happen to use have several smart feeds in my NNW setup.)

Raymie Stata Bloomba also has something that I haven't seen in many other places: automatic aging. The idea is that items should no longer appear as "new" after they reach a certain age, regardless of whether or not you've read them. For many news feeds and e-mail lists, this makes a ton of sense. There's a whole collection of feeds I subscribe to mainly for the purpose of being able to include them in the universe of feeds that my smart groups cover. It's rare that I actually read those feeds directly.

The same was true of some mailing lists that I've since unsubscribed from. The SpamAssassin list, Linux Kernel, and several others were very high volume but only produced truly interesting information for me once or twice a month.

The result of the demo, subsequent discussion, and thinking is that I want a Mac version of Bloomba. Or maybe I just want NetNewsWire to grow until it acquires the ability to send and receive e-mail, as all software eventually does. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at December 02, 2004 01:14 AM

Reader Comments
# Phil said:

Jeremy - just curious if you have checked out Thunderbird, Mozilla's stand-alone mail client? If so how did it compare with what you saw in Bloomba?

I'm still in Eudora for now, and using Bloglines for RSS, and delicious/foxylicious for bookmark aggregation (critical for me since I spend significant time on 3 different Win boxes)

I haven't switched to Thunderbird yet, but I'm keeping a very close eye on it. Saved searches just went out in the latest release.

on December 2, 2004 07:38 AM
# Pat said:

Invoking the jwz rule now I see... ;-) But yeah, I'll clamor for a Mac version too.

on December 2, 2004 08:32 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Of course I've seen Thunderbird. I've tried every major release so far, but use it only for Usenet. It's a lot more like Eudora then Bloomba.

on December 2, 2004 08:50 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Yeah, the jwz rule is fairly accurate, I think.

I tried finding an on-line citation for it, but search failed me. :-(

I hate it when that happens.

on December 2, 2004 08:51 AM
# Mike said:

Two very smart guys there, glad to hear they're doing well...

on December 2, 2004 09:38 AM
# Graeme Williams said:

I agree that person-to-person email, mailing lists, Usenet groups, blogs and other RSS feeds overlap, and it makes sense to build a single tool or set of tools to handle them all. My viewpoint on this is as a happy user of Google email and both Yahoo email and My Yahoo -- I use too many different computers to contemplate anything other than a web-based solution. I pick on Yahoo for examples only because I'm familiar with it.

I like the basic idea that you want to tag or label all your incoming traffic, and I want to use that to organize the page into separate panes, like My Yahoo does with feeds. I'd love to see email from my family displayed separately from mailing lists or the latest offer from Staples. Folders don''t do it for me, because I want to see all my new email at once. Scrolling is better than clicking.

I like the way Google email allows you to set up filters to label incoming email, but of course that doesn't help with RSS feeds -- not to mention outgoing email -- and Google displays the whole mailbox in a single list. I guess I've drunk the Google Kool-Aid enough to believe labels are an effective replacement for folders, but I'd still like different display options, like label panes or sort by label.

On the other hand, for me a single RSS feed is too fine a granularity to make sense as a bucket -- I'd like to be able to pour several RSS feeds into a single pane sorted by date. This would be great for low-volume blogs for example. This is a weakness (IMHO) in the way My Yahoo supports feeds at the moment.

How and where things are stored seems confused and much too visible. I subscribe to some Yahoo groups that email me the postings, which presumably duplicates the storage. I could get the postings in RSS but then I couldn't store them. I can't "store" RSS entries (at least in My Yahoo, which is how I consume RSS at the moment) even though someone else is paying for the storage somewhere. I'd love to be able to collect different sorts of entries (email, blogs, RSS, ...) in the one place and use a single UI, but I don't particularly want entries that are already stored on the web to be charged against my large-but-not-infinite storage allocation. Ideally, Yahoo could do something like the Google cache, at least with popular blogs, so I'd never get a dead link.

Better aging controls would be great. I think Google is seriously confused if they believe that I want to keep every piece of email forever. I subscribe to a few junk email lists from vendors like Staples and Best Buy, and after a week or so I have to manually delete the email. Why can't an incoming filter automatically set an expiry time? On the other hand, why can't I keep feed entries for ever? So you want to be able to define the result of aging -- is it clearing a "new" flag, completely deleting (your reference to) the entry, or just moving it out of your "inbox"?

Last, I'd like to be able to unload my web-based storage to a local computer and still use the same rich client to access it. Ideally, blog and group postings would (optionally) be downloaded as part of this process.

Graeme underscore Williams at Yahoo dot com.

on December 2, 2004 10:10 AM
# Paul Reinheimer said:

As a devoted Bloomba user I am heartbroken by the Yahoo! acquisition, and the complete lack of development that will follow.

I think the big part of Bloomba that you missed out on is the fact that you don't need folders anymore. My client has indexed tens of thousands of emails (I did email tech support from home for a couple years) and the only folder I have is the Inbox. Searching is just so much more reliable than using folders, and its faster. Doing a search for 'eDonkey' returns the 2500 most recent results within two seconds. Doing a search for 'laura phone' takes less than a second and returns 17 seconds. This was invaulble while working tech support, I could remember getting a similar question before, enter in a few key words and find my response in less time than it would take me to hack it out again.

After using Bloomba since it's beta state I would equate using folders to archive email as something similar to squirrels hiding nuts to prepare for the winter. Lots of effort is expended finding, then hiding the nuts, and in the end only a small percentage is ever retreiveable. Its the same with folders, hmm, I january I got an email from some guy at school, telling me something about some star wars site. With Bloomba locating it takes only a few seconds, typing included (from: star wars), I would just give up under a folder based system.

In all likelyhood this iwll be a good acquisition for Yahoo! however, as with these new resources I find it likely that they will be able to beat or at least match GMail in Google's own backyard, searching.

on December 6, 2004 11:19 AM
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