the prefect mail start page part 1

The question is:

  • What do you want to see when you first open up your email client?
  • Follow-up.  If your answer was the last email in your inbox, what if you have no email in your inbox?

Some thoughts:

  • A blank page is not acceptable
  • A page that displays project information or product feature information is not the right answer
  • Page must be simple, fluid (because of the different views), and easy to localize
  • It's unclear whether the measure of a good start page will be based on activity on that page or high clickthrough since the next step after seeing the Start page is to go to the inbox and check for new email/read email.  However, a user will go back to the Mail Start page and then may want to do something from that page after reading email.

Here's the current Thunderbird start page vert view (above) and in classic view.  It's actually more of a Welcome page versus a Start page where a Start page is something you see everyday and is (can be or should be) useful to you.  A Start page is something you *want* to see everyday.

Clients like Mac Mail and others [Zimbra] don't have a Start page, you get a message or a blank message pane view.


  • Gmail's start page is your inbox and a try something else message if you have no emails in your inbox.
  • Yahoo! Mail's start page is another Front page with weather, news, other info.  It's the "we're going to try and give you some useful information" but "we're really only doing this so we can monetize webmail."
  • AOL Mail and Hotmail have a variation of Yahoo!Mail's start page.

Web Start pages:

  • The Firefox Start page is done the way it is because: a) a blank page was not acceptable, b) a page that displayed project or product information was not the right answer, c) it was a simple page and easy to localize, d) high clickthrough rate or activity on the page makes it seem like it was/is the right choice.
  • Google has two start pages: and iGoogle or even Google Reader
  • Yahoo's two start pages: and My Yahoo!
  • PageFlakes and Netvibes – My Yahoo! and iGoogle-like
  • Facebook's style with info of friend's activities/requests

Whistler Air

Whistler Air is the float plane we took from Squamish to Vancouver last Friday on the way home from Whistler.  The way home included: a 10 mini van taxi ride to Green Lake, hour "limo" bus ride to Squamish, 20 minute float plane ride to Downtown Vancouver, 30 minute cab ride to the Airport, 2 1/2 hour plane trip to SFO, 5 minute Air Tram to BART in the airpot, 1 1/4 hour BART ride home, 8 minute car ride home.  I was tempted to put on some roller blades or hop on my bike and then go for a swim afterwards.

And while the Firefox Summit also included a rockslide, bear sightings, a day with no electricity, my MacBook hard drive dying on day 2, it also included over 400 Mozilla contributors from around the World — US, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Germany, France, South Africa, Brazil, India, and more.  Great event, great people, great time, lots of Rock Band.  It was a celebration for the launch of Firefox 3 and then discussion towards the future and some of the things that were demoed were very cool.

Whistler Canada is a beautiful place.  Would love to come back and try snowboarding.  The Bay Area Ski bus is doing a trip out there January 10 – 16, 2009.

SF marathon – wrap up

I ran the SF marathon today (26.2 miles) and actually ran it.  This is the first one that I've completed without stopping, about 4 1/2 hours of continuous running/jogging.  I did the SF marathon 5 years ago and completely "bonked" at mile 22.  Today was a different story and felt good the whole way.  There wasn't a swim and a bike beforehand so I didn't really have an excuse to stop running (which is why Ironman triathlons are much better than marathons).

Some observations/learnings:

  • The SF marathon is a beautiful run, we hit the Embarcadero, the Piers, Marina/Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Haight/Ashbury, and AT&T Ball park.  First half is harder/prettier than the second half.  I recommend doing it.
  • A half marathon is probably all anyone really needs to shoot for.  A full marathon is quite a lot.
  • I burned about 3600 calories for the marathon.
  • My training schedule actually worked out ok.
  • Experience does come with age — I had better pacing and my feet were already calloused up from years of running.  Muscle memory kicked in too towards the end.  It does become easier.
  • Skip the post race massage (unless there's no line) and do an ice bath as soon as you can.  That's 3 or 4 bags of party ice in a cold bath tub.  You stay in there until all the ice melts.  Otherwise, you're going to be all cramped up waiting in line and you're not going to be walking well for next 3 or 4 days.
  • Body Glide and Assos cream really help to prevent chafing — nipples, under arms, and thighs.
  • Thermolytes or sodium pills were great in helping to absorb the water I drank and helped prevent cramping.
  • Low fat chocolate milk is a good recovery drink.
  • I'm amazed that women can run with no or bad sports bras.  It's not cute.  There is a lot of eye candy at the SF marathon though, for guys and girls.
  • Someone mentioned that within 30 – 45 minutes of an endurance workout, it's free calories and you can eat as much as you want.  After that though, it's the same or worse in terms of burning off those calories.  Seems to be right.

Next up is Cal International in December if I can make my running weight.  After that, I'd love some recommendations.  The 50 marathons in 50 States club is interesting I guess, about as cool as a Chess Club (yes, I was in a Chess Club).  International ones would be cool too.

[No more marathons until I reach 170-175 lbs or less fighting/running weight.  It's tough carrying around so much weight.]