Friday, January 17, 2014

The End of an Era

Things on the internet come and go. Heck, just as I typed that canned statement, I realized that "Internet" is no longer a capitalized word. It makes me wonder why it ever was. In any case, despite the warnings we got in the early days of social networking (early days? How old am I?) not everything on the internet lives forever. That isn't to say you should go ahead and post that ill-advised drunk selfie. Those things will take on a life of their own. But if the internet has taught me anything, it's to not develop deep attachments to websites, forums, or apps, because they won't be around forever.

Overall, I think I've done pretty well not clinging to any obsolete bits of the web. I had a Geocities page once upon a time. I'm not missing that. I experienced a touch of schadenfreude when a blog I had been banned from commenting on folded up. (It happened because of a strange debate over whether mythological dragons have anything to do with dinosaurs. Apparently "maybe" is a too controversial a stance to take.) And although some things haven't gone, I've successfully transitioned from Livejournal to MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to "screw it, I'm just gonna text the people I really know and forget the rest." Blogger, you're doing great. Don't mess it up!

But I must admit, I got a little sad today when I received the following message in my inbox:
from: Gmail Team
date: Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 3:53 PM
subject: Important Announcement on Google Notifier Beta
: Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.

Important Announcement on Google Notifier Beta
We are writing to let you know about an important change to Google Notifier Beta. Starting on January 31, , Google Notifier Beta will no longer be supported, meaning the app will no longer show recent emails and calendar events.
Since the Google Notifier Beta launched in 2004, a lot has changed. Smart phones can now notify us of new messages wherever we are, and improvements to web technology enable similar features to be built right into the browser.

If you want to continue to receive notifications, you can use any of the following alternatives to Google Notifier Beta using the Chrome browser:

  • To see the number of unread messages in your inbox at a glance, install the Gmail Checker Chrome app.
  • To preview new messages on your desktop, go to Gmail's settings and enable Desktop Notifications.

You can uninstall the Google Notifier Beta by following these instructions.
-The Gmail Team

For those who don't know, Google Notifier--also known as Gmail Notifier--is (was) just a simple little taskbar notifier, not unlike those for instant messengers, only for Gmail. To show you exactly how simple the thing was, I'll show you the whole thing in two screenshots:
This is the right-click menu. "View Inbox" would open Gmail in your web browser.
This is the notification pop-up. "Tell me Again..." (above) would make this repeat.
The only thing not shown was the login, which was just a basic windows account login dialog box. The Options entry is kinda silly. The only option was which web browser to open.

Anyhow, the little blue envelope icon has been in my notification tray for nearly ten years. It'll be sad to see it go. Even when I though Digsby (now another dead thing) was the best thing ever, I kept Gmail Notifier along side it for it's simple trustworthiness.

There is a silver lining, though. I at least won't have to give up my notifications altogether. Some time ago I found Howard Notifier, a similar program originally designed only for Hotmail. It has since been expanded to include several email providers, including Gmail. In fact, it has been sitting alongside my Gmail Notifier for some time because, as I said, the Gmail version is just so simple.

Howard isn't complicated, but it's different and still feels unfamiliar to me. Left-clicking the notification icon will instantly open multiple browser windows, one for each email account you have. I have to remember not to do that. Still, it's my recommended replacement for anyone who is in the same predicament as me.
Howard Notifier's right-click menu. Not terribly different, but not quite the same.
So, with that, I wish a fond farewell to Gmail Notifier, the first thing passing from the Internet that I will truly miss. I guess now I know how all those Geocities people felt.

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