You've Lost Mail!

The Wall Street Journal writes: In a humbling reversal, AOL Time Warner Inc. is retreating from a top-level directive that required the divisions of the old Time Warner to convert to an e-mail system based on AOL software and run by America Online's giant public server computers in Virginia.

I'd heard this already from folks in the belly of the beast, often after I called to find out why they hadn't responded to email. The article notes that some executives claim that two percent of their email was being lost, large attachments wouldn't go through, and sending messages to too many people caused the system to ban them as spammers.

See, there are lessons to learn from eating your own dog food, although the version that staffers were using was slightly different than the standard AOL. But it isn't POP or IMAP compatible.

I recall back in 1996, Adobe Systems was still using cc:Mail and an Internet gateway. After wrestling several emails back and forth with an editor at Adobe Magazine, I finally managed to get an attachment through the horrible system. Shortly after that, the company switched to Eudora and POP, and probably saved themselves tens of millions of dollars in lost labor and system admin costs (not to mention licensing if they used even-then open-source POP programs).

About eight months later, I get email from the editor dated eight months earlier! I forward it to him and the system folks look at it; they can't figure out where it got lodged in the system, but it was finally coughed up. (You know, like those routine newspaper stories: Man Gets Letter from Dead Brother Mailed in 1956. They clean up the old P.O. mail sorter and gott knows what shakes loose.)