Charles Engelke's Blog

November 17, 2004

Try Outlook?

Filed under: Notes — Charles Engelke @ 5:38 pm

Well, my PC acted up yesterday, so it was time to wipe the hard drive and start over. Our IT group got me a new disk image right away, and I started moving my data over. But, since it was a brand new PC, I decided to try some new things out. For example, I’m not going to install ZoneAlarm; I think the new XP SP 2 firewall will meet my needs. (It doesn’t do as much as ZoneAlarm, but I think it covers my vulnerabilities.) And I decided to try Outlook 2003.

I’ve always avoided Outlook because it’s such a virus and worm magnet. But I’ve heard over and over from a wide variety of sources that Outlook 2003 is much safer than earlier versions, and it would be nice if we could use it for group calendaring. And it should sync just fine to my Palm. So I installed it, migrated my Eudora mail to it, and tried it out.

Well, I ran into a problem right away. I couldn’t check my personal e-mail! Outlook doesn’t support APOP authentication. APOP is a simple way to avoid sending e-mail passwords in clear text. The client identifies itself to the server, the server responds with a challenge, and the client responds with a hash of the challenge and password combined. But Outlook seems to support only plain text passwords (which I won’t use on my own server), plan text over SSL (plenty secure, but I set it up once and it was a pain; I don’t want to do it again), and something called SPA. SPA seems to be a Microsoft-only mechanism similar to, but different from APOP, so my OpenBSD mail server wasn’t likely to work with it.

So, unless I add SSL to my e-mail server (which is a pain) I can’t use Outlook with it. Well, I suppose I can keep using Eudora for personal mail, and Outlook for work. Now to see how well it works with my Palm.

Answer: it doesn’t. Sure, the Palm comes with software to sync it to Outlook. On the CD. Which I haven’t seen since the day I got the PDA. I always download the Palm Desktop when I migrate machines. But it turns out that you can only install Outlook conduits from the original CD. Probably some licensing issue, but it makes no sense at all to me. Why not tie the licensing to the hardware? No matter how many times I install the software, I’m never going to be able to use it without hardware I bought from Palm. Well, Palm doesn’t think that way, so I can’t sync my Palm with Outlook.

That’s two strikes against Outlook, and I’m too busy to give it a third chance. It’s out, at least for now. Maybe I’ll come across a Palm CD some time. Maybe I’ll just happen to set up SSL on my mail server. If so, Outlook’s still on my PC, ready to try.

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