Gmail encourages us to hold onto emails we no longer need

Having emptied the trash folder in Gmail (or the “Bin” in the UK version), I was greeted with the following message:

No conversations in the Bin. Who needs to delete when you have so much storage?!

I don’t understand how having a lot of storage justifies never deleting anything. By deleting things you really don’t need, you won’t approach storage limits as quickly.

By default, Gmail has a 30GB limit on mailboxes. I run the IT at my workplace, and we have several people approaching that storage limit. You can pay for more storage, but the costs quickly add up – and it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

How do you use 30GB of storage in your Gmail account?

I find it’s mostly attachments – and most of these either don’t need to be kept forever, or can be safely stored somewhere else. It’s particularly true when you have large files being created daily and emailed to people – if you store the file once and send around the link, that can drastically reduce your disk usage.

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Why an off-the-shelf CMS might not be the best choice

I’ll be writing more about bespoke CMS development in the future. For now, here’s a quote from a relevant BBC Academy article:

The CMS software market is quite crowded, with a huge number of products competing with each other. Despite this, we struggled to find a CMS that met our requirements around flexibility, multi-tenant operation and integration with existing services. Those that did come close also provided a vast array of other features that we did not require (such as rendering systems), which would end up complicating our architecture and adding a support burden.

In addition, off-the-shelf CMS tools generally have quite fixed user interfaces, which are hard to customise. We knew that ill-fitting user interfaces could be a real problem for our users, and we were determined to provide them with a system that allowed them to get on with their jobs without tools getting in their way.

from “Content Management Systems at the BBC

The power of networks

Back in late 2000, I discovered ezboard – a message board network. A group of friends were organising an event in London (Intensity), and they set up the “Intensity board” – a message board where people could chat before and after the event.

When I set up my own ezboard community in early 2001, I noticed that new members could find your board without needing to go looking for them. The larger boards would’ve probably done more promotion than I did, but I ended up with a small but friendly community that mostly included people who had stumbled across my board simply by being on the ezboard network themselves.

I decided to go it alone in 2004, and set up an OpenBB community. Most members moved with the board. The main difference I noticed by leaving ezboard was the lack of new members finding the board. Some did, but I had to work a lot harder at finding members when using a self-hosted platform.

I’ve noticed the same with blogging. A self-hosted WordPress blog is pretty much the de facto way for a “serious” blogger to run a blog. Hosted solutions such as Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com were never of much interest to me – I wanted the control that comes with self-hosted. Being technically minded, it didn’t seem right for me to take the easy path and not host my own site. I felt I had to do it the “proper” way.

But having a self-hosted blog is similar to having a self-hosted forum. You have to make your own network. Although I’ve had a couple of blogs that people found interesting, the readers can drop away in a heartbeat. Keeping up with a standalone blog can be something of a chore, unless the blog has things like an email newsletter (and there are reasons I don’t have one of those).

So I’ve decided to try blogging with a hosted blog.  I set up my miniblog at WordPress.com, and I’ve already had a small bit of interest from others in the WordPress.com network. I already have a couple of Tumblr blogs, one of which has nearly 1000 followers – and I’ve never really promoted it. People find it via tags.

The argument that people will find your blog if you write good enough content doesn’t really hold true unless you’re in a network. These days, Google is saturated with content. At least sites such as WordPress.com and Tumblr give you a glimmer of hope that you might stand out in a very big ocean of blogs.

Does everyone need a full website?

This week, my dad got in touch to say his two WordPress self-hosted sites had been suspended by his web host as they had been hacked. I cleaned things up and the web host reopened the sites.

My dad then asked if he could manage without a website, and simply use social media. There are many things to consider, such as how much control you want to have – and being at the mercy of a third-party (Facebook, Twitter etc). But if something goes wrong with your web host, it’s not a totally different scenario.

Years ago I would’ve said that everyone should have a website. Today, I think it really depends what the website would be used for, and what the company does. My last few jobs have all been developing websites, either as part of an in-house development team or working for an agency building sites for clients. These would not have worked purely on social media. They were all fairly big sites with a lot of custom functionality behind the scenes. We also had an in-house development team. A small business may not have ready access to developers.

I think there’s a benefit in having a website, but if it’s taking a lot of your time to manage and you’re not seeing a lot of sales from it, perhaps it’s time to consider what the point of it is. Does your website have a specific purpose, and is it fulfilling that purpose? Or do you have a website because you feel you should, or someone told you that you need one?

If you’re not seeing the benefits, consider streamlining it, keeping it simple and cutting out anything that isn’t worth keeping. It’ll take less work for you to manage in the long run – and means you can spend more time on the things that matter.

Instapaper rocks

I’ve tried several ways of managing my bookmarks, saving links for later, and sharing links if I enjoy them.

Tools such as Pocket, Evernote, Delicious, standard browser bookmarks, and a few others I can’t recall right now have been generally fine. But nothing has really worked out for me. Typically, I try a new tool, throw some links into it, then don’t really use it.

However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Instapaper. I’ve started saving links to it, including 30 or 40 tabs I had open on my iPhone, and links that were previously in a “To Read” folder in my browser bookmarks. I’ve got more to go through, including other browser bookmarks, and Evernote notes. But so far, so good.

Today, during my morning commute, I read a few posts on my phone and either liked them or archived them. That’s a good start.

If you haven’t used it before, Instapaper is definitely worth a try. You can see my recent “likes” on my Instapaper profile.


On an unrelated note – I like the rainbow at WordPress.com today!

Wordpress.com rainbow - Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

More: Tech Companies Find a Rainbow of Ways to Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage Ruling (Recode)

Introducing the Miniblog

There’s regular blogging (conventional blogs such as WordPress), and there’s microblogging (Twitter).

I’ve been struggling with what to write about on my main blog, and I’ve also had difficulties completing my posts. It feels as though I need to write a certain length of post to justify publishing it at all. This means a lot of ideas sit on the shelf.

I’m not sure of the value value in sharing unfinished posts and ideas. But I’d like to write more. So I’m going to try writing shorter posts here – my “miniblog”.

For now, my main blog will stay put. What happens next depends how the miniblog goes.