There's nothing odd about the slickness of Oddpost

* Oddpost Web-based e-mail, blog and news feed

At the beginning of this year, Network World's Gearhead column ran a series on Cascading Style Sheets (see links below) that ventured off into the realms of DHTML and JavaScript.

I just came across a fantastic example of DHTML at work: A user interface for a Web-based e-mail, blog and news feed (RSS) aggregator service called Oddpost. This is one of the slickest uses of DHTML I've seen and one that really pushes the standard to its limits and yet works flawlessly.

The company quite accurately describes it as a desktop-style interface. It provides drag and drop, address auto-completion, right-click menus, shortcut keys and a spell checker with customizable dictionary.

Oddpost's mail services will retrieve mail from up to six existing POP3 and IMAP accounts as well as provide you with your own Oddpost address (such as whatever@oddpost.com). The service offers a list of popular RSS feeds to start you off and you can add others that you're are interested in.

Oddpost supports importing your own address book; you can customize your 'from' and 'reply-to' addresses, and you can send and receive attachments of up to 10M byte. The company also provides spam filtering which from my testing appears to be very effective.

The service's pricing is, to say the least, modest. As the company puts it: "Oddpost costs a mere $30 per year, which is probably less than you spend per month for lousy c-ll p-one serv--e. Plus we donate 10% of your subscription fee to the nonprofit of your choice, where "choice" is defined as a selection from one of seven organizations listed when you sign up. The groups include Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library, Natural Resources Defense Council, Habitat for Humanity International, North Beach Citizens and America's Second Harvest."

And that quote also nicely introduces you to the company's style - Oddpost is, as its name implies, a little odd. The founders have photographically documented their journey from having a business idea after the Internet bubble burst in 2000 through to the company they subsequently built. Along with that comes pictures of dogs and cats (and a lizard) that subscribers seem to think the company needs to see and that the company, in turn, believes the world should see. And you have to check out their list of Frequently Asked Questions - much more readable than the average FAQ.

Each account gets 50M byte of storage and for an additional $30 per annum you get another 50M byte. And if you want to test the service first, Oddpost will give you a 30-day free trial. And despite the low cost there's no advertising used to bolster revenue.

For mobile professionals who don't want to carry around a laptop or for small organizations that don't want to manage their own mail servers, Oddpost could be a cost-effective solution. And with that excellent user interface, it will certainly be one of the easiest to use.

Learn more about this topic

Gearhead: Cascading Style Sheets, oh my!

Network World, 02/16/04

Oddpost

Oddpost Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Sonic upgrades software to speed failovers

Network World, 04/12/04

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