Sunday, March 02, 2008

WildBlue has googlified me!

As with many ISPs, WildBlue provides email, Usenet, and basic web hosting as part of its accounts. However, with no choice given, they have recently suspended all three services and replaced them with only the Google Apps free equivalents.

Gmail is a fair email service and I didn't have to change address (not that that would matter since I go through a front end address anyway), and it does offer POP3/SMTP support (though only through SSL; fortunately Agent's SSL support is solid). However, its spam filtering cannot be turned off. Inexplicable; how hard could it be to add a simple toggle to the settings? Agent's spam filtering is far more robust, with automatic whitelisting tied into my address book and a smarter content analysis. But with Google filtering mail before it even gets to Agent, it means false positives all over the place, plus a decrease in the ability of Agent to train up its corpus effectively. The only solution so far is to periodically go to the website and manually mark all the spam as not-spam, and unfortunately while Google claims this is training the spam filter, it never seems to make a difference. Such a great tool so entirely crippled by one poorly thought out function.

So far the web hosting hasn't changed over yet, but we were warned to back up our website completely and that we would have to rebuild it "with Google's tools". I already have perfectly good HTML; I am not looking forward to trying to coax some web-based GUI into looking like what I already like, or to wasting time doing it.

And Usenet? "If you participate in newsgroups, your new tool will be Google Groups." In other words, WildBlue just removed a significant service from their offerings flat-out and offer no real replacement. What do you think the odds are they'll reduce my subscription fee in recompense for reducing what I'm getting for my money? Though Usenet is nowhere near as important to me as it once was, I'm still profoundly disappointed that this is all they can be arsed to offer.

I suppose these days fewer and fewer ISPs are still offering any Usenet, though. Still, absolutely the only reason I still use WildBlue is the same as why everyone else does: we have no alternative, really. Why should they bother to care about service levels? The minute wireless, DSL, or cable modems get here, I'm gone. Soon, I pray! Save us, FairPoint; you're our only hope!

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