Monday, July 28, 2008

Sort-of Techical Problems, Sort-of Technical Solutions

I subscribe to the Boulder Linux Users' Group mailing list. It's my local LUG, it carries announcements of local events, and the posts are mostly technical.

Plus, when you know folks, it's fun to see what they think and how they write. I read the stuff Sean Reifschneider posts even when I have no clue what he's talking about.

The opposite's true, too. I started going to Dave Anselmi's Installfests just to meet him and Collins Ritchie. I'd been so impressed by their steady, helpful contributions to the mailing list that I wanted to see what they looked like.

Oh, sure, there's an occasional call to boycott a large company because they buy closed-source software.

In some cases, these move me to action. As soon as I learned Microsoft uses Microsoft products in-house, I stopped buying stuff from Microsoft.

In other cases, not so much. King Soops? I still shop there.

And, once in a while, some poster decides it's important we all read about their far-left political views. But what do you expect from the People's Republic of Boulder Linux Users' Group?

Mostly, though, the signal-to-noise ratio is high.

Just now, however, we've had a couple of back-to-back flamefests running that swamp out the parts I find useful.

At first, I thought, "Oh well. If this is going to turn into Slashdot, I'll unsubscribe."

Then I realized that I have a technical solution at hand. Gmail lets me, with a single keypress ('m'), mute threads I'm not interested in: they no longer show up in my mailbox. As long as no one hijacks the thread, by changing the subject line, I can go back to reading the stuff I'm interested in.

The thread, meanwhile, continues to go into my archives, so if I suddenly become passionate and want to flame, too, I can retrieve it.

I suppose there's a chance my mailbox will fill up with the stuff, but even if Google stopped giving me more space today, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation says I'll be 72 before my mailbox fills up.

I can live with that.

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