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There are currently many e-mail notification programs--tiny apps that let you know when mail arrives--out there, but they all fall into one of three categories:
1) Apps that interrupt what you're doing to let you know you have mail, usually with some dialog box that steals window focus.
Apps that stay in the background but require you to devote screen space to the app, even when it's not notifying you of anything.
3) Apps that rely on sound to let you know you have mail, which can annoy people around you and can't convey
What I propose is a fourth solution: an app that, upon noticing you have mail, pops up a translucent icon on the screen (the exact location and nature of the icon should of course be user-defined). The icon stays on top, but passes clicks through to the app beneath (note: I don't know if this is possible in all GUIs). Since it's translucent, you can work in the app beneath until you get around to checking your mail.
[egnor, May 31 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]
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||I lump taskbar/panel/dock indicators under #2, because though you can hide the panel, the app is then useless as a visual indicator.
||Also (and this is simply a personal matter), ePrompter doesn't support IMAP.
||Okay, forget it. I just think it would look cool and be useful. (The idea actually came about not because I needed the particular app, but because I was trying to come up with a more useful application for alpha-blending than cursor shadows and fade-in menus.)
||Don't listen to them, [bookworm];
it's a good idea. The taskbar is
no more "free space" than any
other part of the screen.
||MacOS X uses transparency for
pop-up alerts and dialog boxes,
apparently. Extension to
systemwide notification seems
logical. I'm thinking of
something that resembles the
transparent channel ID that TV
stations will put in the corner of
||I find the MSN Messenger solution to be convenient. The notifier is small and unobtrusive, it doesn't steal focus, and it goes away after a moment (oh, not good if you're not at your desk...). I think you can turn the sound off, but I son't have speakers anyway.
||Now I'm wishing all of my windows were translucent. Most annoying is the Microsft tendency to bury necessary information underneath other windows that can only be refocused if you cancel out of whereever you currently are.
||<plug> I use Trillian IM, which serves for all four of the major IM servers, as well as IRC. Under Windoze 2k/XP, all windows can be assigned a transparency setting. It's very customisable, down to sounds, focus stealing (which I switch off through tweak ui anyway), multiple log ons, etc etc. It's free and there's no advertising, other than the occasional URL spammer on ICQ, which you can block with a single ->click<- </plug>