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Review Towards the beginning of last week, we found ourselves slightly embarrassed because two 20MB Powerpoint presentation, courtesy of some spin doctors, clogged up our big pipe here at Vulture Central for half of the afternoon. We killed the job because, basically, no-one could work, thinking that we'd pick it up at home, first thing in the morning, when the pipes have just been cleaned here in Blighty. There then followed a full four days of 20MB Powerpoint Hell at the teleworking office of a Reg staffer. Microsoft Outlook, which we had used at home, has an option that is supposed to let you specify that files above a certain size not be downloaded. Whoever put that box in Outlook had better re-examine his or her code, because it certainly didn't work. Instead, our ISP bravely attempted to download our email and then Outlook consistently fell over during the 20MB monster, so filling up our hard drive and, eventually, destroying Windows 98 completely. We thought we'd see if our ThinkPad fared any better, but the Powerpoint Presentation from Santa PR bunnies pulled over IBM's best too... Enter The Bat Last Saturday morning, we thought we'd sit down and see if we could get the old desktop up and running -- and the first thing we had to do was to make the machine boot into Windows 98 and destroy Outlook. That job done, we then decided to see if we could find ourself an email client that wasn't a Microsoft product, and after a quick scan of Tucows, decided we'd try a shareware package called The Bat. Why it's called The Bat, we're not quite sure, but download it we did. Installation was pretty simple, with the package first asking you for the usual details of your ISP, SMTP, POP and the rest. But when we managed to get it up and running, we discovered that this little $35 package has some very sophisticated features indeed. Features Our first priority was to purge our email of the 20MB Powerpoint file, and so we specified that no email we received should be bigger than 1MB. Off we went to collect our (by then) 338 messages and sure enough, The Bat picked up the file and just delivered the header. It carried on churning away and we noticed that the PRs had actually sent us two 20MB files *%$@!@£! Free at last, this gave us some time to look at some of the other features of The Bat. The product, which TuCows awards five cows, allows the use of multiple user accounts, and also has a clever little mail ticker (which you can switch off), allowing you to see the remains of 20MB Powerpoint files fly by. It's also got rather a large number of advanced features, including support for PGP, Mail Dispatcher for managing email on remote servers, the ability to import messages from major (Microsoft?) clients, and a multi-lingual interface. The address book and filtering abilities are also pretty impressive and easily configurable. It supports IMAP4, POP, APOP and SMTP protocols, a spell checker, configurable and off-the-shelf templates, and a heap of other stuff. The Bat has also got abilities to allow you to manage your accounts on a remote server, and the ability to manage Listserv and Majordomo discussion lists. Conclusion Ah, the good old The Bat. It saved our existence last Saturday and it may well help you too. OK, we know it's not free -- but what's free is not necessarily good, as our own experience shows. It gets Five Vultures from The Register, while the PR company that decided to send us two 20MB Powerpoint files gets Five Inverted Vultures. Go to RIT Labs home page to check it out. And thanks guys. ®

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