I've long been of the opinion that Firefox and Thunderbird are a bit like democracy: aclaimed far and wide as major achievements and bastions of a civilised society, but actually, honestly, a bit crap in many ways. Sadly, we're stuck with all three until someone manages to come up with some compelling alternatives.

If you're reaching for your e-mail client at this point to tell me I'm being unduly harsh, look me in the eye and tell me you think the way Firefox cheerfully caches DNS lookups and ignores such things as TTLs is a good idea. Or, even harder, give me one good reason why Thunderbird doesn't check all IMAP folders for new messages by default. You can't; in both cases it's a disgrace.

All this being the case, I wasn't what you'd call hopeful when, last Sunday, I had to write some e-mails on a train. And to do so, I needed to refer to some other e-mails in my Inbox. Since said train lacked anything as useful as a wireless internet service*, I'd need some sort of offline IMAP facility**.

As I bashed Thunderbird offline IMAP into Google, I was expecting a half-baked plugin at best, and "can't be done" at worst. What I was actually very pleasantly surprised to find is that this functionality is built into Thunderbird.

What astonished me even more is that it actually worked. Faultlessly. So perhaps democracy can be salvaged after all.

* And, let's be honest, because I still haven't got organised and bought a phone with internet capabilities.

** Nobody uses POP3 in the twenty-first century, right?