Archive for February, 2009

MS Outlook: How do I hate thee, let me count the ways

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Of all the crap Microsoft sells, Outlook has got to be among the foulest.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Mail merge to Word requires 800 steps and doesn’t offer obvious things like filtering on category. I would think mail merging is an extremely common task, so why is this extraordinarily difficult?! and don’t even get me started on the troubles with mail merge formatting in Word…
  2. Outlook is random in how it files names: first, last and sometimes last, first.
  3. It randomly decides who it remembers for autocomplete while typing in an addressee for email.
  4. The autocomplete for e-mail addresses is very persistent.  When someone gives me a new address, I’ll change it in his contact record, but autocomplete will never give me the new address… it insists on filling in the old address.  I’m sure there’s some cache that could be flushed, but seriously, that sort of thing should NOT be necessary.
  5. It strips support for about half of CSS, making my life as a designer frustrating.  Yeah, I know, nobody else knows or cares about that one.
  6. It is not clear at all what the differences/purposes are among groups, distribution lists, or categories
  7. Searching for contacts can be rather random. This inexplicably got better for me for a couple of months, but then went back to being retarted.  For example, I will search for something like “brooks” and get zero results. Then I’d search for something like “mark” and I’d get my brother, who obviously has “brooks” as his last name. (!)  This happens for about 1/3 of my contacts, making searching useful only 2/3 of the time.
  8. The only way to filter your contacts is to right click on the column header. Again, this is a pretty common task, yet it’s not even remotely intuitive, never mind accessible from any of the menus!
  9. You can’t create an event in the calendar and link it to a contact, unless you explicitly “invite” that contact to the event, which then sends an e-mail to them, etc.  For example, I often want to schedule a phone call to a client, but you can’t do this.  Along with this, it would be very helpful to see a full history for each contact (including calls, meetings, emails…) OK, OK, so Outlook isn’t a CRM solution.  I know; it’s barely an e-mail solution!
  10. The e-mail basically can’t be used with the preview pane open.  It eventually crashes in this mode.

OK, so I’ll limit the list to just 10.  But seriously, isn’t this supposed to be rather mature software by now?  So why do I use Outook, if I hate it so much?  So far I haven’t found a better solution.  Why is decent (and accessible) CRM so hard to come by?  I used Goldmine for years, and had a love/hate relationship with that.  It does a good job with a lot of the CRM-specific tasks such as complete contact history, but it didn’t handle e-mail so well.  Also, it provided no (official) way to do data backup or migration.

But the final straw reason why I left Goldmine for Outlook was that it’s the only application that will integrate with the iPhone.  Well for Windows, anyway.  Maybe I really should switch to a Mac.  Yeah, Outlook’s bad enough to nearly make that major of a switch worthwhile.  Guess that also says something for how great the iPhone is too!

Arthur Avenue, The Bronx

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Just Looking, Thanks.

Just Looking, Thanks.

I’ve heard about The Little Italy of the Bronx for several years now, as one of my clients gives a couple of walking tours there each year.  I maintain the web site for her, so I’m familiar with the tour descriptions.  So, I’ve had it on my back burner list of things to see at some point, but as every venture into the city seems to bring me only to Manhattan, Arthur Ave seemed to be stuck on my back burner.

I was talking with one of my new clients about restaurants as we sat over lunch in Darien a few weeks ago. He was a bit surprised that I knew exactly where to eat down in a town more than 30 minutes from my house, and I confessed (more…)

Time to Record

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

The Grand Doodle

I’ve been slowly putting together a digital audio workstation so I can start working on my own recordings. I’m using Cubase 4, a Presonus Firebox audio interface, a Presonus Faderport controller, Steinberg’s The Grand for my piano virtual instrument, and a Korg SP-250 keyboard. I just purchased some NHT M-00 active studio monitors (and the NHT S-20 sub) which I’ve heard great things about, but FedEx isn’t due to deliver them until sometime next week. So, for now I’m still using headphones, which actually work pretty well. (more…)

I’m Back!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
Winter Bliss

Winter Bliss

OK, so after I got back from Europe, things got pretty busy.  I guess that’s to be expected when you take 5 weeks away from your business!  So it’s taken me 5 months to catch up on those 5 weeks, but I’m finally back at my blog, and hope to keep it up a bit more now.  For now, here’s a quick recap of the past few months…

I flew back from Europe on August 26th and began working the next day.  My first day back, I stayed up til 2:15.  So much for jet lag!

September – November mostly involved work, though I did squeeze in 3 trips to (more…)