This advice from productivity guru Merlin Mann is about email that is mainly meant to serve a functional purpose rather than social email (though it may help with both). There are also links back in that post to some good advice on how to manage your email.
Archive for the 'Email discoveries' Category | back to home
A friend just alerted me to this book: Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home which it seems has shot right onto the New York Times’ bestseller list. I wrote a similar, if more ‘business-y’ book – Dealing with Email (see also at right) four years ago but alas it signally failed to make an impact on the zeitgeist. Oh well, let’s hope a rising tide lifts all boats and that I have more success with the books on blogging I hope one day to write.
P.S. I just discovered that my book has been added to Amazon’s “search within the book” programme so you can leaf through a few pages online if you like to get a feel for it (not possible with “Send”). And you might want to check out the companion website I produced for the book with more tips (as well as looking through the “email discoveries” category on this blog).
MailTags – as its name suggests – lets you add keyword tags to email messages in Apple Mail and do a variety of other interesting things with your email to help you sort it. Best of all – a feature just added – you can set it to effectively display your own subject line in the “message list” pane. So you can scan your email and quickly find something you label “important advice” instead of having to remember that that email had the subject line “Re: that thing you said”. (This is a feature Eudora had for ages which I really missed when I moved across to Apple Mail).
It turns out that if you have a GMail address named email@example.com, email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com will also reach you. So follow these directions and you can see whether and by whom your gmail email has been sold on to spammers. If it has been you can simply create a filter that removes any email sent to the new firstname.lastname@example.org address. Of course smart spammers would remove the + part by hand. Also note that a large-ish proportion of email signup forms don’t let you use an address with a “+” in it.
P.S. You may not know that Gmail also (at last!) allows you to create groups in your contacts lists like every other email application in existence (ie you can set up “friends” as an address in your gmail book which sends to John Doe and Jane Doe). It took them far too long to implement this feature…
David Tebbutt, an old friend, posts hopefully that ‘social software’ (wikis, blogs etc) could reduce the amount of ‘occupational spam’* we get. Alas, groupware apps like Lotus Notes and intranet messageboards were also supposed to free us from corporate email spam and in theory they could. But simply introducing the software is only the beginning. The main problems are organizational and psychological. 1) it is much harder to change people’s habits than it is to add a bit of software 2) for better or worse people feel an email to someone will at least get glanced at while other means of electronic communication (internal wikis etc) because they are not “pushed” may never get looked at and 3) having lots of communication options can lead to confusion. People think “does this belong on the project’s wiki? On the intranet? On my blog? Oh sod it I will email it to the people who need to know.”
Organizations can cut down on email spam but they need to start with a change to the organizational culture and lead from the top (with bosses participating in the online spaces they want their employees to use) rather than installing software and hoping for the best. If I had had more space in my book – Dealing with Email – that is what I would have stressed. I am sure that David knows this as well of course but I am afraid that reading this article business leaders will just see ‘social software’ as a quick fix. Unfortunately, as I said, we have been down that road before…
* Emails cc:ed to lots of people who don’t need to see them, personal email like items for sale circulated around an organization, announcements of fire drills etc.
As you may know I have written a book about managing email and to go alongside it I produced a companion website and a “category” on this weblog for my latest discoveries about email tools. That category has not been very busy of late but it seems someone else is picking up the slack. Email Overloaded (by someone who sells an email organization product) is a weblog completely devoted to more effective email management so you might want to subscribe to it if you wish I wrote more about email.
Ever get an email from a stranger and wanted to know where they were? Or wanted to complain about a particular piece of spam? Here’s a guide that spells out how to trace an email (and how to then complain to the originator’s internet provider if appropriate).
- 33% of those surveyed said a virus or spyware caused serious problems with their computer systems and/or financial losses within the past two years.
- 50% reported a spyware infection in the past six months. Of those, 18% said the infection was so bad they had to erase their hard drives.
To avoid spyware, 51% of all online users reported being more careful visiting Web sites, and 38 % said they download free programs less frequently.
- 64% of survey respondents said they had detected viruses on their computer in the past two years. 4% found them at least 50 times.
- Macs are safer than Windows PCs for some online hazards. Only 20% of Mac owners surveyed reported detecting a virus in the past two years, compared with 66% of Windows PC owners. Just 8% of Mac users reported a spyware infection in the last six months vs. 54% of Windows PC users.
To this I would add that my guess is that a fair amount of the virus reporting by Mac owners is probably "false positives" – people whose Macs stopped working for some unrelated reason and they blamed it on viruses. Ditto for spyware. I don’t think viruses or spyware aimed at current Macs are still around outside of the labs of anti-virus software companies.
There are some good recommendations linked alongside the report but interestingly it fails to mention one of the best ways to reduce the incidence of viruses and spyware – don’t use Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer. It’s not that they are bad in themselves (though I would argue the free alternatives like Eudora and Firefox are better) – it’s that virus and spyware writers tailor their programs to work with the most popular email and web browsing programs out there.
A note about computer literacy – 17% of respondents weren’t using antivirus software and 10% of those with high-speed broadband access–prime targets for hackers–said they didn’t have firewall protection.
I would love it if someone could find a way that I could change the subject line of an email I received so it displayed and was searchable as I changed it but would stay the same as the original if I reply or forward that email. For example I could take an email with subject “My doodad is fubared” and change it to “doodad problem 7” thus making it easy for me to find it again and know what is in it when scanning my mailboxes. Eudora offered this feature I seem to recall…
I just got an email telling me that my publisher is getting rid of its surplus stock of my book Dealing with Email so I’m guessing it won’t be long before it gets remaindered completely. It’s a small book in the Dorling Kindersley Essential Managers series aimed at non-technical managers giving tips on how to manage their own emails and how to handle email in the office effectively (see my companion site at the link above for a more complete introduction).
However the good news is Dorling Kindersley are offering me copies (as many as I want?) cheap so if you would like a copy for yourself or for a friend let me know and I can send it to you for a measly £3/$5 (signed!) plus postage. It may take a while for me to ship them though as I need to figure out how many I should buy from the publisher then they need to send them to me and I need to send yours to you. If you would like something in particular written on your book (or nothing!) just let me know and I would love to know something about you and how and why you found my site…