Are you a Searcher a Filer or a Tagger? – some suggestions for e-mail organisation

March 29, 2009

5.        How have you organised the folder structure of your email and why?

There are Searchers, there are Filers and there are Taggers claims Mike Gunderloy (2007). Searches do as little as work as possible in the beginning in the optimistic belief that they can rely on tools to find whatever they have “misplaced” in the future. Filers believe there is a place for everything and that everything must be in its place (Gunderloy, 2007).They, are pessimists at heart, painstakingly and meticulously filing each email in a folder, sometimes keeping many copies of the same email in different folders. Then there are the Taggers who like an each way bet. They are not satisfied that the tools will function unless they pepper their emails with hints, or tags, as aids to search. It doesn’t matter which group you belong to, there are appropriate procedures and tools for your particular style of operation. To date I have been a Searcher, more by default than through conscious choice.

If you opt to convert from a Searcher to a Filer it is important to establish folder structure that reflects the way you think. What are you most likely to remember when looking for a message? If you think it would be the sender, then the folder structure should be built around people. Another option could be job types or projects. Whatever you choose, try to avoid a mix of classifications as this leads to classification quandaries and invariable fails (Gunderloy, 2007).  

Tools for the Searchers are many and varied. A few popular tools are Google Desktop (2009) and Windows Search (2009). It pays to experiment with these tools and settle for the one that you are most comfortable with. There are even tools for tools, sometimes called an organiser layer. These programs can add a layer of organisation above the internet program allowing features such as filing of emails in multiple locations. Two popular organiser layer programs are Nelson E-mail Organizer and Omea Pro. When creating folders, do not forget to file sent items as well as received (Gunderloy, 2009).

There are tools for Taggers too. One program, which is designed for Outlook, is Taglocity. The website for this cheeky Canadian software designer claims that it adds Google Gmail style features to Outlook and “puts you back in control” (Taglocity 2008).

Gunderloy (2007) also recommends letting Microsoft’s rules do your walking.  These rules, or filters, can automate a lot of functions and save time.

Now, in answer to the question, I have not  adopted any of the suggestions for e-mail organisation. I am still flying by a wing and a prayer. I am an extremely disorganised Searcher who promises to become a Filer and a Tagger as soon as time allows.

References:

Google Desktop, 2009, Google Inc., Mountain View CA, retrieved 29 March 2009 from http://desktop.google.com/

Gunderloy, M. 2007, 10 Tips for Organizing Your E-Mail, Web Worker Daily, retrieved 29 March 2009 from http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/02/15/10-tips-for-organizing-your-e-mail/

Microsoft Desktop Search, 2009, Microsoft Corporation, retrieved 29 March 2009 from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/desktopsearch/getitnow.mspx

Taglocity, 2008, Terazen Technology Inc., Vancouver, BC, retrieved 29 March 2009 from http://www.taglocity.com/aboutUs.html

 

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Who rules, you or your email? – applying filters in Microsoft Outlook.

March 29, 2009

4.            What sorts of filters or rules do you have set up and for what purpose?

I never was a big one for reading the manual before diving in head first to the task. And until recently that was the way with my email program.

I recently started working as an editor of online publications. There are three online products that I am responsible for out of almost 200 that our company publishes. After editing, and adding any new materials, I send the amended product live, online. The program that I use to do this has coding that sends a message to my email that informs me my online build has been successful and that I can view it at a staging server and check for any errors before pushing that final button that sends it live.

The code that sends this email has to be inserted every time an editor changes, requiring work on the part of the technical support department. Always looking at ways to lighten their load, the technical department recently decreed that they would no longer encode individual email addresses into the program. Instead, the emails would be sent generically to all members of the team publishing the product. Now, instead of receiving two or three of these emails each day I receive twenty to thirty. I am being spammed by my own team!

When they announced the change, the technical department blithely suggested that any unwanted emails could be “filtered”, but offered no clues as to how this could be done. Not great on communication these guys, unless it’s ordering late night pizzas while they again try to reboot a failed server that is “experiencing difficulties”. Then I bet their instructions are detailed.

I asked around my team. Some knew that it could be done but couldn’t quite remember how or even where to start looking. Fortunately my luck was in. I was not only studying Net 11, but I was learning about email and “filters”, though I was yet to learn that Microsoft did not call them “filters”, it called them “rules”.

My task was to create a rule that rejected all emails from the online build program and allow only those emails that related to the three products I edited. I began with the, generally not very helpful, Microsoft Help menu and keyed in filter emails. The first “hit” from this search informed me that what I am seeking to achieve can indeed be achieved through Microsoft Outlook. Unfortunately, that page offered no clues on how to go about it. Through a process of elimination I ended up at the link create a rule and decided to follow it. A few more clicks and I seem to be getting somewhere. This is what I discovered:

image-11

This is still extremely cryptic and assumes a greater knowledge of the product than I possess, but nevertheless appears a worthwhile starting point. Throwing caution to the wind, I dive in and take the steps suggested. I click on Tools then Rules Wizard then New and arrive here:

 image-2

Since I am intending to move unwanted messages to my junk-mail folder, I leave the first field Move a new message from someone highlighted. I click on the link people or distribution list and insert the email address I want to redirect:

image-3

I OK my selection, which returns me the previous screen. Here I click on the link specified. From the next screen I select the folder Junk e-mail from the list on offer:

image-4

 

I OK that selection then click on the Next button. The following screen contains a highlighted rule move it to a specified folder, which is what I want it to do, so I accept that by again clicking on the Next button. The next screen offers a range of exception rules. I scroll down the list and select the rule except if the subject contains specific words by clicking in the check box to the left of the rule. I then click on the on the link specific words and type the names of the three publications I edit, making sure to select the Add button after each selection. I OK that selection and return to the previous screen. I select the Next button and in the following screen type the name I want to give this rule. I click the Finish button, which returns me to a screen with four options. OK accepts the filter and applies it in the future, Cancel rejects the filter. Run now allows you to run the filter immediately, this will remove any of those unwanted emails from you inbox, if you haven’t already done so. Don’t worry about the fourth option, unless you want to export or import the rule.

 

I have a team meeting scheduled in the morning and I have been requested to teach the team how to filter their emails. Maybe I could take the morning off, skip the meeting and just email them a link to this Blog?

 

After I had completed this task I discovered some useful information in an old version of PC Magazine (Randall, 2002). Since my version of Outlook was 2003, the age of this article was no barrier to its usefulness.

 

 

References:

 

Randall, N. 2002, Rule your E-mail, PC Magazine, Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc. New York, retrieved 29 March 2009 from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,481459,00.asp

 

 

 
 

Recognising difference: some tips to address compatibility issues in email

March 28, 2009

3.          In what ways can you ensure that an attachment you send can be easily opened?

After Central and Town Hall, Redfern is Sydney’s third busiest railway station, yet it does not have facilities enabling access for people with disabilities (Burton-Bradley, 2008). Surprisingly, there are no plans to provide the facilities in the foreseeable future. This denies access to many wheel-chair bound individuals who wish to attend Sydney University, the rapidly expanding Australian Technology Park, the burgeoning Everleigh Farmers Markets and the many employers in the Redfern Waterloo area.

This shortsighted planning is visibly evident in to all who use Redfern station. However successive State governments and their planners appear to be blind to what is a very real need. This kind of shortsighted planning is often replicated by users of email who blindly send messages or attachments without the slightest consideration whether the recipients computer has the necessary programs to decode what is sent.

There are a number of precautions that can be taken to minimise the potential for communication breakdowns. Communication in the Infosphere (n.d.) suggests are few solutions. First, communicate with your recipient before you send the email and enquire about the programs you intend to use to compose and send your message. There are two key things to look out for, the form of encoding used to read emails and the programs used to read attachments. Once you are aware of any limitations of the recipients email system, you can take steps to adapt at your end. For instance, if the recipient is running an older version of Word, you can save your attachment in a format that can be read by that earlier version.

Another simple solution is to adopt a belt and braces solution (Communication in the Infosphere, n.d.). This involves including an attachment as well as including the information from the attachment in the body of the email.

A third alternative is the inclusion of a link to a program that the recipient can download, without cost, to open and read the attachment. Adobe Acrobat Reader is an example that is commonly used.

 

References:

 

Burton-Bradley, R. 2008 Public transport excludes disabled, Central Newspaper, News Limited, Surrey Hills, Sydney, online edition, retrieved 26 March 2009 from http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/public-transport-excludes-disabled/

Communication in the Infosphere, n.d., Net 11 The Internet – Communications, Curtin University retrieved 25 March 2009 from http://lms.curtin.edu.au/webbapps/blackboard

 

 


To bcc or not cc; that is a question of netiquette

March 26, 2009

2.          In what cases would you find it useful to use the ‘cc’, ‘bcc’ and ‘reply all’ functions of email?

“cc” is an abbreviation for carbon copy, from the times when copies of documents were produced by inserting a sheet of carbon paper between the original document and the intended copy. This function is useful to send a copy of an email, verbatim, to another recipient (Tschabitscher, 2009). A shortcoming of this usage is that all recipients of the email get to see the names and email addresses of the other recipients.

To avoid this, and preserve anonymity of recipients, the function “bcc”, which is an abbreviation for blind carbon copy can be useful. When this function is used, neither the “bcc” field nor the email addresses from the “bcc” field appear in any copies received by any recipient (Tschabitscher, 2009). However, the “bcc” field should not be used as a method of subterfuge. Netiquette dictates that that “bcc” field should only be used where it is clear, on the face of it, that the email has been sent to a number of recipients (Tschabitscher, 2009).

“reply all” should be used with caution, and should never be set as a default setting in an email programme. This is a matter of netiquette (Tschabitscher, 2009).

Netiquette also suggests that “reply all” only be used where it is important that all recipients of the original email know your response. It should not be used where only the sender of the message needs know your reply.  If the sender and some of the other recipients need to know your reply, use the “reply” function and manually insert the addresses of those who need to know. “reply all” should never be used where you are a “bcc” recipient.

References:

 

Tschabitscher, Heinz, 2009, Email Etiquette Tips, Tricks and Secrets, About.com:Email, retrieved 25 March 2009  from http://email.about.com/od/netiquettetips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Its the data about the data: meta-data

March 26, 2009

1.      What information about a user’s email, the origin of a message, and the path it took, can you glean from an email message?

“Madame, Poirot asks of you, where is the envelope in which this letter arrived, s’il vous plait ?” And so begins another episode of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, the greatest detective in the all the world. Poirot will examine the envelope for clues such as the postmark to ascertain the history of the letter, the identity of its sender, and ultimately solve the mystery.

Now with email, that has all past. After all, emails do not have envelopes or postmarks, or do they?

An email is comprised of three main parts, each of which contains information for the recipient (E-Mail Basics, 2008).

The first part is commonly called the header This typically contains the date and time of transmission, the name and/or email address of the sender, the name and/or email address of the recipient and the subject line, which contains a short statement outlining the subject matter of the email (E-Mail Basics, 2008).

The second part of the email is the body or the text. This part contains the message from the sender to the recipient (E-Mail Basics, 2008).

The third part is the footer or signature which can contain some or all of the following: the sender’s name, job title, e-mail address, snail-mail address, phone or fax number or the address of sender’s web site (E-Mail Basics, 2008).

But hidden beneath the surface, is the meta-data, literally data about data, which gives much greater detail about the email message. The meta-data is readily revealed through a series of simple steps, depending on which email reader is being used (Maykorov, 2008). 

I revealed the meta-data for an email sent from my office email address to my home Gmail address. The last “received field contains the sender’s original IP address which  is set out below. The other “received” fields reveal the stops along the way on the emails journey. It is also possible to find more information about the sender through the IP address using a freely available programme such as “Active Whois” (Maykorov, 2008).

Received: from TLRAUSYDMBX02.ERF.THOMSON.COM ([10.223.182.19]) by tlrusmneagfe04.ERF.THOMSON.COM with Microsoft MTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 21:40:30 -0500

 

References:

E-Mail Basics, 2008, in Net Tutor, The Ohio State University Libraries, Columbus Ohio, retrieved 25 March 2009 from http://liblearn.osu.edu/tutor/les9/

Maykorov, I. 2008 How to Find the Sender’s Original IP Ad,address Using Email Message Headers, retrieved 26 March 2009 from http://www.johnru.com/active-whois/trace-email.html

 


How do I get there from here? – Traceroute

March 22, 2009

The traceroute exercise was another challenge for this technology novice. I did as instructed and read the information at the How Stuff Works site, which links from the Module 1 notes. Quite straight forward but, as is becoming all too common, some vital steps are omitted.  It is well and good to instruct one to “click on the “MS-DOS Prompt” icon on the “Start” menu”, however, that assumes knowledge of where the MS-DOS Prompt is hidden behind the “Start” menu. A quick Google search informs me that, after clicking on the “Start” menu I should then click “Programs”, then “Accessories” and then “Command prompt”.

 

Now I was able to commence the traceroute exercise. I have cut and pasted the results below:

 

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]

(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

 

C:\Documents and Settings\david.DAVID-8CC2B2DCE>tracert curtin.edu.au

 

Tracing route to curtin.edu.au [134.7.179.56] over a maximum of 30 hops:

 

  1     4 ms     4 ms     1 ms  10.1.1.2

  2     3 ms     2 ms     2 ms  iinet.iad [10.1.1.1]

  3    12 ms    12 ms    11 ms  nexthop.nsw.ii.net [203.55.231.88]

  4    12 ms    12 ms    12 ms  gi2-1.syd-ult-bdr1.ii.net [203.215.16.4]

  5    12 ms    13 ms    12 ms  te0-15-0-0.syd-ult-core1.ii.net [203.215.20.30]

  6    12 ms     *       12 ms  gi0-1.syd-ult-core1.ii.net [203.215.20.33]

  7    12 ms    12 ms    13 ms  gigabitethernet4-1-1.pe1.c.syd.aarnet.net.au [202.158.206.125]

  8    13 ms    14 ms    12 ms  ge-0-0-0.bb1.b.syd.aarnet.net.au [202.158.194.198]

  9    24 ms    24 ms    26 ms  so-2-0-0.bb1.a.mel.aarnet.net.au [202.158.194.33]

 10   34 ms    34 ms    36 ms  so-2-0-0.bb1.a.adl.aarnet.net.au [202.158.194.17]

 11   67 ms    65 ms    65 ms  so-0-1-0.bb1.a.per.aarnet.net.au [202.158.194.5]

 12   66 ms    65 ms    66 ms  gigabitethernet0.er1.curtin.cpe.aarnet.net.au [202.158.198.178]

 13   67 ms    66 ms    66 ms  gw1.er1.curtin.cpe.aarnet.net.au [202.158.198.186]

 14     *        *        *     Request timed out.

 15     *        *        *     Request timed out.

 16     *        *        *     Request timed out.

 17    67 ms    67 ms    67 ms  curtin.edu.au [134.7.179.56]

 

Trace complete.

 

Now for the questions:

  1. There were 16 hops between my computer and curtin.edu.au
  2. The average time in milliseconds from the tools site to the Curtin server was 67 ms.
  3. The IP number for the hostname curtin.edu.au is [134. 7. 179.56]

 

Before completing the exercise I decided to investigate the meaning of the “  *  *  *  Request timed out” message generated for hops 14-15. I discovered an excellent resource at Indiana University (2007). I established that message indicated a problem between the aarnet site and the Curtin server. This problem is consistent with the experience I have when logging on to the Curtin site. There are always initial delays. I will follow this up with technical support at Curtin.

 

I trialed “pinging” the blackboard site a number of internet tools with the following results:

 

·         Network-tools.com: 252.3 ms

·         A-ToolBar: 1.048.596 ms

 

I then tried traceroute to curtin.edu.au using A-ToolBar with the same result.

 

These exercises revealed the complex paths taken by the packets of data from my computer to another. They also demonstrated the how a damaged connection (the one between aarnet and curtin.edu.au) can result in slow opening of a website.

 

References

Indiana University, 2007, “In Windows, what is traceroute and how do I use it?”, Knowledge Base – University Information Technology Services, viewed 22 March 2009 at: http://kb.iu.edu/data/aihy.html

 


FTP can be a two-way street – but is it communication?

March 22, 2009

Initially I failed to see the point of the exercise on FTP; that was before I read Peter Fletcher’s comments on the Net11 Discussion Board (Fletcher 2009). The penny finally dropped, this exercise was an exercise in thinking and not about the mechanics. So, as I struggled with downloads and anonymous FTPs, I also thought about the concepts, particularly two way communication.

 

I had used FTP in the past to upload a website to a host’s server. But I had no cause to look beyond the end result; that is my website was available to view over the net. So with the present exercise, I was determined to consider the consequences of my actions.

 

Great communication, which underpins great human relationships, is always a two-way street. If one party only listens, or takes from the relationship, the communication fails and the so ultimately will the relationship. My preliminary view of FTP, where communications generally only go in one direction (the Concepts 2009), was that it is not the best tool to enhance communication and therefore strengthen relationships. However, after some further reading and experimentation, I discovered that FTP communication can be, and often is, two-way with files sent and received (Sharma 2009). With FTP used as a public tool, users could select information both relevant and desirable for their purposes, which enhanced the utility of FTP. I was enlightend, FTP could be was a liberating tool, allowing individuals freedom of choice.

 

Sharma sees FTP sites as vast digital warehouses, storing countless thousands of files containing data, text, music, videos etc (Sharma 2009). Users supplied with login details can access that material on their own terms. Some sites, such as the Curtin University site used for this exercise, also allow anonymous logins.

 

So, no longer feeling inhibited by the one-way nature of many FTP applications, I undertook the exercise empowered and liberated.

 

I chose to download FileZilla as my FTP client, which proved to be a simple task. I read the help menu to establish how to undertake the task. Not a very helpful help menu. Nevertheless I determined to press on. I opened FileZilla and pondered over the information to go into the boxes at the top of the screen. After one failed attempt, I successfully communicated with the host site by FTP. I searched through the various files revealed in the directory, located the one called README and opened it. (I was unable to download this file). The result is pasted below:

 

* ATTENTION MAC, OS/2, MS-DOS and MS-WINDOWS users:

 

This server runs on a unix platform, so CAPITALIZATION MATTERS!

A file named  “file.txt” IS NOT THE SAME as “FILE.TXT”

 

 

——————————————————————-

* Converting and compressing files:

 

Sailor’s ftp server can compress files on the fly, using

the following forms of compression and file extensions:

 

compression method       extension

——————      ———

GNU zip (gzip)           .gz

unix compress            .Z

info-zip                 .zip

 

The info-zip format is compatible with PKZIP, popular on many

MS-DOS, MS-Windows and Windows ’95 systems.

 

All compression techniques require you to set your transfer mode

to BINARY.

 

Getting a file with a particular compression type is as simple

as asking for it.  For example, if you want to get the file

“wifrb10.txt” in gzip format, use the following commands:

 

(The server’s response is left out here)

 

    ftp> binary

    ftp> get wifrb10.txt.gz

 

For compatibility with file systems that allow only “8.3”

file names, (or systems that allow only one dot in a filename),

our server is configured to allow you to replace the

“.txt” extension with the extension of the compressed file. 

For example, to get the file above, with an 8.3 file name,

you could have issued the commands:

 

    ftp> binary

    ftp> get wifrb10.gz

 

For files with an extension other than “.txt”, this method

will not work – however, your ftp client will probably allow

you to specify the local filename on the command line – so,

to get the file “INDEXALL.GUT” in zip format with a “.zip”

extension, you would use these commands:

 

    ftp> binary

    ftp> get INDEXALL.GUT.zip indexall.zip

 

Since many web browsers don’t allow you to get ftp files that

don’t appear in the listings, we have included the .zip files

in the Gutenberg archives.

 

After I completed the exercise, I discovered that most browsers now allow FTP from the browser window by simply typing ftp:// followed by the host address. I tried this, and obtained the same results.

 

 

References:

The Concepts    2009, “Internet Communications – Concepts Document”,  Curtin University
Ne
t11 The Internet –Communications – Study Area – The Concepts, viewed 22 March 2009 at: http://lms.curtin.edu.au/webapps/blackboard

Fletcher, P,       2009, “FTP Task Learning Log”, N et11 The Internet –Communications – Discussion Board – Course Discussions: Module 1: FTP Task, posted 17March 2009, viewed 22 March 2009 at: http://lms.curtin.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp

Sharma, M        2009, “The Client Server Architecture”, Web Developers Notes, viewed 22 March 2009 at http://www.webdevelopersnotes.com/basics/client_server_architecture.php3