CorvettePower.COM
21Apr/040

Can you tell me why you use Outlook?

From a friend of mine.



OK - here's an attempt...it's long, but I've tried to be thorough.
Most of this has been communicated to the Eudora folks on an ongoing
basis in an effort to try and get them to steal some stuff back feature-wise.
I'd love to see Eudora get an overhaul but I think they're plain and
simply shy on resources.


** Note that I use Outlook2003 at work and that I and my family all use
Eudora 6.1 at home (see below the Outlook piece for info on why I use
Eudora at home.) I think each is better based on the needs I have in
both scenarios.


Why I use Outlook at work (version is Outlook2003)


The short version

-----------------

1. Consistency and availability between devices

2. Functionality
(Tasks, layout, offline performance, foreign language support and
in-line translation, search folders, server side filters,
archiving)

3. Resiliency


The long version

----------------

Why I use Outlook at work (version is Outlook2003)


1. Consistency and availability between devices: - I don't just access
my email from one computer anymore and don't enjoy having to wrestle
with VNC or Windows Remote Desktop to get to it. The fact that I can
login on any NA domain machine and get access to my email without
leaving any residue on the host machine (and still further, login via
any web browser to MyApps inside or outside the company to get to it,
no VPN required, is a huge convenience win for me.) I also use
server-side filtering so that my email looks the same everywhere, I
don't have to mess with IMAP limitations, PINE is too little for my
needs. When I don't have a computer with me, I can easily keep in
touch with email on my BREW phone (though this is notably less frequent
since I usually have a laptop at my side at the very least.) I don't
use a Pocket PC/Palm device, so I'm not concerned with this functionality.


I've worked to try and get procedures in place with IT as much as
possible to make Eudora more available..but you still end up having to
sync different clients (having multiple set to LMOS), wrestle with IMAP
(which is getting better with the latest release but is still a pain),
or deal with crazy ways to get to my email (ie, MyApps+/SecurID->Remote
Desktop->work laptop at my desk->Eudora)


2. Functionality:


** Tasks - I gave up just using my inbox as my task list because I was
missing actions. I actively use the
tasking/flagging/follow-up/reminder
features in Outlook to keep up-to-speed on what I need to be focused on.
Eudora has nothing even remotely available feature-wise in this
category.


** Layout - I very much prefer the new default layout in Outlook2003
(over both Eudora and prior version of Outlook.) It's a smart way to
do things and saves me from having to scroll down in most messages to
read stuff. I also simply resize the middle Inbox column and it
auto-switches between single and double line layout at the width of my
choosing (because sometimes, I still prefer single-line mode.) Overall,
I find it much more efficient.


** Offline Performance - Old versions of Outlook plain stunk in the
offline space..but the new version blows Eudora out of the water, IMO.
Outlook has always had an advantage in 'timeliness of when it checks
mail' space albeit with a large impact on network
utilization/performance as it was designed for LANs, nothing else. The
new version eats a heck of a lot less bandwith on average and has its
true strength when you're in 'cached mode'. I view cached mode as a
hybrid 'what I want it to be' mode. For a 20 second delay in mail
delivery time, Outlook seamlessly switches between
connected/non-connected mode across my various connection mediums:
Wired, 802.11b, EV-DO. When it has a connection to the server, it
auto-refreshes my mail. I still have to manage VPN sessions (wish I
had a true way to do this automatically... IBM's 'Access Connections'
comes close, but not quite.) I also have the ability to literally
change between MAPI and an IMAP-like mode on the fly as I see fit. I
can tell it to download everything, just headers, or even better,
headers and then full items once all the headers are complete. It can
even auto-detect 'slow' connections and auto-switch to IMAP-like mode
without intervention.


** Foreign language support and in-line translation - again, Eudora
doesn't support any of this. These days, I'm regularly seeing emails
come through in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. I can't
read/write/understand but a few works in either of those languages, but
I can now get the native characters in Outlook and translate them
real-time through 3rd party functionality in Outlook. While I have to
be very careful to only translate threads that are non-proprietary
(because it's getting translated by a third party), this feature has
really helped out more than once. If Microsoft bundles the ability to
do this internally without 3rd party involvement (so that security is
no longer an issue), it could be a huge win for how we do business.


** Search Folders - having to always 'file' away the mail in my inbox
is starting to get old. I like the concept of being able to create
folders that are dynamic/virtual and based on pre-defined search
criteria. It allows me to create folders to easily find and work with
my mail without having to constantly file everything in different
folders. I still do this (see server side filtering below) but it's
mostly automated and the amount of manual filing I do has been greatly
reduced. Still better, I have one folder that shows me all of my
unread mail no matter what folder it exists in which I find to be tremendously seful.


** Server Side Filters - I mentioned this above, but this is a true win
for me. I refuse to configure client-side Outlook filters choosing
instead to only configure server-side filters. The end result is more
consistency as I mentioned before...no matter what device I'm looking
at my mail on, it looks the same. I filter all my mailing lists to
individual folders in individual sub-headings and use the 'unread mail'
search folder to access it. Stuff I need to follow-up on is tagged
appropriately (see tasks feature) and when I'm done with it, the mail
is already filed away where I want it without having to touch it again.


** Archiving - while server side mail spools can get quite big, I've
found it very easy to configure auto-archiving such that once per week,
mail is archived chronologically to a local mail store on my drive from
the server. By tuning the 'window' of what mail gets archived, I've
been able to minimize my need to go back into these archives (on
average, once every 2 weeks.) While I do need to be on my local system
to access these files, the frequency of which I need to access them
makes it only a minor inconvenience. The end game is that my
auto-archive only happens once per week (Friday morning, early) and not
only does it keep my mail spool size on the server automatically in
check, but it routinely keeps the amount of memory utilized by Outlook
at a consistent size. I also archive my archives once per year for a
'year end copy' which facilitates keeping searching times to a minimum
when I need to go back and look for something once every few weeks (as
I generally know what year it was sent in.)


3. Resiliency - This is key to me. I think the mails that read "my
hard drive crashed and I've lost all my mail from 2 weeks ago until
today - if there's anything important for me to attend to, please
resend your mail" could go away to a great extent...I certainly won't
be sending one if my drive fails. All of my current mail is on the server.
Mail older than ~3 months (on average - this varies by folder) is
auto-archived each Friday morning at 6:05am to a .pst file on my local
laptop drive. I make sure my Netbackup backup runs every Friday
morning at 6:30am which immediately backs up that local email data so
that I have no fear of loss (short of Netbackup not cutting it for a
data
restore.) In the event of system failure, not only do I not need to
wait 4 hours for them to show up at my desk before I can get access to
email again, (I just use another system to access my mail that I need
on the server), once my system is fixed, I'm restored back to my
original state with little to no effort and no mail loss.


Why I use Eudora (at home/personal use) and why the rest of my family
uses Eudora as well)

--------------------------


Simply put, I think Eudora is an outstanding email client...Outlook is
just better for me at work because I want (need?) more than just email
out of my client. Using Outlook at home wouldn't be good because I'm
not running my own exchange server...and Outlook Express simply can't
cut it, IMO, against Eudora. I've long said, if you're going to POP,
you belong on Eudora - period. POPing in Outlook/Outlook Express
negates any reasoning in my mind to use Outlook...so POP users should
use Eudora. (Note: none of the rest of my family works)


1. Ease of use: Eudora is very intuitive and very easy for my family
to use for their personal email needs. My family is young so my wife
and I share a primary computer...no need for mail to be available on
multiple systems (and I don't suspect that family members other than
myself will ever need more than one system they want to read email on
short of syncs to PDAs and such.)


2. Solid management of multiple accounts - I love to filter by
personality and with the ton of email accounts I have, Eudora makes it
very easy for me (and my family) to manage all of our email accounts
(which by the way, are all POP accounts.) Sending with different from
addresses is also done with ease in Eudora.


3. Web2Pop - I use an application from a French Developer called
web2pop at home. (http://www.jmasoftware.com/english/) It's installed
as a service on the machines that I use and while a bit buggy still, it
allows me to pull all of my email (via POP) into Eudora regardless of
location. This includes my free Yahoo and Hotmail accounts and negates
one of the benefits of Outlook Express (ability to directly POP from
hotmail). Basically, web2pop runs a local pop server on 127.0.0.1 and
then logs in via the web to my various web-mail-based accounts and
scrapes the email off the web and turns it into locally POPable mail.
I direct my Eudora at localhost and pull my mail through. This works
well with Eudora and I don't think I could live without it.


4. SPAM management - I don't get SPAM at work. This is because I take
good care of my email address not because of any client or server side
filtering being done. Unfortunately, I have to use my personal
addresses for online orders, subscriptions, and such, which net SPAM no
matter what I do. Eudora does an OK job at detecting SPAM but has too
many false positives for my taste. Regardless, it probably has about
an 70% accuracy rate on my home mail...and is a useful feature. I save
much more time not reading SPAM then I do un-junking valid mail.
Here's a breakdown:


70% filtered to junk

- 80% is actually SPAM -good catch!

- 20% is stuff I need and I have to mark as 'not junk' (usually, new
items, sales order confirmations, etc.)


30% not filtered to junk

- 50% of this is mail I want

- 50% of this is mail that should have been caught by the SPAM filter


5. Calendaring - a final note on Eudora on this space. If there's one
thing that's going to stop my wife from using Eudora at home, it's
support for calendaring. She uses her Palm to run 'the family
schedule.' Social engagements, shopping lists, plans, appointments,
etc. Currently, she uses the calendar in Palm desktop and it suits her
needs just fine...but she knows that Outlook Express supports
calendaring and if there's anything that will ever force her to move
from Eudora, it'll be due to the calendaring features in Outlook
Express (and some corresponding frustration with Palm Desktop
calendaring) - for now, all is well.


--


I think that's about all that comes to mind. My apologies if this was
more than you were looking for but I thought you might enjoy a little
history on what I've found to be useful/not useful in how I manage my
email overall. Let me know if you want any additional details on any
of the items I discuss above...I'd be interested in your opinions on
the above items as well if you ever find time.


-Mike

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