More Outlook abuse

Tuesday 20th January, 2009

It’s been a while since I complained about Outlook but don’t panic, it’s not all better now. I am still very annoyed with it, I’ve just been trying to concentrate on more productive blog posts.

Today’s Outlook rant is about the attachment previewer. Outlook 2007 has this feature that (quite rightly) allows you to preview attachments in the reading pane. This works brilliantly for text files and Office documents.

Can you guess what happens if someone sends, oh I don’t know, a “.sql” file, or a “.java” file? These are plain text files that could be displayed even more easily than an HTML email.

Instead you get presented with a link to find and download more previewers. What’s on the page at the other end of that link? Downloadable previewers perhaps? No, you naive young scamp, there’s absolutely nothing of use whatsoever. That’s right, it’s impossible to preview them without writing your own file previewer in .NET, or possibly attempting some pith-helmeted registry botching (via).

I love you Outlook!


Spore ruined by DRM?

Tuesday 9th September, 2008

I’ve been waiting to play Spore for years, literally. I even paid £5 a few months back for the creature creator demo, even though charging for a demo feels a little weird to me. But now it’s been released, I’m not going to buy it.

Why? Because I’d rather vote with my feet and make a point to computer game distributors that I don’t want DRM. I’d rather sacrifice a little bit of fun by spending my money on something else (lets face it, it might not even be a sacrifice). It seems like I’m not alone, the Amazon review page for Spore (via ZDNet) is filled with complaints about the DRM they’ve bundled with it, pushing the rating down to a rather weak ‘one star’.

A few years ago when Half Life 2 was released, I bought it straight away, then spent ages waiting for the game to phone home every time I wanted to play it because Steam’s DRM servers were under strain. I haven’t tried playing it recently, but if the DRM provider have switched off their servers for any reason then I’ll be unable to play my own game.

I don’t want games to phone home whenever I play them, it’s creepy, it’s a potential point of failure, and it’s downright rude.

The PC game market (at least the grumpy older gamer segment) is pissed off. Lets see if the industry is listening.


More Outlook Insanity

Thursday 7th August, 2008

A real gem from Outlook this morning. It’s been sending automated emails (SVN commit notices if you’re interested) from people in the office to my junk mail folder.

Marking those emails as “not junk” seemed to have no effect whatsoever, other than popping up a dialogue box which promised to move the email to my inbox (it didn’t). Subsequent emails still went to my junk mail folder.

Naively I thought I’d add the addresses of my colleagues to my “safe senders list” so that they didn’t go to the junk folder.

You’d think that’d just add the sender to my safe senders list, right? Wrong :o)

Apparently the sender is from within my organisation, so I can’t add them to my safe senders list. Instead I’ll have to spend more of my life working around Outlook’s bad design. Today it made three mistakes that got in the way of my productivity:

  1. Sending useful email (that I’ve set up rules to filter) to the junk folder
  2. Failing to mark them as not junk despite explicit commands
  3. Putting up a comedy alert message instead of adding those users to my safe senders list

I don’t mean to pick on Outlook, it’s just that I have to use it all the time, and it gets in the way so often and for such daft reasons that I feel compelled to verbalise it. I’m sure the Outlook team are nice guys.


Mysterious IIS errors lead to Skype

Monday 30th June, 2008

IIS has been throwing some incomprehensible error codes at me recently: “Unexpected error 0x8ffe2740 occurred”. A quick search discovered that this happens when another service is running on port 80… something that really should not be “unexpected” and should have resulted in a more helpful error message.

Looking through the list of active ports using TCPView came up with nothing, so I returned to searching for people with similar problems, when I came across this gem.

Apparently someone at Skype decided that their client software should lock up port 80 if it’s not being used at start-up. This means anyone who starts IIS after they start Skype will get an error message.

Poor show from both Skype and Microsoft.


Outlook Team, Be Ashamed

Monday 23rd June, 2008

I’ve just spent 5 minutes (Update: And another 10 minutes the next day) trying in vain to tell my copy of Microsoft Outlook not to “correct” my spelling to US spellings. It keeps switching the language back to US English and ignoring my explicit instruction to leave my spelling alone.

Bizarre language behaviour in Outlook

What’s more, this PC is set to GMT, International English, and UK keyboard layout. Why would it think I wanted USian spellings?

Language settings set to UK only

Sadly this is representative of my experience using Outlook.

If any of the Outlook development team fancy popping out from behind the brick wall I’ve been banging my head against, please do. I’ve got some constructive feedback for you.