Collective early December ramblings

Last week my wife and I traveled to The Netherlands to visit Utrecht and Amsterdam for some business and a little pleasure. In Utrecht, we stayed at the Hotel Karel V, which was very nice if a tad cold at times. While there, I visited Conclusion Future IT to talk about a seminar on cloud computing that I think will happen next February. Conclusion FIT is headed up by Murat Kiran, an old acquaintance from Digital and Compaq. It’s an interesting company that includes several radio stations amongst its portfolio, so I ended up making an ad that might be used to publicize the cloud seminar.

Making a radio ad

We then moved on to Amsterdam (using the excellent Dutch Railways system) and stayed at the Mint Hotel. This hotel is new and features an iMac in each bedroom, which is used for broadband access, a DVD player, and the in-room TV. It’s the first time that I have seen an iMac used in this fashion and it worked well. Interestingly, the rest of the PCs that I saw in the hotel ran Windows.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. I preferred the former to the latter as I thought that the Anne Frank House was thoughtfully and well done despite the loss of many of the artifacts immediately after the German police lifted the eight hidden people in 1944. The Van Gogh Museum seemed to have an expensive admission fee  (EUR14 each) for what it offered. However, in its defence, it was nice to be able to see so many of the paintings in person that you might have seen reproduced en masse elsewhere.

In passing, let me note the sale of the Lunar Module Systems Activation Checklist from the Apollo 13 mission for some $388,375. This is a truly fascinating document that I can’t help wondering how it emerged for sale by auction when it should really be gracing a museum somewhere. Anyone who has seen the Apollo 13 movie will remember the dramatics that followed the explosion on the command module and the heroics of the crew and ground staff as they figured out how to return to earth. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on my 10th birthday and I have very clear memories of watching the broadcast at home in Ireland, so I am firmly linked to that era and have read a lot of books on the Apollo program. If you want to learn more about Apollo 13, the book by Jeffrey Kruger and Jim Lovell (Apollo 13) is a good read., while the computer nerds amongst us will delight in The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation.

I also liked the Forbes article An Email Fanatic’s Guide to Organizing Your Inbox. In a nutshell, the advice given is:

  1. Process email and delete or file items as soon as possible after they arrive in the Inbox (I doubt this will happen if only because modern email clients and servers positively encourage people to pile up thousands of messages in their inboxes).
  2. Unsubscribe from as many web sites and other places that blast out “helpful” messages as you can. Alternatively, set up rules to move these messages into somewhere that you can check whenever you have the time.
  3. Consolidate your email so that messages sent to multiple addresses flow into a single inbox. I think this is a good idea and it’s what I do – all my email sent to addresses accumulated over the years (Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) is now forwarded to my Office 365 address, which makes handling the resulting flow of email very much easier.
  4. Make intelligent use of rules. Once again this is good advice. Many people don’t know how to use rules and therefore spend time that they don’t need to handling messages that could be redirected by a rule to an appropriate folder where they can be processed when time allows.
  5. Plan for later. The advice is to use a plug-in that’s available for Gmail and Outlook to “boomerang” messages that you can’t deal with right now so that they are redelivered into the inbox after a set period. I don’t like loading plug-ins because my experience with them (especially with Outlook) hasn’t been great over the years. There are other ways of doing the same job such as adding a reminder to a message. However, I think that determining the “right way” to handle messages that you need to be reminded about is highly personal and individual to a user. The advice is good (figure out some way to keep yourself organized), but you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

Tomorrow I am off to Clermont-Ferrand to TMO in what should be a fierce encounter between the home team and Leicester in the Heineken Cup. Always nice to spend a quiet Sunday in France looking at two teams beating hell out of each other!



About Tony Redmond

Lead author for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and writer about all aspects of the Office 365 ecosystem.
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