Oops – “Reply All” strikes again

Anyone who’s worked with email for a while is probably well aware of the havoc that the uncontrolled (or unintended) use of the Reply/All option can wreak on the unwary. It was interesting to see The Register report on the case of a UK-based recruitment executive who lost his STG200K ($312K) job because he used reply/all to respond to an inquiry.

Sending back an unwanted response to 4,000 people is unfortunate. Sending a response that was obscene and rude was quite another and this is what caused the company that he worked for to dispense with his services. Oh well, strike another for the reply/all syndrome.

Some might ask if the designers of email clients such as Outlook might not be able to come up with a way to make reply/all less dangerous. I guess the problem is to strike a balance between usability and effectiveness. Reply/all has its place and it is a useful function when you need to correspond to a group of recipients. However, it is overused and contributes to the endless ping-pong routine into which many email conversations degenerate long past the point where additional useful information is being shared. The need to accommodate all the messages generated in reply/all storms coupled with the default of copying the complete text of previous responses in new replies is one of the reasons why we need massive mailboxes today.

On another topic, in my secondary (but more important) role as the IT manager for my family, I have been struggling with my son’s HP DV6-3111SA PC and its habit of not being able to restore the screen correctly after sleeping or hibernation. This PC has an AMD CPU and includes some smarts that detects whether the PC is plugged in or on battery. Depending on the situation, it seems to switch graphic processor to reduce battery consumption. Sounds good, if it worked. The problem seemed to be that the PC got confused whether it was using the battery or not and didn’t use the right processor so the screen was dim or just plain blank after it came back from hibernation. All in all, a very annoying feature.

After doing the right thing to make sure that the BIOS was up to date and that all available fixes from both HP and Microsoft had been applied, the blessed problem stubbornly refused to budge. The time for sledgehammer tactics had come so I installed a brand new copy of Windows 7  SP1 Home Premium, allowed Windows Update to do its thing to apply whatever updates were necessary, and the problem has disappeared. This doesn’t say that it won’t come back, but for now the PC seems happier to run its fresh version of Windows.



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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