Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mail Dominant Behavior

Last Thursday I finally made the switch to my spiffy new MacBook Pro Retina laptop. It's now five days later, I'm still trying to iron out all the wrinkles adjusting to my new email program—Mail (which comes bundled with Apple computers). Maybe I should call it "Male" for stubbornness.

As I disclosed March 12 (Operating at the Edge of My Technological Tether), I've had to let go of my beloved Eudora, the only email program I'd ever used (but which is now no longer supported and can't be run on my new machine) and the move has been klunky at best.

o  While I was able to import all my old email files (great), I lost any reference as to which ones had been read and responded to (not so great). 

o  All the email that I ever authored (which is about half of my records—the other portion being emails sent to me) has been time stamped as of the day of the transfer, May 9. It's an absolute bitch losing any ability to sort my work over the last 14 years by date.

o  About 50 emails that I recently disposed of from my In Box (representing the last couple days of work before the transfer), suddenly relocated back in my In Box, as if the last few days were caught in some Groundhog Day time warp, giving me the unwanted opportunity to refile them. Although I didn't see an image of Bill Murray, I saw plenty of other things I'd already seen plenty of times. Ugh.

o  I have not yet figured out a way to keep two files open and visible on my screen at the same time. While that may not seem so problematic, here's the deal:
—It's common for me to realize in the midst of composing one message that I also need to send another and it's convenient to pause temporarily to take care of that late-breaking need without losing my place with the first one. 
—I have developed a management style where I'll start an email that I don't have time to finish and then leave it open—to immediately capture the gist of the point I want to make and to help me remember to get back to it, as open files are easier to keep in view.
—It's often helpful when cranking out a bunch of personalized emails that rely on the same basic text to: a) queue up a copy of the master; b) go to a different window to record that that individual was notified; c) copy the email address of the next person in line; and d) go back to the master message and tweak it appropriately for the new recipient. I need three documents visible on my screen to pull that maneuver off expeditiously.

o  Mail has a Draft folder, a Sent folder, and an Outbox. Eudora only has an Outbox, but there was a way to mark emails as to whether they were if draft form, queued to be sent, or actually sent. While I don't reckon either system is better than the other, Mail has this annoying habit of keeping a copy in Draft for a while even after it's been Sent. More than once now I've moved both the Draft copy and the Sent copy into storage, only to discover that I now had (unwanted) duplicates. Sigh, another victim of the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

o  I have no idea (yet) where attachments that have been sent to me are stored. Sometimes I can remember that a document exists as an attachment but not the date that it was sent. Knowing where attachments live on my computer is fairly useful. With Eudora I knew where that was, but my clever new computer is playing a coy game of Hide the File. (Who's in charge here, anyway?)

o  At first I couldn't figure out how to change my signature (at the bottom of emails). Now I can't figure out how to have one appear as a default, instead of requiring a cut and paste each time. I had as much fun with cut and paste to last a lifetime when I was five; at 63 I have no urge to relive kindergarten unneccessarily.

o  My first full day using Mail I tried to send a reminder and a draft agenda for an important conference call scheduled for later that day. When the time came, almost no one showed up on the call because I relied mostly on listserves to get the word out and the ic.org server had bounced my messages because I didn't look like me. Grr.  

Fortunately I have friends (notably Rachel & Tony at Dancing Rabbit) for whom this stuff isn't all that difficult and who are willing to patiently hold my hand while I experience email growing pains. While it seems a stretch at this point to project that I'll come to love Mail, my more modest goal right now is simply to be able to play nice together.

Today I'm trying figure out if I've got Mail… or Mail's got me.

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