Friday, April 24, 2015

Use the Delete Button and move on

Last post on email
I have been on lists/groups long enough to have learned that the delete button is my friend.  It doesn’t matter where I am, there is always going to be something I am not interested in.  Quite frankly, if it’s a ‘I ain’t got time for that’ topic, I just delete it (in email) or scroll past (on the web) and move on. 

I find it silly when people complain that there is too much this or too much that on a group.  I will agree that this can happen – a topic gets talked about too much, but I don’t complain to the owners/moderators or on the group, I just delete and move on. 

If the topic continues too long I have options:  
  • Come back later when the topic dies down 
  • or I can leave the group.  

It is possible that the group wants to talk about that.  Maybe I am on the wrong group.  It could be the mod’s aren’t paying attention to the rules that were set or that they don’t have rules to that affect.  What I have found is that if the group is well established the mod’s will deal with it eventually.  If the group isn’t well established with rules or good mod’s then I choose to stay away for a while or leave permanently.  

My bottom line - delete and move on.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reading Older email first

Call me Old School – I don’t care, but I like to read email oldest to newest by date.  This is definitely a personal choice and is all in what you get used to dealing with.  I am not all about the latest and greatest in everything.  There is a time and place for that.  But with email, I like to read the older emails and work my way to the newer ones.
I just find it is frustrating to read a reply without knowing what the comment or question was to start with.  People often don’t include the original content.  Some setups (yahoogroups) don’t want you to use reply and keep the prior message – it can junk up a digest (bundle of emails sent once or twice a day) really quick.  Nor does everyone even know how to add a snippet of the prior conversation even if they wanted to.  So I like to read old to new.
I do this for work and personal email.

My one caveat is to make sure and be aware if there are other replies.  Outlook will tell me if there is another message in the same thread (same subject line) and so I pay attention to that.  But also I scan down to check.  It does depend on the topic.  Some topics have replies about what each individual did, but some – well the questions could be answering and my input isn’t needed. For sure if my reply is going to be more than a week old, I think twice about whether it has already been said and whether I really want to put in my reply. 

If you have ever wondered how people add the snippet to their email so you don’t just see the reply this is how I do it.
  1. Before using the reply button, I highlight the text I want as the snippet.  Then I copy.  (I use Ctrl + C).
  2. Use the reply button (could be reply all depending on how the system is set up). 
  3. Then either I type a bit if I want to preface the snippet.
  4. Then I paste into my reply (Ctrl + V).
  5. Continue adding my reply.
  6. Make sure I am not including the prior message below mine since that is how mine is set up.  But only so I can choose to include it or not. 
  7. Send.

I may or may not choose to use a separator like === or **** between to indicate that I didn’t write the snippet.  Or I could be more formal and use so-so said, and add quotes.

Also regarding whether to set up the email software to include the prior message or not.  For a while I had mine set to not include on reply but include on Fwd.  I found there were times I wanted it more and didn’t like using fwd.  Either way I have to edit something.  But if I was too forgetful it might be better to not include.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Organizing Email - Outlook 2010 or later and IMAP

Why I switched to IMAP vs POP type email account
I didn’t know what that meant until very recently.  I still don’t fully know and don’t care to 'know', just now that I am using it I wish I had known to switch sooner.

As a miniaturist, I am on several email groups that discuss miniatures.  These groups are found on YahooGroups.  Some of these groups are very active sending 10-100 of emails per day and it is easy for them to overwhelm one's inbox.  Until this week my solution has been Outlook Rules and Folders.  I even searched for a mail app for my phone that worked with this.  So let me first talk about how each of these work.
For several versions of Outlook the program has had rules and folders. 
Rules allow one to say something like this - when xx person sends me an email, move it to the xx folder.  Rules can do far more than that, but that is basically what I was doing.  So for example, I get emails from LittleEnoughNews yahoogroup and I them go straight to a folder titled: LEN.
Folders are similar to what the computer has.  One can have folders, sub-folders, etc.

MailDroid - Android App
When I started using my smartphone for more and more things including reading emails, I searched for an app that could do something like what Outlook was doing. MailDroid was it.  I am not saying that there isn't any others out there, just that of all the ones I tried this is the one that worked for me.
MailDroid allows me to have the folders and rules that I was accustomed to with Outlook. This worked for me except for when my phone received the email and then I also downloaded in Outlook on my computer. This was a minor problem, that I dealt with my deleting in a particular folder after downloading to computer. So I was syncing those folders manually.  Note that I am using my ISP for my email provider so I could go on there as well but rarely did.

Very recently, my son gave me his old laptop (not very old as it was just bought early last year.)  I had been using Office 2010 on my netbook but knew I had available a deal I could purchase Office 2013 so I upgraded.

Outlook 2013
Switching to Outlook 2013 was not in any way difficult.  It is very similar to 2010.  But there is one difference and that is that 2013 requires that email use IMAP versus POP.  I am not going to explain that other than to say it is just a different format and I believe security protocol. My email provider comcast allows use of either pop or imap.  What I have learned though is that I love using imap format.
IMAP allows one to subscribe to folders at the provider level and also it allows one to be synced easily across multiple devices.  This is a huge improvement for me resolving that one minor problem I had.

Setting up Outlook 2013, I had to load the accts new.  Although one mistake I made because I wanted to retain my old info (emails) was to set the accts up first and then copy over my old data.  I should have done the data copying over first.  But I resolved that by deleting the accts and copying the data, then adding the accts.  Outlook 2013 also does give an easy way to import that data.  I won't cover that here as you can google importing Outlook data into 2013.
Outlook 2013 requires IMAP so I had no choice.  Not that I cared really.  But now I know the advantage, well I am glad I had to.  

One change I did because of the syncing that occurs across all devices is to switch from using rules in Outlook or in Maildroid to using them at the email provider level - Comcast.
Comcast calls them filters.  These filters allow one to do the same as rules - move emails from a person or group or with subject line or topic to a folder I specify, for example.
Then in Outlook and in MailDroid, I just had to choose which folders I was subscribing to. IMAP is working automatically to keep the folders up to date with either deletes or new emails.
Another benefit is that now I can see sent email across all my devices.  Before I was just seeing what I sent from that device.  I didn't like the cumbersome way of cc myself which is one work around.
I can also see mail I have stored in other folders that I couldn't see before.  All the mail I have saved over several years on my netbook that imported to the new laptop I can now see on Comcast server and on my phone if I allow it to retrieve them.  My phone is set to retrieve more recent items to save space.
Yesterday's post about delete it or move is very applicable to this idea of syncing across multiple devices.  Much easier to manage if not wading through a bunch of already read emails.

One note about MailDroid - in order to switch to IMAP, I did have to delete the accounts and then reconnect (add) and set up manually.  However my ISP email provider does have a how to page with the info needed so it was very easy to do this.
I didn't have to save anything as when I added the accts back, the history of sent mail for example was still there. This may or may not be true in another program.  I just happen to have saved my data (exported data) from Outlook 2010 so I didn't notice when I started in 2013. Granted this switch was on a different device, so unlikely to have the old data available unless I had done the export and then import.  That is unless I had switched to IMAP while still on 2010.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Delete it or move it – how to keep your email inbox clean

Just like a physical inbox that should be the new stuff – not stuff you are working on, your virtual one should be keep clean as well.  By clean, I mean if you have read the email, make a decision what to do with it.  I am suggesting that your Inbox should be new emails only. 

Before you move everything to a 'save for later' folder, don't just move it to keep the inbox clean.  Think about where it really should move to.  Ideally we should touch it once.  
Think about that physically junk mail, many experts recommend having a recycle bin nearby when bringing in the mail.  Junk mail then goes directly to that bin.  If it doesn't go to that bin in goes to a designated place based on how you need to deal with it later.  Bills, Coupons, Taxes, Misc to keep, etc.  So based on that idea, here are my three actions to take on email.
  1. Delete it – you have read it and don’t need it anymore.  Do this for those emails especially the ones that if you log on to the related account you can view again there.  Example – Amazon tells you that you purchased something.  Yes, I purchased that, thanks for the notice. Then I say delete that email.  If it has a tracking number because it has shipped so might want to save it for a short time – look at the next point. 
  2. Move it for temporary saving– let’s say you have received notice of something shipping or something you don't need to do now, but will soon like paying a bill and you need this email to remind you.  Or it is something that you want to reference later but not long term.  You want it available in the email account, so you don’t have to go to another website.  Have a folder that is for short term holding.  In the case of bills, maybe have a folder that says 'Bills to be Paid'.  This folder then should be cleaned out periodically. 
  3. Move it for longer term saving – these emails are ones you never want to get rid of.  For these I recommend having several folders.  I have Family, Church, bills, and Reference.  In my miniatures account I have also folders that are specific to a particular event or subject.  The folder system here can be as simple or complex as you like. However I recommend to keep it on the simple side to make it easier to figure out which to go into but also easy to find later. Note for my miniature emails, the point of the folders for me is to separate the groups I am on.  I actually move them to these folders and delete them once read, or move them to another folder if I keep. More on that in tomorrow's post.

Other folders that might be useful

Let’s say you don’t have a secondary email account to manage misc email.  Alternatively you could have 'misc ads' email folder.  Mind that this isn’t the junk mail or spam folder that your provider has – if you move it there it might get reported as spam and then you don’t get the ones you want.  I often find emails in my junk mail folder that I think shouldn’t be.  The most likely reason is that someone decided they didn’t want this advertising mail and they reported it as spam, but spam is not mail you signed up for even if it was unintentional.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dealing with Advertising emails

Let's think about misc advertising email.  It could be called junk mail or spam but I’m not talking about spam – the stuff you didn’t sign-up for.  No, I am referring to the stuff you did sign up for when you purchased something on the internet.  Or when you got that loyalty card so you could get points.  Depending on the site or card, you may have no option to opt in or out of advertising emails. At least none that are obvious.
There are three ways I handle this type of misc email.
  1. I use a secondary account.  I have a second email acct and I use it when I make a purchase or sign up for a newsletter. 
  2. I opt out of advertising.  Whenever I sign up for an account (make a purchase) I look for the box that will allow me to opt out.
  3. I unsubscribe once I am finished with the transaction I sign up for to start with.  Example, I bought a bird product from a website called bird lover.  But I don’t want their emails coming daily or weekly.  So at the bottom of the email, I used the unsubscribe link they are supposed to have on there.  I still love birds, but I don’t want that site’s emails coming in when I don’t want to buy from them anymore.  I can always go back to the site and to purchase again if I am ever inclined.

Doing 1 is the best way to deal with these emails up front so that you know it is likely to not be something you want to see.  If you didn’t intentionally sign up like say to get their weekly coupons – or even if you did.  This secondary acct allows you to segregate email right away.  Just be sure that you check this acct weekly.  Or monthly at the very least.  One main reason for doing this is to not miss something you really do want to see – like a big fat refund coupon or points added to your account.  If you neglect the account, you might as well have it come to your primary acct and do 2 or 3 instead.

In order for this to work, you do need to have an email software that allows you to view more than one email account.  Outlook is one.  Or it is really easy to switch from one to the other once signed into both.  Gmail is like that. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Managing emails – multiple accounts

I am a fan of multiple email accounts.  The main reason is that I subscribe to several groups for/about miniatures.  I want to keep the deluge of miniature related email separate from my personal email. 

Three main email accounts
I have a personal email that I give that address out to family or friends that aren’t miniature related.  I also use this for banking and bills.  The businesses I have to pay attention to.

I have a second email for anything or anyone miniature related.

I also have a third email account that I use for signing up with businesses that maybe I do business with infrequently say someone that I purchase from one time or for a loyalty card. Or weekly coupons are another example.

Initially I did all three with my ISP but moving forward I have switched to using a non-ISP email provider.

I have had a separate email account to manage multiple hobbies.  I also had a separate account when I was a student.

The key to dealing with multiple accounts is the software program.  It must allow one to add other accounts to it.  Again, Outlook is an option, but there are other programs that do that as well.  Gmail is another one that I use.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Managing emails – which provider

Being someone who likes to be organized, I try to do this with my email too. I will not say I do a great job at this but I do have certain things I do that help me.
This is a series on how I manage my emails.
Today’s topic is about providers.  The name after the @.
This isn’t about which provider is better or gives which benefits, but about the source.  Is your @name based on an ISP (internet service provider) how you get on the internet or is it free to anyone?

Since hubby and I have been on the internet I have used five email providers for personal email. Two of those I still use today.  Switching providers is a pain no matter how you deal with it if you have shared it with others.  Several of my changes has been due to switching from one ISP to another.  I have used my current ISP for more than five years and the one before that for at least that long.  But if I ever switch again, I will not set up a new email account with a new ISP.  Instead when I share my new email account, it will be someone like @gmail that isn’t tied to an account I have to pay for.  My hope is that I never have to switch again.  Granted that may not work out, as these free ones can go belly up and then I am forced to switch again.

One thing I do not do – use an employer provided account. With my employer this violates their use policy.  For me, it also won’t be a problem later if I ever change employers.  Using their account actually keeps my private life separate and is why I say don’t do it.  The employer also has a right to read your email even if you feel it is personal if using their email system.

Switching providers?
This is a really good opportunity to do some clean up and deal with advertisers. 
The last time I switched, I spent some time figuring out where I needed to make this switch.  I did this both by seeing who was sending me emails and also by reviewing my sent email.  The very basic way is to is use the unsubscribe link or button that the advertiser is supposed to have.  For other emails, login in to that account and make the change. 
This is also a good time to consider using multiple accounts – come back tomorrow when I address why I do this.