Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Unproductivity Software

If you know me at all, you probably know that I am something of a Google whore. I mean, this blog is hosted on Blogger, if I'm in front of a computer, Gmail is open, I use Google Docs & Spreadsheets (and have you seen their presentations? That's what the internet is supposed to be doing for us. Collaborative work over a distance. It's not there yet, but oh man.) I use Reader and have converted many friends to it. Etc.

But this was not always the case. When I got my Gmail account, way back in 2004, I was distressed by the inability to make folders. How would I possibly organize my emails? I wasn't familiar with tagging, or "labels" as Google calls them. Once I'd figured out what tagging was, and that I could tag emails in Gmail, I still resisted. As a result, I have severely under-utilized tagging my email for ease of finding things. But that's OK, because I can always search my email and find what I'm looking for. That recipe for fried peach pies from the Times? (OK, this is actually under my "recipes" tag, but bear with me) Searched and found.

It is stuff like this that makes me so frustrated when I come into work and have to use Microsoft products, particularly Outlook. There are things about Outlook that I like--it's easy to change the sorting of email, and once I've sorted by Sender, I can collapse all the emails from my boss so that I can find the one from that guy whose last name I can't remember.

But I really, really wish that Outlook had a good search engine. It has one, and it plods along and sometimes you can find what you want. If you are lucky. And my desire for a good search engine is dwarfed by my desire for tagging. I have a lot of emails that could be sorted into different folders--it is associated with a particular book, it is about a particular media supplement, and it discusses specific guidelines. I wish, rather than trying to figure out if this should go in a folder for the book, or the supplement, or an "Important" catch-all folder for guidelines, that I could tag it with the information I needed. I don't need hundreds of nesting folders--I need precise tags and good search capabilities.

Microsoft, you're supposed to be the leader in productivity software. Stop making me fight with your software to do simple stuff, and start making changes that actually, you know, enhance my productivity.

CAVEAT: I have no seen Office 2007. It is entirely possible that the changes they have made to Outlook for Office 2007 will render some or all of my complaints moot. But I doubt it.


essjay said...

Nope. Office 2007 will do you no good on tagging. You can do categories but it still isn't super dynamic like you want it. It took me a while to embrace the labels on g-mail (how I missed my folders) but now I completely love them!

angelia said...

Hey Stiney-poo!

I haven't played with gmail at all--I so need to! Google just rocks. My igoogle page keeps me entertained for hours. Having sudoku on there doesn't help. "Just one more puzzle..."

Microsoft, in their rush to shove products onto shelves, produces the most lackluster and counter-intuitive software I've ever used. Now that I don't need MS for work compatibility purposes, I'm seriously tempted to go Mac. MS have the resources to be much better than they are, but they don't because of greed. I hate that. E.g., MS Word crashes on me one out of every two times I use it. No exaggeration. It happens to Rob, too. It's WP program, for crying out loud! How difficult is it to create a WP program that isn't buggy? Gah!

Thus endeth my rant.