Inbox Zero in Outlook

One might like Microsofts range of products or not, at work the mail system is Outlook. Perdiod And combined with Exchange this gives some quite capable system for collaborative work. But as always there is room for improvement. So, in the following my customizations to Microsoft Outlook 2013 for Inbox Zero are shown.

All mail in one single folder.

This is the normal situation which many people work with. As a result, such a single folder contains mails that are read or unread. Mails which are there just for archive purposes, mails that act as reminder for something and finally mails which need to be acted upon or which need to be answered.

Why Inbox Zero?

For me such a system only works well if the daily number of messages is low. Yet, with a busy work schedule and lots of mails as I encounter from time to time, this is seldom the case.

If the number of mails increases or if mails often need to be dealt with in a longer time frame – e. g. an answer needs to be sent next month – I quickly need to rescan hundreds of messages and hunt for the mails which are still important. This is time consuming and annoying.

Enter Inbox Zero. Inbox Zero is an action-based concept with the objective to deal with all mails once. And only once. Ever. All mails that can neither be deleted nor be dealt with are either defered and saved as action items or are delegated. So much about the basic idea

My Interpretation of Inbox Zero

As with any theory, there is more than one way of implementation. Over time and inspired by the very clever Defer feature available in the ancient FIDO software Crosspoint my personal take at Inbox Zero developed into the following:

  • I do not treat the Inbox as a physical folder but use Filtered Views or Smart Search Folders.
  • The actual Inbox View is periodically reviewed. Upon review:
    1. All newly arrived and hence unread mails are briefly read.
    2. All read mails that do not require any action or that are for information purposes only are moved elsewhere.
    3. All read mails that only require a quick answer or that can be dealt with in a couple of minutes are processed right away and are then moved elsewhere.
    4. All read mails that I will deal with today or that provide information which I will need to access today again are left in the Inbox.
    5. All read mails that I will deal with later on are marked as deferred with an appropriate due date.

As my primary Inbox View is configured such that only mails are shown that are

  • (unread)
  • or (read and not deferred)
  • or deferred and (due or overdue) and (not finished),

I always see only the information which is of importance to me right now. Deferred mails come back into view at due time and can then be processed or be deferred again. Completed mails are simply flagged as completed and are no longer shown.

Read mails left in the Inbox for easy reference need to be moved once this reference need is no longer given or might be postponed.Periodically, all completed mails which are still present in the Inbox yet are not shown in the Inbox View are moved to the correct locations.

For me, this approach works even under heavy mail load. It drastically reduces the clutter in the Inbox and gives a nice overview over all relevant and required actions. The maintenance tasks, i.e. archiving of completed mail actions and moving reference mails, are either easily done or are done periodically in burst mode.

Inbox Zero in Outlook

So, how does this work in Outlook? Basically, I do use a custom view to dynamically select only the mail items relevant for me now. For this rather complex query the Outlook SQL DSAL notation is the only option I am aware of.

After lots of experimenting I use a query as follows:

 (
  "urn:schemas:httpmail:read" = 0
  OR "urn:schemas:httpmail:messageflag" IS NULL 
  OR NOT "urn:schemas:httpmail:messageflag" > 0 
  OR ("urn:schemas:httpmail:reply-by" <= 'morgen' AND NOT "urn:schemas:httpmail:reply-by" IS NULL)
  OR ("urn:schemas:httpmail:messageflag" > 0 AND "urn:schemas:httpmail:reply-by" IS NULL)
 ) AND (
  "http://schemas.microsoft.com/mapi/proptag/0x10900003" IS NULL 
  OR NOT "http://schemas.microsoft.com/mapi/proptag/0x10900003" < 2
 )

Here, we collect or join all mails via the SQL OR statement that are 1) unread, 2) without a message flag, 3) where the flag was set and deleted, 4) have a flag or category yet no due date. Of all these mails, only (AND statement) mails are shown that A) do not have a due date, B) are not marked as done or completed. For the last checks the inoffcial proptag 0×10900003 is queried.

Voila. Save and assign to a custom folder represation and you are ready to doe Inbox Zero the incunabulum way.

Endnote

For the assignment of due dates, categories etc. another blog post will follow.

And – btw – one of the first steps on any new computer is to disable the new mail notification actions. For me, email is an asynchronous means of communication where I decide – based on my current tasks and mood – when and how often I want to check my mail. For urgent matters, there is always the phone or personal communication.

Owl2Java Status Update

Yes, Owl2Java, my java-based code generator for the comfortable access to OWL ontologies from java is no longer maintained by me. As I am now working in a totally different field of application and due to some very limited spare time, I am just and simply not able to do any maintenance.

Nevertheless, from time to time it is quite interesting to see, what other are doing wiht this public piece of code, see e.g. my previous post.

And today?

Well, things are calming down which is not surprising for a software that is unmaintained for so long. Yet, there are some activities up to 2012 in the repositories here and there and I even got some references in the odd paper like e.g.

And yes, my work even got referenced in a book, namely the proceddings from Semantic Web Rules.

But I guess thats about it. Dead is dead. Farewell.

Against the Cloud – Flickr Dowloads

Well, in the new days there came clouds. Lot’s of clouds. And they started to swallow lots and lots… images, documents, you name it. Everything… But I like sunshine and not clouds. So, out they must come. From the cloud on my own personal machine and under my control.

In this case, it was a picture set on Flickr for which I got access as public guest. And yes, as it is the usual case with clouds, this thing makes no difference. Upload is easy, downloads not. Neither as single impage nor – preferably – as complete set.

So what to do?

As described here Firefox, Greasemonkey and DownThemAll can be used togehter and form perfect match. The Flickr Image Script for greasemonkeys adds links to the largest available size for each image. DownThemAll can be set to really only download the images linked from the images. Additional Link here.

Done. Perfect. And yes, this is a personal note, too.

Etwas zur Genauigkeit von Temperaturmessungen

Vor längerer Zeit – ok, vor Ewigkeiten – habe ich im Rahmen des Pflanzenoelumbaus meines Passats im Rücklauf direkt hinter der ESP einen Temperaturfuehler installiert.

Und damit dass auch richtig tut natürlich richtig als Inline-Temperaturfühler mit passendem Fühlerstück, so dass letztlich der Fühler auch schön mittig im T-Stück im Rücklauf angeordnet ist. Da sollte doch nicht viel schief gehen und alles super genau sein …

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Oder etwa doch nicht?

Der Steckerverbinder an diesem T-Stück direkt auf dem Motor war nach über 100.000 km endgültig durchgeschüttelt und musste ob des immer gravierender werdenden Luftwatzes doch ausgetauscht werden. Aus Faulheit wurde hierfür aus einem vorhandenen 3/8-Zoll T-Stück – verbaut war ein 1/4-Zoll Stück – samt 1/4-Zoll-Adapter eben eine Austauschlösung zu Hause im Warmen gebaut. Flugs getauscht. Fertig.

Dass jetzt der Temperaturgeber nicht mehr mittig im Querschnitt angeordnet ist sondern ca. 8 mm nach Aussen versetzt angeordnet ist kann ja nicht so ein Problem sein. Dachte ich. Ist es aber doch! Bei meinen üblichen Vergleicshrouten ( 10 Stunden Standzeit, 3 Kurven, danach 20 im Tempomat) bei identischer Aussentemperatur etc. stehen

  • bei Autobahnauffahrt auf einmal 8 – 10 Grad weniger auf der Anzeige,
  • bei Langstrecke (Tempomat 150 km/h) sind es 5 Grad weniger.

Und das nur, weil ich jetzt 10 cm hinter der ESP im Randbereich der Strömung und nicht mittig messe. Solche Auswirkungen hätte ich hier nicht erwartet. Ergo – Wer misst misst Mist. Genau. Mist.

Mp3 Tools for Tag Management and Such

Ever got angry about crappy mp3 tags or no tags at all? Ever wondered what your tracks named track01, track02, track03 … actually are?

Well, two smart tools might be there to help you:

  • mp3diags – Diagnose mp3 tags, correct character encoding issues and fix some of the more common errors found in mp3 files like incorrect lengths etc.
  • Musicbrainz Picard – Automatically identify and correctly tag unknown mp3 sources using audio fingerprints, add missing mp3 tag informations and much more. All together under a very convenient and comfortable UI.

PS: Personal note, of course :-)

Ubuntu 11.10 and a missing Headphone Jack-Sense Flag

While the upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10 – or Kubuntu or Xubuntu, whatever – went quite smoothly, I ended up with the situation where the internal speakers of my laptop are not muted when jacking in some headphones. Quite annoying, to be honest.

A Resolution?

In my case, the solution of this issue was quite simple, see this thread (beware: German). Open a terminal, start alsamixer, then navigate to the Auto-Mute entry via the right arrow key and then set it to enabled (key up). Done. At least for me. Other issues might exist, though.

If you want to make this permament then edit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf and add the following

options snd-hda-intel model=auto

You might have to change the kernel module.

PS: And this is a personal note. Of course :)

YouTube und das Urheberrecht

Man mag zu YouTube stehen wie man will, es nervt einfach wenn ein Video aus urheberrechtlichen Gründen nicht abgespielt wird weil mal wieder die VG Wort oder Gema oder UMG oder wer auch immer sich nicht einigen konnten.

Gut, man kann mittels Hidemyass oder einem der anderen Dienste dies umgehen. Aber komfortabel ist anders. Oder man verwendet Ultrasurf wie hier beschrieben. Dazu einen “Amerikanischen Proxy” eintragen, fertig. Und für Linux klappt es auch mittels Wine.

Tired of being tracked?

Today, many sites use external services like Google Analytics, Google AdSense, WordPress Stats or a plethora of others for statistics or the analysis of user behaviors. Also, each facebook or twitter button shown on a web page leads to a subsequent entry on facebook’s or twitter’s log with your ip, time of access and – if logged in – user credentials.

As a result, you become traceable, fully traceable. Anyone having access to such logs can now recreate and evaluate your complete browsing history over time. As a result, creating your personal user profile becomes a piece of cake. Knowing what you like is a given. Knowing what you may buy in the future is known. Knowing who your friends are can be determined.

Scary?

For me, yes. I don’t want others to collect such an amount of information about me and my personal behavior. Information, which will be there indefinitely and which I have no right and no possibility to delete.

Enter Ghostery

Ghostery is a nifty Firefox Add-on which shows you a list of known external services like the Facebook button mentioned above which a website uses and which is used for logging your own personal behavior. Each of these, let’s call them trackers can be blocked making you a bit more anonymous within the interwebs.

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PS: And I guarantee you will be surprised about the number of logging services each website uses.