go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

May, 2010

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A: can I send a mail in Entourage that the recipient can't forward?

    • 0 Comments

    I saw this post on the Entourage product forum that has a great question about Entourage:

    Several corporate e-mail clients have security features that prevent Reply To All and Forwarding of e-mails if the flags are set for that message.
    Does Entourage have any such capability?

    This feature, where you can say "I don't want this email to be forwarded" or "I don't want the recipients of this email to be able to reply-all" is called Information Rights Management (IRM). It's not something that you can do alone on your client. It's something that the server manages.

    To use IRM, you need both a client and a server that support it. Exchange does; neither POP nor IMAP does. Today, Entourage does not support IRM. Outlook:Mac does support IRM, and it's coming out later this year. If you're on Exchange 2010, you can also create and consume IRM messages via Outlook Web Access in either Safari or Firefox because Safari and Firefox are now fully-supported in Outlook Web Access 2010.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job -- and that's perfectly okay

    • 1 Comments

    When I wrote my PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job post last week for Mac Mojo, I knew that it was only a matter of time before someone would read it and crow about it. I just wasn't sure who would be the first. The Apple Core blog at ZDNet didn't disappoint. In their bizarrely-titled PowerPoint: The Devil's tool? Maybe, get a Mac, David Morgenstern takes delight because I have "admitted that there are good presentations and bad presentations", following it with an "ouch!".

    I find it especially amusing that Morgenstern would make the claim that "Mac users should take many of these rules with a large dash of salt — they are based on PowerPoint's toolset and a user base unaccustomed to manipulating high-res, quality images." As Morgenstern himself points out, many of the articles that I linked to provide "good ideas" for making a good presentation and avoiding making a bad presentation. And leaving aside that PowerPoint was originally a Mac-only app and thus has a userbase that is accoustomed to his asserted behaviour, which I would expect someone who claims to have 20 years of experience in covering the Mac industry to know, presentations are rarely about "manipulating high-res, quality images" -- and they shouldn't be, either.

    Manipulation of images, preferably in ways that aren't as depressing as the recent side-by-side comparisons of the published Britney Spears photos and the untouched ones, isn't necessary or even desirable for every presentation. They're fitting in some presentations, yes, but definitely not all of them. A high-res, quality image doesn't get around the problem that was discussed in the original NY Times article: presenters need to carefully consider and polish their message, and deliver it in a manner that gets the job done right. Spending a weekend pixel-pushing a high-res, quality image in your graphic editor of choice is no better than creating that rainbow spaghetti slide if the accompanying message isn't one that is complete, accurate, concise, and understandable.

    I honestly don't know what could be wrong in saying that PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job. When I share my research with my teams, I create both a PowerPoint deck for the high-level findings, and a Word document with deep details about every aspect of the study. I present the deck to the team, discuss what I learned in my research, and use the Word document to provide additional details as necessary and to allow the team to do a deep dive into something if appropriate. For one of my standard usability studies, the PowerPoint deck is usually on the order of 15 slides, and the Word document is around 30 pages. Those two outputs have different goals and different audiences. For each of them, I choose the right tool for the job. I don't try to make one tool do everything.

    So yes, this employee of Microsoft is saying that PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job. Want to buy a new car? A spreadsheet that makes use of goal seek is a good tool for that job. Want to learn music theory? Surprisingly, you could also discover the circle of fifths in Excel, too. Writing your annual holiday letter? That's probably a job for the publishing layout view in Word:Mac. I could head into the ridiculous and point out that if you need to connect to the Windows computer that lives headless under your desk in your office (as mine does), PowerPoint is very much not the right tool for that job, but Remote Desktop Connection is. As someone said to me via Twitter today, "Hammers ain't the best tool for sawing, either. Doesn't say anything bad about hammers."

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A: what's the best way to get help with Entourage?

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    In my post about how you can help improve Exchange, I got the following question:

    What's the best way to get specific help to issues regarding Entourage?

    There are plenty of options:

    • The Entourage online help. We've put plenty of time and effort into making the Entourage help as awesome as it can be. If you can't find what you're looking for, or if you think that our help could be better, more clear, or something else, then help us help you. At the bottom of every help file, there's a one-question survey: did this help you? Click the appropriate button. There's also a comment field if you want to give us more details. We analyse those comments every month. That analysis leads to changes to the help files, or new ones getting written, or changes to the content plans for the next release.
    • Call Microsoft tech support. You get two free calls to tech support with your purchase of Office 2008. We've got people dedicated to providing support for Entourage, and they're really good at it.
    • Try posting your question to the Entourage product forums. There are lots of Entourage experts who hang out there and answer questions.
    • There are other Entourage-specific forums like the entourage-talk mailing list. I'm subscribed to this mailing list, although I very rarely need to answer a question there because the other experts have beaten me to it.
    • The Entourage help page is maintained by our ever-awesome Entourage MVPs, and has lots of awesome information in it. They also have a blog, and they're on Twitter too.
    • There's this blog as well. Look through my posts that are tagged with Entourage, Exchange, or Outlook. You can leave comments, which I try to answer, although all of the above methods will get you a much faster response to your question.
  • go ahead, mac my day

    PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job

    • 1 Comments

    I've got a post up over at Mac Mojo today: PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job.

    For my committed readers, I'll tell you that I had a hard time naming this post. Here are the rejected titles:

    • we have met the enemy, and he is bad PowerPoint
    • some problems in the world can't be expressed in PowerPoint
    • if you've only got a PowerPoint hammer, everything looks like a presentation nail
    • your spaghetti dinner got beaten up by a rainbow
    • use the right tool for every job, and you won't become one (this suggestion courtesy of Rick Schaut, who might even actually blog again before the end of eternity)
  • go ahead, mac my day

    airport reflections

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    I've been travelling a lot lately, spending plenty of time in various airports across the US. It's given me too much time to reflect on the experience of flying.

    Every decision of the airlines has some kind of repercussion on those of us who get on airplanes. Most of them make the act of actually getting on the airplane that much more difficult.

    Consider the cuts to meal service on flights. For cross-country flights, this means that everyone's bringing food, and often drinks too, onto the flight with them. This makes boarding the plane trickier, since you've got to juggle all your bags and whatever food-related-substance you managed to pick up from some vendor in the airport. I've long since lost count of the number of times I've watched someone fumble their dinner all over the aisle or their seat because their hands were already full with their luggage.

    Bag fees, of course, mean that people are trying to get bigger and bigger bags on board the aircraft, and they're stuffing more into the bags. Boarding takes longer because there are more bags to get into the overhead bins, not to mention all of those bags that have to get gate-checked because they can't all fit into the bins.

    I flew on a red-eye recently where the airline didn't provide pillows and blankets. There were plenty of people boarding the plane carrying their own travel pillows. There were even a couple of people clutching full-size pillows, which I thought was crazy during boarding but liked the idea as I tried to turn my coat into a pillow. Not being able to count on a pillow and blanket for a red-eye means that there's more stuff for me to take on board the flight, more stuff to manage in my seat, more to forget when I get off the plane.

    It used to be that I would get on board an airplane with my laptop bag, which would contain my laptop, a book or two, maybe a magazine. Now I'm boarding with that laptop bag and a carry-on bag pretty much every time. I'm careful to never pack my bag such that I can't quickly lift it into the overhead bin, but it still means that there's at least a little bit of a delay before I can take my seat.

    I wonder if air travel will ever return to being a better experience.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    help improve Exchange

    • 3 Comments

    Paul Robichaux, one of the Exchange MVPs, has a great blog post about Exchange and the Customer Experience Improvement Program. As with many other Microsoft products, Exchange allows users to submit totally anonymous data. This data is then analysed and used to help identify areas for improvement in future versions. Paul's post details some of the data points that the Exchange team could gather. If you haven't opted in to the CEIP for Exchange, Paul's post tells you how to do that, too.

    Office:Mac 2008 also has a Customer Experience Improvement Program. I wrote about it soon after the Office 2008 release over at Mac Mojo: we are watching you. If you want to opt in, you can do so in the Preferences for any Office application: go to the Feedback section and select "Yes, I want to participate".

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