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French Version

Another 'Outlook'

Apart from the well-documented dangers of Outlook's viruses, there's a whole set of other 'quirks' which need to be addressed when using Outlook. Some of these, regrettably, have not been tackled in Outlook's latest release, the 2002 version.

JORDAN (Star) - If you're an office computer user, or just someone who likes to 'pull' all his/her emails into one box; you're probably using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express in one of their recent versions.

As an Outlook user you've probably figured out by now that there are a number of dangers and 'irritations' associated with using Outlook.

Foremost is the specialized Outlook viruses which could enter anyone's address book, then send out hoax mails with attached viruses to everyone in that book.

Knowledge of such virus threats has made all of us live in a constant state of suspicion, immediately deleting any email that just doesn't look right, even if it has been sent by one of our best friends!

Apart from the well-documented dangers of Outlook's viruses, there's a whole set of other 'quirks' which need to be addressed when using Outlook. Some of these, regrettably, have not been tackled in Outlook's latest release, the 2002 version. For a start, there are no improvements in working with forms, macros, and other advanced features which corporate users require. Also, one of Outlook's biggest problems is that it still accepts data duplication. This can be particularly irritating if you're a PDA user who connects to Outlook every few days to upload the business cards and contacts you've collected. Many of those will be accepted, time after time, causing multiple entries for the same person/company..

Sometimes, whenever there's a small change in the synchronization set-up, calendar events appear twice or three times when transferred from the PDA!

As for incoming emails, Outlook is quite good at handling your e-mail addresses. If all you have are POP and Web-based accounts, then Outlook is great. And if all you have is a corporate email address, setup on a company server using Microsoft Exchange, that's fine, too.

But it's very difficult to manage a situation whereby a user has an Exchange account, a Hotmail account for example, and several POP accounts, and wants to segregate them from each other; to keep personal information from landing on the corporate server. It's not easy.

Multiple emails also bring out, again, the duplication problem, but in a quirky way by which you end up downloading the same email dozens of times in some cases! Has that ever happened to you? It happens to a lot of users.

Spam is another problem. Although Outlook is supposed to include comprehensive features to handle junk e-mail, but it still depends on you telling it which addresses are to be classified as junk; when it should 'pick-up' on regular emails that are arriving from a user not in the address book.

For us, outside the United States, there's also the problem of Outlook's inability to automatically format our addresses. It seems to only have auto-complete features for US zipcodes. Wouldn't it be nice if the rest of the world got a chance to enjoy auto-format services. It wouldn't take too much to utilize the already available information in Windows Arabic versions regarding IDD codes and such information.

This is all important, because Outlook is the piece of software with which we have the most 'personal' relationship. It's open all day, if you're at the office, you've got to look into Outlook at least every half hour and a problem with it could wreck your database of addresses and backlog of emails, not to mention your day! So, any avid Outlook user should follow-up on developments in this application, and maybe even check out some of the available tweaks which enable it to feel more like 'Your Outlook'. I'm not sure those tweaks will reduce typical Outlook problems, but it's worth getting more involved in setting up the application that governs your daily computer experience.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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