Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Product Frustration

Like everyone nowadays, I have dozens of email addresses.  I have an elegant solution for my personal ones, but not so for my work-related addies.  I have 1.5 accounts for work.  There's my cs.toronto.edu account, and my utoronto.ca account which I consider 0.5 for work because it's actually my student account but which has been granted access to staff-related things.  Anyway...

I hadn't setup my utoronto.ca acount in an Outlook profile at the office.  I hadn't needed to.  I wanted to when UofT first rolled out the exchange server, but everything (emails, calendaring, tasks, categories) was working sufficiently well enough to ensure that I could get my work done.  Sure, it's true that if I did the switchover I'd be able to do more tasks, and that I knew that, but why invest time to have it only stolen away by more work?

Then sometime this past summer my tasks and flags in my OutLook 2007 profile stopped working.  I was going to mention it to our POC to have it repaired, but the last time I had my profile repaired, I lost all of my categories, so I was wary of doing this.  Categories are everything to me.  And I could get any reminders I needed on my Blackberry which is sync'd with my Google Calendar which is sync'd with my OutLook Calendar into which I was entering tasks. =)  Roundabout way of doing things, sure, but it prevented me from the potential nightmare that was losing my categories.

But then I was given access to and needed to view the calendar of one of the Profs here.  This is what the exchange server is all about! I was so excited to have a reason to use it.  So, without hesitation, I created a new Outlook 2007 profile for my utoronto.ca account and checked to see if I could open his calendar.  And, without surprise, I could open it!  I was so pleased with myself.  I was also pleased because I noticed in the new Outlook profile that the tasks and flags were operational!  All I had to do was add my cs.toronto.edu account and I'd be ready to go! Oh, but if only it were that easy.

My POC showed up later that afternoon and helped me configure my cs.toronto.edu acount in the new profile.  It is preferred that we use imap for this account.  I don't like imap because Outlook 2007 doesn't like imap: it doesn't let you take advantage of all of its features when you use imap.  It dies if you do.  This is how my profile "died" earlier this year.  Imap is fine with Outlook 2007 when you don't categorize, flag for specific dates, and use tasks.  But I love those features!  So since the crash, we set me up to use pop for my cs.toronto.edu emails, which has inflated my mailbox size on the server because I neglect to clean it out and that I will have to deal with soon...  Anyway, in my new OutLook 2007 profile in which my UTORexchange account is setup, we used imap to setup my cs.toronto.edu account.  I expressed my disapproval, but said I'd live with it.  At least I got folders and sub-folders, at-hand access to my calendar on the exchange server which had already been sync'd with the calendar in my old profile because I 2-way sync with my Google Calendar which 2-way syncs with my Blackberry.  So, I wasn't entirely organizational-feature-less.

Then I noticed it.  The folders in my imap.cs.toronto.edu folder wouldn't appear.  To confirm, I went onto the DCS Webmail and opened Thunderbird and checked to see if the folders still existed and that I was subscribed.  Yes they did, and I was.  I went into my old Outlook profile to see if it worked there (oh, I had both pop AND imap and have just been too lazy to cleanup my mailbox on the server), and it did.  In my old profile, I could access/create/edit/delete folders and everything would pop up in the webmail/Thunderbird without skipping a beat.  So now I had to figure out why I could open my folders in the old profile, but not the new one.  I tripled checked all of the settings, did test runs, and nothing.  Old one worked; new one didn't.  And that's that.

I've just stopped trying.  I have 2 Outlook 2007 profiles.  The old one manages my email well, and the new one has me on UTORexchange.  *sigh*  I'm going to leave it alone until at least next week.  I dream of having one profile in which I'm happy staying.  Even if I did get the folders going in the new profile, I would still be wary of using my fave Outlook 2007 features.  *sigh*

I would just forward the cs.toronto.edu emails to my utoronto.ca account, but mailbox size limitations on the utoronto.ca account make it restrictive.

I wish there didn't exist bureaucracy, ideological issues with closed-source programs, hate for Microsoft, and financial barriers.  Then I'm sure that  everyone in this department would be on UTORexchange and used Outlook 2007/Entourage.  I wouldn't be the only one who had this problem and fixes would be readily available, I'm sure.  I could also do fun things like manage several of hectic calendars, have access to dozens more, organize tons of fun meetings, and work the way I did like in the good old days at EP.  It would revolutionize my position.  It would be brilliant.

I have seriously considered exclusively using Thunderbird.  And I would, except for the fact that I can't install any add-ons as I am not the Administrator on my office computer.  I am on my personal computers, so well, there I use it, but not "happily".  It's still hideous and limited, but it requires less memory to run than Outlook 2007 so I'll tolerate it.
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