Media praise for Outlook Annoyances

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"The book is full of gems of information. . . if you want to understand and use Outlook better, I heartily recommend Outook Annoyances." --Vade Forrester, PC Alamode, January 2000

"a good guide for users who want to customize the program-helping them take full advantage of Outlook, transforming it into the useful tool it was intended to be." --Office Solutions, Feb 2000

"...helps you bring Outlook up to speed. It tells you how to customize the toolbar in ways that Microsoft doesn't tell you or make clear. It makes sense out of the confusing interface settings. It reports on fixes that only engineers know, and gives them to you in plain English." --The Marcus Letter, December 1998

"Yesterday I (finally) broke down and bought Outlook Annoyances. I'm a software trainer, developing an Outlook class for a special client. This book is absolutely the best computer book I've ever read. NEVER have I started reading page one and found that I didn't want to put it down. The authors have broken the code on providing a wealth of information in a lively, informal style. I love students." -a happy amazon.com customer; 5-star rating


MS OUTLOOK 98 TURNS OUT TO BE A VERY PLEASANT SURPRISE (SPECIAL THANKS TO O'REILLY !) By William F. Zachmann, President, Canopus Research Tuesday, November 10, 1998

If you run some form of Windows and MS Office, once attempted to use MS Outlook, got frustrated, gave up on it, and found some other way to handle your email, manage your schedule and so forth, you are certainly not alone. I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that there are hundreds of thousands, millions even, like you. I am one of you. In fact, I have tried Outlook several times only to give up, each time, with reactions that ranged from minor irritation to major disgust. So I simply did without any sort of personal information manager (PIM). For email I used the readers that came with the browsers I was using from Netscape and then, later, Microsoft. I use Fortés Agent to read news groups. All that is changing now. Over the past two days, I have switched to MS Outlook 98 for my email and it looks like I will use it for a great deal more, as well. I made the switch for two reasons. The initial stimulus was an excellent book published by one of my all-time favorite publishers of computer books, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., of Sebastopol, CA. The clincher was Microsoft's latest release of the product: Outlook 98. Given my past experiences with Outlook, though, I would not have bothered to install it any time soon, were it not for the book. Tim O'Reilly's publishing company has, for about half a decade now, put out an outstanding collection of titles, most concerned with Unix- and Internet-related topics. Recently they have added books about Microsoft Windows and related topics to their catalog, as well. These are just as impressively packed with solid information and useful advice, attractively laid out, as O'Reilly's Unix/Internet books have been.

The book that inspired me to give Outlook another try is "Outlook Annoyances" by Woody Leonard, Lee Hudspeth and T.J. Lee. O'Reilly is doing a series of "Annoyances" books on Windows-related topics. I think that this reflects, at least in part, Tim O'Reilly's strongly pro-Unix, pro-open-source-software views. It is also, however, O'Reilly's way to come up with more reader-friendly titles than the "...for Dummies" and "for Idiots" series that have been so successful for some other computer book publishers. O'Reilly evidently prefers to assume his readers to be intelligent and, instead, to blame Microsoft software for the "Annoyances". Be that as it may, O'Reilly's Windows-related "Annoyances" books are so good that they end up doing Windows and Microsoft yeoman service. "Outlook Annoyances" is no exception. The authors really know their stuff and present it extremely well. You need this book if you are working with MS Outlook in any manner. It is jam packed with essential information that you are not likely to find in such complete, comprehensive form anywhere else (except perhaps, of course, the O'Reilly and the authors' web sites: Ask Woody and Prime Consulting ). Leonard, Hudspeth and Lee tell you all the stuff about Outlook that you need to know but that you are not likely to find in the documentation. They tell you the straight stuff about all the different versions. Best of all, however, they tell you how to get around the glitches and to make it work for you and for your organization. They do not hesitate to criticize Microsoft for Outlook's annoyances, but they show how to deal with them and are genuinely enthusiastic about the product. Read the book and even Outlook 97 seems worth the trouble. It is the recent release of Outlook 98, however, that really cinches the deal. It is available as a freebie from Microsoft if you want to download it from the Microsoft web site, or you can get it on CD-ROM. It offers a major leap in stability,functionality and overall ease-of-use compared even to the relatively capable Outlook 97. Compared to the earlier versions that came with Office 95, Outlook 98 is in another galaxy. I am reminded of my experience, a decade earlier, with Microsoft Word. It started out as a "nice try but no cigar" product. Microsoft pr people and product managers kept coming around with newer and better versions, first for DOS and later for Windows. Microsoft programmers kept banging away at the code. Like Dr. Seuss' "500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins", each one was a little better than the last until, finally, they came up with something even a king might want to wear. Outlook 98 definitely marks Outlook's arrival as a product finally to be taken seriously. Sure, there are still enough annoyances left to provide grist for "Outlook Annoyance's" mill, but as the authors themselves point out, many of the worst annoyances that have long plagued the product are left behind with Outlook 98. Microsoftr's developers have done just as outstanding a job with the product as O'Reilly's authors did with their book. Together, they make a dynamite combination. Some of the most crucial changes are those that first found their way into Outlook Express, the email and news reader that Microsoft gives away with Internet Explorer 4.0. Woody, Lee and T.J. point out that Outlook Express is, as they see it, misleadingly named. They write, in a section titled "Internet Mail and News, a.k.a. Outlook Express": "Make no mistake, Microsoft Internet Mail and News (IMN, now called Outlook Express) is not in any way, shape, or form Outlook". It is simply, they say, "an upgraded version of the Internet Mail and News client that originally shipped with Internet Explorer 3.x". They go on to say: "Instead of calling it Internet Mail and News, Microsoft decided to call it Outlook Express, implying that it was a scaled-down version of Outlook. To make things even more annoying, Outlook Express incorporated a number of very nifty mail features not available in Outlook at the time. Outlook Express lets you have more than one email account (set up for different users if you want), connects to multiple news servers, provides email searching with service like Four-11 and Bigfoot, supports creating messages in HTML forma, and lets you customize its toolbar (all features that wound up in Outlook 98, we might add)." On this particular point I am inclined somewhat to disagree with them. It is precisely these features that are among the most important new features of Outlook 98. True, Outlook Express does not have much in common with the earlier version of Outlook, including Outlook 97 which was the current version at the time Outlook Express came out. Outlook Express has much in common with Outlook 98, though, and that is entirely to Outlook 98's advantage. If you like Outlook Express, even though you may have hated Outlook 97 and earlier, you are going to love Outlook 98. Outlook 98 does everything Outlook Express does right with email -- and much more. So if you are still laboring with Outlook 97 or (worse) an even earlier version, by all means dump it at the earliest possible moment and upgrade to Outlook 98. And if you, like me, are one of those millions who tried Outlook only to give up on it as hopeless, you might want to try one more time, with Outlook 98. Either way, if you have any interest in Outlook at all, be sure to pick up a copy of Woody, Lee and T.J.'s book. You will, I am quite sure, be glad you did. Please feel free to email Will Zachmann at wfz@canopusresearch.com with any comments, ideas, suggestions, questions, or observations about this or any of his other columns here on CompuServe Computing Pro. You are also welcome to go to the Canopus Research Forum (GO CIS:CANOPUS)and jump in on the ongoing discussions there. Together, we can make this a premier place in cyberspace for IT professionals and other interested parties to keep up-to-date on the latest and greatest in information technology. We're delighted to have you be part of it!