Blog du Tristank

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More on How I Work (and Lookout’s now available!)

[Updated 23/07/04 with public Lookout download]

A couple of people internally and externally asked about a couple of aspects of the array of software I use to do my job, so I thought I’d expand on it.


As a Support Professional, my key tasks involve information retrieval, evaluation and dissemination. I have an array of software configured to help me work more effectively, and I thought I’d share that here.


Outlook 2003
I live and breathe email. I have a reasonably straightforward but large ruleset to help me manage the email away into categorized PST files and folders.

The email that’s most important to me gets flagged for follow-up and moved to my Case Email folder, with accompanying loud sound effects.


 + an Outlook-based RSS Aggregator
I like reading information in Outlook, and find that Outlook-based aggregators are best for reading blogs, as I’m not constantly app-switching.
I use one I wrote to get the hang of Outlook add-in programming and XML (I never did really get the hang of it, but it’s just good enough that I can live with it. Just.) Others use Newsgator.

I use Outlook 2003’s Search Folders feature with a list of keywords (“Microsoft”, “Windows”, “Intel”, “AMD”, “C#”, “Doom”, “exploit” and so on) to keep track of interesting things that come in via RSS feeds  (which are dumped into subfolders of News and Blogs folders, making it easier to target the Search Folders), and the “RSS Interesting Topics” Search Folder is in my Outlook Favourite Mail Folders area at the top of the mail pane.

I also have an RSS Unread Topics Search Folder that allows me to skim for any new posts that don’t fit the predefined category.

Autoarchive is configured to clear out all the RSS-driven folders every 6 months.


 + an Insta-Search Mod (Lookout)
Lookout (MSN Sandbox/free 1.2 beta linked). Being able to search all my email instantly makes me more likely to search it (and to hoard it), which means that I can find things I’ve already seen but only have a vague memory of, much faster, or even pseudo-ignore them: I know I can find them later if I need to.
(a long-time colleague uses a slightly different technique – he won’t read an email unless there’s a discussion about it first, which seems to be a highly effective filtering technique).
If you don’t already have some type of instantaneous search for Outlook, I highly recommend this.


Internet Explorer
(Of course.) I’ve played around with Avant Browser on and off, but since a recent update seems to have effectively broken intranet use (type in an address with no dots in it and it tries to search for it), I’ve been toying with Firefox a bit – tabbed browsing appeals to me, and they have some other cool features too
(if anyone has a suggestion for an alternative tabbed browser that uses the IE engine, I’m interested). [Update] I’m currently playing with Maxthon.


I talked about this last time – this is now my secondary holding area for just about any information I think might be useful at some point, and scratch notes, etc.


LOB Apps
From my perspective, almost universally terrible, so I won’t go into them.