30 October 2003

Life is always interesting when technology changes are made. It had been my hope to have this newsletter out Monday morning. Instead, some minor optimization of the delivery system needed to happen.
I’ve been living with Office 2003 for almost a month. Very little has changed about the way I use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but improvements to Outlook have made using a Windows e-mail client a complete joy. If you don’t feel the need to upgrade your entire Office suite, take a serious look
at upgrading Outlook; you will be *very* pleased with many of the new features.
Placing the preview pane to the right of the Inbox mail list makes reading my mail so much easier. Image blocking in Outlook is automatic, meaning I’m not getting any of those tracking devices spammers use for validation. Junk mail filtering in Outlook 2003 actually works; no false positives have occurred so far. Rules are now easier to implement, with quick access to Rule creation by right clicking on any message, which saves me a great deal of frustration. The Find feature is now readily exposed and works more like its counterpart in sister application Entourage. Several other improvements, like integration with Messenger and better contacts management round out my appreciation of the improved Outlook 2003.
I won’t pretend Outlook 2003 is perfect. I was annoyed by several changes to keyboard shortcuts. Send & Receive all moved from F5 down to F9. Anyone accustomed to using the Advanced Find window will need to use Ctrl+Shift+D to launch it, although I need this feature less thanks to better overall Find tools. For users with multiple e-mail accounts, Microsoft managed to make the process of turning off Send & Receive for a specific account more complicated. The positives outweigh the negatives by a wide margin, making this the best upgrade to a Microsoft Office application since the release of Outlook 2000.
Aside from upgrading Outlook, I’m on a quest to join the AnswerSquad. I just recently found out I will be writing a book on Windows Movie Maker 2, due out next spring. The AnswerSquad is made up of computer book authors dedicated to providing you with affordable computer help. Once my book is officially published, I’m hopeful I can persuade the Squad to allow me to lend my assistance to the cause. If computer help is what you seek, there’s no better place than the experts who live and breathe the technologies you use.