Remember when PCs first started popping up and the fascination everyone had with word processing that let you fill your writing with different fonts and clip art and text sizes. It was polyester double-knit leisure suits for letters. Then we added low cost color printing to really get tacky.
Early users did shareware and “batch files” to swap which did things that we now take for granted like moving a file from one place to another or simply searching for it. The trade was huge and the movement grew for more than a decade. I confess I was into it when I first got a computer on my desk. I was so into it that I eventually got into the business of doing software reviews for Ziff-Davis OnLine Shareware Library. It was piecework, but fun, and I could turn over about $50,000 a year just playing around with my PC.
There was a dark side, however. When you install and uninstall a hundred programs a week even on the best maintained work station, you’re going to have a lot of problems. The total system melt-down with requisite hard-drive reformat and re-install of everything you’ve ever had was a regular occurrence. I could almost schedule it every ninety days like clockwork.
When C|Net bought out ZDNet, the Shareware Library went to the virtual recycle bin and I got out of the business to teach some college classes and write books. Today, I tend toward lean and mean computing. I’ve passed way too much crap through this goose to be lured into a lot of odd-ball software. Yes, I’ve got some Yahoo utilities on board and I’ve downloaded and run FireFox a couple of times without being swept away; but I don’t jump willy-nilly into much else. But it is getting harder to tell where the commercial quality stuff ends and the really handy independent code-writer’s starts.
Today, I took a well advised leap. But, the source of the recommendation seems pretty good:
Order for An Inbox Spelled Backwards
I’ve got to figure that if a technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal says something is good, then it must be safe.
I’ve concluded that Xobni (that’s inbox spelled backwards) is way cool. It takes a bit over 3MB of download from Xobni.com and just a few seconds to fix that confusing bloated mess Outlook.
Installation is quick and painless, but you’ve got to be running XP or Vista with Outlook 2003 or 2007. Then when you open Outlook the next time you’ll get a new sidebar of info that makes it easy to handle your email. The first launch will take a few minutes to index all your mail, but after that it’s quick and transparent.
Click on an email and the sidebar shows the contact info on the person, the frequency of correspondence with them, the threads of past communication, their phone number (even if not in your address book,) and files exchanged previously. You also see the “network” of the sender created from the other addressees on their correspondence to you!
No more searching for an address or digging through folders to find a misplaced attachment. Switch to another Outlook function such as your calendar or task list and Xobni displays your last viewed email so that you can quickly return to it. Need to find an address or a previously sent or received email and don’t remember which perfectly logical storage place you left it? Simply type in one or two key words that relate and Xobni will search all of your indexed mail folders to get your there in a split-second.
You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Take the tour here: