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back to article Too much information

Sometimes it's not that you don't know enough. You know too much, and then someone's just sent you an email. And another one. and another. Whether you're in IT, running the business or one of those pesky users, it's hard to get on top of your work when work gets on top of you. So find out how Ronald, Emily and Graham, the staff …

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Silver badge

Raise the drawbridge, get stuff done!

The best way to deal with email is to ignore it.

Maybe read the ones from your boss, provided they weren't sent to everyone (and your boss's boss with the same proviso). Apart from that, if it's important the emailer will phone you, or come to see you to ask why you never pick up your voicemail - which brings me on to the next stage.

There are only two times of the day to read email: soon after you've got in (and had your beverage du matin) and some point shortly after lunch. Never, ever open your email within an hour of knocking-off time or you may be staying at the orifice later than you expected. It's been my observation that people who are continually glued to their email don't really have anything better to do with their days - and spend most of them sending emails to others in the same situation. Don't get drawn in to this sticky web.

Unless your job description specifically says that you are employed to deal with emailed inquiries it's a reasonable bet that most of anything you get from outside your chain of command is either irrelevant or asking you to do something that you won't get recognition (or a cost code) for. So you'll end up doing someone else's job but on your own time.

So far as sending email goes: don't. The only two reasons for emailing someone is as a CYA or to avoid phoning them. If you email someone, they're quite likely to reply. If they reply, they'll almost certainly require you to do some extra work that is not in your interest or immediate set of goals.

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Everyone is ignorant. They're just ignorant in different subjects.

Wow.

Just.... wow.

I can't even begin to describe the sheer number of levels on which you are wrong. Ignoring a perfectly valid communications channel entirely is just insane.

An email arriving in your inbox every 3 seconds is far, far too much for any human, but this isn't a fault of the email system itself: the cause is _ignorance_ on the part of the users.

The correct solution is *training and education*. People don't magically glean knowledge from the aether. They need the relevant information and education in order to make informed and educated decisions about which communication channel to use.

If too many employees in your company are ignorant on an IT-related subject, it's YOU—the IT nerd who reads El Reg—who are responsible for educating them. Preferably without a modified cattle prod.

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Anonymous Coward

whaaa sellouts

and that's before watching the vid.

Well, alright, part of it is obligatory (shoulda used free AND open source, guv), but part of it is that I just don't care about redmond any longer. And not just for the usual reasons. Like so many large corporations they haven't the faintest about things like concise writing (ever try and read their "documentation"?) or getting to the point (any and all warnings, popups, and so on), or, well, I don't care to go on. Part of me isn't sad that adobe doesn't support my preferred platform (<snooty>it's so much better than windows AND linux</snooty>) depriving me of moving picture-y goodness embedded in proprietary formats. One can only wonder what'll happen to that content twenty or so years down the line.

Though it's always interesting to see more tricks to get a handle on things like an overload of information, if I'll be sure to never use the associated software then that itself is superfluous information that only serves to increase overload. So I'll skip.

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FAIL

"(shoulda used free AND open source, guv)"

Why?

F/OSS is no better or worse than commercial software. It's just better and worse in different areas.

Commercial software generally has more effort put into user interface design and management as the developers aren't relying on after-sales support for their revenues.

The down-side is that you do tend to get locked-in to an extent, but this is true of most corporate-level solutions like Sharepoint and Office 365 Free, Open Source, or otherwise.

Having access to the source code is, for many corporations, utterly worthless: most people do NOT know how to program, and if you have to install a bunch of F/OSS apps—often written in different languages—then you'll also need a development team on salary that is experienced in ALL those languages. Good luck with that!

What matters most to corporations and consumers alike are open *standards*, yet the F/OSS people never seem to get this, insisting that the crucial factor is the *source code*. It isn't. It hasn't been for nigh-on 30 years, when we moved away from massive mainframes and company-hired computer scientists and programmers to maintain them and feed them with punched cards and paper tape.

I can open a Microsoft Word DOCX file (or an Excel XLSX) in a bloody text editor like BBEdit! Sure, it's not pretty, but neither are ODT or any of the other modern XML-based file formats. Writing an XML parser is not *that* hard given the libraries available to most mainstream languages today, and you'd only need to pay one programmer to write the necessary converter application for it.

THAT is what's more important to businesses and ordinary people. Not "Open Source". Not childish rubbish about "freedom". *Standards*. Standards are the alpha and the omega. They are, quite literally, ALL that people care about: "Will this file open in X, Y or Z?" They don't give a gnat's chuff *how* it works, nor should they have to.

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Anonymous Coward

"more effort put into user interface design"

Abominations like the ribbon, and putting touch interfaces on the desktop? The less UI design the better.

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Anonymous Coward

"Why?"

Because it's obligatory. I said so, didn't I?

As to merits, agreed that it's a different mix. Avoiding lock-in is itself a good thing for the customer. You don't need to hire a sack of people to benefit from it either. You could hire a specialised consultancy in the odd cases you need to add some feature to an existing program. Sure it costs a lot, comparatively (oh noes! ten grand to fix a free program!) but that's not how to calculate. The trick is to find a shop or a freelancer with good ties to the community, so the changes get mainlined (eventually, maybe you might want exlusivety for a while) to help the feature stay alive. Such a shop stands on "free" shoulders, so you only pay for that work, not for everything that's gone before. Since you're not paying for it, it tends to be overlooked. But it's easily thousands of man-hours you get for free. No licences, no yearly fees unless you intend to retain these people. And if they fsck up, well, you find a different consultancy, maybe even take the partial work to the new bunch to fix. I've worked for such a shop. We even got work from another foss-focused shop who could just as well have done the work in-house, in theory. It might take a while to wrap your head around it, but it does make sense.

FOSS generally has a much higher scratch-an-itch vs. tickbox item ratio. It doesn't need to be sold, so the revenue doesn't have to prop up a force of cheesy salesmen. It doesn't need to show off eye candy, which is presumably what you're mistaking for user interfaces. Open source has less of a tendency to bite many years down the road when you need to recover archives for this or that reason. If corporations don't value any of that, that's their outlook. Most corporations don't have much in the way of great people, and most don't last, either.

You're right that open standards are at least as important as open source; both for avoiding different kinds of lock-in. Your examples of "open formats" are rather poor, though.

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Facepalm

me too

I'm in that boat ot the mo

in middle of big workstation OS upgrade, i wont say which its embarrasing.

most bespoke apps made by other contractor not working

users constantly wingeing that "it looksdifferent" or "the letters arnt big enough, i want 800x600 back"

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Too much info? Give it away

You didn't need to create this advertisement movie - you already showed us how to handle bulk data. We should just email our email databases out to 3000+ people and then write a jokey post about it as if it's no big deal and not actually email those affected, who might miss the story.

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Anonymous Coward

Everyone was emailed

Facts straight please

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Unhappy

Maybe

There is need for an 'advertorial' tag?

I was quite hoping for some real world info or study, rather than an amusingly written/ drawn piece of fiction (trousers...)

This did make me smile, but I don't think it's helped me at all.

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Meh

And Graham lived happily...

...until he realized that that more than half of the company servers, not to mention those few odd devs upstairs were running Linux. Or OS X. Or whatever.

Of course, with the right config this shiny Microsoft tooling will surely offer you interfaces for the more well-known non-MS software... right?

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