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Friday, February 25, 2011

Windows 7 Mail Issues, Outlook and Office 2010 Purchase Woes

Recently, my wife Maria's HP laptop battery went bad, and we think that toasted some chip when it got hot and the computer refused to boot properly.  And of course you try everything to get the dang thing running again, so we invested a great deal of time just checking to make sure it was dead.  Of course, the results were definite, and she had to replace that laptop, which was running Windows Vista. Although we originally went shopping for a cheap replacement, I think that despite the fact that her Vista based HP machine was actually a pretty expensive model, she couldn't seem to get the features she needed with spending a few extra bucks by avoiding HP products in the hopes that her new Dell would be much more reliable (to say the very least, the dang HP didn't even last a couple years).

As you know, when you buy a new computer it's always a huge hassle reloading it with all the applications that you have used routinely over the last few years.  Email is, of course, detrimental to business, and the Live Mail that had come with her new Windows 7 based laptop was apparently no longer downloading her mail to the server.  On top of that, the simple spam detection, protection and deletion system which had previously worked so extremely well in Windows Vista Mail was apparently not working at all in the new Windows 7 laptop.  Maria was spending all sorts of time deleting mail that the computer simply trashed for her, previously.  And the mail server kept sending out warning messages about the size of her email box even though I finally got fed up with increasing her mailbox size and set it to infinite (we are talking about GBs of spam, here).

And spammers wonder why we hate them?

Maria had used the version of Outlook from Office for her email when she owned desktop computers previously, and Vista had come with a really nice "Mail" program for email that worked for her when she was on Vista. So, by the time all this trouble with her email started resurfacing every couple weeks we had no idea where her legal copy of Office 2007 went. 

Now, of course we decided to buy a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 for Home and Student.  Everywhere that I looked for this program online just showed the price and no write-up or package details.  There weren't even any reviews that I noticed.  We had used other versions of Works and Office before, as well.  So, when I went out shopping at the stores for the best price (as we were in a hurry to get this working and we didn't have to wait for a package to arrive from Timbuktu), I was quite surprised to find that apparently Microsoft had changed the Office Home and Student edition and weren't including Outlook in the package anymore.  This was a pretty big deal because the reason she was buying it was to get Outlook and have Word, but without Outlook, that Home and Student bundle was pretty much worthless to her.

Now this was quite interesting, since I had some familiarity with the package.  Although I don't use it, Maria has almost always used it.   And I had checked all sorts of sites, read descriptions, even visited the Microsoft Office website and read as much as I could about the package.  So it was strange to me that when I arrived at Staples to start shopping for it, it was only then (right when I was staring at the actual product packaging) when I finally realized that Outlook didn't even come with the Home & Student edition of Office 2007.  Huh?  We were only really buying it for email and it didn't have it?  Whoa.  I guess Microsoft got smart about it and gave everyone a (really, really) crappy email client figuring that a business wouldn't be able to handle such a pathetic program and they would all most certainly have to upgrade to a paid email client.  Pretty smart, when you think of it.  But I consider this type of smarts evil genius, you know what I am talking about?  I mean, don't give consumers who purchase a new Windows 7 based computer even a half-assed good email client?  Win 7's Mail Live client is absolutely pathetic.  But that is what I am talking about, it's evil genius.

Doesn't Microsoft know that the car companies were sued for purposely engineering-in breakdowns on car parts?  What ever happened to that suit, anyway?  Oh yeah, we never heard anything about it after a while, did we?  See?  Evil genius.  HP did the same thing with printer ink.  I had to opt-out of that class action suit.  Maybe the battery overheating and killing my wife's Vista laptop was also an engineered issue.  Absolute evil genius.  I stand in awe of these fault-engineered computer time-bombs that can't even last a couple years (but will always make it past the one-year warranty).  A bow to the genius of these evil engineers.

Anyway, there was no way we were going to solve our email problem with the Office 2010 Home & Student edition.  And Outlook, all by its lonesome, cost the same as the Home & Student: $120.00!  We had to upgrade to the Home & Business version of Office 2010.  I wound-up buying it at Staples for $180.00.  It was the first place I looked, but I didn't actually buy it until after searching the whole city for the best price because my DroidX's Savvy Shopper app had just upgraded and wasn't working.

I grabbed the product key from Staples since she already had Office 2010 preinstalled on her new Windows 7 Dell.  I thought that the install would be a breeze because of this, and because I had already copied all of her email contacts from her Vista machine hard drive.  But apparently, Outlook 2010 doesn't even look to see if there are any contacts to import from Vista Mail?  LOL... and of course, that lead to more confusion!

Then we go into the issue of the Outlook upgrade.  As it has been updated for social media and community networks, just getting the dang contacts in there is apparently a chore because everything has changed.  I'm hoping I can fix it by importing her contacts from the old Vista Mail program somehow, but she seems to be making do anyway now that she has spent a terrific amount of time on the computer figuring everything out.  She keeps showing me the computer when I don't have any glasses on, and I already hate Outlook so I can't make heads or tails of anything, yet.

She should slow down so that I can jump-in to take a look soon, though.

But all this really makes you think about how badly these companies are gouging us.  All this hassle just for a convenient, reliable email client for business?  But when do we stop getting reamed in the butt for it?  We really are dependent on technology these days, aren't we?  It is because of email that Maria needs to communicate with her students that she had to run out and buy a new computer in the first place.  Otherwise she could have gone without.  Computers were supposed to help us and ease our work process, not make everything more complicated, expensive and laborious.  Lately these hardware and software companies have just been cramming it up our boots and I am getting pretty sore about it.  Damn evil geniuses.

Welcome to BApps, for Business Applications of All Kinds, on Any Platform

I have been playing with my DroidX for a couple of months now and notice that there are lots of apps (I've downloaded so many android apps that I can't believe I'm not swimming around in digital media), but there aren't many resources for application reviews and such.  Since I am a businessman that is particularly interested in the best applications for his business, I've decided to start this blog site in an effort to fill that need.

I already have done this before for the android platform, at http://blog.widgetdroid.com/, but that blog is specific to the droid market.  In my home business, I have 2 Windows based desktops that I try to use as private servers (1 is XP, the other is Windows 7), another 3 desktop computers all running different OSes (Mac, Linux & Amiga) for compatibility reasons, my work laptop, an EeePC I use for email, an older laptop for Linux experimentation, and then there's a basic Trakfone LG camera phone, and my wife and I each have a DroidX smartphone.  Maria has a computer for her business as well.  Plus, there is even an iPad in the house, if we need it.  All these things run apps and connect to the internet.

In fact, we recently had a strange dilemma where she was having all kinds of trouble with the Windows 7 "Live Mail" program, which is apparently a huge piece of crap.  And as she had previously loved Outlook, I went out to get her a copy of Outlook which became a whole new problem.  In fact, this story will probably be my very next entry in the blog.  ;)

But as you know, home business or not, we can't screw-around with applications trying to learn them or just to get them to work according to our expectations, business requires working people and when you are self-employed you cannot rely on anyone else.

Which is the reason I've decided to start this blog.   Although I will have fun reviewing the apps I use on the android platform, even our familiar computer software distributions and packaged bundles are changing so fast and radically to keep up with the fast pace of technology that there just isn't enough good reliable information out there.

Hopefully I can not only review some of the apps I use on the computer as well as on our smartphones and iPad, but also offer some tips on how to use them better, easier or smarter.  It certainly does become a struggle when an application you have used and counted on for years suddenly changes its entire format to incorporate a new technology such as social media and everything about it suddenly looks like Greek when you install the new update.


That's what this blog is all about, I hope you will find it useful.


Thanks... -Doug