Friday, September 21, 2007

Outlook 2007

I was going to update my list of favorite blogs on the right tonight. I added a few before I realized that on three different computers I have three slightly different lists of blogs I read. If you're blog-saavy - my OPML files aren't in sync. So I spent some time scouring the internet for a tool to synchronize them. I didn't find a tool, but I did find a stylesheet that will work with the XML/XSLT program I wrote at work (because I can't get them to spring for a copy of Altova XMLSpy now that I'm not a real developer). So soon I should be able to make everything copacetic. I'm a little worried about losing the categories I group my blogs under, but I think I can modify the XSL to take that into account.

On to Outlook 2007. I hate it. It took me quite a while to get on the Office 2007 pilot at work because it gets in the way of the SAP client, and I was listed as an SAP user. That was in my previous life when I worried about student passwords, billing categories and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Now I just use the SAP web client, so the app is a non-issue. But a few small projects at work that I still support needed Access 2007 upgrading and validation, so desktop services finally upgraded me. A serious mistake. Most of the tools run great. But Outlook is a dog. It's not a dog at first, mind you. It's a dog when your .pst archives start to top about the 5000 email mark. For some people that might seem like a lot. But it wasn't a lot when I was a lead developer, and it's not even close to a lot now that I support around ten projects, each with approximately ten people, some with twenty or thirty. If each individual sends an email once a week, I get at least 5200 a year, not including those from the development groups I work with. But the actual total is more like an email every 2-3 days from each person, not including warning/status emails. I'm guessing I pull down a minimum of 1000 emails per month. I don't read all of them of course. But I do store them in archives so that I can use Google Desktop to tell me if a particular set of data, a certain box or service, or an individual has had a similar problem before. My primary job function is knowledge management. In developer-ese, I'm an abstraction of my email system and several document management systems into an easy-to-use, hopefully personable API other projects can access.

When my Outlook 2007 archive hit 10000 emails it started to crawl. The slight wait I had moving email to the archive began to show a lengthy status bar and waits of 10-15 seconds. Outlook had a patch, but when I went to install it, I found out that it had already been installed seamlessly behind the scenes by the company. So I was seeing the improved speeds. I can't imagine what it would have been like without the patch. Unable to function with a mailbox that locked up my whole computer, I followed some web advice and tried to break up the Outlook archive into half a dozen smaller archives. In the old days, I could just move folders between archives quickly. In the Outlook 2007 days, I can count to 10 as the first folder decrements by one item, and the target folder increments by one. Multiply by 10,000 and it doesn't even seem like a process that complete overnight. It can be circumvented by copying the emails from within a view of the folder into the other folder, presumably bypassing some processing, but it's still slow as dirt with the new mail item structure.

When you're finally done copying, don't assume you're done. Your archive is still oversized, and you really need to go into the archive settings and compact. Something best left for over lunchtime, or as you leave the office.

Mean Mr. Mustard assumes it's just some sort of passive-aggressive corporate document retention policy.

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