Microsoft Outlook : When Bad UX Attacks!


I guess there are lots of problems with the User eXperience (UX) of Microsoft Outlook, but the one that kills me is the popup menu in the folders pane.

I’m not sure how other people use this, but for me, the number one thing I do is “Delete All”, closely followed by “Mark All as Read”. I have a bunch or rules that “file” irrelevant crap, which I later scan through and typically delete en masse.

So what’s the problem?

The folder operations are higher up the menu, so I’m constantly doing “Delete Folder”, rather than “Delete All”, which drives me mad. Especially when I don’t notice and all my rules start failing.

Like I said, I don’t know how other people use this stuff, but I would hazard a guess that the clean-up operations are used more frequently than the actual folder maintenance operations. This is one situation when having the most frequently used sections of the menu being promoted to the top would be really handy.

Of course, I could just pay more attention… :)



Twitter : Is it a valuable community contribution?


During a conversation with Zahid Anwar at OOW15, the question was asked, is Twitter content a valuable contribution to the community?

The following is *my opinion* on the matter. Other opinions are valid.

The sort of tweets I see fall into the following basic categories:

  • Technical Questions and Answers. When these are done well, they are really useful and a quick way to get to the bottom of something. When answers come as links to content, that’s really cool as there is some depth to the answer. An answer in 140 chars is not always so good, and is often missing vital information that usually starts in a flame/caveat war. Though I do think of this as a useful community contribution, I think this sort of thing is better dealt with in a forum. I guess you could maybe Tweet about the question to raise some attention, but that feels a bit like the “URGENT” prefix to a question, which turns many people off. :)
  • Notifications. Tweeting about your latest blog post, article or video is part of getting your message out to your followers, but the tweets have little or no value in themselves. It’s just self promotion, which we all do. It’s the things you are promoting that hopefully have value, not the tweets themselves. In this sense, the tweets are not a valuable community contribution.
  • Content Aggregation. Tweeting other people’s content is a good way to introduce your followers to it and “spread a specific message”. I do this when I read something I really like, or if I am trying to help promote someone who I think deserves more attention. I think you have to be careful not to become a “blog aggregator by proxy” and blanket tweet everything you come across, or the value of your tweets drops. It just feels like lazy way to look busy. Just my opinion though. I’m sure there are people out there that love it.
  • Random tweets. These can give you some insight into the individuals that make up the community, which I like, but there is no long term value in these, even if they are fun. :)

If you are trying to get on to a community program, like the Oracle ACE Program, *I would* rate twitter contributions quite low. I would focus on stuff where you are providing original content (blogging, whitepapers, books, YouTube etc) or directly helping people, like forums or presenting. Short-form social media is a nice addition, but it’s value is rather limited in my opinion.

Remember, it’s just my opinion, but I’m interested to know your thoughts.



Update: I think it’s worth clarifying my point some more. I don’t have a problem with any of these types of tweets. I do them all to a greater or lesser extent. The point I’m trying to make (badly), is the content that is pointed to is the “high value” in my opinion. The “pointer” (tweet) is of far less value. If someone came to me and said, “I tweet a lot about other people’s content, can I join your community program (if I had one), I would probably say no and encourage them to produce their own content. That was the context of the conversation that initiated this post. :)

Internet Communities Are Selfish. Deal with it!


The Community?

I was reading Heli‘s blog post called The Oracle Community this morning, which directed me to posts by Jari Laine and Denes Kubicek. I think everyone that is involved in any type of community hits this issue at some point. For internet communities, it’s probably a much quicker realisation.

Very early on in my internet participation I read about things like the 1% rule and the 90:9:1 rules. I like to think I can make a difference and encourage more people to get involved, but the reality is, that’s not going to happen.

The latest example of this is the Oracle Developer Choice Awards. There are some great people nominated, some of which you might not have heard of, but all worthy of nomination! In fact, being nominated is fantastic in itself, regardless of who wins. So with a well publicised vote and some great people to vote for, you just know there will be a massive number of votes right? Wrong! The number of votes is pitiful. This can only be because people can’t be bothered to vote. Like I said, it’s not for lack of advertising!

I had my own little epiphany last year before OpenWorld 2014. :)

Examine Your Motives

It’s kind of easy to rewrite history. I’ve been pushing out content for over 15 years. I’ve been involved in the Oracle ACE Program for over 9 years. So I’m all about community right? Not really. If I’m brutally honest, I do all of this shit for me! I like to do it. I find it fun. It’s part of my learning process. If nobody read my stuff I would still do it. I was doing it for years before I was even aware of a community.

Having said that, once I became part of the community, great things started to happen, so I am extremely grateful and I would recommend getting involved to everyone, but it would be wrong for me to make out I’m some sort of altruistic saint of the internet. I’m as selfish as all those folks that read everyone else’s content and can’t be bothered to vote for them!

Do It Because You Love It!

So this all comes back to the message I keep pushing. Do it because you love it!

Doing it for the money? I don’t think so! There are certainly easier ways to earn money, and much more of it. :)

Doing it to “get famous”? Famous with whom? Other speakers? :) I walk around conferences and nobody knows who the hell I am until I get on stage and show a picture of my website. :) My hit rate in a single day is more than many “famous” blogs have had in their entire lifetime, yet the vast majority of the people reading my content haven’t got a clue who I am. :)

If you write good content, people will find you eventually, but many of them will be selfish arseholes, just like me!


I push community really hard these days. I think it is a very positive thing for the individuals involved and the people who get to experience their content, but you will only stick with this stuff if you enjoy it. Forcing yourself to be involved when you hate it is not going to work out.

You’ve also got to manage your expectations a bit. When I started my YouTube channel I kind-of expected to be inundated with people wanting to be in a cameo at the start of the videos. In reality, getting people to send you a 2 second video of them saying “dot com” is like trying to pull teeth! :) Yet another example of my unrealistic expectations. :)

If you are one of the nominees in the Oracle Developer Choice Awards, well done for a great achievement, but the result doesn’t matter and the number of votes is not a measure of your worth. You contributions and how you feel about them personally is all that matters!

I hope this doesn’t sound too damning. It’s not meant to be. It’s just a reality check. :)



PS. This is not a post where I am fishing for complements. I’ve not got time to read them anyway. I am too busy watching videos of kittens on YouTube and refusing click the “Like” link against them… :)

Site Maintenance (20th Sept 2015 22:00 GMT)


DiagnosticsJust a quick heads-up about some work going on tomorrow on the website.

My hosting provider has decided my server needs to be put into a new rack, so somewhere after 22:00 GMT tomorrow (20th Sept 2015) the server will be switched off, moved to a new rack and switched on. They say the process should be complete within 4 hours. I’m hoping this is a massive overestimate. :)

If you are trying to use the site around that time and it’s not there, DON’T PANIC! I’ll be doing plenty of that for both of us. :)



WordPress 4.3.1


WordPress 4.3.1 has been released. Downloads and changelogs in the usual places.

Hopefully, by the time you read this your site will have automatically been upgraded and you’ll have nothing to do, except maybe update a few plugins. :)

I’ve noticed the navigation from the previous release would sometimes go a little “squiffy” in Chrome. Hopefully that will be sorted now. Of course, if it was a Chrome thing, maybe not. :)



Fedora 22/23 and Oracle 11gR2/12cR1


linux-tuxAs always, installations of Oracle server products on Fedora are not a great idea, as explained here.

I was reading some stuff about the Fedora 23 Alpha and realised Fedora 22 had passed me by. Not sure how I missed that. :)

Anyway, I did a run through of the usual play stuff.

While I was at it, I thought I would get the heads-up on Fedora 23 Alpha.

The F23 stuff will have to be revised once the final version is out, but I’m less likely to forget now. :)

I guess the only change in F22 upward that really affects me is the deprecation of YUM in F22 in favour of the DNF fork. For the most part, you just switch the command.

yum install my-package -y
yum groupinstall my-package-group -y
yum update -y

dnf install my-package -y
dnf groupinstall  my-package-group -y
dnf group install  my-package-group -y
dnf update -y

This did cause one really annoying problem in F23 though. The “MATE Desktop” had a single documentation package that was causing a problem. Usually I would use the following.

yum groupinstall "MATE Desktop" -y --skip-broken

Unfortunately, DNF doesn’t support “–skip-broken”, so I was left to either manually install the pieces, or give up. I chose the latter and use LXDE instead. :) F23 is an Alpha, so you expect issues, but DNF has been in since F22 and still no “–skip-broken”, which I find myself using a lot. Pity.



Windows 10 Again


DiagnosticsI wrote a few months ago about having a play with Windows 10 (here).

I’m visiting family today, catching up on all the Windows desktop (and mobile phone) support that I missed while I was away.

I purposely postponed the Windows 10 update on the desktops before I went away, but now I’m back I did the first of them.

The update itself was fine, but it did take a long time. Nothing really to write home about.

I’ve installed the latest version of Classic Shell on the machine, so the experience is similar to what they had before, Windows 8.1 and Classic Shell, which felt like Windows 7. :)

I’ve also switched out their shortcuts from Edge (Spartan) to Internet Explorer 11. They already use a combination of IE, Firefox and Chrome, so I didn’t want to add another thing into the mix. Also, the nephews use the Java plugin for some web-based games, so it is easier to leave them with IE for the time being. Maybe I will introduce Edge later…

So all in all, the user experience is pretty much unchanged compared to what they had before. I guess I will see how many calls Captain Support gets over the coming weeks! :)