The UsefulTechnology Blog

Tips and Tactics for a Better Digital Life

The UsefulTechnology Blog

  • Smile! You're on a Speed Camera!

    I'm fascinated by the human relationship with technology and how one helps shape the other. A recent example that got me thinking came after the Thames Valley Park Security team installed a speed camera on one of the roads approaching the UK Microsoft...
  • Windows Vista installation rant

    I wonder if I'm the only person who finds this annoying. Whenever I install Windows Vista (or XP or any previous version for that matter) I have to set the date and time. And the default time zone is always USA Pacific (GMT-8hrs). It's easy to change...
  • Add some hyperlink action to your emails

    Bloggers know how important it is to include relevant hyperlinks in their posts ;-) They can come in pretty handy in emails too. Instead of pasting a lengthy and ugly URL into an email you can add a hyperlink to any part of your email text. So,...
  • Disabling the pesky CTRL-ENTER shortcut

    Ever hit CTRL-ENTER by mistake while composing an email in Outlook and wondered what the heck happened? Well, here's the answer. CTRL-ENTER is the not-so-helpful shortcut key for 'Send my email immediately even though I've not yet finished typing it'...
  • Yet more on disabling CTRL+Enter in Outlook

    In tribute to the insightful but sadly anonymous comment on my recent blog entry about disabling the CTRL+Enter shortcut ("u have way too much time on your hands if things like this bother you") , here is yet another solution to this minor annoyance ;...
  • Having email replies sent to more than one address

    Ever had a time when you really want the recipient of your email to send their response to more than one email address? Maybe you were organising a family holiday and wanted the travel agent to email both you and your partner? Or you were travelling and...
  • OneNote and Outlook harmony

    I've been playing around with Microsoft OneNote again recently. I have to admit that when I first tried this application I couldn't see enough value to justify the initial learning curve. And this, from a card-carrying member of the Tablet PC Owners Group...
  • Stop sending incomplete emails

    One of my favourite rules in Outlook is the one I created to defer the sending of every email I create by two minutes. You can find a variant of this in my [email] blogcast linked to from http://blogs.technet.com/usefultechnology/archive/2005/04/22/404061...
  • Sensible names for Quick Flags in Outlook

    Eileen recently blogged about an excellent resource for Outlook Users at www.outlooktips.net . Sign up for email updates or add their RSS feed to your aggregator and they'll send you regular Outlook tips. I had a weird attack of déjà vu though when reading...
  • Instant search in Outlook 2007

    [POST UPDATED - SEE COMMENTS FOR THE LATEST!] Those with ageing memories have long enjoyed the powerful search capabilities in Outlook using add-ons like Lookout or Windows Desktop Search. I'm loving the latest beta of Outlook 2007 (I'm running the Beta...
  • Achieving your career goals with Outlook

    Here at Microsoft, all full time employees have to sign up to personal commitments for their job. At the end of each financial year these are reviewed in a Performance Review on which all sorts of things depend including bonuses and promotion prospects...
  • Save the Blog: Vote Now

    Contrary to one correspondent's theory, the lack of recent postings here is not evidence of my having been seized by British Anti-Terrorist Police. I agree that the liquids I carry onto aircraft may have a dangerously high alcoholic content that could...
  • The quickest way to search

    Alfred 's been asking what's the quickest way to search for stuff online. Putting aside the debate of which search engine you prefer, there are some really neat shortcuts you can use to reduce the time from 'query to answers'. If you use IE7 there...
  • Dubious words emerging from Microsoft

    What's going on? We seem to have a swathe of dubious sounding product names emerging from Microsoft just recently. There's the legendarily bad "OneCare" (careful how you say that), we've "SmartArt" in the 2007 Office system, and IE7 is now "RC1" which...
  • Teasippers, Limeys and Rosbifs

    I am all of the above. And if you're English you are too. I've just discovered this fascinating list of colloquial ways to address your fellow citizens of the world. And before you start using any of these and upset someone, bear in mind that they probably...
  • That Windows Vista Packaging

    Here's the clever bit about the new packaging. It opens like this: Very neat!
  • The Best Microsoft Outlook Tip in the World... ever!

    In this, my final posting as Exchange/Outlook Product Manager for the UK, I would like to share with you the most powerful productivity tool in Outlook: the delete key . I'll also share a simple workflow you can use right away to help maintain an empty...
  • An end to Outlook's Ctrl-Enter nuisance

    I've previously posted about Outlook's annoying Ctrl-Enter shortcut which instantly sends your email, even if you accidentally type Ctrl-Enter midway through composing your email. There are a number of workaround options including disabling the shortcut...
  • My Mouse has a Dirty Bottom

    What is that stuff that keeps building up on my mouse's bottom? No matter how many times I clean it off and scrub the surrounding desk area it keeps coming back. I don't use a mouse mat because the Health & Safety Police told me it's better to use...
  • What's the point of the Junk E-Mail folder?

    I was a member of a speaker panel at a Butler Group 'Email Management Strategy Briefing' in London recently and was asked a simple question: "What's the point of having a Junk E-mail folder in Outlook 2003? Surely, if it's junk, it's junk, so why keep...
  • Figuring out what you've done and who you did it to in Outlook

    So here I am at last. My very own Technet blog. Crumbs, what a responsibility. My regular reader (thanks dad) will know that this is my new blog landing site. After exactly 444 thoroughly enjoyable days residing on TheSpoke , my chum Eileen Brown has...
  • Adding really important dates to your Outlook holiday file

    I stumbled across this helpful explanation of how to customise the Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 holiday file (Outlook.hol) to include dates that are important to you. This is really easy to do and a great way to make sure you (and possibly everyone...
  • Good advice from 'The King'

    My PC's been running really slowly this morning and I'm half expecting it to die completely any minute. I think I need a bit more ooomph in my hardware. Fortunately this has reminded me of some excellent advice recently dispensed by my colleague Gavin...
  • More on email signatures

    One other top tip that comes to mind for those of you who use Forms in conjunction with a Signature in emails. You may have noticed that Outlook moronically puts your email signature at the top of the form's content when you create a new email using Tools...
  • XP Power Toys for cavemen

    Every so often I find someone living in a cave who hasn't heard about the free XP Power Toys at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx . There are some really cool tools in there. Check 'em out!