An email panic button

Michael Geary | Tue, 2007-04-10 08:31

Today’s USA Today has an interview with David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, the authors of Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home. The article has some good tips, but one remark caught my eye:

They say one thing everyone wants, but no one has invented, is a “panic button,” a short delay after hitting send, like the kind TV networks use to bleep obscenities.

If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, it’s easy to set up a sending delay. I’ve been using one for years. I don’t usually put obscenities in my emails, but it sure is handy for the many times that I’ve forgotten to include an attachment and remembered right after hitting Send.

The feature is fairly well hidden, so Shipley and Schwalbe can be forgiven for not knowing about it. Here is how to set it up in Outlook 2003. The exact steps will vary in other versions of Outlook, but it should be similar.

  1. Starting on the main Outlook window, open the Tools menu and select Rules and Alerts…
  2. Click the New Rule… button.
  3. Click the Start from a blank rule radio button.
  4. Under Step 1, click Check messages after sending.
  5. Click Next >
  6. Don’t select any of the conditions in the list. Click Next >
  7. A message box will warn that “This rule will be aplied to every message you send. Is this correct?” Click Yes.
  8. Click Next >
  9. Under Step 1, click the defer delivery by a number of minutes checkbox.
  10. Under Step 2, click a number of.
  11. A dialog titled Deferred Delivery will open. Choose the number of minutes you want to delay outgoing email and click OK.
  12. Click Next >
  13. Don’t select any of the exceptions in the list. Click Next >
  14. Enter a name for the rule, such as Defer Sending.
  15. Click Finish.

With this rule enabled, when you send a message, it will remain in Outlook’s Outbox for the number of minutes you specified. You can open the Outbox, open your message, and edit it before sending again. The same time delay will apply again.

Beware of one annoying Outlook bug: Depending on what add-ons are installed in Outlook, you may find that after you edit a message and re-send it, it remains in the Outbox and does not get sent at all. You’ll notice that the message in the Outbox list was italicized before you re-edited it, but after sending it the second time it is no longer in italics. This is Outlook’s subtle hint that it is not going to send the message at all!

To work around this, open the message from the Outbox, and before you re-send it, select any other folder in the main Outlook window. Then you can send the message and it will go out as expected. (If you’re curious, after resending the message, you can check the Outbox again and you’ll see that it is italicized, indicating that Outlook will send it after all.)

Prince Tu'ipelehake and Princess Kaimana, R.I.P.

Michael Geary | Fri, 2006-07-07 20:07

When I tell people the address of my blog, they sometimes ask me, “ Huh? What’s .to?” I explain to them that it is the country code domain for the Kingdom of Tonga, but .to names are open to anyone, and I registered the name because it was fun to have such a short domain name with my initials in it.

Even with that small connection to Tonga, I was deeply saddened to read of the deaths of Prince Tu’ipelehake and Princess Kaimana and Vinisia Hefa. Prince Tu’ipelehake was on a tour speaking at several Tongan churches in the Bay Area, when a teenage driver who was racing on Highway 101 hit their Ford Explorer, which then overturned.

My prayers and condolences to the royal family and the Tongan people.

Best news interview ever

Michael Geary | Sun, 2006-05-14 21:43

Want to know the significance of the Apple vs. Apple ruling?

Ask a cabbie.

Is Jesus the next killer app?

Michael Geary | Sat, 2006-04-29 17:24

San Jose Snow

Michael Geary | Fri, 2006-03-10 13:32

The view from my balcony this morning. Do you see the birds?

Snow on the hills east of San Jose

Goodbye Adobe

Michael Geary | Sat, 2005-09-17 07:21

After three and a half years at Adobe, I left the company this summer. Basically, I got fired.

It’s a long story, which I will tell someday. In the meantime, I wanted to apologize to anyone who was looking for the next thrilling installment of the Ajax-style PDF series. As you can guess, my enthusiasm for anything Acrobat has been muted slightly.

But, enough waiting around, I will get back to it and post part 2 soon…

My Scobelized Bogen

Michael Geary | Sun, 2005-09-11 09:12

Rachel viewing sunspots with my Scobleized Bogen tripod

Before Robert Scoble was a famous blogger, he worked at a great little camera and appliance store in San Jose called LZ Premiums. I used to stop by the store and annoy Robert because I hardly ever bought anything. (I wasn’t checking out the prices and then going off to the competition to buy, honest! Just enjoyed window shopping.)

Finally, one day I ordered a nice Bogen/Manfrotto 3246 tripod with the 3063 mini fluid head. It’s funny how some things stick in your mind: I remember vividly the smile on Robert’s face when I came in to pick up the tripod and he brought it out for me. At last, I had bought something!

I still have the tripod, and it’s served me well all these years. Besides video, it makes a great platform for a binocular mount. In the photo, my daughter Rachel is using it to view that great sunspot cluster that appeared a year ago. (Yes, those are proper solar filters on the binoculars, and it is perfectly safe to look at the sun through them.)

Why am I posting this today? Robert offered to put people’s blogs on the computers at the PDC, so just in case he actually gets a chance to do mine, this is a little tip of the hat. :-)

A silverfish in my keyboard!

Michael Geary | Thu, 2005-06-30 10:53

Oh man, this is gross. I was reading Lambda the Ultimate on my ThinkPad, with my hands resting on the keyboard’s home row as you normally do when scrolling around with the TrackPoint.

I happened to notice a piece of brown dirt between the spacebar and the TrackPoint buttons. Maybe a crumb that fell on the keyboard or something. I was about to get a toothpick to lift it off the keyboard, when the “dirt” started moving!

It was a silverfish, crawling up from inside the keyboard. Who knows where it had been down there and what it had been eating—or leaving behind. I’m just glad I didn’t squish the thing by typing on it.

I got rid of the ’fish real quick by blowing on it—a quick, explosive puff of air from the side that flung it into the air and… Well, I didn’t see where the silverfish landed. At least it wasn’t in my glass of wine.

Netflix freakout

Michael Geary | Sun, 2005-05-29 15:30

Netflix has been freaking me out lately.

At lunch couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine recommended the Alfred Hitchcock classic Dial M for Murder. That night I logged into Netflix, and as usual, they told me You Have Recommendations! And right there at the top of the page was Dial M for Murder.

I thought that was a pretty good coincidence, but tonight I was reading Engadget’s article on the Robot Gunslinger from Westworld. I saw that movie years ago and thought I would check it out again. So over to Netflix, where of course You Have Recommendations!

No, it wasn’t Westworld. My top recommendation was The Magnificent Seven. And just before visiting Netflix, I’d read this line in the Engadget article about Westworld:

“Yul Brynner plays a robotic reproduction of Yul Brynner playing Chris from the Magnificent Seven.”

I think Netflix has hired someone to spy on my lunches and blog reading. There is no other possible explanation.

Lions in our trees

Michael Geary | Wed, 2005-04-27 22:51

My little neighborhood made the news. An 80 pound mountain lion was shot down from a tree, three blocks from my home, on a street that I frequently take walks on.

Network follies

Michael Geary | Mon, 2005-04-25 13:19

I have lost all faith in my own intelligence.

I’d brought my ThinkPad over to my manager’s office to demo some network code I was working on. I had a couple of virtual machines running on the NAT network, so they could see other machines on the LAN as well as the host and each other. I unplugged the network cable, took the machine a few doors down, turned on the wireless network, and showed off my new code. Or tried to anyway. One little problem: The VMs couldn’t see the rest of our network through the wireless link. The host ThinkPad could ping other machines via the wireless, but the VMs couldn’t.

I’m pretty sure I’ve switched between wired and wireless connections using VMs with NAT before and it’s worked OK, or maybe I’m imagining it. In any case, it wasn’t working today. I fiddled with a few things, even tried rebooting the VMs, but never got it to work. The two VMs could see each other with no problem, so I just ran the demo that way. It was all I really needed anyway–virtual machines are great for demoing network software without having to carry a network around. But it would have been fun to show the connection to the rest of the LAN as well.

It wasn’t until hours later that I realized how easy it would have been to solve the problem: we could have simply taken twenty seconds to walk back to my office! We didn’t have an extra network connection handy in my manager’s office, but obviously I had the one I’d just unplugged. There was no particular reason we had to do the demo in one place or the other.

You’ve never done anything like this, have you?

Favicon gallery with commentary

Michael Geary | Tue, 2005-03-01 14:29

I never thought favicons would be fun until I saw Michael Pierce’s Favicon Gallery. At first it just looks like a page with hundreds of favicons, but move the mouse around over the icons and watch what happens. Quite a nice piece of work!

Subdivide your Netflix account

Michael Geary | Fri, 2005-01-07 01:47

Netflix has a new feature in the works. You will be able to subdivide your account into “profiles” with their own queues and mailing addresses. If you have the typical 3-at-a-time Netflix program (meaning you can have three discs checked out at once), you could split it into three different profiles, each one effectively on a 1-at-a-time program. Or you could have one profile with 2-at-a-time and a second profile with 1-at-a-time.

I got an unintentional sneak preview of this feature when I went to the Change Shipping Address page on Netflix today. It looks like the Related Questions section on this page was accidentally linked to information about the profile feature instead of information about changing your address. In this section is a link to an Assign DVDs page, where you are supposed to be able to split up your queue to your different profiles, but the link doesn’t work.

If Netflix actually does roll this feature out, it will be very cool. But they may want to change the name: They already have something called a “profile” that is completely different (it’s a page where you can publish your reviews and comments).

Update: Account profiles are now available. If you go to your Netflix account you can create them. Here is more information about profiles.

You can also filter the Netflix site by movie rating for each profile. I’m going to use this to create a separate profile for our kids to log in and see only the family and kid-friendly movies.


Michael Geary | Wed, 2004-12-29 08:32

And a million without their homes. Our prayers, and our tears, go out to everyone affected by this disaster.

Wikipedia coverage: 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake Affected countries USGS animation More Wikimedia

Exploding capacitors and Radio Moscow

Michael Geary | Sat, 2004-10-09 01:14

Robert Scoble reminisces about listening to BBC on the shortwave, and plugging capacitors into the AC outlet to make them explode.

My capacitor trick was to take a big fat electrolytic and charge it up to 12 volts or so. Then I’d find an audience, and I would grab one terminal of the capacitor in each hand and pretend I was being electrocuted. After a great struggle I’d break free, then take a screwdriver and short out the terminals. Bam! Now that’s a spark!

Of course, this depended on my friends not knowing the difference between voltage (12 volts, no way it can hurt you) and current (virtually none through the high resistance of my skin, but plenty through the near-zero resistance of the screwdriver).

I discovered shortwave radio when I was about ten, traveling through Idaho with my mom and sister. I found a funny old radio in the motel room and tuned around, finding all kinds of radio stations I’d never heard of before.

“Mom! It’s Radio Moscow!”

“Sure, Mike, we’re in Idaho. That’s Moscow, Idaho.”

It really was Radio Moscow (USSR), but I don’t think she ever believed it.