So Microsoft introduced this “awesome new feature that helps filter your low-priority email”. It is called Clutter, and works like this: A new folder has been added to Outlook, called Clutter, and if Outlook deems certain messages are low-priority, it moves them there. According to Microsoft, this feature “learns” so for example if you move an email back from Clutter to your inbox, it will notice this.

I guess the idea is, once in a while, you’ll go through this folder and read your low-priority emails. I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of putting time aside specifically for low-priority emails, so I turned this whole Clutter feature off. Besides, I have a better way of dealing with low-priority emails. If I really do want to read it some day, I’ll flag it so a reminder will pop up later, and I move it out of my inbox. If I don’t want to read it, I just delete it.

I have enough clutter without Clutter.

Phone Numbers Need a New Rhythm

I’ve already blogged about how hard it is these days to make a phone call in Nova Scotia*. And as if that rant wasn’t bad enough, I’ve since thought of even more things to complain about.

(In case you need a primer: use 10-digit dialing for local calls, 11 digits (including “1”) for long distance calls, and 12-digits (including “9 to get out”) when you need an outside line from the office, except of course only 11 digits from the office for local calls (including the “9” but not the “1”) or when calling from the office using a smartphone, which used to be able to figure it all out from 7 digits but now needs 10 or 11 but never 12. See? Simple.)

But let’s try to stay positive here, and come up with a few constructive suggestions. One would be to go back to the old way of defaulting to 902 if the area code wasn’t specifically dialed, given that 99.9% of phones in Nova Scotia use that area code and that percentage isn’t likely to drop too fast too soon. The other thing is to stop asking us to dial 1 for long distance, and just tell us if long-distance charges will apply, at which point and we can just hang up if we so desire.

Now I am presuming the engineers at the phone companies already thought of these things, and for some reason beyond my non-engineering level of comprehension, things just can’t work that way. So now I am left with only one thing: change it so it at least seems to make sense.

I think that’s what they do in Europe. All phone numbers there have at least ten digits, and if you pay attention, the first few ones are usually clues as to the location you are calling. People there don’t seem to mind.

So how do we do this in Nova Scotia? Simple: change the rhythm of the phone numbers. Don’t pause at 902; pause somewhere else, say after the fifth digit. That way, it’ll sound like we’re in some large exotic province, and we’ll all feel better.

If you’d like more on this, feel free to give me a call, at 90245 45656.

Has a nice ring to it, what?


(* See:

Of Clocks and Coats and Thermostats and Things

I was recently reminded of the story of the clockmaker from New Brunswick who could do anything with grandfather clocks. So when his clock stopped working, this guy from Nova Scotia decided to take the trip and try him out.

The clockmaker took one look, grabbed a hammer, and banged on one of the gears. Immediately the clock started working again. “That will be twenty dollars, please,” he said.

“Twenty dollars!” exclaimed the Nova Scotian. “Just to hit it with a hammer! That’s outrageous!”

“Oh, the hitting was free, replied the New Brunswicker. “Knowing where to hit is what the twenty dollars are for.”

What reminded me of this story is trying to get the heat on in my office. I got caught in a rainstorm and was drenched, so I put my coat on the back of a chair and turned up the thermostat. Nothing happened. So I gave the thermostat a swift bang with my fist, all the while thinking what a waste of time that was given how digital everything has become. But to my surprise, the heat came on immediately.

Got my coat dried, and save twenty dollars in thermostat repairs!

What Happened to Windows 9?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Microsoft is releasing a new version of Windows, going from Version 8 to 10, and the quick answer to my question is another question: “Why should you expect a Windows 9? When was Microsoft ever known to assign operating system numbers sequentially?”

To prove my point, I went back and checked. There have been variations and minor editions, but the versions of Windows of consequence for desktop computers are: 3.0, 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, NT, 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and now 10. Not exactly a straight line.

(So if ever you’re doing one of those “sequence” test, you’ll know the answer to “what comes next: NT, 95, 98, ME …”)

There are a few possible answers I was able to find for skipping 9. One of them is that 9 is apparently considered to be unlucky in Japan. Another one is that there are hard-coded instructions in Windows to check for if the operating system number starts with 9, intending to treat 95 and 98 as special.

Another theory is that Microsoft simply wants to create more distance between version 8 (actually 8.1 if you want to be technical) and the new release. 9 just seems too much like a small step whereas 10 seems like a whole new operating system. When XP was retired, a lot of organizations migrated to Windows 7 even though 8 was available. And many who do use Windows 8 do so in “Windows 7 mode”, with a task bar at the bottom. (Remember the “where is the Start Button” brouhaha?)

I’m buying that last one. Microsoft is hoping Version 10 will be taken more seriously.

Step Right Up! Buy Your “Likes”!

It was bound to happen, sooner or later. I received an email that announced – unabashedly – “Increase Facebook likes, Twitter followers and YouTube Viewers”.

So here’s what they will do. For fifty dollars, they will get you 1000 Facebook “likes”, or 1000 Twitter followers. For one hundred dollars, they will get you 1,000 YouTube views.

And they will “price on request” anything over 1,000.

“We are equipped with the right tools and strategy building,” they brag. And I don’t doubt they can do it. It reminds me of the old “link farms” we used to call them, where you could submit your web address to this database and they would provide you with links, presumably so your rankings would rise with search engines.

I don’t know; call me old fashioned. I like to, you know, provide something of value and earn my followers.

If you agree, click “like”. If you see over 1,000 likes, you’ll know I weakened.