Emails and productivity

7 Jan 2011

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Towards the tag end of last year I was talking to someone about email and productivity, and he was describing his methodology and how he organised emails at work.  It was interesting.  We were tramping along a muddy canal bank at the time we had this conversation, so I couldn’t ask for a demonstration.

My acquaintance has a desktop folder for each project he is involved in, and wants to store the emails with the project files.  So he:

  1. prints out the email
  2. scans it with his desktop scanner
  3. saves the scanned image as a pdf
  4. puts the pdf into the appropriate project folder
  5. is happy

I didn’t try to argue or explain or know better in any way; I just said “Oh, that’s really interesting and well organised” and we carried on down the canal path.  I’ll say now that this is a man who is in his late thirties, is a qualified civil engineer, is reasonably competent, does his job well and is not noticeably maladjusted.  And I am pretty sure that I did not misunderstand him in any way.

Truly amazing what people will do with technology.

Email Newsletters

9 Dec 2008

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Recently I’ve had a couple of clients ask me for advice on email marketing or how best to send newsletters out to all their subscribers, and there’s also been some discussion about this on the Php London mailing list.

Looking around, and talking to other people, we have the following shortlist of recommended packages:

Some clients are unhappy with the idea of paying a subscription to send emails, and would rather pay a larger one-off fee for unlimited use, or get their own software. Not a problem if we’re sending email to a relatively small number of subscribers (think hundreds, not thousands), but if your subscriber base is any larger then we’d want to start thinking very hard about spam controls and look at a hosted solution where the company in question is whitelisted (appears on list of acceptable or trusted sources, opposite of blacklisting known spammers)

And here’s a very helpful message from Marcus Bointon of

“The big downside of managing your own mailing system is establishing and maintaining a good sending reputation – it’s really hard to do, and takes a good 6 months to a year. For hotmail you need to be consistently sending them at least 1,000 messages per day to qualify for any kind of special treatment. That special treatment comes in the form of two services: The JMRP and SNDS services (both at Anyone can sign up for SNDS – it gives you stats on sending from one or more IPs to hotmail/winows live accounts. You get message and recipient counts, complaint count and rate, spamtrap counts, and an overall red/yellow/ green ‘quality’ rating for each IP. This doesn’t let you improve deliverability directly, but at least you get to see what is happening. The quality rating seems a bit vague – I’ve seen it green at 3% spam rate (very high), but red at 0.1% (about normal for clean lists).”

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