8/8/08

Hearding E-Mail - Its Better Than Cats....

I've always had this dream that when you die, you get a statistical profile of your life when you arrive at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter hands you a notebook (although recently he hands me an Amazon Kindle), with all the things you've done while you were alive. How many times did your heart beat; How many hours did you spend typing at a computer; Just how often did you really think about sex. So, you can see, that I'm kind of a numbers guy. Recently, it seems that I'm not the only one that is thinking about sex, er... statistics. I've been following a thread on an ILTA listserv about an Outlook plugin called Xobni (pronounced Zob-nee). The initial comments were that it was cool, but that it slowed your computer down so much that it became too burdensome to maintain. But, one post mentioned that she had huge amounts of emails, and that Xobni worked fine. So, I thought I'd give it the once over and see what all the fuss was about. I watched all the demo videos of Xobni, and downloaded the Beta plugin (free, of course) and then let it index my Outlook folders over the weekend. I'm an Outlook Administrator's nightmare. Having about 100 subfolders and about 3 Gigs of email in my .pst file. (Sorry E-Mail Admin guy ... I'm cleaning it up, I promise!!). So, what I did was install it on a Friday afternoon, and left it to index over the weekend. When I came in Monday, it was indexed and ready to test. I did notice that Outlook seemed a little slower than normal at first. But, once I shutdown Outlook and restarted it, everything seemed back to normal (only a little slow.) One of the first things I liked about Xobni, was the fact that it indexed by "FileSite" DMS folders. So, all of those files which I actually did archive were indexed. This was a cool feature, and something that I couldn't figure out how to set up Google Desktop to do. And, the search was pretty fast, without having to open up a new window. So far, I'm impressed. Next I started looking at those statistics I love so much. Xobni has a feature called Xobni anayltics, which is supposed to tell me all the details of how I'm spending my time in Outlook. When I first try it, I can't even get the analytics to run. However, after a couple of times of closing and reopening Outlook, I get it to work. Once I start playing around with the tool, it becomes a pretty good resource in telling me a few traits of my email personality. For example, it seems that I get a lot of vendor emails at 4:00 AM. And, it seems that my two busiest parts of the email day is 11 AM and 4 PM for outgoing emails, and 9:00 AM and 2-3 PM for incoming.

Another feature of Xobni is that it uses the LinkedIn API to connect my contacts with their LinkedIn profile. This sounds like a great resource, and I email my results to some friends, and immediately, one of my 6 friends responds that her information is just flat wrong. It says she doesn't have a LinkedIn account (which she does), and the phone number that Xobni says is hers actually belongs to someone that posted a message to a list serv a few months ago. So, it isn't perfect. But, 5 out of 6 isn't too shabby, so I'm not uninstalling it yet. Although Xobni allows you to correct things like the contacts' phone number and other personal information, it does not allow you to correct a wrong LinkedIn match. I'm hoping that Xobni figures out a way to fix this part.

Besides analytics and LinkedIn API's, Xobni also tracks files you've shared via email to your contacts, and it also shows your contacts' contacts. This last part is a little "iffy" sometimes, and needs a little bit of tweaking to make it better (there seems to be a lot of false contacts.)

Although Xobni isn't the do-all to end-all, it does have some pretty nice features that can help you better understand your email habits. Once you've played around with it a bit, I think you'd find that it can be a useful tool. On a usefulness scale of 1 to 10, I'd have to give it a solid 7.

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