Archive for the ‘Solutions’ Category

The case of evil Outlook

Friday, December 12th, 2008

I have a love-hate relationship with my computer: I love it when it works right; I hate it when it doesn’t. Actually, I have discovered that it is not my computer with whom I have this relationship. It’s Microsoft Corp.

The software programs Microsoft has developed are excellent. But when they go wrong, they are bad. Worse than bad — evil. They complicate my life, waste my time, and frustrate me to no end.

Let me give you a “f’r instance.”

I own a six-year-old Gateway computer. As computers go, I know that sounds old, but actually, it is a very fast computer and with the exception of being incapable of burning DVDs, it does everything that a brand new computer can do. So, I am happy with it.

A few months ago, however, I began to have a problem opening Outlook. It would take several tries and manipulations. One day, the program opened but then got stuck. It would not summon new mail; it would not allow me to read any mail; it would not allow me to scroll; and it would not allow me access to my mail folders. It would not even close. I had to control-alt-delete (several times) before it would close. All the while I could not access Outlook, the rest of the computer functioned admirably.

A computer technician acknowledged he could do nothing more than reformat my hard drive. He said that after a long period of time, the computer gets muddled with leftover registrations and other such programming information so that conflicts begin to occur. The only solution, he said, was to reformat. And of course, that meant reinstalling every single program I used. (It also allowed me to get rid of things I didn’t use.)

Many hours later, my computer — including Outlook — began to function normally again. During my research about why Outlook had frozen up on me, I discovered that one cause might be an extremely large data file, which could become corrupted. So, this time, with a clean machine, I resolved that would not happen again.

If you use Outlook, you probably get a message that pops up periodically, “Do you want to archive old messages now?” I had always declined to archive, because I thought I might need to access those five-year-old e-mails. And besides, I didn’t know where the archives were hidden or how to retrieve them.

The first time that invitation popped up after my reformatting, I thought, “Why not? This might keep Outlook from crashing on me.” So, I began to allow archiving.

All was good, I thought, until yesterday. That’s when I clicked on a folder which, incidentally, was not old. The folder was empty. I started clicking on other folders. Empty. Not everyone, but a lot of them.

“The contents must be archived,” I thought. So, I researched how to retrieve archived information. This is when I began to realize how evil the programmers at Microsoft are.

First I had to find the archived file, which was in a hidden folder. Unless you deliberately go into “folder options” in the control panel and click “show hidden files” you will never find “local settings.” It is in local settings that application data, including archived folder, for Outlook resides.

Next, I tried to restore the archived files. I think I did what I was supposed to do, but the lost files did not come back.

So, I investigated some more. I dug around and discovered that the default setting for archiving Outlook messages deletes messages older than six months. So, a lot of the e-mails I wanted to save are gone forever — just because I was trying to avoid a computer crash.

I have now turned off the autoarchive function. I don’t want Microsoft determining which of my precious mail items should be destroyed.

Finally, I made another interesting discovery: Empty e-mail folders are not necessarily empty.

In desperation to find lost e-mail, I did a Google desktop search. Interestingly, as I searched for certain addresses, I was able to open actual e-mails. Hmmm. That suggested the e-mails were still on my hard drive somewhere, although I didn’t know where. So, I decided to find the most important ones, open them, and then move them to the designated folder.

However … when I opened the folder, it was empty! What was this, a conspiracy to stop me from keeping e-mails past their prime?

I poked around some more in the cryptic “Outlook help” and came across information (with inadequate explanation, of course) about views in Outlook. I don’t understand it completely, but somehow, the view was changed, and messages became hidden. Once I changed the view, they suddenly appeared.

Evil. Evil. Evil.

I’ve been using Outlook for at least 10 or more years. And I’ve been using Microsoft products for longer than that. The lesson I’ve learned: Check the default and make sure it does what you want it to. And if it doesn’t, change it.

Otherwise the handiwork of the evil Microsoft programmers will get you.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

Gender pay differences: A long way to go

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

After I graduated from college, I had three months to support myself before I could start my first professional job as a teacher. To cover that three-month income gap, I took a position as a clerk-typist at what was then Inland Steel Corp. in East Chicago, Ind. 

The time was 1967. Offices relied on the typing skills (not data input!) of people like me who could pound out 90 words a minute on an electric typewriter. Back then, IBM Selectrics were considered high technology; the personal computer had not yet been invented.

My job was in the accounting department; I was tasked with typing checks to pay invoices. The woman who trained me (a lead clerk) had been with Inland for 25 years. She calculated the amounts to be paid, then passed the checks to me for typing.

We worked in a bull pen — a large room filled with rows of desks.

I don’t have proof-positive, but I strongly suspect that the only man in the department — who did the same type of work as my trainer — was paid a significantly higher salary than any one else. Back then, it was accepted that men earned more than women. Women worked to supplement household income. (Pity the woman who was single and had to support herself or a family.)

Women in the 1960s earned less than 60 percent of what men did. The situation has improved, but not enough. A 2007 report from the American Association of University Women ( entitled “Beyond the Pay Gap” said, “One year out of college, women working full-time earn only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall farther behind, earning only 69 percent as much as men earn.”

A recent study — “Is the Gap More Than Gender? A Longitudinal Analysis of Gender, Gender Role Orientation, and Earnings” — published in the Journal of Applied Psychology (Vol. 93, 2008,, reported that men who harbored traditional values about women (that is, that a woman’s role is as a homemaker) earn higher salaries than those who value women as equal partners in work!

That report suggests that prejudice against women is still being rewarded. And as long as it is rewarded, it will be perpetuated.

On more than one occasion, I remember my mother remarking about women who worked outside of the home: “She makes good money for a woman

Be honest: Do you harbor those same sentiments? Do you take gender into consideration when you figure pay by thinking, “Well, hers is a supplemental income” or “I’ll lose her to maternity leave anyway” or “Her husband will be transferred.” Do you take pride in getting more for your money by hiring overexperienced females and underpaying them, justifying your decision by saying, “Well, it’s an entry-level job.”

In the academic publishing arena, articles for journals are juried — that is, an editorial board reviews “blind” articles; they don’t know who the author is. The article must stand on its own merits, not be judged by who wrote it.

I’ve often thought that’s the way we ought to hire people. Remove all indications of sex and race from the resume or job application and hire based on merit, skills, and experience.

Back in the “olden days” when cigarettes were advertised on television, there was a brand (Virginia Slims) marketed to women. Its tagline was, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

We have come a long way. But we (men and women) still have a long way to go.

Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

A word about workaholism

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

If you had to choose between these two job applicants, whom would you pick?

  • Employee A, who works 16-hour days and weekends, is tethered to his laptop, suffers withdrawal when his cell lindaphone battery dies, and checks voice mails and e-mails every 30 minutes even while sitting on the beach in Hawaii? Or,

  • Employee B, who works diligently and conscientiously, is willing to put in extra if a true crisis develops, but shuts off her computer at 5 p.m. and spends the weekend with family and friends, never thinking about work?

The smart choice is Employee B. You’ll get more out of her (or him) in the long run.


Workaholism is as much an addiction as alcoholism. The similarities are striking:


  • An alcoholic usually starts off as a social drinker who enjoys getting a little buzz-on. A workaholic usually starts off as an ambitious employee, putting in a little overtime and enjoying the attention he gets.

  • The alcoholic tries to sneak drinks when she thinks no one is looking; the workaholic tries to sneak in work when he thinks he is alone.

  • Alcoholics try to control everything in their environment. So do workaholics. With them, the control is manifested by a lack of delegation.

  • A person in the throes of alcoholism becomes paranoid that everyone is trying to “do” him in. An employee in the throes of workaholism becomes paranoid that he is going to be fired if he lets up.

  • An alcoholic gives up everything — friends, family, and fun — for the bottle. A workaholic gives up everything — friends, family, and fun — for work.

The analogy goes on, but you get the idea.


The problem is this: People die from alcoholism. And people die from workaholism.


Long before they die, however, each of the diseases takes its toll at work: The alcoholic starts to miss work and his productivity declines. The workaholic gets so overloaded that he can’t get the work done. He may put in long hours, but those hours are not effectively utilized.


So, if you have a choice (and you always do), hire Employee B. But if you already have some Employee A’s on your staff, consider how you can stop enabling them in their addiction:

  • Make them go home.

  • Give them a realistic workload.

  • Don’t praise overtime; criticize it instead.

  • Reward the positive behaviors of working and living a balanced life.

Finally, look at your own behavior. If you are a workaholic, take steps to fix yourself. You’ll live a longer, happier life.

Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions


How to hire a writer or editor

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

LindaI subscribe to a number of e-newsletters. One of them is put out by a company called Marketprofs ( The other day, the e-newsletter had an article on how to select a copywriter.

The article gave me pause: It occurred to me that unless you are in publishing, you will not have a lot of experience hiring someone to help you with your writing or editing projects. So, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to select someone to help you with your projects:

Know what you want the person to do. Refine your vague ideas before you start looking. It’s like hiring an employee: Write a job description before you start recruiting.

  • Start your search.Some suggestions: Post your job on a number of Web sites dedicated to freelancers; place an ad on; Google the type of freelancer you want to hire; or network among friends.
  • Narrow the selection.Look at samples ofthe individual’s work; read them carefully. Does the person have expertise in the area you require? Does he or she write in the style you prefer? Is the sample “clean”? Do you understand what the individual is saying? If you aren’t happy with the samples, then move on.
  • Be specific in your assignment. Because you already defined what you want the person to do, this should not be a problem. But, put everything in writing, including terms of the contract (amount of pay, due date, manner in which the copy should be delivered, etc.). If it is an extensive project, be specific about when you should connect to review progress and how corrections and clarifications should be made.
  • Pay a fair price. Writers and editors are skilled individuals. Value what they do. Pay a fair, competitive rate for their work.

A writer can take ideas and put them into words. An editor can take your words and give them a polish that will make you shine. Whether you have a short press or product release, a white paper, Web content, a business report, or a book, you can make a great impression and be perceived for the expert you are — provided you hire the right writer or editor.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

Why you need a Web site

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

A new client approached me about doing a writing project for him. As I began our project, I discovered I needed some additional background information, so I searched for his business on the Web. I was surprised to find that although he had a registered domain, his business did not have a Web site.

A few days later, I was talking with a colleague who specializes in marketing. I asked him about his Web site. He said he hadn’t had time to put one up, and didn’t feel he had the need for one.

I believe these two business people, as good as they are, are missing an opportunity that could be costing them money. Every business needs a Web site.

A decade ago, you would not have opened a business without buying a yellow-pages ad. Today, you might (rightfully) question its value. Telephone-book ads are expensive, inflexible, and do not give you a lot of real estate to describe yourself and your business.

A Web site, on the other hand, is inexpensive, flexible, and gives you virtually unlimited room to describe and market yourself and your business.

When I first put up my Web site a number of years ago, my 86-year-old mother said, “That’s nice … but what does it do for you?”

I told her my Web site allowed potential clients to see samples of my work, download my resume, and get an understanding of what I could do for them. It allowed them to get to know me, if only a little. And it afforded me the opportunity to gain new clients who might be searching the Web for someone to do writing and editing services for them.

If you haven’t yet put up a Web site, please consider it. At the very least, let it:

  • Introduce you to your potential clients,
  • Explain your services,
  • Publicize your accomplishments,
  • Provide helpful information to visitors, and
  • Tell people how they can contact you.

It’s true that few people will choose an accountant, lawyer, chiropractor, medical doctor, or any other professional just because of what they find on the individual’s Web site.  But it is also true that having information about you available can help an individual make a decision in your favor.

A case in point: Last year my mother needed some medical services. The telephone book listed a number of individuals, but I wanted to take her to someone with a specialized background. I searched the Web; I finally found one doctor who had the kind of background we needed. After I did some more background checking (to check on licensing and complaints), we made an appointment.

Did the other doctors have the necessary qualifications? Some did, probably. But I did not have time to interview all of them. I

A word of caution: When you put up a Web site, make it look professional. No misspelled words or bad grammar. Always remember that your Web site is a visitor’s first impression of you. Make it a good one.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises
Writing and Editing Services