The back and forth - problems with Microsoft's "fix" for Outlook
Okay so as many of you know I am organizing a fantastic conference in a few days, MeshForum 2005 (don't forget to register - if you read this, you can use the Academic price of $499.50 if you haven't already gotten an even better offer from me or another group...)
As part of that process I am sending out a batch of 800 some emails this evening reminding people to register and especially to reserve their hotel rooms at the Essex Inn by Monday April 25th to receive the MeshForum group rate of $129/night (again if you read this and happen to be coming to Chicago May 1-4th, you can also get this great rate...).
So, to avoid sending out an email with a blank to line (i.e. by sending to everyone as a bcc:ed message) I am using Microsoft Office 2003's mail merge feature, something I have done many times in the past to somewhat good success.
However, this time around I have encountered a very serious "fix" that is giving me "fits".
Unknown to me, a recent security patch (recent I conclude since it did not behave this way a few months back when I last did a mail merge) has changed how Microsoft Office handles mail merges (specifically how it handles any VBA action to send mail)
It now pops up a notice PER EMAIL that "A program is trying to send email on your behalf..."
You have to select yes.
As a further "feature" the "yes" button is GREYED OUT for 5 seconds each time this message is popped up...
In other words to send out 800+ mail merged emails, I have to click on the yes button 800+ times, and wait OVER 66 minutes while doing nothing but selecting yes every five seconds.
No "yes to all", no "yes to all for the next 10 minutes" or "yes to all for the next 100 messages", no way apparently to change this behavior, no notification about what will happen - just a really annoying new "feature" to attempt to prevent outbound emails/viruses.
Enough to make me seriously consider switching to another application - and I am a serious, heavy duty, power user of Outlook 2003 (over 2 gigs of email, 500+ messages a day, lots of rules and plugins etc) - but if I can't use real, useful, features such as mail merge how I want to - and in a way that actually, in fact, saves me time and effort - then what value is the tool?