Friday, 14 December 2001

Newsletter Issue 37, December 2001

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 37, December 2001
Hi guys,
Wow. Christmas is rushing up at breakneck speed, and here we are getting organised for next year's mail out already. Check out Mail Outs Part 2 below.
We take a quick look at beating the information pile-up in Ending the Paper War
LOTR Film Review       TLAs for SMEs        Short & Hot Keys        Hot Linx 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.
Mail Outs Part 2

In this, our second part of our Christmas mail out organisation for 2002, we are looking at the Word Mail Merge end of the deal. 
With your Contacts whipped into shape and Categories assigned, you're ready to start running Word Mail Merges to spin out your newsletters, print labels, and generate email messages in Office 2000 or XP. 
A couple of worthwhile pointers before we start:
  • Envelopes: some envelopes just don't work very well with some printers. I tend to avoid printing envelopes and print Avery labels instead. My printer has had to be repaired twice in its life: and both times were for indigestion caused by envelopes. Take my advice: and don't bother printing direct.
  • Folds: Some print will "crack" or smear when folded. Arrange your design so that photos don't fall on a fold 
  • Paper: If you're thinking about printing your family newsletter on a fancy paper, do a  test run FIRST and use the right paper for your printer type. Textured and porous papers can give you headaches with "ghosting" (the printing on one side leaks onto the other side where the paper is folded), drying issues, beading and bleeding.
It's pretty easy to get a simple family newsletter going in Word, if you want something that looks pretty. So here's how you create personalised Christmas newsletters; 
  1. If you have Outlook open, close it.
  2. Set up the bulk of your newsletter first; without mail merge fields and all the pictures, text, and any other bits that aren't personalised. Save the document in Word as per usual, at the point where you are ready to add your Contacts merge data in.
  3. Save your document & exit Word.
  4. With Word shut down, start up Outlook again. 
    • Bring up your Contacts, and flip into Category view - View | Current View | By Category. Select all of the Contacts that are supposed to receive your family newsletter, by Shift & clicking or Ctrl & clicking. 
    • Click on Tools | Mail Merge. You'll get the Mail Merge Contacts dialog box (NB: Outlook 98 is a bit different)
    • Make sure the "Only selected contacts" button is checked, then go down to the Document File part and click Browse. Navigate to the Word document that contains your newsletter and click Open. Make sure Document Type says "Form Letters", and Merge To says "New Document", and click OK. 
    • Outlook launches Word, with your doc open and the Mail Merge toolbar showing. It also sets things up so all of the Contacts you selected are ready to merge into the document. When Word comes up, immediately click File | Save As and save the new document with a new name (eg, "2001 Xmas Newsletter 1.doc")
    • If Outlook goes belly-up with the message "The operation failed due to network or other communication problems. Check your connections and try again," you've hit a bug in Norton Anti-Virus. See;EN-US;Q252149 for details
    • Click the <<>>ABC button so Word merges the data, and you'll see the first Contact appear in place of the placeholder
    • To put your Contact's First Name at the beginning of the doc, move your cursor to the appropriate place, and type "Dear " then click the "Insert Merge Field" button (or for Word 2002, click the tiny doc button) and choose First Name
    • Save often. Save well
    • Flip back and forth between looking at the merge placeholders and looking at the merged Contacts, by repeatedly clicking the <<>>ABC button. Get the fields you want into your newsletter, and make sure you feel comfortable that the Contacts data is pretty good
    • All done? Save again!
    • Then click the Merge button. Make sure you tell Word to put the merged stuff in a New Document and save it with an appropriate name so you can find it again... and so you can reprint as the printer ran out of toner, there was  power cut, you ran out of paper etc etc (you can re-print any newsletter you like, any time you like, by opening the merged document, running down to the correct recipient by using the > and < buttons, then choosing File | Print and checking the Current Page button)
  • The method for printing labels is very similar to that for printing the newsletters, with one crucial difference; your original document is an Avery A14 label and you add your fields into each cell of the label (first top left, then top right, 2nd left, 2nd right etc)
  • Follow the instructions above to go into Outlook, select the Contacts, and get the Mail Merge Contacts dialog box up. When you're in that dialog box, choose "Only selected contacts", but down in the Merge options area, under Document type, choose the "Form Letters" doc again 
  • Save, and save frequently as you insert merge placeholders. 
  • When you're satisfied, click the Merge button and follow the instructions to create a new document. You'll have a document that contains all the mailing labels for your selected Contacts. Print away!
  • Again, the method for sending email messages is very similar to that for printing newsletters. Go into Outlook, select the email Contacts, click Tools | Mail Merge. 
  • Make sure "Only Selected Contacts" is chosen, then down in the Merge options section, in the Merge To box, pick Email. 
  • Word kicks in and lets you insert merge fields.
  • When you're done, click the Merge button, choose Merge To Electronic Mail, click Merge, and the email messages will appear magically in your Outbox. 
  • Go ahead and send the mail the same way you would normally.

Ending The Paper War

With all of the paperwork avalanching into our lives, it's easy for it to get out of control. Forms, memos, letters, catalogues, correspondence, bills, payments, flyers and advertising arrive into in our soft- and hardcopy inboxes unremittingly, day, after day, after day. 
Leave it untouched for 24 hours, and you've got yourself a paperwork pile. Leave it untouched for over a week, and you’ve got yourself a paper war! 
Paperwork has been voted the biggest burden for businesses. Time spent mishandling paper detracts from the company's ability to service customers, increase sales and improve the bottom line. So here are a few simple ideas to help end the war... so you can get things under control: 
All filing completed on a regular basis (daily or weekly). 
The ability to find sought resources within 5 seconds. A 2000 article in the Wall Street Journal reported that the average US executive loses six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information from messy desks and files. The cost in salary and lost productivity is enormous. 
Create a place for everything and MAKE IT EASY TO GET AT. Create rules for what you keep and how long you keep it for. Eg faxes kept electronically only under the client name - no destroy by date; original materials supplied by the client returned to client on completion of the project; or bank reconciliations filed with bank statements & kept for 10 years
Things that you need to think about:
  • Electronic or Hard copies (or both?)
  • Destroy By Dates
  • Where to Archive
  • What Archive format to use
  • How to Secure Materials 
If a month goes by and you discover you haven't even started yet, get some help. Hiring a consultant can be a big time saver. If you are very resource-poor, get a friend or family member to give you a hand.
Break up the job of getting through your backlog into smaller pieces. Instead of trying to organize ALL of your paperwork at once, set a series of mini goals. Eg: Day 1, go through unopened letters; Day 2, go through your email backlog etc 
Organise your mail so that it arrives ALREADY sorted for you. 
Electronic mail: use Outlook to sort your incoming messages into different inboxes. Set up a new "Newsletters" inbox for all newsletter and information items and route all incoming newsletter items from those senders to that box; all non-urgent client enquiries to "Clients"; all private mail to a "Private" folder; all jokes to "Humour". etc. This cleans up your inbox so that you only have the urgent items in front of you... and can deal with the others at your leisure.
Hardcopy mail: use a PO Box for all your business correspondence (accounts, payments & important correspondence) and tell the Post Office that you want no junk mail. Send all private mail to your street address. 
THE 4 Ds
Over 80% of the paper most people have in their offices is either out-of-date or will be of no further use to them. The 4 Ds of Effective Paper Management are; 
Do it: This means that you perform the necessary items on this bit of info today. NOW. AT ONCE. Once actioned, the item should be filed, forwarded or thrown out. 
Delay It: When action is required, but not right now. File in a Reminder file or in pending tray. Task a date and time in Outlook for when you need to revisit this item for further action. 
Delegate It: This means that you immediately pass this item onto someone else. Don't keep a copy. Keep a Task note in Outlook that you passed it on.
Dump It: This is the greatest one of them all. It’s probably safe to say that a huge percentage of the paper that enters your office can be immediately discarded. 
NB: The Dump it solution should not be taken lightly, but a large percentage of your office papers (excepting legal or tax documents), can probably be thrown out. 

LOTR Film Review

I first read the Hobbit at 10, then LOTR at 12; and have probably read the books 20 times since (my copies are falling apart). The characters have become part of my repertoire of acquaintances... and anyone attempting to realise those mental images that we all have runs a monumental risk of falling short. 
I saw the cartoon LOTR debacle in the late 70s and was bitterly disappointed. But being a bit of a Jackson fan (I LOVE "Meet The Feebles"), when the news broke a couple of years ago about the making of LOTR, I was hopeful that this could work. And it has. 
I saw LOTR on Dec 20th 2001 and it was awesome awesome, awesome, awesome, AWESOME. 
The movie starts with a narrative of the battle in Gorgoroth Anarion from the Simarilion crossed with Gandalf's tale from LOTR (narrated by Galadriel I think; I wasn't paying attention to the voice but if someone else can pin it, let me know) then flicks off to preparations for Bilbo's Birthday Party. 
There are some plot cuts & changes made the story “cinematographically” stronger & tighter; for example;
  • more focus on the Arwen / Aragorn thing
  • Glorfindel doesn't meet them before the Ford - Arwen does... but it works
  • Tom Bombadil is cut completely, so is Farmer Maggot (except for a one-word mention) and Barliman Butterburr of Bree hardly features at all (and isn't named)
  • Frodo doesn't move house
  • we don't get the story of Bill... 
  • Sam & Frodo don't meet the elves on the way
  • No Barrow downs
  • the sojourn / gifts etc in Lothlorien pretty much cut except for Frodo looking into the "mirror" & the phial containing Earendil's star light
  • You see the Galadhrim-woven cloaks & clasps that the Fellowship are given (if you know) but they are not mentioned
The whole is damn fine & splendid, in fact. 
I am going again as soon as possible. And again. And again... oh - and look out for Peter Jackson. He is on screen for a split second.
October 2002 cannot come fast enough for TTT.  

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • ABCD data switch. A small box that lets you hook up to four devices from one PC serial or parallel port on your computer
  • MAE, Metropolitan Area Exchange. Now a service mark of MCI WorldCom, is a major centre in the United States for switch traffic between Internet service providers (ISP)
  • G3, Marketing name used in the 750 RISC microprocessor for Apple PCs. Developed jointly by Apple, IBM, and Motorola 
  • 3G, Third-Generation Wireless. Near-future (2003 and 2005) developments in personal and business wireless technology, especially mobile communications. Successor to WAP

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short & Hot Keys... and now tips
Another Function key for you - this time it's all you can do in MS programmes with F1. As you all know, F1 on its own will bring up the Help Menu in all MS Programmes.
However, Alt & F1 will do the following; 
  • Access "To bring the Database window to the front" ALT & F1 
  • Excel "Create a chart that uses the current range " ALT & F1 
  • Excel "Insert a new worksheet " ALT & SHIFT & F1 
  • Word "Microsoft System Info" ALT & CTRL & F1 
  • Word "Next Field" ALT & F1 
  • Word "Prev Field" ALT & SHIFT & F1 
Hot Linx
Interested in having a demo of what your house would look light on a drive-by at the speed of light but don't understand the physics? Then check out 
Wanting some new graphics for a publication but don't want to buy a new graphics package? Then check out the free clips at 
If it is satire that you are after (though beware, this is an American site and we all know the "light" (!) touch of US humour), check out
You can find out all about JRR Tolkien, the Mr Professor of Oxford Linguistics who wrote LOTR at 

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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