Sunday, November 13, 2005

All caught up...

All caught up. Three nice words. The queues on asktom are back down to “normal”, the XE forum has been read and responded to. I have one more trip before Thanksgiving holiday (and then I’m home for two weeks…)

Most importantly – the scroll bar is gone from my inbox! I have 14 emails in my inbox. 12 of them are to-do items – so maybe I’m not all caught up, but I’m not that far behind anymore. The travel of the last three weeks has made it hard to keep entirely up to date with everything. The reading of other blogs and various news websites was the first thing to get cut. (I’ve scanned my favorites since to get caught up on what everyone is doing).

Curious – how many emails do people normally keep in their inbox. I work really hard to keep that scroll bar on the inbox away – not by over-filing things (move them into subfolders just to get them out of the way) but rather by processing them and removing them. My method is simple:

  • Email arrives

  • Upon reading it I either

  1. immediately respond with a request for more info (which lets me delete the original)
  2. respond with answer (delete original)
  3. delete it, not relevant to me
  4. leave it there as it would take too much time right now (that’s the status of the current 12)
  5. if it pertains to a future trip, move it into a folder for that trip (that is my calendar in a way – those folders get aged out as the trip happens into “old trips”)
  6. save it in miscellaneous – might need it later.

That lets me get rid of probably over 90% of all email upon receiving it. Which is good because this year I’ve received an average of 75 emails (well, 74.7 if you like to be precise) per day. Very little of that is spam as Oracle has excellent spam filters, I cannot imagine what it would be like without the spam filters given I use my real email address everywhere.

So, all of my email ends up in one of four places:

  • Inbox as a to-do

  • Trash as a ‘has been done’

  • Future trip folder, until trip has happened – then past trip folder

  • Miscellaneous (receipts, information, things I might need again later)

How to know you probably travel too much:

I was in Heathrow connecting back home. A person doing a survey asks if I would mind taking it. I said OK (I was pretty bored at that point). It is asking about the airport – she asks how the experience was, my gut reaction was “well, it took me one hour of continuous movement to get from one gate to the other – that’s not good”. That isn’t what she meant – she meant “how was the shopping”... But anyway, couple of questions later she asks “so, how many other flights have you been on this year”. I answered immediately “72”. She said (sounding surprised as the speed of delivery of the number and the size of the number) “72, how do you know??? That’s a lot”. I had just been on the United site the night before making sure my flights had been recorded – so I knew it was precisely 72 that morning (2 months to go in the year)…


Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

But do you really delete your emails, or just archive them ?

I archive emails and use them as "knowledge base" (with some obvious exceptions). In fact i've been sorely tempted to put them in a database and put a Text index on them ...

Moreover, as a consultant, emails with customers are sometimes useful as evidence - "why did you make that awful design decision..." "well, you told me on November the 1st at 13:44 that the data cardinality would have been ..."

I have currently 3223 emails in my inbox - one marked as "unread" => "to do".

Sun Nov 13, 10:34:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Dan said....

Just curious - Tom (and others) what's your email client of choice?

Sun Nov 13, 10:36:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I use thunderbird on my tethered machines, collabsuite web interface from anyones comupter and agendus on my treo

Sun Nov 13, 10:39:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Sten said....

Somewhat related question – how do you organize/store your Oracle knowledge base? ( .. other than writing books ☺ ) Do you use a database?

Sun Nov 13, 12:43:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

How do I oganize my 'Oracle knowledgebase' - I think it do it by associative memory mostly ;)

I know all things Oracle are documented (spend lots of time in the documentation myself).


Personal contacts (I too ask questions)...

But mostly it comes from having an understanding of how it all works and the ability to test out ideas to see if they have a chance of being right or not.

Understanding the concepts...

Knowing how to test ideas...

Being somehow intuitive at debugging (that would drive other people crazy, how I would be able to figure out their bugs when they couldn't for hours or longer. Debugging is getting to almost be a lost art sometimes I think...)

Sun Nov 13, 04:37:00 PM EST  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

*good* intution is just a result of *good* experience ... as wonderfully shown in the "Blink" book (the unconscious mind associates the present with the past experiences in background).

Probably an incarnation of the saying "genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration" ("past" perspiration in this context).

Sun Nov 13, 05:06:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Roderick said....

Minus the travel, I manage my e-mail pretty much the same way as you. Probably average over 100 per weekday. I should create separate folders for each of the various projects I juggle. However, I find that whenever my INBOX falls below 400 messages, new projects or emergency interruptions magically appear which will require my full attention until the INBOX is back above 700. The smallest my INBOX has ever been is 8, otherwise the natural "backlog" of low priority To Do Items is a few hundred for me these days.

Sun Nov 13, 05:15:00 PM EST  

Blogger Noons said....

Existence or not of scroll bar is the yardstick for me as well. It's a real pain to get rid of it but if I can end a week with the darn thing not showing, I'm happy as a bird.

I find the gmail mantra of keeping all emails a bit too much for my taste, at least at this stage of my knowledge of the product.

And back at the office, the mail admin would kill me if I tried a "gmail" on him!

Sun Nov 13, 07:30:00 PM EST  

Blogger DaPi said....

I cannot imagine what it would be like without the spam filters given I use my real email address everywhere.

Something like 100-200 spam and 1'000 delivery failure reports per day (yes, the spammers are using my address as return address). And I'm not famous! :-)

Mon Nov 14, 05:13:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Debugging is getting to almost be a lost art sometimes I think...)

This is exactly my experience too. The thing that gets me really mad is when developers insist that the problem in an application is not the code, but the database or the network.

I’ve had cases where I as a DBA have to go into the code and debug the problem because the developers are insisting it’s a database problem. In other cases, I have had to do network traces to prove that a performance problem is not the database, but that the code is causing 10 MB of data to be sent to the client.

Mon Nov 14, 09:53:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Just like Alberto, I have around 3000 on my inbox and archived the last 6 months of my emails.
This is for reference purposes in case we need to remember what we did to troubleshoot a certain issue with one of our database.

I'm looking for ways to put this in one place and to be able to do quick search on a certain topic if needed.
Any ideas?


Mon Nov 14, 04:49:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

3,000 things in the inbox would make me freak out. I'd go nuts!

I guess I tend to organize a little differently - things about future events (guess that is a function of what I do as well - many of my things are "future events", trips, seminars, customer visits - when they are done, they are done - but I archive them so I have them all). So, I guess I have a time based repository where everthing is more or less organized by a discrete point in time.

As for searching, I guess I'm lucky there. Everything is in IMAP and my IMAP datastore just happens to be....

An Oracle database running collab suite.

Mon Nov 14, 04:58:00 PM EST  


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