In epsiode #19 of the CompuSchmooze podcast, we have a conversation with Matt Kleinschmitt of Ipsos Insight Research about his TEMPO study of digital music downloading behavior, and we talk with Brad Meador of ClearContext Software about a new add-in program for Microsoft Outlook that helps prioritize email.
Here’s the text of the two related “CompuSchmoozeTM” columns as they appeared in the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey.
CompuSchmooze? December 2006: Organizing Outlook Email
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2006 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
WORD COUNT: 626
Digging out from the avalanche of email that arrives every business day requires an automated solution to filter and organize the torrent.
ClearContext Information Management System is one of a growing genre of programs that install itself directly into the Microsoft Outlook program’s screens.
ClearContext adds its own action buttons to Outlook to help you quickly categorize email and schedule related appointments and tasks.
The program indexes and analyzes your email messages, ranking the frequency of your email conversations. It presents a color-coded, priority organized view of your email inbox.
Very important messages are highlighted in red, important ones in blue, normal ones in green, and bulk or junk mail in black or grey. The messages are reorganized in descending order of priority. You can adjust the formula used for this ranking through a series of control panels.
It takes a while to get comfortable with this display, because it isn’t in the reverse chronological order that most of us use. And until you do some fine-tuning, you could miss some important messages that may not be color-coded correctly. But Clear Context goes a long way to help you focus on truly important emails rather than getting distracted by the less important ones.
There are several different custom views of the inbox, including a “threaded” priority view grouping related messages together, so you can quickly review an entire email conversation over time.
ClearContext also can assign a “topic” to a group of related emails, but you can only assign one topic per conversation. A nice feature automatically schedules a followup email message for a later date, right at the moment that you are sending your initial message. The followup is automatically cancelled if your recipient replies in time.
The biggest drawback I found using ClearContext was that, like other Outlook add-in programs, the extra weight of its database engine seemed to make Outlook run dramatically slower, getting in the way of productivity rather than improving it. I’m uninstalling some other add-ins I don’t use, and I’ll let you know if that helps.
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CompuSchmooze? January 2007: It’s for you, your phone is singing
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2006, 2007 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
WORD COUNT: 565
At this gift-giving time of year (if you need to “re-gift” something, check out www.regift.net), many people use the holidays to upgrade technologies like cellular phones, and the newer phones, like Verizon’s “Chocolate,” or T-Mobile’s “Sidekick” have the added ability to substitute for a digital music player.
These new phones integrate the ability to download and complete MP3 digital music files with the ability to make phone calls and send emails. But how likely are we to use our cell phones to download music? A recent survey suggests there is a long way to go before we are leaving our MP3 players at home and relying on our phones for our music.
Only about four people in a hundred have actually downloaded MP3 files with their cell phones, even though nearly three quarters of cell phone owners are aware that there are phones with this capability, according to a quarterly digital music tracking study by Ipsos, a technology market research firm. A press release about the study is available online.
“Awareness of the possibility of digital music downloads is very strong,” said Matt Kleinschmit, Vice President for Ipsos Insight and author of the study. Given the low level of actual downloads, however, Kleinschmit acknowledged that downloading to a phone is still a “niche activity,” but he says the proportion of people downloading music has “doubled since 2005.”
Similarly, few people are downloading video clips to their cell phones, with only about 3 people in 100 indicating they have done so.
Cell phone users are interested in adding multimedia capabilities to their phones, but not as a way of replacing other digital multimedia players they already use, he added.
“I would not be surprised to see that a mobile phone that plays music is very much able to coexist alongside a standalone MP3 player, two, three, or four years from now,” he said.
Downloads are mostly appealing to 18-24 year olds, with males slightly more likely than females to download music or video clips, Kleinschmit said. Young people in this demographic like to share their music files with each other, but that makes it difficult for online music companies to generate revenue from the practice.
“Getting them to pay to download music, whether it be via (Apple’s) iTunes or a mobile service provider, has really been a challenge,” he noted. However, Kleinschmit thinks cell phone providers might be able to capture young users as paying customers, if they can provide a unique music purchasing experience.
Cellular service providers are stepping up the pressure for subscribers to consider adding digital download subscriptions to their phones. Verizon now features VCast, its video and audio download service. The system uses Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA) digital file format to store music files. Users who upgrade to the VCast service and who previously downloaded MP3 music files onto Verizon phones, will need to convert those files to the WMA format to keep playing them on newer Verizon phones, which don’t have MP3 capability. Music purchased through VCast incorporates Microsoft’s version of digital rights management (DRM), an encryption system that limits a user’s ability to make copies of individual files.
The T-Mobile Sidekick 3 can act as an MP3 player, without the DRM limitations imposed by the Verizon system.
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