jump to navigation

How to make Outlook the Ultimate Social Media Tool July 3, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email, Microsoft, rss, Social Media, social networks.
Tags: ,
7 comments

Believe it or not, Microsoft can actually help you create the ultimate social media tool! If you use Microsoft Outlook 2007 as your email client then you have the basic foundation for creating a powerful social networking monster. Here’s how I use my most important communication tool on a daily basis.

Most organizations have Microsoft Windows networks with Exchange server which means most of corporate America is using Microsoft Outlook as their email client. At the heart of Outlook is the inbox, which is where you get all of your company related emails. It also manages everyone’s calendar and appoinments as well as tasks and notes. Not too shabby right out of the box.

However, with a few simple and free plugins and add-ons you can supercharge Outlook into an even more powerful web 2.0 communication tool with built-in social networking! Here are just some of the best services you can snap into Outlook.

Here’s view of my data center, Microsoft Outlook. Click image to enlarge.

Here’s a breakdown of each highlighted section of my Outlook:

1. Business Email: The inbox is grand central station for Outlook, the heart of your mailbox. All of my corporate emails go here.

2. Personal Email: Outlook allows you to add many other email accounts to your client so you can access your personal email accounts from services like Bellsouth, Earthlink and even web based services like GMail. Here’s an excellent tutorial on how to add gmail to outlook.

3. xobni: If you want extended information about the people that send you emails than checkout Xobni which has been covered on here before. Xobnix snaps inside Outlook and displays many new details about the senders and all of the emails that you’ve exchanged with them. They now connect directly to their LinkedIn account if they own one which opens a whole new world of possibilities.

4. OutTwit: If you want to use Twitter from inside Outlook then try this gem. OutTwit adds a tiny toolbar that lets you send new posts to twitter as well as read and reply. You can now use TinyURL and send direct messages to anyone. The beauty of it all is that it looks like your working but you’re actually goofing off with your twitter pals. You can have all new tweets appear in a folder called Tweets (if desired) just like email! It’s also firewall friendly. 🙂

5. Plaxo with Pulse: The address book is very important and Outlook does a great book with managing our contacts. Adding Plaxo with pulse and its excellent Outlook toolbar turns your Outlook into a dynamic social network. In essence, it’s like having FriendFeed in your email client. Also, Plaxo will sync all of your contacts online with your local address book. The most powerful feature is the way Plaxo can manage all of your contacts from many different email systems such as gmail, yahoo mail, and more.

6. RSS feeds: Outlook can become an excellent way to keep up with all of your RSS feeds! While I still love Google Reader, I find myself using Outlook’s excellent RSS reader more and more because I am always in my email. I get notified of new blog posts instantly as they appear in my Outlook just like new emails. I’m hoping they will add the sharing capabilities that other readers have but other than that, Outlook RSS reader is a great time saver! Here’s how to add RSS feeds to your Outlook.

7. TimeBridge: One of the best features of Outlook is the ability to check everyone’s calendar for meeting availability times. The problem with that excellent feature is that it only worked inside the firewall within an organization’s private network. Well, that is no longer the case thanks to services like TimeBridge which understands how valuable this feature is to everyone. It also snaps into Outlook and allows you to share your calendar and availability to people outside of your firewall and local network! This is a powerful way to schedule appointments that will save enormous amounts of time and frustration. Here’s an excellent DemoGirl screencast.

But wait there’s more!
These are just some of the many cool tools you can use with Outlook. I also use other things that work with Outlook that aren’t as visible as these other tools. Tools such as McAfee anti-virus and c2c’s ArchiveOne for archiving older emails with attachments while leaving the headers in my mailbox giving the appearance as if everything were still there (double-clicking the email retrieves it from an archive on another server, saving tons of mailbox space). So, there’s far more than meets the eye when it comes to Outlook

Final Thoughts

Outlook is like the Swiss Army Knife of communications. Sure, it’s a master when it comes to managing your emails, tasks, contacts and calendar appointments, but as you have seen it can do far more than you ever imagined. The possibilities are endless as increasing numbers of new services are developed to work with Microsoft Outlook. Choosing the right tools can help you turn Outlook into an even more powerful communication tool.

How to Add RSS feeds to your Outlook May 29, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Microsoft, rss.
Tags: , ,
129 comments

How to Add RSS feeds to your Outlook

 

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a way for content publishers to make news, blogs, and other content available to subscribers. You can add your favorite RSS Feeds as subscriptions in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. There are a couple of ways to add an RSS Feed.

 

Adding a single feed at a time

Copy the feed URL that you want to add to Outlook

Go to the RSS folder in Outlook and Right-Click the root

The following menu will appear:

Select the Add a New RSS Feed (Third choice from the top)

Paste the RSS URL in the following box

Important Tip: Outlook seems to like XML RSS Feeds the best so whenever possible select that type of feed. It will look like this: original feed View Feed XML

If you don’t see that link, you can try adding ?format=xml to the end of their rss feed.

 

 

How to add a collection of RSS feeds

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 supports the .opml file format for exchanging a collection of RSS Feed configuration information between programs that can organize and display RSS Feeds. Such programs are known as RSS aggregators. Office Outlook 2007 includes the functionality of an RSS aggregator.

 

A collection of RSS Feeds is shared by exporting it to an XML file with the .opml file extension and sending the file to the other person. You can attach the .opml file in an e-mail message, copy the .opml file to a network shared folder that both people have access to, or copy the .opml file to removable media such as a disk, CD, or a memory device. The other person can then import the .opml file and choose which RSS Feeds to add to Outlook.

Exporting to an .opml file illustration

Callout 1 In Office Outlook 2007, a collection of RSS Feeds can be exported to a file with the .opml extenstion.
Callout 2 You can import a file with the .opml extension to Office Outlook 2007 or other RSS programs.

 

  1. On the File menu, click Import and Export.
  2. Select Import RSS Feeds from an OPML file.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Click Browse to specify where the file to be imported is located, and then click Open.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Select the Feed name check box for each subscription that you want to import.

     

    Tip Click Select All or Clear All to quickly select or clear all check boxes.

    Note You are importing only the subscription information, not the actual items from the subscription.

  7. Click Next.The .opml file is imported to Office Outlook 2007

 

How to export Your Google Reader RSS Collection as an OPML file

  • Click the Manage Subscriptions link and click the Import/Export option
  • Save the file to your local system
  • Now you can import your Google Reader feeds into Outlook (all of them or selected feeds)

Social Networking for Email May 4, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email, Social Aggregators, social networks, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

There are new social networks for just about everything so it makes perfect sense that there will be a great deal of focus now on our inboxes. Yes, expect tremendous changes to come with the way we use email. Whether it’s webmail on the big players (yahoo, gmail, hotmail) or even on your desktop client like Outlook, email will never be the same again.

Here are several new innovative email services that will give you a glimpse of the future of the inbox. Remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Expect an avalanche of email tools and services to roll down the social networking mountain very soon.

xobni_logo

Xobni (inbox spelled backwards) actually works inside your Microsoft Outlook email client. It improves searching for emails, attachments and contacts. It also reveals a great deal of information about the people you correspond with via email. One of the best features is the way it creates threaded conversations from your email exchanges.

Even the head-honcho Bill Gates himself seems impressed with Xobni.

Seeing is believing so checkout this video demo.

xoopit does things a little differently. It works with your GMail account (other platforms coming down the road) and lets you easily view all the photos, videos, and files buried in your e-mail as attachments and sent to you as links from across the Web.
xoopit_gmail_overview_lg

zenbe_logo

Zenbe takes yet another approach to managing email. It doesn’t plug into your existing webmail account or desktop email client but offers to host your email and an entirely different tabbed interface.

tripitlogo Tripit is an excellent example of new service that integrates extremely well with your email account. In this case, they are a service for travelers who direct all emails related to their trip to their tripit account which organizes all of the tedious details from those emails and presents the data in a more user-friendly manner. Look for all new services to understand the value of using email accounts of their members instead of trying to re-invent the wheel or adding yet another messaging system to manage.

fuser_logo

Fuser is an email account aggregator that manages all of your different types of email accounts in one place. Add your gmail, yahoo, hotmail and pop accounts along with the messages you receive from social networks like MySpace and facebook. It also supports Twitter and includes a full client which means you can even send tweets from within Fuser.
For more details about Fuser, they were covered in Inbox 2.0 in an earlier post.

Final Thoughts
Everyone has an email account so it’s a great idea to try to offer services that work with existing accounts. Whether it’s a plug-in, add-on, or just a connection to your email system, services would be wise to offer ways to work with your existing email account. Eventually, we will be able to do everything from within our inbox.