Thursday, November 1, 2007

Faking Notes profile names


By Nancy Hand

I love computer programs that try to think for me. Really, I do. And, if I repeat that often enough, I might even believe it.

It seems like such a nice idea for the software to do things for you, like remember passwords for those sites you don't often visit or spell that word you aren't sure of. Sometimes it's great. Other times I want to bury my head in the pile of stuff on my desk and cry.

"Other times I want to bury my head in the pile of stuff on my desk and cry."

The Notes client has a few such features. To me, the most annoying can be the Profile document -- the one that says "the owner of this mailfile is". If it's a regular mailfile, with a real user, it's nice. The first time a person opens his or her mailfile, the client completes the field and the calendaring system reads the schedule. But if it's a mail-in database without a real user, then it's more complicated.

Under Notes 5.x it was easy to enter a fake name; you simply typed in something and saved it. The client complained, but it still accepted non-hierarchical names like "Annalee's Astounding Addenda" or "Expense Reporting Dept". But, in Notes 6.x and 7.x, you can't type in the field. You have to select a name from an address book.

Yes, you can set up user accounts in a public Name and Address Book and just not create IDs for them. But it's not polite to confuse users with a lot of extra entries and you don't always want these files to be that visible. Plus adding all those names means extra work for me and the server. So a little more creativity is needed.

My workaround is to create a contact in the Admin's personal address book. On the line for Last Name, I enter the name I gave the mail-in database, maybe "Engineering Project". If I need to keep track of who requested the file, I can add that information on the Briefcase tab.

Now I can open the mail-in database, go to "the owner of this mailfile", and click on the down arrow to open the Admin's address book. Then I select the contact I just set up. The client complains about the non-hierarchical name but saves it anyway. Now mail sent from the database shows "Engineering Project, Sent by: Tom Jones". Once in a while people manage to do something to change the profile on the file, but it's easy to change back.

Okay, yes, the server does complain when the profile can't be matched to a person in the public address book. But unless people are scheduling meetings from the database, it's just a low-level warning.