Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Lotus Notes blues

I know I'm still under a cease fire, I know I've discussed it here before, but I can't help saying it: Lotus Notes sucks!!!
It's so shit it's amazing that people would still willingly use it. I am not known for any affection towards Microsoft; their products are a bunch of expensive and unstable shit, while alternatives such as Firefox (which I am using to type this in) are so much better.
But as shitty as Microsoft is, it's Outlook product is parsecs ahead of Lotus Notes. I'm talking several Castle Runs ahead here.
Where can I start? I'll focus on the more annoying stuff.
You don't get notifications when new mail arrives. Why? Because Lotus Notes doesn't really bother checking if new mail has arrived in the first place. Yes, it checks after you send an email, but that's it. So if you're expecting some emails, you have to sit and stare at the Lotus Notes screen while occasionally hitting the "refresh" button. Quite an effective way to be ineffective at the office.
But what if you are not aware of someone sending you urgent emails? Well, that's your fault for not manually refreshing every couple of minutes. That's what happened today, for example, when Jo's invitation to join her and other friends for lunch was received way too late by me.
Similar shit happens with calendar bookings: I set mine up so that meetings which I arrange generate a warning, which is pretty useful. However, meetings arranged by others do not generate such a warning (unless the others have set it up to generate the warning, which is not there by default); and thus I have already missed a meeting. I had to come up with an elaborate excuse about being held on the phone by an annoying supplier wanting to sell us his services. At least missing a meeting means missing work, so I don't really care about it that much.
Still, Lotus Notes doesn't stop there. If you delete an email, it is deleted for good; no turning back there. There is a trash can folder that you can move emails to, but then whenever you manually refresh your emails (as discussed above) it asks you whether you want to delete the emails in the trash can. Every time.
And it behaves really weird, too: The interface for deleting a "sent items" message is totally different to the interface handling the same task on the inbox side of things.
Last (for now), but not least, is the sophisticated interface for moving emails between folders. Drag and drop? You must be joking! This is Lotus Notes! You have to select the menu option for "move to a folder", and then select your folder from a list of folders. And if you want to do this for several emails in one go you're better off committing suicide.

I guess the thing that annoys me the most about it is that people are perfectly willing to live with it. Worse, when I say out loud what I think of Lotus Notes (and new job or not, I say exactly what I think of it), the people around me think I'm a loony [that's a Jo word]. The fact they're all Lotus Notes developers or ex IBM people probably has something to do with it.
At a time where web email services like Hotmail and Gmail provide you tools that automatically inform you when new emails has arrived, Lotus Notes' 19th century technology is simply unacceptable.

The problem is a mentality thing. The people simply fail to aspire; they are perfectly content with the mire they're used to just because that's what they're used to. I, on the other hand, am the type of person that needs everything around me to be sorted out and work well in order for me to be able to focus and deliver outputs. In my defence I can say that when things are sorted and I am in the mood to deliver, I deliver.
And as if to prove those observations, I was informed today that a complaint I have made regarding my inability to access a certain website for work purposes cannot be answered. The reason quoted was that with the tools we currently use, namely Windows 2000 and an archaic version of Internet Explorer, that website simply won't work.
And what website was that? A certain website by a minor and obscure company of which you've never heard before: www.oracle.com

Tomorrow I'm breaking the rules and downloading Firefox, by hook or by crook!

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