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Surviving Outlook Express

by Joan Cannon 

Can you believe seven days, averaging six hours per day, to establish correct settings on Microsoft's Outlook Express?

We've just survived (barely) this ordeal. I understand very little about the mathematics involved with figuring out the possible number of combinations when dealing with five pages that have from four to eight possible choices on each one. I do know it's a lot. It took seven technicians (in India and the Philippines) to set up our computers.

Okay, so who needs four computers? But that's not the point. We have two desktops and two laptops, one of the latter equipped with Vista. How many more possibilities are now added to settings?

It took four days (three-hour sessions twice a day on average) to set up the first desktop. By the time it worked, I was feeling pretty cocky, so I decided all I had to do was to duplicate the settings with a different e-mail address for the second one. Wrong.

Another day to get the second desktop going, with help from a patient Griselda in the Philippines.  Finally, success.  

I moved on to my laptop, thinking once again that I'd be able to just duplicate the settings. Wrong again. Another half day of struggle with our support in India. Well, now I'm really getting the hang of this.  It should make setting up the second laptop with Vista less of a problem.

Definitely wrong again! Two full days with the our support in the Philippines to discover that a virus protection had to be completely uninstalled (not merely disabled) before that mail program would work.  After my husband re-installed his protection, we heaved an exhausted sigh, and I returned to my desktop.  It had been the first one set up and running.

You guessed it. Seven days into the exercise, and that computer would no longer work.

By this time I've become an expert at changing settings. This upsets the technicians on the phone because now I can make the changes faster than they can tell me what to do. 

Not to worry. I wouldn't bother the outsourced women any further. By now I can do everything except set up and run in Safe Mode to make basic changes to the whole system (I do leave that to the experts). I spend another two hours changing Outlook Express settings, and at last — the promised land of e-mail is mine again.

Now to claim the incentive monetary rewards promised in the promotion that started all this. The time spent doing this was worth a lot more than $225.


Joan L. Cannon likes to use her middle initial because so few of her maiden namesakes are left anywhere (Huguenot LaPrades). She's a retired teacher, retail manager, and part-time handy-person for the selectmen of her Connecticut town, library trustee, and aspiring writer.

From childhood there have been toss-ups for her avocations among reading, riding horses, painting, writing and homemaking. Now's she's happy to be mostly retired even from those activities since moving to a life care community with her husband of over half a century. Retired turns out to be a relative term since there's always labor need for good causes.

Email Joan: jlcannon28 (at) att.net

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