The Business-Technology Weave

May 2 2011   10:57AM GMT

Data, Human Error, and an Apology [bonus: a Warning]

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


Mistakes will happen, as we all know.


Somehow, my latest blast of The BTW included an e-mail address in the subject line.  I’m scratching my head on that one – I can’t figure out how that happened, and in trying to replicate the error, I can’t manage to do it or figure how it might have happened.  Within minutes, I successfully recalled the vast majority of messages to the list, but a small number of recalls failed.


I apologize to all concerned.  I don’t employ a service for my e-mail blasts, I just blind-carbon (BCC) a list – so the error is between me, my keyboard, and MS-Outlook.  However, there’s a rather simple solution, in my environment, for avoiding this or any related errors in the future.  ***(And please note a warning toward the end of this article – there is definitely something suspect about Windows cut-and-paste feature…)***


Back to my environment:  It’s simple enough to compose the message, set the subject, and then send the e-mail to myself.  In fact, I often do that, just to verify that the link works (true, I can use Ctl+click to execute the link in the draft e-mail’s body, prior to send, but I like to verify the actual recipient-experience). 


My procedure should have been, and will be going forward:


1.      Compose the e-mail, with link to the blog

2.      Review it, including the subject

3.      Send the e-mail to myself.

4.      Open and confirm the content

5.      Forward the confirmed e-mail to the list


As I say, I invoked a recall of the message within minutes of Send (I’m always a recipient, and immediately noticed the incorrect subject line).  Naturally, many of the recalls failed – of course, a fail notice does not mean that any specific recall, to any specific intended recipient, didn’t work – but I imagine some mail remained delivered, and do reside in some measure of Inboxes.   


Well, I’d like to blame this on Microsoft, but maybe it was a matter of being a quart low on coffee this morning.  At any rate, your humble correspondent is… humbled, and maybe just a little more simpatico in regards to other human error situations…  However, please take note of the following:


***Warning*** – – –  One wrinkle I’ve encountered in the whole MS-Windows (7), Outlook, copy-paste-hyperlink drill:  I believe that every time I’ve copied my URL…


… for purpose of setting a hyperlink to all articles in the blog, upon paste it usually resolves as the link to the latest article (which is the top article in the chain) – the back of the link is highlighted, as below, indicating the specific article’s hyperlink info as being included, extra to the original Highlight and Copy…


In other words, the link that is pasted (but not highlighted (nor indicated as being copied as anything but above) resolves as this…


(using today’s example) – and I have to take care to delete the back of the unwanted measure of hyperlink.  I dislike that.  If I don’t delete the back portion, recipients merely get the latest blog entry, rather than a link to a review of a reverse-chronological list of all articles, the latest month’s being on top.


That is not what I’m copying, and I suppose Windows somehow thinks it’s being helpful by suggesting a full link to the top article in the blog – with the “caboose” of the latest article highlighted.  (Shades of HAL here?  2001:  A Space Odyssey).


Did something similar happen with my e-mail blast this morning – is that what’s going on?  I was doing some editing of my e-mail address list – however, I don’t employ multiple cut-and-pastes with harbor in memory – and at any rate, there’s no reason for a system to append various cuts, into an amalgamated paste… at least, not in my environment – and I never set or asked Windows to do that.


Live and learn.


NP:  The Dave Brubeck Quartet:  Take Five – from the album Time Out.  If you like jazz, if you think you might like jazz, if you don’t know what jazz is  get this.




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