December 4, 2002

By Karen Kenworthy


Come on in and grab a seat by the fire! I'm glad you dressed warmly. Isn't this cold rain dreary? The once golden, now browning leaves look sad so soaked and matted. So do those empty trees, bare limbs reaching towards a dull gray sky.

Sigh. Guess our evenings sitting on the porch, in our wooden rocking chairs, watching the sun slowing disappear, are over for a while. :(

Old E-Mailer

Have you ever sent the same e-mail message more than once? Perhaps it was a "tickler", reminding folks about an important weekly or monthly meeting, or your birthday. Maybe it was an alert, warning people about scheduled maintenance on the network, coffee machine, or other important piece of office equipment.

Whatever the message, if you e-mail it often, you may have used the popular E-Mailer Power Tool to do the job. Born three years ago, this program allows you to define and save e-mail messages. Each message includes a list of recipients, a subject line, and the body text or main message.

Later, you could ask the E-Mailer to send your message. If you're not in a hurry, you might launch the E-Mailer, select a previously defined message, then click the E-Mailer's "Test Send" button. Scripts and DOS batch files can also use the E-Mailer, specifying a message's ID in the program's command line.

The more adventurous E-Mailer users could manually create a shortcut to the message on their Windows desktop. Double-clicking the shortcut's icon sent their favorite message is on its way.

If clicking icons sounds like too much work, you could turn to the popular Power Tool known as Countdown Timer. It allows you to enter the date and time of future events, and continuously shows the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds remaining. Once time runs out, the Countdown Timer II can automatically send an e-mail message of your choice, by launching and controlling the E-Mailer.

Yep, the old E-Mailer was a good old tool. Its ability to work by itself, and to play well with others (the Countdown Timer II), made the E-Mailer a perennial favorite.

But like all programs, it left room for improvement ...

New E-Mailer II

Maybe I was coming down with a cold. I know I was under a deadline. I seem to remember my shoes were too tight. And I think I was having a bad hair day.

Whatever the reason, the old E-Mailer's user interface was clunky and confusing. I just didn't do a good job designing it. Even I have a hard time remembering how to use it, and stumble adding recipients and making other changes. :(

Fortunately, the new E-Mailer II is better looking, and more personable. It's now much easier to add a new message -- just click the "Add" button on the program's main window. Editing and deleting a message is easy too, thanks to the program's new "Edit" and "Delete" buttons.

Want to change a message's information? It's now a breeze. The data is now organized into six on-screen categories, each displayed by clicking one of the program's new tabs:

Message ID
As its name implies, this tab allows you to enter a Message ID. An ID might be a single word, such as "Alert", or a longer phrase, such as "Weekly Meeting". Later, you'll use this unique ID when sending the message. This tab also allows you to enter a message's description.

Click this tab and you can specify how a message will be sent. As we saw during our last get-together, the old E-Mailer offered only one choice: You had you let your "MAPI-compliant" e-mail client, like Microsoft Outlook or Qualcomm Eudora, carry the mail.

But the new E-Mailer II offers an additional option. Now you can order message be sent directly, via an Internet SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) e-mail server. This method avoids some of the MAPI pitfalls we talked about before, and allows you to specify the name and e-mail address of each message's sender.

To, CC and BCC
These three tabs let you control who receives your message. Recipients entered on the "To" tab appear in the outgoing message, on the "To:" line. Those listed on the "CC" tab receive a "Carbon Copy" of the message (oddly named, since very little carbon is used creating a modern e-mail message). Finally, e-mail addresses entered on the "BCC" tab are sent "Blind Carbon Copies", meaning their addresses aren't visible to other recipients.

Finally, this tab allows you to enter a message's subject line, and main, or body, text.

The main window of E-Mailer II has another cool new button. Labeled "Create Shortcut", it automatically creates a shortcut to the currently selected message right on your Windows desktop. Later, you can send the message by double-clicking the shortcut's icon! You can also move the shortcut to other places on your computer, including your Start menu.

New Playmates

E-Mailer II is a powerful new program. But it really shines when cooperating with two other recently updated Power Tools: Countdown Timer II and 'Net Monitor.

The Countdown Timer II has been sending e-mail messages for years, thanks to the original E-Mailer. Tell the timer about an appointment, anniversary, or other event, and it will dutifully count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the moment arrives. Then, at your option, it will play a little tune, display a cartoon "Agent" to recite a message, and send a pre-defined e-mail message.

The latest Countdown Timer II, version 3.0, does all that and more. Now, it can use E-Mailer II to send its messages, in addition to the older E- Mailer if installed. The new timer also does a better job of displaying the many non-Microsoft agent characters available from sites on the web. It even looks more modern, when run under Windows XP.

E-Mailer II's other playmate is the popular 'Net Monitor. This Power Tool continuously monitors web sites and e-mail servers, making sure they operate properly. If they ever fail, the reason for the failure is recorded in the monitor's log file and displayed on its main window.

Over the years the old 'Net Monitor has helped lots of people diagnose web site and server problems. And it's provided many folks with documentation, proving a service is unreliable. When battling a stubborn ISP or e-mail administrator, there's nothing like a log showing when the service was down, minute by minute, over a period of weeks or even months!

But the new 'Net Monitor can perform one more valuable service. When you place a web site or server under surveillance, the new 'Net Monitor can notify you the moment a failure is detected. Just select an E-Mailer II message to be sent in the case of a problem, and the 'Net Monitor does the rest.

If the e-mail message is sent to an account that triggers your pager, you can be awakened in the middle of the night, ready to respond to the most befuddling emergency. Regardless of the time of day, you'll be able to fly into action, the moment a problem appears!

Want to try the new E-Mailer II? It's easy -- just visit:

While you're online, check out E-Mailer II's new friends, the new Countdown Timer II and 'Net Monitor:

And don't forget my CD. Each one has the latest version of every Power Tool, including the E-Mailer II, Countdown Timer II and 'Net Monitor. It also contains three bonus Power Tools not available anywhere else. One bonus programs, Web Update, automatically keeps your installed Power Tools up-to-date!

You'll also find every back issue of my newsletter, and a few even older articles, in the CD's library. All that, plus a special license that lets you use your Power Tools at work. Best of all, buying a CD is the easiest way to support the web site and this newsletter.

To buy a CD for yourself, or for a gift, visit:

Uh oh, hear that sound? It's sleet, lightly tapping on the secluded Power Tools workshop windows! Hope it's not too late for you to get home safely. Keep your cell phone handy, and give me a call if you get stuck.

I'll be up late tonight, so don't hesitate to call. If I don't hear from you again tonight, I'll assume you made it home safely tonight. And in the days ahead, don't forget to look for me on the 'net. If you see me there, be sure to wave and say "Hi!"

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