Some things are just more difficult than they need to be. I send out a monthly e-mail newsletter for our business. This goes through a service associated with the parent company and it provided via the parent company.

The service then sends me an e-mail telling me I sent out so many e-mails and how many of them were actually delivered. Some people opt out of e-mail delivery and some of the e-mail addresses I had were bad. What I needed to do was create a new list and stop getting these error messages.

But it looked like a daunting task. It needed to be done. Next week is when I should be mailing out the next newsletter. Just yuck. I was going to have to go through 128 names and put them into three different groups. 1) people to e-mail; 2) people who hate e-mail; and 3) people we might want to check for updated e-mail addresses.

The company has all sorts of tools for us mortals to work with. Some of them are clunky to use and some of them have lots of really neat things they can do. All of them are based on the client name. All names are sorted alphabetically on the last name. This is how most people work the concept of alphabetical. (Dad’s files were all sorted on the first name, which worked for him, I guess.)

So I had three lists of people: good and bad e-mail addresses and opt out. They were sorted on the first name. So I had to go through a real database sorted on last names and find these people to put into a little list over there so I could make new lists and only send out the newsletter to the people who wanted it.

It took me an hour, but only because at least some of the names were sorted by last name making it much easier to just scroll down my database list and find them. After I got my list and put it into a CVS Excel file, I clicked on the link of what to do with the names to get them uploaded to the program that does the newsletters.

I had clicked on that first and it told me how to get the names from Outlook which was really nice. I am not permitted to use Outlook. I have Lotus Notes and I don’t have any client e-mail addresses stored there anyway. So I had to use the company database system and that worked okay. In fact, it worked much better than what the newsletter people told me to do.

Excel being less than excellent

Outlook exports data with First Name and Last Name columns and the newsletter people will only take Full Name all in one column. So the tutorial told how to merge the data in the cells. They told us to click on the First Name column add an ampersand then a quote a space and a quote then another ampersand and then the last name. This means that all the names come up like Patti Hysell rather than Hysell, Patti. This makes it really hard to search this list against real database stuff.

To make it work for easy searching later, you would click on the last name and get some like B2&”, “&A2 and then the whole merge would look like something we are all used to seeing when we need to search a list. I have no idea why they would tell us to make our lives more difficult.

Luckily, since I exported from the company database rather than from Outlook, I had the names in there like Hysell, Patti instead of Patti Hysell. So the next time I need to go through a list of who is or isn’t getting the newsletter, the list will post in some order very similar to the database where all my information is stored.

Life doesn’t have to be this difficult. Why would they teach us the wrong way?