Software

Email apps I'd like to see

It's amazing how many ways the simple task of composing an email can be abused. Here are the fantasy apps we'd like to see that will curtail this behavior.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about a new app that is on the market that supposedly checks your emails for "tone" problems; that is, anything that might be taken wrong by the recipient. After that piece published, a TechRepublic member sent me the link to an old tongue-in-cheek app called Bullfighter. The website explains how it "works":

The Bull Composite includes the Bull Index and the Flesch Reading Ease indices. The Bull Index counts the frequency and severity of jargon, while Flesch focuses on sentence length and syllable count. If you want to clean up your score quickly, look for the 'High' penalty bull terms when you run Bullfighter. Nasty words like "leverage" hurt your score far more than innocuous but overused words like "global."

Oh, if only! But think about it: If this app were used, corporate communications would be severely affected. You'd start getting emails like this:

Hello staff,

...

Regards,

Joe Schmo, VP of Employee Relations

That got me thinking about new e-mail add-ons that would make our lives much easier. Here are some I would like to have:

Caps Lock Lock - Apparently there are a good number of people out there who find it physically exhausting to click the Shift key at the beginning of every new sentence. They circumvent this drudgery by pushing the Caps Lock key and then scream-typing their way through an email. The answer? Caps Lock Lock, an email application that short-circuits the Caps Lock key so that a mere touch sends an electric jolt up the length of the arm. Reply All Stall - There is a time and place for the Reply All button, but I don't think it was meant to be used as prodigiously as it is by some people. If there is an email announcing a promotion, I don't need to get copied on 1,700 examples of congratulatory emails for that person. Shouldn't that kind of thing be kept between the promoted person and the person doing the congratulating? The answer to this dilemma is Reply All Stall, an app that renders the Reply All button useless, unless the user can furnish two good reasons why he or she really needs to use it. Text for Texters - Have you ever gotten an email that is so full of obscure text-y shortcuts that it actually has the opposite effect and slows your comprehension down (e.g., "4COL R U AAK?")? If you're sending an actual email, it is best not to populate it with texting shortcuts that make the recipient feel like he's deciphering a vanity license plate.  That's why we need the app Text for Texters that turns the standard qwerty keyboard into something more intuitive. Instead of the "u" key, the word "you" will be spelled out; "r" will become "are;" etc.  (I'm sorry, however, LOL and ROFLMAO won't even be invited to the party.) Cool Your Jets. Please explain to me the difference between these two questions:

What time is the meeting?

What time is the meeting?????

Is the second one meant to convey that you really want the answer as opposed to just being conversational? Regardless, the new Cool Your Jets app prevents anyone from using excessive punctuation in their email messages. No more multiple exclamation points unless, of course, you are in need of medical attention because you've used the Caps Lock key unadvisedly (see above).

About Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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