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So You Want To Be Notified?

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Steve Christensen

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Posted: 3 Jun 1999
 

One of the nice things about GroupWise is that it moves the paper-based tasks that cluttered your desk to your computer desktop where you can manage and organize them. You can respond to and discard mail without worrying about the number of spruces you've ravaged through the week, you can create and store documents where others can look at them, and if you want, edit them without needing to use a copy machine, and you don't need to put sticky notes all over your office to remind you of your 10:00 meeting with your boss. And in the midst of all this cybernetic bliss you have a personal mail clerk, Notify.

Notify is better than a clerk who runs around your office delivering mail, though. He also lets you know when you are scheduled for a meeting. Great guy! But if you used GroupWise 4.1, you'll notice that your clerk now has a new face. Notify 4.1, we were told, was a bit too friendly. Sure, he'd let you know that you had mail, but if you were busy, he just wouldn't go away. He'd hang out in your office, flipping through your mail until you decided to acknowledge him. And if you didn't, he'd clear his throat every five minutes until you were ready to throw the tape dispenser at him (the black one with the heavy base). On top of that, he'd keep reminding you of mail you had already received. You know the type of person we're talking about here. The kind that needs to ask how you're doing every time you pass him in the lobby. Good guy, but a bit annoying.

Well, we gave him the old pink slip and hired another guy. Meet Notify 5. He's just as punctual, but he gets to the point and then leaves you alone. He does what that previous guy did, he just doesn't hang around so long. Many of you have put him through the paces, though, and have sent us your opinions. And, well, it seems we need to give Notify a little more training or hand out yet another pink slip and head back to the employment agency. Before we get into some of your comments though, let's look Notify over a bit to see what makes him run, then we'll get into some of the buttons you can push to make him perform better for you.

Notify informs you of messages or alarms through a combination of three means: sound, a dialog box, and the Notify icon on the Windows taskbar (a globe). You can use one or more of these indicators to learn about a new message. The dialog box and sound occur only when you first receive a new message. The icon indicates (with an envelope over the globe) that you have unopened items in your Mailbox or in folders that you have selected. To receive notification, of course, you need to start Notify. You can do this either by opening the Notify program from the GroupWise 5 program folder or by moving a shortcut into the Startup folder so Notify will start every time you start your computer. You'll know that Notify is running by the icon on the Windows taskbar. The icon also lets you open the Notify Options (right-click the icon, click Options) so you can tell Notify how you want your notification.

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Making Notify Talk
Well, now that you and Notify have been properly introduced, let's get into what has been said about him, poor guy. The most vocal group claims that Notify is not only curt, but that he won't speak to the less privileged GroupWise users. Here's a sample of their comments:

Kelly S. wrote: The new Notify program seems to be a step backwards from previous versions. Why is there no simple beep option any more? The only way to get any audible prompt is to play a .wav file. This may come as a shock to you, but I have many users who want me to install the old GroupWise because GW 5 doesn't beep them anymore.

Okay, so you're asking why don't I just play a .wav file for them. Not everyone has room on their desk for a set of external speakers and the trend on newer PCs is to forgo anything but the most basic of internal speakers which won't handle them.

Seems kinda silly to me to expect everyone to install a sound card and speakers just to get your computer to beep. For those users who have the capability to play .wav files, it's great to be able to do that. But try explaining to management why you have to do a $200 multimedia upgrade to some clerk's PC who just uses it for basic mail and mainframe data entry. I don't like being put in this situation. Please tell me that GroupWise 5.2 has addressed this oversight.

And

Hans M., Indianapolis, Indiana, USA wrote: We have just had GroupWise 5 for Win 3.1 installed on all the PCs in our division. We absolutely have to have audible notification of appointments. However, in Notify, in the alarms area, it seems to only allow .wav files for sounds. No one here has a sound card, so we definitely need the appointment to sound through the PC speaker. Are we just out of luck, or am I missing something? Please help!

For all of you (at least a dozen we've heard from in addition to Kelly and Hans) that would like Notify to play a sound for you, but don't have a sound card, there is hope. Microsoft has a driver called SPEAKER.DRV that allows the internal speaker to play .wav files. Even if you don't have a sound card. The quality is not as good as a multimedia system, but it's better than silence. You can download the driver from Microsoft's web site at the following URL: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q138/8/57.asp

You'll have to register, but it's free. Follow the directions included in the self-extracting file to install the driver. It works for both Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.

Those of you who don't want to install SPEAKER.DRV will have to wait a while, but you'll be happy to know that a simple beep is at the top of the list of improvements to Notify.

Also along these lines:

Bridgette wrote: I cannot get the "tunes" to work like with the older Notify. It's looking for a SoundRec.exe file.  Where do I get that file to run with Notify? Thanks!

The SoundRec.exe file is an accessory that comes with Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. It should be on your Windows installation disk. If you are using Windows 95 you can use the Add/Remove Software control panel to install SoundRec.exe.

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Making Notify Show Up for Work
Some of you are not pleased with the sullenness of Notify:

Judy C., Arlington, Texas, USA wrote: We love your magazine in Arlington, Texas! I teach GroupWise to both end users and administrators, and we always visit your site (at the end of class, of course, or they might not listen to me).

I have a couple of questions regarding Notify. I have found that with Notify in the Windows Startup, it doesn't come up with a dialog box or tune, even if you have mail. The icon, however, does reflect that the user has mail. Is this the way it is designed? The second question is more of an admin one. I know the notxxx.fil files are gone (thank goodness?they were more corrupt than the mafia!), so what is Notify polling to identify whether a user has unopened mail?

Notify was designed to give you notification of mail that has just arrived. Therefore, when you first start Notify, you won't receive notification for items you received through the night. The envelope in the icon appears whenever you have an unopened item in a specific folder. You can select which folders Notify checks by right-clicking the icon, clicking Options, then selecting the folders in the Update Taskbar Image box.

Another concern is that Notify is too curt. Notify 5 lets you know you've got mail, all right, but he doesn't always stick around to make sure you heard him. It's as though he's running past your office, throws in the mail, yells "Here's your mail!" and runs off, before you even knew what hit you. (It was the mail. But for crying out loud, what if you weren't even in your office?)

For example:

John T wrote: It seems that when Notify is activated and you receive a message or request a receipt you do get a beep. However, this only occurs once. Many times you may not be at your desk when this happens. Is there any way that you can set the beep to repeat every 5 minutes, or other time frequency?

When GroupWise Notify 5 was designed, our research showed that users only wanted one beep (a result of that overly friendly 4.1 guy) and that is the way Notify is designed. However, you can change the Notify options so the dialog box stays longer on your screen. Right-click the Notify icon on the taskbar, click Options. Type a high number, such as 3600 (one hour), in the Show Notify Dialog For ___ Seconds box.

Some users couldn't get Notify to show up at all:

Adrian H., Wellington, New Zealand wrote: The Notify pop-up is off the screen. I know it's working because I can hear a sound I associated with it. I've tried changing video resolution, but still the same (I usually run 800x600, 256 Colours, small fonts). Other users on identically spec'd machines have no problem. Can I default it to pop up in the middle or something similar?

It sounds as though you don't have the Show Dialog option selected. Right-click the Notify icon on the Windows taskbar, click Options, Notify. Now make sure that Show Dialog is selected for each notification you want to receive. You may want to do the same for Alarms and Return Status as well.

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Making Sense of the Notify Icon
There is also some confusion about what the icon on the Windows taskbar means:

Monica B. wrote: I've just installed a regional office with GW51, and it worked fine for everyone. Just one user has a problem with his Notify. He passes his cursor over the globe, and it always says "no mail" even while he has a Notify message open in the upper-left-hand corner of the screen. He's the only one with the problem. Any ideas what to do?

And

Uzair F., Austin, Texas, USA wrote: Just finished upgrading GW 5 to 5.1 and all my users are complaining that the Notify icon on the taskbar has an envelope on it even when there is no new mail in their Mailboxes. I have tried the basics, like removing the username from the Notify user list in GW5 Option/security/notify and have also tried re-installing the client software. No help. Maybe you guys know a solution to this.

The icon on the taskbar only indicates unread mail from user-selected folders. Meanwhile, notifications occur for all new mail for all folders in the Mailbox. To get the icon to work properly, right-click the icon, click Options, then select the folders in the Update Taskbar Image box that you want Notify to check for unread messages. If there is an unread message in one of those folders, the icon on the Windows taskbar will display with an envelope on top of it and the quick tip will read "You have Mail."

Further along these lines:

David B., Jacksonville, Florida, USA wrote: I have some users who cannot click on the Notify icon and have it display the dialog box in Windows 95. Other users get the right functionality. I have unsubscribed and resubscribed to Notify to no avail. How can I fix the problem?

A single click on the Notify icon brings up the last notification received. If the user has not received any notifications that day, no dialog box will appear. To get to the Options dialog box for customizing notifications, you need to right-click the icon, then click Options.

We hope these tips help you get Notify cooperating better, but we know that we have some work to do as well. Our first line of business is writing up the qualifications we want in our next Notify. Let us know what you would like us to include by sending your suggestions to gwmag@novell.com. We'll pass your requests on to the Notify developers who are eagerly awaiting your responses. They have told us, "We are very interested in customer feedback on Notify. We are considering several new things for the upcoming release of GroupWise. Any information that you could provide us would be very helpful." So don't just gripe to your co-workers about that breezy mail clerk. Gripe where it'll make a difference and we'll dredge up our last pink slip.

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