After many years of being a faithful and devoted Outlook user, I find myself forced to become intimately acquainted with that coelacanth of the IBM era: Lotus Notes.
But now I’ve been thrust into an entire new e-mail world and I’m completely and totally disoriented. It’s an awkward feeling. I’ve always felt comfortable learning new systems and software pacakges. I’m the person (nerd) who can fool around with a piece of software for a few minutes and feel totally at home with it. I’m the person (even bigger nerd) who goes home at night and researches shortcuts and idiosyncrasies and experiments with new and different ways to achieve my ends with those new software packages.
But Lotus Notes has me in a stranglehold. It is a dinosaur. It is a mammoth wallowing in a tar pit. My 51-year-old mother even laughed at me when I told her that we use Lotus at work. Her reaction: “I haven’t seen Lotus since 1989! Loser!” I haven’t seen or heard from Lotus myself since my “microcomputing” class during my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t know that it still existed in any practical form, much less at a global corporation known for its affinity for technology. But I’m stuck with it for now.
It has by far one of the most unappealing and unintuitive GUIs I’ve ever seen. Granted, it apparently developed the idea of tabbed browsing long before Mozilla or the fancy new Explorer did, but the tabs themselves are tiny, hard to read and open and close at random (Replication? I didn’t click on Replication!).
It’s advanced enough to know that you’ve received new mail (yes, but so is the new Hotmail server, so BFD) but it’s not advanced enough to actually display that new mail unless you go to a tiny menu in the far bottom corner and click on “Receive,” which is maddeningly close to “Send Outgoing Mail” and which I unfailingly click on every time instead of “Receive” because I am so freaking clumsy with a mouse.
If you fail to interact with Lotus for more than five minutes, it will lock you out. It doesn’t notify you that you’ve been locked out, however, so in the meantime you’re pecking away at your keyboard and toiling at your other work actitivies, blissfully unaware that there are about fifteen e-mails waiting for you that need to be answered. And when you finally do cotton to the fact that you’ve been locked out and log yourself back in, the goddamn thing takes about five minutes to “Replicate” all of your e-mails and actually display them for you.
Furthermore, there is no real capability for storing e-mails in folders (the system which I’ve always used to sort through the masses of crap I get every day). It exists, and Lotus will let you do it, but it’s very stilted and difficult and I get the feeling that every time I move an e-mail to a folder, Lotus creakily opens its eyes like an ancient tortoise and stares at me quizzically as if to say, “Whaaat are you doingk, yaaawngk one? Ve do not store files in this vaaay.”
And in one of my least favorite moves so far, it has the most ridiculous address book system I’ve ever encountered. To send an e-mail to someone within the company, you have to know their middle name. That’s right. We have over 22,000 employees in North America alone which equals roughly 25 Rogers, 68 Alans, 112 Johns, etc. An intelligent program would rely upon their last name to whittle things down from there. But not Lotus; here we use middle names. So not only am I learning everyone’s names and positions and locations, I’m also becoming acquainted with their sometimes bizarre nomenclature (ex: Ernest Quest Daniel III). And it gets worse with people external to the company — all of my outside contacts like brokers and consultants have to be painstakingly and meticulously added to the little address book subprogram before I can send e-mail to them. Otherwise, I have to pull up an old e-mail of theirs, copy their e-mail address and paste it into a new “memo” (not e-mail, memo…grr) or else I have to type the entire thing in from scratch/memory.
Luckily, I’m not alone in my sentiments. While doing some of the aforementioned nerd-research, I found these sites:
- Lotus Notes Sucks
- Gripes About Lotus Notes
- 70 Reasons Lotus Notes Sucks
- and my favorite: Lotus Notes – The Horror, The Horror
What I have yet to find, of course, are any sites with names like “I Love Lotus Notes!” or “Lotus Notes Is The Greatest Thing Since Vacuum-Sealed Lunchmeat!” I won’t be holding my breath for those.