Bruce Toews (masterofmusings) wrote,
Bruce Toews
masterofmusings

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Out-Of-Office Assistants. One Thing the World Needs Less Of

Ever had one of those out-of-office experiences? It's an utterly charming experience, where one leaves, by way of a door, one's office, and enters into a state of consciousness typically described by terms along the lines of "Hey, I'm not working! Isn't life grand?".

There are those, though, who wish to share the out-of-office experience to all who would e-mail them. This is done by way of, tuh-dah, an out-of-office assistant, a nasty piece of scripting that sends a message to anyone e-mailing them that they're not there, a fact which could, in all likelihood, be ascertained by a lack of response. It'd be like yelling "Hey Bruce, are you standing beside me?" And I, from nowhere, would reply, "No, I'm not."

Fine and good, until you get to joining mailing lists. This is where it gets annoying, especially if the list is a busy one, and especially if said out-of-office person insists on having this excrescence turned on every evening when they leave work.

I send a message to a list, asking for help with a bug in a program. Yay, a response! Oh wait, it's just a message from someone who probably doesn't know the answer to my question, telling me they wouldn't be able to be present to answer my question even if they knew said answer. Hopes dashed, dreams torn asunder (isn't that a great word?), I wait, wait, wait, wading through the four or five auto-responders regailing me with their operators' lack of presence. And I wait, wait, wait ... do you sense a pattern here? Eventually, I usually get an answer to my question, more often than not from someone who, like those with the auto-responders, wasn't around that evening, but unlike those with the auto-responders, didn't ahve an auto-responder to tell me as much.
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