It’s the simple things that matter

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Sometimes it is the simple tips that end up being the most useful. Here’s one for you to try.

It’s the simple things that matter

Brendan Lewis

So after promising 11 months ago to set up an online e-commerce site for my father, I have finally been hassled to deliver. I think that’s bitterly unfair as my brothers can get away with boasting about what they can do but never seem to have to live up to the expectations they set. This is probably the wrong forum for that whinge though, but it leads me to the point of this blog.

Anyway while trying to setup the website, I noticed that the email notifications weren’t working, so I set about changing the configurations and testing each option to see which one would make the emails work properly.

This process of make one change, test, make one change, test, is a fairly standard approach. By making only one change at a time, you get to know the exact impact of your change (especially when it’s not clear). It’s also easy to roll back the change, when you don’t have to remember very much.

However when doing things that involve generating emails, I have noticed that sometimes there can be a reasonable delay between requesting an email to be generated and it actually happening. This happens a lot when I set up an account on a web-based email system. So I have a technique that I thought I might share.

Rather than send an email with the subject “test”, I give each email a different subject, “test 1”, “test 2″, test 3” etc. What this means is that rather than getting a number of identical emails coming in and not being totally sure what’s happened, I get a unique set of emails coming in that lets me know when the email started working. Obviously the subject name can also be along the lines on “Option A on” or “Option B off”.

I know this solution sounds really simple, but I’m shocked how much time I pissed away, thinking something wasn’t working, only to find the email server was just a tad slow.

So I thought I’d share. Tiny, simple and useful.


Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



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