Email is a bit like an arm – you can get so used to it being around that you don’t really know it is there … until it is not. Then the world as you know it comes to a shuddering halt.
It happened to me the other day. Not losing my arm, my email died. And when I say “died”, I mean died. It wasn’t a bad connection or some server going down. It had nothing to do with the outside online world. My software seized up.
At first it simply would not send. The status report just came up saying there was an error. I tried again, and nothing. I then went through all my usual tricks: switching the modem off and on … nope; closing the software and re-opening … nope. So, I decided to leave it for a bit, went for a coffee, came back and tried again … nope.
Obviously, more drastic action was called for. I decided on the cure-all for these things, and shut down completely and re-booted. And … nope, nothing. It still wouldn’t send. The thing was still stuck firmly in my inbox. Maybe if I deleted it and started again? Nope.
I think this was the first inkling I had that all was not quite tickety-boo, that something was really up. I couldn’t delete, nor could I move it.
Then the phone rang.
“Greg, what are you doing?” It was the person I was sending the email to. “Why do you keep sending me the same email over and over?”
“I, er, well, I didn’t think it had sent, it is still here,” was the gist of my reply.
“Every five minutes it keeps coming through – complete with attachment. What is going on?”
Clearly something … and clearly I hadn’t a clue. I started to dig a little deeper and finally unearthed a message of sorts: “Ox8004060C”.
I don’t know about you but that meant nothing to me. I googled it and up came a number of references from forums, chat rooms and the like. At least I wasn’t the only one to have come up against this thing … and it wasn’t a new phenomenon either.
I tried the MS pages first. Nope. Just chat, but no answer. Similarly a couple of forums. One person suggested a soft reboot … nope.
My friend called again and I assured him I was onto it.
Finally, I did find an explanation and a cure. For want of a better explanation, I had sent and received too many emails, and not deleted enough. The system was full to the brim and had shut down. The solution was simple enough; delete something, though not the usual way. I had to Shift-Delete. Yep, Shift-Delete. That’s it. Once I had done a few, I could go back to the old way.
So, now it is fixed and I know what to do next time. But my question is this: why couldn’t the error message say this? Instead, I was confronted with “Ox8004060C”. It is nonsense. A seemingly random sequence of letters and numbers … although, of course, they are not actually random as someone has made them up. And if that is the case, surely that someone could have made up a message in English that explained how to fix the problem. Just a thought.