Data Mining Email with Thunderbird

Oracle has many formal, searchable locations:  Service Requests, BugIDs, Technical Documents.

These contain the results of an investigation for a customer crash situation;  they're created after the intense work of resolution is over, and typically contain the "root cause" of the failure ... but not the methods for identifying that cause.

Email is still the standby for interacting with quickly formed groups of specialists, focusing on a particular incident.
Customer BI, Network and System specialists;  Oracle Tech Support, Development, Consultants; OEM Database, OS technical support.   It is a chaotic, time-oriented set of configuration, call stacks, changes, techniques to discover and repair the failure.

I needed to organize that information into something cohesive to prepare the blog entry on Teradata.  My corporate email client of choice is Thunderbird.   My original (flawed) search technique:

  • R-Click on Inbox in Thunderbird left pane, and choose Search Messages
  • Subject:  [ teradata ]
  • Results: A new window titled "Search Messages"
    Single pane of selected messages
    Column headings:  Subject  From  Date  Location
    No preview window for messages
  • There are 673 email entries in the result ( too many ) 
  • R-click icon just above the vertical scroll bar on the right
    Check [x] Tags

    Click on the Tags header to sort by "Important"
  • View contents of message by double-clicking
    Opens in the Thunderbird Main Window in a new Tab
  • Not what I was looking for, close the tab and try again.

There has to be a better way.  ( and there is )

I need to be more productive, eliminating duplicate-chained messages, for example.   Even the Tag "Important" that was added during the investigation phase, is "not so much" for my current task.

  • In the "Search Messages" window, click [ Save as Search Folder ]
  • [ teradata ]  Appears as a new folder in my Inbox.
  • Focus on that folder and the results appear with a list of messages like every other folder in the Inbox.
    Only the results of the search are shown
  • A preview window is now available for each message
  • Sort, Select message, Cursor Down ... navigates quickly through the messages.

But wait, there's more ...

  • Click Find ( Ctrl-F)
  • Enter a search term for the message body, like.
    [ LIBPATH ]
  • The search is "sticky" ... each message you cycle through wil focus ( and highlight) the LIBPATH search term.

And still more ....

  • Reset the Tag
    "Important" message.   Press "1" and the tag is removed
  • Press "4" and a new Tag "ToDo" is applied
  • After applying all of the tags, sort by Tag for a new message order

Adjust the search criteria ...

  • R-click on the [ teradata ] search folder, and choose Properties
  • Add additional criteria to narrow the search
  • Some of the information I'm looking for did not contain "teradata" in the subject line.
    + Body  [ contains ] [ Best Practices ]

That's it.  Much more efficient search.   Thank you Thunderbird.

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About

Dick Dunbar
is an escalation engineer working in the Customer Engineering & Advocacy Lab (CEAL team)
for Oracle Analytics and Performance Management.
I live and work in Santa Cruz, California.
I'll share the techniques I use to detect, avoid and repair problems.

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