Outlook.com – How To Block Messenger

Microsoft, please don’t annoy me before 6AM.

I had gotten in after the dog walk, settled in for some iced tea, and wanted to check my email once the computer got started.

Using www.outlook.com has never been a pleasure for me.  I want an email service that stays out of my way with extra “features” that I don’t want.   Having a chat service tied into an email program that is a bloated mess was not my choice.  Even Hotmail.com was better than the steaming pile of garbage that Outlook.com has been bloated into.

At the lower left of the browser screen was a helpful “Messaging” area with little icons of people who I have written in the past.  I found myself immediately looking for a way to turn it off.  After wasting a half hour in the “Byzantine” settings menu in Outlook, I went to do a search for how to do it.  I found this page suggesting that I add an entry into a low level file and restart my computer.   The low level file is a text file called “Hosts” that your computer reads in when it starts.  What Hosts does is to override networking.  

In Windows it is at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc and Linux keeps it at /etc/hosts which would be where I would expect to find it on Mac OSX.

Some very basic and oversimplified networking concepts.

If you type in http://www.ramblingmoose.com your computer doesn’t know what that does. It consults your network stack, finds the gateway, and then talks to your internet service provider.  In this case it looks at a giant phone book called your DNS and gets the IP Address of the site.  Since my blog points to a blogger site, that number changes, and it’s hosted by Google anyway. 

But I can change that.

If I bring up Hosts in notepad or any other TEXT editor, I can add in a line saying that a specific IP address is to be used when you go to a specific web address or URL.

For example, if I want to block Google, I add a line to the file:  http://www.google.com

Save the file and restart the computer.

This works for some sites that are advertising providers and other nuisance sites.  My own Hosts file is pretty large having gotten one that has most of those malware and advertising sites that were known at the time.

But all this is annoying to maintain.  Fortunately, there is an easier way to do it.

Adblock Edge or Adblock Plus in Firefox and whichever other browsers it supports.  Adblock Edge is always the first thing I add when I install Firefox.  It allows me to block ads, hide pictures, and even block whole websites (domains) if I choose to from a semi-friendly interface.

Simply add a custom “rule” to adblock to block the following URL:


It would be a whole lot simpler if Microsoft had decided that it would give you a way to block that Messaging app within Outlook.com settings, but they chose not to.  Luckily I can turn it off and get some things done.

How to add a custom rule:

  • Ctrl+Shift+F will open a window called “Adblock Edge Filter Preferences”.
  • Click on the “Add Filter” button in the upper right of the window.
  • In the blue box, enter geo.gateway.messenger.live.com and Enter.
  • Close the window by clicking the Close Box.
  • When you refresh Outlook.com in your browser, it will be blocked in that browser only.


So What Do You Do When Email Is Broke? Outlook.com is broke yet again. Grumble.

How many email accounts do you have?
How many do you actually use?

In my case, there’s:

Hotmail has my main Personal
Outlook has one that I haven’t migrated to but there’s a “cool” email name
I have my own domain I need to get tied into something
I have two gmail accounts – one for the tablet and one that I use for spam.
There is one for the Board that I do social media, newsletters, and web development for.

And there are others that I don’t really use for email like webmaster accounts and the like.

I really should make an effort to write that stuff down and pare it down.

Sound familiar?

I don’t text.  At all.  Simply don’t see the value.  If you want to get in touch with me, I have a perfectly serviceable cell phone and you can call and leave a message.   If I have spoken with you before, I’ll answer.  If you’re a recruiter, leave a message at the tone…

What got me started on this rant?

Getting up early, after the morning mile and a half plus with the dog, I settled in to coffee and spam.  Just like many other people, I had to check my email.   There was a friendly reminder from my chat client, Pidgin, that said I had 27 emails. 

Yes, since last night.

That was split between the hotmail account on “outlook.com” and the professional one on yahoo

Except as usual, Outlook.com was broke.  That’s why it was in quotes up there. 

Ever since Hotmail forced me to convert to Outlook, it has been utter rubbish.  They are trying to change with the times by making it have that Windows 8 look and feel that most who see it say “What on Earth are you thinking, it’s so UGLY!”.  My own experiences with Windows 8 were so horrendous that after a month or so of trying to force it to work, I uninstalled it and with back to Windows 7 where I have been ever since.  I needed to get things DONE!

Ok, that’s just me, I don’t like big ugly blocks that look like a sign from the Seattle mass transit signs.  They don’t work on a laptop with limited screen size…

Been there, ranted about thatMicrosoft is trying but really most people don’t want blinky blocks, they want to get things done.

No, it’s more from the angle that waking up early and expecting something as old school and admittedly simple as email should “just work”.

Outlook.com does not “just work”.

On the average of two or three times a week, OK how about 2.7 times a week, it presents me with a message asking me to reload the web page.  That’s more like a demand from a petulant two year old, but until I reach up and hit the handy F5 key to refresh the web page (go ahead, it works, I’ll wait), I’m stuck.

(welcome back).

This morning I was presented with the message:

Sorry, there seems to be a problem with Outlook right now

The message you selected could not be found. It may have been moved or deleted. Please click the folder again to refresh the view.
See, Outlook is so horrible that it even breaks the page formatting on my blog!
Bottom line though is pretty simple.   It’s free, and you get what you pay for.
If you don’t like Outlook.com, you can go to gmail.com or yahoo.com and get a mail account there.   I have them, many folks do.  
I don’t use email from my cable internet provider, Comcast, because I didn’t like the way their interface was either, plus there was a time that I went off of Comcast.  That didn’t work out, and I came back, but I did want something simple and “independent” so I stayed with mostly hotmail.
Since nobody tends to have Just One Computer any more, and email is done just as much from a phone (you know who you are), that adds another layer of complexity to things that I just haven’t solved for myself other than sticking to what I have.   Simply because I can get to a web browser from any computer, and most phones, to answer my email, it makes it more bulletproof for me.
Bottom line is that choice gives you complexity, but if you really want to complain about email, you’ve got to actually pay for it.
Damn Outlook.com.

Sorry Microsoft, Can I Have The Old Hotmail Back?

Ok, I’m not impressed.

First, yes, it’s brand spanking new and that shocks many people.  I’m used to change. Trust me, I’m looking at four computers turned on at the moment, three different operating systems.

It’s just that it has that Metro look and feel.  I’m sorry but if I wanted my operating system and my email client to look like the mass transit system in King County, Washington State, I’d have configured things to look like that.

Email is a Text medium. 

Now that you’ve read that, read it again.  You are sending short messages back and forth in text.  You can add fonts and sparkly bits, but it really isn’t necessary.   Strip all that away and you’re back to the basics.

Yes, you needed to compete with Gmail.  I hate Gmail too for the whole Web As Software experience. 

I guess I’ll have to go back and look to see if my old Hotmail account that I’ve used for well more than 20 years still works with a simple email client.  See the simplicity you wrote out of it with this new transit oriented look is why I kept using Hotmail.  

When I go into one of those web based email systems, the first thing I do is look to see if there is a simplified text interface.  Yes, Text.  No I’m not stuck in the past, you see there are some significant limitations to having all those boxes floating around the screen taking up real estate.  If you have a small screen, it is a big problem.   All the text now has extra blank space around it.  All the boxes are larger.

Ugh.  No thanks. 

Luckily I was able to click on the Outlook “thing” up in the upper left corner and return to the old Hotmail look and feel. . . for now.

You see the way I described things in the last statement?  “The Outlook Thing”?  That’s a big problem.  You see, in the way things look in Windows 7 and before it was very clear that a button was a button, a list box was a list box.  Now with the interface changing to Metro, everything is more indistinct.  More like a paper document.   A Computer Screen is not a paper document.  It makes it more difficult to find where to click to make the action known.  

I just may hang onto my older machines longer until they get this whole Metro look out of their systems.   I’m sorry, that part of Windows, I’m just not a fan.  Having worked with a blind programmer before I saw what sort of challenges a graphical user interface presents to them.  I have to wonder how you’re going to explain to your 90 year old aunt that that blue bar with the white text is actually a button and you have to find just the right spot to click to make it do things.

Really, Metro… not ready for prime time.  At least for me.  I never did like the whole look of construction paper squares cut up to represent things, and don’t like it on my computer or my email.

Hotmail’s Memory Lapse Led to My Confusion

My personal email is on Hotmail. 

Sure, it’s not the sexiest around but I can get it to be as “Old School” as possible.  I have an old enough account that I can use some external software that they turned off because of spammers and scammers.

When it comes to software, I would much rather have something bland in looks that works absolutely fast as possible than something with blinky bits and eye candy.  It doesn’t get the work done, and usually just makes Firefox get fat.  After a week of use, Firefox will bloat up to over 2GB of memory and runs like a slug.  At that point it will simply quit.  Oops Debug Reporter!  Do you want to send us info?

No thanks.

Gmail, being the current darling simply annoys me.  I can’t shake the feeling like I’m being watched, and the software is constantly doing things in “background” when I’m trying to do things in “foreground”.

Today after answering an email from Kevin I found myself with a message from my sister.   It pointed to a link on a website with a long list of holiday recipes for cakes, cookies and the like.  Great!  A challenge in the Kitchen!  Gives me an excuse to bake for a change and a new recipe is usually fun for a meal or two. 

Clicking on a recipe, then a second I hit a dead link.  Odd.  Ok, lets try another.  That worked but the fourth failed.  One thing I know about getting spam is that those sorts of links tend to be fairly accurate.  This wasn’t your typical Russian site trying to entice you to look at all the pretty bodies and infect you with a virus – sometimes that can be preferrable to the real thing.  This was a holiday list of recipes!

So I sent Pat back a “thanks for the challenge and I’ll be trying some of these” quickie email.  When I got the original message back, I had a chuckle.

It was from October 2009.

Hotmail seems to have a bug that when you read and respond to a message, after you delete the original, it will select a message at random from way back when and put it up there.   I usually “catch” them but this time, the worst thing happened… I wrote an email to my sister!


Well, Pat, Yes, I did in fact lose my mind.

So if you are curious, you can find the page with all the recipes on it here.  I’ll be visiting that later to see what looks good.