Archive for the ‘Third Party’ Category

News – August 20, 2010

This entry is part 21 of 23 in the series White Belt

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This past week were three main stories for Gmail and related apps. First, a new labs feature allows you to search in to your Google docs. Next, Gmail on the iPad got a nice touch to clear up some confusion, and finally, Google now supports voice and video chat on Linux.

First up, you can give Gmail the ability to reach in to your Google docs by enabling the labs feature called Apps Search. Turn this on the same way you would any other labs feature by clicking the Settings link in the upper right, click the Labs tab, scroll down to the Apps Search section, click Enable, the click Save Changes at the bottom of the screen. Now when you do a search, Gmail will not only list your search results in a familiar conversation index listing, but also include a section at the bottom for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other Google docs data that matched your search criteria.

As a side note, I noticed that the labs features are now grouped with the enabled labs at the top and the disabled, or available, labs at the bottom. If you’re looking for something new, start scrolling until you get to the Available Labs section to save a bit of time.

Next, Gmail made a slight adjustment to the user interface on the iPad to clear up some confusion that I, and some of you, have experienced. As you may have noticed, when you select messages on the left, a panel appears at the bottom left with buttons for Archive, Delete, and other options. For dealing with individual messages, the buttons on the upper right were used. Thankfully, Google was able to take advantage of CSS3 technology and remove the extra set of buttons on the left. Now when you select multiple messages, they are stacked in the window on the right. The buttons on the lower left never appear and you only need to use the right side buttons for archiving, deleting, and other actions. Perhaps they’ll hear my other request make it easier to apply labels instead of scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

Finally, Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux users can now use voice and video chat. Just visit gmail.com/videochat to download the plugin. Google doesn’t often neglect the Linux community, but they took almost two years to implement this feature. They promise to have RPM support soon.

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Migrating My Email to Gmail

This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Fate conspired against me a couple years ago when I hit the limit on Gmail. If you’re not a Gmail veteran, here’s a quick refresher. When Gmail first came out it offered a whopping 1GB of storage for free. This was far larger than the 10MB my ISP was offering at the time. By mid-2007 the capacity was up to 2GB – and still free. Who was I to complain… Until late 2007 when I ran out of space.

My solution at the time was to start up Mozilla Thunderbird and use IMAP protocol to download all the messages to my local PC, then wipe Gmail clean. Sure it kept the file attachments, but I lost all my labels. I could still search through the archive and rebuild my email in the cloud.

Sadly (for me), only a few months later, Gmail capacity started shooting up again… 3GB… 4GB… 5GB… 6GB… 7GB… in a matter of months. It figures. Now everytime I want to find something I have to search two places when Gmail is large enough to hold the original 2GB, the 2GB I added since then, and still have plenty of space. But how to get my Thunderbird archive back on to Gmail?

Enter Ben Shoemate and his wonderful article explaining it all. Ben made it sound so simple to gather up the email and send it off to Gmail. Except I had problems.

I couldn’t get Gmail to recognize the server on my machine. Long story short, it turned out to be my Windows XP Firewall settings. Although I believed my exception in the port listing did the trick, it did not. I had to completely stop the service in order to make contact between any other machine and port 110 (POP3) on my machine.

What’s more, once I made contact, I had problems authenticating. Solution: I had to create another account and transfer the email messages (again) from one local IMAP account to another. A little time consuming, but soon I’ll have all my email safely back in Gmail’s hands.

And if you really don’t believe all your data is safe in the cloud, you can always use Gmail Backup to keep a copy.

Thanks Ben!

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Gboard – The Gmail Keyboard

gboard-gmail-keyboardOK, I recognize that not everyone uses my personal favorite Gmail feature, keyboard shortcuts. For those who would rather reach for a mouse to archive, label, or reply, I offer the Gboard – the keyboard made especially for Gmail users.

The Gboard reminds me of those numeric keypads you can add if you do a lot of number entry on a laptop (for example.) The Gboard is priced at $19.95. While I don’t have personal experience, I am working on procuring an evaluation unit.

My first impression is, it’s a bit limited. It offers 19 of the total 69 keyboard shortcuts. I’m not sure if it’s quicker to reach for your mouse or a separate keypad, but my recommendation is that you should just start learning shortcut keys. In a few weeks, you’ll have 19 memorized and still have 20 bucks in your pocket.

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Gmail Notifiers Compared

This entry is part 21 of 27 in the series Black Belt

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Using webmail makes sense. It’s easy to access from any computer, and you don’t need to worry about installing and maintaing software, but the drawback is you have to keep a browser window open to know when you have email. The solution to this is to have a small application installed on your machine that monitors your Gmail account and pops up an alert when you get a message.
For notifiers, I found a few options. Gmail Notifier for Windows from Google, Google Notifier for Mac (same thing for Mac with a slightly different name, also available straight from Google), Gmail Notifier from http://gmailnotifier.com, and Notify for the Mac from Vibealicious (http://vibealicious.com/apps/notify/). I know, the names are all very similar.

Let’s start with the one that Google provides at http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/notifier_mac.html called the Gmail Notifier. It’s pretty basic. It supports Windows and Mac, sits in your system tray or menu bar, monitors your Gmail account and pops up when you get a message. Pretty simple to download, install, and be up and running to monitor your Gmail account.

Let’s say you have more than one Gmail account and you chose not to use the multiple account feature on the server to send and receive all your mail in one place. That’s where you might want to use Notify from Vibealicious. It allows you to monitor multiple Gmail accounts at once. It’s only available for Mac, but looks beautiful. It sits in the menu bar with a little icon and number of unread messages next to it. When you click on it, you get a full interface. Like the other tools, Notify is free.

Finally, there is Gmail Notifier from http://gmailnotifier.com. Like Google’s product, it supports both Windows and Mac. Similar to Vibealicious, it also supports multiple accounts. It runs in the system tray (or Mac menu bar) like Google’s tool, and when you click on it, you can pop up an index of all your accounts and how many unread messages are in each. It has simple controls to let you manage the message index and select messages for deletion, mark them as read, etc. It even supports Google Calendar alerts. I was caught off guard by the default alert which announced in a female voice “Incoming messages” with my laptop volume a little high. And of course, it’s free.

Of the three, Gmail Notifier from gmailnotifier.com is my pick for feature robustness and platform compatibility.

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Integrated Gmail

This entry is part 20 of 27 in the series Black Belt

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OK Google users, listen up. If you’re like me and use Gmail, Google Reader, Calendar, and many more apps, you likely find yourself wishing there was one single place to see and manage all that information rather than jumping between many different interfaces and applications.
Even though Google hasn’t come up with a unified interface, there’s a Firefox add-on that can do it for you called Integrated Gmail. It allows you to pull together your Google applications plus third party sites in the Gmail interface.

Listener John writes in that he’s got a netbook and is looking for something to offer him more screen real estate to see his conversation index and messages. I didn’t realize it at first, but Integrated Gmail add-on also offers screen controls to expand the screen usage on the top and left of the screen. Just look for the little green arrows. Whether you are a netbook user or just looking for a page to view all your Google apps, Integrated Gmail is a good choice.
Here’s today’s Quick Tip – Hey Google Voice users, Gmail now has a labs feature that allows you play your voice mail messages right in Gmail. Google Voice is a service that allows people to call one number and ring each of your multiple phones. If you are already a Google Voice user, you are used to getting your voice mail notifications as email. After someone leaves a voice message, you get an email with a transcript of the message (with varying degrees of accuracy) and a link to play the message. Previously, if you used the link it would take you to a different page to play it. By using the labs feature, you can play the message right from within Gmail. To use it, go to Settings, then click on the Labs tab, look for Google Voice player, select enable, and save you changes. Now when you get a message, the player will appear right below the message in Gmail.

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