Posts Tagged ‘calendar’

Make Calls, Calendar Update, Double Sent Mail

This entry is part 22 of 23 in the series White Belt

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Make Voice Calls

Good news for Gmail users. Gmail has enabled voice calling from within Gmail. Now you can use your computer’s microphone and speakers (or a USB headset if you like) to make outgoing calls for free in U.S. or Canada and very inexpensive calls many other countries.

To see if you have this feature yet, just look on the left side of your screen under chat and look for the option “Call Phone”. Just click on it and enter a contact’s name or start dialing. The other person does not need to have a Gmail account to make this work. You can call mobile phones or land lines. If you happen to have a Google Voice account associated with your Gmail account, the receiving party will see the incoming call with your Google voice number. If you choose, incoming calls to your Google Voice number can be received right from within Gmail. Now I’m really glad I put that Google Voice number on my latest business cards!

FYI – you will need to install the voice and video chat plugin which you can get at gmail.com/videochat.

Other Internet telephony providers have typically charged for outgoing phone calls. Companies like Skype are extremely inexpensive, but free trumps cheap any day for me.

So far, I have only received one call from someone using Gmail. A couple nights ago I received a call on my mobile phone from my friend Kreg in South Carolina who couldn’t resist testing it out before me. The call quality was about the same as typical mobile phone, with the notable exception of any dropouts hiccups or other artifacts typically associated with mobile calls. It wasn’t quite as good as our Skype to Skype calls, but to call computer to phone for free, I’d say it warrants more usage. Based on initial reports of 1,000,000 calls in the first 24 hours, I’d say it’s off to a good start.

Google reports that all US Gmail accounts have the new feature enabled and they will be rolling it out to other countries soon.

Recurring Event Update

If you haven’t done so recently, take a look at the details of a Google Calendar event. There are now two tabs: one for the event details and one to help you find a time with another Google invitee. They also cleaned up the recurring appointment functionality. When you click on the “repeat” checkbox just under the event title, a new window appears with the details of the event. It is now much easier to create a recurring event, although I still don’t see a “Last” feature for my meeting that happens on the last Wednesday of the month.

Double Sent Mail Bug Fixed

Finally, there were some reports of some Gmail messages being re-sent automatically that affected hundreds of users. Google Employee “Mr Evan” reports that the issue has now been resolved. While this wasn’t a widespread problem, it certainly was annoying when a Gmail user sent a message only to get a response back saying “I already got your message.” If you were affected, rest assured that this bug is resolved.

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Multiple Google Calendar Sync With iPhone

This entry is part 26 of 27 in the series Black Belt

I love my iPhone4 and I love Google calendar. What I didn’t like was how difficult it was to pull these two together. Until now…

About a year ago I setup my iPod Touch to sync with my Google calendar, my wife’s calendar, and a couple others. I recall going to the various calendar settings to get obscure IDs, then setting each one as a separate account in the device’s settings, and modifying URLs under the advanced settings. To say it was painful was an understatement.

Last night when I started looking for those old Google help files, I was surprised to find a much easier way.

The short answer,

  1. Point your mobile browser to http://m.google.com/sync,
  2. Choose which calendars you want to sync
  3. Go look at your calendar on your iPhone and you’ll see the new calendars show up.

It’s as simple as that. I’ve done this on my iPhone 4 and my iPad and just love having the various calendars at my fingertips to avoid the annoying situation where I book an appointment when my wife already had something in that spot.

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Contextual Apps and Calendar Update

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Gmail Master
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This past week Microsoft announced several additions to Hotmail in order to better compete with Gmail. Â No, I am not changing this from the Gmail Podcast to the Hotmail Podcast. We Gmail users snickered because many of these features like conversation view, and one-click filtering have been in Gmail for years . Within hours of the Microsoft announcement, Gmail upped the ante by announcing an API, or application programming interface, to allow developers to create contextual gadgets.
Contextual gadgets allow you to interact with traditional non-email data without leaving your mail application. You may already be using contextual gadgets and not even realize it. Examples include YouTube, photo, and document previews. Watching a video within email is not something email was originally designed to do so Google thought it would be a great idea to look for YouTube (and similar links) and provide the information right in the message so you don’t have to click and switch to another browser window or application, then come back to manage your email.
Now these features is available to developers outside the Google Domain to extend the functionality of Gmail. Several already exist such as AwayFind that allows you to mark certain contacts or messages as urgent and flag the recipient can be alerted via phone, SMS, or IM. Contextual apps are available for those who host their domain with Google. For example, I can add AwayFind as an available feature to those with chuckchat.com email addresses because the chuckchat.com mail is hosted on Google.
The only information I could find at this time regarding the installation and activation of these apps was an article on CNet.com that Google Apps Administrators can install the contextual gadgets for their users.
When I logged in and went to Manage my chuckchat.com domain, a button appeared on the Dashboard near the top just below the menu bar that said “Continue with setup guide”. When I clicked on it, I was brought to the Google Apps Admin Help screen that has a link at the top to the Google Apps Marketplace. If you want to just look around, use google.com/enterprise/marketplace.
I went ahead and installed and configured AwayFind so I can be alerted via SMS to my Google Voice number when important messages come to a specific domain. It only took a few minutes and is nice to have for certain cases. I can manage the contextual app from the main control panel of the dashboard.
While doing research for this article I noticed that labs are now available in Gmail for hosted domains while themes are not yet an option.
One final thing, Google Calendar got a minor update this past week for the first time in a while. The changes may appear subtle at first. They include some tweaks to the fonts and colors to make them a bit sharper. If you use tasks in Gmail and Calendar, take note that the Tasks link in Calendar has been removed and replaced with a listing under My Calendars. When you turn this pseudo calendar on, the tasks will appear on the right hand side. Managing the tasks in Google Calendar is the same as in Gmail. See the Gmail Podcast archives for more information on tasks.
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Insert Invitation and Drag & Drop Attachments

This entry is part 15 of 23 in the series White Belt

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Adding extra content to a Gmail message just took another giant leap forward this past week with the introduction of two features. The first is Insert Invitation. This feature allows you to stay within Gmail to create a quick appointment and see what is on the other person’s Google calendar if they have it shared with you. This is much easier than the old “Add Appointment” link.

Begin by composing a message and enter the recipients of your message. In my case, I’ll enter my wife’s email address which happens to be a hosted Gmail account and not a gmail.com address. She agreed to share her calendar with me a while ago, but if she wasn’t already setup for that, I would Click the calendar link at the top of Gmail, go to the Other Calendars section on the left, click the link “Add” in the lower right corner of that box and choose “Add friend’s calendar”, and enter her email address to send a request to share the calendar. She has the option of how much information and the amount of control I have, if any, on her calendar. Once she has shared her calendar, it will show up on the left in that Other Calendars section and her appointments will appear in the corresponding color. If you get too many other calendars you can simply click on the name of the calendar and it will turn them off .

With the calendar displayed, let’s got back to Gmail’s Insert Invitation feature. With one or more recipients entered in the address field, I click the Insert Invitation link just below the Subject field and a window pops up with the subject filled in as the “What”. I pick the dates and times for the “When”, and just below that, Gmail displays the availability of all the email recipients who have shared their calendars with me. This makes it much easier to see conflicts and reschedule. While I don’t have too many calendars shared with my friends (yet), I suspect this will be a bigger benefit to companies and other organizations trying to schedule meetings.

The other neat new feature doesn’t need much explanation. It’s a simple feature we’ve all come to expect from graphical computing over the last 25 years to drag items from one window to another. In some rare cases, even web applications allow you to drag files from your local file system to a web application. Gmail offers the ability to attach files simply by dragging them from your desktop, or any other folder to the link that reads Attach a file. This feature currently only supported in FireFox 3.6 and Chrome, but Google promises to support drag and drop attachments in other browsers soon.

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Texting – Part 3

This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

sms_smlThis episode is sponsored by GotoAssist. Try it free for 30 days

Welcome to part 3 of our 3 part series on texting from Gmail and Google applications. If you haven’t listened to parts 1 or 2, you can download them from iTunes or listen directly from the Gmail Podcast blog at chuckchat.com. That information is not required for this podcast, but it makes for a more complete picture of what you can do with Google applications and text messaging.
In parts 1 and 2 I showed you how to send free SMS messages from Gmail and Google Voice. In this part of the series, I cover how to send SMS messages to Google Calendar to quickly create appointments.

Let’s say I want to meet a friend for lunch tomorrow. I simply send a text message to GVENT (48368) with a message “Lunch with Bill at The Point tomorrow noon”. The text message gets sent to Google and put in your calendar. When the appointment is put on your calendar, you receive a text message confirming your appointment.

There are several ways to construct your message. If you remember “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where” you should have no problems. Only “what” and “when” are required. The message format follows the same rules as the Quick Add feature in Google Calendar.
The “what” is any text. The event title is created from this.

“When” is the date and time of your appointment. Leaving the time off makes the appointment an all day event. Using the words “at” or “on” can help Google recognize the when. By default, Google calendar creates one hour appointments. You can optionally specify start and end times or a duration.

You can add people to the guest list if you include “with” and one or more email addresses.

Where is also any text following an “at” or “in”.

Other examples are:

  • Disc golf with Jerry at 6PM
  • Take Cat to Vet Monday 3:00PM
  • National conference 3/15 – 3/20 in Orlando
  • Weekly one-on-one with Jason 10 – 10:30 every Wednesday at Jason’s Office

I use this feature all the time and absolutely love it when my wife tells me something. I can quickly text to Google Calendar and know it will appear our shared family calendar.

Here is some helpful reference information from Google how to create SMS text messages that get turned in to appointments.

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