Category Archives: gmail

Tango to FaceTime, “Move Over”

There’s a new cross-platform video calling app that just became available called Tango. There are versions for both the iPhone as well as Android. Tango does what Apple’s FaceTime does, except it also does it cross-platform as well as via 3G. Apple’s integrated video calling app FaceTime works only with iPhone 4’s and via WiFi data network connectivity.

I called a friend that has an iPhone 4 with my Sprint HTC Evo via Tango. Both of us were in moving vehicles in different parts of the country, and both of us were on 3G networks – my friend obviously on AT&T with his iPhone 4 in the Miami, Florida area, and me being on Sprint 3G on I-81 in Virginia. Tango took advantage of the forward-facing cameras both in my friend’s iPhone 4 as well as in my HTC Evo.

Overall the experience was quite impressive. If you have either an iPhone or Android phone, download the free Tango app and give it a try.

One really strange quirk with Android phones is that there can be two phone books – the “phone” phone book and the Gmail phone book. Tango relies exclusively on the “phone” Android phone book, so keep that in mind when looking for and/or setting up contacts to work with Tango.

Gmail Makes a Change I Can Applaud!

I have been a Gmail user since its public launch in 2007.  I have two active accounts, and use it for a variety of things, including listservs.  For the most part, I like Gmail, but there was one large glaring problem that I complained about from day one.  That problem was message threading.  I despise message threading.  It complicates what was visually uncomplicated for me before.  I know there have been debates on the value of threading, and people I talk to fall on both sides of the fence.

And now, in Google’s usual style, they’ve created the option for users to choose threaded (“conversation”) or non-threaded settings.

Finally.  I’ve been begging for an end to threading of email messages for more than three years.  I use Outlook at work, and Thunderbird at home, and Yahoo Mail and WindowsLive mail and other web-based email that does not thread, and I’m used to it and I like it that way.  Visually, non-threaded email is what I want, and the threading in Gmail had actually kept me from using Gmail for more things.

Now, I can consider it as more than a secondary, used only for a few things email box and pull it into my regular routine.  The change has not rolled to my gmail account yet, but Google promises it will within the next few days.  I can’t wait!

3 Of The Best Apps For Gmail

A lot of us use Gmail.  It’s the email of choice these days (yes, I know that Hotmail is still the leader in user total).  But some of you may not know that there are actually a lot of add-ons available for Gmail – both from third-parties and from Google themselves via their Labs feature.  If you haven’t checked out Labs the click on that beaker icon at the top of your Gmail screen.  Here are three apps from third-parties.


Boomerang allows you to schedule your email – both sending and receiving.  It’s a free download and there’s also a version for Outlook in case you’re stuck in that world.

It’s compatible with both Firefox (PC and Mac) and Chrome (PC and Mac).  It allows you schedule when you receive email by providing a “Receive Later” button in Gmail.  You choose a time when you want to deal with said message  and that that prescribes time the message will be moved back to your Inbox.  That’s nice, but more importantly, it provides a “Send Later” button for email that you compose.  This can be really handy, especially if you have something like a mailing lsit for announcements.  It allows you to get the message drafted and ready to go, but sends it when it will be relevant.


FollowUpThen is a free service that doesn’t even require a sign-up.  It allows you to add a follow-up date or time in in the CC or BCC field of an email such as or oer and it will then send a reminder if there has been no follow up.  If you included the address in the CC field then the reminder will go to both you and the email recipient.  If you used the BCC field then the reminder will go only to you and the recipient will never know.  They will only send one reminder so you don’t need to worry about being overwhelmed.  However some recipients may not be very receptive to have their email address given out to a third-party.


Some of you may already be familiar with Backupify.  It actually does a lot more than backup just Gmail.  It also backs up Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google Docs, Picasa, Photobucket, Delicious, Hotmail, Friendfeed, Basecamp, Zoho, Blogger and WordPress.  There’s also a business version that handles a little bit more.  It’s easy to set up and once you’re done then backups are automatic.  Every Friday I get an email telling me it has done a backup and the services it did.  If you tried it early on after it’s launch in 2009 then you may have experienced some problems with Gmail, which initially recognized it as an attack and prompted users to change their Gmail password.  But, that problem has been ironed out and it seems to be rock-steady now.  I have not had to do a restore yet, but I’ve read over the process and it seems straight-forward.  This may be the best, and most versatile of the three apps I just mentioned.  And, as a bonus, it handles so much more than just Gmail.

IDC Predicts Big Change in IT and Telecoms

The analysts over at IDC reckon that 2010 is going to be a year of “recovery and transformation”.  On the recovery side, they’re expecting global IT spending to increase by 3.2%, returning to 2008 levels but a large chunk of this spending is going to occur in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

But more interestingly, the transformation part is going to be increased adoption of  cloud services and the arrival of “enterprise-grade cloud services” and complementary application platforms.  IDC thinks this will be the most important development for the next 20 years particularly when linked in with the growth in mobile devices.

Regarding mobile, IDC sees these competing with PCs as user’s main devices, with over 1 billion mobile devices, fuelled by increasing adoption of smartphones and Apple’s iPad tablet.  They predict over 300,000 iPhone apps and 5x growth in Android apps.  Interestingly, they also predict “apps stores” for netbooks, which I think has already been evidenced by moves from Intel.

Other predictions include “socialytic” apps which mashup business apps with social networks, further reductions in CO2 through IT solutions and more mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

Personally, I think the cloud services linked to mobile devices is right on the money.  I’ve recently started using a Palm Pre and it links to several on-line services including Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote.  Looking at just Google, there are connections to Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Reader and I’m expecting Tasks, Documents and Notebook to be available before long.  So I’m already living in the cloud and I love it.

The whole press release is over at IDC.

Is Google going to crack?

googlechromelogoWith great interest I have been following the news articles and rumors of the upcoming Google OS release.  I am trying to wrap my mind around the Google business plan.  From search engine to online advertising dominance to Gmail to Google docs to Google Code to Google Mobile OS Android to Google Chrome to Google Wave to Google Voice to Google Chrome OS.  Not to mention a few other less known projects and discontinued items.  It is apparent that Google wants to control/manipulate our online life. And of course bring in a few billion advertising dollars.

So tell me what is different about Google than the “Ma Bell” days of yesteryear?  Google has the cash to buy pretty much any start-up it wants.  Google has the brain power to create pretty much any product it wants.  Google has and wants it all.  Or does it?  Google is still a company.  The larger the company the more difficult it becomes to maintain a cohesive core business.  The more difficult it becomes to truly allow creativity and innovation within.  The more difficult it becomes to maintain quality and support.  The harder it becomes to truly keep the user’s data and best interest in mind.  Eventually what goes up must come down.  Even the mightiest companies weaken, create spin-offs, and face downsizing.

As much as I love the Google products I am beginning to wonder, how much more diverse can they go before we see some cracks in the chrome?

Google, My Google!

google2I came into work late this morning due to some car trouble, and walked into my computer lab on campus to a choruses of “there’s something wrong with the Internet!”  It’s finals week, so of course there is a lot of anxiety anyway, but mess with these kids’ Internet, and they lose their minds.

Turns out it wasn’t the Internet.  It was Google.  I logged into my desktop machine and tried to launch Gmail, which is one of the first things I do on any given morning, and it would not load.  Oddly enough, neither would the Google home page.  Nor YouTube.  This last one was probably the thing that sent the lab kids over the edge.  They spend half their days on YouTube.

For me, the loss of Gmail is critical, closely followed by Google docs and then the Google search homepage, which I must use a hundred times a day.  By noon, everything was back up and running just fine, but that two hours or so while I couldn’t access some things was pretty tense.  Most of us probably don’t think too much about how much time we spend using Google products, and what a show-stopper it is when it isn’t working.  For me, it impacted me for a couple of hours, but apparently the outage happened much earlier than my arrival at work and for some lasted about four hours or so.

Google is not yet revealing what the problem is, but promises to do so soon.  I am wondering what the explanation will be when it comes out.

And in the end, what risk are we taking by putting so many eggs in the Google basket?  I like their products and use them regularly, but extended down-time can be a real deal killer.  I don’t have a job where anything that was caught up in a short Google outage is going to keep me from getting my job done, but an extended outage could lead to very real consequences.

Things to ponder on a Thursday.