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Posts Tagged ‘Gmail’

SkillPages Email Spamming: A Warning, a Story, an Apology, & a P.S.A.

March 21, 2013 23 comments

SkillPages Home Page edit with spam notification

First, an apology to all of my contacts who I inadvertently spammed. I got taken in by SkillPages a service that is gaining users by spamming contacts of new members as soon as they sign up to the site.

I guess this is going to happen to the best of us sooner or later and it happened to me today. Even though I am generally super, duper cautious about what apps and sites I allow to access my data today I slipped up and the results were…horrible.  I received the below email this afternoon and thought to myself “Cool! A new site for connecting from a business perspective. Being the social media addict that I am I’ve got to check it out. As well, I know Jamie and he is a good guy who I trust not to send me spam. I am going to have to check this site out.”

SkillPages Spam Invite in Gmail

What I should have done was google the site. If I had, I would have seen these autocompletes*:

SkillPages Google Autocomplete

The above does not look like the kind of site I want to be associated with or allow to have my information without a lot more research. The third result is VIRUS for crying out loud! That is not promising but it gets worse.. Below is a screenshot of the Google search results for just the word “SkillPages”*: Read more…

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The Problem With Gmail’s New Look – A Lack Of Color

November 11, 2011 2 comments

I know a bunch of people have written about the new look to Gmail since it was officially launched in the beginning of November (Google blogged about it here). Some people are complaining about the way it was reorganized or certain specific changes like losing text labels and turning them to graphics – most of which I agree with – but no one that I have seen has discussed the lack of color in the new Gmail and how that affects efficiency when composing an email.

What do I mean by this? Well take a look at the old Compose Email interface from Gmail previous to their change at the beginning of this month. When I am referring to the color I am not talking about the overall light blue coloring because while that’s nice and all, it seems to be a simple theme change that can still, I think, be achieved within Gmail. What I am referring to is the way that the highlight color icon has a ‘T’ with a yellow background and a small highlighter with a bright yellow tip. At a glance, I can immediately find this when I am composing an email because my eyes are immediately drawn to the bright yellow. Similarly, to the highlight option’s left is the Text Color option which has the same ‘T’ only next to it is a color palette of six different colors. Again, that makes sense logically and conveys the message of what the button does without any words AND the user’s eyes can quickly and easily find it. There is almost no learning curve or memorization required here – it just makes sense.

Now let’s look at the new Compose Email interface and look at those same exact buttons. You’ll notice that everything is in the exact same order as it used to be but the loss of color on the buttons makes a huge difference when trying to find specific options at a glance.

For some reason, someone at Gmail/Google decided that instead of having a ‘T’ on a yellow background it would make more sense to just put the T on a gray field. Next to it, is a picture of an ‘A’ which is underlined which somehow is supposed to tell me that it is the text color option. The only reason I can think of to switch the symbols themselves – never mind the lack of color – was to make it match the Microsoft Word buttons for the same option but even here Gmail’s designers did a halfway job.

Above, you can see the same buttons taken from Microsoft Word 2010 and while the Gmail Text Color option does match Word 2010’s in terms of formatting it only does so if we assume that everyone who is using Gmail/Word 2010 only sees in black and white. As well, if the point here was to copy the Microsoft buttons why did they only copy some of them and not go whole hog and copy them all? However, I must reiterate that the most important issue for me here is the complete lack of color. I am well aware that it is only taking me an extra couple of seconds per email to format things the way I want them formatted but the reasoning for just getting rid of all the colors – which are helpful visual cues – just eludes me.

Has anyone else found this to be annoying as well? Did I just bring something to your attention I shouldn’t have because now I’ve ruined it for you too? (If so sorry.) Or am I totally alone on this? Let me know!

As for Gmail – do you think you could give us the option to turn colors in the Compose Screen back on? That’d be swell!

April Fools’ Day 2011 – My Favorite Pranks

April 6, 2011 2 comments

This year I saw a number of pranks put out there some more amusing than others. One, I took part in on a different blog I write for where we center on cellular devices. We announced at 12:01 AM on April 1 that we had managed to obtain pictures of the iPhone 5. I actually wrote the blog post and made the rudimentary graphic which said “Gotcha!” and wished every one of our readers a happy April Fools’ Day 2011. Apparently people really enjoyed the joke and playing it on their friends because the blog post was retweeted on Twitter 90 times and shared across the internet many, many more times.

As well, Google put out a number of different ‘pranks’ including one where if you typed the name of the very popular font “Helvetica” into Google the results all appeared in the much maligned “Comic Sans” font as seen in the picture below from Huffington Post (the ‘prank’ is no longer live) article about it.

Google played another bunch of jokes on all of us including the idea of Gmail Motion where people would supposedly be able to compose emails and control Gmail entirely via making motions at their webcams. This, naturally, led to a bunch of people over at ICT MxR Lab making it a reality using the Microsoft XBOX 360 Kinect sensor as reported by Tom’s Guide among numerous other places. I have attached the YouTube video of “Gmail Motion” in action using the ICT MxR Lab’s Microsoft XBOX 360 Kinect software below.

However, one of my favorite pranks was definitely the one covered by TheCellularGuru today which surfaced on Reddit yesterday: A news anchor in San Diego on Fox 5 channeled the spirit of the great Ron Burgundy and pranked his fellow co-anchor. What he did was he downloaded an app that made beer pouring noises and poured “beer” into a glass on the screen of an iPad. He then, with the help of the entire news crew of Fox 5, convinced his female co-anchor that she should be able to smell the beer poured. When she was not able to smell it he looked at her befuddled and said, “OK, well then, you should be able to taste it! Lick the screen, and you will be able to taste it.”

This being a live news cast in the morning, the co-anchor complied after a couple of seconds of convincing and, well, check out the video linked below to see what happened.

http://www.fox5sandiego.com/videobeta/43bd961c-2bb5-42c3-906c-83fc00649f89/Entertainment/Shally-Falls-for-April-Fools-Prank

As of right now this can also be viewed on YouTube here http://youtu.be/isUFXNYT80k I also embedded it below but I put the above video first because it is official and who knows how much longer this viral video will be available via the YouTube link.

Raoul Martinez, in my mind you definitely won April Fools’ Day 2011, pranking someone on live TV during a news broadcast is just absolute, sheer genius! However, if I were you I’d be on the lookout for April Fools’ Day 2012 when your co-anchor Shally Zomorodi is probably going to be getting you back. Remember, revenge is a dish best served cold!

Linksys wrt160n SERIOUS Issues! And their Twitter PR people are INCOMPETENT!

March 15, 2010 6 comments
I have loved using Linksys routers (made by Cisco) for a long time now and recently we bought a new router from Linksys to replace our old wrt54g – the wrt160n version 3.
A bunch of months ago – this goes back to at least Oct. 2009 – we began to notice that every so often our wrt160n would start redirecting us to weird places – going to http://www.Twitter.com would redirect us to some random “About Me” blog on blogger (and our browser would still think we were @ twitter.com). An example of this can be seen as recently as the writing of this post when I tried to find something on Twitter and this screenshot below was my result (obviously edited for privacy reasons) notice the address in the address bar):
Then in December Linksys-Cisco released a new firmware update for the router. I was overjoyed thinking that FINALLY they were going to be fixing this issue in the new updated firmware…Alas, it was not to be.
I found out recently that I am not alone! There is in fact a 7 page thread on the Linksys by Cisco forum all about this issue. The posters also talk about how they have spoken to Linksys tech support who denied knowing anything about the issue (and these instances even happened after other people had posted on the forum talking about talking to tech support and describing the problem). For the forum thread go to http://forums.linksysbycisco.com/linksys/board/message?board.id=Wireless_Routers&thread.id=146716&view=by_date_ascending&page=1
There have also been a number of other blog posts about this issue – see the blog posting by Jacob Friedman from Jan 28, 2010 on thenextweb.com @ http://thenextweb.com/us/2010/01/28/linksys-to-customers-enjo-our-new-random-page-function/ (he also says there is the same problem with the Linksys WRT310N version 2) and a post by Bill Gerrard from Feb 9, 20190 http://www.billgerrard.com/linkSys-by-cisco-wrt160n-wireless-internet-router-dns-resolver-flaw/
Someone on the LinksysByCisco forum also posted a feed of the redirect happening to them @ http://screencast.com/t/MzgyZmVhYzgt
These blogs and on the above mentioned forum thread all have suggested answers to the problem which include loading the DD-WRT firmware (found @ www.dd-wrt.com/) or switching your computer to a Static DNS so it doesn’t use the router’s DNS (which is obviously corrupted). The problem with the solutions above is that with DD-WRT is a firmware that is made by people other than Linksys and Cisco and while I know it is often seen as being a better option I don’t think I should be forced to go download firmware not covered under my Linksys Cisco warranty to make my Linksys Cisco product work properly. To the other solution, a Static DNS, what happens when other people are trying to use our network or we take one of our netbooks or laptops out of the house? What a pain that will become on both ends. Especially living with non-tech oriented people and being their sole tech support option and being blamed for any and everything that “goes wrong” with technology in the house even if it isn’t your fault!
When I tweeted about the issue a number of times on Feb 25th one of the first tweets reading:

“Serious DNS fubar w/ linksys wrt160n v3 & cisco unresponsive! See 6pg thread@ linksys forum http://is.gd/8LlJg- @theiprgroup @LinksysCanada

as you can see I tagged both @LinksysCanada (described on their own Twitter page as – Linksys by Cisco; Location Toronto, Canada; Bio News, conversation and updates from Linksys by Cisco Canada. Find us on Facebook – Linksys by Cisco Canada. Maintained by the PR peeps at the @theiprgroup) and @theiprgroup I got this nonsensical reply from them:

“I’m sorry you are having problems. What tool bar are you using?”

…Huh? tool bar? What tool bar am I using? I was so confused by this response I replied:

“not sure I undrstnd ur questn as to “What Tool Bar” Im usin. U mean Router FirmWare Version? The latest 1! Ver 3.0.02 B”

They then gave me this sage advice:

I think the best option to fix your problem is to go to http://www.linksysbycisco.com/CA/en/support
REALLY??? Great call PR group! You suggested I go to a site I have clearly already been to…or didn’t you follow the link my first tweets and read the tweet in its entirety…tweets are only 140 characters, they do not take a long time to read! But being the nice guy I am I decided I would respond to their ‘advice’ and explain to them again that:

I have already & so have many others discussin the issue on linksys’ forums See 6pg thread@ http://is.gd/8LlJg

No response from them.

So I sent two more tweets on the topic:

c the forum thread post #30 on 01-18-2010 thru #46 on 02-17-2010 4 diff ppl had linksys phone supp deny knowledge of the prob

consider thats just 4 ppl who posted on forum AND mentioned they calld tech supp prob many more calld linksys & heard denials

And still not a word from them til this day!
Also to this day Linksys-Cisco Tech Support is still DENYING that the problem is on their end – here is one of the latest posts by Ossmo02 posted at 2010-03-15 12:37 PM on the LinksysByCisco forum in the thread linked above and @ http://forums.linksysbycisco.com/linksys/board/message?board.id=Wireless_Routers&thread.id=146716&view=by_date_ascending&page=7 if you are feeling lazy:

just got off the phone with the tech support, they had me change the laptop DNS back to automatic & reset my router, it seems to be working, but we will see for how long. They said if it happes again it could be my ISP or browser, seems that has been ruled out here though.

Tsk, tsk.
Linksys and Cisco I think it is about time that you dealt with this issue! Release an upgraded version of the firmware already! OR admit that there is a problem with these routers and issue a recall. You also might want to look into the PR group you have hired who are taking care of your online presence and the level of incompetence with which they represent your company…you guys are a tech company remember? A tech company whose business is getting people online, networking, and using the internet.
UPDATE: More examples of the Twitter.com redirect which just happened again after a router reset – yes, this is how often it happens, within HOURS.
Here is the blog I am redirected to – notice how my address bar still says I am at http://www.twitter.com
And here is the “About Me” section from that blog. Who is this person? Notice how the “My Web Page” link which I have highlighted goes to some Twitter? Blogger? account with the name “yonemans”. Weird!

Google Sync Is Messed Up! Don’t Use It!

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I currently use a BlackBerry Bold 9700 (aka the Bold 2) and this post is in regard to the Google for Mobile application for BB called Google Sync.

I have tried to use the GoogleSync app for BlackBerry and in its current incarnation I can only warn others to stay away from it.

Why you ask? A number of reasons:

1) If the app sees your BlackBerry has too many items listed in it vs what it will sync to your Gmail contact list it just deletes the extraneous stuff.

2) The app doesn’t have a log of what exactly it did other than to tell you the number of contacts “updated”, “deleted”, or “new” this is extremely problematic when you consider reason #1 when it deletes info from your contact list and there isn’t even a log file to tell you what exactly it has done.

3) The app doesn’t allow you to set which contact list – BB or Gmail takes precedence on conflict between the two.

Now for the real world application of the problems the above result in. I decided after having a couple of issues with the app previously to try it again but this time to use one of my random Gmail addresses that I never really use and has no contacts saved in it (and before I started I made sure to delete the 2 contacts that were in the Gmail contact list).
I then downloaded Google Sync for BB to my 9700 and ran it, setting it to log into the Gmail address which had no contacts stored.
The results?

Last Succesful Sync
New Contacts 706
Deleted Contacts 0
Updated Contacts 9

Updated Contacts 9???? What!?!?!?!
How could it have updated contacts when there weren’t any contacts within the Gmail account? What did GoogleSync update the contacts against? Further, what contacts did it “update” (read ‘change and delete some possibly important info’). There is no log of this info so am I now going to either have to go through all 700+ contacts and find where the info I am missing is and attempt to get it back OR just wait for the one day when I need this info and find out that I don’t have it because Google Sync decided to delete it.

Good thing I backed up my BB before this experiment! However, this post is a warning to warn anyone else off from using Google Sync for BlackBerry until A LOT of improvements are made to the software.

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