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.”
What I should have done was google the site. If I had, I would have seen these autocompletes*:
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…
Today I logged into one of my secondary Gmail accounts – I have around 20, not all in use and, yes, I know it is a sickness – to play with a filter and check the spam box and I was given the warning you get every now and again from Google to ensure that the information for password recovery of your Google Account is current. Google warns you as you can see in the picture above “Don’t wait until it’s too late.” Once they have your attention they go on to tell you that, “[u]sers without recovery options are 9 times more likely to lose access to their accounts. Protect your account by making sure your password recovery options are up-to-date.” Sounds like it something we should all make sure we are up to date on, right?
Below that line we get the option of changing/setting the phone number that our Google Account is associated with for the purpose of recovering our passwords via SMS (which is another name for a text message and stands for “Short Message Service”). Below that is the line that got me thinking tonight and is the root cause of the little tip I have for you. It also gave rise to the comment on 21st Century culture and society which I have been considering since I thought of this – don’t ask how my brain works and why it goes in the directions it does…it just does and I have long learned to stop trying to reign it in and enjoy the rides it takes me on.
“Recovery email address.” That is pretty important and I would hazard a guess that it is more likely than our phone numbers to change. Why do I say this? Well, think about it, a lot of people my age and younger use their Gmail as their primary email account for their personal lives. A work email address is somewhat of a temporary thing with the frequency we change jobs these days. In fact, the email address I had listed in that line was my old York University student email address. I haven’t used that email address in forever and I know that York switched my email to some alumni email address which I never use either so the idea that this was my recovery email address was somewhat perturbing to say the least. I switched the email address to my main Gmail address but still felt it wasn’t the best choice I could have made for my own security. But what could I do? As I said, this wasn’t something I particularly wanted to think about – or ever have to think about – again. If I made it a work email that would be just one more thing I would have to think of when/if I changed jobs.
It was then that it dawned on me, the recovery email address was very much akin to a spare house key in this day and age.
Think about it, we give our spare house keys to our family members or good friends who live nearby or if we don’t have either of those, a neighbor who we trust. We will even often trade keys with those same people because you never know what kind of emergency situation can arise and it is always good to have that spare key handy. Sure, we can go out and buy one of those fake rocks or set up some sort of elaborate hiding place but it is just way, way easier to trust someone else with a copy of our key for emergency situations.
Once I realized this I went back into the “Google Accounts – Recovering your password” settings page and made the recovery email address one of my best friend’s email addresses (I, of course, consulted with him before doing this).
I am now secure in knowing that my friend always has my back and is my backup for my email password recovery. Further, if anything ever happened to me – a boy scout is always prepared – he can easily access my email if the need arises. Oh, and one very important thing – I trust him completely.
What do you think? Good idea? Is my comparison accurate?
Key clip art image taken from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=key&ex=1#ai:MC900054950|
The other day when I was planning a trip to a friend’s house I did what I am sure many of us do on a fairly regular basis, went to Google Maps to visualize the route and see approximately how long the drive would take and how far it would be. Unfortunately, I forgot my buddy’s address where I had written it down earlier in the day but then I remembered I had saved it into my Gmail Contacts so getting it would be a breeze! But I was feeling sort of lazy so I decided to see what Google Maps would do if I just typed in the name of my friend as they are saved in my contact list. Read more…
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.
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!
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.
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.