One of the biggest products from Google is Google Mail (Gmail). As of December 2009, Gmail had 176 million users on a monthly basis and with good reason. Once you are used to the interface which is a conversation type of view, Gmail has some very good features beginning with 7.5 GB and increasing storage. You also can attach up to 25GB of files. Where does one start? Let's start with the contacts list. You can sort by first or last name as you can do with most contacts. What I noticed is for business contacts, not all webmail sorts correctly by business name. Gmail's contact list sorts businesses properly regardless of the sort.
Have you ever sent an email and right away realized that you forgot to include an attachment? Enable "Undo Send" for Gmail labs and you have the ability to undo a sent email for up to 30 seconds after hitting "Send". Recently, Google implemented Google Voice which enables free calling to the US and Canada using Gmails Google Chat interface.
When composing an email, has there ever been an issue where your browser crashes? The autosave feature of Gmail automatically saves a copy of the email you are working on. It starts saving once minute and then varies according to the size of the message. No more having your browser crash and losing an email that you have been working on for the past 15 minutes.
Gmail also works with your Google Calendar. You can accept an invite received on a Gmail and post it directly to your calendar in Google.
If you receive email from someone you do not wish to receive it from, you can easily set up a filter so that it does not go to your inbox (usually Trash).
Searching within Gmail is very easy. There is a search bar in the upper left of the Gmail page and put your search term in. Searching for a person or an email address is done the same way and again very easy.
In all once you learn to use the interface, you will appreciate how powerful and good an email toolGmail is.
A note that future blogs will look at the webmail for AOL, Windows Live Hotmail, and Yahoo.
What would happen on a trip if you were to lose your passport, credit cards, driver's license, etc? I find it to be a good idea to scan all except the credit cards and then save it as a word file using Microsoft Word (MS Word). As for the credit cards, I make a list of that using MS Excel. I have the name of the card in one column and the card number in another column. You can also do a list in MS Word. Using MS Excel is a personal preference.
In saving these files I make sure to password protect them. Since the method to password protect a file differs by program used and version of that program you need to go to the help section to determine how to password protect the file. I then email the file to myself. What I am doing here is adding an extra layer of security to information that if it fell into the wrong hands would make me more susceptible to identity theft. One would need to know both my email password as well as the password I am using to protect the respective files that contain this sensitive data. I would suggest making the passwords for your email and files different.
One does not have to limit to just credit cards, passport and drivers license. Scanning current drug prescriptions you are using and saving them to a word type file is another good idea where you have a copy of the prescription. This way if you were to lose the prescription drugs you had packed, you should have an easier time refilling it. You can also put the numbers of your travelers checks in a file as well. I also keep my phonebook in my Google contacts list so should I need a number I can get it wherever I have an internet connection which would include my smartphone.
Doing all of these is not a magic bullet should you have a loss. It will however make it easier to travel and in the case of a passport get a replacement more easily in the event of losing any important documents. I would also suggest that you avoid using an unsecured public wireless network to obtain any of this. If you have a smartphone, you can likely access this information using it. That said another way to store your files is if you are using a syncing program likeDropbox or Sugarsync. You can log onto the one you are using to access the information in question. I will suggest here that you do not save this information on the hard drive of any computers you may be travelling with. Better that it is in the cloud where the data and you are not in the same place. Also should your computer get lost or stolen, you can still access it from another computer. If anyone is interested in opening a Dropbox account let me know before setting up your account. I will send you an invite to join Dropbox and both of us will get an extra 250mb of free storage. A win/win for both of us. Note: as I mentioned in my blog last week, you cannot upload or save a password protected file in Google Docs.
Hopefully you will never need to access these files in an emergency. However, having them in an emergency can make your life easier when it occurs.
When many people first got a personal email account it was an America Online (AOL) one. Their browser was user friendly and the easy to navigate AOL features that were user friendly. We remember the old AOL CDs that were mailed out and in stores all over. There was the monthly subscription fee which enabled access to a dial up connection and all the other AOL features.
Today having an AOL email address is free. That is one of the changes that AOL has made over the years. Another change is they are no longer known as America Online but rather the initials AOL.
Like Gmail discussed in a previous blog, attachments are limited to 25mb. AOL however does have unlimited storage. There also is a filter for incoming emails that allows you to handle them in the manner you choose depending on the criteria that is set. You still have the option of playing a sound when new mail arrives. Some of us may remember "You've Got Mail" when there was a new message in your inbox. Well when you sign into your AOL account using the AOL browser, you still get that message when you have new email.
One of the better features of AOL mail is when replying to someone else's email you have the ability to highlight any text from the stream that you want to remain in your email that you are preparing, then click the "Reply" button. It will then automatically list the highlighted text, with a header on it in your email. You also have the ability to block email from specific addresses you specify. This filter can also be set to allow email from specific addresses as well.
I am not too comfortable with the interface of the Contacts List. For starters there is nowhere to input a website address. The contacts do not open quickly as well. The contacts can be found easily in AOL mail on the left hand side. When using the AOL browser it is not as easy. If you are not familiar using the AOL browser you may forget that it is in the "Mail" menu under "Address Book".
There is also no automatic save feature like there is when using Gmail. You need to click on "Save Draft" otherwise you could lose the email you are preparing should your computer freeze or another issue arises.
There are those who may like AOL with their own browser. It is not for everyone but those who have been using it for many years may feel comfortable with its familiarity.