My First Gmail
Published by Toronto Mike on May 8, 2013 @ 09:50 in Technology
If you're a Gmail user and you visit this page, you'll get an error message and Gmail will redirect to a page that shows the oldest messages from your account. This is the oldest message from my account:
Gmail was launched on April Fool's Day of 2004 and that first email I sent from Gmail is dated June 12, 2004. That means I didn't get my invitation for over two months.
I'm willing to bet one of you was using Gmail before me. Does anyone have an earlier start date with Gmail?
The Problem With Texting
Published by Toronto Mike on March 20, 2013 @ 15:08 in Technology
My brother likes to text. I'm far more likely to get a text from him than an email or instant message, and there's no fear of getting a tweet or Facebook message from him, as he outright rejects social media. He texts me.
I'm not a big fan of texting. I use several devices throughout the day, including a PC, laptop, tablet and smart phone, and an email or Google Chat gets to all of them immediately. A text only goes to one of them.
So email me or Gchat me if you need something. Got that, broseph?
Google Search Keeps Getting Better
Published by Toronto Mike on March 18, 2013 @ 17:17 in Technology
I just Googled 'leafs'. Here's the top half page of the results.
Probably the top 10 questions are answered without requiring any further clicking. There's details of the last game, the next game, the current standings, the championship seasons, current news and more, all served up before we even get to the organic site ranking.
Google may be cancelling their awesome RSS Reader and unsure exactly how to slay Facebook with Google+, but they sure have search figured out.
Do any of you use a search engine other than Google by default?
Google Reader Alternatives
Published by Toronto Mike on March 14, 2013 @ 11:33 in Technology
Google is shutting down Google Reader, their RSS reader I use several times a day. I'm sure I'm not alone. Just about every blog, news service and site I follow has an RSS feed I subscribe to in Google Reader.
As a power user and super fan, this decision by Google is disappointing. I've got four months to find a solid Google Reader alternative.
I've already started test driving The Old Reader and feedly. I've got to get used to the differences, but both look like viable alternatives to Google Reader.
If you know of a good RSS reader I should try, please let me know in the comments. Google Reader will be missed.
Installing Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on My HP TouchPad
Published by Toronto Mike on February 19, 2013 @ 09:39 in Android, Tablet Talent Show, Technology
In July of 2011, the nice people at HP gave me a TouchPad Tablet PC. Here's something I wrote about it then. It
was is a nice piece of hardware with great sound running webOS, but by August of 2011, HP had discontinued the TouchPad. Early sales results indicated it wasn't the iPad killer they hoped it would be.
That meant the only tablet I own runs an OS without many apps. If you think BB10 is missing some key apps (and it is), you should peruse the app selection for the TouchPad. As a fan of the Android OS, I wanted to run Android on my HP TouchPad so I could enjoy the same system and apps I enjoy on my Samsung Galaxy phone.
The answer was CyanogenMod 10, which has brilliantly enabled me to run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on my TouchPad. Fantastic installation instructions are here should you own a TouchPad and want to give this a shot. It's pretty easy as my girlfriend and I had it up and running in one afternoon.
I'm very pleased with my new Android tablet. Jelly Bean is great.
The Desktop Isn't Dead
Published by Toronto Mike on January 27, 2013 @ 11:34 in Technology
Sales of desktop computers have slowed while sales of laptops and tablets have taken off. Welcome to 2013.
I'm here to claim the desktop isn't dead. Although I'm writing this entry from a MacBook Pro, the bulk of my 9-5 work is performed on a desktop PC. It's my most comfortable work station and the entire set up, excluding the 17 inch flat panel screen I've been using for the past decade, cost me less than $300.
I should point out my desktop is running Ubuntu Linux, a free O/S, which did bring down the cost, but it's fast, reliable and acts as my de-facto work station. It's about five years old and if sales of the desktop are declining, this is probably the biggest reason. Your five year old desktop works as well today as it did when you bought it. There's been no need to upgrade.
Who else still uses a desktop computer for work or play? If you're using a desktop computer, how old is it?
Why I Never Liked Instagram
Published by Toronto Mike on December 18, 2012 @ 11:03 in Technology
Instagram users are a little ticked off after learning they're changing their terms and conditions so they can now use and sell your photos without your permission or paying you. Eek.
I take lots of pictures. As a natural born archivist, I always feel like capturing the moment with a shot. I never take video, it's always a digital picture, and I upload almost all my pictures to my Flickr account as I have since my first upload in December 2004.
When Instagram came on the scene, I hated how people were intentionally and artificially processing their pictures to make them look old or Polaroided. In my opinion, the aged look of a photograph only has value when it's earned. In other words, a picture looking old is wonderful when it's an old picture, and the Polaroid-zation of a pic makes perfect sense when it was taken with a Polaroid camera, but forcing these effects is phony and ruins an otherwise nice picture. I never created an Instagram account.
When I started on Flickr, it was a small Canadian company with the best interface I'd ever seen. Now it's part of the Yahoo! family, but it remains the only online service I pay for each year. And I still use it each and every week.
Instagram isn't the only big web thing I've had no interest in. I never had a MySpace account, I've never been tempted by Tumblr or Pinterest, but I've fully embraced Twitter, deem Facebook a necessary evil and tried my best to make Google+ work.
Do you use Instagram? Will you continue to use it after this change to the terms and conditions?
Google+ Has Failed
Published by Toronto Mike on December 4, 2012 @ 14:00 in Technology
In July 2011, I urged you all to try Google+. It's a great interface, it's intuitive and your privacy issues are eliminated.
Almost a year and a half later, I can see you didn't listen. Google+ is practically a ghost town. There's so few people there, there's no reason to visit. Google+ was launched to kill Facebook and has clearly failed.
Are any of you using Google+ for anything?
How I View My Facebook News Feed
Published by Toronto Mike on November 15, 2012 @ 10:34 in Technology
I don't love Facebook, but acknowledge it's important to be there. Whenever I flirt with the idea of deleting my Facebook account I remember that's the main way I now keep in touch with friends and family. When a friend gives birth, I'll learn about it and see the pictures in Facebook. When my nephew dresses up as Max for Halloween, I only know about it and see the picture because I'm on Facebook. Whether you update your status message and post updates or not, it's important to be there.
One thing I've always disliked about Facebook is how their News Feed works. It's not a reverse-chronological listing of all updates by all friends. That's what I want, but that would be too simple for Facebook. Instead, it's a strange unknown algorithm that determines what makes your News Feed and in what order.
I no longer visit my Facebook home page (the official news feed) when checking Facebook for updates. I've created a list I call "Everyone" and I've put every single one of my friends in this list. Then, my bookmark for Facebook is actually the feed for this custom list. This way I actually get all updates by all friends in reverse-chronological order without being filtered through any unknown Facebook algorithm.
Here's how you create custom lists right from your home page:
- Click the Home link (along the top-right of every Facebook page)
- Click the More link next to Friends
- Click Create a List
- Search for your friends in the search bar at the top of the page, or add people from the List Suggestions on the right
When it comes to interface and behaviour, I prefer Google+ to Facebook. The problem is, almost everyone is on Facebook and almost nobody is on Google+. Sometimes you have to go where the action is, even if you don't love being there.
8 Tips For Staying Safe When Shopping Online
Published by Toronto Mike on November 14, 2012 @ 13:12 in Technology
Below are 8 great tips for staying safe and secure when shopping online. My friends at Dell sent this over and with Cyber Monday and all the holiday shopping coming up, this is a great time to make sure you're ready.
- Make sure your computer is up-to-date with anti-virus and malware detection software
- When buying online, always use a credit card that limits your fraud liability. Avoid using debit cards to prevent fraudulent transactions
- Always type the URL of your favourite shopping websites. Don’t use links provided in online ads and emails as they may direct you to bogus websites set by cyber criminals to extract personal information
- Be wary of holiday gift cards and coupon offers sent via email. They are often a trap for information-stealing Trojans or provide a backdoor for hackers to collect your personal information
- When making online purchases always look for the HTTPS on your browser’s URL window. The S (as opposed to just HTTP) indicates the website has another layer of security
- Never open unsolicited emails with links to attachments even from people you know. ALWAYS verify with the sender that he or she actually sent you the email with the link
- Never open or respond to emails from your bank (or any financial institution) that ask you to verify or update your banking certificate, password or token. Banks rarely ask customers to update/disclose sensitive information via email. Always check with your bank before taking action
- Avoid using weak or default password for any online sites
It's a good list from the Dell IT security experts. I especially like #3. As a general rule, if you're planning on buying something from a site never, ever click over from a link on a web page or in an email. Always go straight there in your browser or use your own bookmark. The same rule applies to your bank and any other site that might require you enter banking / credit card info.
Are you reading, mom?