Tag Archives: Gmail

Why I Love Unroll.me And You Should Too.

I’ve been using unroll.me for some time now – perhaps a year or two – and it is an awesome tool for anyone who has a gmail account.

no spam!
no spam! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are like me you get a lot of spam messages – just total crap like “hey, you are cute, want to video chat?” or “do you need medications? we have viagra!” or “you don’t know me but I want to give you $10m.” This sort of spam, Google does a pretty good job of handling – but then there is another, legitimate form of spam – these bulk emails sent out by various companies that you probably said hi to once in your life and now send you all the time emails about their latest products, sales pitches, and newsletters. They can become very overwhelming. At times I receive 30+ in a single day.

Unroll.me helps with this. Each day instead of receiving a mass of emails you receive a single “rollup” email from unroll.me containing all the newsletters, etc. you likely don’t want/need to read. You can then review them at a glance and decide on several actions: (a) you can unsubscribe from them (and unroll.me handles all the fancy stuff, don’t worry about jumping through hoops – click unsubscribe and let unroll.me take care of the rest), (b) you can leave the newsletter in the rollup, so it just comes once a day along with all your other bulk emails in this rollup from unroll.me and you can decide at a glance if it is worth opening today, and (c) you can choose to have the email (and future instances of it) delivered directly to your mailbox if it is something important and you do want to read it.

You can always access your “rolled up” emails at any time in the unroll.me label unroll.me automatically creates – so its not like you lose any messages.

unroll.me just recently finished a rewrite of their user interface and the improvements are great and make the service much more intuitive. I highly recommend this service – and you really can’t argue with the price (free).

Goodbye Firefox?

The Horror

I still have my t-shirts. I’m not sure how they’ve held up over so many years, especially with how frequently I have worn them – one for Firefox, one for Thunderbird – both from the official Mozilla store.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

I’m fairly certain I’ve been using Firefox since 1.x, and perhaps even before. I jumped ship from Internet Explorer as quickly as possible and having been a long-time fan of Netscape Navigator, Firefox with its relations to Netscape was appealing to me.

Today I did something that I’ve seen coming for a long time now. I’m not sure if it will stick – but I’ve done it.

  • I exported my bookmarks from Firefox into an HTML file (I probably have several thousand, carefully categorized).
  • I imported my bookmarks from the HTML file into Google Chrome (it looks like they came over without a hitch).
  • I closed the almost-always-running instance of Firefox.
  • I unpinned Firefox from my Windows taskbar.

Now I sit stand in front of my computer, the monitor flashing its warm blue glow, my fingers typing on the keyboard as if nothing has changed, and yet something has changed – something significant. For over five years now a large portion of my life and work has occurred via the Firefox browser, and now, now it is no more.

What Happened?

Firefox’s bloat over time was a big hassle for many – but I held onto Firefox through all of that. The slow release cycles compared to Google’s Chrome drove others crazy, but I held on through that.

What finally drove me (several years ago) to begin using Chrome for at least a significant portion of my web activities was the profiles – something that Firefox never really was able to handle well, as far as I know, still can’t. I have different “personas” on the web – they are all me (Dave Mackey) and I don’t pretend to be different people, but I operate for different functions. I am the personal me, I was the corporate me, I am the techie me, and I am the pastor me. Each of these personas was best served by a separate profile. With thousands of links organized into categories, it was too confusing to try and keep track of everything all mashed into one profile – so now, my ministry links are in my ministry profile, my personal links are in my personal profile, and so on.

Any Hope of Reconciliation?

Sure there is. I have never used Chrome as my 100% primary browser. Up to this point I’ve primarily used Chrome for web app (GMail, Facebook, Calendar, Asana, Keep) and have used Firefox for browsing and discovery (e.g. StumbleUpon, Digg, RSS, Zakta). There may be issues that arise when I use Chrome for everything that weren’t present when I used it for only these app’ish purposes…but I sort of doubt it.

Still, there is hope for reconciliation in my relationship with Firefox. Why? Because, quite honestly, I don’t trust Google. No, I’m not paranoid. Yes, I let them collect all sorts of info. about me and use it to target their advertising at me. I’m not worried about that – I’m worried about commitment. Google has axed far too many products or twisted them beyond recognition to be entirely trusted. I now Google Reader is the latest example, but there have been so many others – anyone remember their attempt with wikified search? Or how about that note taking application – what was it called?

So, Google, here is your word of warning: I’m watching you. Customer acquisition isn’t the whole game, to win customer loyalty you need to be loyal too, and you’ve fumbled quite a few times in this area!

Google Chrome Extensions – A Curated List.

Here is a fairly huge and curated list of Google Chrome extensions. Those I use are bolded, those I have used are italicized, and those which I am considering using have an asterisk. Which ones am I missing that you can’t live without?

Productivity

  • Google Keep – This isn’t an extension, but a web app., but it might as well be an extension. In any case, it integrates with Google Drive making it awesome and simple. There is also a nifty Android app. as well.
    • Sticky Notes – This was my preferred application before Keep, it lacked sync however.
    • Quick Note.
    • Chrome NotePad.
  • Browser Clipboard.*
  • Springpad – For taking notes.
  • Google Calendar Checker.*
  • Meeting Scheduler for Google Calendar.*
  • CleanPrint.*
  • EasyBib Tools.*
  • Lazarus Form Recovery.
  • Google Translate – A useful extension, but one I wouldn’t use frequently enough to make worthwhile.
  • Print Friendly & PDF – Allows you to select actually what you want to print on a page and print to PDF.
  • Google Calendar.*
  • StayFocusd.
  • Ginger – Corrects spelling and grammar.*
    • Spell Checker for Chrome.*
    • After the Deadline.
  • Harvest Time Tracker.

Tabs

  • TabCloud
  • OneTab – This turns your tabs into a list, freeing up memory.
  • Speed Dial – Choose which sites appear on your new tab page.*
  • TabJump – Intelligent Tab Navigator.*
  • IE Tab – Are there really sites you still need to browse in IE? Yes, a few.
  • Incredible StartPage.*
    • FoxTab Speed Dial.*

Phone

Updated: 3/20/13

  • Google Chrome to Phone – Send a page from your computer to your phone’s browser.
  • Google Voice.*
  • SMS to PC Options – Now has an entire page reviewing the various options.

Web Master

  • Google Publisher Toolbar.
  • Create Amazon Affiliate Link (from Travis Illig).*
  • Zemanta – I ended up just installing the plugin into WordPress, it is an excellent way to find related articles for blog posts and Creative Commons licensed images to insert into posts.
  • Buffer.*
  • SEOquake.*
  • Alexa Traffic Rank – I may replace this with something like SEOQuake which provides a fuller view from more services.

Twitter

  • Silver Bird – This is a sleek, streamlined Twitter client. As with all Twitter clients I’ve found, they don’t offer a “mark as read” feature, making them and Twitter, IMHO, essentially useless.
  • Twitter for Chrome
  • TweetDeck

Email

  • Smartr Inbox for Gmail – Made by Xobni, provides integration with social networks and intelligence about relationships using data within email.*
  • PowerInbox – Social network integration, blahh, blahh.
  • Attachments.me for Gmail.
  • ToutApp for Gmail.
  • Streak – CRM in your email.*
  • Cleaner Gmail.*
  • Contactually – Offers CRM in your inbox, but feature set is very limited for free, then moves up to $20/mo/user.
  • Yesware – Tracks who opens your emails.
  • Rapportive.
  • Boomerang for Gmail.
  • Right Inbox.*
  • YouSendIt for Webmail – Allows you to send large attachments via email.

Todo

  • Any.do
  • Google Tasks – Integrates with Google’s official tasks management application, but inferior to most others.
  • Remind Me (by Astrid) – If I didn’t use Asana, I would use Astrid. They are amazing, integrate with Google Tasks, have this app and a mobile app.
  • Toodledo Tasks.
  • Todoist.
  • Taskforce.
  • GQueues.
  • Teambox for Gmail.
  • Google Mail Checker – I just keep a pinned tab with GMail open.
  • Wunderlist.

Clipping

  • Save to Google Drive
  • Diigo Web CollectorMakes it easy to highlight text on webpages, save and clip portions of pages.
  • Evernote Web Clipper – I use Diigo instead.

Image Editing

  • PicMonkey – Allows one to edit photos, can integrate with Google Drive.
  • Explain and Send Screenshots.
  • Pixlr Editor.
  • Awesome Screenshot Capture & Annotate.

Bookmarks

  • Xmarks Bookmark Sync – Once the leader in bookmark syncing it has fallen sadly behind Google Chrome’s native capabilities, though it still rules for cross-browser syncing. Wish LastPass would put some time into this extension/site.
  • Bookmark Sentry – Checks for dead or duplicate links.*
  • Kippt
  • Delicious Bookmarks.*

Discovery/Sharing

  • StumbleUpon – The grand-daddy of site discovery.
  • Pinterest Pin It Button by shareaholic.
  • AddThis – For sharing stuff.
  • Pearltrees
  • Similar Sites Pro – I find it easy enough just to go to their website, no need for an extension.

Security

  • Dr. Web Anti-Virus Link Checker.
  • Ghostery.
  • LastPass – A robust password management solution. A must-have.
  • Web of Trust (WOT) – Helps you to find trustworthy/safe websites.

RSS

Search

  • Wajam
  • Google Personal Blocklist – Allows one to remove specific sites from your Google Search results. I use it mainly to get rid of content farm articles.
  • Google Webspam Report – Allows one to report spammy results via Google Webmaster Tools. I think I wouldn’t use it frequently enough to make it worthwhile, can just manually go to GWT.

Uncategorized

  • Evernote Clearly – Removes distractions from pages you want to read. I don’t find this necessary, and I like to support blogs monetization.
  • Adblock Plus – A favorite of many, I don’t use it b/c I believe in supporting sites that use ads as their basis for revenue.
  • Pulse.
  • Last.fm Scrobbler – For listening to music.
  • Better History.*
  • Send to Kindle (by klip.me).*
  • iMacros for Chrome.*
  • FreshStart – Cross-browser session management.*
    • Session Manager.*
    • Session Buddy – Looks interesting.*
  • Anti-Porn Pro (by clouduacl).
    • Blocksi.
    • FoxFilter.
  • CloudMagic – Search multiple online web apps.
  • Yoono*
  • AppJump App Launcher and Manager.
  • TLDR
  • OneReceipt.*
  • Bitly.*

Bibliography

I LOVE Boomerang for Gmail

Boomerang effect
Boomerang effect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure how I survived this long without Boomerang for Gmail, and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do when my free premium trial runs out either. This tool is absolutely awesome for increasing productivity.

Essentially, Boomerang allows you to remind yourself and others about emails in your inbox. If you are like me and are continuously getting emails, this is a must-have. For example, if you send an email and need a response to it you can have Boomerang bring the message back to the top of your inbox if you don’t receive a message with x time frame.

Another awesome feature is the ability to send recurring scheduled emails. For example, if you have someone who tends to forget things you can set up a scheduled email which will send another copy of the email every day until they remember to do whatever the email specifies. Of course, this could be abused – but properly used it is awesome.

One feature I’d love to see added to Boomerang for Gmail is the ability to SMS someone if something doesn’t happen in x time frame. This could be a text message to self reminding yourself to answer an email, or a reminder that you haven’t received a response to an email, or even a more persistent form of the recurring scheduled message – say the person doesn’t respond within five days to your recurring emails it could escalate to recurring text messages.

Boomerang is available for free on a limited basis and there is a personal account priced at $5/mo. But to get the recurring messages you’ll need the Professional which clocks in at a whopping $15/mo. I pay $5/mo. to SugarSync for 30 GB of data!

I understand Boomerang needs to make money – but might I suggest an alternate pricing scheme? How about a pay for usage option? For example, let me deposit a specified amount into my Boomerang account (lets say $10) and then charge me $.10 for each email reminder I make for myself above the base ten free and maybe $.25 for each recurring email reminder I schedule.

For some people, the flat Professional package would be the best deal – but for others the pay per usage would be more than adequate. I imagine this would add significantly to Boomerang’s user base. I really don’t think I can afford another $15/mo. for a professional subscription. I already pay $60/mo. for internet, $5/mo. for SugarSync, may need to start paying FreshBooks for invoicing, adding Boomerang on top of it all? If I was going to use it heavily, sure, but I’d say I’m a medium load user. I might schedule a few reminder emails per day max and the recurring emails would probably next exceed ten a month.

SugarSync – What is Missing?

I love being a fan of great products – and supporting those products with my finances. I’ve been a long-time fan and premium subscriber to SugarSync, a cloud-based backup, syncing, and web drive product. I like raving about them, and getting into arguments with folks like Steve Weir about whether Dropbox is better (nope!).

That said, I’m also a fan of making a little noise when companies don’t always treat their customers with the utmost respect they deserve. Successful business involves a symbiotic relationship between the business and the consumer, neither side can demand too much nor give too little. SugarSync has a great product, but I’m concerned that they aren’t committing enough resources to shoring up some weak spots in their current offerings, instead focusing more on new client acquisitions and business partnerships (which, again, are all well and good, but there has to be a balance).

So, here are my *beefs* with SugarSync and what I’d *really* like to see implemented in the near-term future.

The Critical Missing Components.

Image representing SugarSync as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Currently SugarSync doesn’t utilize Microsoft‘s Volume Shadow Service (VSS) and I can’t for the life of me understand why – it is built directly into Windows and is utilized by most backup software providers. Why? Because it offers numerous huge advantages with easy implementation. Including the ability to backup files while they are in-use. This means you don’t have to close out of Outlook, an accounting application, or anything else that is actively using a file before it can be backed up.

The other big no-no SugarSync engages in (that I can think of no practical reason to exist, and which should be a very simple config file change to implement) is finite versioning of files. SugarSync currently keeps a limited number of previous versions of a file – which becomes an issue if it is a transactional file (e.g. a database – including Microsoft Outlook or any email client, rss reader, etc.). These files change all the time – in a single day they may change hundreds or thousands of times! SugarSync needs to keep these versions for as long as the user desires them to be kept – not arbitrarily deleting them!

This is Important…

  • Ability to Pause/Resume Backups/Syncs – While everything in an ideal world would place nice with one another, the fact of the matter is that software oftentimes interfere with each other. It’d be great to have a way to pause backups/syncs by SugarSync. Again, I don’t run into any problems with this regularly – but it would still be a nice feature.

It’d Be Cool If…

I’m not particularly concerned about these features, but it would be cool if…

  • SugarSync integrated with Google Docs, backing up all Google Docs into SugarSync and vice versa (or a subset as so desired). This would also allow mobile editing of documents (of many types) via Google Docs without needing to download the documents from SugarSync (as one must do now before editing).
  • Backing Up Gmail is another useful feature. I’m not as concerned about this as the integration with Google Docs, but still, a nice freebie.