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Video Chat in Gmail

I’m a big fan of Google Talk (Gtalk) but hadn’t come across this before: Videochat inside the Google Talk widget inside Gmail. Does it get any better than this? (Probably, but this works pretty well. Great for those guys not using Windows, and therefore unable to use the great Gtalk client.)

Software, Slowly, Gets Better

Is it just me, or are software developers beginning to get their users? For a long time I’ve felt the only real innovation in software has been in online applications, Web 2.0 non-apps—simple services that exist in your browser—but now it seems that ordinary apps are getting better too. Evernote, I feel, is one that’s really leading the charge. They’ve taken the feedback that us users have been giving them and have added, incremental release by incremental release, some really cool features. For example: now you can save searches in the Windows version. Reminds me of the old Enfish Tracker Pro, whose departure I stillContinue readingSoftware, Slowly, Gets Better

Why You Should Pay for Your Email

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal. (update Dec 2011: Aliencamel is now more, unfortunately, and Fastmail has been sold to Opera.) Using free email accounts like Gmail is commonplace, but not without risk. As Loren Baker, an editor at SearchEngine Journal, found to his cost, when Google disabled his account without warning. (At the time of writing there’s no explanation why his account was suspended, nor whether it had been resolved.) The comments are supportive, but also point out the dangers of relying on a free service for business. This point, in particular, struck home; when it’s “free”, we’re not really the customers, except insofaras we’reContinue readingWhy You Should Pay for Your Email

If You Know the Answer, Why Ask the Question?

Just downloaded and installed the new beta version of Skype, and am now removing it. Why? Because it’s humongously big, and doesn’t have any option I could find for reducing its footprint. Compare this: with this: (and notice the Compact Mode option that I couldn’t find in the 4.0 version.) What bothers me is that Skype already know this is a problem. Try to download a different version of Skype after the beta, and you’re confronted with a (rather creepy) questionnaire as they try to find out why you’re doing what you’re doing. One of the answers: Well, d’oh. If you knew that was aContinue readingIf You Know the Answer, Why Ask the Question?

The Limits of the Cloud

Microsoft’s FolderShare, a folder synchronizing tool that I’ve recommended in previous columns, is going off the air for up to three days in the middle of the week “for server upgrades”: FolderShare will be offline for a little while (48-72 hours) next week for some server upgrades. The outage begins Tuesday, June 17, at 6 PM Pacific Times (UTC-7). We hope to be back online by 6 PM Friday at the latest. I share some of the disbelief of commenters to the blog post and ZDNet’s Michael Krigsman: Users are attracted to services such as FolderShare for two reasons: useful features and the promise ofContinue readingThe Limits of the Cloud

The Way Chat Should Be

Great to see that Google Talk is adding improvements. I just noticed this one, for example: Drag a photo into a chat window and it appears in the chat itself. Click on the picture and a little progress bar lights up on the right as the recipient accepts the picture. Resize the window and the picture resizes: This is good stuff, especially when you compare it with Skype, which for some reason no longer allows dragging of files or links into a chat. Chat, in short, needs to fit the conversation. And conversation involves sharing things, looking at things together, and generally connecting to eachContinue readingThe Way Chat Should Be

Backed Up? Or Cracked Up?

There’s quite a commotion online about a program called g-archiver that promises to back up your Gmail account, but in the process apparently harvests all users’ Gmail usernames and passwords, and mails them to a separate Gmail account. This is indeed scary, although it’s possible that the person behind it wasn’t collecting the passwords for nefarious purposes. But it highlights some important issues that we tend to overlook in this Web 2.0, mashup age: Your online email account is more vulnerable than an offline one (by which I mean, storing your old emails online, rather than downloading them to your computer and deleting the onlineContinue readingBacked Up? Or Cracked Up?

Google Talk as a Contact Database

  (This is a shorter version of a longer post at my sister blog, ten minut.es, which take a 10 minute look at new and old products, services and websites.) One of the most undersung corners of the Google empire, in my view, is Google Talk, the search giant’s chat application (non Windows users can launch its gadget browser version.) For one thing, it’s so uncluttered it makes every other chat application look like the aftermath of Christmas dinner. It’s smooth, fast and the sound quality is good. But what I think it’s best for are the features that aren’t really features. (Most of theseContinue readingGoogle Talk as a Contact Database

Meet Veronica, Sexy Skype Spammer

Maybe this is commonplace for others, but I’ve just got my first sex-chat-spam on Skype. It’s from someone called Veronica Sexy, whose profile indicates that it’s unlikely to be someone I’ve met and just forgotten about (as if I would): Just in case you can’t read that last bit, it reads: can’t wait to get real nasty and show off 🙂 IM REAL MISS WEB CAM! Reply to the message and immediately you’re asked to share your contact details (a la Skype.) I didn’t risk having Veronica spam all my friends (not sure how that would work, but I’ve got some nice people on myContinue readingMeet Veronica, Sexy Skype Spammer

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