Tag Archives: inbox

Avoid Communication Overload

I am convinced that there are too many ways for us to communicate with each other. We have social media sites, text messaging, cell phones, land lines, snail mail and email – and likely a handful of ways I didn’t even remember to list. It can actually be annoying and time consuming trying to keep up with so many options. I actually had someone email me recently to ask for my phone number. I replied and received the phone call, only to find that the person was wanting my snail mail address. Seriously, people? You couldn’t have asked that in the original email? Having multiple ways of contacting others has its drawbacks, as well as being a good thing.

Step back a moment and think about all of the communication tools in your arsenal. I’m willing to bet you can name a person that you could contact at least ten different ways: and there are likely many people you could do this with. Is this the best use of your time, though? You have to decide which way to get ahold of them, hope they reply or answer and move on to a different way if the first doesn’t work. Tracking someone down isn’t always in your best interest. You should be asking each contact their preferred method of communication and stick with that unless an emergency arises.

Let’s say you need to contact me. I will tell you that email is your best bet. I have that open pretty much every moment I’m awake. I don’t like talking on the phone or Skype and I prefer to not use instant messaging clients. Those are fine for quick questions, but email provides a “paper trail” of sorts that we can refer back to if need be. Yes, there are times when we may need to connect on a call or in person, and that’s fine. But my first preference is always going to be my Inbox.

Instead of trying to send me an IM on every account I have, leaving me a voice mail I may not listen to for a few days or even trying to Skype me, why not just shoot me an email? You’re bound to get a much faster – and more detailed – response.

Now, everyone is different. There are people who may prefer a quick phone call, and that’s fine. My point is to ask people you regularly talk to which method they prefer. Keep other lines of communication as a backup. Heck, you can even break down your daily communications and organize them by type. Respond to and send emails first. Grab people you need to on IM after that and then perhaps schedule phone calls for the afternoon. Separate your correspondences this way so that you avoid overload.

Jumping back and forth between types all day long is going to drain you, frustrate you and maybe even confuse you at some point.

Use Hotmail With Any Existing Email Address

We all tend to have more than one email address: the average person maintains three of them. This is done to organize different types of email, maintain different parts of our persona or simply to keep spam away from our primary email Inbox. There are several good reasons to want more than one email address, but maintaining them all can be a royal pain. Hotmail is trying to make that easier on you beginning today, by helping make it simple to manage current and future email address in one place.

You can now use Hotmail to create and manage multiple email aliases from one single Hotmail account. Along with features they introduced back in November, the new alias feature gives you all of the benefits of multiple addresses without having to change your primary account – or your online identity.

Email aliases let you create completely different email addresses that you can use to receive email into your primary account without anyone knowing what your primary email address is. This is very important to many of you out there. In this day and age of privacy concerns and Identity Theft, we safeguard our information – including our primary email address. Setting up an alias or two can help you avoid having to do so.

Starting today, you can add up to five aliases per year to your Hotmail account, up to fifteen aliases in total, all designed to make it a lot easier to organize different types of email and personas in one Hotmail inbox without having to give out your primary email address if you don’t want to.

How to Turn off Conversation View in Gmail

My eyes nearly bugged out of my head as I read about Google helping users to turn off Conversation View within Gmail. In my opinion, threaded conversations are the best thing to happen to email since email itself was invented. Communication is actually much easier when you are able to track what has been added to a thread without wading hip-deep into your Inbox. As a proponent of this service, I hadn’t thought of those of you out there who actually may not enjoy being forced to have threaded conversations.

There are several people who aren’t happy with the way Gmail displays their email. Perhaps they are users who are simply stuck on the way things used to be handled by programs such as Outlook. Maybe they enjoy having to pull their boots on and having to dive into the Inbox (or whatever other folders they have) in order to track something that had been discussed already. For those people, Google has now created an option to turn OFF Conversation View. Wiltse Carpenter, Technical Lead for Gmail, has a colorful explanation for the move:

The way Gmail organizes mail into conversations is like cilantro. You either love it — and, like me, enjoy the nice citrusy, herbal finish it gives to everything from salsa to curry — or you hate it. It turns out not everyone feels the same way. And just as an outspoken minority has banded together in unison to declare their distaste of one of nature’s most delicious herbs, some of you have been very vocal about your dislike of conversation threading. So just like you can order your baja fish tacos without cilantro, you can now get Gmail served up sans conversation view. Go to the main Settings page, look for the “Conversation View” section, select the option to turn it off, and save changes. If you change your mind, you can always go back.

What are your thoughts? Can you imagine having to go back to the old ways of finding things in your email client of choice? Would you die from frustration by simply thinking about it? Or are you one of those this change was made for? If so, I’d love to hear your perspective. Perhaps I am missing an important point and reasoning you wouldn’t want to take advantage of beautiful threaded email goodness.

Scramble Your Email Address to Avoid Spam

I don’t know about you, but my inbox sees more than a hundred spam messages per day. These are only the ones that somehow bypass the filters that are in place. It seems as though no matter how hard you try, you cannot wipe out all of the spam that flies about the intertubes. This is where a small Javascript such as EmailScramber can come in handy.

There’s nothing to sign up for or download and it takes only a minute to do. Add your email address and link text (and the optional items if you wish) and click the little grey box to encode. Your email address will be scrambled up like this morning’s breakfast into a tidy little “mail to” link you can safely paste anywhere on the web. It can also be used for hiding other links from bots and automated scripts.

We may never completely wipe out spam but this is one sure way to help cut down on the junk you see every day in your email client.

There is no spam involved when you download the newest software and apps in our download center.

How Does Mail Work on the iPad?

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With Mail on the iPad, you can actually feel your email. That huge multi-touch display will quickly adapt to show you things in a way that works best for you. In Landscape mode, your mail will appear down the left side of the screen, so that you can quickly scan through your messages. Touch any email to see it in a larger view on the rest of the screen.

If you rotate the iPad into Portrait view, the message will fill the entire screen. If there are pictures included in the email, you can touch and hold your finger to them to save them instantly to the built-in picture application. Additionally, attachments (such as PDF documents) will open full-screen with a simple tap. It’s easy to get back to your message list from within Portrait view: just touch the button at the top-left of the screen.

When you begin to compose a new email (or start to reply to an existing one), the keyboard will appear on the screen automatically. It’s almost the size of a regular keyboard, so you shouldn’t have any trouble typing out your thoughts and information. The keyboard will track what you type, suggesting words and punctuation… and spelling corrections.

If it works as seamlessly as indicated by this video, sending and receiving email while on the iPad will be a good experience.

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Facebook Bug Delivers Mail to the Wrong People

A few days ago, Facebook apparently had a coding problem which cause messages to be delivered to the wrong people. The bug supposedly only affected a small piece of the Facebook population, including early-adopters who attended Harvard. Some people started receiving notifications in their inbox that were clearly not intended for them. At least one person reported receiving hundreds of messages – all of which belonged to someone else. A Facebook representative stated:

“During our regular code push yesterday evening, a bug caused some misrouting to a small number of users for a short period of time. Our engineers diagnosed the problem moments after it began and worked diligently to get everything back in its rightful place. While they fixed the issue, affected users were not be able to access the site.”

This generic explanation isn’t cutting the mustard for many people. Having your private messages delivered to the wrong person can be construed as a violation of privacy. Several people are wondering where the heck the quality assurance measures were before this code was even pushed out the door. Facebook only retains about 1000 people on its staff. There are more than 400 million members on the popular social networking site. With the sheer number of updates and changes being rolled out on a regular basis, how can we be certain everything is being thoroughly tested prior to launch?

I am not trying to point fingers. Yes, problems with code happen every day. Updates fail. But when you have something of this magnitude happen, one has to wonder at what point the ball was dropped. Someone needs to figure this out, and put a plan into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Imagine if you had sent something very personal to a relative on your friends’ list… instead, it ends up in the box of a random stranger with bad intentions. All hell could literally break loose.

This just goes to show that no matter how much you trust a website or service, you still have to be proactive in safeguarding your information, your data and your life.

How Do You Manage Your Inbox?

One of the longest-running issues we all seem to have is trying to deal with an Inbox that is too full. There have been many pieces of software developed over the years in an attempt to help us manage these monstrosities. However, they’ve all fallen short of the mark. However, there’s a new kid on the block who promises to deliver in ways others never have. The only catch is that only Gmail subscribers can use the service.

Gtriage is a service that scans all your email messages and to determine which ones are the most important to you. It then tags those messages “Important” with bright red labels so they don’t get missed. The way it works is nothing short of ingenious – as long as it does as promised. Their algorithm for measuring the email weights is being called “powerful machine-learning technology” by the company. They even have two cartoon-looking characters representing the two parts: Buckminster and Blockhead. Blockhead learns the universal characteristics that make email important, and Buckminister learns what you find to be important.

According to their website, Gtraige learns about you and gets even better once you’ve been using it awhile. After it’s set up, you just use your Gmail account as you normally would, while Buckminster and Blockhead watch your actions – and customize themselves to your behavior. In theory, the end result is an email filtering program that works without your having to actually DO anything. Will it work? Only time will tell. This isn’t something that can be tested in a matter of days. I will have to reserve judgment until I’ve used it for awhile.

For now, the service is free… if you can get an invite code. The company has set up pricing tiers, and is confident that Gtriage will work so well, you’ll want to pay for the service. While that remains to be seen at this point, it will likely be worth the cost if it delivers as promised.

Gmail Labs

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I think everyone I know has a Gmail account. Do you use it? Do you like it? If so… why? I’m interested in hearing your responses.

If you’re not familiar with the Labs feature, it’s something that will extend the capabilities of your Gmail account. Jamie submitted a top five list of Labs tips and features. I wanted to pass them along to you. Jamie has tried almost every Lab script there is, and compiled the following list of what he feels are the five best ones that you should be using.

  • Title Tweaks – This moves the “Inbox (n)” element of the page title to the front, meaning that when you have lots of tabs open you can still see when new emails come in. I’ve found this to be really handy as it means I no longer have the title “Google Mail” taking up space unnecessarily in my tabs… and I don’t have to open a tab/window to see if I have any new email. Really simple, but very helpful when you’ve right-clicked a number of links into new tabs.
  • Old Snakey – Email can be, and often is, dull. Sometimes it’s nice to distract ourselves with a simple game to take our mind off things for a couple of minutes. Old Snakey does exactly that. As long as you have keyboard shortcuts enabled pressing Shift + 7 (= & – which sort of resembles a snake, I guess!) will open up a simple game of Snake right inside your email window. No pop-ups, no new windows or tabs – and you can still see your inbox right behind the game. It’s an excellent stress reliever during the course of your day, as well.
  • Remove Labels from Subjects – This one is especially useful if, like me, you have a netbook with a small screen that you often use to check your email. This script hides the labels from the subject line, meaning that not only can you see more of the subject and snippet of an email, but also the subjects are properly aligned with each other – not zigzagging like they are when labels are enabled. I found that before using this script I’d started to almost ignore the subject completely, instead I was paying more attention to who an email was from and the labels it’d been assigned by my filters.
  • Inbox Preview – Inbox preview shows a static list of the emails in your inbox as Gmail is loading. Whilst Gmail is usually very fast to load, this allows me to see if I’ve got any new email immediately, and even provides a “Sign Out” link if I should decide there’s no need to go any further. This might also be useful to those that have Chat turned on in Gmail, and want to check their email quickly without popping up as “Available” in Chat. If there’s nothing that demands your attention, just sign out.
  • Mark as Read Button – I’m constantly marking email as read without actually opening them up. Notifications from sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube often don’t actually need to be read, but I still prefer to have them sent to my inbox as unread just in case. Of course, Gmail has had the “Mark as read” feature since the beginning, but this has always been hidden away in the “More Actions” menu. This script adds this option as a button next to “Delete”, so I can quickly clean my inbox of those emails that I don’t need to read. This Labs feature gets the number one spot not because of how amazingly technical or clever it is, but simply because it’s almost certainly the feature that I use the most.

If you’re using Gmail Labs, what are your favorites? Do you find that they are fun – or functional? Do they make your email experience better? Let’s hear what you have to say.

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Spam Increases Along with Security Issues

The unfortunate deaths of a number of celebrities recently has generated an increase in spam. Add political scandals to the news, and the junk mail really spikes upward. There has been (and will continue to be) a significantly higher volume of this junk email directed at your inbox. Not only is this spam a waste of your time, it can be dangerous. A current article illustrates that spam is a means of delivering malware.

Spam may seem like an everyday nuisance. As such, people tend to forget that it is a real danger. It is a means for hackers / criminals to access your computer. Some hackers don’t want to sell you any junk. The goal is to control your computer and/or steal your personal, confidential information for identity theft.

Over eight million people protect themselves from spam and malware dangers with MailWasher Pro. That number of people grows daily. It is simply one of the best ways available for handling spam. One of our security reviewers has used this product daily for almost a decade, so the recommendation for MailWasher Pro comes from years of experience with this legendary program.

MailWasher Pro is effective and it is easy to use:

Apart from being the most effective software to fight spam, you’ll find that MailWasher is probably the easiest anti-spam software to use. We took the view that if we can’t understand how to use a piece of software in under five minutes, then it’s probably always going to be hard to use. Why try and learn a whole lot of new icons and procedures? You want a program with a minimal learning curve, is easy to use, and looks attractive.

One of the ways that spam is handled is by means of filters. The problem is that sometimes the filter screens out legitimate email. And sometimes spam by-passes the filters. One of the great features of MailWasher Pro is that it allows the user to preview the email prior to downloading onto the computer. With a brief glance, you will be able to tell what is legitimate email and what is junk. And you do this while the email is not on your computer.

That’s right – you will be screening your email before you download it onto your computer. Consider this as viewing the mail at the server level instead of handling it while it is on your machine. That is an added level of security – you decide which email accesses your computer.

Why make the decision when the email is on your computer? That is simply dangerous. Mailwasher Pro allows you to make the decision at the server level – while the email is away from your machine. It is an effective, easy ,and brilliant way of handling the spam problem. MailWasher Pro works with Windows and is effective for POP3, IMAP, AOL, Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail. Stop just downloading your email to Outlook or Outlook Express. Preview it first!

Now our readers have fifty per cent discount when buying MailWasher Pro. Yes – really – for a limited time, it is possible to buy MailWasher Pro at half price:

Use this coupon code: lockerg

This remarkable offer expires on July 8, 2009. (Contact us if you want this program in high volume. We’ll see if we can help.)

And one final point… MailWasher Pro has an active support system. It has a live technical support system, as well as a forum. We have been following the development of this program for many years. The founder is a friend of this site and runs a first class operation. It shows. This is just an excellent program. You will consider MailWasher Pro a “must-have” for every computer you own.

How do You Manage Your Email Inbox?

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How much email do you get on a daily basis? I receive a ton of it, and I’m sure many of you do as well. There is a lot that demands my attention. I tend to forward some of them to people who manage certain tasks for me. I tend to freak out if there are very many emails piled up waiting for my attention, so I try to stay on top of them throughout the day. There may come a time when I’ve got to get away from the email. I could be on vacation, or speaking at a conference. I can’t ignore everything in my email. What if there are certain things I need to be notified of right away. This is why I’ve signed up for AwayFind.

Productivity experts have long suggested “batching” as the solution to dealing with email and freeing up more of our time. Batching is essentially grouping similar tasks together to improve both productivity and quality of work. When applied to email, it simply means checking it less often—and processing all the messages once when you do check. In addition to making it easier to clear our inboxes, this offers the benefit of removing email distractions from the rest of our day.

That’s where AwayFind comes in. By adding a link to your AwayFind page in your auto response message, people have a way to notify you via an alternative, non-intrusive method—text messages on your cell phone (rest assured, though, your phone number is not displayed). Better yet, messages can be automatically delegated to co-workers who may be able to solve the problem without your involvement.

It just… makes sense. You can free yourself from the chains of your Inbox, and get on with other things you need to accomplish. Why keep yourself tethered when you can just get so much more DONE??


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