Sunday, 14 November 2010

Customised Gmail Addresses Allows You to Fight Spam

You may have heard of this trick or seen it in action, basically you can customise your Gmail and Google Apps Email address by adding +’s and .’s to your email address and still receive emails sent to that address.

For example, if your email address was ilovehk200@gmail.com, you can still receive email at ilovehk200+newsletters@gmail.com or i.love.hk.200@gmail.com. Of course if you are using Google Apps gmail.com would be your own domain name. When the email is received the "+newsletter" remains with the email address you receive.


Now why is this useful?

Well every time you enter your email address to sign up for a web based service you are open to spam as we all know in Hong Kong you cannot even trust the largest companies in Hong Kong not to sell or distribute your email address, e.g. the distrusting behavior of Octopus in 2010. So using something like ilovehk200+octopus@gmail.com, you can achieve a couple of things:
  1. track where your email address was sourced from, e.g. you could prove Octopus actually shared your email address.
  2. you can use filters in your Gmail inbox to file the emails or just delete them.
Get creative with your customized email addresses—but don’t create so many that you can’t remember how to log in to your frequently visited websites. Here are some ideas to get you started:

* username+bills@gmail.com
* username+newsletters@gmail.com
* username+socialmedia@gmail.com
* username+notifications@gmail.com
* username+contact@gmail.com
* username+donations@gmail.com
* username+notes@gmail.com
* username+contests@gmail.com
* username+websitename@gmail.com
* username+evite@gmail.com
* firstname.lastname@gmail.com

So this is a great technique to remember to help manage your incoming email weather it is unwanted spam or subscribed services. Use the "+" and the"." more often!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Google Updates Blackberry BES Server


Google recently pushed out a nice update for their Google Apps Connector service for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Version 3.0 of the Apps Connector is a good jump from version 2.2.307 and includes the following changes:

  • Support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.2.
  • Support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express.
  • Support for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008 SP2.
  • Improved Dynamic GAL synchronization.
  • Improvements to some calendar synchronization components to provide enhanced robustness and accuracy.
The Google Apps editions included in this update are Premier, Education and Google Apps for Government. For more info and to get the update go to tools.google.com/dlpage/appsconnector.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Hotmail links up with Gmail and Yahoo

Microsoft has announced that it is making Hotmail that little bit more ubiquitous, revealing you can now use features of the service with other email accounts. This new feature utilises POP, allowing you to import non-Hotmail data on to Hotmail. What you do need is a Windows Live ID, but once you have this you can use Hotmail-specific features.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Skype to SIP

Using your telephone rather than putting head phones on to speak to someone on Skype is something that is very useful. I have recently installed one such application that allows my Skype number to be called and my SIP phone rings rather than my computer. Dialing out is the same result. You can dial from your phone or if you use the Skype software to dial someone, once they pick up the utility will ring your SIP phone and join the two calls.

Typical Applications
  • Call centers who want to be able to advertise a Skype number for customers.
  • Businesses running a VoIP PBX who want to advertise a Skype number.
  • To use SkypeOut on your dial plan to make those calls to cities where Skype rates are cheaper.
  • To use SIP based voicemail or IVR for Skype calls.
If you are interested in connecting your phone system to Skype please contact me for available devices and gateways. Prices start at US$20.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Notify For Google Apps Mail and Gmail

Want email notifications for your Gmail accounts even when you are not on the site? You may want to try Spiffy, a free program that supports Gmail and Google Apps mail. The program supports up to five accounts and displays tray alerts (flag and sound alerts) whenever a user receives a new e-mail message.

How does Spiffy work? Well, the process isn’t complicated. Enter the details of five Gmail accounts you want to monitor, specify how often you want them verified, and the program will comply. The other good thing is that Spiffy also supports proxies. Whenever Spiffy notifies about a new mail, you can view it by clicking on the alert. If one is not logged into the account already, the application opens up the Gmail login page automatically in the user’s default Web browser. Once the sign-in process in completed, the user can view the new messages.

Spiffy has a range of customisable features, including a customisable interface, alerts, icons, ‘tell-me-again’ feature for missed alerts, and auto start and hide options. You can also use an option to stop the program from redisplaying messages so as not to receive notifications for spam that you don’t want to read.

Spiffy is a freeware application available in English, Dutch, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Swedish and it can run on Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2003 and requires .NET Framework 2.0.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Google Voice - Very interesting

I have recently enabled Google Voice for our office phones. Google Voice gives you one US phone number for all your phones. You can now voicemail as easy as email. All US long distance calls are free with low rates on international calls.

Of course this will not work in Hong Kong as it is a US based service at this point. I was able to still enable an account and have it routed to my virtual office PBX.

It offers some nice features like forwarding income calls to Google's GTalk. Currently it does not support Google Apps however. Also call screening is provided whereby a caller is requested to announce who they are and then you can decide if you take the call or send it to voicemail. If a voicemail is left Google can transcribe the voice message and send the text and message to your email (once again not Google Apps yet).

With advanced use of VoIP services and the ability to integrate a cloud based PBX, Google Voice offers many options to end users. This will be why Skype was recently purchased by Cisco as the writing is on the wall. Google will turn the phone market on its head.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Google Access from China

If you are looking for a good way to continue to use Google Apps as you travel in China then we have tested Access Any Website and it appears to work. Please click here to access.

The Web site owners suggests all blocked content can be accessed if you subscribe to their service. We suspect it is very simple what they have done. They have embedded a browser into a web page and that web site is outside China so therefore you are browsing outside of China.

For the few trips you may have to China and need access to various Google Applications this may be worth the few dollars they charge.

If you have an office in China then connecting an office is different to that of just traveling there and trying to pick up your emails. Let me know if you need help in that area.

Remember the status of Google applications available in China a published by Google at this Web Site:http://www.google.com/prc/report.html#hl=en

Monday, 16 August 2010

Use your Phone as a Key

video
Use your phone as a KEY! Bluetooth enabled phone key locks & unlocks any door. iPhone, PDAs or ?

Secure, Affordable wireless access control:
* Hands Free Solutions
* Commercial or Home Applications

Bluetooth Wireless Access Control Experts
* Retail
* Pro Installer

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Active Inbox - Organise Your Emails

ActiveInbox concepts are good and work with Gmail and Google Apps.

In addition to placing labels on your emails you can also file these against projects, place reference labels and tasks. The tasks allow you to manage work that needs to be performed by selecting Next, Action, Someday, Waiting On... or you can create your own items.

TheyActiveInbox also suggest a good way to work with email with the main recommendation is to empty your email inbox and the only emails left will relate to work that needs to be performed.

The product is FREE however the additional functions for US$24 is worth it. The ability to schedule a deadline date is important.

PDFescape - An online tool for editing PDFs










PDFescape is your free, online PDF reader, editor, form filler, & form designer. Using your Google Account Login, PDFescape allows users to edit and form fill PDF files online, free.

* Free PDF Form Filler
* Free PDF Editor
* Convenient Online PDF Reader

Google Short Links


Google Short Links is a URL shortening service for Google Apps and allows you to use much shorter more descriptive names for URLs.

The idea is you take a full URL and create a short description or word to enable a quick recall. For example my full blog URL address can be replaced by a short description, e.g."blog". This is referred to as self-service web redirection.

If you are using Firefox then there is a great Protocol Handler that can be installed. Once installed you can simply type goto:blog and you will be taken to the full URL.

URL's can be marked as public or private. There is also a couple of toolbar items that can be placed on your Firefox toolbar or IE's bookmarks called Bookmarklets. You can select that item when positioned on any page and it will create the short link automatically.

Integration to Google Apps is available and can be managed from the dashboard.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Sherpa Tools Add Some Nice Admin Features

If you are faced with rolling out a large number of Google Apps users, it is nice to know there is some great tools to help you - and for FREE. Sherpa Tools offers Google Apps an admin interface to help manage centralised Shared Contacts (Global Address Book), a user's profile or business card along with the ability to define the settings on each users application such as language, signature and the custom settings that are tricky to define unless you are logged in as that user. Managing user settings is done via creating Scopes and Profiles. A user can also be granted rights to manage their own profile and update this if they change mobile phone numbers etc.

One of the nicest features is their Directory Bot. This allows the Shared Contacts or (Global Address Book) to be searched via the Google Apps Chat. It is very quick at returning a search result for the person you are locating. The full business card or contact details are replied.

If you upgrade to the paid edition a nice feature is the ability to delegate functions to specific users without those users having full admin rights to Google Apps. For example help desk people could reset passwords for users or the marketing team could manage the centralised share contact list (Global Address Book).

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Google adds Organizational Structures

Organization Structure Added

This month Google added a long awaited feature and that is to allow administrators to structure their users in a similar way to that of their organization.

You can now create the organizational structure to control which Google Apps services are available to users. Each user belongs to one organizational unit, and for each organizational unit you specify which services are available to its users.

If users’ access to Google Apps services follows from which department they report into, the Google Apps organizational structure matches the corporate structure. However, it does not need to.

It is a great way to manage and deliver services including Email, CRM and more out to your users.

Hosted PBX Phone System - For Small Business

Cloud Based PBX or Virtual Phone Systems

If you are a small business getting started there is still quite an expense to getting phone lines installed and a traditional key-line phone system from your telecom provider.

Today there are a few good choices in the market whereby you pay less than HK$100 per month to set up your office PBX system, all on-line. No hardware to purchase, no contracts to sign, it is easy.

This is not VoIP phone systems, this is a PBX that appears to your customers as a enterprise level phone system with extensions, music on hold, auto attendant service (e.g. press 1 for sales, press 2 for support etc). Yes all for less than HK$100. The phone that rings can be your mobile, your house phone or a phone anywhere in the world. The system can call two phones at the same time and whoever picks up can take the call.

We have a cloud based and VoIP based phone system running for our business. Consultancy services on the best solutions are available. Give me a call if you wish to learn more.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Add WiFi Tethering to your mobile phone

My business now runs 100% in the Cloud. However sometimes if you are out of the office and not "connected" to the Internet this can be a major drama. Of course I can get my emails on my mobile phone via Google Mobile and I can read my Calendar and Documents but if you wish to do a little bit more and need your laptop to connect then there are some great tools to help.

While there are hotspots in many places now, often connecting is not an easy or a cheap task. Recently I was in Singapore however as I was not a local it was not easy to connect to the SingTel hotspots without having a local mobile number. In your hotel they often want US$25 so you can connect and if this is only for 10 minutes it seems expensive.

A great tool to make life easier is called Joiku. Joiku allows you to convert your mobile phone to a secure WiFi wireless router. There are a couple of versions available, Lite is free and JoikuSpot Premium comes with connection securing with a password, full internet and email protocol support, VPN, and no landing pages. The price was around US$12.

The idea is you start the Joiku software on your phone then search for hotspots from your notebook and you will see your phone showing as a normal access point. You make a secure connection and the phone bridges the traffic out to the internet via your 3G connection. The phone acts as a 3G modem and an Internet gateway.

A new release in beta also allows more than one phone to be grouped or clustered to increase the overall bandwidth available as an access point.

Give it ago. It works really well. Connect to the Cloud and your business applications from anywhere!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Very True Story - My Office

How would you react to your office looking like this! Well this happen to me today. Yes I was upset but this was an example of how Cloud Computing saved us. Everyone is working today and no data was lost as all our applications and data are hosted outside our office. So while you may think this can never happen to you, it does.

Compare Google Apps Editions

Available now is a useful detailed comparison chart between Google Apps editions.

Please click here

Full Text Indexing of Image Docs


Google Docs has now added OCR functions to allow users to import TIFF, JPEG and Image PDF files. This has been in the background for sometime in beta testing but now is available from the main import screen.

I also often get asked "How much storage does Google offer for their Document Manager?". Well if you use all Google Apps, that is Google Word Processor or convert Microsoft Word docs and store them as Google Apps docs then the storage is unlimited. If however you wish to store image files, PDFs, Excel or Docs then the limit is 1GB per user.

Remember photos can be stored in Picasa and Google will integrate this shortly into Google Apps to allow your same login to be used across these various other applications.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Gmail Google Apps Hierarchy Labels.

A new lab available this month is hierarchy labels. This had to come as we all use nested folders so this makes labels easier to manage and use.

Once enabled simply add slashes (/) to label names to express inheritance. For example, if you want a Home label with two child labels named Kids and Shopping, create the three following labels: Home, Home/Kids and Home/Shopping.

It did not work for me to a start however after some research I disabled the "Hide read labels" lab and all was fine.

Google Apps Gmail - Add Gadgets

Google Apps Gmail now allows Gadgets to be added. This is under settings, Gadgets.

All of the Gadgets listed must be installed by URL. Simply copy the URLs below and paste into your Gmail Gadgets settings box and press “Add.”


twittergadget1. TwitterGadget makes it easy to view and update your Twitter account without visiting the Twitter homepage.

The URL for the Twitter Gadget is: http://www.twittergadget.com/gadget_gmail.xml

2. Wikipedia Search helps you search Wikipedia directly from Gmail – whether it’s for research or just for fun.

The URL for Wikipedia Search is: http://www.google.com/ig/modules/wikipedia.xml

3. Use FriendFeed? Get the FriendFeed Gmail Gadget, so you can keep track of your friends on this popular Social networking/sharing service.

The URL for the FriendFeed Gadget is: http://friendfeed.com/embed/googlegadget/spec

polyclock4. A must-have gadget for those of us who communicate regularly with people around the world is the World Clock gadget. It has locations all around the world and continuously updates the time, so you know when it’s bedtime in Paris and not to expect a speedy response to your emails!

The URL for the World Clock Gadget is: http://gad.getpla.net/poly/clock.xml

digg

5. Track the current trends on Digg with the Digg Gadget. Features include selecting stories by sub-section and access to your settings.

The URL for the Digg Gadget is: http://digg.com/goog/ig.xml

6. The Facebook Gadget can be added directly to Gmail by adding this handy gadget. Do a lot of things you’d normally do at Facebook.com directly from your sidebar. The URL for Facebook Gadget is: http://www.brianngo.net/ig/facebook.xml

7. Quickly shorten links with the Bit.ly URL Shortener Gadget. Whether you are emailing links or sending to friends via Google Chat, shorten long URLs with the Bit.ly URL shortener gadget.

The URL for the Bit.ly URL Shortener Gadget is: http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/107368512201818821991/bitly-shortener.xml

8. MySpace can also be accessed via Google Gadget. Install this gadget and log in to your MySpace account to access friends, notes and more.

The URL for the MySpace Gadget is: http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/100080069921643878012/myspace.xml

chucknorris9. Use the Google Calculator to perform simple and complex math problems or convert weights from metric to English or vice versa right from Gmail.

The URL for the Google Calculator Gadget is: http://calebegg.com/calc.xml

10. And just for fun, add the Chuck Norris facts Gadget to Gmail. Get a couple of laughs a day and some funny facts to share with friends.

The URL for the Chuck Norris Facts Gadget is: http://marsupialmusic.net/stu/scripts/chucknorris.xml

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Gpanion is a sleek dashboard for Google Apps


If your first stop after opening up your web browser is to load up various Google Apps, Gpanion is a sleek dashboard interface for all your favorites.

Gpanion is a simple icon-based interface for easily loading your favorite Google Apps. The dashboard displays 14 applications out of 44 at a time. You can customize the layout so that your most used applications are shown prominently on the first page with lesser used items tucked away on the bottom row or the second page—saving your configuration does require you to use your Google signin.

If you'd prefer not to share any information with Gpanion you can still use the site minus the customization. The links just pass you through to the actual Google services. The default setting puts Gmail, Gcal, Greader, Picasa Web, YouTube, and other people Google-powered destinations at the forefront.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Updates for Google Apps

Recent feature releases
Below are a few highlights from recent weeks. See a complete list of updates.

  • Drag and drop attachments in Gmail
  • Previews of new Google Documents editor and new Google Spreadsheets editor
  • Google Drawings: a new collaborative drawings editor
  • New version of Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notus
  • New version of Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange
  • New Lotus switch guide for users - Life After Lotus Notes

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Zoho CRM integration with Google Apps

Zoho continues to work hard to integrate their cloud services into Google Apps. Zoho CRM is now integrated into Google Apps to allow a user to launch the CRM right from inside Google Apps. This is very convienant.

A good CRM solution should not only be user-friendly, robust and help you keep customers from slipping through the cracks but should also be cost-effective. Zoho CRM is the other award-winning CRM that counts 'good price' as a feature. After all, why should you pay more when you have an opportunity to potentially save thousands of dollars?

Google in China

As you would know, China blocks access to some Google services. To keep up dated on what is available please refer to this web site:

http://www.google.com/prc/report.html#hl=en