Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Google Takeout Launched

In a nut shell, Google Takeout allows you to take out your data from specific Google Services. Each of the services will be tidily backed up to a zip file in open formats that can be imported into other, non-Google web services if required. First up Takeout only supports the easy exporting of Buzz, Picasa, your Google Profile, Contacts, and Circles — but the eventual plan is to provide easy exporting for every Google service.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Me on the Web - Monitor the Web

Google's Dashboard gets Me on the Web. This is a sort of identity management tool to help users see and control what others are saying about them in social media Websites. To do this you use two new tools available under your Account detail, these are "Me on the Web" and "Alerts".

Alerts can be used to monitor the web for news items and anything you have interest in. A message can be sent to you once a day with a summary of all items or whenever they occur. With the integration of Me on the Web and Alerts, you can configure your name and any of your emails addresses to be monitored and you will be notified.

GPS Location and Google Maps

How to get GPS coordinates by using Google Maps.
  1. Open Google Maps to the vicinity of where I would like coordinates.
  2. Right click mouse button and select "center map here" from the drop down button.
  3. Paste the below javascript into the browser's URL address window.
  4. Click the "go to the address in the location bar" button usually to the right of the address.
  5. A popup appears showing the coordinates of the center of the map like this: (22.306989047453026, 114.17129248380661)
  6. Copy and click either "OK" or "Cancel"
  7. Paste the coordinates into Google's "search maps" text box after you remove the parenthesis and click "Search Maps" - this will prove it is right.
  8. A popup appears with a marker for the centered spot. The popup has the coordinates in both Decimal Degrees and Degrees, Minutes, Seconds.
  9. Refine as and if necessary, now you can insert into your GPS device.
code: javascript:void(prompt('',gApplication.getMap().getCenter()));

    Saturday, 11 June 2011

    Backups in the Cloud - All in one place!

    Many companies that venture towards the Cloud have concerns about backup. How do you backup your data when it is in the Cloud?

    It is a good question. Some would argue there is no need to backup your data as vendors like Google or Zoho have very good hardware environments which include backup systems. However one may wish to have an independant solution to ensure this is being done and the data is in a second location, just in case.

    If you are using Google Apps, Backupify offer an excellent solution for less than US$5 per month for 5 Google Apps accounts. Daily backups will be scheduled by Backupify including your Email, Contacts, Calendars, Sites and Documents. And for all your social network information who is backing up your Facebook Fan pages, or your 500+ Linkedin contacts? Backupify has your backups covered for social networks with integration offered for Facebook and Linkedin.

    Google and Zoho do perform backups to protect your data residing on their systems, this protects you from their hardware failure. However, what happens when the error is you and not the SaaS provider? What happens when you delete something and later need to recover it? How do you do that? Call Google? Don't think so.

    For those Google Apps customers using Google Postini Archiving Services then you will be protected as email can be recovered. However whatabout your personal or project calendar? How do you recover a calendar if you delete it in error? What about a document in Google Docs?

    One-Click Google Docs Restore by Backupify from Backupify on Vimeo.

    So you see, even in the Cloud it is worth having a second copy to ensure you don't waste time if something is accidently lost. Backupify is easy to use, simply select the services you wish to backup and a nightly schedule will run to ensure a backup is made of your data.

    You can also add in your Picasa holiday photos for good measure. Those family holiday photos are worth more than a few documents right?

    Contact me if you wish to try out Backupify - who aim to be the single location for all your Cloud apps backups. A good idea.

    Sunday, 5 June 2011

    Do You Really Need Microsoft Office?

    I stopped using Microsoft Office 4-5 months ago. Do I miss it? No.

    Companies spend a lot of money on Microsoft Office and it is certainly a huge money spinner for Microsoft. When most communications are performed in Email today, what do people use Word for anymore?

    Let me tell you how I operate.

    Firstly I am 100% in the Cloud. So I use Google Docs for all of my document requirements. Is it as good as Office? Feature for feature, no. But I don't even know how to use most of what Word offers. If I need to write a formal letter then Google Docs meets all my requirements. And this is FREE!

    Does Google Docs do any thing Word can't do? YES. You can edit a document in the cloud with up to 50 people simultaneously! This is a huge feature that saves a load of time when the alternative is 10 versions of a document being sent around your company via email and then someone having to consolidate everyone's comments into one document. I have had customers in two-minds about moving to the Cloud until the moment they saw this feature. Then the penny drops. There is no turning back. Read more about this.

    What happens if I must read a Word or Excel document? I can upload them to Google Docs and they convert to Google Docs format. While the conversion is sometimes not 100% I have a backup process by using Microsoft's viewers. Microsoft offer FREE document viewers. It can be downloaded here. You can view and print Microsoft documents without any trouble.

    If I am off line and do need to use a Windows installed word processor then I have started to use LibreOffice Writer. This is also free along with Open Office which both support the Open Document format standard as well as Word or Excel for their spreadsheet version. You can download the free version of LibreOffice here.

    Google will offer off-line mode for Google Docs by the end of the summer. Then you can edit all those documents off-line as well.

    Google Docs, Open Office and LibreOffice can save documents as Word or PFD so you can still share documents in that format if required. But I really question a company spending so much money on Microsoft Office licenses when it offers almost no value over the FREE alternatives in the market.

    If one or two users are power users then you are justified to spend the money.

    If you are using unlicensed software then none of this will matter to you however to put things in line you can simply replace your unlicensed software with valid licensed software and protect your business in doing so - all for FREE. If however you are using old licensed software then you can stay where you are or if you are considering an upgrade, think twice. Consider the free options available. A 10 user company could say as much as US$5000.

    Cloud Identity Management

    OneLogin enables users to sign in once – to their local area network or OneLogin – and gain one-click access to all their web applications without having to enter a password again. OneLogin integrates with all your company's web applications, in the cloud and behind the firewall, using SAML, OpenID, form-based authentication and proprietary protocols. And you can easily integrate in-house applications too.

    A few features of this solution and technology I like include:
    • ability to generate complex passwords for each application to increase secrurity levels for access to web applications. The passwords are complex in format; an example is 3$,{73zLL>hz#j
    • integration with directory services from Microsoft (AD), LDAP, and Google Apps for user name synchronisation and login authentication
    • restrict an IP range, this will allow a company to only allow staff to access the applications from their office network
    • full reporting on who is using which application
    • easy to roll out a new application by simply placing it on the OneLogin application interface
    • support is provided for a "one-time password" generated by a token, this is installed on my mobile phone from VeriSign. I have set this just for administrators and people that need to access bank accounts, this adds an additional security level similar to what HSBC offer their customers
    • SAML integration for Google Apps and Zoho for full security control of these applications, this will mean access to Google Apps can be control and not used outside of the office, a combination of SAML and IP addresses settings will achieve this
    • roles based security grouping of application access
    • organisation of applications under tabs
    • user can add their own additional applications
    • US$5 per user per month

    Corporate Data Protection from Phishing

    Many technical solutions have been proposed to combat phishing, but none of them are fool proof. The only effective ways are educating users about how to detect phishing as well as eliminating passwords and this is where identity management tools like OneLogin can help.

    If your users only have to remember one password, i.e. to their Single Sign On (SSO) portal, it will be easier for them to detect phishing attempts. Plus, if none of your users have a Paypal password, they can't be tricked into entering it on a fake PayPal login page.