Get your mobile email noise under control!

This is a pro-tip for Gmail Android app users and serves as an addendum to last week's tips on managing email distractions contained in the post, "All multitasking is not the same".

Hopefully, your email app supports this feature, if not time to switch <grin>.

I counsel clients to not allow themselves to be a slave to their email, but to check it at scheduled intervals throughout their day. This means setting mobile email to not chime on your phone for every new email coming in. However, there are times when you are waiting on a particularly time-sensitive email and don't want to miss it.

Turns out the Gmail app on Android has a handy setting, Notify Once, that allows you to know when the next email, but not every new email comes in! You can set audible email notifications such that the first email that comes in after you clear the notification of other emails will chime, but the 2nd and 3rd and so on will not. <See instructions below.>

Notify Once setting on Gmail App (Android).png

This is a nice compromise setting as I hate having every honkin' email that comes in chime on my phone. It is distracting not only in work, but hideously discourteous to co-workers, family and friends. This "next email will chime" setting means that if you are actually awaiting a critical email you can check on each chime, clear the notification and know the next email will also chime until you get that urgently needed email since you'll be checking after every "new 1st email" chime.

Nice thing is that the rest of the time your phone will chime once and then sit there quietly till your project is "check email". Makes for quieter meetings, solid family time and not being that annoying idiot in social settings. 

Unfortunately, the Gmail app on iOS doesn't have this particular feature. Instead it does allow setting Notifications for All, None or Important. Important is a decent compromise presuming you have your Gmail set to use Priority Inbox, but not quite as distraction reducing as Notify Once on Android.

Instructions to turn on Notify Once

  1. Go to Settings in Gmail app on Android.
  2. Select account with which you want to use Notify Once.
  3. Select Inbox / Priority inbox sound & vibrate. I use Priority inbox, so that is what the screenshot shows, otherwise it will say "Inbox sound & vibrate".
  4. Uncheck "Notify for every message".

Done! Now your notification will only make a sound / vibrate on the next message that comes in after you check messages.

Notify Once setting on Gmail App (Android).png

Less is more when choosing digital ecosystems!

Good article to review and ponder how you're organizing your digital life.

How to Survive the Next Wave of Technology Extinction

Here's a couple thoughts:

The author highlights five behemoths, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Nice that he ordered them alphabetically to not show favoritism. Me, I'd drop Amazon and Facebook off the list entirely. Why? One word... Email. Still the killer app to which all else in a real ecosystem must tie without being on the website or running a site-specific app.

What about Yahoo? Interesting that Yahoo isn't on his list and without them having an iCloud, Google Docs, SkyDrive type component, I guess I can't argue for them as a good ecosystem either. Too bad, I remember when Yahoo used to be somebody.

Picking a digital ecosystem is important. Having as few ecosystems as possible is better than more. Why? It is easier to properly secure less points of attack than more. Consequently, those ecosystems that provide the broadest range of utility are better than those that require yet more utilities to satisfy your digital lifestyle needs.

I disagree with the prioritization of iOS over Android if you're going to recommend Google services. iOS is great hardware, obviously, but iOS is no longer superior in any way to Android. More apps? Some apps come out for iOS before Android? Perhaps, but per my first point, fewer ecosystems, hence apps is better for productive and secure use. If you are a hardcore Apple user with a Mac and use Apple specific apps, then you're already disregarding Google services, so iOS at that point makes perfect sense.

I completely agree that Amazon is the way to go for media. Books, movies, TV shows, with these last two tied into Amazon Prime for free shipping. No brainer.

Given how Amazon purposely breaks your ability to fully use Google services on their Kindle Fire line of tablets, steer clear. I've been very disappointed in how many things family members who have the Fire, one of which I bought for them, can't do with their device. Save a little more money and spring for the Nexus 10 or 7 to get ALL the power of Google with pure Android.

DrobBox and Evernote are great apps, but again I'd argue that you can get the same utility of these services without adding them to Apple, Google or Microsoft ecosystems.

I'm very interested in other's thoughts, even fanboys! :-)

Remotely Ring, Lock or Erase your Android Devices

Remotely Ring, Lock or Erase your Android Devices

Did you know that you can remotely locate, lock and erase your Android devices?

Did you know you can do this with free, built-in functionality from Google without an expensive security app service?

Any device to which you’ve added your Google account will show up in a handy Android Device Manager (ADM) interface. You can access ADM from any browser or from the Android Device Manager app on any other of your Android devices

Let’s take a couple straightforward examples in increasing severity:

Read More

News to me! You?

Finally lifted my head from a busy day deeply involved in some hot to-do's for a client and took a peek at the news of the day. Since I didn't do a good job having a "real" blog post ready in time to post today and since these items are of interest to me I'm going to try and make them of interest to you. 

Also noteworthy is that this is the first blog post I'm crafting entirely on my recently acquired Chromebook Pixel. I'll be discussing that more in a future post.

News Item 1: Google Sells Motorola Mobility to Lenovo

Not really a surprise as this always seemed to me to have originally been a purchase to get at the patents to protect Google and their other Android using partners. They are sending off Motorola hardware bits to Lenovo with a nice tail wind of recent and well received devices. I certainly hope Lenovo builds on the successes here and leaves what seems to be working nicely well enough alone.

News Item 2: Twitter Hack & Two-Factor Non-Factor

This is a long article and not all of it is all that interesting, but it does resurface the issue of the vulnerabilities of humans attempting to authenticate other human beings. The hacker in this case worked themselves through an increasingly familiar chain of services phone support personnel working standard social engineering tactics. It is long past time that companies (and it is always the same group of companies or is it just me?) need to develop a better procedure for validating a customer over the phone.

My apologies to my friends at IDology and other "generate questions from public database" companies, but asking these ridiculous questions about what my car payment is or what address I lived at back in the 80s is not the way to go. The information is too easy to get at if you've worked yourself up the chain of services such that you have all the information you need when you get to that point.

Oh, and asking for the last 4 digits of a credit card is just plain ol' moronic. These are the digits that don't even get masked on receipt printouts for cryin' out loud!

What would be better? Well, let me tie into the comment in the article by the hackee that even 2-factor authentication wouldn't have helped. Really? I have two-factor turned on with service X predominantly for use on the web, but guess what? That same two-factor authentication method will work just fabulously over the phone! They can ask me and I can tell them the one-time code. That causes anyone angst giving a customer service rep a code that is also used to authenticate me for login, then have me type the code in on the keypad and have the phone system which is listening ("your conversation may be recorded...") merely give a "yup that's the right guy" response to the customer service rep.

Anyway, as you can tell this one really punched a couple hot buttons with me!

News Item 3: Google Successfully Pressures Samsung To Dial Back Android Tweaks

Hurray, Hurray, Hurray! Samsung makes great devices and is doing some interesting things with camera hardware and other cool little things that I'd love to have. Problem is that having used their CheezWhiz UI and the plain Google Android UI, I want no Cheez!

It isn't just the UI, but also their custom Samsung apps. They are not good. I am not alone as you can see from this quote lifted from the article: 

In his Galaxy S4 review , Re/code’s Walt Mossberg wrote, “I found Samsung’s software often gimmicky, duplicative of standard Android apps, or, in some cases, only intermittently functional.”

I'm thrilled to hear Samsung is moving toward more stock Android and only time will tell if it turns out to be true. The sooner it is, the sooner it is likely I'll buy another Samsung device vs. my current commitment to all Nexus devices, all the time.

Music on my Android since not using iPod anymore?

I got this seemingly trivial question the other day from a prospective client. For those with a large investment in music from other sources such as iTunes, this is fairly important for their digital lives going forward.

Good news, the answer is a resounding, booming Absolutely! ... and not just on Android devices!

Google Play Music is one of the "go to" apps on my phone, tablet, Chromebook and PC. You can get a lot of use out of it for free.

Take for example that you can upload 20,000, yes, you read that right, 20,000 songs, up to your own free, personal music space. All that music is then available to stream to whatever device you log into with your Google account. This means all your 20,000 songs are available to you for free wherever you have an internet connection.

For those music situations where you are away from wifi and don't want to burn up your data plan, you can have downloaded any portion of those 20,000 songs locally to your device for offline listening (limited to how much storage you have on your phone, of course). 

While I still have an iPod for use in air and car travel, increasingly I find myself streaming music from Google Play Music. As I type this I'm listening to it from my PC's browser. I signed up for the All Access plan when it first came out so I got the $7.99 / month promotional price, but I would happily pay the $9.99 price as I enjoy the Radio function included in All Access. You may want to give it a shot free for 30 days and see what you think.

That being said, the free version can easily serve as a replacement for your iPod and general iTunes habit, (unless you find yourself frequently listening to more than 20,000 songs <grin>).

I'll be posting up a how to use Google Play Music video, especially in conjunction with iTunes, in the near future.