Tag Archives: email

Gmail On Notice(s)

Google has just launched desktop notifications for Gmail using HTML5 technology. Of course, they’ve had a separate pop-up notifier for quite a while now. How does this one compare?

Improvements:

  • Will run on any operating system.
  • Doesn’t need to be installed on your computer.
  • Doesn’t require a registry hack now that GMail requires SSL on everything.
  • Doesn’t require you to enter your login & password in a separate app.
  • Lets you choose between only chat notifications, only email notifications, or both.
  • If you use Priority Inbox, lets you choose between all new messages or only those PI has marked as Important.

Downside:

  • Needs Gmail to be open. No biggie, as this is true of pop-up notifications for Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. But since the old notifier was a separate app, it could run on its own.
  • Only works with Chrome so far.

Why Link Length Matters

Twitter writes that link length shouldn’t matter, but the zillions of URL shortening services out there show that, for now, it does.

But why?

There are two main reasons to shorten* a link:

  • There’s a technical limit, such as SMS message length or email line width.
  • You expect people to manually enter the URL.

Right now, with Twitter messages limited to 140 characters and links forced to share that space with the rest of the post, URL shorteners are critical. But they’re working on a plan to accept longer URLs, and specifically shorten them for SMS messages. The full link will be available on the Twitter website, desktop clients, and other platforms that don’t have that hard and fast limit.

That will cut down on the demand for shorteners, but they’ll still be useful.

For one thing, there are other microblogging platforms out there like StatusNet.

For another, there’s email.

IIRC, the first URL shorteners launched because email programs often break up really long lines, including really long URLs. In plain-text messages, that leaves links not just unclickable, but inconvenient even to copy and paste, because you have to copy each line separately and paste them together. This will continue to be an issue as long as people continue to put visible URLs in email.

And then there’s the human factor. It might not be easy to remember http://is.gd/cGE8V, but it certainly takes a lot less time to write it on a scrap of paper than http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/07/hard-to-port-eject-goose-eject/.

Which of those URLs would you rather type on your keyboard? Or worse, on your mobile phone?

*In this case, I mean making it really short and cryptic. There are plenty of reasons to keep links readable and sort of short.

Inbox 50

Slowly but surely, my email cleanup continues.

After paring my inbox down to 100 items in mid-January, then 75 by the end of the month, I set my next goal of getting it down to 50 by the end of February. I just made it. I managed to hold in the 60-65 range for most of the month (after going through each day’s new mail), and decided to make an extra effort on the last day.

I’ve gotten a lot better at dealing with new stuff, whether answering it, filing it, taking an action elsewhere online or in the real world, or (in some cases) just deleting it. I’ve only got about 10 items from the last two months that I still need to act on in some way. The rest are older, mostly Flash-related info or to-do items. A lot of them are going to take longer since they involve research, or scanning, or writing.

So instead of aiming for 25 by the end of March, I’m going to aim for 30.

Who knows? By summer, I may actually have only new messages in my inbox!

Inbox 75

Well, I actually made one of my goals for January. I not only got my email inbox down to 100, I got it to my secondary goal of 75!

A lot of what’s left are to-do items for my Flash website. (Some reminders I sent to myself, some info people sent me.) I should either find time to do them, or add them to my current to-do list and remove them from my inbox.

Next goal: Inbox 50 by the end of February.

Inbox 100

My email inbox is now below 100 messages. It’s kind of sad that this is actually an accomplishment!

I’m down to about 10 items from the past month, another 20 or so to-do items I’ve sent myself, 8 back-issues of This Is True that I missed the first time around, and a bunch of older stuff related to my Flash website.

The hard part isn’t the length of the list. The hard part is deciding, with each message, whether to toss it, file it, or keep it around so that I can act on it — and then actually following through!

I’m sort of hoping I can get it below 75 by the end of the month.