Tag Archives: Google Drive

PTJ 206 News: Robot, You Can Drive My Car

Forget about the distant promise of Hyperloop for a minute, because the United States Department of Transportation is looking toward the near future. The agency has released its first set of government guidelines for self-driving automobiles. The document is wittily titled Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution in Roadway Safety and is available as 116-page PDF from the DOT’s website. Don’t read it while you’re driving.

Speaking of the road ahead, the first US Presidential debate is Monday night, September 26th, so be sure to warm up your fingers properly if you plan to dive into the rolling slapfight on Twitter — and remember, you get the full 140 characters now.


Twitter also got a workout last weekend during the annual Emmy Awards. and one of its own blogs posted the top five most-discussed moments of the event.  (All the feels for the amazing Tatiana Maslany, y’all.) And the service seems to have had a good turnout online for its first live-streamed NFL game last week. According to Adweek, Twitter adding two million viewers on the livestream to the 48 million eating chips and watching the game on TV. The day before its first football adventure, Twitter released set-top apps for the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Microsoft Xbox. Fly, little bird, fly!

Microsoft says its researchers are working to “solve” cancer by using computer science. Go on, give it a read.

Samsung’s voluntary recall of its potentially dangerous Galaxy Note 7 phones became an official government recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission late last week. But here come the lawsuits:  A Florida man is suing Samsung because he claims he suffered severe burns on his leg and thumb when his Galaxy Note 7 exploded in his pocket.

hissWhile Samsung tries to reel in the million or so defective Galaxy Note 7 devices, Apple’s iPhone 7 rolled out last Friday and had some of the usual quirks people seem to find with new iHardware. The company is dealing with a bug in the remote control for the new Lightning-tipped earbuds that come with the iPhone 7 line. Some new owners are also claiming that the iPhone 7 makes a hissing sound. (Yes, Parseltongue jokes commenced as soon as the news broke.)

The news may not be all bad for Samsung, however. The Tom’s Guide site did a head-to-head comparison with the 12-megapixel cameras in both the iPhone 7 models and the camera in Samsung’s non-exploding Galaxy S7Edge phone — and found that the S7 Edge edged out the new iPhones.

Apple users can distract themselves by banging around on the new macOS Sienna operating system, which arrived for download this week. (If you haven’t done it yet, backup before you update. ) Productivity Software Fans: The iWork suite of Pages, Numbers and Keynote was also updated.

Google is just all kinds of busy these days. The company has scheduled an event for October 4th in San Francisco, where insiders assume new phones and maybe that rumored 7-inch Google-pure Android tablet may be unveiled. The company has also goosed the algorithm for its Google Books suggestion engine to make better recommendations on what you should read after you get done with your current Google book. Oh, and they added voice search to Google Drive to help you find your stuff by asking and updated the Google Photos software for Android, iOS and the web.


For travelers, the Big G announced its new Google Trips mobile app for Android and iOS. The new program wants to be your portable personalized tour guide, but parts of it sound an awful lot like the Trip Bundles feature in the Inbox by Google app.

Like Apple, though, Google may be facing a rather large bill from a foreign government or back taxes. As Reuters reports, Indonesia plans to tap Google’s parent company Alphabet for more than $400 million in what it says is unpaid tax in 2015. Google says it’s paid its tax and that most of its revenue for the region is booked through Singapore.

And finally, two notes on relationships. For one, Tinder and Spotify are hooking up to let users of both services see potential matches based on musical tastes (or lack thereof). Secondly, NASA has weighed in on the recirculating rumor that it has messed with the zodiac and everyone’s astrological signs are now different so maybe Scorpios aren’t your type after all. The five-year-old story, apparently hauled out of mothballs by Glamour.com who linked to NASA’s page for kids, describes how the space agency decided to compensate for the fact that the Earth’s axis has shifted over 3,000 years and added a thirteenth sign called Ophiuchus. Someone at NASA with a with a sense of humor rose to the challenge early this week and put up a post on the agency’s Tumblr account to clarify things. Because, you know, NASA ain’t got much to do these days.


(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Yes, We Scan!

Are you the type who needs to collect and file receipts — for work, taxes, reimbursements and so on? If you’re tired of carrying crumpled little pieces of paper around in your pockets and wallet and losing them anyway, you have a handy digital alternative. Sure, you can plunk down the bucks for in a table-top or handheld document scanner to convert paper to pixels for easy filing. Or you could just use your smartphone.

With  the right app, you can use the phone’s camera as a mobile scanner to make instant PDF files or JPGs of your paper receipts. You can then store them on the phone, online — or send them to your computer by mail or message for electronic filing and printing.

You may already have an app that scans, and even if you don’t, scanning apps are not hard to find, especially those that can scan and sync documents to an online storage account. (Just remember the usual caveats about storing files with deeply personal information in The Cloud, a k a Somebody Else’s Hackable Servers.)

googledriveBut back to that free option. If you have an Android device with a camera and the complimentary Google Drive app (shown here), you can scan documents and save them as PDF files, and better yet, delightfully searchable PDF files.

Just open the Google Drive app and touch the red-circled plus button in the bottom corner. Point the device’s camera at the document you want to capture and then tap the Scan button from the menu. If you don’t like the resulting preview, tap the Refresh button or a do-ver. If it’s a multi-page document like a contract or something, tap the + button to scan each page. When you’ve scanned them all, tap the checkmark button to have the file as a PDF to your Google Drive. And if you like home-screen timesavers, there’s a shortcut to the Google Drive scan command in the Android widget library.

If you have the iOS version of the Google Drive app, you don’t get the full Save-As-PDF option, but you can take a picture of the document and store the photo in your online Google locker. For those with iOS and a love of Evernote, however, there’s the free Evernote Scannable app that scans documents to PDF or JPG and instantly stores them in your Evernote collections. Among other things, you can also mail or message the resulting scans.

turboscanCamScanner is a standalone scanner app that works with Evernote if you want it to, but you can also use it to scan and share files across multiple devices. The app comes in mobile versions for Android, Windows Phone and iOS for either iPhone or iPad. The free version gives you 200 megabytes of online storage, but a $5-a-month premium account gets you 10 gigs of space and way more features. Genius Scan is another cross-platform scanner with free and premium editions, and the $3 TurboScan (shown here) for Android and iOS is yet another inexpensive option with helpful features and a good review from Engadget. However, The Sweet Setup site  favors the $2 ScanBot software (for Android, iOS and Kindle) as top scanner app and explains why in a nice little article that also throws in a bit of document-scanning history.

If you don’t like any of those, you can find more in your respective app store. Even if you have to pony up $2 to $5 for an app, you’ll probably save at least that much by not losing those receipts you need to file and submit in the first place.

PTJ 136 News: May the Force Field Be With You

April Fools’ Day was this week and the usual tech-company hijinks were on display. Google turned its Google Maps site into a location-specific version of the Pac-Man videogame that was actually fully functional — and let users navigate the munching yellow ball over city streets. Samsung, meanwhile, released a promo site for a fake Galaxy phone called the Blade Edge, which claimed to be a chef’s knife with smartphone capabilities. And Amazon’s thing called  the Dash button? The timing mades it sound fake but many outlets reported it was real (or real lame).


Hopefully not an April Fools’ Day joke: Verizon Wireless customers can now fully opt out of those mandatory zombie supercookies that were tracking their whereabouts on the Web. Verizon had promised cookie relief earlier this year when the news broke and a few members of the US Senate called for an investigation.

Need help around the house? Turns out you can order that from Amazon now, too. The company just launched its new Amazon Home Services directory.

watchGot your eye on the Apple Watch that costs as much as a car? According to the 9to5Mac site, there’s a unique “Apple Store purchasing experience”  and a “personalized journey” in the works for those who lay out the scratch for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition. Also, you don’t have to wait in line, so there’s that.

People have been wondering what Apple has planned for the Beats music service since it acquired the company last year. News organizations began reporting last week that an overhaul of Beats and Apple’s own iTunes service is in the works.  No word on when the new services are arriving, but Apple will get some competition from Jay Z’s revamped Tidal music-streaming service, a platform owned by artists.

Thanks to bigger bandwidth, better compression and boffo hardware, high-def video keeps getting more gorgeous. YouTube is rising to the challenge with 4K video using 60 frames per second. If you have the hardware to run it, the clips are beautiful, but as the Macworld site put it, video that massive will crush your computer if your graphics card is not up to snuff.

Google continues to tinker and merge its various services. The company announced this week that photos Google+ users keep online are now also be available in Google Drive and the Gmail team has also updated its Android app to put all your Inboxes in one place.

sheepA farmer in Ireland has released a video of an aerial drone herding a flock of sheep.  Meanwhile, Facebook continues to test its solar-powered drones for delivering Internet access to part of the world that have no connectivity, much like Google’s balloon-powered Project Loon is doing. And the Guardian news organization got a visit to Amazon’s secret drone testing ground in Canada. The uber-mega-everything store is testing its Prime Air delivery service north of the border due to frustration with regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration. Still, Amazon’s keeping busy stateside — the Re/Code site noticed a patent the company recently filed that envisions a retail store that lets shoppers fill their carts and then leave without going through the cashier lane — because the store’s sensors would just bill you for the goods.

Also in patent news: Boeing, maker of aviation equipment and sponsor of public-television programs, has a patent for a force field that could, in theory, protect buildings and vehicles from explosions. As a conceptual video from the Patent Yogi site illustrates, the force-field would work by detecting shockwaves from nearby explosions and respond with laser pulses to absorb the blast by ionizing the air.

swcAnd finally, speaking of force fields and things that make us think of Star Wars, several fan sites are reporting that a new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, will debut at this year’s Star Wars Celebration convention next month in Anaheim, California. J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy are kicking off the show on April 16th at 10AM Pacific time, so let’s expect the trailer’s debut then and there — and for it (please) to be online five minutes later.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: This Space for Rent

If you use one of the popular webmail services, odds are you have a few gigabytes of online storage included for storing your messages, photos and documents. But the longer you have the account, the more you’re likely to fill it up. Then you either have to delete stuff — or whip put the plastic and pay money for more storage space from the provider.

Unless you’ve gotten warnings about running out of room, you may not have had to check your current storage situation. But do you know what types of files actually count towards your storage total — or ways some sites give you way to earn free additional storage? Read on.

First off, Yahoo Mail users: You get a get a free terabyte of space for your mail. So unless you’re running an enormous mailing list or have a digital hoarding problem, you’re going to be okay for awhile.

If you use Google products to store your life online — Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos — you get 15 gigabytes for free to divide up between the three services. Your Gmail attachments count toward this limit, as well as the files you’ve stored on your Google Drive — unless those files are Google Docs, Sheets or Slides files. Files that have been shared with you also don’t count, and neither do photos smaller than 2048 x 2048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes. (Brevity is the soul of wit, and it has other perks, too.)


If you think you may be getting close, check your Google Storage page to see how your 15 gigs are carved up between the services you use regularly. Google occasionally offers a free gigabyte or two, as it recently did for users who completely a security checklist on their Google accounts, so keep an eye out for those types of things. But if space gets tight, an extra 100 gigabytes is about $2 a month, a terabyte is $10 a month — and you can even get more if you need it.

officeonlineMicrosoft OneDrive also provides 15 gigabytes of free storage when you sign up for an account or use it with your Outlook.com mail or other Microsoft service. As a perk, you also get to use Office Online. As an even bigger perk, Microsoft will double your overall storage locker and give you another 15 gigabytes of space if you use the OneDrive app on your iPhone, Android phone or Windows Phone to automatically back up the photos you take on the mobile device. You can get another 500 megabytes of space if you refer a friend to OneDrive — and the friend gets 500 megabytes, too. (You can refer up to 10 of your pals, which gives you a max of 5 extra gigs you can add on through referrals.) Still need more? Microsoft has plans: 100 gigabytes for $2 a month, 200 gigabytes for $4 a month or a whole terabyte for $7 a month — and you get Office 365 with that big TB.

icloudIn comparison, Apple’s iCloud is quite stingy, perhaps in the hope that you’ll fork over some bucks to upgrade your space. The five starter gigabytes are divided up between your iCloud mail, online backup, iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library.

Need more? To get a total of 20 gigs, you pay Apple a buck a month. And there are other plans — a total of 200 gigabytes costs $4 a month, 500 gigs is $10 monthly and a terabyte is $20 a month. If you buy a lot of content from iTunes, though, you don’t have to worry about those purchases eating up your space — all those items don’t count toward your iCloud total.

dropboxAnd last but not least. Dropbox starts you off with two gigabytes with your free account, but gives you all kinds of ways to add extra space to your storage total. If you use the company’s new photo gallery mobile app, Carousel, you get an extra 3 gigabytes of space. You can also earn extra storage space for linking Dropbox with its Mailbox app, referring your friends, sending feedback to the company, connecting your Dropbox to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and following the company on Twitter. If fact, Dropbox has a whole Get More Space page you can visit to learn all the ways you can add on to those original two gigs if you start running low. And if you still need more, you can always upgrade to Dropbox Pro, which starts you out at a terabyte of storage space for $10 a month.

To keep up with demand, these companies seem to be adding server racks left and right to store the bits and bytes of the world. In that regard, it seems like this sort of space isn’t the final frontier after all.

PTJ 133 News: Legacies

It’s been a rough few weeks for geek fandom and its iconic actors. Harrison Ford continues to recover from this private plane crash last Thursday, which came less than a week after the death of Leonard Nimoy on February 27th. We here at Pop Tech Jam wish Mr. Ford a hyperdrive-quick recovery and send our condolences to Mr. Nimoy’s family.

Since Mr. Nimoy’s passing, tributes continue to pop up around the cultural landscape, including a nod at the end of last week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory and multiple Spock statues showing up in-world around the Star Trek Online game. And in a thoughtful essay over on The Guardian’s website, Jason Wilson writes how Trekker culture now rules the world, as it introduced a productive creativity into fandom that long pre-dated Facebook, Twitter or even the commercial Internet itself. Live long and prosper, indeed.

Now, in hardware news, Samsung’s newly announced Galaxy S6 family of phones has retailers excited. A report in The Korea Times notes that Samsung received 20 million pre-orders for the new phones from wireless carriers and retail stores around the world.

androidGoogle is pushing out Android 5.1 starting this week. Also curious explorers over at the Android Police site who were peeking into the code for Google Drive 2.2 claim to have found lines written into the program that shift the old auto photo backup feature of Google+ to Google Drive.

Hillary Clinton held a press conference this week to deal with the controversy surrounding the revelation last week that she was using a private email account to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State. The reason? She said she just wanted to stick with one email account and one device. (Yeah, this flap isn’t closing any time soon.)

Wikimedia is among those suing the National Security Agency for its mass surveillance programs that violate protections built into the United States Constitution. In a separate security note, The Intercept site says it has documents detailing how the Central Intelligence Agency spent years trying to break the encryption used on Apple’s iOS devices.

In NASA news, the Dawn spacecraft became the first piece of human-made hardware to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet last Friday when the sprightly little probe began to circle Ceres. Go, Dawn, go!

Meanwhile, over on Mars, scientists hope the arm on the Curiosity Rover can get back to work after its built-in drill began to suffer from an intermittent short-circuit problem a few weeks ago. Engineers have been running diagnostic tests while the rover has been parked. Even though Curiosity hasn’t been rolling around the red planet wince late February, it’s still been taking scientific observations from its position and monitoring the Martian weather.

opportunityNASA’s other active Mars rover, the 11-year-old Opportunity, is working its mission to study the Martian terrain and has rolled more than 26 miles on its most recent quest to study unfamiliar rocks. Despite its advanced age, Opportunity is still knocking around and recently got a new version of its software installed remotely from the rover team back on Earth. It’s also scheduled for a little memory reformat in the near future as a maintenance procedure. May all our space explorers — factual and fictional — live on in our hearts and minds.

PTJ 129 News: Identity Crisis

Those massive corporate data breaches just keep rolling on like an endless Mardi Gras parade, don’t they? Last week’s big heist from the Anthem health insurance company  may have actually started almost nine months ago, though. Brian Krebs, keeper of the excellent Krebs on Security blog, is among those reporting that open-source information used to analyze the attack suggests that the first Anthem network intrusions took place in April 2014. When the hack ‘n’ heist was announced last week, Anthem quickly put up an information page and frequently asked questions page for its customers. Some experts have also suggested putting a security freeze on your accounts if you really want to throw up a roadblock.

Also hacked: The Twitter account of Anthony Noto, the chief financial officer of Twitter. Oops.

The White House is at least trying to get an agency together to help sort out online security incidents. The Cyber Threat and Intelligence Integration Center is expected to serve as a portal for members of the intelligence community to share and compare cyber threat data.

Google is also celebrating Safer Internet Day until February 17th, The company put up an online Security Checkup tutorial that guides you through reviewing your permissions and security settings. It takes about two minutes to complete and has a reward, Google will give you a permanent two-gigabyte bump in your Google Drive storage space. So that’s win-win, but perhaps Google ought to to some safer Internet housekeeping and clean out those nasty adware apps posing as games in its Google Play store.


On a happier health-related note, Google announced this week on its Google Blog that it was adding fact-checked medical information to its Knowledge Graph feature of Google search. Who knows what else they’ll be adding to search by the time the annual I/O conference rolls in — it’ll be May 28th & 29th this year.

Smart TVs may be getting a little too smart for some people. There’s chatter around Samsung’s Smart TV this week, particularly the voice activation feature that can be used to control the set by talking when it was revealed that the TV can eavesdrop and record private conversations that take front of the TV and transmit the information to third-party companies.


Samsung acknowledged the practice in its user agreement for the TV and said users can turn off voice activation whenever they want and other users have gone to more extreme measures Samsung, realizing that clumsy wording its is EULA was causing uproar, later went to its corporate blog to clarify that the Smart TV does not randomly record private living room conversations and its really just about transmitting the spoken-word commands to Nuance for translation into action. Still, many people have noticed a similarity to the spying telescreens of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Hey, a $10,000 Ethernet cable? Some gearheads are clearly a bit skeptical, but if this sort of thing appeals to you, we also hear there’s a super-cool bit of New York City real estate over there for sale, too.

scribdScribd, the service that offers unlimited access to certain ebooks for a monthly fee, is bringing the same approach to comics — yes, unlimited access to the company’s digital comics offerings for $9 a month. No DC Comics, though. Yet, anyway. But look! Up in the sky! At least you can use Apple Pay on JetBlue starting this month.

Apple is also hard at work on the next couple versions of its iOS software. Several tech blogs are reporting that there’s an iOS 8.4 update down the road when the Apple Watch arrives this spring and that one may include a new streaming Beats music service. And later this year, look for iOS 9.


And finally, the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum announced this week that it has some long-lost space artifacts from Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Although Mr. Armstrong died in 2012, his widow contacted the museum recently and said she found a white bag known as a “McDivitt purse” in one of Mr. Armstrong’s closets. The random objects inside the bag turned out to be about 10 pounds of hardware related to the original moonwalk — including the 16mm Data Acquisition Camera that was mounted in the window of the lunar module Eagle to record the historic landing and “one small step” step. Here’s hoping the Smithsonian does an Inside Neil Armstrong’s Historic Space Purse exhibit soon!

PTJ 102: Making The Leap From Windows to OS X

This week on a super-sized edition of the best geek culture web radio show on the planet we answer a question from a longtime listener who is about to make the dramatic leap from a Windows PC to a shiny new Mac. J.D. and El Kaiser offer suggestions on how to make the transition painless.

In the news, Apple edges closer to official i-branded wearable tech; a forensic scientist and hacker claims there are a slew of attack points, system backdoors and surveillance mechanisms purposely built into iOS devices; The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed its own browser plug-in that prevents third party online snoops;  Facebook tests new “buy now” and “save for later” features; The FCC closes out the first round of public comments on its proposed new rules for Net Neutrality;  Samsung gets into the luxury headphone game; and The Simpsons get the marathon treatment.

Moving to Mac

So, after all these years, you’ve decided to leave the familiar Windows PC behind and switch to the Mac.  Whether it be corporate migration, fear and annoyance with Windows 8/ditching Windows XP (at last), or just the need for a change, the process isn’t as drastic as it used to be. Let’s break it down: After you get the new Mac, you have three basic steps to make it feel like home.

Step 1: Move Your Stuff

You can physically schlep your files from the PC to Mac in a number of ways, including copying folders and files to an external hard drive for a SneakerNet transfer, or moving them over a network. But Apple, wanting to make PC refugees as happy as possible, has its own free Windows Migration Assistant program (shown below) and detailed instructions for using it on its site. The Assistant moves basic stuff like contacts, calendar info, mail accounts, browser bookmarks and more — but not Windows programs. (These won’t run on OS X anyway unless you get fancy, as we’ll discuss in a bit.)


You can also use the Migration Assistant to move files and folders. Common file formats, like JPG photo files, text files and unprotected MP3 audio files work well on both platforms. The Assistant can even put your pictures into the free iPhoto program that comes with the Mac, but if you prefer other photo-editing and organizer programs like Google’s Picasa or Adobe Photoshop Elements, there are OS X  versions to download or buy.

Likewise, if you need Microsoft Office, you can either buy the Mac version, use Office 365 or get one of the various other programs out there that can open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Apple’s iWork productivity suite is now free with every new Mac and can handle a lot of Office chores.

Apple’s iTunes program can’t plan Windows Audio Media files, but iTunes can convert unrestricted WMA files to iTunes-friendly formats. If you were using iTunes for Windows, you can transfer all your ripped and purchased iTunes content between computers.

Many apps and services are cross-platform — Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon’s Kindle Reader, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and so on. You can download new versions from the sites themselves. The Mac App Store may also have useful software.

The bummer for most people is that PC games will not work on the Mac and the Mac has never quite caught up with Windows in that area. (Some say Macs are getting better for games, though, and Steam might help ease the pain of PC-game withdrawal.)

Step 2: Get to Know Mac OS X

Let’s face it, over the years, both Windows and OS X have gotten similar: Taskbar/Dock, Programs/Applications folder, Recycle Bin/Trash Can — navigating the desktop is not that hard to do anymore between the two systems. Mac keyboard shortcuts may differ, as well as the placement of desktop icons, but these are often minor things to relearn.


Apple’s site has tons of basic info about getting used to Mac OS X and even an “On Windows, I used to…” page.  Many people around the Web have posted their personal tales of switching from PC to Mac. Resources abound online, so read up.

Step 3: Fine-Tuning, Workarounds and … Windows on a Mac?

Once you get your stuff moved over and become somewhat used to navigating the Mac interface, you’ll probably find some things you need to tweak. You may also find you need some programs that just aren’t available for the Mac.

As for the tweaking, the Mac OS comes with a ton of printer drivers already installed, but you may need to snag more obscure ones or utility software from the manufacturer’s site. Many new Macs don’t include disc drives or Ethernet jacks anymore, so if you need these, external add-ons are available. Of course, you’ll want to get a backup drive for your system, but you get free backup software with Mac OS X called Time Machine.

If there are some Windows programs you still need to use, you have options. Programs like Citrix will let you tap into some Windows servers and systems virtually from your Mac. Apple’s free Boot Camp software (below) basically lets you partition your Mac’s drive and carve out space to install a copy of Windows side-by-side on the same machine. Virtualization software like the $80 Parallels Desktop can also run Windows on your Mac, but without all that partitioning business. Note that you do have to buy the copy of Windows, however. (Microsoft software sold separately. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may vary.)


After years of Windows, it may take a few weeks to get used to OS X — especially if you’ve never used a Mac, but go on in and get comfortable. To help you relax, check out these OS X Easter Eggs left by kindly Apple software engineers. You can play a round of Tetris, see the legendary Mrs. Field’s cookie recipe — and if you miss it from Windows — watch the ASCII version of Star Wars over a Telnet connection in the Mac’s Terminal window. Feels like home already now, doesn’t it? And if it doesn’t…well, Windows 9 is due out next year!

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Get More Out of Webmail

Want to make Webmail feel more like desktop mail when you’re checking your personal account at work or on a different computer? Sure, you can format messages in rich text and make folders in most services now, but here are a few other tips for managing your mail more efficiently through your Web browser.

1. Use keyboard shortcuts.

  • Gmail. Google’s mail program comes with one level of shortcuts that work automatically and another level that you have to turn on within the Gmail settings. The automatic ones are things like navigational controls for jumping around between messages with the arrow keys, that sort of thing. To turn on the second level of shortcuts, go into your Gmail settings by clicking on the gear-shaped menu icon, selecting Settings and tuning on the option for keyboard shortcuts. Once you save the changes, you get a couple dozen more shortcuts for composing mail, moving through conversations, archiving mail and so forth. Press the keyboard’s ? key to see a list of all the shortcuts.
  • Yahoo. Yahoo has all kinds of shortcuts for using Yahoo Mail, including those for composing messages, working with message lists and navigating.  Press the keyboard’s ? key to see a list of all the shortcuts.
  • Outlook.com. In Microsoft’s Webmail service, which used to be Hotmail, you can use the built-in shortcuts, or if you’re coming from Gmail or Yahoo, you can use those instead. When you’re in Outlook.com,  Press the keyboard’s ? key to see the shortcuts and get to the settings.


2. Drag and drop those attachments.

Most Webmail programs now let you do it this way instead of clicking the attach button and navigating through your hard drive to find the file you want to send. Gmail has more information here and Yahoo’s mail-attachment tips are here. Outlook.com still uses the Insert button, but you can choose to stick them on as “Files as attachments,” Pictures inline” or “Share from SkyDrive.”

3. Use integrated online storage for big attachments.

Speaking of the “Share with SkyDrive” option — got a 30-megabyte file that’s too big to attach to a normal message? The big three Webmail service all have integration with other cloud services. Microsoft’s SkyDrive can do the heavy lifting for mail attachments with Outlook.com and other mail programs. If you have Gmail, you can insert that big attachment that lives on your Google Drive to your Gmail message. Yahoo Mail recently linked up with Dropbox for similar big attachment handing.

Some things about doing mail on the Web will always be different than managing your messages with a dedicated desktop program, but Webmail does give you a lot of freedom and perks of its own. And just think how far it’s come since the original HoTMaiL’s official launch back on July 4, 1996, with its free two megabytes of storage.

Episode 46 News: Taxing Situations

Sales taxes for online purchases could be in the near future. The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, a bill that was just approved by the United States Senate by a vote of 69 to 27, is now headed to the House of Representatives. (Do you have to pay tax on rentals? Adobe announced this week that it’s no longer going to sell the Creative Suite software, but is moving to the $50-per-month Creative Cloud subscription service and other rental plans with varying fees for new versions of its products.)

Security analysts have found flaws in Internet Explorer 8, which Microsoft has confirmed, although it says that IE 6, 7, 9 and 10 are not affected by this particular exploit. The attack has been reported as hitting US government Web sites and federal workers involved in nuclear research. In other security news, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress directly accuses the Chinese military of staging cyber-attacks on American government computer systems and defense contactors.

Google Glass may not be feeling the love from certain legislators and Las Vegas casinos, but Google is keeping busy with other projects. The company added the ability to share files from your Google Drive folder on your PC or Mac directly with others, and it also  updated its Gmail app for iOS this week.

An analyst from NPD DisplaySearch says Apple will release a Retina display version of its popular iPad Mini tablet in the third quarter of this year — and then turn around and drop a third-generation Mini with a faster processor in the first quarter of 2014. (So what’s a geek to do for the holiday season purchases this year?)

On the topic of small tablets, Amazon may have spoiled a Microsoft surprise by accidentally publishing pictures of a new 7-inch Acer tablet, which is thought to be the first smaller slab to run Windows 8. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates thinks Windows tablets offer more perks like keyboards and Office for “frustrated” tablet users, although judging from the sales numbers, iPad users aren’t that frustrated.

Windows 8 has now sold 100 million licenses since it arrived six months ago. Don’t get too comfy — an update to Windows 8, codenamed Windows Blue, is expected later this year, as is a new version of the Xbox game console that may have an HDMI port.

Electronic Arts announced that The Sims 4 will arrive next year for PC and Mac gamers. Much to the relief of many, The Sims 4 will be available in single-player offline mode. (Will Wright, SimCity’s original 1980s developer, expressed sympathy recently for the EA team involved in the epic fail that was the SimCity 5 launch a few months ago.) Electronic Arts has a few other things going on besides Sim-related games. Disney, which recently shut down the LucasArts game division, has tapped EA to develop future game titles for the Star Wars franchise. Not everyone is excited by this, including one writer over at TG Daily. However, other media outlets were more hopeful.

Finally, and sadly, we note the passing of Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animator and film visual-effects wizard behind the classic Jason and the Argonauts and scores of other pictures. He was an inspiration to George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and pretty much anyone entranced by the magic of movies. Requiescat in pace.