Here's One For You: Turn Google Drive Into A Fax Machine

In case you still fax stuff, you can give your faxes the modern edge by leveraging Google Drive and the HelloFax application. HelloFax’s Google Drive integration permits faxing of any document from Google Drive and receive faxes from others in a dedicated HelloFax folder within the drive. It’s just one of the great third-party integrations coming out of the box with GDrive, one that makes tons of sense for business users of the GCloud. The HelloFax app will also allow you to edit and sign PDF documents in the browser – no more printing important documents to sign and then scan back into your computer for printing. This is pretty cool, given that the reason most people still fax is so that they can sign a document and send it back.

 

Go green and go HelloFax and say goodbye to printed documents. And, work with them via Google Drive. Pretty sweet combination.

First Find The Search Engine, Then Find The Goods

 

I am all for specialist search engines when you have a precise idea about what you are looking for. Firefox is my serious research browser and I have the search box outfitted with scads of different search engines. You know what they say about “the right tool for the right job” and all.

 

The Next Web has a great list of specialized search engines dedicated to ferreting out specific information. The categories range from flights and travel, to blogs, to people, to images, to fora, to music, to audio and video, to resources, to domain names, to icons, to private search, to similar websites and to some all around great engines that do the job better than the Big G. Some of my favs on their list that I use all the time:

 

Hipmunk for travel

IceRocket.com for blogs and social search

TinEye.com for reverse image search

123people.com for searching people and their related info

DuckDuckGo.com for private search the rids you of the ads

Blekko.com for targeted, curated search

Greplin.com for searching all my connected social apps, emails, and other content on my iPhone and on the desktop

 

Happy hunting and pecking!

Gmelius Makes Gmail Better

Hardcore Gmail users will love this – Gmelius is a cross-browser extension that offers lots of options for customizing and  improving your Gmail experience. First and foremost: Gmelius will allow you to excise the ads that show at the top of your inbox! Right now, it appears Gmelius has extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera – hopefully they will come to the aid of some  of those other browsers  soon.

 

Some of the other great features that are selectable within the extension include the ability to make the header auto-expandable, remove the People Widget, customize the navigation icons, add a row highlight, clear formatting from incoming emails to make them look-alike, add attachment icons for different types of docs such as Word or Powerpoint, disable the “consider including” box if you don’t want Gmail to suggest recipients to you, make the Google logo clickable (but watch out when you have multiple sign in’s activated), auto scroll to the top of your inbox when you click the black bar, and move email labels to the right in the inbox. In total, Gmelius is all about creating more space in the interface so that it becomes easier to work with your Gmail, definitely a good thing.

 

 

 

Gmelius insists that it will never access, read, store, alter or transmit your personal data. Gmelius code meets the latest Content Security Policy (CSP) recommendations, making sure its users can keep browsing the Web safely.

 

Gmelius is constantly updating the extension, with new features in settings shown with a “new” tag. Plus they appear committed to cleaning up bugs as quickly as possible.

 

 

The extension is free, but the developers ask for a donation. With the advent of Google Drive and an increase in storage size in your Gmail from 7 to 10 GB to celebrate, Gmelius offers yet another good reason to move your emailing activity to the Gmail cloud. Hope you enjoy this great new extension as much as I do.

Google Drive Is Finally Here!

 

It was a bit like waiting for Santa Claus but now Google fans have cause to rejoice – the fabled Google Drive has moved from myth to reality! And the reality ain’t too shabby (yes I said “ain’t”). So what’s it all about?

 

First, if you are a user of Google docs, you are going to love the integration of this cloud-based storage locker and your familiar Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations. It works as a local, syncing file system for both your Google application files as well as any other files you might want to store in the Cloud. You get 5GB of storage off the bat for free and you can by more at VERY reasonable prices – especially as you purchase larger increments. Paid plans start at $2.49 per month for 25GB and any paid plan automatically jumps up your Gmail storage to 25GB. For less than $60 per year, you can get 100GB. A whopping 16TB will cost $800 per month. Another place Google Drive shines is per file size 10 GB per file. And it is secured with the same security you find in the rest of the Google Apps suite.

 

The app launched yesterday for Windows, Mac and Android users. IOS users will have to wait but Google did out screenshots of the iPad app so we know it’s coming. Linux users are out of luck for now.

 

There is a local app to download that serves as the conduit to the cloud – Dropbox and Windows SkyDrive Users will recognize the setup. You won’t be able to edit your Google Docs locally – click on the file in your local computer’s file finder or manager and your browser will open for editing. You can see them locally though, and find them in local search. You can view, share and comment on docs from the local Drive – maybe local editing is coming down the road. In any event, because the “file” created in drive is fully synced across devices, you will see your changes everywhere – just watch for versioning issues when you collaborate on changes with others.

 

Drive will store many different file types, including images. And, as one would expect from Google, the search is great. Documents are OCR’d and there is even rudimentary image recognition via Google Goggles – at least for the most obvious of images. Videos uploaded in Drive are coded like YouTube videos – its like having your own private YouTube.

 

Because Google Drive opened up its API as soon as possible, there are several third party apps that can work with Drive from the start.

 

 

Google Drive is trying to straddle the line between cross platform and proprietary apps. It’s third party partners are numerous and likely will increase. However, editing can only be accomplished via Google Docs. Not a bad compromise – simply convert your other compatible files, such as Microsoft Office apps, into GDocs format and you are good to go. You will be able to share stuff directly from Drive to Google + and attach files directly to Gmail.

 

Google Drive is entering a crowded field of competitors jockeying for first place in the Run for the Roses (like the timely Derby reference?). The Verge does a great job outlining the competition here. If you are already a Google user, then Google Drive is a no-brainier. If not, why not use those free 5GB to good use? Might make a believer out of you.

 

Barrister App. For Mobile Phones & Not Just for U.K. Lawyers

I stumbled on a post today from the Dallas Association of Law Librarians about a new service that will create and maintain an iPhone app for your law firm. The company is called Digome, LLC out of Nashville and the app is called Barrister App. Unlike some of the do it yourself options I have talked about here in the Studio, this app is essentially a content management system with a slick, iPhone, Android or Blackberry friendly face. The components include: Who We Are – the list of firm attorneys, contact information and practice areas; Where We Are – firm office or offices on Google Maps; What We Do – list of firm practice areas; Notifications – the key to communicating with clients regarding anything from appointment reminders to firm news; My Notes – user-generated notes, presumably pertaining to their legal representations; and, My Profile – where the client enters information.

 

 

You can use your own logo, but there are limitations on color scheme. Additionally, the app requires a log-in, which seems a bit counterintuitive and makes it more useful for existing clients than new ones.

But the company will do the heavy lifting for you, maintaining the CMS system and making sure everything runs smoothly. Pricing for the app is displayed on the chart below, with additional maintenance charges of 20% of the initial cost per year on top:

 

 

If you are a smaller player, you might want to skip to cost and make your site mobile friendly or use a Web app. However, if you are interested in keeping tight contact with your clients and facilitating the flow of information in both directions, Barrister App might be an attractive option.

HatchedIt – For The Domestic CEO

You manage your law firm with high tech tools, why not your family? If you already subscribe to the thought that high tech means high efficiency, then you might be interested in this calendar-based white board / web tool for family management called HatchedIt. What caught my eye was this blurb at the top of the About Us page:

 

According to Salary.com the job of family CEO should pay $134,121.00 per year.   It is an executive-level position that entails managing multiple schedules within tight budgetary constraints, while staying focused on the emotional and physical needs of others.

 

I’ll buy that. Anyway, it’s primarily a calendar app, but it is also more than that. Along with the calendar, you get an address book, a tool for sharing family news, a notebook tool and even a household blog. The idea is that HatchedIt can serve as your personal Sharepoint +  a place to keep important information vital to the whole family, as well as a hub for the social sharing we are all familiar with in our more mainstream web dealings. While your immediate family- connected group may be small, HatchedIt allows you to connect with a larger group of HatchedIt users via permissions. Use email from the app to communicate with non-HatchedIt individuals. You can set up personal news and blog feeds, and easily share interesting content within the app to your family. Guess I won’t need to email my son with cool YouTube videos anymore. No more complaining that you didn’t know about that dinner date on the calendar – HatchedIt lets you share the information in one space with personal log-ins and passwords for members. View all or individual calendars. Group chat with other members, share select information with members, sitters, grandparents, or parents of your kid’s best friends. Send event invitations. Use it for organizing private family events to organizing class parents at schools, hobby groups, and volunteer efforts. Privacy controls let you share as much or as little as you want.  That is a lot of organization, all for free.

 

You can access this web app from any computer, as well as via free mobile apps for iOS and Android. It goes where you go.

 

These days, I primarily turn to Google’s suite of applications to handle my co-calendaring and personal home management. But there is something to be said for an application that is dedicated to the family. Well thought out and executed, Kirstin Bischoff and Megan Brown.

 

Lose The Lists & Opt Out with UnlistMy.Info

 

I have been on a bit of a tear lately with respect to privacy issues on the web. UnlistMyInfo is another tool to help limit the information about you being passed around. This tool helps you determine which sites store information about you and gives you the details on how to request that your information be taken down. I was very impressed with the list of sites UnlistMyInfo has in its library – from addresssearch.com to 123people and zoominfo.com. There is also a link for you to submit a site to UnlistMyInfo for inclusion. It might take a while for you to click through the lists and submit all the unlisting requests, but it is time well spent in an age when it is far too easy for ne’er-do-wells to collect and misuse your vital statistics.

Twitter Just Got A Lot More Interesting, with Prismatic

 

Even after four years of tweeting, Twitter is still an enigma to me. Mostly because I find myself constantly flooded with information from it and I am unhappy with my inability to segregate the really good stuff from the really useless stuff. I prune my follows regularly and use all sorts of apps to bring the best stuff to the top, but I still am plagued with the idea that I am missing real gems in the process. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Twitter isn’t useful – I definitely see it as a valid news source, particularly for real-time and breaking information. It’s just that my efficiency-first personality renders me constantly frustrated by the process of reading and rating the worth of tweets.

 

Speaking of gems, I may have found an answer, at at least, a better answer to may age-old problem of information overload in my Twitter stream. It’s called Prismatic. Prismatic is an algorithm driven application that reads through the Twitter stream, and reports back with the tweets and links that will likely be of the greatest interest to you. It’s awesome for a number of reasons. First, while you may have the coolest Twitter follows in the world, they are only human and may miss some key information. Furthermore, if you have narrowed your interest graph to a particular topic or set of topics, what are you to do when you need information outside that sphere. Prismatic doesn’t just look at your Twitter follows, it looks at the WHOLE Twitter stream (yikes!) and then promotes the best stuff on your area of interest, while still offering a series of links along your sidebar to permit you to investigate different topics and tags.

 

Prismatic’s developers bill it as a discovery engine and have leveraged their deep knowledge of machine learning and linguistic programming in building the app. So what does it look like? After answering a few questions to get your page started, you will be greeted with a clean, web-news page look, with main stories in the larger left side, and a sidebar along the right. Hover over the home icon on the right to see your “home” feed, which is built around your interests. Hover over the globe icon on the right to explore the larger universe of available topics. It appears that the Global feed is also personalized to you, but covers a broader range of material. You get suggested topics as well as suggested publishers, so you can lock in on the most interesting stuff. You can also employ the search box on the right to get right to what you are looking for.

 

Of course, you can fully interact with the articles presented to you in your feed. A typical blurb looks like the image below, and  you get infinite stories by simply scrolling down the left side of the page:

 

 

You can see the article at the link, an image and a bit of the text. Click on it to go to the original source article. See a few of the tweets that have linked the article to the right. Click the “x” if you aren’t interested and would like it removed, click the “+” if you want to favorite the story for later reading and click the comment bubble if you want to share the story elsewhere. You can share by email, Twitter or Facebook. You will also see how many people have shared the story, so you can get a sense of how popular it is. Click the eye at the top of the page to show that you have read all of the articles. See and click on the tags that brought the story to you, and click on the related stories link to see all stories Prismatic has related to the original story. This makes it easier to dig deeper into a particular bit of news.

 

I am loving this app. I found in the first few articles of my feed some great stuff that hadn’t percolated its way up to the top in Feedly or my other “smart” aggregators. I was able to quickly read and tweet it back out. Very efficient. If you are having difficulty managing the wild Twitter beast, then consider trying out Prismatic. My one complaint, lack of a mobile app, is being addressed as we speak and hopefully will be out shortly. Prismatic on the iPad would be an absolutely killer combination.

 

The service is free, but it is still in limited beta, so you will need to request an invitation at their website. It didn’t take long to get mine. Head on over, then head back here with your feedback on this great, intelligent Twitter-taming tool.

Make Your New iPad Background POP

 

Got a new iPad with a gorgeous retina display and want to make that background sing like Pavarotti? Check out these gorgeous retina-friendly iPad backgrounds over at Beautiful Pixels. These are some of the prettiest I have seen yet. I have copied a couple of them below, but you really need to head over their and click the links they provide for full range.

 

Bjango by Marc Edwards

 

Lucas Schvindt

 

Michael Toye

Checking Your Mac for the Flashback Trojan

 

Mac’s aren’t supposed to get viruses, right? That’s strictly a Windows (or other operating system) thing, right? Well news over the past week of the Java-borne Flashback virus has gotten some Mac users (read: me) thinking otherwise. Reportedly, more than 600,000 Macs may be infected with the virus.

 

Did you get your Apple system update yet? Did you get it before the infection occurred? If you answered either of those questions in the negative, you might want to check to see if you have the virus in your system and get your system update as soon as possible. The Apple update is detailed here.

 

You might be wondering how to check to see if you have the virus, and how would you eradicate it if you did. Yesterday, a link to F-Secure circled the Web with instructions on how to determine if you have the virus and how to get rid of it if you do. In a “nutshell”, F-Secure recommends the following steps:

 

Manual Removal Instructions

1. Run the following command in Terminal:

defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment

2. Take note of the value, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
3. Proceed to step 8 if you got the following error message:

“The domain/default pair of (/Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info, LSEnvironment) does not exist”

4. Otherwise, run the following command in Terminal:

grep -a -o ‘__ldpath__[ -~]*’ %path_obtained_in_step2%

5. Take note of the value after “__ldpath__”
6. Run the following commands in Terminal (first make sure there is only one entry, from step 2):

sudo defaults delete /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment

sudo chmod 644 /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info.plist

7. Delete the files obtained in steps 2 and 5
8. Run the following command in Terminal:

defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

9. Take note of the result. Your system is already clean of this variant if you got an error message similar to the following:

“The domain/default pair of (/Users/joe/.MacOSX/environment, DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES) does not exist”

10. Otherwise, run the following command in Terminal:

grep -a -o ‘__ldpath__[ -~]*’ %path_obtained_in_step9%

11. Take note of the value after “__ldpath__”
12. Run the following commands in Terminal:

defaults delete ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

launchctl unsetenv DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

13. Finally, delete the files obtained in steps 9 and 11.

 

I know what you’re thinking – no way, Jose, am I going to play around with command line voodoo. Even F-Secure cautions this “operation” is not for the faint of heart. I recommend you hit the link above to F-Secure if you are one of those daredevil do-it-yourselfers to read all of the qualifications and extra information and proceed with extreme caution if you choose this option.

 

If you are more like me, looking for the quick and easy, then check out this link to a couple of zipped files that can do the heavy lifting for you. These AppleScripts hosted by CloudApp basically do the work of the multi-step F-Secure process for detecting the virus when you download and unzip them. There are two because there are two areas of your hard drive that are targeted by the virus. Click the link above and download the zip, open and then open each of the files (trojan-check and trojan-check-2) independently. What you are looking for is the following image:

 

 

 

The key words being “does not exist.” If anything other than “does not exist” shows up, then head to F-Secure at the link above and either bite the bullet yourself and go through the manual removal process, get your IT savvy friend to help or head to the Apple Store for the professional touch.

 

I hope your day is filled with the words “do not exist.”