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.

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Any Excuse to Avoid the Inbox

I admit it. I really am beginning to seriously dislike email inboxes. I have been avoiding my desktop Outlook inbox like the plague. I am better about monitoring my Gmail accounts, but even that can get tedious.

Information overload? I already employ filters on my computer and phone to strain the best news, social status updates, tweets and blog posts. Why can’t I have a similar filtering system for my overburdoned inbox?

Well, I know I already can from within the inbox itself. But that requires you to actually go to your inbox and open your folders.  

Check this out. The current version of application AwayFind (ver. 2.0) (link here), allows you to install filters on your email (no biggie) and to designate “urgent” email that will follow you by phone call, instant message,  text message or even tweet (way cool)! Never visit your inbox again!

Apparently, filtering set up is strikingly similar to the tools you probably already are using in your own inbox. Filter by person, by keyword (e.g. “urgent”), subject, receiving email address, etc. Then, here is the genius part, tell AwayFind how to alert you when an email falls into one of your filter categories: all the major IM clients, Twitter, text message or even a phone call. You can also set up an auto-response and exclude specific persons from the auto-response. You can probably figure out where to take this last feature.

If you are a Firefox user, there is a plug-in that lets you manage AwayFind from within your inbox. Apparently a Chrome plug-in is coming soon. Google and IMAP are supported, as are hosted Exchange-based 2003, 2007 and 2010.

Unfortunately for us regular folk, this application is currently in private beta, invite only. Hat tip to ReadWriteWeb – head over there now and see if you can score one of their invitations! (link here)

So Excited, Just Can't Hide It: Feedly for iPhone!

I can’t begin to count the number of times I have attempted to “read” my feeds on the iPhone and longed for the desktop Feedly interface. I wondered if and when one would show up, figuring those big brains would come up with something REALLY cool.

What’s Feedly, you ask? It is an application add-on to Firefox and Chrome (developers version) that works with Google Reader, providing a slick, magazine-like overlay of your feeds. There are granular controls for telling Feedly what you want to see and how you want to see it. And, as you use Feedly over time, it learns what you like best and pushes those stories to the top. Posts include buttons for recommending, sharing and starring. There are filters that alter your view and tabs for viewing posts within feed categories that you set.

I have raved about Feedly here in the Studio before. But I couldn’t recommend it as a mobile application. But I will be able to soon.  Here is Feedly iPhone Prototype 7:

Check out their blog post introducing mobile Feedly (link here). The developers indicate that simplicity and performance were their goals. I think they got it. Using a swiping gesture, you can:

  • swipe through the feedly digest
  • drill down into a specific article
  • recommend/share an article
  • tweet an article
  • mark an article as read and hide it (swiping the card to the top)
  • use the home option to select a specific category and feed

The developers are looking down the road to Feedly on Android and Palm Pre. Head over to the blog, give them some feedback on the video and they may actually incorporate your suggestions. And get ready for the live beta, coming March 15!

I’m going to hold my breath until then. Wish me luck.

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Wikipedia In Court: The How & The When

The logo of Wikipedia.
Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t picked on Wikipedia in a while, so when I got the Legal Writing Institute email this morning with a link to the article entitled Wikipedia in Court: When and How Citing Wikipedia and Other Consensus Websites is Appropriate, I figured it was time for another go-around with the authority-by-crowd-compromise site. Authors Hannah Murray and Jason Miller undertake to define a process to determine when citing to Wikipedia is o.k., despite its faults, failings and questionable authority. The authors premise their article with an explanation of the difference between citing sources like Wikipedia or, egad, the Urban Dictionary for the meaning of slang terms and relying on such sources for the “contours of the xyphoid process.” In short, the authors believe that appropriate citation of Wikipedia is driven by the legal context in which the citation will be used and the structural limitations of Wikipedia in that same context. I say there is no such thing as appropriate citation to Wikipedia in the context of a legal brief or judicial opinion.

One of the issues is that Wikipedia articles are open to constant revision from any source. The authors believe that some of this concern can be addressed by qualifying the citation by date and time, and explain how to find the time-stamp for the particular page. The authors also believe that Wikipedia is a fine resource for determining the community or consensus perspective on a non-legal concept. Thus, the more technical and formalistic a concept, the less appropriate it is to cite Wikipedia.

While I am right there with the authors on their caution against citing the big Wiki for technical concept, scientific or biographical data, I am still not convinced it is a reasonable source for crowd consensus on the meaning of common phrases such as “business day.” Take, for example, the fact that women are highly underrepresented on Wikipedia as editors and contributors and you are missing half of the population that might have an opinion on what a business day is. The field is further narrowed when you consider that Wikipedia contributors are a fairly small (and shrinking) subset of on-line denizens – those that would even consider taking the time to edit a group Wiki. This small subset cannot and should not be considered to be even a remote facsimile of a public “consensus” on any subject, let alone one that might drive the opinion of a court.

The authors opine that the Wikipedia entry is likely more reliable when it is “common wisdom [that] is more likely to be correct.” If so, then why cite Wikipedia at all? Why wouldn’t it be the subject of judicial notice at that point? I say, back away from the Wikipedia and look to the underlying sources. I challenge their conclusion that Wikipedia is a “great source” in this context – go ahead and use it to look up information to settle a quick argument at the bar or to pull links or lists of other resources that might actually be curated and reliable. But don’t even think about going there to support something as important as a legal decision.

For what it is worth, and to sit on the other side of the fence for a moment, any citation to Wikipedia that relies solely on date and time is insufficient – I would hope that anyone citing the source as authority would also consider attaching a copy of the actual language on the page at the time of citation. Consider using a handy Internet Explorer or Firefox tool like iCyte, which freezes a page in time for later review. Then, be prepared to defend your use of this highly questionable resource.

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Feeding Your Quest for Shared Knowledge with Feedly

Image representing feedly as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Part two of an impromptu two-part series on my latest content browsing and sharing tools focuses on Feedly. Feedly is a Firefox add-on developed in 2008 and seemingly in a constant state of growth and innovation. Feedly aggregates your RSS and shared content and follows you around the web so that you can easily gauge the discussion from pretty much anywhere you go. Describing itself: “Feedly is a Firefox extension which weaves twitter and Google Reader into a magazine like experience.” The “win” part for content gathering is that Feedly will “read” your interests and attempt to float the cream to the top of the list for you.

Up front is a slick magazine-like interface that is easy to navigate, expand, share from and comment upon with real-time aspects. Feedly highlights material deemed most relevant based on your interests, reading patterns and recommendations from friends. It pulls articles from Google Reader, with the ability to add feeds directly into your Feedly. It pulls your friends and other information from other social sites, such as Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail and Friendfeed.

Feedly attempts to suggest and refine your information based on the data it can pull and the preferences you can enter. Along the left side of the home page are buttons to change the view – cover, digest and latest. Each show similar information in different aspects and focus. Cover offers the greatest breadth, with the top few stories from your various feed categories in a series of columns at the top, the number of new articles from your featured sources list, a video gallery based on your interests, your Twitter stream and mentions, your “karma” (more on that later), and a suggested Twitter search item. Flickr photos grace the bottom.

Digest offers a long list of articles with a blurb in a single column, with your featured sources and less Twitter information along the right side, as well as the video and Flickr gallery. Latest looks a whole lot like Google Reader showing the titles only of posts in reverse chronological order, but with a cleaner interface and pretty much nothing else.

Here is a screen shot showing the top portion of my Cover view:

feedly cover

Setting changes are made from your dashboard, via the access button at the top of the home page. Feedly strongly suggests grouping and organizing your feeds in categories to maximize the experience. Changes made in Feedly will be applied to Google Reader and vice versa. My Google Reader categories were sucked into Feedly automatically.

Use the “favorite” button – a star next to a feed title – to mark your best sources so that these items can be highlighted on your page. You can even assign views for each feed, depending on how you prefer to see the information from a particular source: titles only; title and summary; picture grid; video grid; and, entire content inlined. Much of the housekeeping in Feedly can be easily accomplished with drag-and-drop, so it is easy to set up and subsequently change your viewing experience, albeit a somewhat time-consuming process.

The articles are equipped with buttons to like and share. This adds value to your own experience by tailoring subsequent information coming to you and adds value to your social network by offering articles of interest to them. When you expand an article by clicking on its title, you will see more of the article, as well as buttons for keeping the article unread, highlighting semantic metadata, previewing and copying the link. The semantic metadata button will highlight semantic concepts in the article, providing background information in a pop-up on the concept and offer  a link out to more fully explore that particular concept in Feedly from your sources, news, Twitter + Friendfeed and across the web. You will also see how many recommendations the article has and a list of buttons to share on Twitter, Delicious, Friendfeed, Gmail, Facebook and in both Feedly and Google Reader with a note. At the bottom of the expanded article, you will see the how many times it was clicked on in the Tweet stream, Friendfeed conversations, and the likes and comments the article has garnered in Google Reader and Feedly.

You can keep track of what your friends are sharing and what they are saying about the articles you share in your Feedly. Karma is a section of the cover that shows you how people react to the material that you share. It shows what you have liked and shared. It also shows the number of clicks on the item and where else it has been shared.

You can find all of your shared and saved items easily from a button on the left of the main screen. You also can pull your recent history. All of these are great features to help you track where you have been and what you are doing and where you might like to return in the future.

Another VERY cool feature of Feedly is Ubiquity integration. I have written about Ubiquity on the Studio before, praising it for streamlining and integrating web services with quick keyboard clicks. Just install the latest version of Feedly and the latest version of Ubiquity to start using and generating your own commands. Feedly also integrates Google search, via a bar at the top of the your home screen.

Feedly can shadow your wanderings as well. As you work your way around the web, a little Feedly mini bar shows up at the bottom of the screen showing how many times the site has been shared on other sites, like Friendfeed and allowing you to share or save the article in Feedly or Google Reader, share on Twitter, email using Gmail and navigate to another article that Feedly will suggest based on your interests and prior likes and shares. Here is a great image diagramming the mini tool-bar from Sarah Perez’s article on the subject at ReadWriteWeb:

Feedly Mini (ReadWriteWeb)(edited)The Feedly mini toolbar knows if an article has been a popular subject on Friendfeed. If so, a pop-up will show up with a bit of the conversation, allowing you to jump over to the conversation on Friendfeed and join in. All of these features can be selected / deselected.

Your personalized Feedly can be accessed from multiple machines, provided they also are running Firefox.

Feedly is all about tailoring your news sources and making them easier to scan, read and share. To say it is an all-encompassing experience might be an understatement. I find that Feedly has completely supplanted my Google Reader-ing with its easier-to-review look and NASCAR pit crew-sized box of tools. And Feedly seems ravenous about evolving and becoming more, better, faster, stronger, able to leap tall buildings in single bounds, etc.  If you don’t have Feedly or Firefox, you definitely owe it to yourself to make the switch!

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Early Summer Cleaning – Mac-Style

Since I highlighted the Windows version of this Lifehacker list of essential free downloads, I think it only fair that I also include the companion list for Macs, even if I am not personally a Mac user. I will cop to being a Mac wannabe, though, and that counts for something.

There is definitely overlap between the Windows and Mac list, including Firefox and iTunes. There are also plenty of other offerings addressing productivity, communication, utilities, multimedia, and file backup/syncing.

Enjoy the free!

From Lifehacker.

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Firefox Handles the Wolfram Alpha / Google Debate with its own Negotiated Option

Leave it to Firefox to come up with a way to have your cake and eat it too. Amidst the hue and cry over the last few weeks surrounding the announcement and deployment of Alpha’s computational knowledge-based search engine and whether it would topple Google from its thrown (a decidedly red-herring-esque question), Lifehacker reports on a new Firefox extension that embeds Wolfram Alpha results into your Google search results page. Author Kevin Purdy advises that the experimental Firefox extension is a bit glitchy and haphazard. Nonetheless, Purdy is correct that the extension is worth trying because “getting a second, nerdier opinion from Wolfram Alpha is just what you needed in some cases.”

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New & Improved Zotero – Available in 2.0 Flavor!

This is a job for Zotero
Image by jazzmodeus via Flickr

Picked up this tidbit from Simon Fodden at SlawZotero 2.0 Beta is now at large! I have talked about Zotero in the Studio before: it is simply a fantastic reference tool for citing and organizing on-line research. 2.0 offers a host of new features. Here is a run-down from Zotero’s site:

Syncing

  • Automatic synchronization of collections among multiple computers. For example, sync your PC at work with your Mac laptop and your Linux desktop at home.
  • Free automatic backup of your library data on Zotero’s servers.
  • Automatic synchronization of your attachment files to a WebDAV server (e.g. iDisk, Jungle Disk, or university-provided web storage).

People

  • Zotero users get a personal page with a short biography and the ability to list their discipline and interests, create an online CV (simple to export to other sites), and grant access to their libraries.
  • Easily find others in one’s discipline or with similar research interests.
  • Follow other researchers–and be followed in return.

Groups

  • Create and join public and private groups on any topic.
  • Access in real time new research materials from your groups on the web or in the Zotero window.
  • Easily move materials from a group stream into your personal library.

Even More Functionality That Makes Your Life Easier

  • Automatic detection of PDF metadata (i.e., author, title, etc.).
  • Automatic detection and support for proxy servers.
  • Trash can with restore item functionality so you don’t accidentally lose important materials.
  • A new style manager allowing you to add and delete CSLs and legacy style formats.
  • Support for Endnote® export styles

While it is billed as a research-friendly tool, Zotero can also serve as a facile note-taking application for personal and professional pursuits. And, best of all, all that capability is free!

Check out Zotero, now with 2.0 power!

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