Automate Your Life Part 1: Consolidate and Synchronize Email, Contacts and Address Books

If you’re like me and you have multiple email addresses, calendars and contact lists, you’re probably looking for a way to consolidate and synchronize your data across multiple device. In the past, I used to configure multiple accounts in email clients such as Outlook or Apple Mail but this type of setup either forced me to rely on a dedicated ‘email machine’ or have me manually setup these accounts on different computers whether it be office, home or laptop. Gmail is a fantastic email client and I have recently come across some features that allow me to pipe multiple email addresses into one account, chose what email address I send a message from, and ‘label’ or categorize messages as they are received.

Types of email accounts:

  • POP3 – Old school, if you have a POP3 account setup on multiple computers and read a message on one, that same message will not show up as being read on the other computers. The same goes for sent and deleted items. There is no synergy between email clients in a POP3 setup.
  • IMAP – Solves many of the problems of POP3. Messages read on one computer show as being read on all computers. Sent / Deleted items are displayed on all email clients.
  • Exchange / ActiveSync – Includes all of the features of IMAP with the added bonus of being able to synchronize your contacts and calendar to your mobile device.

Gmail offers all three of these services, however, for my purposes Exchange with ActiveSync best serves my needs for mobile connectivity and IMAP for my desktop client. These will be the one that I discuss.

Some of the advantages of using gmail are:

  • Priority Inbox – gmail identifies which emails are important to you be analyzing messages that you have reply to most frequently.
  • Starred items – Anything messages that you need to get back to or follow up on can be starred quickly and put in a dedicated section.
  • Labels – By using filters you can label emails as the are delivered to your inbox for ‘on the fly’ organization.

I have registered my domain name, to work with google apps. Many hosting services all for this kind of configuration through ‘one click’ installs or you can set this up directly with google at You can also use the free gmail service in the same way shown below. Continue reading

Google Changes the Face of Search Forever. But do They Really Care About the Internet?

Instant search is here! Google announced yesterday that searching the internet as we know it has changed forever. This may sound like a bold statement but picture this. You’re logged in with your gmail account and you google yourself. If you have a blog or a facebook page that you have recently visited, those search results will always show up first. Now, logout of your gmail account and google yourself again. You may show up 6th or 7th in the list. What has happened here? Google is storing your search history on its servers and linking it back to your gmail presence. Gmail is no longer an account, it is now a repository of everything you know and love on the internet and has taken on a life of its own.

One of the great advantages of instant search is that your results automagically appear as you type letters in the search bar and they are catered to you specifically. This is great for web searches but look at all of the other venues that Google is exploring. Take ChromeOS for instance, Google’s venture in the Operating System world. Google could essentially take instant search to the desktop so that when you search for something in your search bar, the results could include recently worked on documents, wikipedia links, music videos, photos of your family. The possibilities are endless. Port that over to GoogleTV and your searching not only for things available on your local area network but also on your Android enabled device as well as any media available on any computer in your home.

Why did Google do this. Quite simply, ad revenue. Google can now charge a premium for ad clicks because the results are so finely tailored to a users web experience. The more a person uses the internet the more accurate their search results will be. It’s a win win situation. Users no longer have to scroll through multiple pages of search results and Google can charge advertisers a premium for tailored search results.

The Google ecosystem revolves around your Gmail presence. Google also announced that Yahoo users who would like to take advantage of Google Docs or any of the other many Google apps can now do so with their Yahoo email address. Using OpenID Yahoo users can now verify and authenticate a new gmail account with their current Yahoo address eliminating the need to fill out a form and return a validated email. By using this method to create a Gmail account you are allowing Google to access your Yahoo profile. This adds to Google ever expanding reach in the tailored search results market.

I am amazed at just how much data is actually stored in my personalized Google cloud. I recently wiped out my Nexus One and restored it to the factory defaults. Much to my amazement, all of the apps that I had installed were magically restored by simply re-entering my Gmail address. My Chrome browser is permanently logged in with my Gmail account presumably allowing Google to keep track of the places I go in order to build an online ‘personality’ based on my frequented stops. Some take issue with this in terms of invasion of privacy and using the collected data for malicious purposes. I tend to take a more optimistic approach. I don’t want to see any ads, but if I need to, I want to see ads that are relevant to my interests. I want to see search results that are accurate and customized to the way I spend time online.

What are your thoughts? Google invades our privacy or makes internet browsing more relevant? Or maybe both?