Everyone thought Google was pulling a fast one over us on April Fools’ day in 2004 with Gmail. One gigabyte of storage? They can’t do that! Eleven years later and it’s still going strong. To me the stand-out features of Gmail are never deleting anything (and the search all your emails instantly that goes with it) and the amazing spam filtering. Since it’s debut Google has added many bells and whistles to the service, some of them oriented at organizing your inbox.
But last year they released Inbox by Gmail which takes organizing email to a whole new level. Inbox does a nice job of categorizing emails, and then puts them into bundles. This means that an order notification from Amazon, as well as the shipping notification automatically to into bundle called Purchases. What’s great is, by default, these bundles don’t generate a notification to your phone. Updates from forums that you may frequent do the same thing. You can then add additional emails to these bundles or create your own. It’s all drag and drop, and Inbox learns as you go. The purpose of these bundles is to allow you to browse the emails within them at your leisure. For example I tend to browse my forum notifications over my lunch hour.
Another great feature is that you can snooze an email. This completely hides an email from your inbox (unless you’re browsing the snoozed bundle) until a time that you choose. I tend to snooze emails that deal with stuff I need to do around the house until Saturday morning. At the appointed time, they pop up again just like a new email.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to it, it’s a very powerful tool.
In: M@'s Picks, Mobile App, Web Site
I’m fairly interested in the weather, mainly thunderstorms and tornados. So I end up following the radar fairly closely, even if there’s not anything in my immediate area. Your typical weather sites will have an animated radar image that gives you an idea of where it’s raining and where it’s not. But the big deal with doppler radar is that you can also read speed and direction. This will help you assess the severity of a storm. It takes a bit more effort to locate these radar images.
I use PYKL3 (Android) to let me easily view the precipitation radar (what you see at most sites and is technically called “base reflectivity”) as well as the velocity (typically the storm relative velocity). You’ll immediately notice that the images that the app shows you are not as “pretty” as the ones that you’d see on the evening news. This is actually because your typical radar image has been lightly filtered to make at appear better and cleaner. What you see in PYKL3 is what comes directly out of the National Weather Service’s WSR-88 radar sites. It’s actually much higher resolution that what you see elsewhere.
How good is the resolution? I’ve been able to pay close attention to the timestamp of the image, my position on the map (provided by GPS) and the velocity that the storm is moving at and could accurately tell when the vehicle I was in would be going into and out of heavier rain. It was a very interesting experience (please make sure you are not driving as you do this).
In: M@'s Picks, Mobile App
A few years ago I discussed Adblock Plus. At the time this was a great tool, but it has become somewhat bloated and will now allow advertisers to bypass its filters if they pay Adblock Plus.
The replacement is uBlock Origin. It does the same ad blocking (right down to using the same curated lists of what to block) as Adblock Plus but is much more lightweight. You can read a lot more how it is quicker and less of a memory hog, as well as all the ins and outs of using it at their wiki.
In: Broswer Plugin, M@'s Picks
Unfortunately, Google has shut down Google Reader. But the team at Feeldy has stepped in and created a brand new web app and matching mobile app that perfectly fill the void left by Google. I still use it to keep tabs on the local news, a few comics, and several blogs.
In: M@'s Picks, Mobile App, Web Site
Windows 7 added some nice features that help you to arrange windows on screen. But I find that WindowSpace does an even better job. Even though I usually work with dual monitors, I find myself needing to put windows side by side, top and bottom or maximize them vertically. By dragging a window or resizing a window to any edges of the screen WindowSpace accomplishes all of these tasks. But it gets better. If you want to snap windows to one another, even while resizing them, just get them close and window space takes care of the rest. The final feature that I find comes in handy from time to time is being able to make any window always on top. Typically I do this with either calculator or notepad. All you need to do is click the icon in to corner of the program, then use the new WindowSpace menu to make the program always on top.