Tag Archives: google

P.S. Googling A Phone Number Sucks #wishwed

My wishlist item for this week is to the to help us with googling phone numbers. 

Truth is, Google knows when you enter a FedEx/UPS tracking number, a patent filing, an address, a currency, a flight number, a disease, a restaurant, a movie, a unit of measurement, a stock quote or a time or a math equation or a…….

Why is entering a phone number GUARANTEED to bring me pages and pages and pages of JUNK without any context at all?

If anything else, GOOG, can you give me a happy little box at the top that says something like:

  • This looks like a phone number!
  • It looks like the number belongs to the Boston, MA area…
  • Your Google Contacts, Facebook Friends and connections don’t have this number on file (that we can find)…
  • BUT, searching your Gmail and Calendar, we did find an email containing this number! go there!

And there would be much rejoicing.

And then you can commence with the spam. No problem.


Google Tasks in a Chrome Browser Sidebar

A while ago, I pointed you to several ways to access Google Tasks.

Google’s super-simple task-management app has been flexible enough (and syncronizingly-smooth enough) for me to douse all other-comers from taking over my task-management flow.

In February, I noted a great way to drop Tasks into your Firefox sidebar, something I like a lot as it is a clean, heads-up-display of your tasks though the day, and with a widescreen monitor, it stays out of the way.

In Google Chrome, however, the same option didn’t exist, but on the forums I found a smart piece of Javascript you can embed in a bookmarklet to generate a small tasks pane to the right of your browser to happily keep your tasks in front of your face.

Drag this link to your bookmark-bar (or right-click and copy the link URL and add the bookmark manually) to save:


The author’s description:

A simple modification of Google Chrome Dual View from Chrome Blog allows you to view your Google Tasks as you browse without having to manually input the address each time. A perfect little mod if you want to start ploughing through those to do lists and ticking them off on the go. Just copy and paste the following as a bookmark:

fwiw, here is the code:



Here is a screenshot the author provided:


As an alternative, HowToGeek has a chrome extension they link to that provides a small pop-up window in Chrome for your tasks.

Thom Allen Finally, my buddy Thom Allen has a great blog post (dated, but worth linking to) about access to gTasks in Calendar, gMail and . Go check it out.

Ignoring Telemarketers With GoogleVoice

Google Voice enables pretty intelligent call routing. One of the excellent features enables you to add contacts to your address book right from the web interface online… this is the same contacts list available in your gmail account which keeps things really streamlined.

In contacts, you can have "Groups", such as Friends, Family, Work, Badminton-Chums… whatever.

If you get a telemarketer’s call through your GoogleVoice line, you are halfway to getting those call’s ignored completely.

Simply create a group called something like "telemarketers" or, my favorite, "Spam" and then add all would-be naggetty-nagging call-center callers to that group.

In Voice, go to the "Voice Settings" menu, click the Groups tab, and then next to your "Spam" group, click "Edit" (If your group doesn’t show up in this list (mine didn’t), click "Manage Groups at the bottom.  You will go to the contacts management page. Find your Group on the left panel, and click "Edit Google Voice Settings" on the right).

Then, uncheck all your forwarding phones and set the message to "System Standard" or create a custom message like "Hello. Please add this number to your do-not-call list and do not call any more."

They could, still, leave a voicemail, but hey, you’ve got Google Voice, so you can see what they are saying to you in text, email, online or in the app. Just delete it if you don’t like it.  No-problem.

Wishlist: Google Listen with Video Podcast Support

I love Listen, the android app (download on android market, amazon market (not available), app brain and others. Scan the QR code (barcode) below for quick linkage) that connects you easily with your podcasts. In fact, I wish the Audible App were this easy to use (or integrated!)

The simplicity with which this app just syncs with your podcasts, downloads new shows on the run… OTA… I am amazed that I used to sync podcasts to my iPod or (gasp!) download them and BURN them to a CD to take in my car.

Man 2007 was so hard. How did I even LIVE back then??

The Listen app, which received a solid upgrade a few months back to integrate seamlessly with your Google Reader (newsreader) account boasts of the interconnected goodness that Google is increasingly famous for.

Yet, the one thing I really want to see Listen take on next  is Video Podcast support.  This shouldn’t be that difficult really to patch in to the existing app. 

Just parse video files included in the existing RSS feed (you’re already consuming) and launch them via Android’s built-in video viewer instead of in the Listen listen-er—thinggy.

(that came out odd).

Point is, VIDEO PODCASTING is the next evolution of this app—in fact PODCASTING in general has kindof lost it’s "buzz" since its so geeky… and audio podcasting as a whole is going the way of AM radio. 

This project risks getting dumped in the recycle bin as a good idea that didn’t keep up with the times, unless someone hacking away on their CR-48 can patch in some video abilities to this otherwise incredible app!  

I hope someone at Google is still developing for this project because it seems the Listen-Discuss threads on this topic are dying off without any response.

Google, are you LISTENing?

In Which I Experience Lust For the iPad2

I do not want to want this as much as I want this.

The Apple iPad2 is here, and darn it all if it doesn’t look pretty dang amazing.

imageI agree with Conan that maybe they are getting just a wee cocky though:

See the official announcement video over here somewhere.

The truth is, I really, really wanted the Motorola Xoom to rock my socks because I really want to stay on the Android platform, but with one half of the smart-phone holders in my household already dropping the droid for the VZ iPhone 4 (and I can’t deny how it rocks), this is getting tough.

Wishlist: Starred Pages Sync Across Browsers

I think it would be great if, on my android phone I could “star” a page in the web browser that instantly was available to me in Chrome on my desktop or firefox via google toolbar or another plugin.

The same would be excellent on the iPhone, safari, etc.

Really? This bookmark sync hasn’t been done yet?

Google Docs Updates Document Interface

This week, has rolled out a refresh to how it lists and shows you documents, files, images, videos and more in your docs pane.

For a year or so, you could put any document, presentation, image or file into your Google Docs account, but the viewers and tools were somewhat spotty.

More and more, Docs is becoming, literally, a more and more compelling "desktop" in the . All your files will be there, with secure/easy sharing and easy-to-access compatibility across systems, devices, tablets, , etc.


The sidebar on the left has been refreshed with a smarter "home" view allowing you to filter in/out the things you want to see.

Folders and Labels are now called "Collections", which should make sorting and finding things easier.

The main panel has been refreshed and looks cleaner/easier to access.  Photos and videos will open right in the screen using a picasa-like preview and video player.


There should also be improvements to search and filtering of files and I really hope refreshing speed improves as well!

When gets baked a little more, and you will be able to print to any printer right from Docs, this tool may have just become perfect. Literally.

Spilled Milk (Why I’m Dropping RTM Already)

Remember The MilkThe task-management system Remember The Milk is well-known and respected for being one of the most-powerful task-management systems out there.

And, honestly, I don’t disagree with that.

But after trying and really wanting to move my task-management function to RTM, I just can’t stick with it any longer for two, seemingly simple reasons, that  Tasks does for me (albeit, without any of the other bells/whistles).

Why I’m Going Back to Google Tasks

  1. Sort by.
    In Google Tasks, I can sort by either the Due Date or "My order", dragging things around and reorganizing as I see fit. In RTM, I was forced to sort by their order, either due date, priority or the task name.

    Sadly, this was brought up in RTM’s own forum on January 18, 2007 (just shy of FOUR YEARS AGO) with regular postings (somewhere north of 100) trying to bump the idea into RTM’s consciousness — It hasn’t worked.

    Finally, a year ago (from this posting), "Emily" from RTM replied to the group stating that there’s no roadmap and no way to know what is being worked on or released.

  2. Parent/Child Tasks
    This sounds lame on the surface, and hardly something gawking over…until you try it.  Maybe I am too much of a task-nerd to just suck it up, but I LOVE having the ability to assign sub-tasks to a certain task.  For example:
  3. – Go to Grocery Store
    — Get Milk
    —— 3 gallons skim
    —— 1 gallon 2%
    — Get Eggs

    And (BONUS) if I check off the top item ("Go to Grocery Store" in this example), it will automatically check off each sub-item.

    Furthermore, if I drag-and-drop the parent task into a new location in Google Tasks, it takes all the child tasks with it. Nice.

Wish me luck.

Wishlist: Google Voice to Manage All My Messaging

I love Google Voice integration on the android. Though MMS messaging is still lacking, the feature-set pretty much rocks.

So, what is my wish? For Google Voice to be smart enough to manage all my messaging, not just the ones inbound to my GVoice number.

It would be awesome to have one app to text/call from (and, sync with voice.google.com so I can text/call online, too) and have it be smart enough to know what phone number to display to the recipient.

If the application took my inbound calls and texts from people calling/texting my normal cell number, receive them in Google Voice (and sync with my online account, too) and let me answer, collect voicemail, or receive/reply to texts either on my phone or online or have them bounce to another phone in my GoogleVoice settings.

WIN: This would ease the transition from people needing to tell everyone their new Google Voice number when they want to begin switching to the one-inbox goodness that is GV.   Just install the app on your phone, connect to your Google Account and suddenly your phone and online accounts are connected easily and seamlessly!

WIN: This would tie people into their Google Accounts even more, encouraging calls from gMail and other online conversations to happen without people being tied to their phones.

Bonus: Have Google Voice insert a signature at the end of texts to someone’s handset number that says “Try calls/texts to my GoogleVoice number: 111-222-3333 http://voice.google.com”

Managing A Wallet Full of Loyalty Cards

imageHaving spent waaaay too much time in stores this month (December), this DIY hack for creating a Loyalty Card to Rule Them All from Instructables caught my attention thanks to Lifehacker’s Whitson Gordon.

In the article, Whitson Gordon also referenced image"KeyRingThing" an online service that helps you build a double-sided card with up to three bar-codes on each that house your needed loyalty rewards codes.  Print the card yourself, or pay a small fee to have them make a nice one that won’t self-destruct in your wallet over time.

Off course, the DIY version here is the hipster version of iphone or android apps imagelike keyringapp, rewardcard, cardstar and others that allow you to scan your loyalty or rewards or bonus cards to your phone for supposed quick "scan back" while you’re checking out of your favorite brick-n-mortar.

However, the reality of some of these digital advances isn’t actually here yet, as Bob Tedeschi noted in NYT’s Personal Tech a few months back:

Ideally, you could… go to the store, open the app during the checkout process, call up the store’s loyalty card and hand your phone to the clerk. The phone’s screen would show a digitized representation of your card, complete with bar code and numbers, which the clerk would then scan. The benefits of loyalty club membership would rain down on you.

In the real world, you will hand your phone to the clerk with the following instructions: “Your scanner probably won’t pick up the bar code, so you may have to type in the numbers.”

At the end of the day, my reality is that I carry only one or two "loyalty cards" at all.  In fact, at the grocery store where I would normally use my reward card most-often, I generally opt for just tapping in my phone number in the PIN/ATM pad while the checker is scanning my chili, Oreos and milk.

Which begs the question—when will companies allow me to register MY unique ID with them rather than having me "sign up" for their loyalty card and then carry around their designated number invented for them to recognize me

I already use my phone number (though that changes often enough companies should consider something more permanent), my website address (think endpoint) or a barcode that I have pre-printed (geeks would think of this as a public key).  Whatever number/text/hexadecimal code that I give them that would really be used by the vendor as a self-generated unique ID for me. They can, of course, assign some key to my identity in their own database, and every time I present this key, they can identify me.

Honestly, I think our PHONES may be perfect for this (something we always have with us) if Near-Field Communications (NFC) gets more common, as recently included in the  Nexus-S.

Of course, marketers don’t think this way because "LOYALTY" to a marketer means my loyalty to them, not the other way around.