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This Week in Mobile Tech Manor #77: Gmail Got Better

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My favorite time of the week is here for the 77th time! That’s the time I get to share the happenings at my home office, Mobile Tech Manor (MTM), and ruminate over the implications of them. It was a rather slow week with no gadgets arriving, but that looks to change in just a few days. I spent some quality time with interesting software, and I’ll share thoughts about that.

Arrivals at the Manor

This week only one gadget arrived at MTM, and it’s not even a gadget. Oh it’s a piece of hardware, a nice phone in fact, but that’s not why it’s here. Verizon (s vz) recently rolled out a spiffy new version of its VZ Navigator service. They asked me if I wanted to try the new service and sent a BlackBerry (s rimm) Curve with the service active. I’ll only have it for a short while but I want to compare it to the Sprint Navigation (s s) service I use heavily.

Navigator is the carrier’s GPS/ Navigation service that’s been around for a long time. This new version adds some features to bring it up to the level of its competition, most importantly the ability to cache the entire trip to map. Previous versions of Navigator only downloaded a small bit of a trip being routed, which meant a constant connection to Verizon’s network was mandatory to keep the trip flowing.

This new version ends that restriction, with a connection up front required, but since the entire trip is now cached the navigation session is fluid, network connection or not. I’ll be putting VZ Navigator through its paces to see if it’s worth the $10 monthly charge.

Verizon is going to send a Motorola Devour (s mot)  in a few days, I should have it for the next column. This is the “Baby Droid” with MotoBlur that the carrier is just starting to offer. I’m particularly interested in the sliding QWERTY keyboard, pictures of the Devour show it to be a capable keyboard.

Software stuff

I played with a lot of software this week, some intentionally and some unplanned. I have totally incorporated LogMeIn (s logm) into my work flow, but I’ve covered that on the site. I did pay for a Mac program that has become a big part of my work day.

Viewfinder is a simple program that has a great interface, making it a good tool. Bloggers are always looking for artwork to include in posts, and Flickr is a good source of them. Many photos uploaded to Flickr are OK for bloggers to use due to the Creative Commons license. The problem is there are so many photos on Flickr that finding a good one to use in a post can be a daunting task. Viewfinder brings good image searching to the table, and it is so good at it I finally paid for it. The free version is full-featured, but has delays in place to entice you to pay for it. It’s only $22, so I ponied up the cash.

Gmail shenanigans

Google (s goog) is a big part of my day, I’ll bet I spend 90% of it in either Gmail or Google Reader. This week Gmail got an overhaul, and I found out about it in a funny way. I sent an email to a coworker, and in it I indicated I had included a web link to point them to the intended web site. I hit the Send button, and a Gmail box opened up informing me that I had used the phrase “included a” but had included no attachment on the mail. “Did you forget the attachment?”

That was so cool. In this instance I had not forgotten an attachment, but we’ve all done that at times. Gmail is now scanning the email and making itself more useful by covering our back. Some folks won’t like it doing that but I find it useful.

Another big change was made in the way I use Gmail. I use the Remember The Milk (RTM) task system, and I have long used its Gmail gadget to track my tasks within Gmail. It’s not a great utility in Gmail, but it’s better than nothing. This morning when I fired up Gmail the RTM task pane suddenly appeared on the right side of the screen, and with new abilities. I didn’t change anything so this surprised me.

It didn’t last long, when I closed Gmail and restarted it the RTM gadget was back on the left side as always, with the same clunky interface. I did some investigating and RTM also has a browser add-on for Firefox and Chrome that looks that what I saw on my Gmail screen. The problem is I never installed it, and it has only appeared twice in Gmail like that and then went away. I’ll have to investigate this pretty thoroughly. I liked the changes, however briefly they appeared on their own.


I bought the Apple (s aapl) Magic Mouse a while back, and I am loving it. I have been keeping my eye on battery consumption, as many have reported that the Magic Mouse caused the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which I also use, to eat batteries like M&Ms. Some are reporting going through a set of batteries a week in their keyboards since getting a Magic Mouse, thus my concern.

I am happy to report that my situation isn’t that bad. I do feel the keyboard batteries are getting used quicker than before I got the Magic Mouse, but not alarmingly so. I have replaced both the mouse and keyboard batteries once since getting the mouse a couple of months ago.


Thanks to all who expressed good wishes over the diabetic control problem I mentioned last week. I was scheduled to have the continual glucose monitor inserted this past week, but the doctor had to reschedule it. That won’t happen until next week now; I’ll keep you informed about how that goes.

e-Book of the week

This week I have been head down in the fifth book in the Nic Costa series. The Seventh Sacrament by David Hewson is another great mystery in the manner only Hewson can tell it. The same cast of characters is on hand to figure out what happened to the little boy those many years ago.

The cast of characters is what makes this Costa series so entertaining. Hewson has created a very complex cast for these books, and the main characters are some of the most difficult ones I’ve come across. In the beginning of the series I questioned if Hewson would be able to mature these characters well. I needn’t have worried, the characters in this series have grown with each subsequent book in the series, and marvelously so. Hewson is to be commended for his story-telling skills.


That’s my week, I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back next week, same bat time, same bat channel. Until then, be safe.

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3 Responses to “This Week in Mobile Tech Manor #77: Gmail Got Better”

  1. bluespapa

    I wonder if you had iGoogle open, which has its own set of add-ons, including one for RTM.

    I use Toodledo, as I found it more intuitive than RTM, though I can’t remember why. But I’m definitely lost without calendar, task/to do lists, and pop up notifications. Gone are days of relying on my um . . . something or other.

  2. Batteries not a problem in blue-tooth devices, remotes or game controllers for me anymore.

    I have switch the household over to rechargeable [Eneloop] (AA and AAA, with adapters for C and C). They have been affordable and are much better for the environment than the alarming rate of AA, and AAA gadget consuming devices in the house.

    At the holidays I added a battery conditioner to extend the life of the units that were a bit odd with the charge retention. (LaCrosse)