Tips and Tricks: Clear Up the Clutter With Outlook.com

Microsoft has been touting its new take on an old service, Outlook.com. Basically, they are offering a preview of what will eventually take the place of Hotmail.com. Most of the changes so far are cosmetic however, there are a few features worth noting. Today, I want to show you how you can keep your inbox clutter free using some of Outlook.com’s cleanup features.

If you’re like me, you like to subscribe to blogs and newsletters in the hopes that *someday* you’ll get to read all of them. For me, that someday usually never comes. I usually end up with a cluttered mess in my inbox. Outlook.com has a really simple way to help you manage the newsletters. In the screenshot below, you can see where I’ve highlighted a couple of options that Outlook.com adds to your messages. Outlook.com can help you unsubscribe to unwanted mailings or it can schedule an automatic cleanup.

Cleanup Options

If you click on “unsubscribe” you will get something similar to the screenshot pictured below.

Block Message

In this particular instance, Outlook.com doesn’t recognize any unsubscribe information from the sender so it offers to block everything from this sender. Outlook.com will also delete everything from this sender to help you clean up space in your inbox. In my case, this seemed a little extreme so I clicked out of this box and chose the other option which is “schedule automatic cleanup”.

Pictured below, you can see the “Schedule Cleanup” window. You have a few options here. In my case, I really only needed to see the most recent message so I chose to “only keep the latest message from this sender”. Notice though, that you can choose to delete messages that are a certain amount of days old or you can move messages that are a certain amount of days old into a folder. Be careful with the last box on the bottom. It says “Do this for everything in the Newsletters category”. This means any message that Outlook.com recognizes as a newsletter, it will perform this same action from here on out. Use this with caution.

Schedule Automatic Cleanup

I hope this tip will help you keep your inbox clutter free and help you focus on the messages that are the most important to you. Keep coming back as we will certainly be doing more tips as Outlook.com rolls out new features.

Outlook.com Review: Features in Outlook Mail

Are you a Hotmail user? If so, you are so 1996! At least, that is what Microsoft would like you to think. Today, on the Outlook blog, Microsoft announced a modern approach to email called Outlook.com – “modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes”. Below is an introductory video that gives you a brief overview of the new concepts they incorporated in the new Outlook.com.

[Video Link]

 

All of this is pomp and circumstance of course, to get everyone excited about the fall line of Windows 8 related products. Microsoft figures a lot of people are used to using Outlook already and quite frankly, I agree. Now you have the ability to leverage an Outlook type client on the web. If you go to Outlook.com, you can login with your current Hotmail credentials or create a brand new Outlook.com address if you like.  See “How to Get Your Own Outlook.com Email Address” article for more details. Once you get logged in, you will notice the screen is a little different than the typical Hotmail setup. If you look at the picture below, you can see the inbox is very much dressed up like the up and coming Windows 8 Metro UI. The colors are vivid and the screen is really clean.

Outlook.Com

One nifty feature I like is the Quick Views. It is located in the bottom left corner of your Inbox. See the picture below for an example.

Quick View

If you click on the “Documents” quick view, then all of the emails in your mailbox that have documents attached will be filtered out so you can see them. They even thought of “Shipping Dates”. I thought that was pretty cool. You can even create your own custom views.

At the top of the Outlook.com window is an Outlook icon that has a downward pointing arrow to the right of it. This serves up a menu, pictured below, if you click it. Notice how much it looks like the Windows 8 icons you have been seeing in the Windows 8 developer preview and the Office 2013 Consumer preview.

menu

Basically, you are served up with 4 options. You can view your mail by clicking the “Mail’ icon. If you click the “People” icon, you get a list of your contacts. One big thing that they are pushing is how easily you can integrate Facebook with Outlook.com. If you click the “Calendar” icon, you will get the typical Outlook calendar. Lastly, clicking the SkyDrive icon takes you to your cloud based storage folder that you get by default for signing up with Outlook.com.

Below, you can see the “People” section of Outlook.com. This is basically your contacts folder, but it is extremely connected. Notice below that you can import contacts from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. Outlook.com has absolutely embraced social media.

People Tab

The calendar is very much like what you’re used to with the desktop version of Outlook. You will see in the picture below, that you manage several views, such as day, month, and year. You can also see a nice “to-do list”. However, did you notice that the calendar says “Hotmail” and “Windows Live” at the top? Looks like there are still a few bugs to work out.

Calendar

Below, you can see the Skydrive which is basically online storage. Highlighted in red, you can see that you are able to use online versions of Microsoft Office to create and edit documents right there in your Skydrive. By default you get 7GB of online storage for free.

Skydrive

Microsoft also produced a real quick walk-through video if you would like to take a couple of minutes to watch. It is quick, but really shows the new features well.

[Video Link]

I think that Microsoft is swinging for the fences with this new line of products. Honestly, I believe that they know this is possibly a do or die situation, as they can’t help but notice that they have lost a lot of market share to Google and Apple. My hope is that they will be able to come into the market with rightly designed products with the right price. If they don’t, I am not so sure they will be a significant contender 10 years from now. However, I am very encouraged by the thought and consideration that they are putting into some of these new roll outs. I guess time will tell.

Extraordinary Human Sculpture Found in Turkey

Archaeologists from the University of Toronto have made an extraordinary find at the Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP) on the Amuq Plain in southeastern Turkey.

Suppiluliuma
Suppiluliuma Sculpture, Likely King of Pitina (Courtesy Jennifer Jackson)

Described as a “beautiful and colossal” sculpture, it dates back to the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Pitina, circa 1000-738 BC. The sculpture from the waist up is about 1.5meters tall and is ornately decorated with curly hair and a beard.

“These newly discovered Tayinat sculptures are the product of a vibrant local Neo-Hittite sculptural tradition,” said Professor Tim Harrison, the Tayinat Project director and professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. “They provide a vivid glimpse into the innovative character and sophistication of the Iron Age cultures that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean following the collapse of the great imperial powers of the Bronze Age at the end of the second millennium BC.”

The archaeologists believe that this sculpture and an accompanying ornately decorated base were part of a gate complex marking the territory of the king. They were found buried together under rock pavement of a road leading to the upper citadel of the royal city. It is believe that the gate conquest was destroyed following the Assyrian conquest of the region in 738 BC.

Isaiah 10:9-10 actually makes reference to a “Kingdom of Idols” and asks, “Has not Calno fared like Carchemish?” Many scholars believe that Calno referred to in the Bible is the kingdom of Kunulua or Tayanat. The destruction of these monuments by the Assyrians may be what the biblical oracle is referring to.

For more information about the TAP site, visit http://www.utoronto.ca/tap/index.html.

Score Prizes During the Olympics 2012 with Viggle

The London Olympics 2012 go into full swing tonight. People from nations all around the globe will tune in to cheer their favorite athletes. With that in mind, what better time could their be to introduce you to an app that pays you to watch your favorite shows. Today, I want to introduce you to Viggle, a “loyalty program for television that gives people real rewards for checking into the television shows they are watching”.

Points for Watching Olympics 2012

Review in Detail

Viggle is available in both IOS and Android flavors. This FREE app allows you to “check in” while you are watching TV. Pictured above, you can see a screenshot of how the app looks on an iPad. When you are watching TV, simply tap the “Check In” button and it will listen in on what you are watching. After a few seconds it will match the sounds it picks up to its database and will show you on the screen what it thinks you are watching. Once you confirm that is what you are watching, it will give you all kinds of links about the show, as well as information on other ways you can accumulate points.

On the “What’s On” tab of the app, it will tell you special points promotions where you can earn significantly more points for watching. As an example, I checked into a Travel Channel show that I just happened to be watching today and after a bit of time, Viggle awarded me 29 points for watching that show. If you look at the picture above, you will notice that you earn significantly more points for watching the “Featured Shows”.

Starting tonight, you can earn the chance to get 100,000 points when you “invite friends, check in and play along with Viggle LIVE during prime time Olympic coverage”. Viggle has a social aspect to it. It allows you to share what you are watching on Facebook and Twitter. You can also invite friends and earn points when they sign up using your invite link. They also have to actually check into a show for you to get credit. If you do that during this Olympic coverage, you’ll get 1,000 points per person plus other great opportunities.

Review Summary

The Good: If you are an avid TV watcher, you can earn rewards for checking in with this app. You can earn everything from a $10 off an order coupon to a Royal Caribbean cruise! The app is extremely simple to install and integrates with Facebook for authentication.

The Bad: If you’re phone or tablet isn’t on the cutting edge, the app is pretty flaky. On my pitiful little LG Optimus T, it even gave me a warning that the app would run slow. Frankly, it didn’t work at all. However, on my iPad 2, it worked like a charm. Also, the rewards are far from reach and seem a little expensive to earn. For instance, a $25 Starbucks gift card is 9000 points. Considering I only got 29 points for my check in today it will be quite a while before I reach even the smaller of the prizes. However, if you’re a big TV watcher and are willing to tap into the “Featured Shows”, you can earn points a lot quicker.

Because the app requires so much horsepower and the fact that it is hard to earn big rewards, I am going to give this app 3 stars. I think there is a lot of potential in this app and it is kind of fun. If you would like to learn more, see their website at http://viggle.com.

Google Science Fair 2012 Winners

Some young minds with new ideas have competed in a worldwide competition to win the Google Science Fair 2012. Last year, Google kicked off the first of its science fairs and it was a sweeping success. Thousands of youth, ages 13-18, competed. This year was no exception. Last night, Google announced the winners of its 2012 competition and the projects were pretty impressive.

Winner
Google Science Fair 2012 Winners (Courtesy Google Science Fair YouTube Channel)

The grand prize winner this year was Brittany Wenger, a 17 year old from Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Her project was titled “Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer“. She developed a cloud based system to aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer. In the project she pointed out the that Fine Needle Aspirates (FNAs) are the least invasive way to biopsy for breast cancer, however, they are often difficult for doctors to read making it hard to  come to any conclusive diagnosis. The system she developed uses an artificial neural network that can see patterns too difficult for the human eye. She used an FNA database from the University of Wisconsin to help in the determination of whether the tumor was malignant or benign. The network was tested with 6800 trials and achieved predictive success of 97.4% with 99.1% sensitivity to malignancy.

The event was co-sponsored by Lego, National Geographic, CERN, and Scientific American. The grand prize winner got  a $50,000 scholarship from Google and the chance to go on a National Geographic expedition to the Galapagos. They were also awarded the opportunity to intern at one of the sponsors companies, as well as many other prizes. Below, you can see the award presentation ceremony that was streamed live from Google last night.

 

It gives me great encouragement to see young people involved in such groundbreaking and relevant work. It goes to show that age doesn’t have to be a boundary for achievement. Google is already gearing up for next year’s event. If you or someone you know would like to sign up for next year’s Google Science Fair, go to http://www.google.com/events/sciencefair/signup2013.html for more information.

Amelia Earhart’s Google Doodle

On the heels of the announcement of space flight pioneer, Sally Ride’s death, another trailblazing woman, Amelia Earhart, is being honored on what would be her 115th birthday with a Google Doodle. Pictured below, you can see the image of her Lockheed Electra, which was the plane she was in on the fateful day of her crash at sea in the Central Pacific Ocean.

Earhart Doodle

According to her official biography website, Earhart became fascinated with flying the day she went to watch a stunt flyer. Apparently, the pilot thought it might be fun to dive his plane toward Earhart and her friend, but instead of giving her a scare, he planted a seed.

I did not understand it at the time,” she said, “but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by. – Amelia Earhart

This tomboy turned pilot would eventually set record after record in the field of aviation and would challenge the conventional role of women in her day.

In 1932, at the age of 34, she would set out on a journey of a lifetime, being the first woman to do a solo transatlantic flight. The 14 hour flight began in Newfoundland and would end in a farm pasture in Northern Ireland. After this heroic journey, President Herbert Hoover presented Earhart with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society, Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross-the first ever given to a woman, and she also received the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government.

In 1937, Earhart wanted set out to make a flight around the world. She, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, nearly made it around. In fact, she was only 7000 miles shy of reaching her goal, but something went wrong on her way to one her stops on Howland Island. A mixture of bad weather, poor radio transmissions, and equipment failure eventually led to the U.S. Navy losing track of Earhart. According to her biography these were the last transmissions heard that fateful day:

 “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” The ship tried to reply, but the plane seemed not to hear. At 8:45 Earhart reported, “We are running north and south.” Nothing further was heard from Earhart.

Since that day, Amelia Earhart has been the stuff of legends. Even today, several news outlets are reporting how the search goes on to find the remains of the wreckage. Millions of dollars have been spent, and many theories have been laid to out, but unfortunately, Amelia Earhart’s departure from this world is still a mystery. To this day Earhart’s spirit should be an inspiration for women to aspire to their dreams. Her last letter to her husband represents the kind of spirit she had when she writes:

“Please know I am quite aware of the hazards,” she said. “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

So today as we ponder the life and death of an amazing pioneer of aviation, the question becomes, “How will we honor her spirit and accept the challenge?”

Sally Ride, America’s First Female Astronaut in Space, Dies

Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space passed away today after a 17 month battle with pancreatic cancer. According to her website, Sally Ride Science:

Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless. 

Sally Ride
Sally Ride (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Ride was a “trailblazer” in so many ways. In 1983 she joined the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger at the age of 32. At that time she was not only the first woman in space, but also the youngest person to do so. The influence she had on her colleagues is so evident in the many quotes posted on NASA’s website.

Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism – and literally changed the face of America’s space program,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally’s family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly.

Sally was a personal and professional role model to me and thousands of women around the world,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. “Her spirit and determination will continue to be an inspiration for women everywhere.

The selection of the 1978 Astronaut Class that included Sally and several other women, had a huge impact on my dream to become an astronaut. The success of those woman, with Sally paving the way, made my dream seem one step closer to becoming a reality,” said Peggy Whitson, Chief of the NASA Astronaut Office.

Ride’s influence on the world did not end with NASA. She went on to join the faculty at the University of California, San Diego, as a professor of physics and director of the University of California’s California Space Institute. She later founded her own company Sally Ride Science, which encouraged girls and young women to pursue careers in science and math. She lived a very private life, but what she gave of herself was for the good of people and our world. Her dedication to education and teaching is truly exemplary.

As most of us know, pancreatic cancer is a particularly difficult cancer and so much more work needs to be done to beat this horrible disease. Sally Ride Science has set up a fund in honor of Sally Ride, which can be found at https://www.sallyridescience.com/sallyride/memory.

Researchers Build First Complete Computer Model of an Organism

Researchers at Stanford University have completed the world’s first complete computer model of an organism. Using research from 900 publications and accounting for over 1900 parameters, they were able to completely simulate the human pathogen, Mycoplasma genitalium. This pathogen is often found in the urinary or respiratory tracts of humans and is known to have the simplest genome of any free-living organism.

Phenotype Model
This image represents the many processes it takes to build a complex phenotype as was done in this study. (Courtesy Science Direct Journal Cell)

The study was partly funded by the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. “This achievement demonstrates a transforming approach to answering questions about fundamental biological processes,” said James M. Anderson, director of the National Institutes of Health Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives. “Comprehensive computer models of entire cells have the potential to advance our understanding of cellular function and, ultimately, to inform new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

The study consisted of vast amounts of data and took a lot of computing power to pull off. But you may ask, “Why are we so interested in simulating an organism?” That is a good question. In the simplest of terms, what these scientists are building is called a phenotype, which basically means they are building a model based on observed behaviors or expressions in this organism. Using data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium, the scientists were able to observe things in the computer model that would be hard to see in the real thing. They were also able to reexamine experimental data.

This study opens wide the possibilities of computer aided bio-engineering. If you’ve been around any construction or architectural firms, you know the impact that computer aided design (think AutoCAD) has contributed to the process of planning and engineering a building. In the same way, being able to simulate entire organisms and be able to predict what certain genes will do under certain conditions has so much potential for future applications such as pharmaceuticals and even personalized medicine. However, the study authors are cautious to note that it will be a while before this is possible.

This study was published in the journal Cell. For more information, see Stanford University’s website.

NASA Reveals Stunning Photos of Sun’s Corona

NASA captured stunning images of the sun’s corona, the million degree atmosphere surrounding the sun, from a 16 megapixel telescope called the HI-C. The telescope was launched on a sub-orbital rocket from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The mission only lasted 620 seconds, but the results were pretty impressive. NASA was able to capture the highest ever resolution images of the sun’s corona using the extreme ultraviolet wavelength. This wavelength of light is optimal for viewing the hot solar corona.

Corona
NASA captured the highest resolution images of the sun’s corona ever captured. (Courtesy NASA.GOV)

The mission’s purpose was to capture the images of the sun’s corona to determine how coronal activity affects the earth’s atmosphere. According to a NASA press release, Jonathan Cirtain, senior heliophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala said,”we have an exceptional instrument and launched at the right time…because of the intense solar activity we’re seeing right now, we were able to clearly focus on a sizeable, active sunspot and achieve our imaging goals.”

The High Resolution Coronal Imager (HI-C) was able to capture images that were 5 times more detailed than any previously taken. The mirrors used in the telescope’s optics array are being credited for the incredible footage. Initially developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the final mirror configuration was a joint effort between Smithsonian’s Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Mass, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Below, you can see a very short video released by NASA showing the detailed images of the solar corona.

NASA’s suborbital sounding rockets are proving to be a lower cost, yet effective means for exploring space. It will be interesting to see what other new information can be gathered using the HI-C telescope. For more information on NASA’s solar missions, visit http://www.nasa.gov/sdo.

Tutorial: Use Word 2013 to Edit Your Blog

Office 2013 sports some pretty nifty features. One them is the ability to edit your blog directly using Word 2013. In this tutorial, I will show you how you can create a short blog post, insert embedded video, and save it as a draft on your WordPress website. Let’s get Started!

Word 2013 Splash Screen

When you first open Word 2013, you are presented with some gorgeous templates to help you get started. Pictured below, you can see that I am choosing the template called “Blog post”.

Blog Template
Select the Blog Template to get started.

The first time you open the “Blog post” template, it will ask you information about your blog’s URL, as well as username and password. Once you get that out of the way, you can start typing as I have below. Notice that I have typed “A Day at the Races” in the title section of the blog post. Below that you can see that I am typing about an experience I had with my son that weekend. You will also notice that some of the text is underlined in blue. This denotes that I have made that text a hyperlink. All I had to do was highlight the text and click the button at the top that looks like a little globe and is labeled “Hyperlink”. Things were moving along pretty smoothly until I decided I wanted to use this great new feature that Word 2013 is touting, which is the ability to embed videos. However, when I clicked the “Insert” tab, it was nowhere to be found, hence the giant red question mark I put in the picture.

Missing Embed
Notice we’re missing the embed video button.

Well, I decided to do a little digging. It hadn’t been that long ago that I did a tutorial on how to add buttons to the quick access toolbar in 2010, and fortunately Word 2013 sports that bar as well. If you look at the picture below, you will see where I clicked the downward pointing arrow on the quick access toolbar. I then selected “More Commands” from the bottom of the menu.

Quick Access Toolbar
Add Commands to Quick Access Toolbar

Next, I knew that I wanted to insert a video. By default, the “Popular Commands” category is chosen in the selection area. I clicked the dropdown arrow and chose the “Insert Tab” category because I suspected this is where I would find the insert video command I was looking for.

Insert Tab
Insert Tab

Under the “Insert Tab” heading was listed the option “Online Video”. I selected that video, clicked the “Add” button to move it to the right column of the dialog box. Lastly, I clicked OK at the bottom.

Now, I was in business. Circled in the picture below, you can see the “Online Video” button on the quick access toolbar. I clicked that and it opened the dialog box you see below. I simply had to copy the embed code from my YouTube video and paste it into the box to the right of the field that says “From a Video Embed Code”. You will also see circled in red to the right, the button that you need to click to insert the video.

Embed Video
Embed Video

Pictured below, you can now see I have my YouTube video embedded in the body of my blog post. To the right of that, you see a little box that says “Layout Options”. This is where you make the video box bigger and configure how it aligns with the text.

Layout Options
Layout Options

The last thing I want to do is save this post as a draft on my main blog so I can see how well it transfers over. I click on the “Blog Post” tab, then under the “Publish” button I click the downward pointing arrow, and select “Publish as Draft”. The reason I am doing it as a draft is so I can make final edits on my blog host.

Save As Draft
Save as Draft

If you look in the image below, you can see where my post was successfully published to my WordPress blog. Well, almost everything successfully published. Unfortunately, I found a nice little bug in this feature. The video didn’t actually transfer. For some reason, during the act of publishing, my video was converted into a PNG file. So basically, it’s now just a picture. This may explain why the insert video link was missing in the blog template to begin with, but I feel like this is a big flop if Microsoft didn’t consider the fact that some would want to publish videos to their blogs. Be mindful however, that the video works great embedded in the Word document. It just didn’t carry over.

WordPress Screenshot

I sent a note to Microsoft regarding the bug, but have yet to hear back. I will be sure to update if I do hear from Microsoft. You can notify Microsoft of bugs in any of the Office 2013 Consumer Preview apps by clicking the frown face in the upper right corner of the programs. Honestly, I like the ability that Microsoft Word 2013 gives me in the blog template. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect.