Tag Archives: Email

Bring Back Gmail Mouse Gestures With Chrome Extension

Gmail Mouse Gestures

Back in 2011, Gmail had a labs experiment called “Mouse Gestures” that let you navigate your inbox  using the right click of your mouse. Dragging to the right/left would open the next/previous email and dragging the mouse up would open up the inbox. The experimental feature was one of my favorites so when it was discontinued in May 2012, I was a little saddened to the say the least.

A Change.org petition was launched soon after calling for its reinstatement, but who are we kidding, it’s Google after all. They shut down Google Reader in spite of its loyal following – what chance does a little lab experiment stand?

So I was quite elated when I came across a Google Chrome extension that accomplishes the same task, unofficially. Simply named Gmail Mouse Gestures, the extension does the job just as advertised. There are a few limitations to its functioning however. It hasn’t yet been updated to work with the latest tabbed-and-segregated Gmail interface so if you’re browsing emails in the Promotions tab and drag up to go to the list of emails, the extension takes you to the list of emails in the Primary tab. Left and right browsing works alright in all the tabs, thankfully.

Gmail Starts Sending Suspicious Sign in Prevented Emails

I have been using for a few years now and have come to love their spam filtering and security among other things. Gmail was probably one of the first free email provider to allow users to see where they logged in from and also provide an additional security layer with 2-step verification logins.

Some of the most interesting features in Gmail have been the ability to detect suspicious emails from your contacts, ability to alert you whenever any suspicious activity takes place in your account and the feature which alerts you whenever any filters have been setup to forward emails to another account.

However, there is a chance that most of the users do not access their accounts through the web interface and instead prefer using IMAP, notifying such types of accounts is harder. To overcome that problem Gmail has now started sending out emails to users saying that they have detected and prevented a suspicious login from an unknown location.

Gmail Suspicious Sign in Prevented Email

The email which arrived in my inbox earlier today can be seen in the image above. The message reads:

Keith,

Someone recently tried to use an application to sign in to your Google Account, [redacted]. We prevented the sign-in attempt in case this was a hijacker trying to access your account. Please review the details of the sign-in attempt:

May 8, 2012 8:37am GMT
IP Address: 204.15.240.72
Location: Sunnyvale, California, United States

If you do not recognize this sign-in attempt, someone else might be trying to access your account. You should sign in to your account and reset your password immediately. Find out how at http://support.google.com/accounts?p=reset_pw

If this was you, and you want to give this application access to your account, complete the troubleshooting steps listed at http://support.google.com/mail?p=client_login

Sincerely,
The Google Accounts Team

This email approach from Gmail seems to be new and will allow users who don’t access the web interface to find out if their account is being compromised. It is not clear though whether the user was able to login successfully or not. Nevertheless, you should definitely change your password if you receive it.

If you need help generating strong passwords, you can check out 4 unique apps to generate strong passwords.

Also Read: How to find if your Gmail account is hacked and what to do

Update: For all those asking I had already confirmed that this is a legit email and a Gmail community manager has also confirmed this it is legitimate in a stack exchange thread:

I am the Gmail Community Manager, and I can confirm that we do send email notifications in certain cases such as described here.

Always carefully check the URL and never enter your Google password on a page that is not hosted at google.com. For example, it is OK to enter your password at https://accounts.google.com or https://mail.google.com, but not gooogle.com, g00gle.com, etc.

Update 2: Turns out that Google is now actively blocking login attempts from services like Plaxo and . A thread on Dropbox reports similar emails being sent out to users.

SkyDrive Insists That Email Attachments Suck; Urges You To Switch to SkyDrive

After the recent refresh of SkyDrive and the introduction of SkyDrive for Windows app, the online storage service from Microsoft is focusing on educating users how sharing files via SkyDrive is a better approach than sending attachments in email.

Head to www.attachmentssuck.com and learn easy steps to get started. Don’t miss – The life of an attachment: complex, annoying, and time wasting! – a comprehensive infographic showing the life cycle of an attachment, stressing on the wastefulness and inefficiency of the exercise.

attachmentssuck

SkyDrive allows you to share documents, photos, and files with anyone you choose and it’s automatically available from any device. You can even work together on Office documents in real time. Here’s how to get started:

  1. If you don’t already have one, get a Windows Live ID and you’ll see SkyDrive in the top navigation. Click, and just add files.
  2. Select the file you want to send.
  3. Click Share, and then select the kind of permission you want to give to people you’re sharing files with by checking or unchecking the Recipients can edit box.
  4. Click Send.

The special micro-site allows you to send Ecards to your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or email hinting them that it is annoying when they send attachments in email and asking them to get setup with a SkyDrive account to save themselves and you some time. Forget the marketing pitch, I think I should do this for lot of my old-school friends who send huge files, back and forth, as attachments. SkyDrive, or any online storage service for that matter, is a better way to share files and to collaborate on them.

Squadmail Syncs Your Email Folders With Collaborators, Allows Frictionless Forwarding Of Email

email-forwarding-messEmail is a big problem but the bigger problem is keeping track of all those conversations where multiple people are participating. Two way conversations are fine, I send my message, archive it and immediately remove the conversation from my inbox. But the situation becomes alarmic when you have to frequently share old emails with a group of people.

This starts a never ending chain of email forwards and sometimes, I find myself losing track of the message which started the thread in the first place.

You’ve moved a long way into the conversation and suddenly, one member says –“Hello, I can’t find that old message in my inbox, I think I have lost it. Could you please check your sent mail folder and forward me the entire conversation?”. Facebook has a group messaging email combo but it isn’t as good as a regular email inbox, crippled and surrounded by distractions.

Unlike Gmail, Google Docs is far better as far as sharing is concerned. You create folders, choose collaborators, set access privileges, drop those documents and its done. But there is no easy way to share an entire email label with someone else (or a group of people), you will have to do it manually and this gets really irritating after some time.

Squadmail changes all this.

It’s like a Dropbox for your ever expanding email inbox, you just have to drag and drop messages to your Squadmail folder and it will be instantly shared with your chosen collaborators. No forwarding, no cc’s, no more searching for old email and forwarding a bunch of them to people who won’t ever learn to use the “CC” or “Bcc” in a message thread.

squadmail

Here is how it works.

First, you have to tie your email account with Squadmail through IMAP settings. If that sounds geeky, just hit the “Sign up with Gmail button” on the homepage and grant Squadmail access to your Gmail account. When you create a shared folder within your Squadmail account, the folder gets a unique email address [email protected]. This email address can be set to receive messages only from selected email addresses, all you have to do is select the checkbox “Only members of this folder can send mails to this address”.

Next, add the collaborators whom you want to have access to all the shared emails and its done.

squadmail2

Now any member can send email to the common email address and it will automatically be forwarded to all the other members of the group. You can even drag and drop a pile of messages into your shared label and all those messages will be shared with the respective collaborators. This is a permanent solution for the Fwd: Fwd: Fwd loop and the best thing is that all the shared messages remains archived in your Squadmail inbox.

This is a really useful tool for enterprises and organizations who need a simple, yet hassle free way to share selected conversations with a team. Here at Techie Buzz, we have an email address [tips at techie-buzz.com] for receiving tips, suggestions and product pitches from startups and developers. This inbox has to be constantly monitored and it is really impossible for a single person to do this round the clock. Moreover, Keith has to manually forward the received press release to one of the authors, and then the author has to notify other authors that he is working on this particular story. We have switched from Google Groups to Yammer long back but Squadmail’s common inbox is a best fit, when multiple people must have access to a common inbox.

Squadmail can also act as an intermediary between your main inbox and newsletters. You can create separate folders for newsletter subscriptions and use the disposable email address to your advantage. When things go out of control, simply delete that folder and start over with a new Squadmail address. That way, your real email address is never shared with other sites; this helps keep your main inbox clean and free from junk.

The following video explains Squadmail in full detail:

RIM’s Response to Recent Service Outage; $100 Worth of Free Apps as Apology

If there’s one thing you use your BlackBerry for, it’s games, right?

In response to the recent BlackBerry service outage, which left millions of users across the world with a completely useless device, RIM has apologized for the disruption and is attempting to win some confidence back. In a Press Release issued early this morning, Research in Motion announced they will be offering premium apps  to customers as an expression of appreciation. The short list of apps and games will be available later this week, and will stay “free” until the end of 2011. It’s about as free as the $40/month you pay your carrier for access to RIM’s proprietary backhaul.

Likely, you have a BlackBerry for enterprise use (because it’ll cost the company too much to drop the antiquated service), well RIM isn’t ignoring you either. Corporate enterprise customers will receive one month of free technical support. A whole 30 days of technical service tacked onto your existing ball-and-chain contract with RIM — free!

The complete selection of premium apps will become available to download at BlackBerry App World over a period of four weeks beginning Wednesday, October 19th.   The selections over this period will include the following (with more to come):

•  SIMS 3 – Electronic Arts
•  Bejeweled – Electronic Arts
•  N.O.V.A. – Gameloft
•  Texas Hold’em Poker 2 – Gameloft
•  Bubble Bash 2 – Gameloft
•  Photo Editor Ultimate – Ice Cold Apps
•  DriveSafe.ly Pro – iSpeech.org
•  iSpeech Translator Pro – iSpeech.org
•  Drive Safe.ly Enterprise – iSpeech.org
•  Nobex Radioâ„¢ Premium – Nobex
•  Shazam Encore – Shazam
•  Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant – Vlingo

RIM’s enterprise customers will also be offered one month of free Technical Support.   Current customers will be offered a complimentary one month extension of their existing Technical Support contract, and customers who do not currently have a Technical Support contract will be offered a one month trial of RIM’s BlackBerry Technical Support Services – Enhanced Support, free of charge.   Additional details about the program and information about how to register will be available at  www.blackberry.com/enterpriseoffer.

It’s a pretty unclear message that RIM is sending. “Our service was down for 3 days and you were left with a brick in your pocket, here are some free games to play (for when the service goes out again), and if you pay for the service, we’ll offer your free technical support (to tell you when the service goes out again)“.

It should also be noted that of the 12 listed apps that RIM will be offering customers, most of them  require  an active data connection to be of any use. You can’t use Shazam, Nobex Radio or the iSpeech applications without service.

So be sure to fire up AppWorld on your BlackBerry and grab those games before the service goes down again, we all know you can’t survive with BrickBreaker for another 3 days.

Gmail Now Warns About Filters That Forward Email to Another Address

is definitely one of the best email providers out there and they have always been innovating and adding new features. We have written several Gmail Tips and features in the past, however, a new feature is being rolled out to users where they are being warned about filters that forward emails to other email addresses.

Gmail has always been keen on increasing the security of their service after what happened in China. They have been adding features which displays the locations you logged into Gmail from and also alerts you about suspicious logins. Additionally, Google has also added features like forced SSL and two step validation process.

The new alerts about forwarding filters is really useful and will allow users to see if anyone is forwarding emails to other accounts. In fact, I was very keen on having this feature for Gmail and had even spoken to few developers on creating an extension for Gmail, however, Google beat me at it.

Gmail Forwarding Filters Alert

The new message will be displayed on the top of the page as seen in the screenshot above and will allow users to review settings and change them if required. Currently, the "Review Settings" link takes you to the Filters page, however, I would have loved to have Gmail only display those filters which are forwarding emails to other accounts when I click on it.

A Google help page is also setup to tell users about this new feature, it states;

Why do I have a forwarding filter notice?

You’re seeing a notice to help you confirm that the forwarding filter setting that’s active on your account is accurate. If your account has this feature enabled, you should see this notice.

Forwarding filters are a pretty powerful feature that enables you to send a specific portion of your incoming email to another email account. This mechanism is helpful especially when you have more than one email account. Even so, it’s a good idea to make sure all the details are consistent with what you intend and expect. We encourage you to review your settings and verify that they are accurate.

How long will I see this notice?

For about a week, this notice will appear for a few minutes each time you sign in to your account. Displaying the notification in this way helps ensure that you have a chance to see the notice, rather than someone who might try to gain unauthorized access to your account and use this setting improperly. The notice will disappear immediately if you choose to disable the forwarding filter setting, but that decision is up to you.

How do I remove unwanted forwarding filters?

If the content of the notice looks unneeded or unfamiliar, please do the following:

  1. If you see unfamiliar account access, please change your password immediately. This may indicate that someone has unauthorized access to your account. It’s a good idea to pick a strong password for your Gmail account and never use it again on other websites.
  2. Sign back in to your Gmail account and click the gear icon in the top right corner of Gmail and choose Mail settings.
  3. Click the Filters tab.
  4. Search for the terms "Forward to" and delete any filters with unfamiliar email addresses. Note, there may be more than one filter.
  5. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
  6. In the "Forwarding" section, click the first drop-down menu and remove any unfamiliar email addresses.
  7. Select the Disable forwarding radio button if you want to disable non-filter based forwarding.

Kudos to Gmail on adding this feature, I have always wanted it and would have created it myself. It will definitely help people to keep a quick eye on Forwarding filters and remove them if necessary.

A Definitive Look into 15 Years of Hotmail

Hotmail, world’s largest free email service with 360 million unique users per month, completed 15 years on July 4, 2011. It was one of the first web-based email services on the internet.

Hotmail was founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, two colleagues at FirePower Systems Inc. in Silicon Valley. The service was commercially launched on July 4,  1996 as HoTMaiL; the selective capitalization referring to HTML. The launch date has a bit of trivia attached to it. July 4 is American Independence Day, and the service symbolized freedom from ISP-based email and the ability to access a user’s inbox from anywhere in the world.

Interestingly, the Hotmail development and operations groups are based in Mountain View, California and not in Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. When Hotmail Corporation was an independent company, its headquarters were in Sunnyvale, California.

Acquisition

History of Hotmail Logo

An Estonian investor acquired Hotmail from the original creators and continued developing it. In 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail for an estimated $400 million to make free email a feature of Microsoft Network (MSN). The Hotmail acquisition by Microsoft turned up the heat on the then online giant America Online, MSN’s main rival.

Shortly after the acquisition, Microsoft rebranded it to MSN Hotmail. Also, Hotmail was integrated with another Microsoft acquisition, Jump, a web-based calendar service.

In 2005, a refresh of Hotmail was announced as Windows Live Hotmail (codename Kahuna), and was rolled out in 2007. Windows Live is a suite of online services and products from Microsoft.

Growth

Original Hotmail Homepage

Hotmail quickly gained in popularity as it was localized for different markets around the globe and became the world’s largest webmail service. In its current version, Windows Live Hotmail is available in 36 different languages. According to last year’s comScore ranking, Windows Live Hotmail is the world’s largest web-based email service with nearly 364 million users. Second and third are Yahoo! Mail at 280 million users and Gmail at 191 million users.

Evolution

Hotmail Homepage in 2007

Hotmail initially ran under Solaris for mail services and Apache on FreeBSD for web services. Although a project was started to migrate Hotmail to Windows 2000,   Microsoft admitted that DNS functions of the Hotmail system were still reliant on FreeBSD. After a while, MSN Hotmail was tied to Microsoft Passport, Microsoft’s web authentication scheme. Microsoft Passport has now been rebranded to Windows Live ID.

Starting in 2004, the Hotmail engineering team completely rewrote the backend system to move it to a system that uses  Windows Server and Windows SQL Server. In 2005, the Hotmail engineering team undertook a similar rewrite of the frontend system, and rebuilt both Hotmail and Calendar from the ground up using C# and ASP.net and leveraged Windows Server and the latest version of IIS.  The old software was written in C++ and Perl.

Although, Hotmail was ahead of its time in offering and progressively adding email features like anti-virus scanning for attachments, integrated calendar service, built-in reading pane, email rules, and spell checking, there was a period of technological stagnation in the first half of 2000s. Leading webmail services like Hotmail and Yahoo worked on gaining more users rather than innovating in the space in this period.

The advent of Gmail in 2004 as a revolutionary webmail service spurred a wave of innovation amongst webmail services. Hotmail too made dramatic changes featuring greater storage, speed, and interface flexibility. Hotmail initially offered 2MB free storage while today it offers ever-growing storage.  The service has since  been growing at an astounding pace both in innovation and engineering as well as in user base.

Gmail Displays Suspicious Message Warnings From Hacked Accounts

Back in 2008, had introduced a new feature which allowed you to track suspicious access to your account. This feature was gradually made more prominent in 2010 through Google Suspicious Login Protection. Google has in fact taken this protection further with the introduction of two-step login verification thanks to Gmail accounts in China being hacked and several other security measures they have put in place.

However, your Gmail account can get hacked nevertheless (Read: How to find if your Gmail account is hacked and what to do) and there is nothing you can do about it. But what if your friends email account gets hacked and you receive a desperate email from them asking for cash or some help?

Well, this is not unusual and there are several times when you might receive emails from your contacts which come from a legitimate email address asking you for financial help. These messages "might" be genuine but many a times these are nothing but online scams. Thankfully, you can avoid such scams if your friend is using a Gmail or Google Apps related email address. How? Well, thanks to several security measures, Gmail now display a suspicious email warning if they believe that the account has been hijacked.

gmail_suspicious_email_contact

Take for example an email from my friend who is on my contact list. The above screenshot displays a warning saying that the message might be suspicious (and it is indeed because my friends account was compromised). This is definitely a good feature because it will allow users to instantly know that something is wrong. Based on this message (and the content of the email), I alerted my friend and he confirmed that his account was compromised.

I am not sure if Gmail does this for emails from non-Gmail accounts, but it is definitely helpful when a email service is intelligent enough to know when an account has been hijacked. This information might be collected using several security measures, one of them might be the suspicious account login feature Gmail has. However, it might not just be limited to it.

WARNING: Fotos_Osama_Bin_Laden.exe Email Attachment Is A Banking Trojan

As if the various Osama Bin Laden video scams on were not enough, a new malware is being spread through emails now. If you receive any emails with an attachment named Fotos_Osama_Bin_Laden.zip or something similar, DO NOT OPEN IT.

Banking Trojan

According to F-Secure Labs, an email is doing the rounds of the internet with an attachment named Fotos_Osama_Bin_Laden.zip, this could be named differently too as Photos_Osama_Bin_Laden.zip. The file contains an executable named Fotos_Osama_Bin_Laden.exe.

The executable does not contain any photos of Osama Bin Laden but is infected with the Trojan-Downloader:W32/Banload.BKHJ, which is a banking Trojan. It installs on the system and will start to monitor your online banking sessions via a Browse Helper Object (BHO) and try to redirect your payments to wrong accounts.

If you have downloaded or clicked on the attachment run an free online scanner or a anti-malware after disabling access to the internet. You might also want to run scans using your Antivirus. If you don’t have one, head over to our Free Antivirus section to find one.

The new Trojan is playing on human curiosity generated by the death of Osama Bin Laden. There are actually no leaked photos or videos of the event. As an advice, please don’t click on any links which tell you that you can watch a censored video or pictures of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

You will not be able to watch any videos or pictures unless the US government releases them. So hold your horses until then and don’t spread the virus of become affected by it.

Gmail Labs Brings Background Send, Now Send an Email While Reading Other Mail Conversations

Gmail has continued innovation this year with the launch of Smart Labels. Another new nifty feature has come to Gmail that allows us to send emails in the background, without blocking the user interface while sending it.

The new feature here is called Background Send and it does exactly what it sounds like. With Background Send, you can click on send and expect to move around your mailbox seamlessly. This will not be interrupted by the sending process, that is taking place in the background. Clearly, you can send multiple emails in parallel without any of them being interrupted.

The feature will require browsers with fast and fail-proof JavaScript rendering. As the feature works in th background and the process of sending an email is not as intensive and simultaneously frequent as, say tweeting, the performance/speed difference will not be evident at first.

How to Enable Background Send in Gmail?

gmail-background

To enable background send, go to Gmail -> Settings -> Mail Settings on the top right hand corner. Out there, go to the Labs tab and look for  Background Send. Click on the Enable radio and you are all set to use Background Send.

Gmail has taken over all our email needs, and innovations like these are extremely important to keep competition at bay.