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April 29, 2011

Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail is the second largest webmail provider with approximately over 275 million users as per a May 2010 interview with Yahoo! Mail's Carlo Catajan. It offers unlimited mail storage with attachments limited to 25mb per email message. Because of the large amount of subscribers there is also Ymail and Rocketmail which offers the same benefits of a Yahoo mail account. I find the interface to be very user friendly.

You have the option of a preview pane.  Unlike Windows Live Hotmail where the preview pane can be on the right side or bottom of the page, in Yahoo Mail it can only be at the bottom of the page. This give you the ability to in effect delete the message without opening it after seeing it.  One of the better features is like Gmail, the email message you are composing is saved as you are writing it.  However, like Gmail if you leave Yahoo without saving the message as a draft, you likely will lose it.  In other words, save your message every so often as insurance of a crash or other reason for you to be knocked off. 

Not everything is A-OK about this webmail service.  I cannot understand that when you want to delete a spam message you are prompted if you are sure. The other mail services realize if you are deleting a spam message there is no need to prompt to confirm you are sure about deleting them.  The drag and drop feature is deceptive.  It really does not allow you to move between folders by dragging it into another folder.  This however is corrected in the beta version where you can drag a message from one folder to another.  

Yahoo Mail works well with Yahoo Contacts.  The issue with Yahoo Contacts is that when importing contacts from another application it is not seamless.  For a business, the name may end up being the email address.  You would need to manually change. 

If you currently have a Yahoo email account go to for the beta version. One disadvantage of the beta version is to go to "Options" you need to go to click "Help" and then "Options".  The non beta version has a selection for "Options" that is easy to find and you do not need to go to another selection prior.  I would anticipate that the bugs in the beta program will be corrected prior to it going live.  If you wish to not use the beta version after trying it, you need to go to "Help" then select "Return to Original Mail".

In all it is a solid email program.  It has a relatively easy to use interface which is more user friendly than most.

Evernote - Your Own Personal Digital Assistant

If you are looking for a good note taking program that you can sync with your smartphone then Evernote may be for you. Its number of users have increased quite a bit since it became more user friendly for Android users. It can be used to store notes, pdf files (which you can annotate) and is great for clipping parts of a website that you wish to save to later use. While it is in the cloud, you can save a version that rests on your hard drive as well. You also are given an Evernote email address to use in case you or someone else wishes to add to your existing notes or create a new one. This is good where your spouse,friend,etc can send you a picture of what a particular item you are shopping for looks like.

As mentioned you also can take and store pictures. You can take a picture with your smartphone and upload to your Evernote account making notes about the picture once it is uploaded.  Those who have an Eye-Fi card in their digital camera can send pictures directly to their Evernote account from it.

It is a great program for note taking and organizing your notes. Similar notes can be categorized as notebooks which is a collection of notes. The search feature is also very good.  You can search by keywords, tags, and titles. Evernote is good for making notes which you could use with pictures to better clarify and also for its ability to clip parts of a webpage. You can also convert speech to text. This enables you to send voice notes that are converted to text.

An area of concern is its ability to share your notes with others. You have the ability to share your notes with everyone, selected people or no one. Sharing is based upon notebooks which as mentioned is a collection of notes. Even with the paid version I do not see a way to allow those you share your notes with to edit and make changes to them. I find the lack of this feature and the fact that sharing is by notebooks and not individual notes to be a concern. When I make notes that I wish to allow others to make changes to I use Google Docs where you can allow changes to be made by others for individual file(s).

For those who like a good way of taking and organizing notes on the run, need a good way to organize your notes and have your own personal digital assistant this is a good program check out.  It may suit your needs and do it well. Even if you do not have a smartphone, you may do well using it.

April 28, 2011

Google Mail

One of the biggest products from Google is Google Mail (Gmail).  As of December 2009, Gmail had 176 million users on a monthly basis and with good reason. Once you are used to the interface which is a conversation type of view, Gmail has some very good features beginning with 7.5 GB and increasing storage. You also can attach up to 25GB of files. Where does one start?  Let's start with the contacts list.  You can sort by first or last name as you can do with most contacts.  What I noticed is for business contacts, not all webmail sorts correctly by business name.  Gmail's contact list sorts businesses properly regardless of the sort.

Have you ever sent an email and right away realized that you forgot to include an attachment?  Enable "Undo Send" for Gmail labs and you have the ability to undo a sent email for up to 30 seconds after hitting "Send".  Recently, Google implemented Google Voice which enables free calling to the US and Canada using Gmails Google Chat interface.

When composing an email, has there ever been an issue where your browser crashes?  The autosave feature of Gmail automatically saves a copy of the email you are working on.  It starts saving once  minute and then varies according to the size of the message.  No more having your browser crash and losing an email that you have been working on for the past 15 minutes.

Gmail also works with your Google Calendar.  You can accept an invite received on a Gmail and post it directly to your calendar in Google.

If you receive email from someone you do not wish to receive it from, you can easily set up a filter so that it does not go to your inbox (usually Trash).

Searching within Gmail is very easy.  There is a search bar in the upper left of the Gmail page and put your search term in.  Searching for a person or an email address is done the same way and again very easy.

In all once you learn to use the interface, you will appreciate how powerful and good an email tool Gmail is.

A note that future blogs will look at the webmail for AOL, Windows Live Hotmail, and Yahoo.


For those using Gmail who wish they could schedule their messages for future delivery Boomerang is for you.  You can write that email now and schedule it to automatically be sent at the date and time you choose.  You do not need to be logged in to Gmail, the internet or have your computer on at the time scheduled.  An advantage of this is when sending an email to someone outside your time zone, you can make sure they receive the message first thing in the morning their time.  Say you're emailing a friend/customer in London during the early evening your time.  You can schedule the email to be sent 8AM their time so they receive it during the start of their day while you are asleep. It will be closer to the top of their inbox.

You can design a birthday card, anniversary card, etc. attach it to an email a few days prior and have the email sent to that person on that special day. You may forget to send it but Boomerang won't.

While you can use Google Calendar for reminders, you also can use Boomerang as an email reminder service. You can set an email to be sent to you reminding you of a meeting, to pay a certain bill, etc.  Further if you receive an email confirming an event, you have the ability to send it to Boomerang.  Boomerang will remove it from your inbox and put it there at the time you designate to remind you of the event. If the confirmation mentions a date and time, Boomerang will suggest a date and time to send the reminder.

You can also set up a reminder for you to follow up on a message you send. You can set it to remind you to follow up if the person you sent it to does not respond or regardless if the person responds or not. The reminder will go to your inbox at the top and is marked unread.  You also can use this feature for a cleaner inbox. Boomerang will store a message on their server and return the email to your inbox at the time you note that you need it.

Go to to download the program.