Archive for ‘Gmail’

December 1, 2012

Gmail and mobile service related news

There has been an accumulation of minor activity about Gmail recently.

Email art

Gmail Outage

On 11 December 2012, many Google accounts experienced Gmail unavailability. I did not have experience any problems in Arizona. Gmail was definitely offline for at least 45 minutes, when I checked the official Google Apps Status page.

According to GigaOm, continuous deployment was the problem, and Gmail went down during a routine load balancing update. The GigaOm article is good. It includes a two-page PDF document later released by Google, with a detailed explanation of the incident.

For future reference, I suggest bookmarking the Google Apps Status Dashboard. Despite the “Google Apps” page name, the information is relevant to consumers as well as Google Apps business customers. It lists time and cause for disruptions in Gmail and many other Google services.

Verdict of the Herd

There is an unofficial Is Gmail down? service which culls data from multiple sources. It reminds me of an informal version of Herdict, the “verdict of the herd”. Herdict collects and publicly reports on global incidents of filtering, denial of service attacks, availability, and overall internet infrastructure reliability. Input data is crowd-sourced.

Herdict reports on website inaccessibility regardless of cause. After aggregation and trend analysis, it can be useful for gauging regional blockages of websites known for activism and possibly subject to politically motivated internet censorship. “Is Gmail down” is not intended for anything beyond the convenience of the public, though that is always appreciated! It is not crowd-sourced, nor does it give a comprehensive real-­time map of global Internet health. In contrast, Herdict does exactly that. The collected information can even be broken down on a more granular level.

Herdict access service I like the Herdict badge. You can put it on your website to support Herdict activities. Just click on the sheep-shaped image to get one. The Herdict real time interactive map is fun to watch, and its RSS feed is available for free to anyone who wants to use the data. Herdict is run by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society of Harvard University. 

March 13, 2011

Mailhide

If you’ve ever looked at an open-source development project hosted by Google servers, usually on  http://code.google.com sites, Mailhide will be familiar. It is a less well-known application of the reCAPTCHA detection challenge.

reCAPTCHA now owned by Google

reCAPTCHA Turing test

Mailhide conceals part of an email address

This is how it prevents spammers from accessing email addresses using automated programs. Typically, the first few letters, or numbers, of the username part of the email is visible, followed by an ellipsis i.e. three dots, and then the domain name.

Most Google employees* use Mailhide. Mailhide is offered as an option to developers using Google Code sites.

Mailhide type functionality is also offered by Slashdot for user accounts. Slashdot is not necessarily using Google reCAPTCHA for encryption, however. There are other Turing tests besides reCAPTCHA.

reCAPTCHA is a Google product. It was not developed by Google, though. Google purchased the reCAPTCHA algorithm from Carnegie-Mellon University a few years ago, in 2008.

reCAPTCHA Mailhide API

Are you running a web application that lists users’ email addresses? Do your users a favor by shielding them from spam with reCAPTCHA Mailhide.

Google will give you an API (cryptographic) key. Use it to encrypt user email addresses. Google supplies full documentation for the Mailhide protocol. Everything is free of charge.

I am uncertain whether API restrictions on usage apply. That is a familiar restriction for applications developers relying on the Twitter API. It should not be a binding constraint in this case, as Mailhide is far less transactional that Twitter. Unless one is very, very popular!

reCAPTCHA comes in many flavors!

Libraries are available for PHP, Perl, Ruby and Python programs.

*Google employee accounts in the U.S.A., and many but not all other countries, have the format  userid@google.com.  Non-employee Google mail accounts are  userid@gmail.com.

 

February 3, 2011

Free calling in Gmail extended through 2011

Update for International Calling

Google Voice services are available at very low rates for international calls. The rates are competitive in sample comparisons with other long-distance calling providers. For example, cost to landlines in the UK, France, Spain, Argentina, Taiwan and Australia are merely 2 cents per minute.

Rates are higher if calling mobile or satellite phones.

Google Voice

Google Muy Pronto!

The rate chart (price per minute) is comprehensive. Rates are broken out by country and sometimes city, which generally allows more affordable rates for calls to metropolitan areas.

Features and instructions

Google Voice users can enable a function to record individual telephone calls.

Before using any Google Voice feature, review the Google Voice Legal Notice carefully. It includes important instructions!

  • Google Voice is not capable of placing or receiving emergency services calls
  • Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content that you or your callers upload, transmit or store in your Google Voice account.
  • We will not use any of your content for any purpose except to provide you with the Service.
  • Users may buy prepaid credits to be used for Google Voice services.
  • Google will be under no obligation to offer any refunds or reimbursements for the purchase price of such prepayments.
  • Usage of minutes is billed in one minute increments.
  • Prepaid credits are billed at the time of purchase.
  • Unless prohibited by law, outbound calling credit purchased will expire six (6) months from the most recent date of use, and may not be transferred.
Using GMail Voice

Gmail voice instructions

When launching calling in Gmail in August 2010, Google:

… wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010.

According to the Official Gmail Blog, free phone service will be extended all year, through the end of 2011.

Dialing a number works the same way as it would for a regular phone. Look for “Call phone” at the top of the chat list once logged on to Gmail. Either dial a phone number or enter a contact’s name. And that is all!

To learn more, visit Gmail Chat and Voice call. Phone calls with Gmail are available free of charge for U.S. and Canadian based Gmail users only.

January 3, 2011

Phone calls and more in Gmail

In addition to sharing voice and video chats with your contacts from computer to computer, you can also place and receive phone calls to any landline or mobile phone number in Gmail.

To get started, make sure to install the voice and video chat plug-ins.  Sign in to Chat, click on the “Call Phone” link, and a “Call” window will open. You’re all set to go!

I noticed this option: If you use Google Voice, you can enable Google Chat for forwarding and receiving phone calls in Gmail!

gmail logo

Google Gmail

Phone calls in Gmail are a feature available only in the United States as of December 2010. If you don’t see the “Call Phone” link at the top of your Chat list, and you’re in the U.S.A., check and make sure that your Gmail language is set to English (US).

For complete details, including a 40-second YouTube demo video, see Phone calls in Gmail – Gmail Help.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 527 other followers