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Brian Johnson


Brian Johnson

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Haven't seen this reported anywhere else, but it looks interesting...
A new feature called Collections is coming soon to Google+, according to sources of ours. While we have limited information about Collections at this time, from what we understand, the feature wants users to create “collections” of their interests, which makes it sound a lot like Pinterest meets ...
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+Oleg Moskalensky Not disagreeing. I think that it will reflect very badly on them. They certainly fouled up some of the details badly...
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Brian Johnson

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I don't need a visually oriented wearable.

Wearables have been getting a lot of press in the last few years. Pebble, Google Glass, Android Wear, the Apple Watch, and now Magic Leap all promise ways to look at information without taking your smartphone out of your pocket. While they all look amazing and fun, I don't need all of that for everyday use.

I just want something to whisper in my ear - and the hardware to do that has been around for years. It's the lowly Bluetooth earpiece.

I can actually do this today - sort of. My iPhone has a feature called "VoiceOver". I enjoy bicycling, and and at the start of each ride, I press the button on my headset and tell Siri to turn on VoiceOver. For the rest of the ride, any notification that pops up on my lock screen is automatically spoken to me through the earpiece. My phone stays safety in my bag, and I don't have to take one hand off the handlebars to squint at an itty bitty screen on my wrist while I am dodging traffic. If I want additional info, I often can get it just by asking Siri.

It's simple, easy, and inexpensive.

It's not perfect. The other features of VoiceOver are great for those who need it, but are overkill for my use. To be truly day-to-day useful, I would want to disable certain VoiceOver features, and configure which notifications get read to me. (iMessage - yes. games with friends - no.). It also doesn't work well with my car's audio system - different Bluetooth profile, I think.

The press and the manufacturers may be focused on visual interfaces, but I believe a simple audio assistant has a much better chance of becoming ubiquitous - if the software evolves to truly make use of it.

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FYI - Although Evernote Scannable (for iOS) does not directly support Google Drive, it does support the iOS "Open With..." Function. So if you have the Google Drive app installed, you can scan with Scannable, then transfer it to the Google Drive app, (which will upload it to Google Drive automatically.)
Business cards, contracts, documents, letters, receipts -- it's all Scannable with Evernote. |
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Great article!   Another issue I have seen (and is hard for any one teacher to address) is situation where my daughter gets the "perfect storm" combination of homework assignments resulting in a huge amount of work on a single night.
Every teacher in the modern world should read this piece, and do what the author did.
'Teachers work hard, but I now think that conscientious students work harder. '
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I love the way my boys' school puts kids in teams of teachers that work together and coordinate big projects and tests so the kids don't get slaughtered like that.
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Brian Johnson

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Initial Impressions of Inbox by Gmail

Intuitive or confusing?  It all depends on your approach to email.

I have seen a number of posts about the new Inbox app being released by Google.  Some have called it a fresh approach, while others are calling it confusing.    Before even seeing the app, I expressed concern that I would “lose important stuff.”  (+John Skeats  told me the opposite - that I would be less likely to lose something.)

Eventually, I received my invitation and have had a chance to use it for a few days.  My conclusion?   Inbox can be both intuitive and extremely helpful - once I abandoned (or refined) an old habit.

You see, I used the old habit of keeping things “unread” if I wanted to keep them in my span of attention.   Inbox doesn’t really work that way.  In fact, I haven’t found a way within the Inbox app to mark an item as unread.   (Keep in mind, Inbox is a new app - and I can still use the old GMail app if I want to.)

With Inbox, your primary view is supposed to be uncluttered - So that what you see is what is most relevant.  That includes new mail (grouped into “bundles” based on their content), items that you have “pinned” to stay, items that have resurfaced after you “snoozed” them earlier, and reminders that you have set.

Once I got used to that, it all made sense - and I think it has a lot of promise.

Big tip - Once you start using Inbox, it helps to go through all the old stuff in your inbox and decide what to do with it - and that is much easier to do with a desktop browser than with a mobile device.

There is a lot more to explore - Inbox has already found an itinerary for an upcoming trip and monitoring for flight status updates.   The ability to set reminders has me thinking - is it powerful enough to replace my current To-Do list?   The jury is still out on that one.

Inbox is still by invitation only.  You can request an invitation by sending an email to It could take a while for your invitation to appear, so be patient.  Existing users have a limited number of invitations they can give away as well. (But please don’t fill up the comments to this post with requests for invitations.) 
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Great review, +Brian Johnson. I'm glad to see you tried it.
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Brian Johnson

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My caller ID is getting smarter

Last year I chuckled when the caller ID on my home phone said "SPAM". This year being a (mid-cycle) election year...
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After using the iOS version for several days, I have noticed a few bugs - anyone else seen these?

XM Limit  When I progressed from Level 1 to Level 2, my scanner shows I can collect as many as 4,000 XM.   However, no matter how much I collect, the scanner level never rises higher than 3,000 XM.   (I have even started at 3000, recycled 5 L1 items, and the result - still at 3000.)

COMPASS  I set the Compass to Dynamic, and after awhile, it just flips back to Static on its own.   I believe it happens when the scanner actually shuts down (as opposed to being moved to the background.)

COMMS  Seems to get really confused.  At times, all the messages will have the exact same date/time stamp, and scrolling back seems to cycle through the same messages over and over.

Hoping that these get fixed soon.  (Also hoping they will add in portal submission and notifications, which were known to be missing when it was released.)

(FYI:  iOS 7, not jailbroken)
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Yep - just verified and my XM count jumped.  Appreciate the tip.
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Brian Johnson

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Love this article by Fast Company.

First, Facebook tells businesses they should put a lot of time and effort into Facebook pages and posts.   Then they tell users that in order to "keep their news feeds relevant" they would be filtering out all those posts they told businesses to create - because users supposedly didn't want to see them.
Then they told the businesses that they could make sure users saw those posts ( the ones they said users didn't want to see) by paying Facebook more money.

In almost any other business, this would raise cries of racketeering.
For years, small business owners have been encouraged to adopt social media strategies as a way of engaging their customers after they leave the store. And they listened: 90% of small business owners in the U.S. are active on social media, and many consider social media the easiest and most cost-effective way to have an online presence.

But recently customer engagement rates on Facebook and Twitter have declined to the point where only paid promoted posts can create meaningful results. Here's a look at why, and what small business owners should do instead.
The former head of SMB Marketing at Facebook on why social media can no longer help small businesses reach customers.
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Thank you for sharing this very insightful article.
It actually encourages me the continue with our ongoing approach to reaching our customers and potential customers.
All the best,
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Brian Johnson

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A new twist on an old scam

I've seen this tired scam targeted to PC owners for years, but this is the first time I've seen it targeting iPhone browsing.

Don't fall for it 
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Brian Johnson

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Inbox by GMail hidden gem - bundle options

There is no need to be disrupted by the routine - so cut back on those distractions!

When GMail added the “tabbed inbox” a while back, I admit that I didn't find it very useful.  I am going to manage all my incoming mail anyway, so why click through multiple tabs just to see what is there?

As I started working with the new Inbox by GMail app, I looked at “bundles” which is essentially a souped up version of the older tabbed inbox.  The way that bundles are presented in the Inbox view is a bit more informative than the older version, to the point where having some messages pre-sorted just might be useful enough to give it another try.

Then I found the bundle’s hidden gem - deep within the settings on the mobile client.  (I have the iPhone client, but I assume that the Android client is similar.)

To access the settings, tap on the “three lines” icon at the top left of the inbox to slide out the navigator.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the navigator (below all your bundles and labels) and tap “Settings”.  When the “Settings” screen opens, tap on your account.  You will see a simple settings screen with three options - “New Messages”, “Label settings & notifications”, and “About location.”   Tap on “Label settings & notifications.”

You will see a list of all your labels, sorted into groups.  I have three groups - bundled, unbundled, and “Skip the Inbox”.  (That last one is because of some GMail rules I have to move certain items directly to a label without ever appearing in my inbox.)   Tapping on an individual label or bundle brings up additional options - and here is where you find the hidden gem.

For any bundle, you can separately set whether emails received into that bundle result in a notification on your phone, or whether they just sit patiently until you get around to reading your mail.   You can also set whether new mails for that bundle appear in your inbox immediately, only once a day, or only once a week.

And this is the true power of bundles.  If someone in my family sends an email, I certainly want the traditional notification on my smartphone to happen immediately.   But if I purchase something online and they send me a receipt, I don’t need a notification at all - I will get to it the next time I open my mail.

The ability to create bundles, decide what goes into each bundle, and decide which bundles result in notifications is incredibly powerful.   Now my smartphone can notify me about only the most important/urgent mail - not every single offer, receipt, and newsletter that may arrive.

I never would have thought that Inbox’s biggest feature is the ability to leave me alone!
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Brian Johnson

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Only in Windows...

.. is doing something successfully considered a error.
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Now that's something you don't see everyday...
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All you need to do is refresh your map, fields only seem to update on the intel page when you refresh the page.
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DISCLAIMER:  This is my personal account.  Any opinions expressed here are my own.