Archive for March, 2011

Gmail has an estimated 190 million users worldwide. Many even have multiple accounts, the forwarding and ‘send mail as’ features of Gmail actively encouraging this practice.

Which is why it was a rude shock to roughly 40,000 Gmail users when they logged in last week, only to find that all their data-emails, attachments, chats, contacts and documents-had vanished, and their accounts had been reset. The only thing these unlucky users had in their inbox were the automated ‘Welcome to Gmail’ emails.

However, all was not lost as Gmail keeps multiple copies of the data (even including offline, tape-based backup of user data) and they set about restoring the bug that caused the problem. Google later identified the issue as a software bug in a recently released storage software update. More than the number of users affected, this obviously got far more attention than it deserved and outlined the importance of not using Gmail as the sole repository for several gigabytes of critical data.

If the recent Gmail bug scared you enough to act, Here are multiple different ways to back up all your Gmail data so that any disruption in services, no matter how rare, won’t affect you in the least:

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Gmail-Backup

Gmail-Backup is a software tool which you can download for free from gmail-backup.com. To use it, you need to have IMAP access activated in Gmail. To do this, sign in to your Gmail account, click on the little ‘gear’ icon in the top right corner and click ‘Mail Settings’.

Here, under ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’, you can enable IMAP access. Gmail-backup will use IMAP access to create a complete backup of your accounts data on your hard drive.

Depending on how much data you have and the speed of your internet connection, this could take quite a while. Your computer and internet connection will need to be active for the duration of the transfer.

The softwate also has a restore function, to copy locally stored data back into a Gmail account. Gmail-backup’s website also has a forum which can address any issues you may have.

Create another Gmail account

In the event of another software bug or system crash, the chances of all Gmail accounts being compromised is minimal. Even when Gmail rolls out new features, they do so in phases – and this is primarily to identify and fix any teething issues.

Therefore, all you have to do is create another Gmail account and import all mails and contacts from your primary account.

To do this, sign in to your new Gmail account, click on the little ‘gear’ icon in the top right corner and click ‘Mail Settings’. Here, under ‘Accounts and Import’ you’ll be able to import mail from your old account.

Switching account

Hotmail may have lost out to Gmail when it comes to number of features, but they still have an estimated 364 million users-the highest in the world for any free email provider. And they want to make it all the more easier if you decide to make the switch from any other free email account to Hotmail.

To do the switch, Hotmail has tied up with TrueSwitch (trueswitch.com). TrueSwitch is normally a paid service that makes it easy to transfer all your email from one account to another. In this case, Hotmail will bear the expense, if you decide to switch. But you can use this feature to back up your Gmail data and still keep on using Gmail. To use the service, head to secure5.trueswitch.com/winlive and enter all the required credentials.

Mailstore

Another free solution for email backup, Mailstore (mailstore.com) can access multiple online email inboxes using POP3 or IMAP access. The process is easy enough; just download the free software and enter in your email credentials. Like Gmail-backup, Mailstore has an online community which can address backup problems.

Gmail Keeper

For a one-time price of $19.95, Gmail Keeper (gmailkeeper.com) offers a Gmail-specific backup tool that is easy to understand and can backup all folders and labels in Gmail (including the inbox, sent mail, starred mail, drafts and so on). It can backup everything as a .ZIP file to your hard drive. It also offers the ability to back up multiple Gmail accounts at the same time.

Backupify

Backupify (backupify.com) can backup all kinds of online services that you use, such as Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Zoho and Blogger. Once backed up, you can search through, download or restore the data at any time.

They offer three plans; a free plan that can backup up to 5 accounts with a storage limit of 2GB per account, a Pro 100 plan that can back up 25 different accounts with 20GB storage per account for $4.99 a month and a Pro 500 plan that can back up an unlimited number of accounts with unlimited storage for $19.99 a month.

Local email client backup

This is a no-brainer, and should be done even if you continue to use online access for Gmail and other accounts. Any email client like Mozilla’s Thunderbird (mozillamessaging.com/thunderbird), Eudora (eudora.com), Apple Mail, Outlook, Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail can be used to download your mail.

You need to enable POP3 in Gmail (once again in the ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’ in the Mail Settings area of Gmail). The settings are simple enough; incoming server name is pop.gmail.com, protocol is POP, port is 995 and your Gmail username and password will have to be entered of course.

If you have more tips share them in the Comments section of this post, also in the next week post I will share my top alternatives to Gmail, so check them back…

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Have you ever caught into the trouble of phone’s battery going low when you most needed it or you thought it will always stick to specifications provided by your phone manufacturers. Think again. Today’s smartphones have a multiplicity of applications and functions running in the background, many of them unnoticed by the user.

That is, until they drain the phone’s battery dry. At first, it’s not so easy to tell why one’s new top-level smartphone gives up the ghost after only two hours. But the fact of the matter is that, being online all the time has its price and some modern applications really do eat up battery time.

But, it doesn’t take much to let the good times roll again. A few simple tricks can turn a smartphone back into a marathon runner. Indeed, there are a few apps out there to help extend a phone’s life.

Screen illumination, satellite navigation systems like GPS (satnav) and data transfers via UMTS are among the most energy- intensive functions out there, says mobile expert and freelance author Daniel Lueders.

Thus, one easy way to conserve battery life is to change screen illumination settings to the lowest level, something done simply enough with most phones.

But that leaves accessing websites via UMTS and navigation programmes like Google Maps to eat up your battery life. One tip is to make sure that navigation software is turned off as soon as a destination’s coordinates are found. Otherwise, the mapping software can continue to run in the background, leaving a smartphone drained after two hours, says Lueders.

If you’re willing to only use a phone for calls, even if only for a short time, then deactivate your UMTS function. The same goes for wireless functions. “Otherwise the gadget is permanently looking for accessible networks,” says Lutz Labs, an editor at German technology magazine c’t.

Many smartphones that use the Android operating system include a page on their settings menu that shows which applications use the most energy. When underway, a good idea is just to switch to airplane mode, which turns off the satnav system, says Lueders. That’s especially true when travelling on a stretch with a lot of tunnels, since the smartphone will burn up a lot of energy looking for a provider.

“You can quickly double or triple your battery life with these kinds of steps.” Labs demonstrated how radically a smartphone’s power consumption can vary. In airplane mode, a Motorola Milestone used 6.4 milliwatts. But, when uploading data via UMTS and taking a video, power consumption shot up to 3 watts – meaning power usage went up by a factor of 500.

Even a five-minute activation of the display can cut standby time in airplane mode by up to six hours. It also happens that smartphones sometimes give up the ghost after only a few hours when taken abroad. Most of the time, this is because the smartphone is looking for its usual provider in vain, says Lueders.

That problem is solved by turning off the automatic search function and setting up a connection manually. Another idea is to turn off the automatic downloading of emails and manually direct the smartphone to download them, also saving energy.

There is also a host of new, smaller apps designed to help save energy. The free app Juice Defender provides Android phones with automatic settings designed to extend battery life, says Labs. The software determines if one is home or in the office and then activates functions based upon one’s location, turning off unneeded ones.

Here are more Tips to save your phone battery life:

Turn off all off all unnecessary sounds (keytones, alerts). One of my biggest pet peeves is how most phones these days come with keytones on. Do people really like hearing their phone beep, strum a musical note, or chime every time they press a button? You might like it, but ask your neighbor. Plus, turning these off will save you a good amount of battery juice. Think of all of the processing it must take to load up those midis (or whatever they are) when you touch a key – plus, they’re annoying.

Use either a ringer or vibrate, but not both. I understand if you’re in a concert or loud party you want to increase your chance of actually realizing your phone is ringing, but other than that, pick one or the other. There’s no need to have your ringer all the way to the point where it has both the sound and vibrate alerts active, so I would recommend against it. I personally have my phone on vibrate at all times, regardless of where I am. If you’re worried about not hearing your phone when it’s on vibrate, put it on a table and I promise you’ll hear it. Or better yet, put it in a dish full of coins!

Decrease your screen’s brightness to 50% or Use a black Background. Go to the settings menu of your phone and change the LCD brightness. At first, the screen will look dark, but once your eyes have adjusted to it, you’ll forget about it. The LCD screen on your phone is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) power hogs on your phone. So turn it down, and you’re on your way to a lengthier battery life.

Turn your backlight setting down. Most phones these days will allow you to adjust the amount of time your backlight stays on once you’ve stopped touching buttons. The default length on most phones is probably around 15-30 seconds, but there are settings that are much lower. I would suggest turning this down to 3-5 seconds to increase your battery life. If it starts annoying you, then just crank it back up. Note: Mine backlight is set to go off after 5 seconds and it doesn’t bother me at all.

Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. This can be an easy one to forget about if you’re often switching between using a Bluetooth headset, and the phone’s ear piece. Turning the Bluetooth off when you’re not using it will save your phone from having to go out and check if the headset is there every few seconds. Any type of transmission will weigh-down your battery life, so if you use infrared, turn that off when you’re not using it as well.

Close applications when you’re not using them. This one only affects those of us that have smartphones. Why do you need to keep that game on pause when you’re not using it? Or pocket Excel open? Just save and close them and you’ll minimize the amount of battery waste.
Keep your phone in cool climates. I know most of the time you won’t have a choice where to keep your phone – since it goes with you at all times. But when you do have a choice – such as when you’re at home – don’t put your phone on the hot stove, or on your super hot MacBook Pro or anything like that. Also, don’t keep your phone in a hot car. If you have extra batteries for your phone, go ahead and store those in the refrigerator – but make sure not to freeze them. BatteryUniversity recomments storing them at a 40% charge for best results.

When you’re phone is done charging, unplug it! There’s a common myth that you can over-charge your battery if you leave it plugged in. According to BatteryUniversity, “Once the battery is fully charged, no further charge is applied.” So if no further charge is applied, then why do you need to unplug your phone? You want to protect your battery from heat, that’s why. When the phone is running off of AC for a long time, extended heat may hurt the battery.

Avoid over heating of the battery to prevent damage to the mobile phone and to the battery. Keep your phone away from the direct Sun heat and any other radiations. Your phone battery works fine in the temperature range of 10 – 35 C.

Don’t let your battery fully discharge. If you let your battery die frequently, you’re putting extra strain on the battery. Avoid this by plugging in your phone before it dies all the way.

Don’t do anything fun on your phone. I mentioned this above, but I’m serious here. If you have fun on your phone, your battery life will dramatically decrease. Accessing the web, playing games, navigating via GPS and capturing photos or video are not things to do while you’re in the middle of nowhere without a charger.

Use One SIM Only Mobiles: The reason not being still clear why a single SIM mobile uses lesser energy than a dual SIM phone, which by using logic, I believe, will depend on the number of times that you switch between the SIMs. This transformation is a task that will use both software and hardware changes, which might be the reason for more power consumption. So always use single sim only mobiles for longer battery life!

Say you got a smartphone as a birthday gift. And like others of yourage, you are forever preoccupied with it. Your mom always thought you was busy SMSing your friends, until one day she realized it was an array of applications you are obsessed with – the Facebook app, games, puzzles and many more. Even here in India study shows 58% smartphone users believe apps benefit their lives, relying on them while at home (31%), travelling (24%), or at work (10%). Apps are becoming intrinsic to the way we live. “Our relationship with apps has turned from occasional use into a real dependency .”

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As many as 77% Indians with smartphones have up to 30 apps on their phone, with men more likely to download an app (93%) vs women (87%), says the study. The most popular apps are social networking (40%), music (36%) and business (28%). Interestingly, women (43%) are more into social networking than men (38%). Our new devices are loaded with features such as one touch to FB, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.” Apple’s App Store, Nokia’s Ovi Store (store.ovi.com) and Android Market (market.android.com) are the biggest app stores. All have a wide variety of applications. Here are some of the best apps for your SmartPhone:

World Traveller (Ovi)

It is a useful app when you go abroad. It has a world clock that automatically shows you the local time when you move to another time zone, 5-day weather forecast for 5,000 cities and real-time exchange rates for 184 currencies. The premium edition has a flight assistant that gives you the schedules and real-time alert for delays.

Barcode Reader (Android)

Handy when you shop, as it helps you know more about a product. Open the app, place the phone above the barcode, the phone completes reading the barcode with a click and shows product info and even reviews some cases on the Web.

Google Goggles (Android)

This is great for tourists, who are in a new place and aren’t able to identify a well-known monument or building. All that she needs to do is open the app, click a photo of the monument, and the app will use that picture to search the web for information about it.

Burrp! (Ovi)

It’s an India-specific app that gives a list of the city’s best hangouts, events to attend, movies to watch, places to shop, gyms, salons; complete with reviews and recommendations.

Never forget

After you create text, photo, and audio notes with Evernote, you can synchronize them to your PC or the Web. From generating recipe ideas at the farmer’s market to capturing lecture notes in class, Evernote is one of those universal apps that everybody should use. Free; Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, WebOS, Windows Mobile

AccuWeather

Automatically get the local forecast using your phone’s location features, or punch in your upcoming destination. AccuWeather includes details on how the day’s weather will develop, with Doppler rain maps on display so you can play forecaster for your colleagues.

The New York Times

In this self-contained reader app, browse the latest news by category: world, politics, science, technology and so on. Stories come from the Gray Lady, formatted for your device. (BlackBerry users should go straight to mobile.nytimes.com.)

Google Reader

Your favorite news sites and blogs most likely offer an easy-access RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). Google Reader downloads and compiles these feeds, letting you browse the latest articles in a manner similar to email, instead of jumping from site to site.

WorldMate Live

A jack of all trades for travelers, WorldMate converts currency based on current exchange rates, stores your flight itinerary, forecasts weather, references time zones and performs other useful tasks.

FlightView

Know when to take advantage of an airport delay by lingering in the shower or catching a train instead of a cab. Flightview tracks upcoming and in-route planes. If you don’t have a Pre, try browsing the company’s phone-formatted Web site at mobile.flightview.com.

Pandora

Unleash this music streaming software when you’re ready to relax. Enter a favorite artist or song, and Pandora plays those and other tracks that share similar traits, suiting your mood. Ideal for hotels, taxis and anywhere you can get online.

GoodFood

Make your smartphone into an always ready concierge. GoodFood automatically locates your position and shows nearby restaurants rated by other users of the app. Find one with a high score, enjoy your meal and post your own rating to share with fellow travelers.

ScoreMobile

While some excellent apps track a single sport—baseball fans should try mlb.com/mobile—ScoreMobile is always in season. Check current scores and game recaps for football, basketball, hockey, golf and many other sports. There’s no need to leave your team behind while you’re on the road.

Facebook for Android 1.2

This is the “official” Facebook app on Android, and it serves its purpose well enough. You can post status updates, take/upload photos, and check your news stream. It’s a lot faster than using the Facebook Web app, so it’s the best option on Android to stay connected to all your Facebook friends.

Google Voice 0.3.4

Google Voice for Android remains the best way to use Google Voice on a mobile phone. If you have a virtual Google Voice number, you’ll be able to make outgoing calls and SMS messages easily, including international calls that run about 2 cents per minute. This app also lets you integrate your phone’s built-in address book and call log for voice calls. There are other third-party apps out there that tap into Google Voice, but stick with Google’s native app; it works almost seamlessly.

Watch out my future posts on Free Apps on specific mobile platforms, there are 100s even 1000s of them but these are the one i always load them up.

With 2011 touted as the year of the tablet, the tablet war has begun with Apple unveiling iPad2 and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM)speculated to be following soon with its PlayBook. Here’s is my point of view on how Apple Inc’s iPad 2, stacks up against iPad 1 and competing tablets, with just simple features and less jargons so everyone can understand with a scroll :0.

Apple iPad 2

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* Price: $499-$829

* Camera: Has front and rear-facing camera, Sports a magnetic cover

* Weight: 1.33 lbs (603gm)

* Screen: 9.7 inches LED display; width: 7.3 inches; depth: 0.34 inches

* Processor & OS: Runs on 1GHz dual-core A5 processor, iOS 4.3

* Availablity: March 11

Apple iPad

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* Price: $399-$729

* Weight: 1.5 lbs (680gm)

* Screen: 9.7 inches LED display, width: 7.5 inches, depth: 0.5 inches

* Processor & OS: Runs on 1GHz A4 processor

Motorola Mobility Xoom

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* Software: Android

* Weight: 1.6 lbs (725gm)

* Camera: Has a 2 MP front-facing camera for video calls and a 5 MP rear camera that takes still photos and captures high-definition video.

* Screen: 10.1 inches diagonally; width: 6.6 inches; depth: 0.5 inches

* Processor & OS: Runs on 1GHz Dual Core processor with Android 3.0 Honeycomb

* Availability: Since February

* Price: $600-$799

Research In Motion PlayBook

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* Screen: 7 inches display; width 7.6 inches, depth 0.4 inches

* Weight 0.9 lbs (408 gm)

* Camera: Dual camera, 3 MP camera in the front, 5 MP camera at the back

* Processor & OS: Runs on 1 GHz dual-core processor with BlackBerry OS

* Price: To be announced

* Availablity: March likely

LG Optimus Pad

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* Weight: 630 grams

* Screen: 8.9 inches display

* Processor & OS: 1GHz NvidiaTegra 2 dual-core processor, runs on Android 3.0

* Camera: Two separate cameras on the back for shooting 3D video. A 2 MP camera on front for conferencing.

* Price: To be announced

* Availability: Middle of March

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

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* Screen: 10.1 inches display

* Weight: 1.3 lbs (589gm)

* Camera: Front- and rear-facing cameras

* Processor & OS: Runs on 1 GHz dual-core processor with Android 3.0 Honeycomb

* Price: To be announced

* Availability: March

HP TouchPad

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* Screen: 9.7 inches multitouch screen

* Weight: 1.6 pounds (0.7 kg)

* Camera: There’s a front-facing 1.3 MP camera for video calling. However, there is no camera on the back panel.

* Processor & OS: Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU APQ8060 1.2-GHz processor; will be the first to use WebOS OS which HP got when it acquired Palm.

Price: To be announced

Availability: Middle of the year likely