Archive for the ‘calendar’ tag
If your schedule is getting away from you, consider scheduling “in days” where you’re in the office all the time and focus on your to-dos, and “out days,” where you run errands, meet clients, or attend meetings to get it back under control and establish some kind of routine. More »
Google Calendar is a really simple but effective tool for keeping an eye on your cash flow and making sure all your bills get paid. In addition to repeating bill “events,” you get color-coding for bill types plus reminders, and you can also track your account balances. More »
Microsoft’s new Outlook.com mail service may finally drive some much-needed innovation in email. (Disclosure: I have Microsoft stock from my time as an employee there.)
I agree. This is definitely one of the more innovative products from Microsoft. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it’s easy to use.
The last fundamental innovation in email was in 2004 when Gmail launched. I’ve been a Gmail user ever since.
But despite huge increases in the volume of email we deal with in the last eight years, little has been done to improve the core experience. Yes, Google launched Priority Inbox. It’s supposed to help you figure out the important mail; for me, it’s been largely useless. Scanning through my inbox, very little of what Google has marked important really is.
Google’s other major moves with Gmail have largely been about trying to exploit its huge number of mail users into whatever lame social product Google is trying to bootstrap. (Remember Buzz?)
But better email tools could improve productivity for everyone. In the current version of Outlook mail, there isn’t enough innovation to get me to switch. But the existence of a new and credible player who wants to win may drive much-needed innovation in email. Here are some core things that would get me to switch by delivering value, not by tricking people like Facebook tried to do:
Outlook’s “Quick views” feature offers a quick view of how that could happen: automatic classification of mail. The system automatically scans email for certain attributes that people look for. Oh, hey, this email looks like a shipping confirmation. And this one has a photo. And these have attachments.
That’s pretty rudimentary. But imagine that your email tool could do this:
- Separate receipts from marketing emails. I have eight years’ worth of emails from Amazon, Buy.com, Groupon, etc. Sometimes I want to look up what I purchased, or I need warranty service. Finding those receipts can be a challenge.
- Pluck out bills. Emails from American Express could be scanned for payment due date, and the date could automatically be added to my Google Calendar.
- Keep my travel top of mind. Itineraries, hotel confirmations, and rental car reservations that are upcoming would be available in a dashboard view.
- Identify emails with expiring content. Nordstrom’s anniversary sale ends August 5th. This could be put into a Quick view that becomes more prominent when the date approaches and drops out when the sale ends. Expired emails would also be downweighted in search results.
Some of the above can be done with search. For example, I can search “Buy.com receipt”. But look what happens when I do that:
I get a bunch of unrelated junk. What you can’t see is that the list isn’t complete. I’ve purchased much more from Buy.com. In order to get all of my Buy.com receipts, I have to search for “buy.com thanks for your order”.
Another way to tackle the problem is filters. I have set up numerous filters that file things like receipts, daily deal emails and the like. (You can see some of my filters in the screenshot above.) But that’s a real pain to set up and only geeks will do it.
There are vertical players that are focused on solving pieces of the problem. TripIt and Kayak will parse travel-related emails. I forward my confirmation emails to TripIt, it picks out the relevant details and creates a more consistent itinerary. It can even generate a feed of events that I plug into Google Calendar. That’s a really roundabout way of doing things. OneReceipt and Slice do this for shopping emails.
But the separate apps have little traction. It should be built into the email platform. And once it’s in a large scale system like Gmail or Outlook, emailers will have an incentive to markup the information they send to make it even more actionable.
Google has built a very lucrative business on organizing the world’s information. It should do a much better job of organizing my information.
It’s somewhat mind boggling that this far into email adoption, unsecure email is standard operating practice. Yes, there have been some improvements. Gmail uses SSL for your mailbox. That wasn’t always the case.
But if you actually send something, that email is sent unencrypted to the recipient.
Securing email has had three historical challenges: it needs to be easy for the user, it needs to be universal, and it needs to have a business model.
Early experiments like PGP, which put a lot of work on both the sender and recipient, have failed in the consumer market. But for person-to-person messaging, we’re down to a small handful of providers that matter. (Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.) Among them, they should be able to solve this problem, at least for email sent among their networks.
Secure email is also something that would help with financial transactions and could potentially cut the flood of bills that are sent via paper mail. That the post office is running ads touting that paper mail is more secure than email is ridiculous. Not because they’re wrong, but because it’s true.
Even among my more tech savvy friends, many receive paper bills because the process of getting their bill or statement from each credit card company is difficult. If you have multiple accounts, it’s even more complicated because each financial institution has its own system. There is no interface as consistent as ripping open an envelope. They also have different rules about how long they keep old statements online. All of this stuff should show up in my email box as effortlessly and more securely than it does in my regular mailbox.
Because email recipients are concentrated on a few networks, it would be possible to have direct secure transmission of these statements and account notices. Doing that would also reduce the scourge of phishing, because the mail provider could authenticate that an email came from American Express or Bank of America.
This is a service that banks should be willing to pay for, both because it reduces their operational costs (mailing and printing statements) and because it reduces fraud liabilities (phishing.) Even at 5 cents per secure communication, it’d be a bargain.
Not only does this increase productivity, it’s better for the environment. The people who lose out are postal workers, especially the guy who’s job it is to convince banks that they should use paper statements instead of email. (I’m not making that up. Talk about a Sisyphean task.)
Will any of this happen? A guy can hope. And there’s nothing like real competition to help drive it.
If someone is willing to add these features, I will jump ship from Gmail. I would even go back to my Yahoo mail account.
Filed under: VentureBeat
A new estimate pegs Samsung’s smartphone shipments for the second quarter of calendar 2012 at 52.1 million, which would be twice the 26 million iPhones Apple sold during the same period.
In OS X Mountain Lion, Apple has replaced iCal with two separate Calendar and Reminders apps, harmonizing with iOS and improving the overall interface while making Reminders not just calendar event with alarms, but also location-based notifications.
Over time I’ve been able to build a system that helps me create a higher quality and quantity of material, with the same amount of time on any given day.
– Ramit Sethi, iwillteachyoutoberich.com
Ramit Sethi is obsessed with systems and processes. In college he used them to win over $100,000 in scholarships, and he still uses them when writing for his personal finance blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich (IWTYTBR). I interviewed Ramit to find out how he continuously optimizes his writing process to create better content. This post is derived from that interview, and contains the specific techniques and tools Ramit uses.
Read A Lot And Take Notes:
I have over 10,000 bookmarks, and hundreds of different tags.
– Ramit Sethi, on how he keeps track of readings
The first step in Ramit’s system is to read voraciously. Every day, he spends several hours browsing the internet for interesting and relevant content. Reading does three things: it keeps your idea muscle working, gives you perspective on what styles and topics resonate with people, and provides a breadth of knowledge that you can draw on later.
Don’t be a passive reader.
When Ramit comes across an article he likes, or information that may be useful for a post, he adds it to Delicious. Do your future-self a favour: get really specific with your tags. Among Ramit’s top 10 tags are topics he writes about often: finance, psychology, and marketing, but there are 777 tags in total. By getting specific, you make it really easy to find content when you need it. Want to be even more efficient? Ramit saves the most important part in an annotation, so he can grab it without having to reread the entire article. If you follow these two tips, writing quality posts becomes a breeze because you always have quick access to three our four relevant articles.
Have An Editorial Calendar:
I’ve gotten a little more rigourous and sophisticated, and I use an editorial calendar.
– Ramit Sethi, on how he plans his posts
How do you decide what to write about? Do you think about topics while driving to work? Does your thesis come to you while watching TV? When Ramit started blogging, he would just wake up and decide what to write about. In eight years, his process has evolved and become more sophisticated. Now he uses an editorial calendar to stay organized. Setting up your own calendar is easy. Do this:
- Jot down the main categories or themes you write about, i.e. SEO, conversion rates, web design.
- Mark a weekly calendar with each theme, give more weight to topics that resonate well with readers.
- Stick to your plan! Just like making a financial or career plan, you reap much greater rewards by acting consistently.
Ramit says having a calendar keeps his posting regular, which works well with his readers. This regularity also allows his assistant to add testimonials, and get the HTML just right. By having an editorial calendar, Ramit and his assistant can coordinate their efforts, and gain the benefits of specialization. How would a calendar improve your workflow?
Post Your Best, Draft Everything Else:
Every time I write something I want it to be timeless. I want someone to come back in 25 years and go, ‘oh yeah, that’s a really good point. That’s something interesting.’
– Ramit Sethi, on making every post count
When I asked Ramit whether he holds back from publishing certain posts, he told me he has over 100 drafts saved in WordPress. The number one reason is that these posts aren’t complete. Others just aren’t good. Ramit says he gets a lot of ideas from talking with people, and during a conversation he might find a friend’s ideas interesting and email himself a note to write about it. The problem isn’t coming up with ideas. The problem is making every post remarkable.
Ramit’s written hundreds of posts for IWTYTBR, and says he may have posted about 20 articles that he’s not really proud of. He adds, “if it doesn’t have that quality of timelessness, or if it doesn’t have something interesting, I’m not really interested in posting it. I’d rather just post nothing”. You have a very thin thread of credibility with your readers, and Ramit warns that after just two or three bad posts you can lose them. Are you posting only your best work?
Reflect And Improve:
When I started in 2004, I tried to make every post really, really good. They could have been better.
– Ramit Sethi, on improving over time
Ramit’s early posts were simple – he’d just lay out the facts. Overtime his writing has become more nuanced, which means longer posts with a narrative element. By telling stories, readers can relate to your writing. By telling stories, readers can remember your writing. By telling stories, you give your readers something to tell their friends about. Tell stories!
Your writing may gradually improve on it’s own, but with effort you will see greater gains. Ramit uses his email newsletter as a laboratory for testing writing techniques. Since email marketing platforms like MailChimp or Aweber allow you to segment your list, experimenting there is a low cost way to see what resonates with readers. Looking back on your past writing, how can you improve it?
As Ramit and I ended the segment of our interview on his writing process, he said something that resonated so deeply with me that it’s changed how I think about writing. He said, “if you’re just going to start another me-too blog, what’s the point? My motto has always been, figure out a way to be the best in the world on that small piece of real estate you have on the internet. You don’t have to write long posts. Yours could be short, full of pictures, whatever it might be. Just try to be the best, and you’ll find you get disproportionate rewards”.
Here is a free PDF download: Ramit Sethi’s Ultimate Guide to Blogging.
About the Author: Michael Alexis produces WriterViews – interviews with our world’s top bloggers..
Ramit Sethi: I Will Teach You To Write Better (In 4 Steps) is a post from: We Blog Better. © 2012. Share it freely, but please link back to this source.
I’m also available for blog startup, content writing and consultation services.
Visit my other blog, Highly Favored for Christian inspiration and church newsletter tips.
Become a Better Blogger
By all means, throw your appointments, reminders, and do-this-then tasks into Google Calendar, Outlook, or your other grid of choice. But don’t banish paper calendars, centrally located in your house, just on paper-based principle. They serve a different kind of purpose. More »
Facebook’s overhaul of its events feature took a big step forward Wednesday, enabling users to view their events in either a calendar or list format, with the changes originating from one of the social network’s hackathon events.
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Facebook Rolls Out Redesigned Events; Users Can Choose Calendar Or List Format (AllFacebook)
Facebook’s overhaul of its events feature took a big step forward Wednesday, enabling users to view their events in either a calendar or list format, with the changes originating from one of the social network’s hackathon events. Wednesday’s introduction of the calendar and list formats followed Facebook’s moves in June to allow users to export events to users’ calendars and introduction of a revamped gear menu, as well as a test by the social network, also in June, of notifications alerting event organizers when their invites were declined. VentureBeat The new and improved Facebook Events with calendar and list view comes with a few niceties. Facebook members can respond to invites and leave birthday messages without leaving the Events page. Posts, photos, and videos are a part of the experience as well. Mashable Calendar view is gradually rolling out to all Facebook users. You can check it out by going to your Events page on Facebook and then clicking the “Calendar” tab on the top left side of the screen. TechCrunch Facebook Wednesday announced a brand-new version of its Facebook SDK for iOS, offering a ton of new features and perhaps most notably, support for iOS 6. The company is also introducing another major resource for its developer community: the launch of a new iOS Dev Center, where it’s centralizing access to developer tools and resources. WebProNews Facebook has announced an update to Facebook Groups that displays exactly who has seen each post or comment on a post – complete with their name and the time at which they saw it. Good idea or creepy? Reuters A judge recused herself from overseeing a privacy lawsuit against Facebook over the social networking service’s “Sponsored Stories” feature, one day before she was set to hold a hearing on a proposed settlement. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., federal court did not provide a reason for the recusal in a brief order on Wednesday. continued…
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Facebook has finally redesigned Events so you don’t miss another party, birthday, or cool get-together your friends are going to. Today the site launches the Events Calendar so you can see what coming up weeks in advance, and a List view that highlights each day’s birthdays, RSVPs, and suggested events (though these links won’t work until you get the rollout.
The redesign started as a Hackathon project a year ago and will replace the old Events for all users over the next few hours. You’ll access the new look the same as before, through the” Events” link in left-side navigation menu of your home page.
Maybe Google+ launching a high-tech Events feature lit a fire under Facebook. In any case, the new Facebook Events straight up works without getting too flashy or complicated.
Facebook Events has become the defacto way people organize parties with friends and promote shows at clubs, concert halls, and art galleries. Yet beyond a few improvements to the event wall and invites system, plus the launch of the awesome Suggested Events tab, the feature has largely looked and worked the same for years.
In fact, Facebook boosted the need for this redesign awhile back when it started only showing the current day’s birthdays on the home page, instead of those coming up over the next few days. That meant if you happened to not log on, you could forget to post well wishes on a close friend’s wall — an emergent behavior that’s become so prevalent, it’s essentially a social contract now.
Rather than having to scroll down through each upcoming event’s title to see ones in the future as before, Calendar View lays out all your RSVPs in front of you on a set of giant grids. Events and birthdays are listed in each day’s box, and can be hovered over or clicked through for details.
Upcoming months can be seen by endlessly scrolling down. Any pending invitations are shown at the top alongside buttons for accessing past events. In an nifty little extra, if you’re tagged in a photo or check-in at an event, those will show up in that day’s box too.
Here you’ll see a day-by-day summary of birthdays, events you’ve been invited to, and Suggested Events based on what your friends are attending, what’s going on at venues you check in at, and events hosted by Pages you Like. Little calendars on the left assist with navigation. You can respond to invites and leave birthday posts on friends’ walls all in-line so there’s no need for constant jumping in and out of windows.
For those who get way too many invitations, you can now one-click an ‘x’ next to an event to delete from your list. Meanwhile a gear in the top right lets you view a dedicated list of your invites and export your events to Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.
And as a cute added bonus, Facebook now shows the actual date in the Events icon, rather than constantly showing “31″.
A deeper integration with Facebook Photos would certainly be appreciated at some point. Compared to the new Google+ Events’ “Party Mode” that lets attendees set their phone to automatically upload photos to the event page, Facebook’s feature seems low-tech. I’ve got a hunch a deep Facebook Events-Photos integration is in the works.
Overall, though, today’s update will be great for people with busy social lives and the most considerate of us who’d hate to miss even one friend’s birthday.
Facebook is often derided for alienating us by putting up digital barriers between friends. I disagree. Thanks to Facebook Events, even if you have some zany idea for a get-together or party that only 5% of your buddies would be interested, in minutes you can have a date to hangout live and in-person with dozens of friends. That’s something you couldn’t do with snail mail, telephone, or even SMS. This network truly is social.