From Gmail to Google Apps. #push

I signed up for a gmail account quite some time ago, 2004 to be exact. I don’t really need to go into the background of Gmail, you all know the history. I have not used Gmail exclusively since that time, but I have used it exclusively for about the last 2-3 years. Everything was pretty peachy until the great “Push Apocalypse”! I am referring to the the announcement Google made regarding removing Push (Exchange) support for Gmail users.

I feel there are 2 main reasons why this happened.
 – Use push as a “bonus” feature of using Android over other platforms.
 – Google must have been paying a fortune in licensing fees to Microsoft for Exchange Activesync.

So. Push. No big deal right? Completely Wrong! Push email is just the way it has to be, at least it is for me. Push is a little service that just happens without anyone bothering to thank it, or wonder how it even works. That is, until it stops and you wonder why you only get your emails in batches every 15, 30, or 60 minutes.

Now; try going out and looking for services, paid or free, that offer push and are a solid email service. Best of luck finding them! Valerie and I looked high and low. The general consensus was, if you want Push Email, getting a hosted Exchange account with some company was the way to go. I am by no means a “fan” of Exchange, or Microsoft’s offerings in general, but their Activesync offering works, and it works really well.

I really didn’t have any other reason to want to look elsewhere from Gmail, but I had to get Push back. After the previously mentioned searching, the idea of Google’s Apps for Business came up. When Google made the announcement concerning the cutoff for Push to Gmail, they did specifically mention that Google Apps for Business, Government, and Education would continue to enjoy this feature. Looking back now, this makes a little more sense to offer services that are costing you money to paying customers. I get that. In fact, I would have been more than happy to pay Google a little extra to upgrade my Gmail account to Activesync, but that unfortunately (at least at this time) is not an option. You also cannot migrate your “@gmail” account to a Google Apps Account. So began the process.

Since we were starting over effectively, we did get the option to have a unique domain name to use with Google Apps. After picking the domain, the setup of Google Apps is amazingly simple. Using the domain registrar that I used, I didn’t even have to setup MX records, Google Apps did it all for me! That is really all there is to say about the process, it was super fast and easy to setup and all our devices have push again!

I migrated all my email, calendars, and contacts from “@gmail” to the new email and everything was ready to go. I haven’t 100% made the full switch over, as it takes some time to get everything set and swapped over. I forward all email from “@gmail” to new email and handle all email in the new inbox and will slowly be getting everything tied to the old address to the new one.

Now comes the part that most people on the internet will scoff at, you have to pay for Google Apps for Business! “OMG what!? Everything in the world is free, how can this be. I am entitled to get everything I want for free. Period"  -Many Internet Users. Well, things in life are not free, and Google Apps for Business is no different, but it is super reasonably priced and I am fine with paying for services I really want. 

I still don’t think moving email addresses is anywhere near as easy as it should be, but we will get there. 

Feel free to ask me any questions about the process or leave comments about it.

Google Reader

Google reader is being killed. There is backlash against Google around every corner of every blog, website, social network, and possibly even people yelling in the streets. Google gives a lot of stuff away for free, and just as easily can take it away. Google is a great company, but people lose sight of their objective. Google is not around to make users happy; that it a byproduct of their main objective: doing what is best for Google. Google Reader was not achieving the goal that they wanted it to, so it was time to cut losses and move resources elsewhere. (My guess is people were not seeing nearly the amount of ads that they “should be”)

I said on Twitter shortly after the announcement that I thought it was a good thing they were shutting Google Reader down. Let’s not forget to make the distinction between Google Reader and RSS. Shutting down Reader does not break RSS, it was simply a client to house your OMPL feed. So why do I think it is good that Google shuttered Reader? Simply put, it opens the door for creative developers to change the game. RSS has basically remained unchanged as to what it accomplishes; it’s how we access the feeds that has changed. The simple “inbox” style of Reader is outdated and broken in my opinion. It is not uncommon in my daily (usually multiple times per day) routine of reading my RSS, to see the same articles over and over. Why not be more intelligent with our feeds?

Google Reader started dying when they took away the ability to share two years ago due to Google+. Google+ is not where I want my RSS news to be funneled.

I think we got complacent with how Google Reader worked and just figured there must not be any better way to do it. Otherwise, wouldn’t Google give it to me? This shutdown will hopefully – and I believe it will – give us a new look at how we consume news, which I very much look forward to. There will be clones of Google Reader by the dozens starting any day now to help those who want things to stay the same.

Secondarily, I hope this move will wake the internet up to the BS notion of “everything should be free for me forever.” No it shouldn’t. Free doesn’t work forever, and hopefully this will open some eyes.

I applaud them for doing the right thing and giving everyone an easy out with their data and plenty of time to try other options out to find what fits their need. I really like that.

Everything is going to be just fine, and I really think we will come out of this happier and more content than how we went in. 🙂

Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear your input!

Twittering in Mexico!

10 months. 6500 tweets. Addicted. Yes.

Ok, now that I have admitted it and it’s out in the open, lets move on. 🙂

My girlfriend and I went on a vacation to Mexico for 8 days. It was a fantastic trip!! I had been gathering up gear that I was going to need, during which I realized, I would be without the normal means of communication I have now. Internet everywhere I go, iPhone in my pocket, and so on. To normal people, this would be ok, but my addiction to bandwidth wouldn’t allow it! So instead I formulated ideas on how to twitter while being disconnected in mexico (for a reasonable amount of money). Now in all seriousness, I wouldn’t die if I couldn’t twitter (hopefully), but I took this as a challenge / project of sorts, just to see what could be done. Lets get into the details a little, here are the ideas I had..

Options:- Peek e-mail device (possibly hacked to work outside USA).- Unlocked / Jailbroken iPhone 3G w/ Mexico SIM card.- Laptop with rented 3G Card.- Rent a mexico cell phone.- Laptop with WiFi (if available).- No twittering at all. not an option 😉

Right away, let me kill of some of these options. Obviously no twittering at all was not an option, or why would I be writing this! Secondly, WiFi was non existent to say the least!

Ideally, the Peek device would have been perfect. It is cheap, simple, and used cell data instead of WiFi. If you setup an email gateway to sent tweets through email, you are set. The problem is that the unit is locked down to only work with the T-mobile SIM that it came with, and since the SIM is blocked from roaming it made the device completely useless.

Next we have my iPhone 3G. My iPhone is unlocked so all I had to do was get a local Mexico SIM. I got said SIM from a company called Movistar. The problem I found with getting SIMs in Mexico is that they are all pay-as-you-go, so they didn’t seem to have any that included cell data. This knocked out any hopes of using iPhone apps to twitter. Instead I was left with only SMS as an option. Great huh? well yes and no. Twitter uses a US short code which doesn’t work from mexico, so I had to setup a SMS gateway to pass the tweets through. This was the only method I tried that actually worked for me reliably.

On a last note, there was 1 single ethernet cable in the place we were staying that worked most of the time, although it seemed to have the slowest DHCP server on the face of the planet, so that was an option as well, sort of, although it didn’t allow for mobile twittering

Long story short, if you can’t get international data, SMS is totally the way to go!


Concept Corner: Home Cache Server

This device is intended for home use. It is especially useful for users with bandwidth caps on their home internet connections. Even if you don’t have a cap, this could still be a useful piece of technology that would help to keep your bandwidth flowing more freely and not being clogged with unnecessary packets.Downloaded items like Operating System updates, Game patches, and movie downloads are generally very large and need to be downloaded for more than one computer in your house. Why download the same 800mb patch several different times, or worse at the same time?

Hardware wise, it would look much like your current wireless / wired router that you have at home. It would be almost identical to that kind of device, with the addition of either an internal hard drive or firewire/USB ports to allow for external storage. The device at it’s most basic level, would see that you are downloading an 800mb file called “OSupdate2010.dmg”, give it a unique hash that would include file origination data and store this file on the local hard drive. When your second computer tried to reach out to get this same file two days later, the device would intercept and serve it to you from the local hard drive rather than going back out to the internet to get it.

Of course, this device could either be used out of the box in “user mode” or set to a highly configurable “admin mode” with rules for how to handle data and file serving. Rules such as:

  • If a file has not been accessed in X days, delete it.
  • Only cache files larger than X mb.
  • Only cache files for the following computers.
  • Show warnings to user if the file is not currently cached and will use bandwidth.

Let me know what you think in the comments!