Jonathan Stoddard's blog

How Much Does Google Know About Me?

big brotherGoogle collects lots of data from its users.  If you have a Google account you might have noticed that Google knows what websites you've visited.  In fact, Google knows a lot about your habits on the web.  I think, in order to prevent backlash, Google is trying to be a little more transparent by letting you know what Google knows about you.  

Google recently announced the Google Dashboard to allow you to see all the information Google has about you. Be careful though… ignorance might be bliss.

You Too Can Be a Gmail Power User

I'm a recovering Outlook Addict.  I used to rely on MS Outlook for all my email.  Even for a few months after swithing to Google Apps I used Outlook for email and calendar.  As my Inbox grew larger and larger, I got tired of Outlook bogging down and even locking up my computer.  I finally decided to swith to the Gmail client and I couldn't be happier.  I've found that people really like the Gmail client once they learn how to use it.  The trouble is taking the time to learn how to use it.  Hopefully this video from Google will help.  

Apple Introduces the Mac Mini Server.

Mac Mini Server

It doesn't come with Linux, but it sure looks cool, and it doesn't run Windows.  Today Apple introduced the Mac Mini Server.  

The Mac Mini Server allows you to setup File Sharing, Web Hosting, Email and other essential server functions.  

I think that this could be popular with the many small businesses and homes that want a simple server.  Windows is too expensive and unstable, and Linux too complicated.  

Check out the Mac Mini Server for yourself.  

If your are interested in learning about the updates Apple made to the 10.6 version of the server software Infoworld has a helpful review.  

 

Claim Your Google Gift: Free Wifi on Virgin America Flights during the Holidays

free wifiBetween Nov 10, 2010 and Jan 15, 2010 Google is footing the bill to provide free Wifi to passengers aboard Virigin America flights.  

 

While I think this is cool, I wish Google could have picked a carrier that I actually fly, like United or Frontier.  But given they have a larger fleet, it probably would have cost Google a lot more to give this same gift.  

 

I think that it's interesting that Google is branding their free WiFi as a way to help limit the stress during the holidays.  "Whether it's using Gmail to confirm an airport pick up time with your brother, doing some last minute gift shopping for your niece on Google Product Search or searching Google.com for a good sweet potato pie recipe before touchdown — we hope this makes it a bit easier to stay connected with family and friends while you're up in the air."

 

 

Practical Tips for Google Adwords

The NYTimes is running a good article called, "Real Life Lessons in Using Google Adwords."  It seems that for every person I meet who loves Adwords, I can find another person who feels like they are a rip off.  

Google Adwords are a form of pay-per-click advertising which means you only pay if someone clicks on the ad.  While this seems like a great system (and generally is) you can find your ad bills stacking up quickly if you don't properly target your ads.  If your ads are showing to too broad and audience you will probably pay for a lot of clicks of people who really aren't that interested in what your selling.  On the flip side, if your ads are too targeted you might not get anyone clicking on the ads.  

My experience from running Adwords for KTG is  that success comes by figuring out two important things:

1.  Targeting Ads for the correct search terms.  This is a balancing act between too general of an audience and too specific and audience.  To do this properly it takes time and work to analyze the performance of your ads.  

 

2.  Getting the person who clicked the ad to say on your site and contact you.  It's important that after you paid for someone to click your ad you don't loose them.  This again takes looking at the analytics data and trying to figure out how to keep the visitors on your site and getting them to contact you.  

But don't take my word on using Google Adwords, read what the experts have to say.  

Is Google's Street View Misnamed? Check out the Google Trike.

Google doesn't want to ignore the thousands of people who walk or use bikes to get around town. In the past Google Maps and Google Street View were limited to roads.  

Google has just announced the Google Street View Trike. A tricycle that looks a little like a mobile hot dog cart, but carries digital cameras to capture images from places where cars can't go.  

Make sure you vote to get the Google Trike to visit your favorite trail. Google is taking suggestions for where the trike should ride up till Oct 28.

 

Have Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail? Change Your Password!

online security and privacyIn an alarming security breach thousands of Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail users had their passwords posted online.  Initially only reports of Hotmail accounts were found, but later on Yahoo and Gmail passwords were also found online.  

One thing to note is that if you use the same password for many sites you probably want to change all your passwords.  I'm sure that people will try to use these hacked passwords to login to other sites knowing that few people actually use different passwords for different accounts.  

 

Here are some instructions for how to change your account passwords:  

 

5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook

facebookMany people are scared to place personal information on Facebook.  In addition, I've found a growing interest in using Facebook as a business networking tool.  The challenge comes when you try to combine using Facebook to keep up with friends and to gain business contacts.  We've all heard the stories of unwanted photo's from last week's party making their way onto Facebook.  You might have difficulty convincing a potential client your are serious with all they can think of is the image of you drinking from the beer bong.  

 

But there is hope!  The New York Times has a good article on how to stay safe and private on Facebook.  

Open Source can Save Businesses $1 Trillion a Year

open source Computer world UK is reporting that open source software could save the IT industry $1 Trillion each year in software costs.   

This article is a bit technical and some readers might have their eyes glaze over if they try and read it so I've condensed the article to once sentence:

Open source software works and can save the Information and Communications Technology industry $1 Trillion.  

 

The article provides a more detailed summary:

"The $1T per year figure is extrapolated from the statistics that world-wide ICT is expected to top $3.4T USD in 2008 and because 18%-30% of all ICT investments, predominantly based on proprietary software because that is the dominant model of the industry today, are dead-loss write-offs."

 

So if you are a small business owner how does this affect you?  

Before shelling out a bunch of money for Microsoft of other proprietary software consider some of the open source alternatives.  A good place to start is http://www.osalt.com. Or contact a local IT consultant that specializes in open source software.  

 

Google Announces Push Email for iPhone

I meant to post this when it was first announced, but kept forgetting.  Some of you probably have already heard this announcement.  

 

Last week Google announced push email for Google Apps and Gmail users.  In the past iPhone users could use Google Sync to keep their calendars and contacts on their iPhone.  Now Google Sync also includes the ability to push email to your phone.  

 

So how is this different from how I used to check email?

 

While push email is a great buzzword I've found the user experience isn't much different from when I used IMAP to sync my emails on the iPhone.  Push email basically means that when you get an email it is automatically sent to your mobile device.  Blackberry users are used to their blackberry vibrating every time they get an email and now iPhone users have the same capability.  

 

The thing is, the iPhone could be setup to automatically download your emails every few minutes from your IMAP email account.  And whenever you checked your email account it would usually only take a few seconds to download any messages.  

 

So while push Gmail sounds awesome, people probably won't notice much difference than when they were using IMAP.  

 

To use Google Sync visit m.google.com/sync from your computer.  To learn how to setup push email visit http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=139195 

Read Google's original push Gmail announcement.  

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