Google on Wednesday issued a warning that hackers based in China weaseled their way into hundreds of Gmail accounts, including those of U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (mostly South Korea), military personnel, and journalists, among others. Every indication is that these were targeted attacks and not just random victims.
In the midst of all the NFC Google news, the search giant also announced it will be rolling out a fairly major cosmetic change to Gmail over the coming weeks. The new People widget will occupy the top right hand portion of the interface and give users quick access to contacts. The widget surfaces content available in the Google ecosystem as a sort of ambient information display.
The declaration that email is dead has been made on more than one occasion, and not just by random citizens with a WordPress account. If we're calling out names, we'll point to a Wall Street Journalarticle in 2009 that said services like Twitter and Facebook are rewriting the way we communicate online. John C. Dvorak gave us 9 reasons why email is dead, everything from spam to competition from social networking and IM services, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tried to write email's obituary last year, with Mark Zuckerberg recently signing up to be a pall bearer. Hit the jump to find out why they're all wrong.
They say that the kids don’t use email that much these days. Doesn’t that sound dreamy? We adults, unfortunately, have no such luxury. For better or for worse, email is a major part of our personal and work lives.
We’re tempted to just leave it at that. But there’s no need to feel hopeless. We took a good, long look at the center of our communication universe with an eye toward improving, upgrading, and (hopefully) dominating it. The fruits of our labor are in the following pages. Enjoy! (Or maybe we should say, suffer less?)
The best thing about Google is that its employees have all the time in the world—or at least, a Google-bestowed chunk of hours—to devote to various side projects. You might recognize some of these. Like, say, Gmail.
Other Google side projects might fly under your radar for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that these services are stuck in the Google Laboratory. This self-proclaimed “testing ground” is where useful add-ons to existing Google products boil and bubble. But here’s the problem: There are a ton of ingredients in Google’s soup.
How will you know which of the more than 50 Gmail add-ons are best without first installing them? Easy: You’ll read this guide. We’re counting down the 20 most useful Gmail Labs features that you can apply to your account with the mere click of a button. And we’re starting right now!
Google recognizes that it gets pretty boring staring at a static image everyday, which is one of the reasons why Gmail comes with different color schemes and themes. Fancy a retro arcade look? It's there, as are scenic locations like a mountain landscape, summer ocean, and planets. But why stop there? The sultan of search just added yet another way to customize your Gmail account by letting you upload your own background images.
No matter whether you're working far from home or cozied up to your desktop PC, the ubiquitous nature of services like AOL Mail, GMX or Hotmail means that so long as you’ve got an internet connection, you’ll never be out of touch with everyone you care about. Of the many webmail services available today, few are more popular than Google’s Gmail. Easy to use and boasting integration with Google’s full range of online offerings, Gmail is nothing but win. To harvest more of that winning Gmail feeling, we recommend taking a look at Send From My Gmail, our Extension of the Week.
Imagine if Google one day up and decided to call it quits, turning off its servers and getting out of the online game altogether. Kind of a scary thought when you consider just how dependent we've become on Google's services, from search to word processing, and especially to Gmail. We don't foresee the fat cats at Google ever making such a drastic decision, but it is pause for thought for around 150,000 Gmail account holders who woke up this morning to find that their email, attachments, and Google Chat logs had vanished. What the Gmail happened?
We're not sure, and neither is Google. According to Google's Apps Status Dashboard, the search giant first noticed the glitch late afternoon Sunday. By 4:20 PM, Google was reporting that "the issue affects less than 0.29 percent of the Google Mail users," a number that was reduced to 0.08 percent by 10:40 PM. A day later and Google still doesn't seem to know exactly what's going on, or at least isn't willing to share just yet.
"Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 28, 2011 10:10:00 AM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience," the latest entry in Google's Apps Status Dashboard reads. The same message has been repeated four times this morning, with only the time of the next update being changed.
Google has announced today that the 2-step authentication system that was rolled out for Apps users a few months back is going to be available to everyone soon. This system will dramatically increase your account security to hopefully alleviate the risk that your account could be hacked, or your password phished. The set up process will only take about 15 minutes, and makes use of your mobile phone.
Google isn't messing around when it comes to uptime. In a recent blog post, the search titan vowed to make email as reliable as a phone's dial tone, which translates to getting Google Appls to 99.99 percent reliable.
"Unlike most providers, we don't plan for our users to be down, even when we're upgrading our services or maintaining our systems," Google said. "For that reason, we're removing the [Google Apps] SLA (service level agreement) clause that allows for scheduled downtime. Going forward, all downtime will be counted and applied towards the customer's SLA. We are the first major cloud provider to eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement.
"We're also amending our SLA so that any intermittent downtime is counted. Previously, a period of less than ten minutes was not included."
These are lofty goals for Google, but are they unreasonable? According to Google, its Gmail service was available 99.984 percent of the time in 2010, both on the consumer and business side. That translates to 7 minutes of downtime per month, which is the accumulation of smalle delays, usually no more than a few seconds, Google says.