Sometimes, shopping for school supplies can be so frustrating. Last Saturday, after hours of searching and visiting several stores, I got everything on my list except for a notebook page-sized map of the USA and world for my older daughter. So I ordered it this morning via Amazon, with a shipping time of 4-14 days.

Almost immediately (and as usual), a confirmation email from Amazon appeared in my Gmail inbox. With one important difference.

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(Click on the image to see a larger size. Cuz I know squinting still won’t help you.)

The inbox view of Amazon’s confirmation email had a button labeled “View Order” with an arrow. I didn’t even have to open the email itself; all I needed to do was to click on the button itself and I’d be taken directly to Amazon’s website with the order details.

Opening the email itself made the button disappear, unless I returned to the inbox view.

Apparently, Google must have recently enabled this feature for Amazon, or perhaps Google is beta-testing this with a small pool of users. Has anybody else seen this feature, and is this only for Amazon or also for other selected retailers?

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Stumbled upon a direct link that pulls up Gmail Tasks onto its own page.  Worked on Google Chrome Beta 2.0, so I wonder if it works on other browsers as well.

Here’s the link:

http://mail.google.com/tasks/ig

If you’re using Google Apps for your domain, here’s another link:

http://mail.google.com/tasks/a/YOURDOMAIN.COM/ig

(Substitute “YOURDOMAIN.COM” with the correct Google Apps domain)

GMail adds Video Chat!

November 12, 2008

In an attempt to further cement my enduring love for Gmail (Google Mail), video chat has been added!

As a deaf person and a Google lover, this is the perfect confluence of all things Google-goodness.  I can’t emphasize how thrilled I am with this new development.

(No, that’s not me in the picture above.  That’s a Google employee demo’ing the video.  Grin.)

The Official Google Blog has more details.  In a nutshell:

Just click on the new “Video & more” menu in a Gmail chat window and select “Start video chat” or “Start voice chat.” You can switch to a full screen view or pop out the chat window and change the size and positioning as you wish.

Gmail voice and video chat will be rolled out globally over the next day or so for Macs and PCs. The first time you use this feature, you’ll be prompted to download and install a small plugin. To get started, visit http://www.gmail.com/videochat or click on the “Options” menu in a Gmail chat window and choose “Add voice/video chat.” Find out more on our Gmail Blog.

Of course, you’ll need a webcam (and a good friend) to use this functionality.

My, today is a wonderful day, isn’t it?  :-)

(I just realized I’ve been blogging about Google several times in a row.  I think I need medication to stop my Google OCD-ness …)

… about the first phone to come out using Google’s Android platform:

(Click image for a larger version)

I’ve already blogged some preliminary thoughts about the Tmobile G1, the first Android phone.  I want it so bad that it aches!  However, I don’t like the phone unit itself that Tmobile used for its first Android phone.  I’m waiting to see if Sprint or Verizon comes out soon with their own phones running on the Android platform.  I’m curious if those phones would have built-in keyboards that you don’t have to slide out to use.  See what happens (hopefully soon) …

While looking up an address on Google Maps, I noticed that Google now displays a list of businesses at that address in the left column.

(Click on picture for a larger version)

Very, very, VERY useful feature.  I can’t tell you how many YEARS I’ve wished Google Maps would add this feature.  Yahoo Maps had a similar feature for quite a while, but it was difficult to use.

Also, I’m not sure if it’s something that’s now available to everyone, is being rolled out gradually to groups of people, or if Google’s testing this out to a select group of people.

The first “Google Phone” has been announced!  It’ll be released on October 22nd.

Google designed a new smartphone interface system called Android, and it will be available to just about any telephone network who want to use it on smartphones / phones.  This would be similar to Palm’s operating system, Apple’s iPhone, or Windows Mobile — except that, of course, it’s from Google.

The real test is whether the Android operating system would be better than what is being offered on the iPhone.   The iPhone has captivated the market, and Android phones would have a way to go to catch up.  However, Android’s appeal would be its (future) availability on a variety of phones by different telephone companies (rather than just from AT&T / Apple), its variety of applications that can be easily approved and then downloaded onto any Android phone (rather than put up with Apple’s strigent and lengthy approval process for new applications), and its low price (Google isn’t charging much if at all for this new system, and as a result, Android smartphones will be comparatively low-priced).

The first Android smartphone is the G1, from T-Mobile.

If you’re thinking this looks like the Sidekick, you’re right.  It does!  There are some key differences:

  • Touch-screen!
  • WiFi built-in
  • A much wider variety of applications that can be downloaded onto the smartphone
  • GPS
  • Listening to music
  • Watching videos (YouTube and similar)
  • 3G network

And some similarities:

  • Screen that swivels or slides open to reveal keyboard
  • Camera (a good 3.1 mp resolution, but no video)
  • Push email (Gmail account required)

It’ll have the usual Google features – maps, gTalk (dunno about AIM but the user should be able to download an application for that), YouTube, web browsing, Gmail, etc etc.

How much?  $179.

Yes, $179!

I’m thinking of getting one.  Hmmmmm.  Only problem?  It’s T-Mobile.  I think I’ll wait a bit longer.

To commemorate (I assume!) the various Gay Pride celebrations across the world, Google has an Easter Egg: when you go to Google.com and search for “gay”, a rainbow sidebar appears to the right of the results. This Easter Egg might disappear soon, so do check it out sooner.

Nice touch, Google!

(Click image for a larger view)

Google Rainbow Easter Egg

Thanks, David, for the tip!

On a related note, I think it’s irritating that the Google ads to the right of the rainbow sidebar are for adult- and sexual-oriented dating websites.  Oh, wait!  I had Google’s SafeSearch set to “Do not filter my search results.”  After I changed it to “Use strict filtering,” most of the sexual-oriented ads went away.

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