Google brings back full screen compose for Gmail

Google brings back full screen compose for Gmail

composeA couple of months ago, Google changed the way you write an email in Gmail. You no longer got a new screen in which you are writing the email. Instead a smaller window would open in the bottom right corner. However, not everyone was happy about that. And Google has listened. So, yesterday they launched their new full screen compose window.

In essence, it is just a popup that goes over the screen you are watching. So, unlike the old compose, it does not send you to a separate page. Other than that, there is not much of a difference. The new compose takes up enough space on your screen and centers nicely. It has the formatting bar in there as a default as well.

You can switch to the new full screen compose by clicking the facing arrows in the top right corner of the compose window to switch to full screen. If you click the more options button, you can set Gmail to open the new full screen compose as your default setting.

So, do you use Gmail at all? And if so, which compose window do you like best?

Dropbox moves to become your first choice for all storage

Dropbox moves to become your first choice for all storage

dbx-press-datastoresYou might know Dropbox as a great way to share documents amongst each other. And it is. You can drag and drop files from your computer into your Dropbox and have them both on your computer as well as in the cloud. And if anyone changes the document, or adds something to your folder, you get it immediately. Dropbox was one of the first services to launch a solution to integrate cloud storage and your computer storage. And together with their very intuitive user interface, that has made them a market leader. But the vision of Dropbox goes beyond just saving your documents.

At their developer conference, Dropbox has introduced a new set of developer tools for their new Datastores API. Essentially, this turns Dropbox from an application into a platform that software developers can use to integrate the use of Dropbox into their apps. That means that the storage will no longer just be used for documents and pictures. Software builders can now also use it to store your contacts, your text messages, your game progress, or your progress in your Bible for instance. You can then switch over to another device altogether and have the same information at your fingertips.

This idea is not new. Already, iOS devices synchronize certain apps and Google has provided synchronization between several of its services across Android devices and even computers. However, the Dropbox solution could be the first to be absolutely independent of the platform or the device you are using. And that makes it an interesting solution for software makers who see their users switch from iOS on their iPhone to Android on their tablet and to a new Windows Phone for instance. Three platforms that have not really integrated together, can be brought closer together for users through the Dropbox interface.

The Dropbox option is an interesting one. It means that the transition of the data you are using will be seamless for users. If you are developing software, that might give your app a great advantage over other apps that do not have that flexibility. And if you are an average user, that ties in well with your personal use of Dropbox where you store things in the cloud that you want to be able to use seamlessly. Regardless of your device or your location, you can always get to your Dropbox. Now we will have to see whether Dropbox will come to you.

What things would you like to easily share between devices? Have you ever been frustrated by information that was available on one device, but not on the other? Tell us in the comments.

56% of social media users are afraid to miss something

56% of social media users are afraid to miss something

MyLife infographic on social media did a survey in America on social media behavior. And it reveals that many social networkers are becoming overwhelmed by all the balls they are trying to keep in the air. As the number of networks is growing, so does the pressure to keep up with everything and everyone. This is called the Fear Of Missing Out and it has already become an official abbreviation (FOMO). The stunning thing is that over half the people using social networks are suffering from FOMO.

An interesting counter movement is the trend to take a “vacation” from online media. About 52% of social network users have either planned or taken a time-out from their social networks in the past year.

So, what about these statistics? Are they showing us that social networks are unhealthy? That social networks bring us more stress? Well, they might. The trouble that we see in many that start using social networks, is that they feel they need to read everything from everybody. It honestly is time to let that go. The truth of the matter is that you are always going to miss out on something. But that has always been the intention. Ever since Babel happened, we have been missing out. Either by physical distance, language barriers, cultural differences, but we have been missing out. You might feel that I have just enlarged the scale a bit. So, lets bring it back to local proportions. I am sure you have had it happen where friends had gone to a movie that you had not seen. On a night when you might have been available. But because they set the appointment on the sidelines of the football pitch, you did not know about it. That is what social media is like as well. You can not follow every conversation, respond to every message or event or even attempt to.

That is why good social media use comes with an attitude that allows you to “let go”. To realize that as you are following 300 people on Twitter, you will not see everything they post. And the same goes for your 800 Facebook friends. But you can still be friends and keep up with what is happening. You just will not see all of it. As it is unnecessary to see everything anyway. It is not that before social media you spent the first half hour after meeting a good friend catching up chronologically on everything they had done in the past two weeks. And your relationship never collapsed then either. Did it?

So, do you let go? Or do you think it is vital to see everything that is happening in your timeline? Let us know in the comments below.

MyLife infographic on social media use

Microsoft launches new approach, new Windows 8.1 and gestures

Microsoft launches new approach, new Windows 8.1 and gestures

buildLast Wednesday, Microsoft held its Build conference for Windows developers in California. Obivously, Microsoft has been king of the hill in desktop computing for many years. However, Apple has gained momentum with more and more people working from Apple computers. A lot of that gain has come from the days when Apple launched its iPhone, which quickly integrated into our everyday lives. The ease of use of the iPhone also got a lot of people to change over to Apple computers. And that includes many people in churches and ministries that used to be heavy Windows users before. And it has become time for Microsoft to win back the crowds.

So, did Microsoft manage to do it? Well, it has been off to a good start. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the keynote by explaining how Microsoft has been hard at work to create synergy between devices. He ran through all the different devices that are now powered by one form of Windows or another and stated that he did not know whether he should be calling them PC’s anymore. He concluded that by stating that he called them “All Windows, all of the time”. And that sums up what Microsoft is trying to achieve quite well. Obviously, we need to see how things will pan out over time, but the first steps are there. Also, Steve Ballmer introduced Microsoft’s new way of working, which is to release quicker and and more often to serve its users better.

Is it working? Well, Build 2013 was full of news, though it was more of a mix of consumer and technical information than Apple’s WWDC or Google’s I/O. But the important things are that the start button will be back for Windows on the desktop and that many tweaks and changes promise it will be nicer to work with.

One of the nicer things though, is gestures. From this update on, it will be possible to control certain things from making gestures at your computer. No special hardware is needed, the webcam in your laptop or desktop will suffice. It was nicely demonstrated by flipping the page on an online cookbook without getting dirty fingers on the screen. But imagine the freedom this can give to preachers that use powerpoint, to control their slides themselves, without holding awkward remotes all through the sermon.
Also, quick sharing between Windows devices will enable you to broadcast items from your computer to another system without delay, as demonstrated by a video that was started on a desktop, but broadcasted out to an Xbox -Microsoft’s game console- and played on a large television. Broadcasting over several devices is not new. Apple has its Airplay and Google has been working on something along similar lines as well. But the great news is that features like this, will help you to easily mix technology in with your story to make it an even more powerful experience.

And that is the great news that has come out of the three big developer conferences. Integrating technology in everyday life is going to be easier still. Obviously, this leaves us the challenge of finding the best ways to integrate it into telling our story to the world.

(And for those of you feeling adventurous, you can download the Windows 8.1 Preview already. Just remember it is for testing only, not for your daily work yet.)