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Outlook web mail is here!

1 Aug

Finally, Microsoft has decided to go for more aptly named Outlook.com for it’s web mail service. It’s quite fitting and more professional naming compared to older Hotmail or Live Mail.

For those of you who wonders if someone really uses any other web mail other than the giant GMail, I must say it’s personal preference. For me, Outlook web mail (or Live Mail, or Hotmail. Huh!) is always very fluid, distraction free, and very integrated service. All the online features can be accessed from single ecosystem (I’ll come to that later), quite unlike GMail. There’s hell lot of space thrown, at least for previous users, and you can use them the way you want – for mails, or for any other files. Social integration is unparalleled too. But at the end of the day, it’s personal choice that matters.

With the new Outlook Web Mail, Microsoft has really stirred the web mail market with new freshness. The new Metro styled UI and loads of features really worth a good look for everyone. Let me walk you through Outlook.com with screenshots –

The Outlook.com opens with Metro style and at the same time minimalistic view, the way email should be.

Welcome Screen

Switching to other features is easy. Just press the drop down next to Outlook logo (appears on hover) and see the option to go to desired place. Visual and easy!

Following is the Skydrive and Calendar views, not much have changed here –

Contacts has been updated to new Metro style. Viewing, adding or editing contact is plain simple. You can also connect to various social networks to enrich your contacts and have them in one single place.

Composing mails is easy and it’s one of the prettiest screen I’ve ever seen in any mail service or client :). Since the contacts are socially connected, contact’s image is fetched when you search for them. This one screen has me sold!

On main screen, if you click the message icon, you can connect to Messenger. Instant messenger appears on the right hand side and is quite easy to use.

You can also choose where to reading pane – Off, Right, or Bottom.

Further mail settings can be customized using setting icon, next to messenger icon.

Finally, on top-rightmost position is your account and profile settings. Clicking it, reveals the profile picture, linked accounts, log out options and links to account setting.

 

Now, something better to know. You can create alias for your existing email – this way you can avoid @hotmail or @live email addresses in lieu of @outlook. Fun right? Just head over to Alias Change option, and input your desired alias. You’ll then receive confirmation mail telling your alias is created, and you’ll be having brand new email address!

Finally, one last thing – Although most of the mail actions are given in top ribbon, there’re few more of them. In order to access them, just click Actions, on top-right of the mail. It’ll pop open the menu like below to give you further actions to perform.

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Facebook Desktop Messenger is here!

30 Dec

Well, almost. Although it’s available to selected few testers currently, but if you follow this link, you can get your hands on it right away! Now, as it’s clear that you can get the messenger damn easy, one question comes to mind – why one should download yet another messenger, especially when you can use web based messenger or, better, use multi-protocol Instant messengers like Pidgin? Nice question! Let’s see if we really need this messenger.

Facebook Desktop Messenger is not just a desktop messenger but it’s also a mini Facebook in itself, sans news feed of course, which makes it unique in itself. Clearly, if you’re Facebook addict, it’s a must have peice of software for you. For others, lemme go through step by step process to help you decide –

Installation of Facebook messenger is fast and easy, but it’s a web based which somewhat makes sense and it’s sole purpose is to used to access feature that requires internet connection. There is no customization feature as well, which is disheartening for tweakers.

After installation, you need to login to Facebook using your web and once logged, you get to see this message:

First Launch

This essentially means, the only way to log out of the messenger is to log out from web. There is no separate logout for the app. Also, it doesn’t have any customization option whatsoever.

Once launched, you can see the messenger is split into 2 halves – news ticker and list of firends. Surprisingly and thankfully, the size of these windows is adjustable (this is the only customization you can do for this messenger).

Messenger Windows

You can see firend requests, notifications and messages as well. Image given below shows that:

Messenger Views

One cool feature of this messenger is that it can be docked to the right of the windows, so that can always see it even if other windows are open. And also the chat window can have multiple tabs, not the first but is really a convinience!

Docked viewChat windows

Overall, it seems a pretty robust chat software and it’s look and feel is quite impressive. As I already said, it’s a must have software for Facebook addicts, but it’s also a very handy tool to try for others, especially if you’ve some friends on Facebook.

After Gmail overhaul, it’s YouTube’s turn!

21 Nov

It seems Google has decided to overhaul the User Interface of it’s entire services. Few months back we’ve seen the redesign of Google’s homepage, then few weeks back we’ve seen complete redesign of Gmail, and now it seems that YouTube‘s next.

But for YouTube, it’s not that easy. Right now, Google’s is just testing the new layout and it’s not yet available even in TestTube. But fret not, the method to enable new UI is pretty straight-forward and easily revertible too. All you need is to play with the cookies, and in case you want to revert to older looks, just delete the cookie, simple!

So, how do you get the new UI? Just follow these easy steps –

  • Open your web browser and navigate to YouTube. Right now, this method seems to work only in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 (I’m using the Chrome for the process right now).
  • Open developer tools – Press F12 in IE9, Ctrl+shift+j in Chrome and Ctrl+shift+k in Firefox for quickly open the developer tools.
  • Now navigate to console part and enter the following code:

document.cookie=”VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=ST1Ti53r4fU”;

Developer Console

Clear your console before proceeding, if you wish.

Developer console input

Just input the code shown and you're done.

  • Done! Just close the developer tools and refresh the YouTube page and you’ll land into new refreshed page.

After the refresh, you’ll see a simple guide to the changes done. If you like follow these to learn or simply take a look at the images below. Also to note, these changes goes pretty well with CosmicPanda, released by YouTube some time back and I strongly recommend to use this as well to have an immersive experience.

(click images to enlarge)

YouTube - 1

YouTube - 2

YouTube - 3

YouTube - 4

YouTube - 5

Now see what you want to, on Facebook.

18 Nov

Few time back, Facebook started experimenting with it’s news stream. As a result, Highlighted stories born, a seemingly novel idea to put news most important to user at the top, though the end result was nothing like expected. Most of the times, some stupid posts cover up your news stream and you completely loose the track of very recent stories. It seems if 4 or 5 of your friends have posted about a link, it is considered highlighted for you and kept above the news posted on your wall a second ago. This is pretty annoying, isn’t it?

I’ve seen quite a few users moving away from Facebook or at least shouting out loud in different forums/websites/blogs because of these changes and even I’s quite frustrated too. I mean, who’s Facebook to decide which story I want to read, most importantly when it fails every time in guessing that? Marking those stories as not a featured/highlighted post wouldn’t help either.

Till now, I was using some chrome extension to get only the recent stories but it seems that Facebook has finally heard our request.Actually, it heard few time back already, but the change was gradual and not all users got the control over the news feed (I got this feature today itself). With this change, now user can select if they want to see Highlighted news (current news style system) or the Recent news (the loved old style). No matter what type of news feed you choose, the pesky real-time news update will be there. So there’s no getting away from that, at least officially.

As this new feature is easy to miss, here is step-by-step procedure to control your news feed –

1. Just look for the Sort option in the top of the news.

2. Click on the Sort button and you’ll see two options – Highlighted Stories First (in bold) and Recent Stories First.

3. Select the news style you’re comfortable with and you’re done. If you prefer new Highlight style, only Sort will be written, else Sort: Recent Stories First will come.

New Gmail is live now!

2 Nov

Hi,

The new and more robust Gmail (discussed earlier) is finally live for everyone. What could be the better day to choose its official launch than on my birthday (Or maybe I’m thinking too much 🙂 )!! Although it seems to be open for everyone right now, but chances are that you may not see the option to switch to this new interface, as Google is not making it default for now. But knowing the fact that it’ll be default interface in future, I think it’s better to switch early and get accustomed with.

Just follow these steps to get the new interface for the Gmail:

1. Look in the bottom right corner of you Gmail, and you’ll find the option to switch to new look.

Gmail Switch

2. Now, you’ll see a popup asking you to switch to new interface or continue to old one. Just press switch and you’re done.

Switch option

3. Now as you’ve switched to new interface, you’ll be greeted with te change-log and an introductory video. just go through the links if you wish to know more, else click Continue to the new look.

Welcome message

Great! Now as you’ve new interface, just start fiddling with it and customize it to suit your taste. You can also read (really?) the official Gmail announcement here.

TapSense – Intelligence to the touch!

31 Oct

I’ve covered about various methods of interacting with the system earlier, but what if you want to see improvement in the existing methods of interaction? That’s where TapSense comes into play. It’s essentially a technology that can enhance the interaction of finger with the touchscreen.

TapSense, developed by Chris Harrison of Carnegie Mellon University, essentially facilitate touchscreens to differentiate between the touch input, i.e. it can make a difference between normal human finger and stylus. And that too with 99% accuracy!

Although interesting, this is not that exiting part. The more fun part is, TapSense can also differentiate between various parts of fingers! With 95% of accuracy it can detect what part of the finger has touched the screen. The defined four parts which it can detect are – Tip, Nail, Pad, & Knuckle.

Apart from the touchscreen, TapSense requires a microphone to operate. Combined with touchscreen, TapSense detects the input that has touched it. As it uses sound as input, it’s also able to distinguish between the users who holds the pen type input, just by the applied pressure. Seemingly, simple and not so great innovation at first, this actually opens up a huge possibility to the way interact with the system. Now, one can have apps that can perform different set of actions based on the surface touched the screen. Now you may get the idea.

Though pretty much in it’s proof-of-concept phase, it surely has huge potential and maybe a newer opportunity for application developers to create immersive applications.

Just look at the video showing it’s ability, and get overwhelmed.

 

You can read the detailed paper from here.

Behold the new Gmail !!

21 Oct

Well, it’s nothing like everything in Gmail has changed overnight and you should start expecting a Milky Way on its page, but the how else I’m supposed to attract your attention, hmm? And no, Google hasn’t launched a new iPhone, iPad or Android version of Gmail, it’s for your browser. What’s wrong with some people? 😕

Now as you’re reading, let me tell you something quite cool. Gmail is rolling out variety of changes on Gmail and they’re quite awesome. Some of the features are much awaited and some are just to add cool quotient to already great mailing solution (it’s not just a website, mind it!).

So let’s begin with what’s coming in new Gmail update, shall we?

Note: All images are courtesy Unofficial Google Blog post.
 

Google has changes a lot in User Interface and user experience without changing much in overall design. The upcoming design will still be usable in the same way it’s used to be to have experience consistent.

Here is the features in details:

1. The overall UI:

New Gmail Inbox

The UI is similar to Preview/Preview (Dense) theme which we can use currently. (Go to themes and select Preview/Preview Dense). The addition to this UI is that the whole interface can resize and adjust to the screen size. I know, interface is not something you’re really bothered about, but it’s update by Gmail UI team, oops!

2. Conversation:

New Gmail Conversation

The conversation is nothing new, but just a mail-chain. It’s just plain and boring earlier. Finding who said what was tedious as well. With new changes, you can have quite cleaner conversation and photo against the contacts to easily recognize who said what. Now that’s something, which will take all the clutter out of my Inbox!

3. Improved Search:

New Gmail Search

New search options gives users finer control over their search. This feature (UI) seems much like what Outlook offers. Though I must tell you, all these search features are already present in Gmail, but now Google has taken steps to make it more accessible to the user. Now, I hope, custom searches in Gmail will go main-stream. Ugh, I generally don’t search much on Gmail, it’s no big deal for me, but definitely not a deal breaker (I must be mad for that)!

4. Adjustable Lists and Chat window:

New Lists and Chat layout

Now you can easily adjust lists and chat window to suit your need. You chat more, make the chat screen bigger and vice-versa. Also, even if you don’t always adjust yourself, Google will do it for you. I’ll let it pass, your views?

5. High-definition image themes (Sorry no pictures for this):

In addition to the modification made in UI department, Gmail has also added support for high-definition  themes, which essentially is a high-def image in the background on the new theme, something you can have right now as well, albeit in low-def. Blah, blah, blah! Who cares UI that much? 😛

Want to have closer look? Just view this video:

When will new Gmail will roll out? Well, there is no official word yet, but going by the Google distribution policies, I think it’ll start rolling in few days time (they generally don’t announce way to early). Till then, it’s the old Gmail you’ve to live with!

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