I recently came across a site that contains humorous Google search queries and the wonders of an autocomplete algorithm that is slightly twisted at times. You can read all of theirs, and for your amusement, I submit one of my own:
After much gnashing of teeth and cries of angst, I was able to move a Google Site to a Google Apps Installation. In the end, it was actually really simple…
The first approach was to use the Google-Sites-Liberation tool, published recently on Google code, which looked very promising. However I soon found 2 issues with our particular domain (This one and this one) which unfortunately prevented me from using the tool. I also didn’t have much time to devote to debugging it. Desperate, I pieced together the following method through a few inferences and forum posts. It’s pretty simple: Copy the site from your account to your apps account!
You’ll need to be an “owner” of the site you’re trying to migrate to do this, and will probably need GMail enabled on the destination apps installation, here are the steps:
1. Log into the google site you want to migrate and bring up sharing properties.
Next, share the site to your Google Apps account’s e-mail address
2. Log into your Google Apps GMail and you should find an e-mail telling you that you’ve been added as an owner to the original site:
3. Click on the link (you may want to sign out of your original GMail account here so that you enter the site as your Apps identity). You should see your Apps e-mail address in the upper right, not your GMail address. If you see the GMail address, sign out and then click the link again from your Apps GMail.
4. click on “More actions” then “Manage Site”
5. Click on General in the left link bar.
6. On that page, click “Copy This Site”
7. The dialog box for copying should be for your Apps domain, not for regular Google Sites, it should look something like this (With your apps installation name where I’ve blacked out):
8. Click Copy Site (Unchecking revisions if you have a lot of them, and site members if you don’t want them), and you should now have an exact copy of the Sites site in your Apps installation!
9. You’ll probably want to close off editing of the old site to the new, if applicable to you. Now pop some champagne and enjoy!
Lifehacker recently published an article detailing a few ways to help remember the things you actually care about, as opposed to those you don’t but remember anyway (such as the MVP of the 1996 All-star game). One of the little gems that was tucked in the article was the application fbCal which integrates your Facebook Birthdays and events with the calendar of your choosing. I have this now set up on my Google Calendar and am extremely happy as it’s A) always up to date and B) putting information where I’ll actually look for it, not where I don’t look (e.g., a sidebar on facebook.com)
To get it set up, all you need to do is install the fbCal application to your facebook account and allow it offline access (So you’ll have two prompts to hit “OK” to when installing):
Once it’s installed, you can then choose how to export your calendar. The tool exports in the standard iCal format, so it’s easily imported into desktop PIMs like iCal on the Mac and Outlook on the PC. It not only includes birthdays, but can include events as well:
Since I use Google Calendar, I clicked on the Google Calendar link and was taken to my calendar, then asked if I wanted to add the new fbCal calendar to my list of calendars. It adds as a shared calendar, which means that it will automatically update whenever I add a friend (Or I guess if a friend changes their birthday!). It gave a very long and annoying name to the calendar, so I changed that by drilling into settings and changing the name:
Now on my Google Calendar main page, I have the FB Birthdays calendar, which I can toggle on and off as desired:
All of this took around 10 minutes, and the feed took about an hour (for some reason) to show up in my calendar. Now it’s working just fine and I thought it was cool enough to share here! Happy calendaring!
I often talk with people who spend just as much time as me (or more) surfing various blogs and sites to keep up on news in a broad array of areas. One complaint is usually that people miss material, or material is posted so rapidly that they feel overwhelmed. A solution to this is to use an RSS reader, a favorite is Google Reader, to read your news. When I mention this, I often hear “No, that’s too much work” – quite a funny statement since once it’s set up, the RSS reader will actually save hours and hours of time wasted surfing to pages and refreshing them.
And it isn’t even a lot of work in the first place – you can be up and running with Google Reader in under 10 minutes, and here’s how.
1. Get a Google account if you don’t already have one.
2. Log in to Google Reader
3. Once in, it will look pretty empty. However never fear – you’ll soon have your news and blog posts show up. Click the “Add Subscription” button and enter the web address of the page you want to add. Most blogs and news websites now have their RSS feed links set up so that Reader can automatically find it:
Once you hit “Add”, you’re done – the news items from that site will now appear. Occasionally you may need to track down a specific feed address (for example, some larger sites have feeds just for certain news items, like Science news or Entertainment news). If you need to find those, go to the site you’re reading and look for the RSS icon: – clicking on it should take you to the RSS link. You can then copy and paste it from your browser’s address bar to the Add a Subscription box in Reader.
Once you have reader set up, all you need to do to read your feeds is log into reader, and click All Items:
It will then display all items from all of your feeds in the right hand reading pane. You can spend more time reading and less time loading pages.
I estimate it would take a medium-to-heavy blog reader around 15 minutes to add all of their feeds to reader, and then most likely save them about 5 minutes per day in page load times, bookmark clicks, and such. So after 3 days, reader’s setup has paid for itself time wise, not to mention you’ll sound cool since you can actually tell everyone all of the cool things you’ve read – not have them say “Hey, didn’t you see that article on X blog about…”
A Windows Man Goes Google: http://tinyurl.com/wingoog
Month long Google Experiment complete, back on WinMo / Outlook. Thoughts & Conclusions shall appear on PPCT this week at some point.
Product Category: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional SmartphoneManufacturer: SamsungWhere to Buy: Expansys [Affiliate]Price: $689 USD (16 GB), $634 USD (8 GB)Specifications: 5 MP Camera, 3.2 TFT WQVGA Touch screen (240 x 400), Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11g, Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, HSDPA 7.2 Mbits, TV-out, FM Radio, Integrated GPS, microSDHC, 1440mA battery
- Fun to use & responsive;
- Sleek design;
- Innovative value-added features (e.g. flashlight, haptic feedback).
- Widget Bar: full of promise, low on usability;
- No multitouch ability;
- Price and availability.
Summary: I’ve posted news on the Samsung Omnia over the last few months and found it to be interesting enough to purchase. What I found when I opened the box got me excited to be using Windows Mobile again, something I doubted could ever happen. Read on for my experience re-discovering the OS through Samsung’s vision of usability.Getting To Know The Omnia
The Omnia measures 113 x 49 x 15.1 mm (4.45 x 1.93 x .59 in) and weighs in at 140g (4.94 oz). It feels nice and light to the touch without feeling cheap. The first thing that a Windows Mobile user will notice is the absence of a normal D-Pad. The Omnia sports a call send, call end, and action button on the front, with the action button holding a surprise. Not only does it work like the normal center button on a D-Pad, it IS the D-Pad. Moving your finger from side to side or up and down will scroll as if using a normal D-Pad. And if that doesn’t float your boat, Samsung has also built in a mouse function that will let the little black action button control an on-screen mouse pointer. Functionality similar to a laptop’s touch pad is provided, with fairly good accuracy while mousing around the screen. Turning the device on shows Samsung’s unique homescreen, slightly customized below (I needed a time readout!).
Figure 1: Samsung’s widget bar, which is shown by clicking the arrow has widgets that can be dragged onto the home screen. The widgets, however, are not customizable (e.g. you cannot add new or remove existing).
For those of you not into Samsung’s new look, they also provide a more normal home screen layout sans widgets. Below is the layout I’ve been using.
Figure 2: Alternate home screen, pressing Settings slides the icons to the right and shows Figure 3.
Figure 3: The settings panel, allowing you to quickly toggle vibrate, Motion (the ability to detect orientation changes and adjust screen rotation), USB mode (Activesync vs. Mass Storage), on-screen mouse, and flashlight (activating the LED flash in continuous mode).
In addition to the funky home screen that is pretty usable, the device also has its own Main Menu, in a further attempt to prevent you from ever having to deal with Windows Mobile’s ugly Programs menu (well, ugly by some standards – I actually like it…)
Figure 4: Samsung’s Main Menu.
Figure 5: Modifying the Shortcuts.
The Omnia also includes Samsung’s “Touch Player”, a more finger centric and friendly interface to listen to music compared to regular old Windows Media Player that we’ve had since the stylus-intense days of old.
Which brings up an interesting point regarding a stylus and the Omnia – namely they don’t want you putting the thing anywhere near the screen. Sure, they include a stylus (a retractable one at that), but it doesn’t have a silo in the device to store it. In fact, the best they can do is put a loop on the end of it so you can hook it to a hook on the device. Why? Well, they want you using your fingers see – and they will not be deterred by us old timers who long for our styli!
Figure 6: Samsung’s Touch Player
The Omnia sports a 5mp camera, with LED flash as well as video recording support. The camera works very well under direct lighting, and in the dark thanks to the flash. It’s medium lighting situations where you may get some blurring (as in the third example shot below). Overall the Omnia’s 5mp means that I don’t have to carry around my pocket camera/camcorder, however I find myself still putting it in my bag – just to be on the safe side. For each of the sample shots below, click on the image to get the full, undoctored, picture.
Figure 7: Looks warmer than it really is…
Figure 8: Everyone needs a dressed-up Jamaican Head.
Figure 9: Notice how the medium light makes this picture the blurriest of the three.
“Wow Cool” Features
The Omnia shines in the areas that Samsung has taken the time to improve over a stock Windows Mobile 6.1 core. While WinMo 6.1 is extremely powerful, it’s not anything new or interesting for those of us who have been using these devices for quite some time, and it darn sure isn’t anything that would make you stop and go “Wow… Cool”. But here are some things I found somewhat innovative and “Wow… Cool”-ish about the Omnia.
- The front camera that is actually useful for those without voice calling: it detects light level to increase or decrease screen brightness, and also (in conjunction with the accelerometer) can enter an “etiquette” mode. You turn the phone over on its face, and it automatically mutes all sounds.
- The Finger Mouse. Toggle-able from the homescreen, it turns the D-Button (the black button that is sensitive to touch and can act like a D-Pad in one mode or control an on-screen mouse in another). Not useful in all situations, but in some it really shines. Hence the much appreciated toggle on the Samsung today screen for it.
- The built-in Samsung SIP that’s actually surprisingly useful for someone with big fingers to enter text into. For the ultimate dream though, a third-party app like SPB’s Full-Screen Keyboard really makes one forget about a dedicated keyboard.
- The flashlight feature that lets the light used for a “flash” actually serves some function. Hold the volume key down for 5 seconds and it turns on, letting you navigate your way through a dark room.
- The haptic feedback (how did I get to bullet four without mentioning this already): it’s very nice to get some responsiveness after a keypress, a screen rotation, even a quick button press. The weird thing? This could have been implemented years ago – we all had “vibrate” motors!
- The value added applications such as an RSS feed reader, world clock, reader, converter and even video editor. Nevermind the FM radio built in as well as TV-OUT capabilities.
- The smoothness of integration. While some gaps are present, Samsung excels at providing one of the best integrations of OEM components and Windows Mobile that I’ve seen to date.
Head to Head: Omnia vs. Touch Pro
The Omnia came to me mid-October, and after playing with it for awhile, I realized that I needed to view it in comparison to another popular device of its generation, the Touch Pro (a.k.a. the AT&T Fuze). So, without another Windows Mobile Maven around me to bum a device off of, I did the only sensible thing – I bought a Fuze at my local AT&T store (WM Devices are my only real vice, I decided to forgo excessive drinking in my undergraduate days to have cash for them..;). Anyway, it is that purchase that was the genesis of this piece of the review: the head to head comparison. I’ll compare the two devices on four important qualities: Touch Responsiveness, Windows Mobile Customization, Daily Use, and Subjective Value (i.e. my own opinion).
Quick Response is something near and dear to most Windows Mobile Enthusiasts, and let’s face it, our beloved operating system can at times have the quick response of a party-loving college freshman on Saturday morning. Especially important is the fact that these devices need to respond quickly to touch as touch is really the only thing that you’re encouraged to do with them. The Omnia has a nice haptic feedback feature that I’ve already mentioned that lets you ‘feel’ when some touches are recorded, which is nice if the screen doesn’t draw quickly to let you know that you’re changing. But the Touch Pro will not be outdone – its screen draws in a side-by-side comparison were faster about 80% of the time for me. I know others out there have been critical of the Touch Pro and Touch Diamond’s graphics performance, but at least for the devices I’m using, it seemed to draw quicker. Finally, the last test is entering text. Samsung gives a nice finger-keyboard SIP they custom designed, as does the Touch Pro. I swapped Samsung’s out for a copy of SPB Keyboard 3.0 and was not disappointed. But as it comes stock, I do have to admit that the Omnia does a bit better keying in data, of course the Touch Pro has a real keyboard that can prevent finger-tap-keying in the first place. It’s a touch decision, but in the end I’ll have to go with the one that vibrates.
Windows Mobile Customization
Samsung certainly has made a bold statement with their widget bar, and the Touch Pro’s TouchFlo interface doesn’t much resemble the home screen we all known and love (loathe) either. If you’re after information, and a quick way to find it, you’ll like TouchFlo much better than the widget bar, or even Samsung’s alternate interface (See Figures 2 & 3). TouchFlo, however, can be a bit sluggish until you learn the tricks (e.g. that you can hold down your finger on each icon at the bottom and rapidly scroll to the other icons). In the useful category, I’m going to have to give HTC Props, but in the “cool” category, the widget bar does have a more impressive show to put on. Which wins out in the end?
ADVANTAGE: Touch Pro
I recently took a trip to Chicago for a conference and brought both the Touch Pro and the Omnia along with me. Over four days I used the Touch Pro for 2 and the Omnia for the other 2. Interestingly enough, I found that while the Touch Pro could be excellent to browse quick e-mails (e.g. by using the e-mail and text tabs in TouchFlo), it had some strange quirks. The version of Google Maps I’d loaded on it took forever to get a GPS lock, even with a fresh “hint” file download. Google Maps also had the strange habit of going zombie on me. It would minimize but refuse to re-open, even if I stopped it in memory and tried to open it again. Only a soft-reset would help, causing some rather embarrassing moments while trying to navigate my way around another city (But on another note, Thank goodness for Google’s new public transit routing in major US cities!). The Touch Pro, aside from its zombieness did do an admirable job and does have a beautiful VGA screen that puts Samsung’s WQVGA to shame. It is my go-to device when I know I’ll need to enter a lot of text. The Omnia, however, never zombied up on me, got quick GPS locks, was adequate to read my e-mail, and has remained my daily driver ever since the trip.
Subjectively, I like both of these devices (after all, I bought both…). But the Omnia seems to have a certain sexiness that the boxiness and thickness of the Touch Pro lack. Now I know that the Touch Pro needs to be a bit more bloated since it has a keyboard, but why couldn’t it include some of the “sexy” features like a 5mp camera, or better use of the accelerometer like the Omnia does out of the box? But like I mentioned before, if I plan on doing a lot of work using text input, the built-in keyboard will always win over the graphical based one. So My recommendation: if you do a lot of text, grab a Touch pro. If you don’t, or you just really love finger tapping out letters, go with an Omnia.
After using the Omnia for about a month, I can actually say something I’ve been wishing were true for awhile: this is a device that makes me excited to use Windows Mobile again! Samsung has done a good job on their first attempt to seriously tweak the OS, and may have even outdone modifying kingpin HTC in some areas. I didn’t even mention the fact that the Omnia has at least 8 GB of on-board storage to play with, and there are many other nuances that make the Omnia very attractive. The Omnia is my new daily driver, and I’m eager to see what the next generation hardware/software combo from Samsung will be.
Jon Westfall is a Microsoft MVP, frequent contributor to the Thoughts Media family of sites, avid City of Hero player, and most importantly a person adrift in the sea of a doctoral dissertation, looking for an island on which to rest. Track his journey and learn more than you really want to know at JonWestfall.Com