Monthly Archives: August 2012

Email Can Be A Great Productivity Killer

Unless you use a service like SaneBox.

SaneBox is similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature in that it looks at your messages and prior history engaging with those senders and decides which emails you’re likely to deem most important.

When you turn on the Priority Inbox feature in Gmail, Google separates your email into three categories: Important and unread, Starred, and Everything Else; all the mail is still in your inbox, but the important messages are up top.

How Does SaneBox Work?
SaneBox is a little different in that it removes less important messages from your inbox completely, moving them to an @SaneLater folder that you can peruse whenever you want. If SaneBox puts an important message into that folder you can move it to your inbox and it remembers the action so the next time you receive a message from that person, it will go to your inbox.

Gmail’s Priority Inbox is trainable in this way, as well; the more you move stuff around, the better it gets at categorization. SaneBox just makes it all easier

SaneBox gives you a custom dashboard including a timeline that graphs how many important and less important emails you get every day. I set this up on my AOL account and found that my current average, according to SaneBox, is 81 a day. If I took a minute to read, digest, and respond to each one of them, that’s nearly an hour and a half a day just going through my email. If you figure there’s at least 250 work days in a year, I could be spending 375 hours per year on email. That’s a lot of lost productive time.

In addition to the @SaneLater folder that stores non-essential messages, you can also enable folders such as @SaneNews for newsletters and @SaneBlackHole for those messages you want to send straight to your Trash. (now you’re able to “unsubscribe” without notifying the world that your email address is live and saleable)

Automated nagging!
SaneBox also has a nifty feature that lets you CC or BCC a message to to remind you if someone doesn’t respond.

So let’s say you need an answer from your boss about a project and you need it no later than two days from now. In the CC field just include the address and in two days SaneBox will put the message back in the top of your inbox if your boss never replied to it. This way you remember to bug him/her again.

SaneBox also creates an @SaneRemindMe folder that lets you keep track of all the messages to which you still need replies. Use, or; it doesn’t matter, SaneBox will figure out the time frame you need and remind you accordingly.

The service is $5 a month and works with email clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, iPhone, and Android and as well most email services like Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail. The only service it doesn’t currently support is Hotmail.

Give SaneBox a try by signing up for their 14 day free trial – no credit card info necessary and it only takes 30 seconds.

Visit the website to learn more and take a video tour.

Microsoft Simplifies Windows 8 Licensing

Microsoft simplifies Windows 8 EULA

Microsoft’s Windows EULA (end-user license agreement) has traditionally been comprised of much Mumbo-Jumbo legalese. According to an article from ZDNet though, with Windows 8, Microsoft has completely rewritten the agreement in “plain English”.

Although the full text has yet to be released, and is still subject to change, here’s a look at specific paragraphs that make the license appear clearer and easy to understand. Microsoft has split the EULA into two parts: an introductory FAQ and a second half which covers terms in greater detail, such as the right to create backups of your Windows discs.

In the section titled, “How can I use the software?”

The software is licensed, not sold. Under this agreement, we grant you the right to install and run one copy only on the computer with which you acquired the software (the licensed computer)…

We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it. Under our license, we grant you the right to install and run that one copy on one computer (the licensed computer), for use by one person at a time, but only if you comply with all the terms of this agreement. Typically, this means you can install one copy of the software on a personal computer and then you can use the software on that computer.

We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it. Under our license, we grant you the right to install and run that one copy on one computer (the licensed computer) as the operating system on a computer that you build for your personal use, or as an additional operating system running on a local virtual machine or a separate partition, subject to the restrictions outlined under “Are there things I’m not allowed to do with the software?”

For your convenience, we’ve organized this agreement into two parts. The first part includes introductory terms phrased in a question and answer format; the Additional Terms and Limited Warranty follow and contain greater detail. You should review the entire agreement, including any linked terms, because all of the terms are important and together create this contract that applies to you.

The “System Builder” license, which is now known as a “Personal Use” license, affords end-users the ability to buy and install the software themselves. This is quite a change from the current System Builder license, an agreement which expressly prohibits this behavior.

If you noticed, referenced in the EULA is a section labeled, “Are there things I’m not allowed to do with the software?” The following paragraph is text from that portion of the agreement.

You may not install the software as an operating system on any computer except one that you are building for your own use or as an operating system running on a local virtual machine or a separate partition. You may not install the software on a computer that is running a non-genuine Windows operating system.

It will be interesting to read the full text of the new EULA when it’s officially released to see if there are any other noteworthy changes.

 Microsoft is also tightening up its Windows activation technology. The company is working with major OEMs to embed unique Windows 8 product keys into the BIOS of their products. That would mean that when you register your copy of Windows 8 during the initial installation, the product will be permanently keyed to the BIOS of that particular systems motherboard.

Traditionally, all the major OEMs have relied on VLKs (volume license keys) and KMS (key management services) to provide activation across millions of PCs. However, such “universal keys” have frequently been the subject of abuse and piracy by software thieves and grey market resellers. By individualizing keys and having them embedded into the BIOS, Microsoft hopes to better curb piracy of its products.

If this works out – you can bet they’ll be adopting the process for other Microsoft software products like Microsoft Office and such.

Is your battery running down

While we were away on a family vacation recently, our son Matthew, a member of the IT department at Brandeis, admonished me for allowing my laptop battery to run down. “Today’s lithium batteries don’t need and shouldn’t be allowed to run down and lose their charge, Dad…..” 

He said these words with just the right amount of distain a computer genius (one that I created, mind you) could project.  He quoted Steve Gibson, one of his favorite podcast resources and then sent me a YouTube link which you’ll find at the end of this article.

The reason so many people attempt to run their batteries down is to prevent a common problem prevalent in NiCad and Nickel Metal Hydride batteries called the “memory effect”. Originally, the terms memory effect or memory problem was coined to describe a cyclic memory problem where the NiCad battery would “remember” the amount of discharge for previous discharges and limit the recharge life of the battery. This memory effect would actually shorten the usable time you would get from the battery when the device was left plugged in all the time or recharged without first discharging the remaining charge. That’s the reason so many of us continue to follow the old logic of discharging and recharging these batteries regularly to help improve their usable life.

How to prolong the life of lithium-ion batteries.
There’s actually fail-safe circuitry in each cell of the battery that’s designed to prevent the battery from over-charging as well as over discharging. So it’s easy to prolong battery life by avoiding discharge and instead charge more often between uses. The smaller the depth of discharge, the longer the battery will last.

It’s still NOT recommended to leave a laptop plugged into a charger all the time. Battery life and usage is greatly enhanced when you allow the battery to go from 100% charged down to about 80% and then recharge. If you have a laptop, check the documentation that came with it or the company website to see what type of battery you have then follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.

For devices like the Kindle, iPhone, iPod, iPad and other Smart Phones with batteries that are not removable or end user serviceable, you should recharge regularly and not let the device run completely out of juice to maximize battery life.

See Steve Gibson’s podcast here:

Finally a contender for Gmail

Has Microsoft finally developed a powerful contender for Gmail?

Meet Microsoft has taken the wraps off its new service, which will eventually replace Hotmail as its free consumer email product and hopefully (for Microsoft) compete with Gmail. is a preview of a free, modern email service from Microsoft. It has a familiar name and a fresh, modern design. makes your email richer by connecting to Facebook and Twitter and helps you be productive with Office and SkyDrive. Because email is personal, Outlook also helps keep you in control of your private data. Some of the features of this preview are:

Clean, clutter-free inbox’s streamlined inbox is, of course, great at handling spam. Even better, Outlook lets you get through your inbox quickly. It has simple, automated tools for sweeping out the newsletters and daily deals messages you don’t want.

Connect to your people
With, your conversations are richer with photos, updates, and Tweets from Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. Your address book also automatically stays updated with your contacts from Facebook and Twitter.

Office and SkyDrive comes with free Word, Excel, and PowerPoint web apps built-in, plus 7 GB of free cloud storage with SkyDrive for sharing photos, videos, or other large files without huge attachments. Skype will also be built right into in the near future as well.

Is right for you?
At this moment there aren’t any standalone mobile applications, so if you want to access “on the go” you’ll need to use either a browser or an app that already supports Exchange ActiveSync. That means all you Apple iPad and iPhone users are ready to go.

If you’re a heavy Google Docs or a Google+ user, then Gmail is probably for you. Otherwise, if you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Office, then looks like the winner here.

To jump on this preview and get started today:

 If you simply want additional info, do a Google search for – there are tons of online magazine articles, active blogs and screen shots out there…


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