Author Archives: Michelle Lentz

6 Jun

Gmail Labs

by Michelle Lentz

Last night, Google rolled out Gmail Labs. This is your opportunity to help Google improve Gmail. (I knew there was a reason Gmail was still in beta.)

Google employees have a nifty benefit called 20% time. This means they get to spend roughly one day a week working on whatever technology idea they want. In some cases, these ideas turn into businesses on their own. In most cases, these ideas go to Google Labs, or now, Gmail Labs.

Gmail Labs

When you log into your Gmail account, go to the Settings option. There is a new Labs tab in the Settings box where you can choose from 13 different Labs options, with more to come. Labs are ideas in the experimental stages. They might work, they might break, but they are there for you to test. Popular labs may go on to become features; other Labs might just be bad ideas.


Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via
Twitter, or via Pownce.

by Michelle Lentz

Dep't of Education Poster circa 1963 from Flickr User jestaub 

Anymore, we’re all citizen journalists. Many of us blog to multiple sources, we twitter, we update Facebook statuses. We comment and share via Friendfeed and Pownce and the myriad of social networks to which we belong.

Everything we’re publishing is news to us or someone, no matter how trivial it might seem to someone else.

So I found this BBC article interesting:

Almost 80% of social networking site users would be more careful about the details they put online if they knew the media
might use them, a poll says.

The Press Complaints Commission said 89% of the 1,000 people polled wanted guidelines on what the media could use.

And 42% of 16 to 24-year-old who used such websites said they knew someone who had been embarrassed by material which was posted without consent.

Granted, the article is focusing on UK users. But the concept intrigues me. With all the information we’re publishing about ourselves online, whether behind a “walled garden” or available forever on Twitter, how do we control what get published about ourselves by others? Or more relevant to this article, by members of the actual press?

Should social media sites be regulated? Personally, I say no. We all have a responsibility to control our own reputation online. I monitor mine by using Google Alerts. I make sure that photos I don’t want used on other web sites are not under a Creative Commons license on Flickr. But I’m hyper-aware of these things. The average user is not. As a journalist (I write for a legitimate food/wine publication), I will always ask permission before using random quotes or things I’ve found on-line. But that’s me. Do all journalists do that?

So, how much personal responsibility do we have and how much information should be regulated, as Britain’s PCC is considering. Thoughts?


Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.

Img source: Dep’t of Education Poster circa 1963,
via Creative Commons, from Flickr User jestaub.

by Michelle Lentz

Today YouTube released a new feature: annotations. I can only imagine how this is going to improve the quality of those videos already on YouTube.

The annotations feature is just like it sounds. You can add thought bubbles and call outs to the videos. It’s really easy to do as well. There are some catches, thank goodness.

 - You can only annotate videos you uploaded. This is good. Can you imagine if you could annotate any video? 

 - The annotations only show up on YouTube’s site and not in embedded video. This is actually a great way to drive even more traffic to YouTube, but something you need to keep in mind when annotating.

Annotations could be used rather effectively for education and more in-depth information on a topic. I often search for “how to” videos. However, I tend to search Vimeo and Viddler.

I often find (and this isn’t necessarily accurate) that more professionally produced videos end up on the other options, and, with notable exceptions, some crazy or poorly produced stuff ends up on YouTube. I’m guilty of this myself. My YouTube channel consists of concert footage and Peabody ducks. I worry that while annotations have the potential to be an awesome feature, it will mostly be used for “hey look at her butt!” or some other lovely sentiment. You see where I’m going with this.

However, this is a pretty nifty video about how the annotations work.


Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.

3 Jun


by Michelle Lentz

I’m practically chomping at the bit for June 9 to roll around. That’s when Steve Jobs will present his keynote at the Apple WWDC and any Apple-related news will be announced. I’m usually intrigued, but not this impatient. This year I’m on the verge of purchasing a much-needed new MacBook Pro, switching from my PC, and I’m afraid to buy it before the conference. Whenever I purchase a Mac product, something new is announced immediately thereafter, rendering my purchase obsolete. (My 4GB iPhone is a perfect example of this.)

So until I let myself buy the new Mac, I’ve tried to make my PC function a little more like the Mac by installing RocketDock.

RocketDock is a fully customizable application launcher that is quite reminiscent of the OS X dock. It works wonderfully and allowed me to clean up my desktop. You can put it on any edge (I use it at the top of my screen) and can even download Add-Ons to further customize the dock.

RocketDock is a fun and free download from PunkLabs.

Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.

by Michelle Lentz 

There are dozens of lifestreaming apps out there now, but this is the first one I’ve come across that acknowledges that I’m an adult with cell phone bills, credit cards, and bank accounts. PageOnce aggregates your entire online life, from financials and utilities to Facebook and Twitter. I was a bit skeptical at first, but after a walkthrough by CEO and co-founder Guy Goldstein, I was sold.

PageOnce is exceedingly easy to set up. This particular app is forward thinking enough to not just aim for early adopters, but aim for my mom, if that makes sense. Big friendly buttons everywhere let you know how to add accounts. When you first log in, you view all of your life on one page (thus, page once). The nifty part of this is the Alerts feed, which lets you know if things have changed. Sure, it lets you know if you have email or if you have notifications on Facebook. But it also lets you know if one of your flights has changed, if you’ve overdrawn your checking account, or in my case, that I’ve used too many SMS messages on my cell phone account. PageOnce monitors your accounts, and that’s what makes this particular lifestreaming app different from others. PageOnce also monitors your accounts for fraud, alerting you immediately if it notices something suspicious.

PageOnce also has six different content areas: Finance, Utilities, Shopping, Travel, Social, and Email. Finance holds your banking and credit accounts. Email includes only web mail at the moment, and you can’t respond (delete, answer, etc) from directly in the app. PageOnce can, however, handle multiple Gmail accounts. Utilities includes your cable, phone, cell phone, and electric. At least with AT&T, used in their examples and in my own life, PageOnce displays a simple but useful graphic letting me know how many minutes I have left.

Shopping includes eBay and Amazon and probably more. Social includes all of your social networking and can handle multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook, MySpace, and whatever else you need. Travel includes all of your frequent traveler accounts, whether hotel, car, or airline so that you can keep track of your mileage. You can also enter your itineraries into PageOnce, which then tracks changes such as delayed or canceled flights. All the information for all of your accounts, no matter the type, updates in real time.

I asked Guy several questions about security. After all, PageOnce is a small startup and while I freely give a certain amount of information out over the web, I’m a little more protective about financials. HeEm assured me that there is triple-layer, military grade security, which includes VeriSign, TRUSTe and McAfee Hackersafe and insured by an A+ rated top 10 insurance company.

PageOnce has great potential to be used by everyone, not just those of us who belong to every new thing out there. Guy said they intend to add more interactivity, especially with email, so that you can accomplish tasks without ever leaving the PageOnce app. Also coming down the pike is an iPhone application, probably in Q3, that looks amazingly useful. PageOnce came out of private beta today. Try it for yourself.

Introductory Video

Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.