While Gmail has had some emoticons for a while now, they have added a new slew of them, some with motion.

While these are mildly amusing, they seem rather unnecessary to normal email.  We did run a test of sending an email from Gmail with the new emoticons in it, and they did carry across systems, but I won’t pull any punches in that I hope these don’t catch on.  Reading email is enough of a chore for me during the day, but adding bouncing, moving images is just going to make it that much less fun.

Categories: News   

Do you spend a lot of time on Gmail going through PR pitch emails?  Want certain people to know you aren’t around for a vacation, but want others to think you are away on business?  Well, Google’s new Canned Responses is the solution for you.

As with all things here at StarterTech, not it’s time for us to help you learn how to use it!

The first thing you need to do is click on “Create a filter” up by the “Search Mail” and “Search the Web” buttons at the top of the Gmail screen.

Once you’ve clicked on the “Create a filter” link, you’ll see this input window. (Click image for a larger view) You can set the filted up by partial email addresses, subject line and more. Fill in whatever you want to filter b.  When you’re done filling it in, click on “Next Step”.

On the next screen you can choose what to do with your filter, and you want the next to last choice. Using the drop down menu you can name the responses to be saved for future use as you can also put them into emails on your own that are in the filter.

When writing an email where you might want to include one of yourcanned responses, you will now see it as a drop down menu in the area below where you type in the subject line.  Just click on the one you want and it will be inserted.

This is a great new addition to Gmail, and one that will alleviate a lot of problems for people who receive huge volumes of emails.

Categories: News   

CBS, the American television network, has struck a deal to bring you full-length videos of their shows on YouTube.

Earlier this week the announcement was made that you will now be able to catch full-length versions of all of the CBS shows on YouTube, the popular video sharing site.  You will have to watch advertisements before, during and after the show, but they are very minimal compared to what you even see on TV, and for free, on demand programming is certainly worth it.  this deal also includes their daytime soap opera programming.

There is no word if any other deals are pending, but this is certainly an intersting first step for the Google owned YouTube.  Don’t be too surprised if more networks and cable channels join the trend soon.

Categories: News   

On September 6th, the GeoEye-1 satellite took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and now we’re seeing just how much clearer our maps are going to be.

The new satellite is co-sponsored by Google, the search engine giant, so that they can use the imagery in their Google Maps and Google Earth applications.  The first image was transmitted this week of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, which you can see pictured here.  (click the image for a larger view)  As you can see, the image is extremely crisp, but due to certain government regulations, you will never see the satellite’s full magnification, which some say would allow you to focus all the way down to a car’s license plate number.

Google does not have sole control over the new system, so it may take a while for the entire planet’s images to get updated, but you should see them being added to their mapping services soon.

Categories: News   

In an 11th hour announcement, Walmart has reversed their decesion to shut down their DRM (Digital Rights Management) servers.

As we reported last month, Walmart was going to shut down their DRM servers on October 9th, meaning that anyone who had purchased a song during the time the company put DRM on files would no longer be able to play them.  Due to consumer demand, Walmart is now opting to keep the servers running indefinitely. Those who would have been effected by this have received a second email explaining the situation.

NOTE: This is a follow-up to our email titled “Important Information About Your Digital Music Purchases” from 9/26/08.

Based on feedback from our customers, we have decided to maintain our digital rights management (DRM) servers for the present time. What this means to you is that our existing service continues and there is no action required on your part. Our customer service team will continue to assist with DRM issues for protected windows media audio (WMA) files purchased from Walmart.com.

While our customer support team is available to assist you with any issues, we continue to recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you insure access to them from any personal computer at any time in the future.

We appreciate your support and patience as we work to provide the best service possible to you. As we move forward with our 100% MP3 store, we’ll continue to update you with key decisions regarding our service and your account via email.

Thank you for using Walmart MP3 Music Downloads.

The Walmart Digital Music Team

I would suggest you look at this as a reprieve only, because who knows when they may reverse their decision again.  Back up to CD any way, and make sure to not even concern yourself with any future decisons about DRM.

Categories: News   

It’s time for Apple to have another one of their infamous press events, and this time it is squarely focused on notebooks.

There has been a lot of puzzlement over the past few months as to where the next update was to the Apple line of notebooks, better known as MacBooks.  All indicators showed the line was due for an overhaul for quite some time, but time kept passing without nary a word.

Finally, invitations went out to some members of the press to be at the Apple campus in Cupertino, CA next Tuesday, October 14th, for an event focusing on notebooks.  Just in time for the holiday shopping season, and an economic downturn, but here they come anyway.

There are multiple rumors about what will be unveiled in the new lineup, but the two most prevailing ones are something called “the brick” and a whole new price point for the line.

The Brick

This name has been circulating for sometime now, but it seems that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has a new manufacturing process up his sleeve. It seems at least some of the MacBooks will be made from bent aluminum, meaning the case will be fully recyclable and also not need any screws for assembly.  Considering Mr. Jobs’ love of design and clean lines on his products, this rumor will more than likely prove true.  It doesn’t hurt that some pictures have also apparently leaked of the new case.

$800 Price Point

Macs have always been known to be more expensive, and some feared what would happen to the comapnies sales with the recent poor economic news, but it seems things are about to change.  Multiple sources are reporting that Apple may be releasing a notebook in the $800 price range.  This would probably be a fairly stripped down model, but it would finally give an accessible price point to those who want to at least try a Mac, but have always been scared off by price.

Be sure to come back next Tuesday when we learn how true these rumors were, and if there was anything else we hadn’t heard about yet!

Categories: News   

An important message to all customers of Walmart’s MP3 store has started going out via email.

Important Information About Your Digital Music Purchases

We hope you are enjoying the increased music quality/bitrate and the improved usability of Walmart’s MP3 music downloads. We began offering MP3s in August 2007 and have offered only DRM (digital rights management) -free MP3s since February 2008. As the final stage of our transition to a full DRM-free MP3 download store, Walmart will be shutting down our digital rights management system that supports protected songs and albums purchased from our site.

If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer. This change does not impact songs or albums purchased after Feb 2008, as those are DRM-free.

Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from Walmart.com. If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer.

Thank you for using Walmart.com for music downloads. We are working hard to make our store better than ever and easier to use.

Walmart Music Team

For those unsure what this means DRM (Digital Rights Management)is a form of copy protection encoded onto digital files to make sure that you are unable to play them except on devices you have authorized.  Consumers have spoken out loudly against this practice because it can cause issues with playing the music as they see fit across multiple devices, just as you can with a CD.

For those of you who are confused by what exactly they are telling you to do, all you need to do is copy the DRM protected files to a CD as music, NOT as files.  Once you do this, you can play these CDs as you would any normal CD, or you can convert them back to digital files, and because you do it yourself, they will lose their copy protection.  You should, however, expect some loss in audio quality.  It is not a perfect solution, but at least it keeps you from being totally unable to play the songs.

As the email states, you need to do this prior to October 9th when they shut down the servers.

Categories: News   

RSS IconWe’ve already discussed Real Simple Syndication (RSS) once before in Web 101 What Is RSS?, but since this day is officially RSS Awareness Day, it seemed a good time to touch on it again.

Essentially RSS just speeds up your ability to read all of your favorite blogs in one spot, eliminating the need for you to go out to them on a daily basis to see if they have updated. Think of it as a newspaper for your blog reading in that all of the news is put in one place for you to be able to consume it instead of going to each individual news source. (Thanks to Adam Ostrow of Mashable for the analogy) You would never want to have to go the AP newswire, Reuters, United Press or any of the others to see all of the new information they have to share, so the newspaper puts it all into one handy place for you, saving that hassle for you, and RSS does the same.

Here is a short video explaining it in more detail that puts it about as easily as possible.

The reader all of us here at StarterTech use is the Google Reader as we already have Google accounts, so it just makes it that much easier for us to do everything in just one spot.

Why not give it a try? As the video says, it CAN be addictive though, so make sure you don’t over subscribe and find yourself reading so many it ends up taking more time than the old-fashioned way! Why not give our feed a shot so you can keep up with all of our latest tips, and give RSS a test run?

A big thank you to Daniel of DailyBlogTips.com for this wonderful idea of spreading the love for RSS around.

Categories: News   
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