Gmail turns 5!

gmail_fifth_bday_cakeApril fools pranks aside, except this one! Released on April Fools day back in 2004 everyone thought it was most likely a joke – a beta product released by Google offering users a free email account with tons of space.

Five years down the line, it might still be in beta, but it’s most likely one of the best email products out there – and best of all it’s FREE!

The engineers who created Gmail were frustrated with the existing email solutions, and wanted to build a better tool for people who got a lot of mail, which meant rethinking everything from the ground up. They built an architecture that was a combination of HTML and JavaScript (this later became known as AJAX), which offered a smoother, faster interface. And they designed Gmail with the most demanding users in mind — Googlers who got hundreds of messages each day and power users with broadband connections, back when 56k modems were still the norm. – source Google Blog.

There have been lots of upgrades to Gmail since it’s release and there are still many more to come. With the 15GB of space you get with your email account and the powerful tagging and searching of emails you never need to worry about deleting emails to save on space – just tag and archive!

Want to know more or be kept up to date with changes to Gmail – then visit their blog or subsribe to their Gmail feed

Undo that Gmail email you just sent!

A little while back I mentioned the new feature in Gmail Labs callled Mail Goggles to prevent you from sending emails while intoxicated by asking you mathematical questions before sending off the email.

Now there’s another new lab feature called Undo. You can now undo that email you mistakenly sent or forgot to attach the attachment to, or sent to the wrong person.

BUT, you’ve only got 5 seconds to do it. It will not recall messages sent but delay the sending of the email for 5 seconds. 

Go to your settings page and click on the Labs tab. Then scroll down to the Undo item and select Enable and then save your settings. 

gmail-undo-send-labs

Now once you’ve sent your email you’ll see an Undo link next to the “sent” message that will stay there for 5 seconds to allow you to undo the send.

gmail-undo-send

Thanks to Dre for spotting that one and passing it on.

Nigerian 419 scam turns on itself

I just received an email titled “Stop Contacting These People”. What’s this all about you ask. Well, I’m sure you’re well aware by now of the various Nigerian 419 scams where people receive emails telling them that they’ve been listed as beneficiaries of large sums of money or would like their help in transferring funds out of the country and in doing so will be compensated very well financially. 

Well today’s email intrigued me a bit and you’ve got to give it to them, quite clever and will also catch just as many (if not more) people out.

The jist of the email is to warn you about these email scams where you’re told to pay over some administration fees and then you’ll be given your share of the total money being moved. However, you never hear from them ever again or see a dime! And this “woman” gives her full name and residential address and tells people how she was swindled out of money and made a concerted effort to contact the relevant authorities and even went over there to sort this out. Here’s the clincher, she mentions seeing your name and email address on a list of beneficiaries which is why she is contacting you to let you know the “correct” and “safe” channels to use to get your share of the money, right!

See transcript of the email below – you’ve been warned.

Attn: My Dear,

I am Mrs Mary Susan Derrick, I am a US citizen, 48 years Old. I reside here in New Braunfels Texas. My residential address is as follows. 108 Crockett Court. Apt 303, New Braunfels Texas, United States, am thinking of relocating since I am now rich. I am one of those that took part in the Compensation in Nigeria many years ago and they refused to pay me, I had paid over $20,000 while in the US, trying to get my payment all to no avail.

So I decided to travel down to Nigeria with all my compensation documents, And I was directed to meet Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson, who is the member of COMPENSATION AWARD COMMITTEE, and I contacted him and he explained everything to me. He said whoever is contacting us through emails are fake.

He took me to the paying bank for the claim of my Compensation payment. Right now I am the most happiest woman on earth because I have received my compensation funds of $1,500,000.00 Moreover, Mr James Badmus, showed me the full information of those that are yet to receive their payments and I saw your name as one of the beneficiaries, and your email address, that is why I decided to email you to stop dealing with those people, they are not with your fund, they are only making money out of you. I will advise you to contact Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson

You have to contact him directly on this information below.

COMPENSATION AWARD HOUSE
Name : Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson
Email: henshawanderson@sbcglobal.net
Phone: +234 802 739 4935

You really have to stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them, it is not in anyway with them, they are only taking advantage of you and they will dry you up until you have nothing.

The only money I paid after I met Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson was just $580 for the paper works, take note of that.

Once again stop contacting those people, I will advise you to contact Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson so that he can help you to Deliver your fund instead of dealing with those liars that will be turning you around asking for different kind of money to complete your transaction.

Thank You and Be Blessed.

Mrs. Mary Susan Derrick.

I've been named as an heir

I just recieved this email in my inbox – I can’t believe my lucky stars,it must be true:

Get Back To Me For More Details.

We wish to notify you again that you were listed as an heir to the total sum of Ten Million Six Hundred Thousand British pounds in the codicil and last testament of the deceased. Name now withheld since this is our second letter to you. We contacted you because you bear the surname identity and therefore can present you as the heir to the inheritance.

We therefore reckoned that you could receive these funds as you are qualified by your name identity. All the legal papers will be processed in your acceptance. In your acceptance of this deal, we request that you kindly forward to us your letter of acceptance; your current telephone and fax numbers and a forwarding address to enable us file necessary documents at our high court probate division for the release of this sum of money.

Please contact me via my private email so that we can get this done immediately.

Kind regards,
John McGowan Jr.

It still amazes me that there are gullible people out there that fall for these scams. Not that I got the alleged, first email, but clever that they left out the surname, since I’d been notified before.

Credit card scams and hoaxes

credit-cardsOn Wednesday, the last day of 2008, I recieved an email from a friend regarding a credit card scam affecting Visa and MasterCard holders. Now, I’ve been using the Internet for over 15 years now so I’ve seen most of the scams and hoaxes out there, which has made me scpetical about a lot of things I recieve via email – always taking them with a pinch of salt. 

It outlines a case of someone having been scammed by being allegedly called by a security department representative of Visa or MasterCard informing the caller that they’ve noticed irregular transactions on the card-holder’s credit card and want to verify some information. They don’t ask you for any information in the beginning, in fact, they provide you with all your correct information, like address, credit card number, expiry date, etc, which they already have and to make the call sound more legitimate. Then the only piece of information they ask you for, so that they can “confirm it” are the 3 security digits (CVV2/CVC2) printed on the back of the card.

Now, this is where the scam comes in and this is the only other piece of information they need to make manual (card holder not present) transactions without your knowledge.

If the scam is believable, which it sounds like it very well could be since there’s so much identity theft out there already, you should be cautious and worried. 

However, just do a quick search on Google for “credit card fraud scam visa mastercard phone” and you’ll come up with over 46,000 results. Notice, I didn’t add the word “hoax” to the results, yet your top results are sites like HoaxBuster, Hoax-Slayer, Sophos and Snopes

Snopes, is usually my first port-of-call when I get these types of emails – yes, this one is plausible (just look at the Snopes article and you’ll see why), but since neither MasterCard nor Visa provide actual statistical information or corroboration of this, it remains a hoax.  

It’s just like all those our 411/419 type scams out there, just use your head and a little bit of logic, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Do you send emails while intoxicated?

If so, then Google has the answer for you – Mail Goggles. A new feature released from Google Labs (if enabled) will ask you a few simple mathematical questions (which supposedly seem difficult when intoxicated) before sending the email – to save you from the embarrasment later. No, you don’t need to check your calendar, it’s not April 1st.

Go to Settings in Gmail and click on the Labs tab – then scroll down and you’ll find Mail Goggles:

Simply enable it and each time before you send an email through Gmail it will ask you some mathematical questions which need to answer correctly in a limited time before the email will actually be sent:

Although, I think those that are adament about sending that email while intoxicated will either grab a calculator or find the settings tab again to disable it.

Fight against SPAM!

I just came across this beaut of a site. Ever wanted to register for a website that required you to give your email address so that it could send you an email to authenticate before you could browse around? Ever used your own email address, only to find that from that day forward your inbox suddenly becomes exponentially flooded with spam, seemingly out of nowhere?

Well, then I’ve got just the answer for you, for those occasions. It’s called 10-Minute Mail. Just go take a look for yourself on their page how it works – and if you need this temporary account to last another 10 minutes – just click on the link on the inbox page to keep it “alive” for another 10 minutes – simple!

Tangled up in the World Wide Web

I remember back in the day, when we were first introduced to the Internet in South Africa in the early 90’s, things seemed so much simpler back then. You had a website (or a single page, if you were lucky) that you could put up for the world to see – well the world, back then being your friends and family who saw it on your PC screen, as it would take about a year to be indexed, if at all!

Well that was Web 1.0, today we’re bombarded with Web 2.0! Interacting with people, social networking, rich media – where do you start, where do you go? Nowdays you not only have to keep your website updated, but your blog, your professional networking profile and your social networking profile. Nevermind all the emails you have to wade through, and don’t get me even started on SPAM!

How do you communicate with people online? Before, it was just email. Then tools like PowWow and ICQ appeared and we had an easier and instant way of communicating with people all over the world. Add, audio, video teleconferencing and it’s like you’re there! Heck, even surgeons are training and consulting using these kinds of tools today! What will it be like 2 to 3 generations from now? Will we be born with microchips embedded in our brains, already linked up to the super highway (well, except for in SA where we’re still about 5 to 10 years behind everyone else)?