19 February 2015

Google Inbox for Tablets and More Desktop Browsers



Google Inbox now supports more devices and more browsers. Mobile apps are now optimized for tablets (iPads and Android tablets) and you can use Google Inbox in Firefox and Safari for desktop computers.






You can install the iOS app or the Android app to use Google Inbox on a mobile device. For now, Google Inbox doesn't support mobile browsers.






Inbox no longer requires Chrome for desktop. In addition to Chrome, Inbox now supports Firefox and Safari. For some reason, Internet Explorer is still not supported. Here's the error message displayed by Inbox: "Oops, your browser is not yet supported. Inbox works best on Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. More browsers coming soon."






There's also an error message for old versions of supported browsers: "It's been a while since your browser was last updated. Please upgrade to the latest version to continue using Inbox."






"If you aren't using Inbox yet, now's a perfect time to jump in. Email inbox@google.com to request an invite and we'll email you as soon as more invites are available," informs Google.

Google and Lunar New Year Celebrations



Google+ celebrates the Lunar New Year with a special costume for Mr. Jingles, the friendly Google+ mascot. "Countries across Asia are beginning Lunar New Year celebrations to welcome in the year of the sheep. In China, hundreds of millions of people are travelling home in what is considered the world's biggest annual human migration. State media says about three billion passenger trips will be made by plane, train and car over the 40-day period," reports BBC.






Here's the animated version:






There's also a Google doodle for Lunar New Year. Google uses an animation which illustrates that 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (sheep, goat or ram, since there's a single Chinese word for all of them).





Google Reading Level Bug



Google has an advanced search feature that lets you filter search results by reading level. Click "search tools", pick "reading level" and you can select one of the 3 options: basic, intermediate and advanced reading level.



For some reason, Google's feature no longer works well: the advanced reading level's percentage is 0% for all queries. When you click "advanced", Google doesn't return any search result. Here's an example for [science].






Google annotates search results and you can still find "advanced reading level" pages.






"The reading-level is based primarily on statistical models we built with the help of teachers. We paid teachers to classify pages for different reading levels, and then took their classifications to build a model of the intrinsic complexity of the text," explained Google's Daniel M. Russell. "Roughly speaking, 'Basic' is elementary level texts, while 'Intermediate' is anything above that level up to technical and scholarly articles, a la the articles you'd find in Scholar."

Standalone Mini Player for Google Play Music



Google has updated the Play Music app for Chrome and you can now use it without having to open the Play Music site in a new tab.



I sometimes forgot about the Play Music tab, closed the tab and music stopped playing. Now the mini player continues to work even after I close the Play Music tab.






You can click the "I'm Feeling Lucky" dice button and start a radio based on your listening history. Another option is to open the Play Music site, start a radio or pick a playlist. Then you can close the Play Music tab and use the controls from the mini player: pause music, play next song, play previous song, thumbs up/down.



{ via François Beaufort }

18 February 2015

YouTube's Also Subscribed Section



When you go to a channel, YouTube's desktop site now shows a list of people who subscribed to that channel and they're also in your Google+ circles. For example, YouTube lists 3 people from my Google+ circles who subscribed to the TED channel.






If you haven't subscribed to the channel, YouTube shows a similar list with people who "already subscribed" (instead of "also subscribed").






If you click a thumbnail, YouTube sends you to the Google+ profile page.



{ Thanks, Anthony. }

Google Play Tests a Sidebar for Related Apps



Patryk Szczygłowski, a reader of this blog, noticed an experimental web interface for Google Play. The updated UI adds a sidebar that shows similar apps and other apps from the same developer. Right now, these lists of apps are placed at the bottom of the page, below the description, reviews, changelog and other information about the app.



"Please note, it doesn't fit my laptop screen 1366x768, but Google might enable this experiment for me, because I have been using an external Full HD screen for a week recently," says Patryk.






{ Thanks, Patryk. }

Gmail's Warning for Suspicious Email Addresses



A few days ago, I received a spam message in Gmail. Instead of flagging the message as spam, Gmail displayed this warning: "Be careful with this message. Someone might be trying to trick you by using similar-looking characters (such as Σ and E) in the email addresses contained in this message."




Last year, Gmail added support for non-Latin characters in email addresses. It also wanted to make sure that the new feature wasn't "abused by spammers or scammers trying to send misleading or harmful messages" and it started to reject messages from email addresses which used "suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading".



There's a help center article that explains more about this feature. "If you see a warning that someone might be trying to trick you by using similar-looking characters in the email addresses of a message, you should take a close look at the sender's email address and the addresses of anyone else the email has been sent to. The addresses might be different than they seem. Sometimes, the difference is easy to spot if you look carefully. For example, someone might use a Greek character ('Σ') for the Latin character 'E'. In other situations, it's impossible to detect the difference. For instance, the Greek character ('ο') looks exactly the same as the Latin character 'o'."

Personalized Google Suggestions



Google's search suggestions change depending on your previous searches. Just like search results, which are influences by your search history, suggestions related to the queries you've previously typed are more likely to be useful.



Here's an example: I typed "swiss" and got these suggestions: "swiss colony", "swiss army", "swiss army knife".






Then I searched for "kale".






Here are the suggestions displayed when typing "swiss" again: "swiss chard", "swiss colony", "swiss army", "swiss army knife". As you can see, there's a new suggestion and it's placed at the top of the list: swiss chard, a leafy green vegetable, just like kale.






I searched for "rolex" and typed "swiss" again. This time, suggestions include "swiss watches" and "switch army watches".






This is a feature added by Google back in 2009.

17 February 2015

Find How Many Visitors Are Not Seeing Ads on your Website



Adblocking software like AdBlock Plus have become mainstream and now pose a significant threat to web businesses that are dependent on online advertisements. The problem is so severe that Google and Amazon are paying the writers of AdBlock Plus to whitelist their ads. This may be seen as some kind of extortion but with billions of dollars at stake, the advertising companies have chosen to take the more profitable route.


It is estimated that ~5% of website visitors are blocking ads (PDF report) and the situation could be far worse for websites that have a more tech-savvy audience. If you are curious to know how many people visiting your own site are blocking AdSense and other ads, here’s a little trick.


Track Adblock Users with Google Analytics


Open your website template and copy-paste the snippet below before the closing body. This code will detect the presence of adblocking software on the visitor’s browser and, if found, an event gets logged into your Google Analytics account.



<script>

window.onload = function() {

// Delay to allow the async Google Ads to load
setTimeout(function() {

// Get the first AdSense ad unit on the page
var ad = document.querySelector("ins.adsbygoogle");

// If the ads are not loaded, track the event
if (ad && ad.innerHTML.replace(/\s/g, "").length == 0) {

if (typeof ga !== 'undefined') {

// Log an event in Universal Analytics
ga('send', 'event', 'Adblock', 'Yes');

} else if (typeof _gaq !== 'undefined') {

// Log an event in old Google Analytics
_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Adblock', 'Yes']);

}
}
}, 2000); // Run ad block detection 2 minutes after page load
};

</script>

The snippet works for both Universal Analytics and the older version of Google Analytics tracker that used the _gaq object. As a web publisher, your only option is to serve alternate content to AdBlock users so the visitors at least see some content in place of the ads.


One big caveat though – it will fail if the ad blocking extension installed on the visitor’s computer has blocked Google Analytics as well. Some of the popular choices like μBlock, NoScript and Ghostery do block Google Analytics so the approach won’t work and you may have to build your own in-house solution – like downloading an image hosted on your own server and then counting the hits to that image through the Apache server logs.


Also see: Use Google Analytics without JavaScript




The story, Find How Many Visitors Are Not Seeing Ads on your Website , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 17/02/2015 under Google AdSense, Google Analytics, Internet.

Edit the Text and Images of your PDF file in the Browser



If you need to make changes in an existing PDF file, you need to get hold of the original document that was used to create the PDF, make the edits in the source document and export it as a PDF again. This is the best option since the document’s layout and formatting will be preserved in the new PDF file and you don’t even need an external PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat.


However, if you do not have access to the source document, you can still edit your PDF files in the browser using the free Word app. It may not be able to handle PDF files with complex layouts, or PDFs that are mostly comprised of charts and images but for text based PDF, Word is a probably a good options for fixing typos or manipulating text and images in PDFs. See example.


PDF Editor


Edit PDF Files with Word Online


Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can edit the content of PDF files inside the Word web app.



  1. Go to onedrive.com and sign-in with your Microsoft account. While you are logged in, drag a PDF file from the desktop onto the OneDrive website to upload it.

  2. After the PDF file is uploaded, double-click to open the PDF file in the Word online app. Remember you are looking at the PDF file and it is not editable yet.

  3. Click the Edit in Word button to open the PDF file for editing. Say yes when OneDrive asks for your permissions to convert the PDF into Word format (it makes a copy so your original PDF is unaltered).

  4. Once the file is converted to PDF, click the Edit button to open the converted document in the Word app for editing.


Since you now editing the PDF as a standard Word document, you can edit it to your heart’s content. You can add images, change the logo, modify the text or apply different formatting, add tables and more. Once you are done, go to the File menu and choose Save As to download it as a PDF file again.


Also, Word Online is free (like Google Docs) and you do not need a Microsoft Office 365 license nor you need to install any of the Office software on your desktop to make quick edits to PDF files. The only limitation is that the layout of paragraphs, tables, or images in the PDF may be lost after conversion and thus may require effort to recreate the original layout.


Edit PDF in Word


A similar option – see OCR with Google Docs – is available in Google Docs as well but it may not be enabled by default. Also, in my limited testing, Word did a better job of converting PDF for editing.


If you are using Google Docs, go to Settings and turn on the option that says “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.” Now upload the PDF to your Google Drive, right-click the uploaded file and choose “Open With – Google Docs” in the contextual menu.




The story, Edit the Text and Images of your PDF file in the Browser , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 17/02/2015 under Microsoft Word, PDF, Internet.

16 February 2015

Google Finance Alerts



Google Alerts added a new option to the sources dropdown: finance. Now you can get stock updates using Google Alerts.






I'm not sure if the new option works independently or you need to select other sources like web, news, blogs, discussions. You can select multiple sources for the same alert or you can pick the "automatic" option.






I created a new alert for [goog], picked news and finance, enabled "as-it-happens" and I only received news results, so I don't know if finance alerts actually work.