I'm a musician. I'm Irish-American, and play Irish music (among other things). And I live in Boston. Naturally, St. Patrick's Day presents me with some potentially lucrative opportunities.
Unfortunately, Gmail is not a very good negotiator:
In case you can't quite tell what's going on in this screenshot: someone asked how much money I wanted in exchange for providing music. Google's "Smart Compose" feature recommended three possible responses I might want give — the first of which was "Free!"
For all the concerns that people might have about machines stealing our jobs, I certainly never expected them to try and trick me into giving my labor away for free as well.
According to Gmail, Smart Compose is "powered by machine learning and will offer suggestions as you type." While I don't typically use the responses that it recommends, the suggestions usually aren't that bad. I have occasionally found them helpful for quick, short responses. I even let Google try its personalization feature on me, which means it should be giving me suggestions that "are tailored to the way [I] normally write, to maintain [my] writing style." In other words, this machine learning mechanism should be based at least somewhat on the actual emails that I send.
But I can assure you: I have never received an email about money or a freelance job of any kind and then immediately replied with, "Free!" (For what it's worth, I have almost certainly answered with "What's your budget?")
Anyway, if you should find yourself in the Boston area on St. Read the rest
People who run their own mail servers are increasingly finding that the mail they send to Gmail users is being rejected, because the company's anti-spam algorithm treats small, independently managed mail-servers as high-risk mail sources.
Read the rest
Last week, I linked to a critique of Google's new "confidential mode" for Gmail and Google Docs, which purports to allow you to send people documents without letting them print, copy or forward them.
Read the rest
Google has rolled out a "Confidential Mode" for Gmail and Google Docs attachments, promising users that they'll be able to send emails to their contacts that can't be shared, printed or copied.
Read the rest
Install the Emotional Labor extension and it will automatically add social niceties to your outbound mail -- phrases like "Hey, Lovely! I've been thinking of you." (via 4 Short Links) Read the rest
Inbox by Gmail combs through your email looking for frequent correspondents and puts the people who email you the most in a "speed dial" sidebar (that you can't edit) that puts their names and pictures front-and-center for you every time you go to your email. Read the rest
For April Fools, Google rearranged Gmail's UI to replace the normal send button with one that attaches a Minions(TM) Mic Drop GIF animation to outgoing email.
“Today, Gmail is making it easier to have the last word on any email with Mic Drop. Simply reply to any email using the new ‘Send + Mic Drop’ button. Everyone will get your message, but that’s the last you’ll ever hear about it. Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won’t see it,” Google explained when it launched the button on April 1.
Unfortunately, this resulted in things like this:
Google quickly realized what it had done and turned it off…
Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. ? Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page.
…but not before a fair heap of mistakenly-dropped mics had piled up, along with the mic droppers' anguished complaints, on the internet.
A good reminder that email is not what Gmail is for. Read the rest
A basic best-practice for email servers is to use TLS (Transport Layer Security) when they connect to one another, which guards against "man in the middle" attacks that would allow attackers to read or change emails while they travel between mail-servers. Read the rest
Wikileaks has issued a furious denunciation of Google after it learned that the company turned over its staff email to the US Government in March 2012 without notifying it. Update: Google says it fought to disclose sooner. Read the rest
Google's made some major announcements about End-to-End, their implementation of the best-of-breed email encryption tool PGP, which they're refactoring as a way of encrypting webmail so that neither they nor the spy-services can read it in transit or at rest. Read the rest
Once you've successfully infected your victim's computer with malware, you want to be able to send it orders -- so you spawn an invisible Internet Explorer window, login to an anonymous Gmail account, and check in the Drafts folder for secret orders. Read the rest
My latest column in Locus magazine, Security in Numbers, looks at the impossibility of being secure on your own -- if you use the Internet to talk to other people, they have to care about security, too. Read the rest
Google has announced support for end-to-end encryption with Gmail, a major step for privacy and a major blow against mass surveillance. Gmail users who install free and open Chrome plugin will be able to send and receive messages that can only be read by people who have their intended recipients' passphrase, and not Google -- meaning that even if the NSA legally or covertly taps into Google's data-centers, they won't be able to read mail that's encrypted with the End-to-End plugin.
This is marvellous news. There is already support for Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG) and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) in Gmail, through Firefox plugin or Chrome plugin, but long experience has shown that many people are confused by PGP/GPG in its current state.
What's more, Google has explicitly tied this to the Reset the Net campaign (in which Boing Boing is a partner), a global day commemorating the Snowden leaks and calling for an Internet that is made strong and secure from mass spying. Read the rest
Google continues to try and cram its users into Google Plus, its also-ran social network. The latest move allows people who don't have your Gmail address to send email to your Gmail account by using your Google Plus ID. I have a Gmail account that's associated with my Android devices and the last thing I want is for people to start sending email there. Thankfully, there's a way to opt out (though it would have been much better if it was opt-in). Tl;dr: Gmail -Settings -Email via Google+ -Off.
(via Cnet) Read the rest
SpyFiles, a new project from Wikileaks and several partner organization, is based on 287 secret documents revealing a campaign of mass spying on users of webmail, GPS, and mobile devices, with this data being sold in a covert, 25-nation global marketplace that Wikileaks claims is worth $5 billion. At present, the underlying documents are not available (Wikileaks is withholding them as part of a fundraising drive), but an interactive map showing the spying on a nation-by-nation basis is up and running, and there's a page showing the press reportage on the map.
The Spy Files Wikileaks Read the rest
Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez,
Today the Sunlight Foundation launched Inbox Influence, a tool for Gmail that instantly shows you the political giving and lobbying history of the people and organizations mentioned in emails you receive. The easy-to-use tool can be used as a first step in researching influence background on corporate correspondence, adding context to newspaper headlines or discovering whom is behind political fundraising solicitations.
Inbox Influence works by tapping into Influence Explorer, Sunlight's library of federal and state data of political contributions, lobbying records and more. It provides details on any identified entity in the body of the email, plus information on both the sender of the email and the company from which it was sent. With it, you can even see how your friends and family have given to political campaigns.
Inbox Influence | Influence Explorer
(Thanks, Nicko!) Read the rest
Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.
Someone called Joester is purporting to show us how to block out gmail ads by using magic words in email messages, such as 9/11 or "suicide." In other words, the ads that appear when your email is catastrophe-free:
...are gone when the email you receive contains trigger words:
But it's not as easy as it sounds. Putting the key words in a signature file doesn't work; the ads return. Also, writes Joester:
If the message runs long google turns the ads back on. However, if you add another "sensitive" word they go off again. After extensive testing I've discovered you need 1 catastrophic event or tragedy for every 167 words in the rest of the email.
Questions remain. What are all the trigger words? How do you avoid scaring the people who receive your emails with your seemingly pointless references to incest and gang rape? More importantly, shouldn't this be more accurately described as a method for helping the people who you email who have gmail avoid ads?
Link (via Adlab) Read the rest