No More Email Regrets


By now, you probably have heard the news. It was all over the press last night. I didn’t want to take a chance that you might have missed it, so here we go again.

If you have an Gmail account, you can now undo “send” after you clicked the email option. The new Google feature gives you the five to 30 second delay option. This is great news for folks like me who like to use an email to vent and then delete. Every once in a while, I might actually send it and then have huge regrets. I need the few seconds to change my mind. Do you too? 

The undo feature is not yet available on mobile devices, so many of us are slightly disappointed. Most of my friends spend the majority of their time on their smartphones.
I am pretty sure Google will be forced to release this feature on mobile devices as soon as possible considering they have 900 million users worldwide, which I’d the largest email service available. 

I predict the other email services will be announcing a similar feature soon. 

Social Media Networks For Nepal

   Our visit to Nepal a few years ago. Photos by Eliot Hess.  

There are many people who question the impact of social media on today’s society. Some people feel it’s done more harm than good.

I’m not one of those people. I’ve seen how social media has helped the lonely become a part of a community, helped others build new relationships, re-established old ones, and come to the aid of millions in time of need. 

Google and Facebook have taken major roles in helping people across the world connect after the tragedy from the Nepal earthquake. Both are offering services that connect family and friends in the United States with the people of Nepal.

Facebook has introduced the Safety Check, a feature that allows Americans to find out  If their loved ones are okay.  All the survivors have to do is report in. Google resurfaced its Person Finder to help locate missing family and friends. Their Internet tools work faster than traditional methods (waiting for embassies to report who survived).  

It’s comforting to know that the big social networking companies have taken an active role in using their core competencies to benefit others. It’s always so rewarding to watch successful companies giveback and show us how their skill sets make all the difference in the world.  



Happy Anniversary YouTube

Ten years ago this week, the first video was uploaded to YouTube. Company co-founder Jawed Karim, posted his trip to the zoo. Owned by Google, YouTube has 1 billion users uploading 300 hours of video a minute

Photos from the reading of David Steven Simon’s new play, Grave Doubts, at Ripley-Grier Studios.


Smartphone Camera Is A Language Translator

Does everyone know about this but me? You can place your smartphone camera over any foreign language sentence (book, sign, movie marquee) and you can get an automatic translation. All you need to do is download the Word Lens app.

If you knew about this, why didn’t you tell me? I found out about it from my cousin Hanna. I simply asked her to tell me about a few of her favorite apps. When she mentioned Word Lens, I didn’t believe her. Then she demonstrated and left Eliot and me speechless.

We travel a lot and this app can come in very handy. We can’t wait to try it on every foreign sentence we can’t decipher. You have to watch the video above to see a quick demo. Don’t miss it. You’ll want to translate everything.

When I Googled Word Lens, I was surprised to learn the app has been around for years. Google now owns it. The actual explanation is that it uses the built-in cameras on smartphones and similar devices to quickly scan and identify foreign text. It then translates and display the words in another language on the device’s display. The words are displayed in the original context on the original background, and the translation is performed in real-time without connection to the internet.”

This is so awesome. I never have to worry about trying to translate a menu or foreign language document again.


That’s Hanna

Google’s Back Story

As the years pass-by, my fascination with Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, grows deeper and deeper. Their search algorithm has changed the world. I must Google things 10 or more times a day.

I even stopped entering names and phone numbers of restaurants, retail stores, doctors, and movie houses into my contact list. I just look them up on Google. I find it easier than maintaining an address book. I am also able to spot pertinent information from time to time that I would not normally see.

In an unusual interview with Page and Brin, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, questions them about “What might have been” if they didn’t make certain decisions. What makes this fireside chat so interesting is that Khosla’s company, wanted to buy Google for less then $2 million not long after the company was born.

It is very interesting to examine the chain of events that led up to the Google as we know it today. The interview gives us great insight into how the tech business functions and why certain companies come out on top.

I watched this video several times because I wanted to savor every moment of it. Good life lessons are shared and it makes us wonder what the future has in store for all of us.

Smarty Pins

Photo by Mashable Composite Google.

Google has just introduced a new game that is perfect for our age group. Called Smarty Pins, the game is all about your knowledge of geography. Most of our contemporaries are pretty well versed, even if they haven’t travelled a lot.

I’m not playing this game, because on a speedy quiz like this, I go blank. Even though I have done extensive traveling over the last 12 years, I am sometimes hard pressed to pinpoint exactly where a certain city is located.

That is why we love the gift that my friends Ruth and Howard gave us a few years ago, a framed map of the world. The NY Times/National Geographic map which allows us to mark cities and countries visited with color coded pins. I can stare at the map for hours.

Smarty Pins uses Google Maps for its layout, locations, and zooming in and out features.

So many of you are beating me silly with Words With Friends, that I dare not take on any more challenges. I do, however, expect you to let us know how you like Smarty Pins.

Learn more about Smarty Pins here.



A Shift In Search

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I don’t remember trends changing so much, so fast, when I was young. Today, in the world of the Internet, you really can’t count on anything being dominant for too long. I was a little surprised to learn that Google, Yahoo, and Bing are getting some serious competition from smartphone apps. It is becoming increasingly popular to search for information on apps that focus on the specific interests you are investigating.. I am quickly learning that more and more of my friends are really becoming quite dependent on the apps they like. I guess it only makes sense that they would seek counsel from information sources they trust.

Tech Crunch, a tech site, recently noted that most of our research is being done on our smartphones as compared to desktops, To quote them “Google is all search for everything but can’t necessarily tell us in a click the best restaurant or what the price is on a coveted item. We use niche travel apps such as Kayak to look up travel info, Trulia to search for homes and local business search company Yelp to look up local businesses.”

Tech Crunch pointed out that a Nielsen consumer report says we’re “spending an average of 34 hours using the Internet on our mobile phones every month compared to 27 hours using the Internet on our desktop.”

There’s lots of interesting information on this. Click here to read more.

YouTube Continues To Evolve

YouTube is becoming much more user friendly. I always thought it was user friendly, but I guess its owner, Google, is determined to make it even more so. It wants YouTube to become as popular as television.

We already know that well-known personalities plus average people on-the-street have created their own channels with original content. Some of them, including Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers, are getting a lot of notoriety,

Now, YouTube wants to make sure that everyone is completely up-to-date on all of its features. To keep its “creators” (that’s you) better informed, YouTube plans to release regular “Creator Preview” videos that cover all of the changes. Please watch the first video above.

A new Creative Preview app will also allow users to manage features on their mobile devices. That’s great news for people like me. I use my smartphone for everything. I barely touch my laptop or iPad.

The biggest news is that YouTube is going into the Crowdfunding business. Viewers will be allowed to contribute money directly to YouTube creators. That is going to be big competition for Kickstarter and Indiegogo. For example, if I wanted to start a YouTube show called “I love Lois,” I could raise money for the project right on my YouTube page. Everything contained in one spot.

That is pretty amazing. I predict that YouTube is going to change the entire world of entertainment now that it is giving users many more tools to create , get exposure, and attract supporters.

I hope many more people my age take advantage of what YouTube has to offer. Now is the time to finally express yourself.

To Google, Or Not To Google



The Good News: Google will be selling Google Glasses for one day only on Tuesday, April 15th at 6am West Coast time. If you have an extra $1,500, and you want to be among the first to own glasses with a built-in computer, then prepare to move fast. There is a limited supply. Make sure you don’t lose this link.

The Bad News: A number of people in and around Silicon Valley are reportedly being assaulted when wearing Google Classes. E Kyle Russell, a journalist with Business Insider, was one of the recent victims who had his Google Classes ripped from his face in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Several weeks ago I wrote about the social tensions in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Companies like Google, Apple, and Yahoo, who pay many of their employees six figure numbers, are gentrifying the areas. The cost of houses, rents, food, transportation, and clothes have all jumped dramatically to accommodate those with money. The gap between the haves and have nots , is getting worse and worse.

Everyday there are demonstrations, marches, confrontations, and town meetings to resolve the situation. There is no quick answer to this situation, so be careful what you wear.

If you think I’m exaggerating, be sure to Google “Google.” You’ll see many stories on this topic.

Scary Being a Google Employee These Days


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For the last few years, Google employees were the envy of seniors like me who had careers in very traditional offices. We never heard of companies that offered the benefits that Google provided: three free meals a day from an international cafe, meditation areas, a game room, TV viewing spaces, ping pong, a never ending list of perks.

All that envy went out the window recently when we heard that anti-Google activists were out in force in the Bay Area to protest the way rich Silicon Valley tech companies like Google have displaced low- and middle-income workers. Since 2011, rents in many Silicon Valley neighborhoods have increased by 40 percent thanks to the kids from tech companies who can afford the fancy new condos and homes real estate developers are building for them.

Not everyone who lives in Northern California makes the same salaries as those at Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Oracle, and scores of other tech companies. Calling themselves the Counterforce, the protestors are also against what the government is doing with our personal data, surveillance, control, and automation.

Google was one of the first to be targeted because the company just rolled out a bunch of new luxury, Wi-Fi enabled buses to shuttle workers from San Francisco to Mountain View, headquarters of Google. Activists claim Google buses are picking up workers at city bus stops, disrupting the already busy public transportation vehicles.

A group of protestors even showed up at the Berkeley home of Google developer Anthony Levandowski, preventing him for 45 minutes from getting to work. He is the engineer who is developing the self-driving car. Protestors held signs that said “Google’s Future Stops Here.”

Whose future are the protestors going to try to stop next and in what city? This could escalate.