All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

20 Dec 12 MxHero’s Gmail Chrome extension aims to deliver us from the email Dark Ages

While most tools of the digital communication age continue to evolve, for some reason email has been curiously (and tragically) stuck in the past. Online email clients have replaced clunky desktop software, and spam filters have vastly improved, but at its core, email today functions much like it did in the ’90s.

MxHero, a New York City-based startup (and recent graduate from Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator), hopes to save us from the archaic limitations of email with a universal platform that can work across any email provider.

Today the company is launching a Google Chrome extension that will give any Gmail user a taste of its platform, including the ability to send a self-destructing email, notifications of when recipients access attachments, and the ability to send batch personalized emails. The latter feature is particularly intriguing, because it solves the ugly blind carbon copy hack for sending batch messages without sharing all of the recipients (i.e., putting your recipients in the “BCC” field and your own address in the “To” field.)

While the extension is MxHero’s first direct-to-consumer offering, the company’s technology has already been implemented by the likes of Zimbra, Box, and VMWare. MxHero’s technology can be implemented as both a cloud service and an on-site service (which should make stodgy IT departments happy). It also works across any email platform.

MxHero’s full suite of plugins includes the ability to control the delivery times of certain types of email (for example, all of your newsletters can land after the work day ends), a simple method for sending large attachments (despite your email provider’s limitations), and the ability to be notified if a recipient doesn’t respond to your email in time. These are seemingly simple additions, but they’ve been difficult to implement so far in decades-old email standards.

Alex Panagides, MxHero’s founder and chief executive, tried to push forward the potential of web apps with his previous firm, Inova. He’s also committed to maintaining the open nature of email standards — MxHero’s technology is open source, and it has made an API available for developers (though it’s not fully documented yet).

I’ve been testing out the Chrome extension for the past week, and I can confirm that all of the plugins work as advertised. After a short setup period (which simply involves granting the MxHero extension access to your Gmail account), you’ll see two new buttons when you’re composing a Gmail message. To use one of the extension’s features, simply choose it from the “Apps” button and then click the MxHero “Send” button (not the standard Gmail send button).

To add new features to email, the company takes some creative routes. For example, the self-destructing email feature turns your message into an image, which is what the recipient actually sees. Once the image has been viewed once, it is removed from MxHero’s server. A shady recipient can still take a screenshot of the message, but the feature still adds a helpful layer of security.

MxHero is about halfway through raising a $900,000 seed round, Panagides tells me.

Photo via Shutterstock

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08 Jun 12 Samsung Series Laptops, Chrome-Based PCs Look to Make an Impact

When it comes to mobile devices and smartphones, Samsung is considered the world’s top-selling company, outselling even Nokia, which held the crown for many years. However, when it comes to PCs, specifically laptops, the company is far behind the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Dell. In fact, Samsung doesn’t even crack the top 5 in terms of shipments. In PC shipments, Samsung ranks eighth worldwide, but the company did grow 7 percent year-over-year, according to Gartner’s 2012 first-quarter report on the global PC market. However, Samsung is looking to change that with the same method it used to take the mobile crown. At a recent New York City event, the company showed off several laptops based on Windows 7 and using Intel’s newer Ivy Bridge chips. In addition, the company is ready to jump on the Windows 8 bandwagon later this year. Samsung is also teaming up with its mobile partner, Google, to offer several Chrome-based PCs, including a revamped Chromebook and the Chromebox—a miniaturized desktop designed for small spaces. Still, does Samsung have the breadth and depth to compete with the other big PC players? Here’s a look at what Samsung is offering for business users, as well as consumers.

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31 May 12 Lenovo’s IdeaTab S2109: Android 4.0 tablet for $349


Andrew J. Nusca is an associate editor at ZDNet and editor of SmartPlanet. As a journalist based in New York City, he has written for Popular Mechanics and Men’s Vogue and his byline has appeared in New York magazine, The Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Editor Publisher, New York Press and many others. He also writes The Editorialiste, a media criticism blog.

He is a New York University graduate and former news editor and columnist of the Washington Square News. He is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has been named “Howard Kurtz, Jr.” by film critic John Lichman despite having no relation to him. He lives in his native Philadelphia with his wife, cat and Boston Terrier.

Follow him on Twitter.

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25 Apr 12 Google Drive: The Pros and Cons

Google Drive: The Pros and ConsGoogle’s long-awaited Dropbox competitor, Drive, is finally here and includes impressive search capabilities and good integration with other Google services including Docs and Google+. But if you just want to get some work done using a reliable file storage and sync service, Drive may not be ready for you just yet. And unless you’re an Android user, the mobile experience for Drive is not great.

Google officially launched Drive on Tuesday featuring 5GB free online storage and the ability to buy more storage such as 25GB for $2.50 per month ($30 per year) up to a maximum 16TB for $800 per month. Similar to Dropbox, Google Drive installs a folder on your Mac or Windows PC desktop (a Google representative told PCWorld a Linux version is in the works, too). Then you just drag-and-drop files into the new folder and the contents automatically sync to the cloud as well as any other computers with Drive installed. Overall, Drive is a pretty good service and offers more free storage than the 2GB you get from Dropbox, but less than the free 7GB Microsoft offers with SkyDrive.

Here’s a look at some of the best and worst highlights of Google Drive.


Google Drive: The Pros and ConsOnce you add Drive to your Google Account, Docs automatically disappears and is replaced by Drive instead. Not a huge deal, but I wasn’t expecting it. Then when I opened up Drive, I was shocked to see that a collaborative document PCWorld uses was missing from my docs list. Usually this is the first document I see when I log in to my account, and when I went to the “Shared with me” section it wasn’t there either. After a little more searching I finally found it under “All items.” If you’re missing documents after switching to Drive, click on the “More” dropdown menu to get to the “All items” menu to see whether it’s there. Not a big deal, but it’s a little annoying that Drive wipes out Docs and then rearranges some of your stuff.

Good Integration

Google Drive doesn’t download copies of your files that are saved online in Google’s Docs formats. Instead, you get a folder full of icons that are links to open the documents in your browser. The good news, however, is that if your computer is set-up to access Docs offline using Google Chrome, you can open these files in just one click via the Drive folder on your desktop. If you can’t get offline Docs to work with Drive, try restarting your browser.

Say, for example, you had a Google Docs “file” on your desktop called “Test.gdoc.” If you happen to be offline, you can click on “Test.gdoc” and open up a read-only version of the document in your browser. Try using a Chrome extension such as Write Space if you need to edit a Google Doc offline.

Google Plus now has an option to share images from Google Drive and in my tests the new feature was very easy to use. The search giant also says that Gmail integration is coming soon. In the meantime, you can attach non-Google Docs files from the Drive folder on your desktop.

Almost No Mobile Support

Google Drive: The Pros and ConsDrive smartphone app for Android (left); Google Drive mobile site (right).Only Android users can currently access Drive using a native mobile app, but the search giant says it is working hard to get an iOS version finished. If you’re a dedicated Google user who prefers a BlackBerry or Windows Phone, however, it’s not clear whether any Drive apps will be headed your way. For the time being, non-Android users can give the mobile site a try, but the experience is not as good as the Android Drive app. Opening an image on my Android phone, for example, was a real chore using the mobile Drive site, but was intuitive and easy using the smartphone app.

Great Search Capabilities

Google Drive: The Pros and ConsGoogle Drive comes with Google Goggles image search technology built-in, and in my tests image search results were pretty impressive. I put Google to the test by dropping into my Drive folder some photos of the Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building in New York City. Moments later I did a search for “Statue of Liberty” and “Chrysler Building” on the Web-based version of Drive on a separate machine.

Drive had no problem identifying both landmarks in the photos, and the files did not have any metadata such as location or handy titles to give the search engine any hints. But there were some shortcomings. A search for “Queensboro Bridge,” for example, resulted in no results even though my shot of the Chrysler Building clearly showed the well-known bridge in the background. Another quirk was that when I searched for “Manhattan” or “New York City,” none of my images appeared in the results, but a search for “New York” brought up all of my test images.

Google Drive: The Pros and ConsI also uploaded two copies of the cover image from Walter Isaacson’s biography of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs who died in October. One version of the cover included the book title and author and the other image didn’t. Searching for “Steve Jobs” brought up both images, but only the image with the book title and author appeared in the results when searching for “Walter Isaacson.”Again, neither image had any metadata or filenames so Drive could only identify these items using the actual images.

Even though Drive’s image recognition did a good job with landmarks and famous people, it failed to find other family photos I had uploaded when using generic searches such as “dog” and “baby.”

Google says its image recognition technology is still in its early stages and should improve over time.

If you want to give Google Drive a try, you can get started at Drive is currently being rolled out to all users, so check back if the new service is not available for your account yet.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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03 Dec 11 Swizz Beatz Unveils Chrome-Colored Lotus Car

Swizz Beatz unveiled his new chrome-colored Lotus car in New York City’s IAC venue…

New York City’s IAC venue was filled with celebrities and media insiders, all dressed in their best, last night (November 30) to help celebrate Swizz Beat’z collaboration with sports car maker Lotus. Those in attendance included Carmelo Anthony, T.I. and Tiny, Russell Simmons, video vixen Melyssa Ford, Kid Capri, Steven Baldwin and Swizz’s wife, Alicia Keys.

“This is a ground-breaking, amazing moment,” Swizz, who is the Vice President of Creative Design and Global Marketing for the British automobile company, told the crowd as he unveiled the first chromed-color Lotus car to those in attendance. “I tell everyone, sky’s not the limit, it’s just a view. This is just the beginning of things going to the next level. My father is here, my beautiful wife is here. This is a blessing.”

Photography courtesy of Stephen Knight

The Ciroc-sponsored, invite-only affair didn’t end there. Swizz Beatz made sure to take advantage of the star-studded room, bringing T.I., among others, on stage for impromptu performances.

“Stepping out the box is how you move forward in life,” Swizz, who is also currently Creative Director of Reebok, continued. “I think it’s time for change from art to design… It’s time to push the envelope and travel and make great partnerships. If you want change, you have to expect change as well.” —Amber McKynzie

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