Thursday, January 26, 2006

Google adds astonishing new feature to Gmail!

For days now Gmail has bragged about a New Feature! What might this be? Some great new way to organize your mail? An improvement in spam filtering? Direct delivery of your incoming mail via neural transmission to your brain??

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It turns out the new feature is -- and please be sure you are seated before you read further -- it's a DELETE BUTTON!

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Since the day Gmail launched, it's been a pain to delete a message you don't want to see again. Google wants you to keep a lot of mail in your Gmail account. You see, they aren't just looking at your incoming mail; they are analyzing and mining all of your mail, to figure out what ads to best serve.

So if you keep a clean in-box, you're not the best Gmail customer. That's why Gmail made it so hard to delete mail.

Either they've gotten millions of complaints, or they've gathered enough terabytes of mail so they don't need to harvest more information from your old messages for analysis. Maybe they want to make it easier to delete your mail so they don't have to store so much of it. Heck, they've got 2.6 gigabytes of in-box from me.

Thus we have it: Google announces an astonishing new feature for an e-mail system: the Delete button.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Banana Cafe languishes in Key West Web site purgatory

One of the best places to eat in Key West is the Banana Cafe. It's a small French bistro near the end of Duval, close to the Southernmost Point. The cafe features a small dining room with a large piano as well as open-air seating. Here's a photo I took in 2004:

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If you search Google for this fine place, one of the top links is to

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But if you follow that link you get this message:

Banana Cafe Website has been shutdown due to late payment.
Payment was due Dec. 14th 2002

Hmmm, it appears perhaps that some local Web publishing entrepreneur must have made a deal to give the Banana Cafe a Web site, and things didn't work out after the Banana site was online. You end up redirected to which turns out to be a lame Key West directory, listing only a handful of restaurants.

When you eat at the Banana Cafe, a cat may lazily wander up to see if you might offer a morsel or two. At the next table sits a local with his dog and his New York Times. You observe someone excuse herself to go across the street to tend her gallery, which she left empty for lunch. Your crepes may arrive a little more slowly than you'd like, but they'll be damn good when they get there.

That's Key West: a laid-back kind of town. So continues to tell the public that the restaurant didn't pay their Web hosting bill in 2002, and the real Banana Cafe continues to do a fine business. It wouldn't surprise me if the aggrieved Web entrepreneur eats there regularly.

See another photo of the Banana Cafe or peruse their menu.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How to torment friends in the Midwest during winter

A methodology of torture courtesy of my friend John Liskey:

1) Go to Key West.

2) Find a Webcam.

3) Call from your cell phone with a weather report.

Click for full-size image.

Be sure to wave a sign with your friend's name on it


You can find a collection of Key West Webcams at:

The best Webcam to pull the "call your friend and wave" stunt is probably this one:

Click to see forecasts for East Lansing, Key West

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday the 13th: deadline to enter two week degree program

Hmmm, should one be suspicious of a solicitation from someone named Fernandez whose program shares that name? Or of a solitication from an address at

Enrollment Department

From: The Fernandez Higher Education Program

Date: Jan 12, 2006 11:21 PM
Subject: Enrollment Department

Just a Reminder;

Our University Enrollment department has been trying to contact you.
We feel you may be eligble for a degree based upon you past work experience.

The date for qualifying for our 2 week degree program is ending on
Friday, January 13th, 2006.

As of now we can only offer you a BA, BSc, or a MA.
If you enroll by the due date then your degree of
choice and transcripts could be sent to you within 2 weeks.

Enrollment Office:

Mabel Fernandez
BSc Education
Administration Office

Friday, January 06, 2006

Phishing or not? Consumer Reports subscription notice seems awfully fishy

If you received this e-mail from Consumer Reports, would you believe it was real?

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I was especially concerned when I looked at the From address:

And check out the Subject line:

Consumer Reports Urgent Account Information

Hmmm. All the hallmarks of a phishing attack:

  • Sent from an address different than you're used to for the sender.
  • Has the word "Urgent" in the Subject line.
  • Urges you to conduct a business transaction online -- Pay Now!

And when I checked the Whois database, I found the suspicious domain to be registered to

So I have to confess: I still don't know if this is for real, or if it is phishing.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Google makes bold accessibility statement -- but it's not accessible

Google likes to show seasonal or holiday variations on its simple colorful logo. Today's choice is breathtaking:

(Click to see full-size image)

The logo is the word "Google" in Braille. Click on the logo itself, and you're sent to information about Louis Braille's birthday:

Very daring, and very cool. A sighted person only knows he or she's at Google's site by looking at the Address bar, and maybe learns a bit about accessibility of Web sites.

But what about someone who uses a screen reader for the blind? Obviously a blind person can't see the image of Braille letters. The ALT tag for the logo image causes this text to display when you mouse over the logo:

Happy Birthday Louis Braille

I wonder how many sighted people were confused by Google's well-intentioned stunt? Did they know they were at the real, authentic Google home page? I wonder how many people with vision impairments were confused as well? Time to ask my friend Mike Hudson to check it out....

Google even made their bold statement on their "results" page or hit list:

(Click to see full-size image)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Apropos of the new year: cool clock visualizes the passage of time

A designer in Japan has an interesting take on what a clock should look like and how it should display the passage of time:

For the full effect, check it out in real time, and watch it until a minute rolls over.


And, by the way: Happy New Year.