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Gmail vs. Mailstrom: the battle to reach Inbox Zero

While early versions of email have been around since the 1960’s and 1970’s, email didn’t become mainstream and accessible until about 1993. 20 years later, email is a daily form of communication we’re still learning to organize.

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Comparing the new Gmail and Mailstrom

A quiet but increasingly epic battle is being waged online. Email users around the world are struggling to balance their inbox communication needs against an increasing stream of information. Newsletters, blogs, news sites, social media, coupon programs, work correspondence, family news, useless (but funny) jokes, spam and many more email topics fill inboxes daily, leaving users scratching their heads about how to properly filter through this information overload.

Two services, the massively popular web based e-mail provider Gmail and new web app Mailstrom, are struggling to be the leaders in helping users reach the fabled “inbox zero.”

What is Inbox Zero?

Many email users, fed up with information overload, have struggled in recent years to reach inbox zero, and reclaim their email. Merlin mailstrom-report became famous doing speeches and presentations about reaching inbox zero amidst inundation.

Numerous others have offered information and suggestions for reaching inbox zero, while critics have stated inbox zero is an unrealistic and unattainable holy grail.

Gmail’s Advantages

Gmail is a favorite web-based email product for over 425 million users around the globe. When the web-based service burst onto the scene in 2004, skeptics raged against its simple interface. Concerns about privacy, advertising and more plagued the service in the beginning but Google steadily began to integrate additional products and services, providing an enormous suite of services.

Now, with its May 2013 release, Gmail has created a way to better organize emails automatically into categories utilizing tabs. Ironically, this was within a few weeks of Mailstrom opening its beta service to users. Currently Gmail is limited to preset categories with no option for additional customization, which is where its main limitation exists.

Mailstrom’s Advantages

Mailstrom, a web based app currently in beta, provides Gmail users with an efficient way to sort emails into 7 different main categories including by sender, by subject, by time, social, shopping or size. It also provides a regularly updated progress bar with details about received emails, how many were removed and how close your inbox is to inbox zero.

The service makes it very simple, with just a few clicks to archive, move, or delete emails easily. For lists, there’s even an unsubscribe option to mass unsubscribe.

How They Compare

I’ve personally been testing these services against each other for the last several weeks so this is only based on my own experiences. Initially, I was very excited about Gmail’s release. I’ve been a loyal Google follower and fan for over 10 years now after making the switch away from Yahoo in 2004 (and never once regretted it – sorry Yahoo). I use many of their products daily including Google+, Google Drive, Analytics and more.

It’s my central hub for everything related to the internet including searches, email, analytics, keyword research and more. To say I’ve “drunk the Kool-Aid” would be an understatement – Google is a part of my daily personal and professional life.

I was thrilled with Gmail’s new tab functions and considered switching to it completely. But after a few days, I found myself missing the simplicity of Mailstrom. I couldn’t sort by timeframe, which was a critical key to me being sure I don’t miss responding to the latest emails. So often I would find emails I’d forgotten I received, thanks to Mailstrom. Being a mobile user of Gmail, emails that have been opened are automatically marked as read unless I change it (which I forget to do frequently). The ability to sort based on emails received that day, the previous day or in the last week, is a critical component to Mailstrom’s value for me.

In addition, I love the psychological boost Mailstrom regularly gives me by tracking my progress. I find myself tweeting regularly about my success and being excited about the number of emails I’ve taken care of. Just this morning, I received a nice little email from Mailstrom, saying, “You removed 111 emails yesterday, more than 93% of other Mailstrom users!” Is it a little ridiculous to be proud of that? Probably. Does it still give me a little thrill? You bet.

mailstrom

The verdict:

So while I love Gmail’s inbox, and you can somewhat do the same things with filters, it’s time consuming to set up the filters. Gmail is still behind in terms of innovation for this area. What would be best to see is for Gmail or Mailstrom to truly innovate in this area and provide users the ability to create their own categories and sorting.
Of course, knowing Google, they’ll probably buy Mailstrom at some point and just integrate the process into Gmail. For my sake, I hope so.

I love Gmail and I’m by no means switching. For now I’ll just continue to use both, by using Mailstrom for cleaning and maintenance and Gmail for my actual email activities. That’s the best of both worlds for me.
What have your experiences been? Are you loving or hating Gmail’s new features?

Charity is a respected marketing consultant and published author who loves technology and is addicted to information. Charity is a wife and mother who loves CSI, writing, poker, animals, family fun, and Twitter.

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Russia vetoed cryptocurrency and came back with CryptoRuble

(TECH NEWS) Russia put a hard pass on other cryptocurrencies in their country so that they could hop in the crypto-game with their own CryptoRuble.

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Just days after The American Genius reported that the Russian Central Bank would attempt to block access to cryptocurrency trading cites, the Coin Telegraph has reported that the Russian government will issue its very own cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble.

The report cited local Russian papers, who quoted the minister of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov.

Earlier this week, head of the Central Bank, Sergei Shvetsov, said that he would work with the Prosecutor General’s Office to ban Russian citizens from accessing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, calling such currencies a “negative phenomena for our markets” and a “pyramid scheme.”

Now it appears that the Kremlin will create its own cryptocurrency – one it can keep an eye on — which, some might argue, defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency.

However, like other cryptocurrencies the CryptoRuble will be based on blockchain and will presumably help prevent online fraud.

CryptoRubles will be exchangeable with regular Rubles, although the systems of exchange have not yet been set up. Experts think that Russia is hoping to stimulate e-commerce without the need for foreign money markets, which will allow them to have more independence from the United States.

According to Nikiforov, the Russian government is setting up its own cryptocurrency under the assumption that if they don’t, other European governments will.

Said NIkiforov, “I confidently declare that we run CryptoRuble for one simple reason: if we do not, then after two months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will.”

Traders using CryptoRubles will be asked to provide documentation of retail transactions and services rendered – or pay a 13 percent tax for undocumented transactions, leaving a wide loophole for money laundering.

Critics say that Russia is trying to facilitate, while also profiting from money laundering; that the Kremlin is stealing the market from other cryptocurrencies; and that the CryptoRuble fundamentally defies the spirit of decentralization that inspired other cryptocurrencies.

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Microsoft’s overseas email storage piqued the Supreme Court’s interest

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft has been in a pretty large dispute about storing user emails abroad and the Supreme Court has taken an interest in it.

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a case that will decide whether or not U.S. law enforcement officials can force tech companies to turn over emails and data stored in overseas servers.

The case will review a lower court decision made in 2013 after federal officials attempted to obtain emails from Microsoft that would provide evidence for drug trafficking cases.

At that time, Microsoft refused to comply with the government, even though they had a warrant, instead taking the case to court, claiming that the U.S. government did not have the right to access data stored in servers in Ireland.

The court of appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, citing a 1986 digital privacy law that allows law enforcement to obtain warrants for electronic communications, but not if the data is stored outside of the United States.

Judge Susan Carney said of the law, “Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statue envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas.”

The Trump Administration and the Justice Department say that this ruling has majorly blocked efforts to prosecute criminals.

“Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud — are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” said Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.

Because Microsoft stores data and communications closest to the user’s location, Wall said that the lower court’s decision made it all too easy for terrorists and other criminals to hide their communications by claiming to live in a foreign country when signing up for an account.

Microsoft argues that, instead of handing this decision over to the Supreme Court, legislators should update the 1986 law.

“The current laws were written for the era of the floppy disk, not the world of the cloud.” wrote Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a blog.

“We believe that rather than arguing over an old law in court, it is time for Congress to act by passing new legislation.”

In Congress, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) are pushing for just such an update with a piece of legislation called the Stored Communications Act.

Microsoft further argued that allowing U.S. law enforcement to obtain data from other countries was an “incursion” on those nations’ sovereignty, which would make U.S. citizens more vulnerable to foreign governments.

“If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what’s to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?” said Smith.

The Justice Department says that, along with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, and Yahoo have all stopped complying with search warrants since the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early in 2018 and hope to have a decision by June.

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iPhone X is driving prices up and customers away

(TECH NEWS) Apple’s new iPhone X has a pretty hefty price tag which is causing many long-time Apple fans to question their brand loyalty.

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Admit it – you were shocked when you heard that Apple was putting out a new phone that cost a thousand dollars or more.

So, it should really come as no surprise that customers – even committed Apple lovers – are having such bad sticker shock that they may continue using outdated devices, buy an older model of iPhone, or even try a different brand altogether rather than cough up that kind of cash.

Apple fans were stoked when they heard that the new iPhone X was coming out, especially because changes to the last few models have been sort of underwhelming. They hoped the new iPhone X would really be something special.

But when Apple revealed that the iPhone X with 64 GB of storage would cost $999, many balked. An iPhone X with 256 GB of storage will cost you even more at $1,149. This is the most expensive phone Apple has released to date.

Usually when a new iPhone is released, customers line up to get their hands on them and even form waiting lists as Apple furiously attempts to ship them quickly enough to keep up with the demand. This time, we’re not so sure that’s what’s going to happen.

Sure, price-conscious customers have never fallen under the iPhone spell in the first place. But Apple is banking on their most loyal fans to generate sales for the iPhone X. We won’t know for sure until the phone is released on November 3, and until Apple reports on its first and second quarter earnings.

But if fan forums are any indication, Apple might actually have a hard sell here.

A Reddit thread for hardcore Apple fans reveals that even diehards are hesitant to buy the iPhone X at its current price, and some are even outraged and dismayed that Apple would be so bold as to charge a thousand dollars.

Said one commentator, “I think the iPhone X will be a solid phone and I certainly wouldn’t mind having one, but to me the price is definitely overboard and Apple is starting to disappoint me a little with some of their changes (or overall lack thereof) to iOS.”

Some Apple fans are even switching to Samsung, or buying the recently released iPhone 8, which hasn’t particularly impressed anyone either.

Research by KeyBanc Capital shows that many customers are even “buying iPhone 7 in lieu of the new iPhone 8, given the lack of significant enhancements to the new phone.”

The iPhone 8, at $699, doesn’t seem to have enough new features to justify the price hike over the iPhone 7, which is $549.

The message from customers is loud and clear: Apple needs to put out something truly impressive, with some exciting new updates, if it expects its customers to pay hundreds of dollars more for the latest upgrade.

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