Posts Tagged Google

Simple outbound email configuration for Ubuntu Server 12.04 using sSMTP

If all you really want from your Ubuntu Server is to be able to send you email if something goes wrong, or the occasional email to a trusted partner, friend, colleague, etc, then you want a simple solution. Although Postfix or sendmail, etc, will work in a satellite configuration, it’s still too heavy and over-the-top for this type of setup.

Enter sSMTP.

apt-get install ssmtp

Now open /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf in your favorite text editor and, to get it working on an example gmail account, set it up like so:

root=youremail@gmail.com
mailhub=smtp.gmail.com:587
AuthUser=username
AuthPass=password
UseTLS=YES
UseSTARTTLS=YES
AuthMethod=LOGIN

Save the file, and you’re done.

Example for Amazon SES users. Be sure the sending domain is verified or mail will get rejected.:

root=youremail@gmail.com
# from SES SMTP settings
mailhub=email-smtp.us-east-1.amazonaws.com:587
AuthUser=username
AuthPass=password
UseTLS=YES
AuthMethod=LOGIN

Important: You’re leaving your Gmail account password in a plaintext file. Make sure you’re using strong passwords. Even better, use Google 2-factor authentication so you can use an application-specific password for sSMTP.

UPDATE: Lastly, update the permissions

chown root:mail /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf
chmod 640 /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf

Unprivileged users who have a need to send mail using sendmail must be a member of the mail group, or they will receive the following error:

mail: Cannot open mailhub:25

This was written for Ubuntu Server 12.04 64-bit.

Further reading:

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How to subscribe to an iCal calendar in Google Calendar

If you want to subscribe to an iCal calendar using Google calendar, here’s how you do it.

First, go to your calendars so that you see ‘Other Calendars’ appear at the bottom of the screen. Click the down arrow next to it:

gcal_subscribe_1

From the menu that appears, click ‘Add by URL’

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The following dialog box will open, asking for the URL of your iCal feed.

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Note that Google does not handle URLs that begin with webcal:// or webcals:// at all. If you have an iCal URL that begins with one of these, change it as follows:

Change webcal:// to http://

Change webcals:// to https://

Paste your iCal URL inot the box and hit ‘Add Calendar’. The calendar will then appear in your calendar screen.

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How to share a Google Calendar using iCal

Sharing Google calendars between Google users is easy, but what if you want to create and share a Google calendar with someone who doesn’t use Google?

It’s actually not very difficult at all, and I’ll explain how to do it using your calendar’s private link. This will enable your viewer to see all event details, but due to the technical limitation of using iCal, they won’t be able to make any edits. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your specific situation.

So here’s how it works.

First, go to your Google calendar and locate the calendar you wish to share on the left side. In this case, I want to share my ‘work’ calendar. Hover over the calendar name and click the down arrow that appears next to it:

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On the menu that appears, click ‘Calendar Settings’:

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Scroll down to the bottom to where it says ‘Private Address’

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In this case we want the iCal address link. You can either right-click the green iCal button and say ‘Copy Link Location’ (depending on your browser), or click it for a pop-up that gives you the link you can copy and paste, like so:

gcal_share_4

Now, if you want to ever revoke access to that calendar’s private link at a later date, just use the ‘Reset private URLs’ link which appears next to the private links.

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Switching from ActiveSync (Microsoft Exchange) to IMAP and CardDAV for Google Gmail on iPhone

Since Google is discontinuing it’s ActiveSync services, which allowed iPhone (and other handhelds) to sync account data using ActiveSync, you may want to reconfigure your devices now, or simply remember how to do this for the future. Note these steps are iPhone-specific, but can be easily adapted for other phones.

I’ll explain how to delete the ActiveSync setup, then how to add an IMAP account configuration for mail and calendars, and a CardDAV setup for contacts. If you only want to add a new setup, simply skip the first section here.

Deleting the existing ActiveSync setup

You can delete the existing ActiveSync setup by going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and locating the account under Accounts. Touch the account name, then scroll to the bottom and click Delete Account. This will remove the data associated with the sync from your phone.

Creating the sync accounts

You’ll want to create both a Gmail IMAP account (for mail, calendars, and notes) and a CardDAV setup (for contacts). If you want reminders as well, you’ll have to create a CalDAV setup.

Creating the Gmail IMAP setup

Creating this sync account is very easy on the iPhone. First, in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch Add Account….  Next, touch Gmail, and enter your account information.

Creating the CardDAV setup

Similiar to the above. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch Add Account…, then scroll down and touch Other. Touch Add CardDAV Account. For Server, enter google.com, and continue with the rest of your account information.

For CalDAV, choose Add CalDAV Account instead of CardDAV, and follow the same account information.

If you use two-factor authentication for your Google account, be sure to use your application-specific password instead of your account password.

Google Apps setup is exactly the same as a standard Google account, just substitute your full email address for the username.

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Google puts an end to the free version of Google Apps

The free version of Google Apps is sadly no more. Just a few minutes ago I received an email from the Google Apps team, which included this:

Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free.

Should you ever want to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, you’ll enjoy benefits such as 24/7 customer support, a 25 GB inbox, business controls, our 99.9% uptime guarantee, unlimited users and more for just $5 per user, per month.

You can learn more about this change in our Help Center or on the Enterprise Blog.

Link to Google Apps for Business.

Here are a few possible alternatives to Google Apps for hosted Email:

And an alternative for Google Apps for Docs, or document collaboration:

And this workaround has been demonstrated for getting Google Apps tied to your domains for free, but it’s probably only a matter of time until Google puts an and to it, as well:

I’ll add more alternatives as I find them, but you’re welcome to share your own  n the comments below. Your comments are always welcome below.

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Why good password practices are no longer optional — Part 1

This is the first part in a two-part series in password security practices and storage. Be sure to click here to read part two if you haven’t already!

If you — like many people — are in the habit of using simple passwords, or even the same password over multiple sites, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Let me briefly explain: If you’re using a simple password it becomes much easier for a hacker to brute-force your password and gain access to your account. You should always use the strongest password — lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters — that any particular website supports.

If you’re already using strong passwords, good for you. However, if you’re using that same password — or a variation of it — on multiple sites, you’re undercutting the security of it. If one website that you use it on becomes compromised and that password is revealed or released, any other website that you use it on has also become compromised.

One example of this disaster is the RockYou hack. In  January of 2010, Imperva released data regarding passwords exposed in the RockYou.com breach. In this attack, 32 million accounts were compromised and led to the disclosure of the top ten most used passwords, which potentially led to countless more accounts being compromised which used passwords that were on that list. This list was later updated to the 25 most often used passwords, as listed on Yahoo Finance.

Another example of this disaster waiting to happen is a phishing attack. This type of social engineering attack starts with a convincing-looking email that leads you to a website where you will “log in” or provide some other account details. The site that you’re directed to — while looking like the real site — is often a fake, designed to get you to provide your account information. Once the site has it, your account information can be used to log in to the real site. From there, a hacker can seize control of your account (changing the email address, password, and security questions), and attempting to use that information to log into other sites. Again, if you’re using the same password on multiple sites, the hacker now has access to all of those other sites.

Think you can identify a phishing email? Take a few minutes and take the SONICwall Phishing IQ Test now. I got 100% on this test, feel free to post your score in the comments below! You can also try the OpenDNS phishing quiz. I scored 14 out of 14 on the OpenDNS quiz. Feel free to post your scores and feedback in the comments below.

The implications of this are almost limitless if an attacker manages to take control of your email account. Once that happens they can start issuing password reset requests on other sites, and start taking control of them as well. For that reason, protecting the security of your email account should always been first and foremost. Google for one agrees, and offers users the option of 2-factor authentication, which provides a very strong level of security. If you have a Google (Gmail) or Google Apps account, I recommend you go and set this up immediately. It only takes about 15 minutes.

Do you have any other password security practices that you would recommend? Do you have a story to share about an account being compromised? Do you have anything to share that I didn’t cover above? Please feel free to share in the comments below! Also — check back for part two of this article, coming soon!

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My list of must-have iPhone apps

I’ve been delaying this post while I search for the real must-haves of the iPhone world, and after putting together this list, I went back and updated my must-have list for Android where some of these exist in the Android app store.

So here is my list of must-have apps for iPhone. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from the App Store where I feel the author has explained it better than I could.

Google Authenticator
With Google support for 2-factor authentication for both Google and Google Apps accounts, and now LastPass support for 2-factor authentication, this is an app that I keep on my phone always. The security it adds to my accounts is invaluable.

Bar-Code
This app allows you to scan a number of barcode formats and then email or copy/paste them for use later.

Z-Bar Barcode Reader
A good, featureful alternative to Bar-Code. Allows you to email as text and csv.

Evernote
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them. iPhone users have access to Evernote’s two new apps: Evernote Hello and Evernote Food.

Flashlight
No specific app to mention or link to here, just anything that offers to turn on the camera flash to function as a flashlight. You never know when it will come in handy.

Google Maps
Okay, yeah, it’s been said a dozen ways that the Maps app in iOS 6 is pretty lacking. Google Maps is an excellent alternative — when it’s on the App Store. It’s been pulled a handful of times as well. Waze (below) is also an excellent program, but suffers from some rather glaring bugs that I’ve noticed.

LastPass
With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year) For more information about LastPass, see the LastPass web site.

MyWeather
MyWeather seems to be the only app on the App Store that features push alerts for NWS severe weather alerts. This makes it the go-to weather app for me. Granted, registration is required, but it’s free and worth it.

Waze
Android has one thing over iOS devices — integrated turn-by-turn directions. Waze fills that need quite nicely, and goes way beyond, for free. Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users  about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)

I know this is a rather short list, but I deliberately excluded the usual social media apps.

Do you have any iPhone apps that you consider must-haves? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!

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Google Music vs iTunes Match

Google and Apple each brought their own services which allow users to upload their music library and stream it to their devices in the form of Google Music and iTunes Match, respectively. But how do those services compare?

Let’s take a side-by-side comparative look at some of the features:

Feature Google Music iTunes Match
Number of songs 20,000 songs not purchased from Android Market 25,000 songs not purchased from iTunes
Price Free $25/yr
Supported devices Works on common browsers on Win / Mac / Linux / Android / iOS (1) Works on Win / Mac running iTunes; iOS devices supporting iCloud
Sync Automatically sync music to Google Music using Win / Mac / Linux client Automatically sync music to iTunes Match using iTunes
Sync Selection Select which songs to upload using sync client All songs from iTunes library are synchronized.
Local Storage Save music to your Win / Mac / Linux / Android device for offline playback Save music to your Win / Mac / iOS device for offline playback
Uploading Every song must be uploaded Matching is performed prior to upload; Only unmatched songs are uploaded
Supported file formats Mp3, AAC (m4a), wma, flac, ogg (source) Same as iTunes
Excluded formats None 24-bit audio; Bitrates under 96 kbps; File over 200MB (source)

(1) Although Google Music is reported to work on iOS devices, I wasn’t able to get it to display any of the songs in my library — (screenshot). UPDATE: I can confirm it does work on iOS (iPhone), but only as the desktop site (which is clunky and requires zooming on an iPhone screen). Screenshots one, two, and three. The mobile site still shows I have no music in my library.

As you can see, Google Music is aimed at the Android crowd, while iTunes Match is aimed at the iOS crowd. However, a few of the major points in Google Music’s favor that I see are that it supports playback from a web browser, has a Linux client, and is free.

I’m interested in everyone else’s opinion as well. Which streaming music service do you prefer, and why? Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments below. Thank you!

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I put down my Android and picked up an iPhone… here’s what I noticed

I’ve been getting more than a few expressions of “You? Got an iPhone?” from friends and family lately, after they see my iPhone 4S. While I’ve been known not to be the biggest fan of Apple up until now, I’m starting to realize why the device has gotten to be so popular — it’s an easy-to-use, reliable device that doesn’t frustrate.

Although learning a new smartphone OS hasn’t been terribly difficult, here’s some of the major points between the two that I’ve found myself having to adjust to.

The Home Screen

The home screen on an Android phone is more-or-less a “blank slate”, waiting for you to fill it to your liking with widgets and shortcuts, to make it just the way you want it. If you want to access all your installed apps you open what’s typically referred to as the “app drawer.”

On an iPhone, that “app drawer” is your home screen. No widgets here, though apps do have what’s called “badges” that can show an indicator on the icon if the app has something that wants your attention, such as a number of missed calls over the phone icon, unread texts over the messages icon, and so on.

Removable Storage

Android-based phones feature a microSD card slot for removable storage. It’s an optional — but highly recommended — additional storage space that you can use for media, and on some versions of Android, even apps. You can upgrade this by simply popping out the card, copying the contents to a new, presumably larger card, and putting that card in your phone.

On an iPhone on the other hand, what you buy is what you get — buy a 16GB iPhone, get a gross total of 16GB. Likewise for the other sizes, such as 32GB.

However, there’s some distinct differences:

Android phones by default have their apps installed on the phone’s lower-capacity internal memory. Since the internal memory is smaller than the microSD card, (Sprint’s Epic 4G for example, only has 1GB internal memory), you are sharply limited for the space your apps have to share with everything else. Starting with Android version 2.2 (Froyo) and up you had the ability to move apps to the SD card. This frees up internal memory. However, its up to the app developer to support this feature, and if they did, most apps still required that you move it yourself from within the phone’s settings. Remember those widgets? Don’t plan on them working if you move your app to the SD card.

iPhones on the other hand have a single unified storage area for everything. Assuming you get a 16GB iPhone, that storage space is used for everything — there’s no need to move anything. Apps, media, and the OS all share a single storage space. You might say “this is less overall than an Android phone”, and you would be right. But — you aren’t going to have to try to balance what apps are stored on SD card versus the phone’s internal memory.

When you plug your Android-based smartphone into your computer’s USB port, you’ll likely get a message asking if you want to charge-only, or mount as removable storage. If you select to mount as removable storage you have full access to the SD card in the phone. This is handy if you want to use your phone’s memory card as a makeshift USB flash drive. However, once you mount it to the PC, you don’t have access to it from the phone. Apps that are installed on the SD card cannot be run, and you won’t have access to any media on the card until you unmount it from the PC.

Media

Installing media on an Android phone isn’t difficult. Simply mount the phone to your PC as USB storage (or insert the microSD card into your computer), and copy music, pictures, or anything else you like to it. When you unmount (or insert the card back into the phone) the media scanner will automatically detect your media and propagate the media libraries. But — it’s up to you to get your own music.

With an iPhone and a Windows or Mac computer running iTunes you simply connect your phone to your PC, select what media — such as music, movies, or other — you want to sync, and iTunes adds it to your device. You can purchase your music through iTunes as well. However, you have to use iTunes. Don’t expect your iPhone and Linux-based PC to get along very well.

Backup and Restore

With an iPhone, completely backing up your device is as quick and easy as plugging it into iTunes and right-clicking on it and choosing “Backup.” iTunes takes care of it, and makes restoring it just as painless.

With an stock Android, you don’t have any options to make a “full” backup. You can sync your contacts, calendar, etc to your Google (or other) account, and there they will sit in case you need them. In case of a serious issue, you can boot your phone to recovery mode and wipe it from there, restoring it to stock configuration, after which, prepare to spend some time reinstalling and reconfiguring your apps and account. Rooted users have a few additional options, such as ClockworkMod’s Nandroid backup and restore, and the third party app Titanium Backup.

There’s a lot more differences between the two that I didn’t cover above. But I will say this: When people ask me why I got an iPhone, my typical response is something along the lines of “it’s easy to use without having to think about.” I really enjoy my iPhone, and I don’t think I’ll be picking up an Android phone again anytime soon.

What about you, reader? What are you experiences with Android and iPhones? Do you have anything to share or compare that I didn’t cover in the above? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Google Street View camera car spotted

If you’ve ever wondered what a Google Street View camera car looks like, this is it:

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