Google Reader and Google Talk integrated. Sort of.

Google Reader has been recently integrated with Google Talk.  Somewhat.  If you use Google Reader and Google Talk, and you have some buddies in your Google Talk contact list, who also use Google Reader, then from now on you will be able to see each other’s shared items.  Through the “Settings“, you can control who you want and don’t want to see in the “Friends’ shared items“.

This is a really nice piece of functionality.  First of all, it saves you all the effort of finding and subscribing to “Shared items” RSS feeds of all your friends one by one.   Secondly, it helps to highlight interesting stuff from your buddies, even those that you might accidentally omitted from your subscriptions.

So, what am I missing there?  Two things.

First, the option to rename buddies.  I am blessed with contacts who choose all sorts of nicknames and avatars.  I prefer real names.  And I attach real face pictures to all my contacts whenever I can.  And I’ve done it in my Gmail contacts.  That information should be used for the Google Reader friends list.

Secondly, I need an option to enter a discussion with my friends regarding an item in my Google Reader.  That can be something I have shared, or that can be something my friends shared.  I want a “discuss in chat” and “discuss in email” buttons.  “Discuss in email” should be, in this case, different from “Email this item”.  We both (me, and the friend with who I’m entering a discussion) have read the item.  We just need a reference, like a subject, and URL to the item (original article?), just in case we need to run through it again or quote something.

While the second point is harder to implement (requires user studies, interface cluttering, etc), I’m really surprised that the first one wasn’t done.

Undo for sending in Gmail

Google Blogoscoped runs this post speculating about an “undo” option for Gmail.  I’ve touched this topic some time ago in my “You can’t recall an email” post.  The base for that post of mine was purely technical.  What is sent is sent, and there is no way to get it back.

With another look on this issue, I see that technical side can be controlled to a certain degree.  Webmail providers (such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc), can indeed delay the outgoing message by a few seconds.  Countdowns and disappearing buttons aren’t an issue either – we have plenty of technology these days (AJAX, Flash) to implement them.  And there is a certain demand for the functionality too – this can be judged by all those browser plugins and extensions, like the one mentioned in the Blogoscoped article.

Still, I’m standing on the side of “don’t do it”.  I think it’ll add to the confusion of the interface and the complexity of the system, without too much benefits in return.  I don’t think that we should have an “undo” for everything either.   And I think that the old way of “sorry, forgot to attach this document” works pretty well and sometimes makes people to actually read through and think over again about what is that they are planning to send out.

What do you think?  Would you like to see an “undo sending” button in your email client?

Time dimension to Google Maps

One thing that Google Maps could benefit from is a time dimension.  Imagine, being able to scroll the time-line while looking at the satellite picture of the same place.  You could see how cities are growing, roads built, and rain forests destroyed.  You could see traffic jams.  You could see how building shadows drop to find the better parking in a hot place like Cyprus…

I guess Google will have to collect much more data than they already have though.

GMail enhancement request

Now that I’ve really thought about things that I want to see in GMail, I remembered that I didn’t blog about one thing. Or forgot that I did. I want a separate signature for each of my accounts. Ideally, I’d have some interface – similar to filters – to set some conditions and the resulting signature. But if I just could have a static one, separate for each email address, that would have been good enough. Until then I’ll have to stick with the simpe “Leonid Mamchenkov” bit. No URLs, no titles – no automatics.

Hellenic Bank – they did it!

Hellenic Bank has been one of the best banks on the island for some time now. The difference between all of them is very small, but in this case, that’s what makes it more noticable.

One of the reasons that I switched to Hellenic Bank was that their Internet Banking website was working in Mozilla Firefox. And not only it was working, it was almost perfect – all operations were available and there was no need for a Java plugin or anything like that.

A minor annoyence existed though. Main menu was a little bit screwed up and didn’t show completely. It was possible to see it by clicking the little menu frame and either selecting text in there, or using the scoll mouse. Not very comfortable, but at least it worked.

Last week Hellenic Bank finally fixed the issue. Now everything looks and works perfect. More reasons, therefor, to stay with them in the coming year.

If I was to pick a feature that I miss the most, it would be the SMS notification for the change of account balance. Currently I can only setup alerts which will notify me if account balance goes above or beyond a certain amount. But what I want to have is an SMS when something changes at all. Other banks have it and I don’t see any reasons why Hellenic Bank can’t have too.

Anyway, I am still pretty pleased with their service.