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  • Steven Woda

links for 2009-07-15

Google just announced that Tasks will be the first feature to graduate from Gmail Labs to become a default feature for all Gmail users. Gmail Labs, which launched about a year ago, holds a collection of experimental additions to Gmail that users can try out by enabling them within their Gmail’s settings. It also provides an interesting window into Google’s application development philosophy. Tasks provides a to-do list within Gmail optimized for mobile access and integration with Google Calendar. Senior product manager Keith Coleman says the decision to add it to the main product was partly based on how many users had signed up to try it, and how many have continued to use it. Coleman adds that a handful of other Labs experiments will likely graduate in the near future.

(tags: Google gmail labs)

Gmail has had Gmail Labs for a while now. Gmail Labs are a great place to try out experimental Gmail features if you are so inclined. The mad scientists who are Google (NSDQ: GOOG)’s engineers have cooked up an entirely new set of Labs, this time for the Google Calendar. Google says it has been pleased with the response its Labs has seen in Gmail. There are tons of features in Gmail Labs for users to test out. I have quite a handful activated that have become essential to my Gmail experience.

For small and midsize businesses without an instantly recognizable brand name, customer trust has to be earned. And it’s not enough to run your business right, your Web site has to instantly convince potential customers they can trust you. For small businesses that sell online, the importance of protecting customer data is a given. Unfortunately, the best security and privacy practices in the world are useless unless you first secure the customer’s trust–no easy task in today’s world. Increasing rates of identity theft and other types of online fraud have left many consumers gun shy when it comes time to pull the trigger on an online shopping cart, especially when a site lacks the reputation of industry giants such as Amazon. Fortunately, there are some basic best practices for presenting your business Web site as safe and reputable.

As parents we often think of the use of technology as either going online or going offline. This doesn’t apply to our children who are growing up with technology weaved into every aspect of their lives. Our kids ARE online – constantly wired to the digital world. Nuance? Not really. Kids are doing the things that kids have always done – they’re just doing them online. Kids have always passed notes, now they’re doing it through text messages from their mobile phones. Instead of buying albums or CDs, they’re downloading music from iTunes. Kids have replaced board games with a gaming console or a handheld gaming device like a Nintendo DS. When we were kids we kept a journal and today’s youth have blogs and websites like Facebook and MySpace. I used to dress up my G.I. Joe and my sister dressed up Barbie. Now kids are dressing up their online characters called avatars. So kids themselves haven’t really changed that much.

(tags: security)

Alexa Longueira was walking down a Staten Island block and was getting ready to text message when she fell into an open sewer manhole, MyFOX NY reports. VIDEO: Longueira Describes Falling Down a Manhole Longueira suffered mild cuts and bruises and is expected to recover. The teen’s mother says workers told her they left the manhole open and unattended for just seconds while they went to fetch some cones from their truck.

(tags: texting)

Apple recently celebrated the iPhone App Store’s first birthday. And what a year it has been: In that span, Apple became not only the hottest mobile platform in the world — which around 15,000 developers have made software for, and all of its major rivals have tried to replicate — but arguably the hottest gaming platform in the world. No other platform has had such a rush of developer and consumer interest in the last year. Games represent the largest category in the app store — 10,000 titles, 18% of all apps — and also include some of the most technically innovative and financially successful titles.

Microsoft Corp will release three versions of its dominant Office software that users can access over the Web, catching up with products that rival Google Inc launched three years ago. The news helped send shares in the world’s largest software maker up 2.7 percent by midday, more than double the gain in the Nasdaq Composite Index. It is the latest salvo in an intensifying war between Microsoft and Google. Google announced plans last week to challenge Windows with a free operating system. Microsoft introduced a new search engine, Bing, last month.

(tags: microsoft)

Ryan Tracy thought he’d entered the Dark Ages when he graduated college and arrived in the working world. His employer blocked access to Facebook, Gmail and other popular Internet sites. He had no wireless access for his laptop and often ran to a nearby cafe on work time so he could use its Wi-Fi connection to send large files. Sure, the barriers did what his employer intended: They stopped him and his colleagues from using work time to goof around online. But Tracy says the rules also got in the way of legitimate work he needed to do as a scientific analyst for a health care services company. “It was a constant battle between the people that saw technology as an advantage, and those that saw it as a hindrance,” says the 27-year-old Chicagoan, who now works for a different company.

(tags: technology HR)

How is it possible for a small number of newcomers to displace a well-established group of leaders? That’s not just a question for military organizations wanting to overthrow governments; it’s a question for political parties controlling national debates, new products displacing well-established market leaders, and flocking birds following leaders to new food sources. Social scientists have studied the nature of effective leadership for centuries with limited success. Physicists, on the other hand, are new to the party, which gives them a chance to nab some low-hanging fruit. Today, Hai-Tao Zhang at the University of Cambridge, in the U.K., and a few buddies say that they have grabbed a particularly juicy piece by revealing a key strategy of effective leadership.

(tags: Leadership)

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