Google Apps email flags Google alerts (sent to gmail) as Spam

I’m playing around with google apps, and one great feature is the ability to import in existing gmail accounts – all email messages and even labels.

One thing I assumed was that no messages from my gmail spam folder would be imported – and that turned out to be true. But after the gmail import I noticed a bunch of message in the new google apps account’s spam folder. On closer inspection they were all legit messages including google alerts sent to my gmail account. A bit convoluted, but if this is still making sense to you, it looks like google apps email hasn’t white-listed google messages.

Odd, no ? See screenshot below showing google alerts for a stock I follow, MVIS:

google apps flags alerts as spam

BlackBerry update: battery died, google maps update and google calendar sync

* I was in DC wrapping up a trip last week when I couldn’t get my blackberry curve 8300 to boot-up. I figured the battery just drained to zero, but after plugging it in I quickly realized the battery was dead. Luckily I had access to another blackberry curve and was able to borrow that battery for a day. I called around to a few at&t stores in DC, and to my surprise they did not sell batteries. Anyway, long story short, after calling at&t customer care, they fedexed me a new battery and I’m back in action !

* The new google maps update came out a week or so ago ( from your mobile browser: http://google.com/gmm ) and it now has “My Location” which is pretty sweet. If you don’t have GPS, it can now use cell tower triangulation to approximate your location. When I was in NYC, it was accurate within a block. In DC it was within 500 meters or so, and in SF it seems to be within 1000 meters on average. So it’s by no means a replacement for GPS, but when doing a search for a cafe for example, it’s great that you can search within your area without putting in the street or zip code.

* Google Calendar Sync was just released. It syncs your google calendar to your blackberry’s native calendar – which for me has been a wish-list item for a long time. After running the initial sync, you may want to hop into the the options menu on the mobile app and make sure it’s grabbing all the calendars you wish to have. In my setup I have a few different calendars being imported into gCal, and the mobile app appears to default to only one calendar. So far it seems to work really well.

Google Maps Street View: Halloween style

google street view halloween pic A day early, but good to see the Google holiday treatment isn’t confined to just logos on google.com.

While trying to find a good cafe in SF today I noticed something a bit different in google maps street view mode.

It appears to be a witch on her broomstick in place of the normal icon.

Click over to google map and select “Street View” (upper right corner) to see it in action.

Google Maps Street View – wow & my thoughts

Google Street View

This is really getting impressive. Instead of just map mode, or even the satellite view, you can now see a street view as taken by a roving SUV. A9/Amazon had similar map tech for commercial streets, but discontinues it at some point. Google (GOOG) has taken this up a notch, and provided a great user experience.

With any new tech there is always an initial evaluation phase and hopefully some course corrections/improvements in the pipeline. There has been a lot of coverage that this new feature creates privacy concerns(nytimes.com). SFgate has a view showing a man attempting to jump over a fence perhaps — but who really know. And a bunch of people have picked up on some embarrassing/interesting photos – laudontech.com and mashable.com have coverage.

Here are my thoughts:

The good:

- extremely useful in scouting out new areas for apartments. I expect sites like craiglist to link to this directly in short order.

- useful for evaluating businesses locations, and any other commercial real estate deals.

- helpful for simulating what it’s like to navigate in a new area. Imagine you were planning a bike ride or a walk. Using the Street View you can really tell block by block what it’s like to go through those streets.

- I use Google Earth quite a bit too, but this on-the-ground angle is extra useful. Maybe this could be incorporated into GEarth down the line.

The Bad:

- Privacy concerns are real. We don’t know how often they update the photos ( maybe once a year ? ), but having your face show up outside a strip joint is a problem on all kinds of levels. For all we know, that man was just parking his car and was at the wrong place at the wrong time. A photo like this has no context and it’s at least semi-permanent in the google system.

The challenge:

- We all know that certain things are public, and being photographed in public is perfectly legal. We also know that divorce/marriage proceedings and other official court documents are public, and we want them to remain that way. The challenge today is the ease of accessing this public information. Going down to the courthouse to look something up took effort. Clicking your mouse a few times isn’t quite the same.

Conclusion:

I’m a supporter of all these kinds of services, including finding out how much your neighbor paid for that house. What I do recommend is the following:

1) Proper and expedient recourse: If you are going to put up photos or documents that are public and mistakes will inevidebly be made — make sure the public, and more importantly the individual who may be put in a bad spot, has a way to quickly and easily correct the record. (Update: looks like there is a process for requesting photo removals, and people have had some success )

2) Consider excluding personally identifiable information if it doesn’t add value. A person’s face on the side of the street probably doesn’t add much to the google maps street view service. The same technology that could identify our faces in photos ( I’m thinking the original Riya service for example ), could also probably allow google to identify any face and blur out the persons features.

3) Own your own identity. This is a bit more effort, but people need to own their own identity online – via blogs, social network profiles, etc – so that a search for your name doesn’t bring up some strange public record result as result #1 — but rather, it should return the site that you want it to.