Wednesday, 13 September 2017

My Top 10 Gmail Tips: Organize your inbox

This is a natural follow-up from the other post Find an inbox layout of your choice. With the different layouts, you get a chance to determine a format that best helps you use Gmail to suit your workflow. However, there is always the matter of fine-tuning things; such as organizing the emails under labels in Gmail and bundles in Inbox that can add an extra wing of efficiency.

When Gmail was launched in 2004, one of their pioneering features were labels. We had previously seen folders - across both email clients and erstwhile web email services - which were like vaults where you can move your messages to; but what Gmail brought with labels were revolutionary, as the labels were like post-its - you can attach several of them to a single message and that message can be viewed under all the labels it has been labeled with. So, in cases where a message may fall under multiple labels, there was no further need to copy that message to be placed inside multiple folder but the simple task of assigning the necessary labels to that message and be done with. 

Filters helps automate the process of applying specific labels (among many other things) to a matching message based on the specified criteria. It can also help apply the mandated label to matching previous conversations, thereby ensuring consistency towards organizing your Inbox.

Inbox by Gmail can also organize your emails with labels you create, or existing labels, like "Social" and "Finance." Inbox can sort your labels into bundles or list them in the Menu. Bundles helps group similar emails together so you can better manage them.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

About Me: The Google Top Contributors' Summit, Singapore 2017.

I shall be away from September 26 - September 29 2017, to attend the Google Top Contributors Summit in Singapore.

Normally, this biennial event takes place in Googleplex - The Google Head Quarters at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, but due to some exceptional circumstances, the Global Summit for this year had to be split up into three Regional Summits at Singapore, Dublin, and Mountain View.

The timing for the Summit coincides with the grandest festival for us, Bengalis - The Durga Puja. In the previous years, when I used to live away from Kolkata, I always made it a point to be at home during the pujas; and now to be leaving the city on the early morning of the very first day of the celebration is sure to bring in a different emotion. I shall be back in the city on the morning of the final day of celebration, so have plans to fill in five days worth of enjoyment in one.

I am looking forward to this Summit with extreme optimism. Even though a couple of my closest peers will not be present, it will give me a chance to catch up my fellow Indian experts I met in Hyderabad, 2016 and meet in person many of the international experts I have known for long through Forums, Groups, Emails, and Hangouts.

Since I'll be there only for the duration of the Summit, time for sightseeing will be short if not non-existent. However, I'll try my utmost to see the iconic Merlion statue and have a ride in the Singapore flyer if not anything else.

My Top 10 Gmail Tips: Find an inbox layout of your choice

Gmail offers different choices of layouts which help customize Gmail to your style of operation. 

The default layout breaks the entire Inbox into different tabs titled Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. The intent is to focus on the personal emails you receive under Primary and then focus on the other emails received under the other category tabs. Depending on your requirement, you can remove one or more of these tabs and have emails otherwise scheduled for those tabs collected under Primary. 

Besides the default layout, Gmail can be arranged according to Important first, Unread first or Starred first - an easy way to focus on the emails you deem most important to your style of work and for enhanced efficiency. 

Priority Inbox is a bit different from those "other first" templates because it permits you to customize your Inbox by allowing you to select four sections. The sections may range from some predefined options and all labels maintained in the account. 

The other more forgotten option regarding Inbox layout is kept hidden inside Gmail labs, and I'm talking about Multiple Inboxes. Enabling this allows you to break down your Inbox into multiple smaller Inboxes by labels, your starred messages, drafts or any search you want, configurable under Settings. Try it. It is very flexible and great fun. 

Finally, Inbox by Gmail. You can access Inbox by Gmail by simply signing into your Gmail account through the page. It brings a refreshing approach where all emails are treated as tasks in a to-do list; thereby giving you three primary options for each email or conversation.
  • Snooze them - Remove them from the Inbox only to recall them ahead of their requirement.
  • Pin them - Keep the ones which you need to attend to presently.
  • Mark them Done - Sweep the emails from Inbox you are finished attending to. This is akin to Archive in Gmail. 

Inbox comes with other exciting features such as Trips, Reminders and Bundling which you can explore by yourself. It is a refreshing new take on emails and something fits in very easily if you happen to use Gmail for your professional or small business requirements.

Monday, 11 September 2017

My Top 10 Gmail Tips: Put in recovery options

When you set up an email account, any email, the idea is to be able to use it consistently and without any untoward hassle. In modern day, it is imperative that you ensure your account is secure to be able to do so. 

The first step towards securing your Gmail account is to ensure the account has an active and functional email address and phone number listed among its recovery options - This not only helps during account recovery but during times when an attempt is made from a different location or more importantly when someone else attempts to sign into your account - inadvertently or otherwise. 

Here are the necessary screenshots for adding a recovery email and a phone number to your account:

Always be mindful to update this information when you change your email address or phone number. 

Once you have updated the recovery options, do not forget to read the instructions included in the Gmail security tips

On this note, it is important to note that Gmail provides multiple reports to check for information with regards to account security.

The easiest way to check for unauthorized account access is to Click on the Details link below Last account activity link at the bottom of any Gmail page. It includes any time the account was accessed using a regular web browser, a POP client, a mobile device, etc. and lists the IP address that accessed the account, the associated location, as well as the time and date. If any suspicious IP addresses are detected, use a reverse IP lookup ( to acquire more details about the IP and confirm that it is (or not) something suspicious.) and click on the Sign out all other web sessions button. You can visit the recent activity page and the devices activity page to check on the recent devices used to access your account. You can also look at the various apps and sites with access to your account and review the Google Dashboard

The second step towards securing your Gmail account is by turning on 2-step verification(or 2-factor authentication), but that is a topic for another post.

My Top 10 Gmail Tips

Some time ago, a friend asked me for my Top 10 Gmail tips which she was willing to use in an article of hers. I readily drew up the list which I have subsequently posted on Twitter and always entertained the idea of writing more elaborate posts about each of them. Now that I have some free days as the festive months draw closer, this looks the appropriate time to make good on that promise. 

For all my tips, I shall include similar references for Inbox by Gmail whenever possible, which if you haven't known by now, if a very refreshing take on Email management. It offers a different UI and some neat new features and the best thing about this is, you can easily switch between Gmail and Inbox by Gmail if you choose to. 

Inbox by Gmail is also available as iOS and Android apps from the App Store and Play Store respectively. It is most definitely worth a look-in.

About Me: The absence

This has been a long hiatus. Mostly personal which I would not like to mention or discuss here, but that phase of life is in the past. Currently, I'm making efforts to craft a new beginning, a fresh start of sorts where I can once again get down to doing things I enjoyed before.

I love getting busy with designing and providing Training, creating Data Visualization & Analysis. I love the dynamism of the opportunities and the creativity it offers.

Beyond it, I'm a Platinum Gmail Product Expert and a Mentor in the GMail Help Forums. If you have waltzed in there to ask a question on anything Gmail, chances are that you may have spotted me. If we haven't had the opportunity to meet in there, we are now properly introduced.

About being a Google Analytics and Google AdWords Certified Individual - I picked up a keen interest in the fabulous products which are Google Analytics and Google Adwords. It all started when a friend approached me to assist him in understanding his business information properly and subsequently, strategize an online advertisement policy. I had to learn a fair bit of both product and when the projects came to an end, rather than go all those learnings and knowledge to waste, I decided to sit for the Analytics and Adwords certification examinations and passed it.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

O Death, Rock Me Asleep

This is the first of seven poems I plan to post here. They have given me great joy and food for thoughts and have become my favorites.

"O Death, Rock Me Asleep" is a poem by Lady Anne Boleyn (1501-1536). It is widely presumed that she penned this poem while awaiting execution. The pathos in her writing is unmistakable, the philosophy is her words, undeniable.

"O Death, rock me asleep,
Bring me to quiet rest,
Let pass my weary guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.

My pains who can express?
Alas, they are so strong;
My dolour will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.

Alone in prison strong
I wait my destiny.
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery!
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy.

Farewell, my pleasures past,
Welcome, my present pain!
I feel my torments so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now, thou passing bell;
Rung is my doleful knell;
For the sound my death doth tell.
Death doth draw nigh;
There is no remedy."

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

An Update

It was hard to stay off the computer for an extended period of time. I got hit with a nasty attack of frozen shoulder, and it meant following a very strict regimen of computer time that was minimal. I spent my free hours reading books, poems and articles and now feeling decidedly better.

Since I still cannot spend many extra hours pursuing my interests in Excel for still some months to come, I've decided to fill this void in my blog by posting some of my favorites poems instead. I hope this will be a welcome change in the contents of this site.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Dorling Cartogram

My last project involved using a multitude of regions for drawing analysis, parallels and comparison. Not wanting to use yet another Choropleth graph, I decided to look up alternatives which were easier to create and preferably required no VBA.

Soon I stumbled upon "The Dorling Cartogram", defined in the UCSB site as, "This type of cartogram was named after its inventor, Danny Dorling of the University of Leeds. A Dorling cartogram maintains neither shape, topology nor object centroids, though it has proven to be a very effective cartogram method. To create a Dorling cartogram, instead of enlarging or shrinking the objects themselves, the cartographer will replace the objects with a uniform shape, usually a circle, of the appropriate size."

I had the data for Obesity in the United States handy, so I decided to give it a try before using it in my project. I opted to use Bubble charts because data points within a series may need to be of varied shapes based on its obese population while the colors indicated different tiers of obesity percentage. Thus larger the circle and redder it is, the severe the obesity. To determine the obese population per state, I have used 1990 Census data to calculate between 1995-2000 and the 2000 Census data to calculate between 2001-2010.

My version of Dorling Cartogram in Excel:

Parting words: As Dorling Cartograms are non-overlapping. In places they overlapped, it is common practice they rather be moved so that the full area of each shape can be seen. The positions of several states in relation to each other are hence slightly altered as per this principle.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Pie-Doughnut Combination: A Radial Treemap

I stumbled into this graph some years ago, while looking up data for a project on US Auto Sales, through a post in Neoformix - Discovering and Illustrating Patterns in Data. So, when I started making the list of Pie-Doughnut combination charts, I decided to include this variety and use it to display survivors and victims of the Titanic tragedy on its centenary year. 

It is not a particularly difficult chart to create, specially if one sets up the table properly. My first attempt brought me this:

I thought a lot over whether to keep the statistics as labels for the outermost doughnut that displayed the survivor/victim proportions. They get a bit muddled up around the first class women and children' section and the inability to add leader lines to the doughnut labels meant they couldn't be dragged away and the lines used as pointers.

Here is the chart with the stats on display: