Wet Scalpel

The First Cut is the Deepest

My choice for a GPush alternative – Gmail Push Notification

Posted by wetscalpel on January 12, 2011


As noted in the previous post, GPush from Tiverias Apps has become a #ZombieApp and has now ceased to work. Many people (especially on Twitter…) are looking for an alternative, as am I.

I thought I would share my reasons for the choice I have made.

What I want.

Ideally I was after :-

  1. a FREE app/service that would give me FAST alerts. Sound or text was an added extra but not needed.
  2. ALSO – learning from my experience with GPush, I ideally did NOT want to compromise my email security – by either giving out my password OR forwarding my mail.
  3. A full push service where the email itself was pushed in real time so I could read it immediately without going to the web Gmail account would also be a major bonus

This limited my choice – a lot!!

1) –  meant that most of the apps in the app store were a no go; and free services – like Boxcar – failed at point 2) and 3) . I gather you forward your email to them, they push a message alert/header and you open a web browser to see the GMail site;  even though they don’t KEEP your messages, I don’t like forwarding my email to a third party;  also I am already forwarding from multiple other accounts TO my Gmail, so do I really want to forward them on again?  However,  I admit – BOXCAR is my backup plan.   :D

Of course several people  – even Tiverias apps themselves – had said that Google was a good successor. However, “everyone else” said that the Google app was no good! I HAVE had the google iPhone app for many months – and I agree – I never seem to get push notifications over it – although they have been activated.

What I now use.

It seems I and (going by the comments on Twitter) many others, were making a fundamental error; it is NOT the Google APP we want – it is Google Sync – Google’s Push email service for Gmail  – that hooks directly into your inbuilt iPhone Email client/account using a Microsoft exchange service. Let me repeat that IT IS NOT THE GOOGLE APP .

Once I actually looked at the web instructions and set up my iPhone – I received almost instantaneous notifications by a badge alert  (remember I have it set to PUSH not FETCH) with the email immediately readable when I open the mail app. No message header popping up but otherwise exactly what I want. You do have to be careful about the initial set-up, especially if you are NOT syncing your calendar etc with Google (which I don’t – I’m also a MobileMe user) but the instructions are VERY specific.

So there you are – I have a free, fast, safe push email notification service for Gmail that I am confident will not become a #ZombieApp - unless Google liquidates<!>.

Posted in Gmail, GPush, iPhone, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Lessons learnt from the GPush debacle

Posted by wetscalpel on January 11, 2011


What GPush debacle?

For those who are unfamiliar with what I’m writing about, there WAS an iPhone app called GPush that was SOLD – by Tiverias Apps – through the app store from around July 2009. It offered real time push notification of new email to your iPhone account from GMail. The vendors used your (provided) email account details to poll the google servers FREQUENTLY and then sent a push notification WITH an excerpt of the header to your iPhone. Its reliability appeared to fluctuate but when it worked, it worked well.
Unfortunately there were multiple occasions GPush stopped working – and Twitter bore the brunt of the complaints process. Tiverias Apps did NOT have a good reputation for consistent customer service and would seem to go silent/unresponsive for extended periods of time.

On December 25th 2010 (Australian time) the following appeared in my in-box:-

Dear GPush user,

Thank you for your loyal use of GPush. Unfortunately, we have determined that the value added by GPush beyond such products as Google’s own push notification service is not sufficient to merit our continued maintenance of the service. We will therefore be shutting the service down as of December 31, 2010.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Sincerely,
The GPush Team

Is that supposed to mean Merry Christmas??

Now – I may be cynical about the timing, but I do wonder if they THOUGHT that there would be less of an outcry over the holiday period! At the same time the website disappeared from the web….Now it ends up as a godaddy parked page.

As expected there was a bit of an outcry on Twitter. Users decried the loss of service with some asking for a refund for the app they had bought. The only response to a refund request was:-

…..please contact apple directly,  we have no way to issue one, we’re sorry.

Along the way, they have suggested that:-

  1. They would be willing to sell the business and are looking for a buyer.
  2. They are going to keep the business running

Now – once again they have gone silent and GPush is dead. I have solemnly declared it a #ZombieApp.

So where are we now?

Older and wiser I suspect! Once you look at it, I don’t see how this could have survived. The business model is fundamentally flawed from the outset. Any company offering a sole product as an ongoing – time unlimited – service with no revenue stream can simply not survive! How on earth did Tiverias expect to maintain the infrastructure required to provide the service?? Why did we – the users – expect them to be able to?

Lessons learnt:-

Any PAID app that offers an ongoing service either needs

  • A strong associated advertiser base to generate income (Not popular with paid apps users) OR
  • A subscription model to generate income (As seen with some newspaper apps) AND/OR
  • Multiple OTHER revenue streams to support a non-revenue generating product (Google is a classic!)

To expect it to survive otherwise is naive at best and stupid at worst.

I am surprised that Apple allows these sort of apps onto the store and do wonder what provision for abandoned users exists within the Apple – iPhone App-store framework….?

I – for one – will think twice about plonking down money (how ever little) for another App based on this flawed model.

As for Tiverias Apps postulated plans…. I can NOT see another company buying their buisness for the stated reasons above. PERHAPS they will sell their user base/lists – and that raises a whole lot of issues about their right to sell it.

Lastly, with  respect to your GMail account, the user-name and password of which you gave to Tiverias-

YOU HAVE CHANGED YOUR PASSWORD HAVEN’T YOU?

Posted in Apps, Commentary, Digital life, Gmail, GPush, iOS, iPhone | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Gmail Restored! What now for the future?

Posted by wetscalpel on November 5, 2006


Received 2 November:

Hello,
Thanks for your report. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have
experienced. The issue you described should now be resolved. If you
continue to experience difficulties, please respond to this message, and
we’ll investigate further.

Sincerely,

The Google Team

Now I am VERY pleased to get my accounts back – but – why? The accounts were disabled without an explanation and re-enabled – without an explanation. Should this make me happy – or confused – or mad?

Maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth :-)

I note that I am not the only one who has experienced this “phenomenon”. Multiple reports are around in the Internet including ones on Cnet’s News.com , a classic one at Google Blogscoped , and that story on ZDnet.

So where to from here? I guess there are multiple options, including abandoning Gmail. BUT I don’t really want to do that – the search capability is too valuable, and the price is unbeatable!

So – Guess I go double (Quadruple?) redundancy. All mail going to my main gmail archive will also be forwarded to another gmail account. Together with my Home PC mail files and their backup on a secondary PC that should help prevent further major problems?

Importantly, the second Gmail archive will be opened independently; that is – not from an invitation from my first account. It seems Gmail may disable all subsidiary accounts as well as a main one!


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Posted in Commentary, Digital life, Gmail | 3 Comments »

How to move 3000 emails from Windows to Gmail!

Posted by wetscalpel on October 31, 2006


Meh!

As you may have read, for reasons known only to Gmail, my original Gmail account was disabled.

Being a sucker for punishment, I still want my Gmail for both its archiving and storage capabilities. Setting up a new account was easy. Figuring out how to move the 3000 odd emails I have in Outlook express was another matter!

Naturally, I am not the first to try this (for which I am TRULY grateful!) and some judicious Googling helped me out. In essence, emails in outlook express (and outlook) are stored in what seems to be a non standard/proprietary format. Or at least one not in common with Mozilla’s Thunderbird and I guess Gmail. Therefore, the files need to be converted FIRST and then uploaded.

The way I did it was detailed here and here. In essence, I download and installed Firebird, Let it import all my outlook express emails (yep it left the originals in place) and then uploaded them to my new Gmail account using Gexodus .

Couple of pointers:-

Firstly, after installing Thunderbird and allowing it to convert my outlook-express files, I could not see them in the inbox area! I then had to IMPORT the files (about 3 seconds work) with the TOOLS -> IMPORT dialogue.

Next I went looking for the profile folder , and was surprised it seemed so small. It was only AFTER I opened each sub-folder in my Thunderbird email interface that the profile folder seemed to populate properly.

Secondly, I found the default SMTP server in Gexodus was unresponsive, and used gsmtp183.google.com instead.

I initially pointed the system at my Inbox file in my profile and set the system running.

It ticked away, about 200 emails – then stopped. Said it was finished ! HUH!

Then I figured it out – Gexodus does NOT recursively work its way down through the sub folders of the inbox – you have to select each one individually – if that’s the way you want to go. The easy solution – simply move ALL email from the sub folders to the inbox within Thunderbird.

The upshot – all my 3000 emails (including their attachments) are back in Gmail. The original sender IDs are intact. Unfortunately the Dates simply reflect the upload date; I can cope with that.

I am still using Outlook Express, and forward a copy of all incoming and outgoing email to Gmail as I outlined some time ago.

NOW if only Gmail can explain why they deactivated my old account in the first place!


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Posted in Commentary, Digital life, Gmail | 1 Comment »

Gmail Problems!

Posted by wetscalpel on October 28, 2006


As my main blog details, my Gmail accounts have been disabled out of the blue.

Not happy.

PLEASE have a read and let me know of any solutions I haven’t tried.


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Posted in Digital life, Gmail, Personal | Leave a Comment »

WordPress 2.01

Posted by wetscalpel on February 2, 2006


Just a quick note that I have updated my main blog to WordPress 2.01. A painless procedure IMHO and kudos to the WP team for the rapid availability of this update :D

As always, I followed their upgrade instructions very closely (especially about backing up!).


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Posted in Admin, WordPress | Leave a Comment »

WordPress 2.0 Installed and working!

Posted by wetscalpel on January 15, 2006


Well, I finally got around to it today, and ‘upgraded’ my main blog to WordPress 2.0 as I had planned.

It is the first time I had tried anything like this so I did it with some trepidation! initially I tried it on a development/trial site, then went for the live version.
The steps I took are listed below.

Quick version : downloaded and unzipped WordPress 2.0, changed the wp-config.php to point correctly and up-loaded all the files. Ran the upgrade script.

Longer version:

    Backed up my MySql wordpress file and my .htaccess file
    Deactivated all the plug-ins
    COPIED the details from my wp-config.php file
    Download WordPress 2.0 from here and unzipped it locally
    Updated WP 2.0 ‘s wp-config.php with the database name, user name and password I had copied.
    Uploaded the files & directories using FileZilla, to the correct directory (root in my case) and allowed the new files to replace pre-existing files of the same name.
    Ran the upgrade script in the wp-admin directory.
    Had a gin and tonic to celebrate……

It really was that simple. I admit I then deleted some redundant files/directories that had been relocated in WordPress 2.0; but that was easy. I also added a line to my .htaccess that I needed from before.

Reactivating the plugins waited until I had checked them against the “official list” of known compatibilities. I only had one that failed the list and it was redundant given the new features of WP 2.0 . (I think that list is official anyway :-) )

BTW – there is no doubt that some of the best guides to wordpress issues are written and available at Podz wordpress guides, and there is a great one on upgrading to WP 2.0 here too.

So – off and running. Will Blog the changes I notice, likes and dislikes as I come across ‘em.

Let me know what you have done, the problems – if any. :D

Posted in Admin, Digital life, Personal, WordPress | 1 Comment »

Firefox 1.5 Official release

Posted by wetscalpel on December 1, 2005


For those who don’t know, the official release of Firefox 1.5 is out!

Firefox 1.5 is out of beta and available for download!
I’ve installed it and have it up and running with only a small “problem”. Several of my extensions were incompatible and the auto-upgrade process couldn’t find the new version for one of them. I did however, and now its running well!
What’s new? Well – check out the options screen – new layout and a few new options. It also seems faster. It has drag and drop tabbed browsing and will automatically update itself if you want it to. (Official Release notes for 1.5 here , but for a really comprehensive list see this)

Anyway, time to play with the new release :-)

Get Firefox

Posted in Commentary, Digital life, Firefox | Leave a Comment »

Web Hosting Blues

Posted by wetscalpel on November 17, 2005


Agghh… Yet again my external (non-Wordpress.com) host has failed me :-(

After becoming a refugee from my previous host (they had sold the business, but forgot to tell anyone, and the new owners were a disaster), I decided to try a WordPress.org recommendation. Not being ENTIRELY stupid, I did some research on them and picked one with a long track record and good reviews. They offered up-to-date WordPress installs, good bandwidth etc etc…..
Looks like everyone else was looking too… Not long after joining, the uptime became downtime +++.
My email was answered quite professionally, citing moving to new servers, inadequate staff (presumably growing fast!) and a promise that all would be well “soon”. Also offered pro-rated refund which was appreciated. Decided to stick it out – but no go. Up time around 75% according to my independent monitor.

So – Now have ANOTHER host – multisite account with Site5 - similar deal. Great reviews (and I know this one is growing fast!). They seem to cope better with the growth though.

I REALLY hate moving servers…..

Will publish an entry on picking a web host shortly – but with my track record… :-)

p.s. If you want to know who I WAS with contact me via The Silent Deep. I know they ARE trying, so won’t publish their name here.

Posted in Commentary, Digital life, WordPress | Leave a Comment »

Podcaster News Network (PCN) up and running

Posted by wetscalpel on November 11, 2005


Well, it’s been a while coming but now its up and running! Podcaster News Network is ‘live’ at www.PodcastNews.com.
My take on this is it’s essentially a podcast aggregator that combines specific (subscribed/selectable) news shows – each of 5 minutes, into one downloadable show that you can take with you. They offer tech-news, weather, entertainment, politics, health, education, sport etc etc. It differs from a classical aggregator in that it has specific,designed ‘casts of 5 minutes each with the aim to provide succinct and relevant comments to fit the time frame.

The Podcaster News Network has been developed by the team at RawVoice to offer you short 3 – 5 minute podcasts, produced by our own PCN podcasters. You customize your daily news by choosing podcasts from various categories. By creating a PCN User account (sign up takes about a minute) you will then have the ability to select as many podcasts as you like and create a custom newscast. This custom news cast can then be listened to straight from the site, downloaded to your home computer /mp3 player or subscribed via a single RSS feed.

This is a bit of a paradigm shift that deserves watching, and certainly has potential. So far the process has been painless with subscribing and collating a series of podcasts for my interest, but there is still a way to go to fully ‘flesh out’ the categories that are available. For example – as I write this the ‘weather’ , ‘travel’ and ‘world news’ categories are empty although there are 20 available podcasts overall..
Site design looks excellent and professional.
This has the potential to be something both important AND big. It has the possibility to be the first formal Podcast based news forum, allowing a single outlet for news and information from the grass roots podcasting community.
It certainly bears watching.

Posted in Digital life, podcast | Leave a Comment »

 
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