Emails lost as spam

GmailIn the past week I’ve had three emails sent from my Gmail caught in the spam filter of the receiver. This really worries me. There could well be more.

The really scary thing is they were all to people I’d previously exchanged email with and some very recently.

As a freelance contractor I rely on email to set up new relationships with people. The first I knew that one of my emails hadn’t gone through was when I received a text from a new employer postponing a kick-off meeting because he hadn’t received my confirmation. That’s not the image I want to project.

You just trust that an email will get to its destination. Without this trust, email breaks down as a communication system.

Gmail’s spam filtering is so good I rarely see spam in my inbox. But I think I’d rather see more spam and know the filter is letting through email I count on.

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Personal documents on Kindle/Good Reader

kindleAs part of the fun of taking on a new project I’ve had to read a few long reports. Back when I had access to a free office printer I’d ignore the environment and think nothing of printing 80 sides. As my home printer is one of those cheap ones that uses expensive ink cartridges I now think twice (and about the environment).

My iPad has been great for reading such documents. In particular the GoodReader app opens all sorts of files. It can download them from Dropbox or direct from my Gmail. However, GoodReader was obviously created by a developer who hasn’t got the user interface skills to make loading and accessing documents simple. I’m not saying GoodReader is bad – in fact, I recommend it – but it isn’t one for the mainstream audience.

Kindle is very much for the mainstream audience and it’s come through with a simple way to read your own documents on its device or one of its apps. Simply email your Word, Text, HTML, image or pdf file to your @kindle.com address. After a few minutes it will be ready to download to your device.

Setting this up does need a bit of work. Amazon will automatically give you an address (I think mine was something like andrewbarron42@kindle.com) but you can change it. Then, to prevent spam, you have to give it email addresses to accept documents from. All this is hidden away in ‘Personal Document Settings’ under ‘Your Kindle Account’ on the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ page of Amazon. (You see what I mean about it needing a bit of work.)

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Reading Trainer app

Reading TrainerSomewhere along the way in my life I’ve lost the ability to read well. I think it happened at university where I started skimming set texts. It’s then been made worse by speed-reading text on screens. Last year I started reading fiction books again in an attempt to improve things but I still find I could ‘read’ a few pages and not take a single word in.

A few weeks ago a Reading Trainer app appearing in the iTunes App Store for a discount price so I thought I’d give it a go. Sadly it doesn’t seem to be working for me. Admittedly I was sceptical that it would be brain-training-esq and just made you better at doing the tasks in the game. Having done several units I don’t think it is even doing that.

The problem is that I get no sense of how the tasks are improving my reading (if they are). Tasks like finding words in a grid of letters and spotting which pair of words don’t match are helping me concentrate. But others, like reading a passage and answering questions about it, seem like more of a test of my existing knowledge. There are also anagram tasks, which I fail simply because I cannot do anagrams.

It shows me graphs that are going up, but without context. I now have a reading power of 52 (cue the bit in Harry Hill’s TV Burp where he looks to side and shrugs his shoulders).

Maybe I need to do it more. Maybe I’ve not reached the breakthrough moment. Lots of reviewers on the iTunes Store are impressed by their achievements.

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