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3 Super Cool Time Saving G-Suite Inbox Tips

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Inbox management is a constant struggle. All too often, emails come in from all fronts throughout the entire day. Whether it’s clients, team members, family or that pesky sales person who just wants to “connect” and get lunch every other day. How can you stay focused on the messages that matter most when your Inbox stacks up higher than a Man VS Food episode?

We’ve got your back! Using the power of G-Suite (fancy name for Gmail for business), here are some killer tips to keep your Inbox looking svelte and efficient.

Empty it out!

Moving from Outlook is a big jump for many people. There is a comforting feeling seeing all 23,543 messages in your inbox. However comforting, it is very distracting and very slow. One of the simplest features of Google’s email service is the ‘archive’ feature. What is the archive feature you ask? Great question! Archive simply gets that message out of your Inbox. But where does it go? Only Google knows that. Ok, not really. There is a ‘label’ in the left column called ‘All Mail’. If you click this, you see all your mail again – both archived and the messages you left in your inbox. Pretty cool.

Being efficient involves ‘touching mail’ as few times as possible. I like to follow the Triple D rule – Do it. Delegate it. Ditch it.

When you are ready to jump into your email tasks (do this when you have set aside time to answer emails – not as a distraction to your ‘real’ tasks), open each email and take one of the following actions:

1) Do It – replying to the email (doing the request / answering questions)

2) Delegate / Forward It – to someone else that will assist, or

3) Ditch It – unsubscribe if it is junk you don’t need, or just delete it

Your inbox will be empty in no time!

My goal is to have an empty Inbox task at the end of each day, which usually does not happen. I am pretty excited though when it drops below 25!

Search: The Final Frontier

The G-Suite Archive feature is one of those uncomfortable features for some people. If you don’t see it in your Inbox, is it still available? You bet! This is where Google really shines – they are the masters of all search. The G-Suite search function is fast and powerful. If you even need a message that you have archived, just start typing the person’s name, subject, or body keyword and you will see your matches. If you need something more specific, use the search dropdown for more advanced search functions. All your archived emails will be a mouse click away.

G Suite tips and tricks

Send and Archive (the secret weapon)

One of my favorite time saving features of G-Suite is a function called ‘Send and Archive’. This feature adds another button next to the ‘Send’ button (when you reply to a message) called ‘Send and Archive’.

G Suite send and archive

When you reply to a message and hit ‘Save and Archive’, the message is sent and moved out of our Inbox all in one step. (Don’t worry – it is still available in the ‘All Mail’ folder or via a search). It is a quick way to Do It or Delegate It and get it out of your Inbox.

If you are not seeing this super cool time saving button, here is how you can activate the ‘Send and Archive’ button:

To enable Send & Archive in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings gear near Gmail’s top right corner
  2. Select Settings from the menu that has appeared
  3. Make sure Show “Send & Archive” button in reply is selected under Send and Archive
  4. Click Save Changes

Now, to send a message and archive its conversation in one go:

  1. Compose your reply
  2. Click Send and archive (instead of Send)

If you have questions or would like to try G-Suite for your business, give us a call. The geeks & creatives of wisnet.com are Google partners (among other things), and we would love to help you out!

Is your mobile menu harder to access than you think?

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We’ve all been on websites where the menu is on top. Heck, the site you’re on right now has the menu at the top (at least at the time of writing this article)! But there’s a good chance we might start seeing menus leave the comforts of the top and bear more weight on their shoulders.

Our team recently read and discussed an article from UX Movement suggesting mobile menus be moved to the bottom of the screen. The article provided research stating that most users hold their phone with one hand and really only use their thumb to interact with the screen. Knowing that, along with the common practice to have the mobile menu at the top of the screen, is it the most functional and efficient placement?

UX Movement builds a strong case for bringing the navigation down to the bottom on mobile.

  • Phones give thumbs a limited range of motion
  • Depending which hand is dominant, you can reach one side of the screen better than the other
  • As screen sizes get larger, the top areas of the screen become harder to reach
  • Larger screens also have lower reach-ability in the corner opposite the users thumb
  • The hardest to reach places for the thumb are at the top of the screen
  • The easiest to reach area for the thumb is the bottom of the screen
  • Placing the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen allows users to select options much faster
  • Placing the menu icon (what we affectionately call the “hamburger” menu) in the center instead of the left or right side, will make it more universal for left and right-handed users

By moving the mobile navigation to the bottom of the screen, UX Movement believes there’s a good chance you will increase user engagement and the user experience. Which, let’s face it, is the ultimate reason to make any change on your site.

After reading the article, our team of geeks & creatives agreed it’s something to consider when designing for mobile and we’re excited to try it out and see for ourselves! If you’re looking for a new website, an upgrade to your current site or just want to chat about last night’s Game of Thrones premiere, hit us up and we’ll find a time to talk!

RE: Using sick days for mental health

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I HATE this bad habit, but while aimlessly wasting time & scrolling through my Facebook feed last night, I found a gold nugget:  this great article – the story of Madalyn Parker, a fellow web developer from Michigan who works for Olark.

For those who haven’t seen/heard of it, long story short, she emailed her team this:

And received this response from her boss:

First of all, freakin’ awesome response, Ben Congleton. We can’t agree more.

Second, it got me thinking more about the culture, the attitudes and support we work to foster across the board for our geeks & creatives team members.

Our everyday culture & team development work includes:

  • celebrating our people & their strengths with tools like StrengthsFinder and other educational events;
  • encouraging personal & professional growth/learning – and then sharing it for the entire team’s benefit;
  • creating a healthy environment with stand-up desks, physical fitness perks & challenges, and healthy snacks & lunches in our cafe;
  • … and our list could go on …

We’ve historically even offered financial wellness perks & programming to our team and recently, I’m thrilled to have incorporated mental & emotional wellbeing into our conversations – including talk about mental health days and their benefits; and how we can foster an environment where we can feel confident being vulnerable and sharing when we’re not in the best, healthiest place, mentally.

More work and conversations are needed – and I feel confident wisnet is on the right track. However, this shared experience by/of Madalyn has encouraged me to evolve my vernacular just a little bit and I believe it can make a big difference! My personal mentality and professional drive have always been to help my team members become their best self … but the truth of the matter is that some days we wake up and our best self just isn’t feasible, for whatever reason.

Going forward, I aspire for our geeks & creatives team to feel confident in being supported as their true, whole self. If that whole self means you’re at your best, fabulous! And if not, know we’re here anytime you want to talk.

How to Teach Google Assistant to Talk to your TiVo

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Why do you need to control your TiVo through Google Assistant?

To that we say, “Why would you NOT?” But in all seriousness, picture this. You’re sitting on the couch. Belly full of dinner, cat on your lap or child sleeping on your shoulder and you need to switch from the Saved by the Bell marathon to the new episode of Game of Thrones that’s about to start. Oh no! The remote is nowhere to be found. Now what? Google to the rescue! Now, all you have to do is say, “Okay, Google. TiVo HBO.” As if by magic, your television cuts off Jessie Spano’s excitement just in time to get caught up on John Snow’s adventures.

Knowledge Needed:

  • Port Forwarding
  • Setting up a Raspberry Pi
    • Installing/configuring apache
    • Installing PHP
    • Installing telnet
  • The Code
  • IFTTT Applet

Difficulty Level: Meh

Before You Get Started

It is important to know before you try to do anything with this, that you need to be able to setup port forwarding on your router. Since there are many different routers and ISPs, I can’t tell you if you can do it. You’ll need to consult Google for this one. Find the make/model of your router and type into google “{make} {model} port forwarding.” This should get you in the right direction. If you can setup port forwarding on your router, then you can teach your Google Assistant to talk to your TiVo! And believe me you, it’s pretty deece.

Step 1: Setting up your Raspberry Pi w/ Apache, PHP & telnet

If you already have your Raspberry Pi initial install, great! If you don’t, go ahead and do that.

Once you are done with that, open a terminal on your Raspberry Pi (ctrl+alt+t). First we need to make sure that we have an updated list of packages. To do this, type in the terminal:

sudo apt-get update

Now that our sources are up-to-date, we can install Apache, PHP, and Telnet.

To install Apache enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install apache2 apache2-utils

Once Apache is installed we can continue by installing PHP. To do that enter this command in that same terminal:

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php-pear php5-xcache php5-mysql php5-curl php5-gd

Now that we have your RPI setup as a webserver, we also need it to be able to talk to other devices via telnet.

sudo apt-get install telnet

Now that we have the fun stuff installed, let’s move on to setting up your router to pass the request from the outside world to your Raspberry Pi on your local network.

Step 2: Setting up port forwarding

The same way you referenced port forwarding on your router should be able to help you here. What you need to know is the local IP address of your Raspberry Pi. To find that, in the terminal type

ifconfig | grep -m 1 "inet addr:192"

This will get you something like this:

ifconfig | grep "inet addr:"
inet addr:127.0.0.1  Mask:255.0.0.0
inet addr:192.168.1.122  Bcast:192.168.1.255  Mask:255.255.255.0

The number you are looking for probably looks like: 192.168.1.xxx

NOTE: if you do not get any results, just do: ifconfig

Copy that into the port forwarding destination.

Step 3: Setting up the apache virtual host

If you’re not familiar with setting up your own site, here’s a great reference from our friends at Digital Ocean.

What I did was set up a virtual host for my apache webserver. This allows me to listen to a specific port for this particular application (great if you have other things your Pi controls via Internet). Here is what my virtual host file looks like:


# I listen on 31339 because that’s the port that the TiVo
# listens on.
Listen 31339
<VirtualHost *:31339>
DocumentRoot "/var/www/google-assistant-tivo.com/public_html/"
ServerName google-assistant-tivo.com
ServerAlias www.google-assistant-tivo.com
<Directory "/var/www/google-assistant-tivo.com/public_html">
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI Includes
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
# Don’t forget to create this directory
ErrorLog /var/www/google-assistant-tivo.com/logs/error.log
</VirtualHost>

Step 4: The Code

There is a little bit of extra code added here that isn’t necessary to make this work, but what it does do is allow you to say “Okay, Google. TiVo HGTV” ($channelLookup) which will change the channel on the TiVo to, you guessed it, HGTV (you [most likely] need to modify the channel number that goes with the channel name). It also gets you a quick and dirty request log so you can debug your app and figure out what is going on.

So, here it is:

https://bitbucket.org/mdahlke/google-assistant-tivo/

Step 5: IFTTT

Setting up your applet on ifttt.com is as straightforward as it gets. If you’ve set one up before then you’ll have no problems with this step.

  1. Create New Applet
  2. For “this” select “Google Assistant
  3. For your trigger, select “Say a phrase with a text ingredient
  4. In the “What do you want to say” field enter: “TiVo $” (without the quotes)
  5. In the “What do you want the Assistant to say in response?” this is up to you. I have it responding with “Okay, TiVo $” so it echoes back what I said so I know it’s doing the right thing
  6. Click “Create Trigger
  7. Click “that
  8. Select “Maker Webhooks” for the action service
  9. Select “Make a web request
  10. Fill in the fields:
    • URL: This will be your public IP address followed by “/hook.php” and then the port that your virtual host is listening on. In my virtual hosts I have it set to listen on port 31339. So I entered in this field http://192.168.1.122:31339/hook.php (this will also be what the port you forwarded the request to on your router to)NOTE: The IP address I used in the example above is an internal IP that is not publicly accessible. To find your public IP address, ask Google what it is
    • Method: POST
    • Content Type: application/json
    • Body: {“type”:”default”,”command”: “{{NumberField}}”}
  11. Double check your inputs and click “Save”

Now you should be able to control your TiVo via your Google Assistant. That in itself is AWESOME!!! But one thing you may have noticed is changing channels via the channel number is not that awesome. Example, you try to say “Okay, Google. TiVo channel six two nine” and it sends the request as “6 – 9” (or that’s what I’ve found in the request.log). So to get around this I made another applet that specifically handles the channel request by accepting only a number. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create New Applet
  2. For “this” select “Google Assistant
  3. For your trigger, select “Say a phrase with a number ingredient
  4. In the “What do you want to say” field enter: “TiVo channel $” (without the quotes)
  5. In the “What do you want the Assistant to say in response?” field enter: “Okay, changing channel to $”
  6. Click “Create Trigger
  7. Click “that
  8. Select “Maker Webhooks” for the action service
  9. Select “Make a web request
  10. Fill in the fields:
    • URL: This will be your public IP address followed by “/hook.php” and then the port that your virtual host is listening on. In my virtual hosts I have it set to listen on port 31339. So I entered in this field http://192.168.1.122:31339/hook.php (this will also be the port you forwarded the request to on your router to) NOTE: The IP address I used in the example above is an internal IP that is not publicly accessible. To find your public IP address, ask Google what it is
    • Method: POST
    • Content Type: application/json
    • Body: {“type”:”default”,”command”: “{{NumberField}}”}
  11. Double check your inputs and click “Save”

Congratulations

You’re now among the elite TiVo users who can control their watching by the soothing sound of your own voice. Want more geeky & creative ideas? Stay tuned to the musings of the geeks & creatives of wisnet, or hit us up if you have questions on deploying a project. We’ve got you covered to go fearless into the net.

Issues?

If you run into any issues you can submit a an issue via the Bitbucket Repo.

More than websites

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At wisnet.com, we approach every single project as a small piece to a larger puzzle. It’s not just a website, it’s an extension (and often first impression) of your brand. It’s not just an application, it’s removing hurdles for your customers to continue to work with you. It’s not just digital signage, it’s communicating to a captive audience about how awesome you are. It’s not just… Well, you get the point.

So when we had the chance to work with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on some new messaging, we were so excited to be able to help them turn it up to 11. If you’ve ever been to a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game, you know that it’s so much more than baseball. There’s great food, hilarious games between innings, playgrounds for kids and a whole lot more. But, just like anything in our communities, it can be something we take for granted after a few years.

The geeks & creatives of wisnet jumped into action to bring to life a way for fans and community members alike to think about the Rattlers in a new light. To ditch the same old, same old of going shopping or a movie and instead, “Rattle Your Summer” with the Timber Rattlers! One way for us to bring this to life and really let the personality shine through was creating some radio spots that shows the enlightened path of what tickets to the T-Rats can do for your family.

In the first spot, “Did you hear that?” there’s a scary noise that’s causing some concern:

In the second, “Carol,” we learn how to keep the kids engaged once school is out:

Beyond the radio scripts and production, wisnet and the Timber Rattlers worked together on a campaign graphic, landing page and more to help their surrounding communities “Rattle Your Summer!”

Rattle Your Summer

And we had a blast helping their Northwoods League team, the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders bring “A New Spin on Summer” to life as well!

A New Spin on Summer

To get to campaigns that bring your personality and brand to life, whether through radio spots, design work, websites or more, the team of geeks & creatives here at wisnet can take you through our unique branding process. Because, let’s face it, you’re way better than the average lot. And wisnet can help you share that!