It is expected that Google will be introducing a new look to the LakerApps suite of applications for all users in the December/January timeframe. This includes the Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Sites apps.
In June of this year, Google announced it would be working on creating new user interfaces for its primary applications. Google cites three primary reasons for making these changes. Focus for streamlining a new look across all the apps and reducing clutter, elasticity for consistent user experience no matter what device you are using – computer, tablet or mobile, and effortlessness for incorporating the latest technologies in their products to quickly bring new features to users. Google has also been working diligently to make their products more effective for users with disabilities who may be accessing them through adaptive or assistive technologies.What does this mean for users? It means a more consistent look across all the apps and across all devices whether you are using them on a PC, a tablet computer (like an iPad) or a smartphone. It also means a little bit of change…
Since their announcement in June, Google has been letting users preview the interfaces and provide feedback on what they like and dislike about the changes. Google is then incorporating any necessary revisions to be included in a final product release.
For our LakerApps suite of applications, the preview option is currently available for all four applications – Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Sites. The FAQ article on the Google Apps New Look page describes how you can opt-in to the new interface for each app and then also how you can opt-out of it to continue using the “classic” interface. CTS encourages you try the new look.
While you can opt in and out of the new interfaces right now, it is expected that the new interfaces will become permanent in the December/January timeframe with Docs and Sites going permanent in December, and Calendar and Gmail in early January. You will actually see the new look in Gmail mid-December as the default look, but will still be able to opt-out of it until January. Once they become permanent, the options to switch to the “classic” interface will no longer be available.
You should also be aware that Google is no longer supporting Firefox 3.6 and below nor IE 7 and below with its applications, especially the new interface for Gmail. If you are using one of these browsers, please see the article “Google No Longer Supporting Older Firefox and IE Browsers.”
For more information about the interface changes in each of the apps, please visit the Google Apps New Look Page.
There are only a handful of SUNY Oswego-owned machines running IE 7 or older. CTS will be handling those upgrades on a case-by-case basis.
If you are using Firefox 3.6 (Mac or PC) or less or IE 7 or less on a personal device and use LakerApps, you should upgrade to a newer version.
To determine your current version for Firefox, go to your Firefox Help menu and choose “About Firefox.” If it’s higher than 3.6 you do not need to upgrade. Otherwise, you can upgrade by going to the Firefox website.
To find your IE version, from the Help menu choose “About Internet Explorer.” If it is higher than 7, you do not need to upgrade. Otherwise, you can upgrade by going to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer page.
For more information about supported browsers, see Google’s Supported Browsers page.
To integrate Firefox with LakerApps, there is a simple configuration setting that needs to be done. From the Firefox Tools menu select “Options” then click on the “Applications” tab and scroll down in the list of applications until you see “mailto.” Under the Action menu, select “Use Gmail.”
Now when you click on an email link in a web page, it will allow you to send your message using Gmail. If you are not currently logged into LakerApps at the time you click on the email link, it will first ask you to login and then direct you to a compose window to compose and send your message.
All faculty and staff who receive a new machine will have this change automatically applied to their Firefox browser.
- More Space: If you were getting close to your 7GB space limit for your email, no worries. Google recently increased all Google Apps for Education users mail space from 7GB to 25GB. Thank you, Google!
- Nested Labels: If you organize your email, then you probably have used labels. Labels are similar to folders and allow you to take email out of your inbox and store them into categories you specify for later access. Previously, you could not group your labels together to create sub-labels. Now you can. When you create a new label you will have the option of grouping it under an existing label. If you’d like to nest existing labels, go to your Mail Settings->Labels and then edit the Label you want to nest. You will see an option to nest it. Learn More
- Inbox Styles: You can now choose what mail messages you want to see at the top of your inbox each time you login. Perhaps you want to see your Starred messages first or your Important messages. Simply click on the option you would like to improve your mail reading efficiency! Learn More
- The People Widget: This new widget shows up on the right hand side of any mail message you are viewing. What you will see in this column is more information about the people involved in the conversation. As you click on a person’s name you will see recent email communications with the person and if you have any shared documents or upcoming events with them. You can also easily chat with them and send them email. Learn More
- Call Phone: In the chat area of Gmail, under your name will be a “Call phone” listing. This new feature within Gmail allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. Domestic calls are free through 2011 as well as calls to Canada. Learn More
- Appointment Slots: This is one of the biggest new features Google introduced over the summer for Calendar, but won’t actually work in our SUNY Oswego domain until late September. Everyone will have the ability to create a block of time on their calendar where people can sign-up to meet with you. Does Office Hours ring a bell? Appointment slots is perfect for that. Learn More
- Color-Code Events: Ever wanted to categorize events by color or just wanted that really important one to stand out? You can now color code your events. Learn More
- Default Meeting Length: If you often have to adjust the default event length of meetings when you create them, you can now make your most common event length your default through the Calendar Settings. Learn More
- Google Cloud Connect: This is a very cool feature now available for use with Microsoft Office. Ever wanted to share a MS Word document in Docs, but still continue to work on it in Word without having to upload a new version to Docs each time you made changes? If you install Google Cloud Connect, you can continue to make those changes in Word and with a click of a button have them automatically synced to Google Docs. Oh, and it works with Excel and PowerPoint too! Learn More
To keep up on Google’s new feature releases, visit their What’s New in Google Apps? page.
This past spring, Microsoft released Internet Explorer (IE) version 9 and shortly afterward, Mozilla released Firefox version 4. ANGEL was not immediately compatible with these two browsers. An ANGEL software patch was applied to our installation last month that now makes it compatible with both of these browsers.
ANGEL to Blackboard Migration
In 2009, Blackboard acquired ANGEL and since then have been working on merging the two products. They have started this merger by slowly blending the strengths of each product and introducing them into Blackboard version 9.
Over the last two years since Blackboard’s acquisition of ANGEL, the SUNY Learning Network (SLN) has been investigating migration paths away from ANGEL to another Learning Management System (LMS) product. SLN is a SUNY unit that provides distance learning services to member campuses. They currently host the SUNY Oswego installation of ANGEL along with 26 other SUNY campuses.
Recently, SLN announced that they will officially be supporting Blackboard as the next LMS for SLN campuses. A new three-year contract between SUNY and Blackboard is nearly complete. SUNY Oswego has chosen to participate in this contract when it becomes available and will be looking at migrating from ANGEL to Blackboard sometime over the next 12-18 months. We will keep users informed of the details on the actual migration as we have them. Look for announcements on the SUNY Oswego ANGEL website.
Self-paced, on-demand tutorials are also available from our iTunes U site. Tutorials covering Microsoft Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010 and LakerApps Sites are currently available.
Other technical training opportunties:
- ANGEL workshops are available from the main ANGEL website.
- Updating your department web site with Ingeniux workshops are available at the Ingeniux Training site.
- The Skillport e-learning software is available to all faculty, staff and students. Skillport includes business and technology-related courses (including Office 2010) as well as courses and test preps needed to prepare you for many business and technical certifications. Get started at the Skillport home page.