Quickly Save your Gmail Messages in Evernote with a Google Sheet

Your Evernote account has a secret email address and any email message forwarded to this address is automatically archived as a new note in one of your Evernote notebooks. You can forward PDFs, travel receipts, audio clips, images and other important emails to this email address and they will be archived forever in your Evernote account.

You can send emails from Gmail to your Evernote account manually or you can use services like Zapier or IFTTT to automate the task of creating notes in Evernote from your Gmail mailbox. For instance, you can star a message in Gmail and it is sent to Evernote. Or can you apply the label Evernote to a message inside Gmail and IFTTT will forward the message with attachments to Evernote.

While it is easy to integrate Gmail and Evernote with the help of external services, a downside is that you would need to grant full access to your Gmail mailbox to a third party service. If you are not happy doing that, there’s an alternate solution that uses Google Sheets and it can be implemented in less than a minute.

Let’s see how:

Gmail to Evernote

Send Gmail Messages to Evernote

  1. Click here to copy the Gmail to Evernote spreadsheet in your Google Drive.
  2. Put your Evernote email address (help) and other values in column D. Refer to the illustrated screenshot for details.
  3. Now click the Start button, authorize the script and it will run in the background. Close the sheet and any messages in Gmail with the label Evernote (cell D4) will be sent to your Evernote in specified notebook and tag.

That’s it. The script is open-source and no third-party has access to any of your Gmail or Google Drive data. You can also consider using the Bulk Auto Forward tool for automated sending to other email based workflows like Kindle, Instapaper, Salesforce, WordPress and so on.

Later, if you wish to stop the Google sheet from forwarding your Gmail messages to Evernote, simply click the Stop button. Also, please note that you should only specify tag and notebook names that already exist in your Evernote. If they do not existing, the email will get saved in your default Evernote notebook.

See more Evernote tips & tricks.


The story, Quickly Save your Gmail Messages in Evernote with a Google Sheet, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 09/03/2015 under Evernote, GMail, Internet.

How to Create YouTube Playlists without Logging In

How do you share a collection of YouTube videos in an email newsletter or on the social media. The best option is that you create a new YouTube playlist, add all the videos and then share the link (URL) of the playlist. The privacy of the YouTube playlist can be set to Unlisted if you would like to hide your video list from search engines.

It is easy to build playlists in YouTube but they are always connected to your YouTube channel or Google Account – you cannot create a playlist on YouTube anonymously without logging in to your account.

There’s however a simple URL hack that will let you create “virtual” playlists on YouTube – they are like regular playlists except that they are not connected to any Google account and you can still add or remove videos on the fly.

Create YouTube Playlists

Create YouTube Playlists on the fly

All YouTube videos have a unique video ID and you can create a concatenated list of these video IDs, separated by commas, to create a new YouTube playlist from the corresponding videos.

For instance, here are 5 YouTube videos (video IDs are in red) that I would like to add to a playlist but one that is not associated with my YouTube channel:

1. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjRTSkBHnyo
2. www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhU5y7huAY8
3. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T_EqwQnZY0
4. www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQKvro1Wz-E
5. www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXLYIw-IU8I

All I have to do is take the video IDs and put them in the URL below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=ID1,ID2,ID3,ID4…

So the new YouTube playlist will be located at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=sjRTSkBHnyo,fhU5y7huAY8…

This is like any other playlist on YouTube – anyone can share it, embed it or even copy the playlist to their own Google Account.


The story, How to Create YouTube Playlists without Logging In, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 02/03/2015 under YouTube, Internet.

How to Remove Password from PDF Files with Google Chrome

The bank sends me monthly credit card statements as password-protected PDF files mostly because they contain personal information. I archive these PDFs into Google Drive but, because these files are protected with a password, the text isn’t searchable inside Drive. Also, each PDF file has a different password so it’s impossible to remember them and takes just too much to find these PDFs later.

pdf password

Removing Password from a PDF File

Since the Google Drive is already protected with 2 layers of security – password and 2-factor authentication – it should be OK if we remove the password protection from PDF files before uploading them to Drive.

Is there any software program available that can remove password protection from PDF files? One that doesn’t cost a dime and works on both Mac and Windows? Well the answer is yes and that too is already installed on your computer. It’s called Google Chrome.

Google Chrome has a built-in PDF reader* and a PDF writer and we can combine the two features to remove the password from any PDF document. Let’s see how:

  1. Drag any password protected PDF file into your Google Chrome browser. If you can’t find one, use this sample PDF file – the open password is “labnol” without the quotes.
  2. Google Chrome will now prompt you to enter the password of the file. Enter the password and hit Enter to open the file.
  3. Now go to the File menu in Google Chrome and choose Print (or press Ctrl+P on Windows or Cmd+P on Mac). Choose the destination printer as “Save as PDF” and click the Save button.

Google Chrome will now save the PDF to your desktop but without the password protection. If you re-open this PDF in Chrome, it would no longer require a password to open. Thank you Ivan Sunga for the tip.

Alternatively, if you have enabled Google Cloud Print, you can choose the destination as “Save to Google Drive” in the print dialog and the unprotected version of the PDF will be sent straight to your Google Drive from Chrome.

Remove PDF Password with Chrome

[*] Open the special page chrome://plugins and enable the option that says “Chrome PDF Viewer” to let Chrome natively handle PDF files.

Remove PDF Passwords without Chrome

If you are not a Google Chrome user, download this free Windows utility called BeCyPDFMetaEdit to remove passwords from PDF files.

First launch the program and it will ask your for the location of the PDF file. Before you select and open the PDF, change the mode to “Complete Rewrite,” then switch to the Security tab and set the “Security System” to “No encryption.” Click the Save button and your PDF will no longer require a password to open.

See more tools for editing PDF files.


The story, How to Remove Password from PDF Files with Google Chrome, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 01/03/2015 under Google Chrome, Google Drive, PDF, Software.

Learning Vim for Beginners

Vim, or Vi Improved, is an extremely powerful text editor that lets you do almost everything using keyboard shortcuts. You can replace text in a document, move or delete lines, automate edits and more without ever reaching for the mouse. Vim is the favorite source code editor of programmers but there’s no reason why you cannot use the editor for your regular text-editing tasks from writing down ideas to composing long emails.

If you have always used a graphic text editor like Notepad or TextEdit, you are likely to find Vim confusing but spend some time with the editor and it will be difficult for you to go back. Entire books have been written on Vim but just learn the basic commands, practice daily and you’ll find yourself more efficient and productive.

Vim Tutorials

Here are a list of online tutorials and other helpful resources to help you learn Vim.

1. OpenVim – An interactive tutorial for learning the basics of Vim. Switch to the Practice page to test your existing Vim skills.

2. Vim Adventures – An online puzzle game for learning and memorizing Vim commands. You are a blinking cursor and you’ve to navigate the maze with your keyboard. If you are stuck, you can always type :help for an hint.

3. Vim Genius – This a flashcard style game to help you learn the basics of Vim. There are dedicated lessons for learning the motion keys (h,j,k,l) and for mastering copy-paste in vim.

4. Learn to Love Vim – The Linux Voice magazine has put together a video to get you started with Vim.

5. Vim Basics – Derek Wyatt has produced a bunch of video tutorials (screencasts) around teaching Vim. A great resources for novice users who would prefer learning Vim by watching than reading.

6. Learning Vim – Mike Coutermarsh covers getting up and running, and eventually productive with Vim. The PDF of the talk is available on Speakerdeck.

7. Vim – Precision Editing – Drew Neil of Vimcasts.org walks you through Vim and how the text editor is optimized for mouseless operations. Must watch if need convincing why you need to know Vim.

8. Practical Vim – The only book you’d ever need for mastering Vim.

9. Vim Tutorial – The official Vim documentation includes a tutorial that you can also access from the Vim program through the :vimtutor command.

10. Vim Cheat Sheet – Print this because you’ll need it later.

11. A Byte of Vim – A free PDF ebook to help you learn the Vim editor.

12. Vim 101 – A collection of byte-sized text tutorials that cover the various aspects of editing with Vim. You should also watch these screencasts for a visual walkthrough.

If you spend a lot of time typing text, learning Vim will be totally worth the effort. I wrote this article inside Sublime Text with Vim-like key bindings.


The story, Learning Vim for Beginners, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 23/02/2015 under Code, Internet.

An Unconventional Income Statement + What’s New in 2015

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written a new blog post – perhaps the longest I’ve ever gone without a new blog post in the 5+ years since I started blogging.

No doubt there’s been a lot going on, as mentioned in some of my previous income statements, but it’s been awhile since I’ve given a full update on the status of my online business. In general, things have remained inactive.  I’ve continuously earned around $500/month, completely passive income, from some of the sites I created more than a year ago as well as from one of my favorite investing sites, Lending Club.

I’m not going to bore you right now with the same stuff that you’ve read in my last 5 or 6 income reports.  Everything has been pretty consistent, and I’m still genuinely pleased that work I did a long time ago continues to pay off today.

But more importantly, where is this all heading?  I don’t know exactly, but I have some ideas.

Why the Break in Income Statements and Blogging in General?

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that I have consistently posted an income statement every single month for the past 4+ years, and only recently (December 2014) have I stopped publishing them.

It’s not because I don’t want to share them anymore – it’s simply that nothing has changed. As I mentioned above, I’m tired of churning out the same “nothing new here” income reports. I thought it would be better if, instead, I published income reports when I actually have something new or interesting to report.

As for blogging, I miss it.  Part of the reason I haven’t blogged much lately is because I’ve been busier with my “real job.”  I’m finally in a relatively important position with a lot of responsibility, and quite honestly, it’s been rewarding.  I’m not always happy with it, but that’s the way it is.  I challenge you to find someone – even the entrepreneur who absolutely loves his or her business – who isn’t sometimes stressed or unhappy with their work.

It’s been a challenge to try and live out my entrepreneurial dream while still staying committed to a normal corporate job.  I think many of you reading this know what I’m talking about.

Part of the problem is that I don’t hate my job, and therefore, the fire underneath me isn’t all that hot.  Sometimes you need a really hot fire to ignite an entrepreneurial passion and force you into action.  That’s the way many endeavors begin, and are successful.

I have ideas that I’m currently trying to execute, and part of the reason I haven’t been blogging about it is because I simply don’t have the time to do it.  In the past, I would spend so much time on this blog discussing my plans, writing blog posts that explain what I’m doing and updating on progress, that it would actually eat away at the time that I have to execute those projects.

So, I’ve decided that once I really have things in motion, I’ll write about them here.  But until then, it’s not a good use of my time to write in detail about what I plan to do.  And it’s a better use of your time too – why waste your time reading about something I haven’t begun to execute yet?

What’s New in 2015

In an attempt to not completely contradict what I just wrote above, I’ll give you a little glimpse into what I’m currently working on:

  • Building my tax preparation business: As you know, I’m a CPA, and I have a small client base for whom I prepare taxes (this is outside of my regular day job).  I specialize in taxes for sole proprietors – individuals who run small businesses (such as someone who owns an income generating website), and need a little bit of help sorting out how exactly it all needs to be reported for tax purposes.

I’m trying to grow this business, so if you’re someone in the US who could use a little bit of tax advice or need someone to prepare your tax return, feel free to contact me.

  • Building a new website around my area of expertise (accounting/taxes):  This will be more of an informational resource, but could help bring in new clients and could lead to additional premium products.
  • Kindle book - I’m working on a Kindle book that is going to be a compilation of content I’ve already published in the past (not from My 4-Hour Workweek).  Stay tuned on this one, as you’ll probably hear more about this in the near future.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a little bit of a real update instead of the same old boring income report.  I hope to be back soon with some more interesting developments.

What’s new in your business lately?  Are you in a similar situation as me? Feel free to leave a comment, and we can chat about it.

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An Unconventional Income Statement + What’s New in 2015

Find How Many Visitors Are Not Seeing Ads on your Website

Adblocking software like AdBlock Plus have become mainstream and now pose a significant threat to web businesses that are dependent on online advertisements. The problem is so severe that Google and Amazon are paying the writers of AdBlock Plus to whitelist their ads. This may be seen as some kind of extortion but with billions of dollars at stake, the advertising companies have chosen to take the more profitable route.

It is estimated that ~5% of website visitors are blocking ads (PDF report) and the situation could be far worse for websites that have a more tech-savvy audience. If you are curious to know how many people visiting your own site are blocking AdSense and other ads, here’s a little trick.

Track Adblock Users with Google Analytics

Open your website template and copy-paste the snippet below before the closing body. This code will detect the presence of adblocking software on the visitor’s browser and, if found, an event gets logged into your Google Analytics account.

<script> 
  
  window.onload = function() { 
  
    // Delay to allow the async Google Ads to load
    setTimeout(function() { 
      
      // Get the first AdSense ad unit on the page
      var ad = document.querySelector("ins.adsbygoogle");
      
      // If the ads are not loaded, track the event
      if (ad && ad.innerHTML.replace(/s/g, "").length == 0) {

        if (typeof ga !== 'undefined') {

            // Log an event in Universal Analytics
            ga('send', 'event', 'Adblock', 'Yes'); 

        } else if (typeof _gaq !== 'undefined') {

            // Log an event in old Google Analytics
            _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Adblock', 'Yes']);

        }
      }
    }, 2000); // Run ad block detection 2 minutes after page load
  }; 
  
</script>

The snippet works for both Universal Analytics and the older version of Google Analytics tracker that used the _gaq object. As a web publisher, your only option is to serve alternate content to AdBlock users so the visitors at least see some content in place of the ads.

One big caveat though – it will fail if the ad blocking extension installed on the visitor’s computer has blocked Google Analytics as well. Some of the popular choices like μBlock, NoScript and Ghostery do block Google Analytics so the approach won’t work and you may have to build your own in-house solution – like downloading an image hosted on your own server and then counting the hits to that image through the Apache server logs.

Also see: Use Google Analytics without JavaScript


The story, Find How Many Visitors Are Not Seeing Ads on your Website, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 17/02/2015 under Google AdSense, Google Analytics, Internet.

Tips to Extend the Life of your Gadget’s Batteries

Your mobile phones, tablets and laptops have rechargable Lithim Ion batteries that lose capacity as they age but with good care, the batteries may last for 2 to 3 years or even longer. What can you do to increase the overall lifespan of your gadget’s battery? Should you keep your mobile devices charged or wait for the charge to drop to 0% before charging them again?

Phone Battery

I recently scanned the websites of consumer electronics companies, including HP, Asus, AppleDell and also Battery University – for their recommendations on how to maximize the battery life and here’s a quick summary of what I learned:

1. Avoid deep discharge meaning you should not continue using the device until the battery drains down to 10% or below. The optimal charge level for Li-Ion batteries is suggested between 40% and 70% and, if possible, charge your device in short bursts multiple times a day.

2. If you are not planning to use a gadget for long periods, like more than a month, charge them to around 50% before storing. If the device is fully charged, discharge to the half-way mark, power-down the device and store in a cool dry place.

3. You should never store a device that is either fully charged or completely discharged for extended periods as both these states would result in loss of battery capacity. If you are leaving your mobile device in the closet unused for longer than six months, charge it to 50% every six months to maintain battery health and also reduce the aging effect.

4. Do not leave your gadgets in the car on a hot afternoon as prolonged exposure to temperatures higher than 35°C can permanently damage the capacity of your mobile phone’s battery.

5. It is OK to leave your mobile phone plugged in at night for charging but the mobile case could be an issue. The heat generated during the charging needs an exit vent and if the design of your mobile case doesn’t allow that, it maybe a good idea to remove the case before plugging-in the charger.

That said, these tips will mostly benefit people who do not upgrade their gadgets frequently. For others, don’t sweat too much as you’ll probably replace the phone even before the battery starts to degrade.


The story, Tips to Extend the Life of your Gadget’s Batteries, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 17/02/2015 under Gadgets.

Edit the Text and Images of your PDF file in the Browser

If you need to make changes in an existing PDF file, you need to get hold of the original document that was used to create the PDF, make the edits in the source document and export it as a PDF again. This is the best option since the document’s layout and formatting will be preserved in the new PDF file and you don’t even need an external PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat.

However, if you do not have access to the source document, you can still edit your PDF files in the browser using the free Word app. It may not be able to handle PDF files with complex layouts, or PDFs that are mostly comprised of charts and images but for text based PDF, Word is a probably a good options for fixing typos or manipulating text and images in PDFs. See example.

PDF Editor

Edit PDF Files with Word Online

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can edit the content of PDF files inside the Word web app.

  1. Go to onedrive.com and sign-in with your Microsoft account. While you are logged in, drag a PDF file from the desktop onto the OneDrive website to upload it.
  2. After the PDF file is uploaded, double-click to open the PDF file in the Word online app. Remember you are looking at the PDF file and it is not editable yet.
  3. Click the Edit in Word button to open the PDF file for editing. Say yes when OneDrive asks for your permissions to convert the PDF into Word format (it makes a copy so your original PDF is unaltered).
  4. Once the file is converted to PDF, click the Edit button to open the converted document in the Word app for editing.

Since you now editing the PDF as a standard Word document, you can edit it to your heart’s content. You can add images, change the logo, modify the text or apply different formatting, add tables and more. Once you are done, go to the File menu and choose Save As to download it as a PDF file again.

Also, Word Online is free (like Google Docs) and you do not need a Microsoft Office 365 license nor you need to install any of the Office software on your desktop to make quick edits to PDF files. The only limitation is that the layout of paragraphs, tables, or images in the PDF may be lost after conversion and thus may require effort to recreate the original layout.

Edit PDF in Word

A similar option – see OCR with Google Docs – is available in Google Docs as well but it may not be enabled by default. Also, in my limited testing, Word did a better job of converting PDF for editing.

If you are using Google Docs, go to Settings and turn on the option that says “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.” Now upload the PDF to your Google Drive, right-click the uploaded file and choose “Open With – Google Docs” in the contextual menu.


The story, Edit the Text and Images of your PDF file in the Browser, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 17/02/2015 under Microsoft Word, PDF, Internet.

An Easier Way to Unsubscribe from Mailing Lists in Gmail

Gmail has made it easy for you to unsubscribe from email newsletters and other bulk mail. You can open a message, click the “unsubscribe” link and Gmail will automatically remove your email address from the mailing list. This option is however only available on the Gmail website and not if you are using Gmail on the mobile phone or accessing Gmail through an app like Outlook or Dropbox’s MailBox.

There are third-party services, Unroll.me for example, that let you remove yourself from unsolicited bulk email but you’ll have to grant access to your entire Gmail mailbox and Google contacts to them. The service is no doubt convenient but would I be willing to give full access to my email account to a third-party? Probably not.

Christian Heilmann’s tweetFeature request for Gmail: automatically find and follow the unsubscribe link in all highlighted mails – prompted me to research this topic in a bit more detail and it turned out that building an automated system for unsubscribing from bulk email isn’t that difficult. Here’s how it looks like:

Unsubscribe from Gmail Bulk Messages

How to Unsubscribe from Bulk Mail in Gmail

What I have now is a simple Google Script that parses the content of bulk emails and find the unsubscribe link. If the link is found, the script opens the link and the email is unsubscribed. In some cases, the bulk sender would require you to send a message to a special email address to unsubscribe and the script can do that as well.

You don’t have to grant access to your Gmail account to any service, you can unsubscribe without even open the email (faster) and you can add emails to the unsubscribe queue from any email client including desktop and mobile apps. Let’s get started:

  1. Click here to copy the Gmail Unsubscriber sheet to your Google Drive.
  2. Go to the Gmail menu in the sheet (see screenshot) and choose Authorize. All the script access to your Gmail account. It is an open source Google Script that runs in your own Drive and not a single byte of data is shared with anyone.
  3. From the same menu, choose Start and pick a name for your Gmail label (the default is Unsubscribe). Save your changes

The Gmail Unsubscriber program is now initialized and running in the background. You can apply the Unsubscribe label to any Gmail message and you’ll be automatically unsubscribed in 10-15 minutes. Everything is logged in the Google Sheet so you know what’s happening behind the scenes. Give it a try!

How Gmail Unsubscribes from Mailing Lists

All legitimate bulk email senders include a List-Unsubscribe field in the message header that contains a URL or email address for unsubscribing from a mailing list. Here’s a screenshot:

List-Unsubscribe Header in Bulk Emails

You can view these details by opening any bulk message inside Gmail and choosing “Show Original” from the menu. In other cases, the unsubscribe link may be included in the message body with the anchor text like “click here to unsubscribe” – the script is smart enough to recognize all such links, it opens them for you and removes your email address from the mailing list.


The story, An Easier Way to Unsubscribe from Mailing Lists in Gmail, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 09/02/2015 under GMail, Internet.

Know the Battery Status of your Visitor’s Mobile Phone

When someone visits your website, you can easily retrieve information about the charge level of their mobile or laptop’s battery through the Battery Status API (live demo). This is currently supported on Google Chrome, Opera & Firefox on the desktop and Chrome for Android.

The Battery API can be implemented with few lines of JavaScript code and reveals all the required details about the device’s battery charge level. You’ll get to know:

  1. Whether or not the visitor’s battery is currently being charged.
  2. How much is the battery charged?
  3. If charging, how many seconds until the battery is fully charged.
  4. The remaining time in seconds until the battery is completely discharged.
  5. Battery Status Demo

    You can attach event listeners so the battery data is updated as soon as the charge level of the hardware’s battery is changed while the visitor is still on your page. You can go one step further and even integrate this with Google Analytics and store the battery charge level of your visitor’s devices using Events in Analytics.

    <script>
     
      if (navigator.getBattery) {
        navigator.getBattery().then(function(battery) {
          display(battery);
        });
      } else if (navigator.battery) {
        display(navigator.battery);
      } else {
        console.log("Sorry, Battery Status API is not supported");
      }
     
      function display(battery) {
        console.log('Charge level? '     + battery.level);
        console.log('Battery charging? ' + battery.charging);
        console.log('Time to charge? '   + battery.chargingTime);
        console.log('Time to discarge? ' + battery.dischargingTime);
      }
     
    </script>

    This can have several use cases. For instance, when the visitor’s device is running low on battery and not plugged-in, the web developer can choose to automatically save the changes – like the form entries – in localStorage before the battery is completely drained.

    Here’s a complete list of browsers that currently support the Batter Status API as found on caniuse.com. To know more, refer to the documentation on Mozilla and W3.

    HTML5 Battery Status


    The story, Know the Battery Status of your Visitor’s Mobile Phone, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 03/02/2015 under JavaScript, Internet.