Thursday, August 22, 2013

Everything You Need to Know About Gmail's New, Super-Confusing Layout

If you haven't heard yet, Gmail is rolling out a new tabbed interface for the inbox on both desktop and mobile. At first glance, this looks great for email organization. On further inspection, these new tabs are confusing as hell. Here's how to make sense of the new tabs and customize them for your own filters.

Google describes the new tabs as a way to "put you back in control so that you can see what's new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read and when."

You get five optional tabs, described by Google below. Google automatically sorts your inbox into these tabs using its special algorithms (essentially matching many of Gmail's existing Smart Labels, which automatically filter incoming messages):

Primary: person-to-person conversations and messages that don't appear in other tabsSocial: messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, and other social websitesPromotions: deals, offers, and other marketing emailsUpdates: personal, auto-generated updates including confirmations, bills, receipts, bills, and statementsForums: messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing listsYou can also choose to force starred emails from all tabs to display in the Primary tab (in addition to the other tab).

To enable the new tabbed view, go to the Gear icon and select "Configure inbox." Once you do that, you'll be prompted to choose which tabs to enable and Gmail will start doing its magic, auto-sorting your inbox.

You can drag-and-drop emails from one tab to the next; when you do that, Gmail will ask if you want to create a filter for that sender to send messages in the future to that tab. Handy! It doesn't, however, move existing emails into that tab.

You can also create your own filters to send emails into specific tabs, as we'll see below, but that's tricky if you don't understand how the new tabs differ from Gmail's existing labels and which messages get sorted into tabs.

The tabs do give you a convenient way to automatically sort your inbox according to Gmail's preset categories and get notifications at a glance for when new emails come in. However, the tabbed view introduces a new, not-so-clear element in Gmail called "categories."

Everything You Need to Know About Gmail's New, Super-Confusing Layout

The tabs are based on these new categories. When you create a filter, in addition to being able to label a message, you can now categorize it as: Personal, Social, Updates, Promotions, or Forums from a drop-down box. These, as you see, match the tabs.

The problem is, you already have labels that also match these categories. Gmail, for example, adds Social Updates, Promotions, and Forums as SmartLabels in the left menu. The "Notifications" SmartLabel corresponds to the Updates tab (I wonder why they didn't just call the tab Notifications), but SmartLabels are not the same as Categories. Gmail's pre-designed SmartLabel filters makes it seem like that, but they're really two different things.

I also noticed one problem where certain messages would show up under a SmartLabel, but not a category. For example: Some auto-labeled "Notifications" didn't show up under my "Updates" tab.

It turns out the tabs only include emails from your inbox, not archived emails. In other words, the tabs are really just another view of your inbox. You can have more emails in the corresponding label than in the tabs if some of those emails are archived.

So, a few things we've discovered from testing:

If you have filters for daily deals emails and similar emails that would get categorized by Gmail as "Promotions" but have it set to skip the inbox (archive them), you won't see them in the Promotions tab unless you change those filters. The same goes for the other tabs.If you want to filter messages into a specific tab, you'll have to use the new "Categorize" option, not the labels. Gmail has added a new "Categories" label in the left menu with sub-labels for the categories, which match the tabs. In other words, all the messages under specific tabs are also in the corresponding Categories sub-label. Tip: If you want to briefly switch away from tabbed view and see all the emails at once across all the tabs, click on the Categories label.Now you'll have labels and categories with the same names. If you want to avoid confusion, you can just delete the old SmartLabels, since you can still access them through the categories in the sidebar. Alternatively, you could just hide them from the sidebar so they don't clutter it up.If you want to see the unread count for messages in the tabs, you have to click the Categories label name to expand the sub-labels. The tabs themselves only show when you have new messages, not the number of unread messages.Continuing on that theme, the unread count in the inbox label and browser tab only show the Primary tab number of unread messages, not all of your unread messages. That is by design.As mentioned above, when drag-and-dropping across tabs, you can create a new filter for future messages. However, this doesn't work if you select multiple email messages and drag them, unfortunately.Confused yet? Gmail's SmartLabels aren't perfect, and neither are the tabs. Gmail has been consistently labeling some personal emails as Promotions and putting some promotional emails in the Primary tab for me. It also seems like there's a fine line between Social and Forums messages.All of this said, it may be possible to harness the organizational power of the new tabbed interface to suit your needs better.

As mentioned above, you can now create your own filters to categorize messages, thus putting them in one of these tabs. So if you have no use for the "Forums" tab, you can instead use it to collect messages from specific senders or keywords. Unfortunately, there's no way to change the tab name.

The key is to make sure the filter doesn't overlap an existing filter that might counteract what you're trying to do. For example, you can't have "Skip the inbox" on a matching filter, otherwise it won't appear in the tabs at all (since the tabs are organization for the inbox).

To customize the tabs:

Create a new filter for the messages you want moved to one of the tabs. (For example, since I have no use for the Social tab on my work email, I'm using it instead to store emails I send to myself from my personal email address. In the search box, I put in "from:[my email address]" and click the down arrow in the search box to find the "Create filter with this search" link.)In the filter options in the next screen, choose the category that matches the tab for the "Categorize as" option. (E.g., I chose "Categorize as: Social.")You'll also have to check "Exclude from SmartLabels" just in case Gmail tries to categorize your email differently (as it did for one of my test emails to myself). Then hit "Create filter."If you also want to prevent Gmail auto-categorizing other messages in that tab, you could also go into your Settings > Filters and scroll to the bottom for the SmartLabel Filters and disable or edit the corresponding filter. However, do this with caution, as it seems there's no easy way to restore the built-in filter. It might be better to configure Gmail's SmartLabels so they skip the inbox and thus skip your tabs.'s Email site has the list of each SmartLabel (e.g., "label:^smartlabel_promo" for Promotions). When creating your filter, search for that "label:^" term to filter it out as you'd like.At the very least, the new "Categorize as:" filter can help you correct any Gmail errors when it comes to SmartLabels. For example, by creating a filter to categorize fellow Lifehacker editors' emails as "Personal," they now appear in my Primary tab, instead of, oddly, the Promotions or Forums one. They're still strangely "Smart"Labeled as Promotions, but at least they're in the right tab.

Thinking about Gmail's new tabs, SmartLabels, regular labels, and filters can feel like you're trying to solve an annoying circular reference error in Excel. However, the new tabbed view might come in handy if you know how to harness it.

And, if it's not for you, it's easy enough to get back the old, non-tabbed view if you prefer that Priority Inbox or other option.

What Knives Are Essential For a Serious Home Kitchen?

Some chefs possess an extensive collection of cutlery, while others keep just a few knives in the drawer. If you could only keep three knives, which would they be? The chefs at Stack Exchange give their picks.

I consider myself a serious home cook. What knives are essential?

See the original question.

There are three core essentials:

Chef's knife: 8" or 10" depending on your preferencesParing knife: 3" or 4" depending on your preferencesBread knife: As long as possible, 12"+. Feel free to go cheap here; it's serrated and thus largely unsharpenable. You may want to check out Alton Brown's book, Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen. He spends a chapter on knives and where to go past the essentials. He also suggests which knives are worth spending money on and which should be throwaways.

Everyone's stressing the chef's knife, but I'd be even more generic. When starting out, you can do almost every task with:

A large knife: 8" Chef, 7" Santoko, or Chinese CleaverA small knife: paring or similar)A bread knife: serrated, 10" or longerAs you add to your collection, consider the following:

A boning / filet knife Kitchen shears (for snipping herbs without a cutting board or cutting the back out of a chicken)A carving knife (for slicing meats and large melons or splitting a cake into layers)A heavy cleaver (so you don't mess up your main-line knives when hacking up bonesheavy enough to use the back of the knife for cracking a coconut) A utility / tomato knife (mid-sized, serrated)A few people have mentioned a larger chef's knife, but it's going to be harder to control. Develop good knife skills first, then move to something larger. I know a few people who do everything but bread with a paring knife (and no cutting board, in their hand, cutting against their thumb), and I'd consider them "serious chefs."

After the three that most of us agree on (chefs, paring, bread), my next choice would be a "tomato knife," which is a little longer than a paring knife, but serrated like a bread knife. Very handy for anything with tough skin.

Disagree? Find more answers or leave your own at the original post. See more questions like this at Seasoned Advice, the cooking site at Stack Exchange. And of course, feel free to ask a question yourself.

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Tiny Terrariums

Materials used in this project include:

Glass Bottles 

Seed Beads 

Chopstick or Pencil 

Potting Soil

Any seed that will stay small as a plant (we used Chamomile) 

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Make a Custom Bit Holder with Foam Rubber and a Piece of Wood

Make a Custom Bit Holder with Foam Rubber and a Piece of Wood

Drill bits are incredibly easy to lose, and even if you have a case built specifically for bits you're still bound to lose one now and again. Over on Instructables, user bobzjr shows you how to build a simple, at-a-glance style bit holder using a piece of foam rubber floor tile.

The nice thing about this bit holder is that it lays out all your bits in one clear view. No poking around inside a bucket (or worse, something like my system of "throw them all in a tupperware container"), or digging through a box. All you really need to do is cut a piece of cheap foam tile, and a piece of wood as a backing. Then drill small holes into the foam, attach the foam to the wood with epoxy, and you're all done. Head over to Instructables for the guide.

The Best Bit Holder | Instructables

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step1intro.jpgIt always bothers me greatly everytime I trip on the cable of my prized headphones, causing damage to my investment. So I decided to design a simple, easy, clippable desk headphone stand. It should be able to clip onto most desks and is made from a single piece of sheet metal. I think the result looks sleek, minimal and should merge nicely with any setup. This was made as part of a project for my Industrial Design course at Monash University, the aim was to make a personalised product from components taken from a printer; I repurposed the sheet metal frame within the printer to produce my end-product. The university project was coined "Redesign" - designing products from reused materials in ways that can also be later reused - which is basically a strategy for incorporating upcycling into industrial design processes. This product works well for me, and hopefully it will work for you too, enjoy! :)
All dimensions in MM.instructables-01.pngI sourced the sheetmetal from a printer (which I flattened), you may wish to also consider upcycling the metal from an existing source. 

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Don't Fall Asleep, It's Almost the Weekend: Open Thread

Don't Fall Asleep, It's Almost the Weekend: Open Thread

It's Friday. That means it's time to share what you know, ask what you don't, and generally partake in some conversation. Right here, right now!

Same drill as always but with a new twist, open-threaders! Ask questions, offer advice, discuss productivity tips, or just chat about whatever's on your mind. This week, we're coming to you from Hackerspace, the commenter-run playground for Lifehackers. Drop by Hackerspace any time you want to share your tips, how-tos, or just talk it out with your fellow readers.

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