Friday, June 29, 2012

Fwd: How To Add Your Own Background Images To Your Gmail Account


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Date: Jun 28, 2012 7:53 AM
Subject: How To Add Your Own Background Images To Your Gmail Account
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How To Add Your Own Background Images To Your Gmail Account

by Justin Pot

gmail backgroudn imageIt's finally possible – you can now set any image as your background in Gmail. Two new themes give you complete control over the image behind them, allowing you to use your own picture or pick your own from a wide selection.

Gmail launched in 2004. Longtime Google geeks doubtlessly remember where they were when they finally got an invite to the then-exclusive service. Offering a complete 1 GB of storage space to Hotmail's 2 to 4 MB, Gmail was kind of a big deal. Fewer probably recall when Gmail added "themes" to its email service, which was in 2008. Well, now there are custom themes in Gmail.

Is it the most important interface change Google has ever made? Of course not. That was a silly question to ask. However, being able to customize Gmail themes with your own photos is, while not essential, a nice feature to have. If you love personalizing things, I recommend you check this out right now.

Using Custom Themes

To get started, open Gmail. Click the gear in the top-right corner, click "Themes" and scroll until you see this option:

background images gmail account

Pick "Light" or "Dark"; it doesn't matter for now. When you do, you'll be able to pick your picture:

background images gmail

You have a few options – Featured photos, your photos from Picasa, photos from your phone (assuming you use the Google+ app), uploading photos or adding a URL. Find a picture you like.

Uploading is easy because of a drag-and-drop interface:

background images gmail

Once you've picked your image, play with the settings to find out whether the "Light" or "Dark" theme works better for you.

There are a few caveats:

  • You cannot set Gmail to automatically rotate your own images, slideshow style. Hopefully this is coming.
  • You cannot adjust the image to fit better on Gmail's end; you'll need to do that before, if you think that's necessary.
  • Vertical images will probably look weird with this, unless you primarily use a vertical monitor.
  • Some people may not have this feature yet. Just wait: everyone will have it eventually.

A Few Examples

The first thing I did, naturally, was try this with one of my favorite wallpapers. I wasn't disappointed with how it looked:

background images gmail

Then I tried it with a photo my wife Kathy took during a recent vacation. I like how it turned out too:

background images gmail account

That structure is in Hovenweep National Monument and dates back to 1500, well before Europeans got to America. The people who built these structures left them behind, and no one knows precisely why. Seeing this image reminds me that technology is temporary, and occasionally something entire societies leave behind.

That's why customization is nice – you can add your own ideas and memories to something that is otherwise impersonal.

Do you need ideas? This video shows off a variety of different photos behind Gmail's interface. Check it out:


What's there to say? It's Gmail, with your favorite pictures. I'm sure some people will use this to make grotesque, MySpace-esque monstrosities, but that's fine. Only they have to look at it.

Please share links to any particularly awesome wallpapers or photos you create or find in the comments below. I can't be the only one looking for something awesome to try out.

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Fwd: Important information from Kaiser Permanente

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Date: Jun 28, 2012 6:13 PM
Subject: Important information from Kaiser Permanente

To ensure that future announcements are delivered to your inbox (not your bulk folder), please add to your address book.

Moving forward with your health in mind

About the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

The Supreme Court decision on the federal health care reform law has settled much of the legal uncertainty over how the law will be carried out.

As a Kaiser Permanente member, you need not be concerned about any disruption to your coverage and care resulting from the court's decision.

With your health and well-being in mind, we plan to continue our extensive efforts to implement health care reform, which began two years ago when the law first became effective.

  • We are implementing state and federal reform laws as an integrated health care system. These laws incorporate certain requirements around health care coverage. They also address broader improvements to the way health care is delivered now and in the future.

  • We are continuing to improve the quality and integration of care, and ensuring that we have the resources in place — physicians, nurses, and other staff, as well as the right health care facilities — to provide the care you and your family will need.

  • We are also reviewing the court's decision to determine how it may affect the law's expansion of Medicaid coverage to millions of Americans, which is planned to begin in 2014.

While political uncertainty still remains, we'll continue to be guided by our goals of providing high-quality care, great service, and affordability to our members and the communities we serve.

Learn more about health care reform.

This email is an important communication from Kaiser Permanente. It is being sent to you because you are registered on our website, Health Plans are required to provide members with certain information, which is included in this email.

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Kaiser Permanente health plans around the country: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., in Northern and Southern California and Hawaii • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc., Nine Piedmont Center, 3495 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-364-7000 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., 2101 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20852 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, 500 NE Multnomah St., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97232

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beatles Offspring: A choice article

Offspring, talented?

The fab 15: One joined a religious cult. Another became an Exploding Nudist. As four of the Beatles' sons talk of forming a band, how have their siblings fared?

They are among 15 children and step-children John, Paul, George and Ringo had by eight women. But how well have they all succeeded in emerging from the shadow of their famous fathers?

Read the Full Story:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chicago - bite me

I went to Chicago on vacation to do some genealogy work, but what I got instead was to experience a mini-Los Angeles. Mind boggling parking, hours worth of traffic going to and from the city and a mass transit system I just couldn't really grasp in the four short days I was there.

I flew in on Wednesday to O'Hare from Long Beach. I stayed miles from the city, in a suburb called Arlington Heights in a nice business class hotel thanks getting getting a sweet deal from I rented a car from Hertz because it appeared as though that's what I needed to do to get around. I think the next time if I ever go there again, I will get a hotel near a train station, take the hotel shuttle or a cab from from the airport to the hotel and then hoof it after taking the train to downtown. I mean, its about the only way to avoid the city's horrible parking/ traffic situation.

On the night I landed in town, I rushed over to the hotel and checked in and then drove over to the Niles Public Library in order to attend a book lecture on "Oldest Chicago". I love trivia and I thought this would be a nice introduction to the city. I bought a book and the author signed it for me. Nice.

The publisher of the book, Lake Claremont Press, is located in Chicago and also has published other local interest books like for graveyards, history of city, and how to manage genealogy searches. I'm not sure how helpful the first two might be, but I'm thinking about picking up a copy of the third one.

 I ate dinner at Johnnie's down the street from my hotel. They are known for the Italian sandwiches there. I had a one Italian with sweet (grilled green bell) peppers and then I got to slather on as much mustard as I liked. I also ordered a Pepsi. The sandwich was big enough to where you ordering fries would be kind of like a waste of time. It's unique, it's good, and they don't really sell them in California. It's kind of like a roast beef sandwich but different.

The next day, I went to the Sulzer Regional Library and they were really nice about giving me a guest library card for my genealogy research. They didn't even ask to see my drivers license, or if they did, I don't remember.

Then I tried driving into town to find parking so I could do some touristy things, but to no avail. Lots of street closures and I guess there is this weird underground parking which kind of freaked me out. So I ended up driving through town twice, then sick of the bad traffic I headed back to the hotel. Three hours later...

I ate dinner at Mitsuwa at the food court establishment called "MAMA House". It's Korean food and I got the BulGoKI. It was tasty and filling.

Friday, I ate lunch with some my credit union co-workers in the Chicago office and met all of the people I've been emailing for a while now. I discussed my genealogy research with a few of the managers. I dropped an entire plate of take-out Italian food on one of the managers floors. The styrofoam just didn't hold up. I scooped it all up and then threw it in the trash and went and got a few things and move back into the office.

One of the managers volunteered his service to take a picture of a gravestone for me if and when I can find it- HAHA. I honestly do not think he comprehends what he's volunteered himself for. If there's an online index somewhere, I'm going to find it.

After that, I went to another book store wanting to see if the had more books on genealogy or Chicago. At Half Price Books, I did, however, find two Lion Brand Yarn books, one on making socks and the other on making hats, so those were cool finds.

I slept like shit the entire time I was on +2 hours. The room was quiet and the bed was fine, it was the time change I couldn't get used to. So normally I get up at 5AM weekdays. My body was telling me to wake up at 3:30AM all week. So I'd stay up until I fell back asleep and then when I woke up again, by that time, I missed the continental breakfast offered by hotel. Nice, huh? I participated one morning. Memo: don't eat banana nut muffins on vacation. I did not feel good after consuming those. I'm sure they were fine for anyone else but me... they were probably made with dairy in the recipe.

On Saturday morning, I got ready, packed up and checked out of the hotel. No trip to the mid-west would be complete without a stop at While Castle so I drove to Palatine to eat a #1 (4 burgers just like the ones you buy at the grocery store, a french fries and a drink) on the way to go outlet shopping at Huntley Premium Outlet on I90 off of ILL Route 47 before my plane flight going home. My educated guess would be that center is 40% full of tenants. The Van Heusen store is huge compared to the one I shop at at The Citadel in Commerce.

After I could shop no more because my luggage was full, I drove back to O'Hare giving myself three hours before my departure time to deal with the bad traffic around the airport on Saturday, having to turn in my rental car and getting shuttled back to the airport, and the TSA lines which I generally loathe. It was nice to find out that the lines are not particularly long and they make an effort to keep them moving.

I had a Crohn's attack on the flight which was both humiliating and horrifying at the same time and since I check my baggage, I didn't have with me what I needed to deal with it. Since I had extra time in the terminal after turning on the rental car, I should of went to the restroom immediately before getting on the plane because I hate to use those airplane toilets. I went once when I got into the terminal after going through the security line, but then I walked the terminal and then found a seat to catnap until it was time to board the plane. What a nightmare.

After I got home, I found out that my pink hard-sided suitcase was opened and searched by the TSA because they left me a flyer letting me know they did so. Thanks, but next time you go and search my bags, fucking close the shampoo and conditioner bottles please.

Monday, I went over to my ex-mother in-laws house and she started to show me all of these old photos of her family and I just couldn't stand to see them in disorganized piles any longer, so I suggested that we go to Wal-Mart and pick-up some scrap booking supplies so they can be preserved and not handled anymore. I mean, some of the photos were over 100 years old! $75 and about 6 hours later, one book is just about done. I sorted the photos as best I could and Linda arranged them on the sheet and tacked the corners down. We have another session planned for this Sunday to do the other book.