On Gmail? Here’s how to prevent ‘anyone on Google+’ from being able to email you

Have you heard the news? Google just launched a new Gmail ‘feature’ that basically allows anyone to email you if they know your Google+ handle.


Given that your Google+ handle nearly pretty much has to be your full name, the potential for abuse here is not insignificant.

Fortunately (for you) there’s a handy way to get around this and you can thank Mr Will Oremus for the tip off. Ready?

And that’s that. Why oh why Google think this is a good idea, I don’t know. Alas, there it is. Question for you, dear reader, will you be adjusting your settings? Or will you be leaving ‘as is’? Which way and why. Leave a comment and let me know. I’m intrigued.


Update: Further clarification from a Google employee makes light of this. I guess the difference between having your contact details on your website and Google making you email-able by anyone on Google+ is that Google didn’t make the decision in the first instance, you did.


Pebble: 48hrs in

I have a memory from when I was a child, of being in the supermarket with my mum and – it was when I was learning to tell the time – my mum asked me what the time was. I was wearing my brand new watch (probably He-Man-related in some way) and I was eating sweets. Smarties, to be precise.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 16.44.37

‘What time is it, James?’, she asked.

I excitedly threw my wrist over and announced to all and sundry, ‘HALF PAST THREE!’, the sound that followed was like hailstones as, with near-perfect comedy timing, my Smarties tumbled out of their tube, all over the shop floor.

Now I have a Pebble watch and, instead of my mum asking me to look at my watch, the pebble itself asks me. Its little vibrations subtly nudging you that there’s something new to see. Over the past two days this has happened frequently whilst drinking coffee.

Every time I go to look, I stop.

Every time I stop, I remember the Smarties.

And every time I remember the Smarties, I think ‘One day, Whatley. One day it’ll get you’.


More to come, soon.


Related: Pebble: first thoughts

Pebble: first thoughts

Ooo, look!

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 19.51.54

Recently, in the last episode of The Voicemail of 2013 (Episode 079) Stefan and I were asked the following question:

‘Given that 2014 will be the year of the smartwatch, what would we be looking for in a next generation smartwatch when selecting one?’

At the time, Stefan had a Samsung Galaxy Gear and I… did not. I hadn’t tried a smartwatch before, and so couldn’t really comment (Stefan could though, and I’ve appended his words, with my own additions, to the end of this post). Those kind people at Pebble heard about this, and sent one out for me to try.

It arrived this morning, and I set it up over my lunch. Here it is –


Yes, I went for white.

Now look, I’m brand new to this whole wearable tech thing so I’m quite intrigued about what kind of affect it’ll have on my existing behaviours. In the same way the iPad changed [and actually increased] my reading habits, I wonder what the world of smartwatches, nay, Pebble watches will do to the way I interact with my tech.

Moreover, I know I’m not unique in the Pebble-owning world (I know several people that both own and love theirs), but I am intending on writing up how I get on with it over the coming days, weeks, and months.


Out of the box, the Pebble is fairly simple to set up. You download an app onto your device (I sport 2013’s phone of the year, the HTC One) and then connect to the Pebble over Bluetooth. A minor firmware update later (and of course a spot of charging) and you’re ready to go.

Initial impressions (in no real order)

  • Firmware update didn’t work first time, had to unpair and reboot. Second time it worked like a charm and I hope all future updates are as painless.
  • The Pebble app is fairly limited, and the immediate urge is to download a new one. I’m trying Pebble Notifier [FREE]  but others recommend apps such as Augmented Smartwatch Pro [NOT FREE]. Until I know what I need from my Pebble, I won’t be making the leap quite yet.
  • It works with RunKeeper – YES! No new app installs, it just works. My RunKeeper app on Android shows a teeny little watch icon when it’s working too. Super cool.


  • It works with Spotify – YES! Skipping a track is easy and, while track display is also available, I’ve found this to be a bit patchy and doesn’t always have anything to display. But when it does, it’s cool!


  • It doesn’t work with my work email account. I’m desperately trying to find a work around but no joy, yet. More experimentation required. To be fair to Pebble, my employer’s email is run on Google Apps and they have IMAP disabled as standard. Bit of a ball ache, but I’m sure I’ll find a way through it at some point. Weirdly, Hangout alerts (and messages) come through just fine, so maybe a tinker with the settings somewhere will help.
  • The Pebble community is HUGE. I joined the Google+ group today (don’t laugh) and I turned out to be their 4000th member. I’m very excited about this.
  • Everyone is talking about ‘Firmware v2’ and the Pebble ‘App Store’ being ‘just around the corner’. Apparently these are good things and I should be looking forward to them. Fingers crossed for that then.
  • In the seven hours that I’ve been using it, the Pebble has already reduced the amount of times I’ve had to pick up my phone. This can only be a good thing.

And that’s it. I’m fully aware that I am very much in calibration mode with this thing at the moment. Each person, each device, and each experience is different. Some people like a lot of alerts, some people don’t.

Slowly but surely I’m working out the hierarchy of what I need and what I don’t (SMS’s? Notify me. Instagram comments and likes? Don’t notify me). And when that process is complete, I think I’m going to enjoy owning this Pebble device very, very much.

More to come, soon.


Stefan said:

  1. It needs to look good.
    Check! I got the white one, it looks great!
  2. It needs to work with your current device.
    Check! No problems so far.
  3. It has to perform well in terms of battery life.
    Apparently one charge should last seven days, so let’s see.


Hanging out at the #GoogleHouse

See what I did there?


Last week, a friend of a friend at Google invited me along to find out how Google will change the future. The pitch?

Let’s face it, we’re all busy. Whether you’re plotting the fastest public transport route across London, trying to order a drink in Paris en Français, or cheating at a pub quiz, Google is there to help you get the information you need. Fast. We’d like to invite you to Google House, where you’ll see first-hand how Google can help make the lives of you and your customers easier.

And they weren’t wrong. But first, let’s take look awesome #GoogleHouse is (or was).


The Kitchen


The Teenager Bedroom


The Living Room

Basically, this beautiful four storey house in London’s Fitzrovia was turned into a Googley-fied house of the future.

And it was awesome.

Glass.... and me. #googlehouse

Obligatory ‘Whatley wearing Google Glass’ photo.

Three things I learnt:

  1. Google Chromecast? I want one of those. It’s a bit cheeky of Google to demo a product that isn’t currently available in the UK (EDIT: Amazon UK has Chromecast available now!) but still, it was really cool.  In fact, any of you reading this in the US, I’ll PayPal you the money right now. Come on, let’s do this.
  2. Google’s voice-activated search and translation is incredible. It’s unbelievable how much it has come on over the past year or so and it easily blows Siri out of the water. Everything from contextual awareness re previous/current searches, through to actually translating a conversation between two people, LIVE, is amazing. Very, very impressive indeed.
  3. Google Glass was cool, but not for me (yet). I used someone else’s set, and it was a noisy room, and they weren’t connected to my device (which is a key part of the experience). So yeah, not yet.

Overall? I had a LOT of fun and it’s great to see Google step up their game in the consumer-facing market here in the UK.

Long may it continue.

PS. Big love to the amazing guys over at the Sorted Food. They ran the Google/Kitchen demo and I’ve been watching their videos ever since. Check them out.

PPS. More photos over on Google+ (natch).


What phone should I get?

Someone recently asked me:

A good pal in the pub asked what was the best phone apart from the iPhone. What do you think? James Whatley you know about these matters. What’s the best out there on balance?

My response?

If you’re not looking for an iPhone. Then your choice is Windows Phone or Android. If you want amazing photos, look at the Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 (see yesterday’s post for more on that one). The latter outperforms the former in the photography stakes, however the 925 has a more aesthetically pleasing industrial design. 

If photography isn’t your number one reason for having a phone (oh and if, like me, you can’t get on with the Windows Phone 8 OS) then it’s a tie between the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One – I own and adore the latter.

Finally, if budget is an issue, I’d look at the Google Nexus 4. It is, at the time of writing, Google’s flagship device and is merely an astonishing £159 SIM free on Google Play.

That’s all I got.

Whatley on a phone

Disagree with this? Let me know.

But while you’re at it, let me know which phones you recommend when people ask you this same question. Those of you that don’t reply with ‘Let me ask Whatley’, that is…


I got an @Autographer to play with




I know, right? A wearable camera that I AM TAKING ON HOLIDAY*.



Also: I unboxed it…  USING VINE

(I am too cool)

More to come on this, VERY SOON.

(if you can’t wait to hear more, there’s a teeny tiny segment on what this is, what it does, and how I’m going to use it, about seven minutes into Episode 59 of The Voicemail). 


*Where am I going? First to Scotland, for comedy-based shenanigans at the EDINBURGH FRINGE festival and then, after that, straight onto Finland for much musical merriment at FLOW FESTIVAL.



See you on the flip side gang…



Stuff I’ve been reading lately

In lieu of rebooting Five things on Friday (not happening), here’s a round-up of some of the more interesting things I’ve been reading on the web this year –

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 21.32.51

1. Magic pickpocketry
Apollo Robbins is the world’s best pickpocket. You’ve never heard of him but, within magic circles and beyond, he is somewhat of a legend. Neuroscientists, the military and anthropologists have all worked with Apollo to try and discover how he creates his particular form of distraction and extraction – this New Yorker piece is a great read.

On an encounter with Penn Jillette (of world-renowned double act ‘Penn & Teller‘) at a recent Las Vegas magician’s convention –

Jillette, who ranks pickpockets, he says, “a few notches below hypnotists on the show-biz totem pole,” was holding court at a table of colleagues, and he asked Robbins for a demonstration, ready to be unimpressed. Robbins demurred, claiming that he felt uncomfortable working in front of other magicians. He pointed out that, since Jillette was wearing only shorts and a sports shirt, he wouldn’t have much to work with.

“Come on,” Jillette said. “Steal something from me.”

Again, Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.

“F***. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.

Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen.

Amazing. Read the whole thing
(then watch this video from 2:12 onwards)

2. Wi-Fi on the Underground
This year it’s pretty much free to use for Orange, Vodafone, EE and T-Mobile customers. Except, no one seems to have told T-Mobile.

‘Hey left hand, what you up to?’ – ‘Sorry right hand, can’t tell you’. 

3. What three completely unrelated movies can you put together that if the story lines continued would make a good trilogy?
The above is one of the best questions I’ve seen on reddit this week, my favourite response so far?

‘Home Alone / Saw / Cube. It’s the story of a boy who takes booby trapping his house to more and more ridiculous extremes.’


4. More Blues Brothers
After MEETING JOHN LANDIS at the tail end of last year, I’m even more into my Blues Brothers than ever before. Big love to Terence Eden for shooting this Vanity Fair article – ‘Soul Men: The Making of The Blues Brothers‘ – my way.

With quotes such as –

It is 1979. Rare is the actor who doesn’t snort, pop, or guzzle. Landis, a teetotaler, misses the bigger picture. “We had a budget in the movie for cocaine for night shoots,” Aykroyd says. “Everyone did it, including me. Never to excess, and not ever to where I wanted to buy it or have it. [But] John, he just loved what it did. It sort of brought him alive at night—that superpower feeling where you start to talk and converse and figure you can solve all the world’s problems.”

And –

Three months later, Belushi’s first movie opens. This is Animal House. Belushi, having played Bluto, the gluttonous rascal who rallies Delta House to glory, becomes a Major Movie Star.

This is good. During an out-of-town car trip, Belushi asks Aykroyd to stop the car, saying, “Watch this! Watch this!” Aykroyd recounts that “he gets out of the car and starts knocking on the ground-floor windows of this primary school, knowing he’ll get a reaction. By the time we left, all the windows are up and the whole school is chanting, ‘Bluto! Bluto!’ ”

It really is a fantastic read and worth at least 20mins of your time.


5. The Basement
‘Somewhere in Portland, there’s a very old building, and that very old building has a very, very old basement. An incredible basement, a video-game-level basement, a set-decorator’s dream basement.’

It’s a short story, in a way. More of an exploration… of history. The clues, the stories, and the secrets. It’s quite the photo journal and, again, well worth your attention.

That’s all I got.

For now.