Maximum number of domain aliases with Google Apps Premier

We use Google Apps Premier to host Fubra’s e-mails, and on the whole I love it – I get a massively reduced level of spam into my inbox, and searching out old mails is incredibly fast. However, it does lack some of the flexibility of our old internal postfix based system, and this became apparent today when I decided I wanted to host the inbound e-mail for all our 100+ websites on Google Apps as domain aliases to our primary domain.

It turns out that there is a limit to the number of domain aliases you can have. For our account, the limit seemed to be set at 20 domain aliases. After contacting Google, and asking them to raise it, I was told that the maximum number of domain aliases is tied to the maximum number of nicknames per user, which in our case was set to 30.

The more domain aliases you have, the less nicknames you can have, and vice versa. This makes sense as every nickname becomes a valid e-mail address for every domain alias. So if they allowed too many they’d quickly end up with a huge amount of potential e-mail addresses to manage.

The golden rule seems to be:

Max Domain Aliases multiplied by the Max Nicknames Per User must not exceed 600

Therefore, you could have the following rations:

– 6 domain aliases and 100 nicknames per user
– 10 domain aliases and 60 nicknames per user
– 20 domain aliases and 30 nicknames per user
– 30 domain aliases and 20 nicknames per user
– 60 domain aliases and 10 nicknames per user
– 100 domain aliases and 6 nicknames per user

Looking through our 26 user accounts, I could see that only 2 of them had more than 6 nicknames. Initially, I thought this would rule out an increase to 100 domain aliases – but it appears that groups can be used to achieve pretty much the same effect.

Some testing revealed that groupname@primarydomain.com also received e-mails to groupname@aliasdomain.com, and so works in a similar way to a nickname.

So my next task is to remove some of the nicknames and replace them with groups. I should then be able to increase the domain alias count and migrate the remaining domains across!

Shared Calendars on the Mac & iPhone with Google Sync

Today I have been attempting to set up Google Calendar so that it automatically synchronises with an iPhone and also iCal on a Mac computers. It was a bit trickier than I expected, so here are some of my observations. Hopefully they will help someone else!

Google Sync 

Here are some of the main things you need to remember to do:

  1. Make sure you have enabled Google sync for mobiles in your Google Apps account. From your Google Apps Dashboard, click the Mobile link. Then tick the Enable Google Sync box on the next page and press save.
  2. Set up Google Sync on your iPhone to sync calendars and contacts from Google. Basically you just add a Microsoft Exchange account with your google apps login details, and then select calendars and contacts in the syncing options.
  3. You must also choose which calendars you want to sync to your iPhone via the Google Mobile website. Visit http://m.google.com in Safari on your iPhone.

iCal

You can set up iCal to subscribe to your Google Calendars via a caldav url. First you add a new account under preferences, and then under the delegation tab you select the calendars you wish to subscribe to.

Sharing Google Calendars 

You can share a calendar with other users in your google apps domain, or external users on other domains. There are various ways to do this such as sending a link to the ical url or sending an invite within the calendar sharing pages on the Google Calendar website.

PHP Adsense Report Script

Currently there is no Adsense API for accessing account statistics / reports. Fortunately, Alex Polski (Victor Klepikovskiy) runs a project on Google Code that provides a PHP class to login and download a variety of reports from Adsense. 

So, if you want to monitor your Adsense reports in your own systems, you should give his PHP Adsense Account Library a try. 

It supports:

  • Parse overview stats into an associative array.
  • Shows quick stats for Today
  • Show quick stats for Yesterday
  • Show quick stats for Last 7 Days
  • Show quick stats for This Month
  • Show quick stats for Last Month
  • Show quick stats since Last Payment
  • Get a specific report as a CSV file
  • Get a specific report as an associative array.

iPhone over the air sync with Google Calendar

We’ve been desperate for a centralised calendar solution that can sync with all our desktop PCs and iPhones for a while now, and yesterday one of our developers, Matt, found a solution for us.

It combines the following technologies:

Essentially Google Calendar is used to provide a central calendar, this is then synced to the iPhones via Nuevasync, which provides a free exchange interface. The calaboration tool makes it easy to sync your iCal with the Google Calendar, and then MobileMe is needed if you want to have a private calendar on your iPhone as well.

Matt has written some in-depth instructions on how to set up over the air calendar syncing on your iPhone, over on his blog.

Google launches “My Location” – bring on the blue dot

As many blogs have been reporting today, Google has launched a new feature for their Google Maps for Mobile service called “My Location”.

My Location is simple; it shows a little blue dot on the map to represent your current location. However, the really clever part is that GPS is not required for this to work.

Google are able to calculate your approximate location by reading which cell tower (that’s mobile phone mast to UK readers!) you are connected to, and then looking up the co-ordinates of this tower in a central database.

I tested it out at home and it plotted me on the map to within 1700 metres of my actual position. If you do have GPS then it works even better. Enabling GPS on my N95 improved the accuracy of the blue dot to within 60 metres.

Geo-locating Cell Towers

The process of geo-locating the phone masts / cell towers is fairly simple. Each mast will have a unique identifier (such as a MAC address), so all you need is a GPS/GSM enabled device that records the signal strength and co-ordinates as it passes each mast. With a few samples you can then triangulate the approximate position of the mast.

Here are a few of the projects I found that are attempting to geo-tag wireless networks:

  • Intel have been running a research project for a while called placelab, whose aim was to build a database of locations for WiFi access points and cell phone towers.
  • A community based project called WiGLE is concentrating purely on 802.11b networks and has currently over 12 million access points in its database!
  • GSMLoc is an open source project that aims to locate GSM towers all over the world.

At this point it’s not clear where Google got their database, but it seems to be fairly comprehensive!

Google’s mobile strategy (Android) is spot on

It’s not often that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launch a new software development kit with a $10 million prize for developers and a video explanation / press release from one of it’s founders. Yet that is exactly what has happened today with Android’s offical SDK release.

Before you read on, you should probably watch Sergey Brin’s YouTube video.

There has been a lot of fanfare with this latest announcement, but it’s easy to see why; the stakes are huge. By 2010, just over 1 billion people will have access to a computer, but around 4 billion will have access to a mobile phone, with over 1 million new subscribers every day! Google know that the potential for advertising to this vast market is enormous. They already lead the way with their contextual and search based adverts, but with mobile they will be able to target them to location as well.

Now I must admit that I’ve not been particularly enthusiastic about Internet on mobile phones until this year. Previously devices were clumsy to use, access speeds were slow, data transfer was expensive, and sites optimised for the small screen were few and far between.

However fast forward to now and we have flat rate data packages, phones that can cope with complex websites as easily as your desktop browser can and pioneering new interfaces such as the Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) multi-touch technology. The prospects for the Mobile Internet are looking up.

And this is great news for Linux. I think Android will do for Linux on mobile phones what Ubuntu has done for Linux on the desktop. If Google’s powerful brand can help get handset makers to write drivers for their hardware then the community as a whole will benefit.

The scope for software developers is enormous. By the end of next year, most handsets will have built in GPS and Android developers will therefore be able to craft a wide range of innovative location based applications. Think free sat-nav and local business enquiries via Google maps!

So, have Google missed out by not launching a single “gPhone”, and focusing on a software platform instead? In my mind, not at all. Linux’s growth is due to its open source nature and the fact that it can run on an enormous range of hardware, and I think Android will benefit from the same.

If Android will run on a mobile phone, then why not run it on a PC as well? Say hello to Google OS.

Google assembles army against Microsoft-Facebook alliance

Earlier this week Techcrunch revealed that Google were about to launch a new social network project called OpenSocial. Rather than push out yet another social platform, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) have decided to stick to their strengths and core mission, that is; to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Open Social Homepage

With OpenSocial they are building a set of common APIs that will allow developers to create applications that will work with any social network. I think this is a killer move, as it will mean that Google is involved no matter which social networks are the current fad, just like Google is involved in search no matter which websites you end up visiting.

Developers are likely sign up on mass to this new utility (just as they have with Google Maps) as it means their applications will be available to all networks without them having to write specific code for each one, and they can code in standard Javascript/HTML rather than having to learn another markup language such as FBML.

As of yesterday, OpenSocial received backing from MySpace, adding to e Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle who have all also said they will participate. Given that Facebook’s API was one of it’s key advantages over MySpace, suddenly Microsoft’s investment seems even more expensive.