Crime, Punishment and Biased Sentencing

University of Utah honors and law professor (lecturer) Randy Dryer, right, and University of Utah School of Computing associate professor Suresh Venkatasubramanian, center, teach an honors class on how software algorithms used in judicial courts to evaluate defendants could be biased like humans – Photo Credit: University of Utah

When it comes to crime and punishment, how judges dish out prison sentences is anything but a game. Students from the University of Utah have created a new mobile game for the iPhone and Android devices that demonstrates how software algorithms used by many of the nation’s judicial courts to evaluate defendants could be biased like humans.

Justice.exe is now available for free on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

The students, part of a university honors class this semester called When Machines Decide: The Promise and Peril of Living in a Data-Driven Society, were tasked with creating a mobile app that teaches the public how a machine-learning algorithm could develop certain prejudices.

 

“It was created to show that when you start using algorithms for this purpose there are unintended and surprising consequences,” says Suresh Venkatasubramanian, associate professor in the U’s School of Computing who helped the students develop the app and taught the class with U honors and law professor (lecturer) Randy Dryer. “The algorithm can perceive patterns in human decision-making that are either deeply buried within ourselves or are just false.”

When determining bail or sentencing, many judicial courts use software programs with sophisticated algorithms to help assess a defendant’s risk of flight or of committing another crime. It is similar to how many companies use software algorithms to help narrow the search field of job applicants. But Venkatasubramanian’s research into machine learning argues these kinds of algorithms could be flawed.

Using the Justice.exe game is simple: It shows players the mugshot of a criminal defendant, his or her offense and both the minimum and maximum sentence. Additional information about the defendant is provided including education level, the number of prior offenses, marital status and race.

The player’s job is to decide if the defendant should get the minimum or maximum sentence. Fifty defendants are provided for the player to go through. During the course of the game, the app will begin eliminating certain pieces of information — such as the person’s race — so the player must decide on a sentence with less facts to go on. Meanwhile, the app is adjusting its own algorithm model in order to try and predict how the player might sentence future defendants.

“What you’re doing is creating the data that the algorithm is using to build the predictor,” Venkatasubramanian says about how the game works. “The player is generating the data by their decisions that is then put into a learner that generates a model. This is how every single machine-learning algorithm works.”

At the end of the game, the app tries to determine how the player sentences defendants based on race, type of offense and criminal history. The point of the game is to show players that how they intended to mete out punishment may not be how the algorithm perceived it.

“Algorithms are everywhere, silently operating in the background and making decisions that humans used to make,” Dryer says. “The machine does not necessarily make better or more fair decisions, and the game was designed to illustrate that fact,”

The honors class, comprised of nine students from departments such as bioengineering, School of Computing, nursing and business, also gave a presentation to the Utah Sentencing Commission earlier this month to demonstrate how algorithms can be biased and gave recommendations on how to approach the problem.

“There are things you should be asking and things you should be doing as policy makers. For the public, you need to know what kinds of questions you should be asking of yourself and of your elected representatives if they choose to use this,” Venkatasubramanian says. “The problem is there aren’t good answers to these questions, but this is about being aware of these issues.”

Tired of Googling “Food Pantry”?

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As social workers, we’re asked to remember and interpret thousands of pieces of information every day. Our clients expect us to know and to remember. We’re asked to recall the names of distant cousins, specific traumatic incidents that shaped a client’s life course, birthdays, allergies, the list goes on and on.

What’s more, we’re asked to be resource experts. Our clients trust us to have the best, most accurate information about the resources they need. Where’s the closest food pantry to my home? What shelter is accepting new clients? What after school programs are available for my child? We want to help but, at times, our ability to do so is limited by the information we’re given (or not given).

Healthify, a web-based social services resource search platform, seeks to help you solve this problem.

What is Healthify?

Healthify allows you to quickly and easily search for food, shelter, mental health care, and many more program categories, by zip code, city or even street address.

What’s more, accounts are completely free for community based organizations and non-profits. Users can:

  • Search our database of 180,000 social service resources
  • Share resources easily with teammates
  • Download directions
  • Leave comments for yourself and your colleagues about the quality of care your clients received while at a program
  • Communicate instantly with Healthify staff to get more information, share concerns and give feedback.

How did Healthify start?

Healthify founders, Alex, Dan, Eric and Manik had seen hundreds of patients in Baltimore whose health was adversely affected by social circumstances or behavioral health conditions. They simply didn’t have the tools to effectively address their needs or coordinate their care with other providers and social services agencies. Healthify was created with the idea of using the best that software had to offer in order to solve some of the worst issues faced by the American healthcare system.

The Community Care Network

It was my dream to create a linked network of high quality social service agencies across the United States. We so often rely on personal connections and relationships at individual agencies in order to meet our clients’ needs and determine what and where the most effective services are. What if we were all linked together through a common network striving to affect positive change in the world?

The Community Care Network helps to make my dream a reality.  You can share ideas, find events, and collaborate with users in your field of work.

  • Start searching Healthify’s network of social services, by visiting: .
  • Join our social network here: .

Sound like a good idea? Join Healthify today.

New Technology Provides Support for Sexual Assault Victims

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Recent surveys have revealed that 85% of sexual assault victims do not report their assault promptly to appropriate authorities. When they later do report, their credibility is often questioned.  The authorities ask “Why now? Has your story changed?”

The I’ve-Been-Violated™ App is the first app of its kind to allow a victim of sexual assault to confidentially record contemporaneous evidence (with video and audio) of an incident. The evidence is double-encrypted and stored offline. The app also, utilizing geo-coding technology, stores information about where the user was when he or she recorded the video. As a legal safeguard, the video record that the user creates is only available through appropriate authorities (i.e. legal, health, school) or by court order and is never directly available to the user.

Should an unfortunate event occur, the I’ve-Been-Violated App is there to help. The I’ve-Been-Violated™ App eliminates most of these credibility questions and allows victims the peace of mind to know that reporting to authorities is fully within their control.

Instructions for a victim to run the I’ve-Been-Violated™ App:

  1. Get to a Safe Place: As soon as possible, get to a safe location before starting the app.
  2. Activate and Run the App: Turn on the app and begin to tell your story by following the on-screen instructions. The app will prompt you on what to say while recording video and
  3. Recording Encrypted & Stored: An encrypted record of your story is created and stored for future retrieval through the proper channels (not available directly to the user).
  4. Authorities Access Evidence: When you are ready to do so, contact the appropriate authorities and they can access the video recording. The fact that it was recorded contemporaneously with the violation helps a victim’s credibility be

The I’ve-Been-Violated™ App is part of a suite of apps provided by the Affirmative Consent Division of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence (ISCE.edu) to help change the context and conversations around sexual consent on college campuses. (See for more information). The suite is available for individual download and on a group basis for schools or school based organizations. The app suite is designed to assist schools to improve their Title IX compliance efforts.

Because it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to help the victims of sexual assaults, ISCE.edu is making the I’ve-Been-Violated™ App available for free, and it is available for download on iTunes.

ISCE.edu is presently running no-cost pilot programs at selected institutions across the United States to demonstrate and potentially improve the efficacy of the entire app suite. These pilots include educational outreach and student uptake efforts designed help schools improve their Title IX compliance programs. ISCE.edu has a few slots remaining for schools who wish to run a similar no cost pilot program.

New Mobile Justice App: Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself

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It is no secret that police brutality exists and is often targeted towards minority groups particularly African American and Latino citizens. Almost daily throughout the country, there are news reports depicting the inhumane nature of police interactions with people of color.  Also on social media, news feeds and twitter pages are filled with accounts about vicious attacks made by police on marginalized groups, and these attacks many times result in unnecessary death or trauma.

For people of color, police engagement instills a deep sense of fear and resentment towards those who are tasked with protecting and serving our communities. Historically, police departments have been used as legal enforcers for racial oppression. Most Caucasians see police officers simply working to maintain their safety while most people of color feel terrorized by them. Almost always, police are given a slap on the wrist for police brutality and excessive uses of force. Very rarely are they charged with their crimes, even when their actions result in unjustified homicide.

As I write, I remember two unwarranted deaths that had occurred while I lived in Pittsburgh.  Both victims were African American and unarmed- one was a teenager and the other was a mentally ill adult.  The teenager was shot and killed for walking home in his community, called the Hill District.  The other was tased to death in front of a gas station.

I also think about LaQuan McDonald, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the countless number of victims that die yearly because of police brutality.  Let us give them a moment of silence to honor their memory and direct compassion towards their families.  During 2015 alone, police killed more than 100 unarmed African Americans, which means at least two unarmed African Americans are killed each week by police in the United States.

However, now there is hope to make an inhumane and unjust police system answer for brutality against minority groups. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri recently created a free mobile justice app that can be downloaded to any smart phone in order to hold the police system of Missouri accountable for its numerous attacks against marginalized groups.  Since the killing of Michael Brown, police brutality has exponentially grown in Missouri, which inspired the creation of this app to halt its prevalence.

This app, known as ACLU of Missouri Mobile Justice App 2, is free to anyone and offers many features that empower the community to act against police brutality.  The four main features of this app include:  1) Recording, 2) Witnessing, 3) Reporting, and 4) Educating about rights.  It allows app holders to record instances of brutal police encounters that are instantly emailed to ACLU of Missouri.  It also alerts other app users in the area of police brutality so that they can bear witness and offer testimony against police officers.

Additionally, it allows victims and witnesses of police brutality to accurately report inhumane and unlawful encounters with the police.  Lastly, this app educates its users about their rights as citizens, which includes the right to videotape police brutality despite what is said by police officers.  Thus, this app provides a mechanism to stop police brutality through visibility and accountability.

ACLU of Missouri cautions the usage of this app since police officers are armed and dangerous.  They suggest that users announce to police that they are reaching for their phone, while also reminding officers that recording is a civil liberty.  Ultimately if your life is in danger, app creators suggest that you put down the phone.  However, once the recording is initiated, it automatically alerts others and is sent to ACLU of Missouri’s email.

This app is a first and necessary step in ending police brutality against minority groups in the United States.  Other states can now model the creation their own mobile justice app in order to hold police accountable throughout the country.  More importantly, this app allows citizens across the United States to become educated about the cruel nature of police interactions in order to activate change within their communities.

This app empowers us citizens to prevent the unnecessary killing of unarmed minority citizens.  #BlackLivesMatter just as much as white lives.  Hispanic lives matter, Muslim lives, Asian lives, and Native American Lives too, but we cannot have justice until people of color lives matter just as much as white lives. Our police can no longer serve to protect solely its white members while targeting and killing minority groups.

Filming police brutality? Of course there’s an app for that

Posted by NowThis on Friday, May 1, 2015

 

Startup Launches Uber for Birth Control

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SAN FRANCISCO – Nurx, a health technology startup based in San Francisco, recently released a web-based birth control delivery app, allowing women in California to get a prescription for their birth control and have it delivered right to their door within 48 hours at no cost to the end-user.

In more than 100 countries in the world, women are able to access birth control without a prescription. However, in the United States, the process is a much more complicated and burdensome process. Each year in the United States, there are about three million unintended pregnancies. This motivated founders Hans Gangeskar and Dr. Edvard Engesaeth to launch Nurx, making the process easier for women today.

“Research shows that the easier and more affordable birth control is, the more women will use it. Women should not have to jump through these unnecessary hoops, just to access birth control. With Nurx, we are changing this, and allowing women to access their birth control on their own terms.” says Engesaeth a medical doctor and cofounder of Nurx.

The Nurx app works for both new and existing birth control users and the service and shipping are free to anyone with health care. For uninsured patients, Nurx waives the consultation fee, the delivery is still free, and Nurx can connect the user with generic birth control brands for about $15.

The data is stored in a HIPAA-compliant system and forwarded to one of three doctors who review it, typically later that day. – CNN Money on Nurex

“Each user is shipped a three month-supply of their order, making the process more convenient for the user. In many markets, users are also able to receive their order on the same day. Unlike with similar apps, with Nurx, patients can use their insurance to cover their contraceptives, rather than being forced to pay cash,” explains Gangeskar.

How the App Works:

  1. User Chooses Brand – The user selects their brand, answers a few questions, enters their insurance and shipping info.

  2. Doctor Reviews Submission – a Nurx partner physician reviews the request and writes a prescription.

  3. Delivered to Customer – The prescribed medication is delivered at no cost.

In addition to making birth control more accessible, soon, Nurx will also allow users to request PrEP through the app. PrEP (short for Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a new HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take a daily pill (Truvada) to reduce their chances of infection. Studies have shown Truvada for PrEP to be up to 99% effective in preventing transmission of the virus.

Each year, about 50,000 Americans are infected with HIV. “Unfortunately, awareness about, and access to this revolutionary drug is still a problem. By making Truvada more accessible through our app, we hope to change the game in the fight to end the HIV epidemic.” says Nurx co-founder and CEO, Hans Gangeskar.

The Nurx app was launched in December 2015 and has received substantial praise for making contraception more accessible for women. According to MTV News, Nurx is “The gift we’ve all been waiting for”, and Bustle says, “This will be your favorite app in 2016.” TeenVogue says, “Nurx is essentially like Seamless or 1-800-CONTACTS for your reproductive organs.” And according to Elle Magazine, Nurx is a “game-changer.”

To learn more about Nurx, visit Nurx.com.

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What Do You Stand4: Interview with Andy Hill Founder of Social Good Startup Stand4

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Stand4 helps you make your mark on the world. They’ve made it extremely easy, through their app, to support whatever causes you want, whenever you want, and however you want. Whether it be through donations in which they don’t take a percentage, to petitions that can be signed with a swipe of your finger, to (my personal favorite) sponsoring stands that actually donate for you every time you perform a challenge. Any time you do easy things like drinking a beer or checking-in, they’ll donate to whatever cause you care about. Simple as that.

What’s really exciting is their ability to track and show your impact. So if you drew a 4 on the App to give a child a cup of clean water, they’ll actually send in-the-moment project updates of the filters being made, filters being delivered, and the exact school you gave water to. It’s legit. Here is my interview with Andy Hill founder of the social good startup Stand4.

Stand4 is a social impact app that empowers people to change the world without donating a dime. 

Let’s first talk about how this idea came about and when was the ah-ha moment, when you said ok I want to really launch this?

screen1136x1136Andy: About 9 months ago, my partners and I started studying the social and economic philosophies on why people give and what we found very interesting is that when an individual gives, they’re doing it because giving carries with it a sense of fulfillment; a sentiment, unlike any other, that is fostered in the belief that their contributions lead to a better, more desirable world. But we, as individual givers, never get to see our impact on the world, whether it be with a single event or as a collective sum. And therefore our fulfillment is minimized by an outdated charitable system.

At Stand4 we were founded in a belief that the way we change the world hasn’t changed in 150 years. We believed (and still do) that there are causes and stories that resonate with each of us, and we are intrinsically motivated to help. So Stand4 set out to create a new system. One where we could support what we care about further than our wallets would allow and even more importantly, then be able to see the exact impact our support helped accomplish.

Can you explain how users can make a real impact without actually having to donate money?

Andy: Stand4 actively partners with corporate sponsors who set aside a pool of funds for donation through our app. Our users choose where this money is allocated by ‘taking stands’ for their favorite causes. Every time a stand is taken, a monetary donation is made. This empowers people to make a significant impact in the world, without worrying about their wallet. Everything that comes as a result of their stand is collected and showcased on their profile, giving them the ability to immediately see all the lives they’ve touched, problems they’ve helped solve, and overall impact they’ve made on the world. Nowhere does this exist today.

How many organizations can users choose from when wanting to take a stand? Is an organization teamed with a particular stand?

Andy: Stand4 has initially partnered with some of the world’s most innovative non-profits including Kiva, Invisible Children, The Adventure Project, and Watsi. We’ve also partnered with several smaller non-profits we believe are making a big difference. In total, users can stand for 7 different organizations right now. We’re rapidly expanding tho and expect to bring on another 20 partners in the next month.

When we bring on a non-profit partner we work with them to determine what a particular stand will equal. Below are what each stand goes towards.

Kiva: 1 oz of food
Watsi: 1 medical treatment
Invisible Children: 1 come home message
The Adventure Project: .1% raise in income for a Kenyan farmer
May We Help: 1 part of a custom medical device
TruWater: 1 cup of clean water
Miami Children’s Initiative: 1 minute of education

Did you have a certain idea of what corporate sponsors you wanted to work with? How did the process go in terms of choosing sponsors you wanted to team up with?

Andy: Our corporate sponsors say a lot about what we as a company stand for – so it’s very important to us to partner with companies who share our innovative vision for change. Some of our beta sponsors include Pasta Chips (www.pastachips.com) and KIND Snacks (www.kindsnacks.com). We’re on-boarding more sponsors as we speak.

At the core level is the app intended to be a social network of like minded individuals collaborating for causes?

Andy: Stand4 is the social network for social impact. It’s a place where users can discover the causes they care about, support them in multiple ways, and see their entire footprint on the world in one place. Our app empowers users to showcase what it is they stand for in life and interact and collaborate with individuals who stand for similar causes.

ST4ND is currently available for download. You can download the app, sign in, and start making stands, but what type of features are available in the Stand4 app? 

You can now tag anyone if you want to comment on a Stand, comment on an interesting story you saw, or on fun challenges you saw friends take. Users can now challenge anyone to take a stand with you. Take a pic of a sunset post it and challenge you friend to take pic of the sunset wherever they are at. Once the challenge is completed your friends will have 24 hours to vote on the winner. When a challenge is completed it triggers a 2x donation to that particular stands cause for double the impact. Also, you can now search your entire home feed for specific stands, stories, or challenges. You can also search the Stand4 community to find other people on the app.

Explore all of the available Stands and uncover how effortless it is to impact the world. Make your mark by snapping pictures, answering fun questions, and a whole lot more – for every Stand you take, we donate.

Download the Stand4 app and start making an impact – iOS –  Android

We bring your entire charitable footprint to the digital world. Share the impact that you’re making with your friends and see the impact that they’re sharing with you. Watch your collective footprints pave the way to a better and brighter future.

Periscope: The Ultimate Tool to Become More Visible

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The new wonder in live streaming apps is called Periscope! You’ve probably heard of it. I don’t exaggerate if I call Periscope the ultimate tool to make yourself and your work visible. Periscope offers you an immediate access to your network to bring them live broadcasts. But let’s start at the beginning.

What is Periscope?

Periscope uses the camera on your phone to share in a livestream whatever you want. Your phone becomes a TV studio, and you’re the TV host or the reporter. You can even do your own talk shows. It’s magic! I love it!

Periscope is free and you can get it in your app store. You start making your account and your first broadcast can go live in no time. It works super easy.

Periscope is a product of Twitter. If you own a twitter account, your twitter followers will also be your audience, and Periscope will notify them when you start a broadcast.

Periscope looks like making a video, but there is one big difference. With video, you can edit your video, and do this over and over again. It makes me feel uncertain: will it be good enough or shall I take another shot? Do some more editing? But, Periscope is live and raw with no editing. There’s no time for feeling uncertain. Of course it’s scary to be live but just take a deep breath and go for it.

Periscope is interactive. You can chat with your audience, ask questions, and answer questions. Your audience can also chat with each other. This chat can make a broadcast a bit chaotic but that’s all part of the fun.

A replay of your broadcast is available on Periscope for 24 hours, but you can also use katch.me to archive your broadcasts and keep them available for as long as you wish.

Periscope is still so new that everybody is still experimenting. It’s a playground and you can jump in without being afraid to not knowing the rules. But why should you?

The ultimate tool to increase visibility

It’s a great tool to be visible, and that’s exactly what we need! Show our faces, tell our stories, provide your expertise, or show the results of our work. I’m using Periscope myself for a while now and I discover huge possibilities as a result. I’ve brainstormed a list for you:

  • Share your knowledge: about parenting, abuse, loneliness, health
  • Give a sneak peek at activities in the community center
  • Managers and lecturers in Social Work can share their vision on the profession
  • You can announce a contest
  • You can ask for some input on a project you’re working on
  • Share the weekly activity agenda with the neighborhood
  • Answer questions from clients in a Q&A
  • Broadcast series like a cooking series with recipes of your clients
  • Give a tutorial on how to fill in a difficult form
  • Give a yoga lesson

I’ve decided to do more Periscope broadcasts beside my blogs and webinars on a regularly basis. It will be a regular part of my marketing mix. I’m working with schedules and topics like: marketing tips, social work tech tips, stories, inspiration, share my failures, my insights on social work and much more. You can use a hashtag to announce your broadcasts and mine is #socialscope. Join me for some social work fun and inspiration.

Hearts     ❤     

One more thing: Facebook has likes, and Periscope has hearts. Who’s doesn’t like little colored hearts? If you watch a broadcast and you like what you see you can tap on your screen to share some hearts. So cute!

Now I’m curious about the possibilities you see to get visible with Periscope. Please share them here. And if you’re on Periscope, share your account and let’s connect. Mine is @annekekrakers. Hope to see you soon on Periscope!

Optimize Your Gmail Experience: Inbox, Timed Filters, and More

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If you want an empty inbox or close to it, I will be giving you several tips on how to use Gmail, one of the most popular free email services, to optimize your email experience. Although many of us get more emails than we can easily manage, some of these emails are incredibly important and time sensitive while other emails aren’t much better than spam. How can we avoid getting bogged down in junk mail while still ensuring that we don’t miss our most important emails, or is it the empty inbox dream that in reality you feel can never be reach?

Native Mobile App- Inbox by Gmail

Google has just released a new service called Inbox by Gmail. It’s currently invite only, but you can send an email to inbox@google.com to request an invite.

Having only used the service for a day, my thoughts are preliminary, but I can say that I think this service has promise. Inbox does not have to replace Gmail. You can use both, and Inbox is set up so that what you do in Inbox will—in theory—work seamlessly with your current setup.

The user interface is beautiful and I can see how some of the features will be incredibly useful. For example, you can bundle emails together in your inbox so that all the emails you get from that listserv aren’t cluttering your email inbox. The pin feature is a great improvement on the starring you could already do with Gmail. With Inbox, you can click a button at the top of your inbox and only see pinned items to quickly see the most important things you need to deal with. The snooze feature is very similar to a function previously offered by Boomerang—more on Boomerang later—and lets you hide an email from inbox until a time when the email is more relevant. Other features with potential are reminders: you can tie reminders to specific emails to help you to remember what you’re wanting to do with it and create general reminders to do things like remind you to contact someone. I’m less certain about the sweep feature that auto-archives everything in your inbox that isn’t pinned, but this could be great for some people’s workflow. The assist feature sounds great, but I haven’t noticed Inbox doing much in this regard for me yet.

This is all in early stages. Currently, you can only use Inbox in Chrome (at inbox.google.com) and on Android and Apple phones and tablets. It may not be for everyone, but I suggest you request an invite and give it a try.

Timed Filters for Regular Mortals

If code makes you squeamish and you don’t have an invite to Inbox yet, there are other ways to optimize your Gmail experience. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you explore Gmail Labs tab under settings. There are some interesting things you can do with these features. But what might be the most useful feature you can enable under Gmail’s settings is to turn on the “Send and Archive” button. If you turn this on, there will be a send and archive option next to the send option at the bottom of your emails. This allows you to archive you won’t need in your inbox after you’ve replied to them as you send them.

Outside of Gmail’s internal settings, there are third-party apps that allow you to do things you can’t do with Gmail alone—though this is changing to some extent with Inbox. Boomerang is an effective and easy to use tool for maximizing Gmail. Boomerang let’s you schedule an email to be sent later—so that people think you sent it at 7am instead of 3am. You can also have Boomerang temporarily remove an email from your inbox and schedule its return to your inbox at a more relevant time. This second feature is now provided by Inbox’s snooze function, but I haven’t run across a schedule to send later option in Inbox. Boomerang is free for a limited number of uses per month, but if you want unlimited use you’ll have to pay them.

Timed Filters for Advance Users

Most people who use Gmail know about filters, but are less aware about the possibilities for timed filters.

Timed filters make it easier to deal with recurring emails such as daily calendar emails from Google Calendar and semi-spam such as Newegg’s deal email barrage you want to see and then want gone, as well as emails you want to see and then want archived for later such as notifications from blogs you follow.

Lifehacker provides a great article on a Google Apps Script you can use to automatically clean up Gmail with timed filters, but you can also visit JohnEDay’s article in which the Lifehacker’s advice is based upon for the basics on how to utilize scripts.

I found Lifehacker’s advice very useful for things I want to see but don’t want to keep—e.g., Google Calendar emails and semi-spam—but less useful for things I want to arrive in my inbox but then archive to look at later—such as email notifications from blogs I follow. Lifehacker’s post provides another script for archiving, but I didn’t like it as posted—it automatically archives all opened emails after two days—because sometimes I have an important pending email I want to keep in my inbox and don’t want to have to mark as unread for it to stay.

Thankfully, you can modify the auto-archive script to only archive particular emails after two days—or whatever amount of time you want. In case you don’t know how to edit script, I’m posting the script as I revised it for filtering blog notifications. This script archives, rather than deletes, these emails so that I can get back to them later if and when I have more time:

function archiveBlogs() {
// Archive blog notification emails after two days
var threads = GmailApp.search(‘label:Blogs older_than:2d’);
for (var i = 0; i < threads.length; i++) {
threads[i].moveToArchive();
}
}

If you use this code, the email notifications will arrive in your inbox where they’ll stay for 2 days—you can change the length of time—after which they’ll be moved out of your inbox. They will still be available under the “Blogs” label in case you want to go back to them later.

For this and the code from Lifehacker to work, you’ll first need to create Gmail labels—e.g., “Blogs”—and set up filters that will label emails appropriately. If you don’t have labels with the names in the script before you run it, you’ll get an error message.

Third Party Mobile Apps

Email can be overwhelming, but you can move toward making your email work for you rather than you working for it. Inbox shows great promise, but I would need to use longer in order to recommend it with certainty. If you can figure out how to use them, timed filters can transform your experience with clutter emails you may want to see vanish. Also, using Gmail labs located in your email settings can also help enhance your Gmail experience. If you are looking for an excellent third-party mobile app alternative, Mailbox is a useful mobile app download that will help keep your Gmail inbox organized.

Finally, third-party apps let you do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do with Gmail. However, with the new release of Inbox by Gmail, third-party app features may be redundant.

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