Inside the head of a man with a dream

Tips on switching Stanford email from Zimbra to Gmail

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Stanford just recently switched from crappy Zimbra webmail to Google Apps account and here’s some tips and a discovery of a directory of every single email address.

Oh and here is the link to make the switch

  • Forward your email – Immediately. While the idea of having two awesome inboxes might be alluring, one is just so much easier to handle. The switch from Zimbra to Gmail means whatever old way you were forwarding probably broke so you need to do it again. There are several ways to do it (StanfordYou, Gmail POP3 Fetching) but the easiest is to just go to the new gmail and click the gear on the top right then Settings -> Forwarding -> “Add a forwarding address”. Follow the instructions and done.
  • Send mail as: – The switch wouldn’t break this but I’m still surprised by how many people don’t have this on. Go to your main gmail and Settings -> Accounts -> “Add another email address you own” and then set your email as default. This helps prevent all the mailing list bounces as well as making you look legit cause who doesn’t love getting a email.
  • Allow multiple Gmail switching – You should enable this when first creating the account otherwise go to the top right corner and click your normal Gmail in the black bar and click “Add account”. I have about 6 gmail accounts all signed in at once and it allows me really ease of switching without signing in and out. Highly recommended.
  • 25GB of space – Woah.
  • Change your new password – I tried logging into my GTalk on Adium but for some reason it didn’t recognize my sunetid password. That’s because the new gmail password was randomly assigned since the browser uses Stanford WebAuth to authorize but I still want to know my password. Go here to change it and viola, GTalk on my Adium!
  • There’s a directory of MANY (if not all) Stanford email addresses in the new Gmail - To access it, go to your email click Mail above the “Compose” button and the select Contacts -> Directory and viola, thousands and thousands of emails and that’s just for the letter ‘A’. Also has some phone numbers. If you start composing a new email, it autocompletes everything you type with some email in the directory. Freaky. I feel like that can get really easily abused, it’s not that hard to go to the Directory page and just “select all” and “email”. Screenshots below.

Hope some of my tips help, let me know if I got anything wrong or any tips of your own!

Written by Kevin Xu

April 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Stanford

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Presenting GrandSentral, the easiest way to mail merge

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I’m proud to release GrandSentral, an awesome app I built out in one all-nighter hacking session. In its purest form it’s the easiest way to mail merge, i.e., send emails to a lot of people and have each email personalized with their first names. The current solutions either involve coding or buying outdated software that all take more than 10 clicks and require a tutorial. GrandSentral makes that much much easier.

To be honest, I even surprised myself with how quickly it came together and the simple and clean interface. Tried to give it that paper on desk feeling, still probably needs a pencil to finish that motif. The GrandSentral name is kind of a clever play on Grand Central Station, where all the emails flow in and out like the trains do haha. Clever? Haha I try…

We already have greek organizations and student groups using this for rush and program acceptances and there are more use cases involving thank you emails for the upcoming ASSU elections and job interviewees. It’s really exciting to have people use something you built!

There are still a ton of features to build out like csv import, a WYSIWYG editor, user/paid accounts, and more levels of personalization. I’m just really happy I can finally BUILD things. I only started learning computer science Freshman year spring so April ’10 meaning less than 2 years ago. It’s really come a long way in a short time and I really have Enrique Allen and Chris McCann to thank for that for giving me awesome opportunities and being awesome mentors and friends.

I definitely want to see what potential GrandSentral has got so please let me know anything you feel about it! I’m sure there are problems and I want to make this as great a product as possible. I’ve also got some other ideas I can’t wait to work on so let me know if you want to hack or design on something together, I’ll be in the area during Spring Break :)


Written by Kevin Xu

March 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Startup

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Study Abroad in Beijing Links

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Link round-up from my quarter abroad in Beijing, sorry it took so long to get them out!

Written by Kevin Xu

February 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Asia

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[Reflection - Shanghai] Generational Divide in my Aunts

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Before I returned home to America I actually spent a week in Shanghai just chilling (reading lots of manga) and visiting some family. It was actually a rare occasion that all the cousins of my dad’s generation (besides my dad) were all in Shanghai that week from around the world. That includes my dad’s sister (my direct aunt), 1 male cousin, and 3 female cousins.

The funny thing about this gathering was the age difference between the oldest aunt and the youngest aunt. About a 20+ year spread, this generational divide became most apparent on the topic of travel. More specifically, travelling to Taiwan.

The oldest aunt had a very traditional view and felt there was nothing to see in Taiwan and it’s very boring. She wanted to see various historic sites, hike up mountains, and take lots of pictures. She would book a tour with the typical Asian tour groups as they follow the always informative tour guide to tourist traps and scenic locations to take a picture to remember the memory.

The youngest aunt instead loved Taiwan as all she wanted to do was eat all the yummy food and drink at the local bars / lounges. A vacation was supposed to be relaxing is her opinion and she makes the most by sleeping all day and having fun at night.

Both are well into their adulthood by now but this stark difference, I feel, really represents the cultural divide well in what each generation cares about. I of course side with the younger aunt, the food in Taiwan is just so yummy!

Written by Kevin Xu

February 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Asia

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[Reflection] Outside Perspective Looking At Home

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There was one really interesting thing that I noticed while being abroad and that was the sense of looking at things happening back home from literally the outside.

Stanford has occasionally been called a “bubble” because of both its huge size and the sense that you know everything going on within the bubble and miss everything else. It is the ladder that is dangerous because one can easily get too caught up in something that seems so serious on campus but in reality, is very meaningless to the whole world.

While being inside a concentrated and focused environment does help with mastering knowledge and pushing boundaries, it’s also wise to take a wholistic view of things to not get too caught up going down a wrong path. Being in China really helped provide me this outside perspective.

I got to see the ASSU campaigns, Think Outside growth, the AKPsi Omega class pledge and cross, startups rise and fall, along with various stories of the friends I kept in touch with all happen during Spring quarter. Three weird realizations came to me:

  • Instead of being involved and really into any of the aforementioned activities, I got to see things from a macro scale and how they affected each other and evolved together. Combined with my previous knowledge of the above, I always like to think “why/how did this come to be?” and seeing everything occur like movements in a Chess game without being focused in on it helped me see some interesting stuff.
  • The power of social media and the Internet to be able to keep me in touch with a land over 6000 miles away is truly amazing
  • Life goes on without you. I read about this in an article from a previous student that went abroad and came back to find things more or less the same and that things just went on without him and it’s a strange feeling. Not really reverse-culture shock but more just like, “wow”.
With this newfound perspective though, I am more than glad to be back. With a fresh restart, I’ve decided to really focus on my CS and design skills in order to compliment my entrepreneurial passion.

Written by Kevin Xu

February 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Asia, Life

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[Reflection] Goodbyes from Beijing – Week 11

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My quarter abroad, 3 months in Beijing, 11 weeks surrounded by the culture of my ancestors, is all coming to an end.

Upon coming back to the states, all that will be left will be the memories. I will probably repeat stories of lamb kebabs, crashing a pool, and sleeping at a hot spring.

I lived my life with absolutely no regrets and got to experience so much on this trip that I really feel like I’ve grown. I come back to Stanford and the valley with a renewed sense of self, not because I discovered some mind-blowing secret of my ancestor’s past but I feel a lot more content with who I am and had all my questions answered.

Looking back to my original post before going to Beijing and my 3 weeks in Shanghai, I think I’ve found all my answers:

  • The current youth in China are up to all sorts of things and I got to meet almost all the different kinds of youth. Despite the social awkwardness, I believe the more the Internet grows, the more well-informed the youth will be to make important decisions to change the country as the older generation get out of power. The generational divide before and after the Cultural Revolution is just so stark and it’s clear the youth will be changing things soon. Relevant TED video
  • The Beijing tech entrepreneurial scene is optimistic in the face of copycat trolls and the big three but the giant market is just too huge an opportunity to pass up. With new market segments being created so fast and mobile being adopted even faster, the most successful entrepreneur seems to be the local Chinese who came to America to study management and went back to start a company.
Along with many new experiences:
  • Finally achieved a good grasp of Mandarin Chinese. There was a week where I was thinking in Mandarin and was losing part of my Shanghainese. Unfortunately my reading and writing skills are still that of a kindergardener.
  • Explored China on my own. Being on your own vs. with family is always a different experience and although I still met with many family when visiting Shanghai, I got to see most of Beijing and Shanghai through my own eyes, my own map, and talk to locals myself.
  • I had lots of fun. My first class (and only one that I really ever went to) started at 2pm so I could stay out until 5am and still get 8 hours of sleep. That was awesome
Thank you Stanford and Bing for this truly wonderful program. Although I have to take a hella load of CS classes now to catch up, I have never felt more content before in my life.


Written by Kevin Xu

February 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Asia

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[Reflection] Cute Souvenirs Galore – Week 10

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As the weeks winded down and Finals commenced, there was something that had been calling out to me… Angry Birds!

These plushies were seriously everywhere and in all different sizes! Plus they were so cheap, I just had to collect them all!

I knew they would make great souvenirs for almost everyone back home so I made sure I loaded up a whole suitcase full of angry birds, plants vs. zombies, pandas, bunnies, and Hammy the Hamster.

Also I am not obsessed with Angry Birds.


Written by Kevin Xu

February 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Asia

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