Turn off Google App/G Suite Video Calls and External Warnings

Google Apps (now known as G Suite but I refuse to say those words cause it makes me think of Vanilla Ice) and Gmail give you some amazing tools for very little cost and in Gmail’s case FREE. I have used both services since they started and have encouraged anyone else to do the same. They just work.

However there are two consistently annoying aspects of the Calendar tool that, until today, have annoyed me since the beginning. Both of these have to do with creating an Event and sharing them with other people. The huge benefit of Google Calendar is that you can create an event in your calendar and then share that with other people so that it is in their calendar.

Video Calls for Everyone!

The first annoyance is the video call ‘feature’ that Google has on by default.
default google video meeting in calendar

I guess this is there attempt to promote their Google Plus video hangout service. It mostly serves to confuse people. When they click the video call link thinking there is a video call when it is just a regular phone call. It gets even more confusing when the meeting is in person. “Jenkins, why did you setup a video call for our in-person meeting?”

Danger Will Robinson! External Invitation!

The second annoyance is when adding people to an event who have an email address from outside your company’s Google Apps. When you do this Google pops up a warning: “The following attendees are from outside your organization.
Are you sure you would like to invite them?”
google apps external invite warning
Well let’s see here Google. I just entered that email into the event invitation because I wanted to invite them to the event. So yeah I guess I want to invite them to the event but thanks for making sure I didn’t make that mistake.

For over a decade now I have put up with these settings never thinking that I might be able to turn them off. After getting off a call with a client today where there was confusion about the Video Call button on the invite I Googled

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console.
  2. Click Apps > G Suite > Calendar.
  3. Click Sharing settings.
  4. Under Video Calls, uncheck Automatically add video calls to events created by a user.

When you get to the Sharing settings you will also see a check-box for the external invite alert allowing you to disable that ‘feature’ as well.
google admin setting sharing
Of course Google being Google it may take up to 24 hours for this change to take effect.

Google hits 100% on renewable energy

This is pretty big news and encouraging. It seems like there is huge potential for job creation here as solar and wind installs go up. Solar doesn’t have as much maintenance but the wind can blow 24/7:

I’m thrilled to announce that in 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy for our global operations — including both our data centers and offices. We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010. Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future.

From – We’re set to reach 100% renewable energy — and it’s just the beginning

Create a great product then sell it

One mentality is that with the right sales pitch and landing page you can sell ice to an eskimo. The problem is that you are selling to make a sale instead of selling to deliver a useful product to your clients. This can breed resentment or even worse allow a competitor to come along with something the client actually needs.
This video of Steve Jobs pontificating about the demise of Monopolistic companies like Xerox and IBM strikes a chord with small businesses as well. While the video discusses issues at very very large companies the thinking is applicable to all size businesses.

Sure Sales and Marketing are important and investing in good training, well designed branding, and a healthy internet presence will help you sell more product. The pitfall that Steve points out in this short video is that at the end of the day what people are buying is the product. If you focus on Sales and Marketing too much there is a possibility that the product will diminish in quality and effectiveness.

Stop, Drop, and Call your Web host – Ghost Linux Vulnerability

I hate being Chicken Little but this one sounds pretty critical:
Highly critical “Ghost” allowing code execution affects most Linux systems | Ars Technica

The vulnerability in the GNU C Library (glibc) represents a major Internet threat, in some ways comparable to the Heartbleed and Shellshock bugs that came to light last year. The bug, which is being dubbed “Ghost” by some researchers, has the common vulnerability and exposures designation of CVE-2015-0235. While a patch was issued two years ago, most Linux versions used in production systems remain unprotected at the moment. What’s more, patching systems requires core functions or the entire affected server to be rebooted, a requirement that may cause some systems to remain vulnerable for some time to come.

I have a VPS at LiquidWeb and when I reached out to them about my server this morning the patch had not been applied. They patched and rebooted the server for me. Here is what I sent them. I suggest you reach out to your web host or sysadmin as well:

Subject: Is this a concern? The vulnerability in the GNU C Library (glibc)
Message Body:

I just read about The vulnerability in the GNU C Library (glibc) on this page:

Has the patch for this been applied to all LW servers? Besides this account I have a handful of client accounts and want to make sure all VPS and Shared servers are up to date.