Big Load

You were so thinking something dirty weren’t you? lol
Am I the only one that has become desensitized to FB and twitter? It just seems to be so much random info that I have begun tuning it all out. FB drives me absolutely nuts. The new layout is horrific and not at all user friendly. Not to mention, they sprung new ‘groups’ on my friend lists which annoyed the holy hell out of me. And on top of that, I got a lovely message from FB last week telling me they are phasing out RSS feed support. That means no more posts from my blog showing up on FB. I can still manually cross post them of course but that defeats the purpose. I’m not sure who is in charge at FB but from my perspective they are putting nail after nail in their own coffin. I’ve completely stopped adding new people on FB unless it’s someone I actually know. And it’s fine that they are phasing out support. I can share once from Google++ and bounce it out to twitter and FB at the same time so take that bitches.
I think I spend more of my time on Google++ these days primarily because the streams are more about data vs crap. People share funny, cutesy stuff galore but I’m also finding tons of news links as well. And the sharing just seems more intuitive to me. I’m also being careful on how many folks I follow or circle. I’m trying really hard to avoid info overload again. Its actually been quite nice logging on and only having to sift thru 10-20 updates compared to 100’s.

As an early-adopter I’m not at all dismayed by the current small amount of updates. This will change once Google+ starts releasing more API’s for developers to integrate with Google+. Its a double-edged sword but it really does seem as if Google+ is moving into Plus being centric to the entire Google+ experience. The changes across their many services already indicate a gradual shift to total integration, which I love! Even better, managing, using, and updating is so much easier and nicer than FB. twitter still gets props for being the easiest site to update but its a one-trick pony and Google+ has a whole stable.

Heavy Roller

Well, my listing today on Amazon and I have ten, yes count them, 10 whole subscribers! lolol I didn’t really expect anything major mind you. 🙂
I also discovered changing the RSS feed being pushed to Amazon is very VERY easy. I was a tad worried how I could mantain control over certain types of content that isn’t necessarily for public consumption. *snicker* You very long time readers know what I mean.
I also have a lot of random drivel that I don’t share. One of the ways I keep myself blogging is I try to log on at least once a day (or so) to post my meanderings, basically “dear diary” sort of stuff. While completely boring and mundane, it keeps me talking not only to myself but to you. I didn’t want all that cluttering up everyone’s stream.
Annnnyway…. I just tweak the feed link on my dashboard for Amazon and hit publish. I can custom string basically any category1 that I want. *whew* So far it has handled pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it. I added categories, hid categories, etc and it worked. Most excellent.
I’m also trying to expand my list of blogs I read again. It’s been so long since I’ve followed anyone new, I really need to start blog hopping2 again. I really miss having personal blogs to follow and keep up with. I’m down to about 10 and that’s fewere than my first month all those years ago.
On a side note, I’ve been checking my site analytics and after filtering out FB, Google+, and twitter, Large Tony is still the number one referal to my blog. And ironically enough, brettcajun was a distant second. I guess I should pop over and thank them for having such loyal blog jumpers. hehehe And speaking of Brett, he is ever the attention whore of the blog world. 🙂 It seems he and Jimbo are having a war to see who can flame the other the most.
  1. or not []
  2. jumping from blogroll to blogroll exploring friends of friends of friends, so to speak []

Know Thyself

People really crack me up sometimes. They say perception is 9/10’s reality but there are also times when you need to use your head for something besides a hat rack. I just had a rather odd email conversation with a distant Facebook friend who was pissed at me for not knowing what was going on with him. Apparently, he’s been going thru some drama and updating FB with it. It was somehow my fault for not knowing. I saw him online, sent a polite message, and proceeded to get attitude because I was being jovial. Excuse the hell out of me!

On a similar rant, a while back I had another FB friend (who found me thru twitter) get pissy with me because I didn’t want to have cyber sex with him over cam. I first politely explained it wasn’t my thing even if I thought he was attractive. Sex over cam is so 90’s and boring to me. I realize it may be fun for some but that doesn’t mean everyone is into it. Finally after like the 4th or 5th push to show my junk, I got rather direct and let him know it was never going to happen. He has since unfriended me, to my delight.

So yes, all these sites can be wonderful mechanisms for communication. But lets face it, none of us only friend people we actually know in real life. Hell some folks have thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of friends on these sites. It is unrealistic to think every one of your “friends” keeps up with your every update. Frankly, it borders on impossible for anyone who has a life offline. For myself, I’m not so foolish to think everyone on my list knows everything I post. Most of what I post on FB and such is absolute drivel anyway. lol That’s when I’m even on. Most of my updates on FB come from my Google++ account (or twitter).

Yes, I have some nice friends online whom I’ve never met. I have some I’d love to meet someday as well. That still doesn’t mean I’m all up in their grill 24/7. If I’m a real friend to you or vice versa, then I’ll take the time to talk, text, email, or see you. in person. In person isn’t always possible but a friendship is only as good as the effort you put into it, not what you get out of it. And posting online is not what I would call effort.

The sex thing is funny. But again, don’t get all twisted because not everyone is into the same thing. I clearly have no problem with sex and/or hookups. That doesn’t mean every profile I have online is filled with a insatiable desire to get laid. Even still, if I politely decline 2 even 3 times, take the hint.

At the end of the day, just use your brain people. Don’t get pissy because some random stranger doesn’t know you’re having a bad day/week. Be happy someone actually took the time to reach out to you in the first place.

/ rant

Pretty Cloud

I’ve become a fan of all things Google+ as of late. Don’t get me wrong, while I’m definitely drinking the koolaid, I am not unaware of problems with working solely in the cloud.1  That said, I’ve been using gmail, picasa, docs, maps, etc for years. Recently, I’ve jumped on the beta bandwagon of Google+’s new music and +1 services. I’ve rambled enough on +1 already so no need to be redundant, redundant.

Storage is pretty excellent. Each service gives you a default amount of usable online storage. That said, you can upgrade to 20 gigs for just $5.00 a year.2  Even better, the storage is shared across all your Google+ services. This is a big bonus for me and a large factor in my decision to use many Google+ services.

Gmail has come along way since its inception. Its now very robust and user friendly. Its built in spam filter is excellent. The new +1 like theme is very easy on the eyes. Enough said.

Maps has always been excellent via the web or mobile. Google+ continues to integrate it with Places and Navigation. Maps has been my go to service for directions, MUNI, etc for years. The navigation mobile app is awesome as well. The down side of course is it requires a cell connection to triangulate the gps.  That can be a problem when you ride a motorcycle thru the middle of nowhere. lol

picasa is good but not yet excellent. I say ‘not yet’ because I have high hopes for the service that has sort of floundered in feature updates until recently. Storage, uploading, sharing, and even editing is pretty good. Its integration with +1 is obvious and also off to a very good start. Unfortunately, organizing, tagging, and otherwise managing content once it’s online is not all that great. Batch editing/organizing is very lacking and cumbersome. I’m hoping as the merger into +1 continues, this will change. picasa also has a desktop app. While the app is very robust, its also a bit confusing. The interface is cluttered and its very easy to get confused on what is where. The mobile site is basically for viewing and sharing. While there has never been an official mobile app, the new +1 mobile app has pics integrated. It could use some more features. I recently migrated all my pics from flickr over to picasa. I got a sick kick out of deleting my flickr account. lol They charge a ridiculous $25.00 a year for a fraction of the storage offered by Google+. The only call to fame flickr still had over picasa was its online organizing. Not enough to make me pay an extra $20 a year though.

Docs is doing better after also languishing for awhile. Dropbox is still more user friendly, especially via the mobile app. Mobile Docs tends to be sluggish. I’m still bouncing between the two currently. For stuff I need quick/dirty access to, I still use Dropbox. For generic storage and not so high-demand stuff I use Docs. Primarily because of the storage options mentioned above.

The beta music service works as advertised but it is still very basic at this point. It offers storage and playback, both of which work flawlessly. Currently, there isn’t much beyond that. You can download your music to a device or computer. Its still beta but I hate that its so basic as to be too basic. Google+ has a habit of doing that, so all is not perfect. I’m hoping it gets some major feature upgrades.

So there ya have it. My review of all things Google+3  lol  The down side to cloud computing is of course, access. If you don’t have access then you don’t have shit. Several services offer offline support but that sort of defeats the purpose IMHO. That said, we are fast approaching an age where the entire planet will be blanketed in some sort of access to the web. The only time I really don’t have access myself is when I’m out riding the bike. Otherwise, I’m plugged in to the hilt, just like a good little borg.

  1. Cloud is basically everything is online, apps, data, storage, etc []
  2. They offer even more if you are truly a memory hog. []
  3. Actually, not all. There are a ton of services that I don’t use []

+1

I was lucky enough to score a beta invite to Google+’s new +1 (plus one) aka Google++.1 I’ve been using it several days now and already I like it way better than Facebook. First and foremost, if and when you ever decided to leave Google++, you can take all your data with you. I’d love to see you try that w/FB. Mind you, some of the features are very similar just with different names. Friend groups are called Circles for example.

Visually, the layout is very user-friendly and easy on the eyes. I found it very simplistic and uncluttered. One might say too uncluttered. Of course, being in beta that is understandable. Anyway, if you’ve ever used Facebook, you’ll find some familiarity to it. Overall, it’s a much nicer interface. Navigation is super easy as well. While everything isn’t 100% integrated, its very easy to bounce around to your gmail, calendar, contacts, youtube, buzz, etc via the ever present in-page toolbar that is common to most Google+ sites. Your news feed aka Stream is pretty straight-forward and easy to navigate as well.

My personal opinion is that integration is going to be key for Google++.  Right off the bat, you get the option to merge your existing picasa account when you sign up. The two services worked seamlessly together. Changes/additions/deletions in picasa showed up immediately in +1. You still have to do most of your editing/organizing thru the picasa site directly. I expect that will change over time. Google+ has focused on tying a lot of their services together and +1 is obviously going to become the hub of that integration. Not to mention, you have easy access to your main Google+ dashboard right from the site via the afore mentioned toolbar.

The chat function is called “hangout”. You can chat with up to 10 people at once, with or without video. I encountered one bug while using it but I think it had more to do with my cheesy laptop cam. Otherwise, it worked as expected.

Privacy is much easier to use. For some this will be a big bonus. Beyond the option to take your data with you if you leave, every section can be customized to your liking. It’s a simple right click on the section to customize settings. Some are auto-shared, others are not. I found it very intuitive. You can immediately make changes. It also respects your settings from picasa as well i.e. public vs private albums.

A huge bonus for me was the mobile app. Its currently only available for Android devices but I read an iOS version is coming as well as a mobile website. The mobile app is equally simple and easy to use. It had one feature which I fell in love with immediately. You can set you Android device to automatically upload your pictures and/or videos from your phone directly to the site. You can upload all your existing media as well as auto-upload any new media you acquire. Even better, the upload directly is automatically marked private. This is obvious for so many reasons but I appreciate the fact that they realize every pic I take with my phone isn’t always fit for “public” consumption. heehee  Sharing is expected and made easy but it isn’t forced on you like Facebook does.

There is a new feature which I’m still getting used to called Sparks. Its basically like their tag service which lets you set a saved search option that constantly updates. In other words, if you like all things Android, you can set a Spark that updates constantly from across the web with any references to Android. You can set it to be as detailed or vague as you want. Basically, you save a key word or phrase and it will update for you continuously. I currently consume most of my news via my phone’s RSS app but this might be a nifty feature for those who don’t utilize their phone for reading.

People are already incorrectly referring to it as a “Facebook killer.” Hardly. Facebook is firmly entrenched into our way of life. And I don’t think Google+ is under any illusion it will kill Facebook. That said, this won’t be a failed venture like their Wave Project. Google+’s only failure here would be to let the service languish as it has for a variety of other beta projects in the past. Its obvious Google+ has big plans for this new service and if I’m right in my thinking, it will quickly become a portal for all things Google+ and social networking. Even in beta, its off to a huge start. Done properly, it will become the competitor that the doomed mySpace used to be. Competition would encourage FB to actually respond to more user feedback/complaints. A good thing in my book. Both FB and Google+ have huge user bases, of which often overlap, so I can’t either killing off the other.

Of course, being in beta there are a few cons. I think many of these will change over time. The biggest being you can only auto-add friends via your current list of Google+ users. You can manually add/invite others but that is very time consuming. There is currently no option to add friends directly from your twitter or Facebook accounts. You can search your hotmail or yahoo email, but I don’t use either of those so that didn’t help me at all. There is very little integration outside of other Google+ services. You also can’t import or export to/from twitter. You can pull an RSS feed of your stream but that’s sort of a workaround.

As mentioned, the service is off to a roaring demand. In fact so much in demand, inviting others has been turned off a couple times already. If you’d like an invite, make sure your email address (preferably a gmail one) is included with any comments below.

PS. I’m sure you noticed, I added the +1 icon to my blog posts as well. click, click, click!

  1. Thanks to several blog buddies who sent me invites []

FB Log In

Ok, I think ( I THINK ) I got the damn log in for Facebook to work now. If you are on FB, please click the log-in link in the sidebar on the right, under “universal log-ins”, and attempt to sign into my blog with your FB credentials. Don’t worry, I’m not culling any data. Its strictly to allow FB’ers to log in. I’m not sure if it will post back to your FB page or not. I’m tinkering with code that is beyond my understanding.

Please post your success rate along with any error messages you might encounter in the comments.

Thanks!


**Update – I found an error in some of the code I was using and have changed it. anyone who hasn’t already tried or tried and failed, please try again. **

**Update II – After tons of hours tinkering and no support from the site provider, I’m removing the FB option for universal sign-ins. It only works randomly and with no explanation of why it fails. If you wish to use universal log-ins, you’ll have to use one of the others provided. **