In the theme of my previous “Bias” rant, I’m been making some changes to my social media accounts. I’m becoming much more selective about who I follow. It doesn’t have to be rocket science but I ask myself, am I really going to follow or care about this person’s ramblings? It doens’t have to mean they are any more/less important than my own.

On FB, rather than unfriending folks and causing a whole new level of butt-hurt drama, I’ve started unfollowing many ‘friends’. Wow, what a difference it has made. The toxicity level has dropped significantly AND I really do pay attention to what the folks I do follow are saying. Who knew, right?! lol

On Twitter, I embraced ‘lists’. Now I move right into my lists vs my regular feed. I absolutely loathe the ‘friends liked this’ posts. Not that I use Twitter much anymore anyway. What started as my favorite social media tool has turned into advertising engine. It doesn’t much feel social at all anymore.

My poor Google app I mostly just ignore. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am Plus did not take off. I blame it for being too simple. People didn’t understand the more subtle nuances of leaving private comments vs public. It felt featureless for many people. It has also become an sp#m engine for p0rn.

I’m sad to say it but IG is my go-to social account these days. What a sad world when a picture book app is your primary social account? I enjoy IG for gym motivation. I try to follow regular guys that aren’t professional (or wanna be) bodybuilders. I prefer to follow guys like myself that struggle or focus on getting to the gym and staying fit. [1]I would TOTALLY be lying if I said a few hotties, just because, haven’t snuck into my feed!  I also get a pure kick out of the seriousness some people invest in their IG shots. The level of obsession is staggering sometimes but oddly addictive to watch. [2]Another sad testament to our times.  Several blog readers have asked me why I don’t have more followers? I’d assume the same reason I don’t have a ton of comments on my blog. I don’t cultivate a “follow” crowd. If you follow me, it is because you are genuinely interested in moi, not because I post p0rn, glamour shots, and/or daily ‘inspirational quotes’ to cover up one’s own narssicism. *giggle* While I do love selfies from time to time, they aren’t my life and I rarely spend more than a few seconds ‘posing’ for one.

Snapchat is an utter disaster and I barely even open the app. The newest update is just another glaringly ad-in-your-face view. No thanks.

So far I’ve noticed a significant difference in how I view and respond to my social accounts. I find myself a little more engaging and willing to interact. I actually open FB more than once a day now. One could say it’s quality over quantity but that would be crazy, right!?


1 I would TOTALLY be lying if I said a few hotties, just because, haven’t snuck into my feed!
2 Another sad testament to our times.

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


I was lucky enough to score a beta invite to Google’s new +1 (plus one) aka Google+. [1]Thanks to several blog buddies who sent me invites 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