Category Archive for 'General'

New Google Reader Interface Pushes Google+ Sharing

Monday, November 7th, 2011

(You might want to read Google Reader’s New Interface first.)

One of the things I liked about Google Reader was the ‘Shared Items’ public page. Prior to the recent update to Google Reader (see above link), you could ‘Share’ an item in your Google Reader and it would then update your ‘Shared Items’ page, which could be made public if you wished. (Mine is CASS 크리스티나’S SHARED ITEMS.) I liked the ‘Shared Items’ page for a couple of reasons.

One: I had a single url I could go to that collected articles I’ve read on the internet that I hadn’t necessarily Plurked, Tweeted, or blogged about.

Two: Not everything I read on Google Reader that I shared publicly needed to be shared with the people I have on various social media sites. Out of a list of articles on my ‘Shared Items’, I could select one or a small number that I thought were most important or more interesting to share that day so that I wasn’t ‘spamming’ people who may not be interested. If anyone was interested in reading more articles that I’ve read, I could share the url with that person. For that matter, I could simply just share the ‘Shared Items’ url sometimes and just keep things very simple.

As someone commented on Google Reader – Social Retrospective:

I’m just a little sad that Reader has now moved to the “intrusive sharing” model. To share stories now, you have to push them into your friends G+ streams. With Reader sharing before, you could share all you wanted, and the person (who chose to follow you for your story sharing) could read, ignore, gloss over, decide by the headline on a single line if they wanted to read…now I feel like I’m spamming my friends who may or may not be interested in the stories.

At the very least, G+ should add a link or selection to access shared stories only if you want to. Like with games. It’s way too hard now to consume large amounts of material.

It’s a sad day when a good feature gets left behind in the name of “progress.” :-(

Another comment:

What Google have done here is really disgusting. I’ve been using Google Reader for some years, using the ‘shared items’ both as a very powerful archive of things I need to keep in a searchable place, and as a way of keeping the many websites that I work with updated. Using the RSS feed from my shared items page updates loads of websites and email services that I provide to others.

At a stroke, without warning, Google have removed the main tool I use for my work and removed my access to my archive. This creates huge problems for me in my work and I’ve lost a lot of time I’ll never get back. There are weasel words on their site about how I can download by archive in the JSON file, but seeing as there’s not an application that I can load it up into, it’s a useless offer.

Sure – I can use MobileRSS on iPhone for now, and someone has created a Google Chrome plugin that lets me do a lot of what I used to to – but for how long? MobileRSS may even go along with the new GR at their next release. Google have already shown that they’re quite capable of being total pricks and I suspect they’ll soon turn off the ‘shared items’ archive and get rid of the legacy ‘shared items’ page.

This is a really nasty abuse of Google’s market dominance (after all, the RSS reader market has been long-since cleaned out by the dominance of GR) and if it isn’t illegal for them to turn off services like this with (almost?) no warning, then it should be.

While you can Read Your Shared Items in Google Reader by subscribing to your ‘Shared Items’ url, I share this sentiment above “I suspect they’ll soon turn off the ‘shared items’ archive and get rid of the legacy ‘shared items’ page.”

While I personally like Google+ and am currently using it, I realize there are those who may not be using it (whether it’s because they’re on other social media sites or because they just don’t like the main social media sites). As a user of Google+, I like the added +1 feature in Google Reader and I admit they’ve found a neat way to integrate Google Reader and Google+. But since this is replacing the old sharing feature in Google Reader now, I can only assume the decision to remove the old sharing feature along with the old commenting feature is nothing more than a way to push Google+ on people who aren’t currently using Google+. It’s a kind of marketing that, even as a university graduate with a marketing major, I personally despise.

When I signed into Google Reader today, I didn’t think they seriously removed the old sharing feature. I thought maybe it was some oversight because I thought they would implement the +1 and Google+ sharing as an addition to the old sharing feature (because it’s obvious they do different things). (Yes, I know you can use the ‘Send To’ to share on other sites – that’s not what people are upset about.)

One can only hope Google reverses their decision on the removal of the old sharing feature. They haven’t removed the public ‘Shared Items’ pages yet, but hopefully they’ll at least consider leaving that as is or find a satisfying way for everyone to be able to access that archive. In the meantime, I’m going to try to find some non-public way to archive the stuff I read, aside from saving links in my email sent to another email account, so that I don’t need to spam the hell out of my social media contacts.

It also doesn’t help matters when Google Reader’s Help pages state that you can share items to a public page when that isn’t the case. Someone needs to update the help pages.

Okay, Google, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here that you’re not only interested in promoting yourself, but still care about what the end users want. Any more faux pas and I’m putting you on my ‘Gates-Zuckerberg watch list’.

Google+ Updates – Redesigned Google+ Android App

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Yay! Google finally fixed the sign out issue on the Google+ Android app. Somewhere between the original version of the app and the most recent update (October 31st), they lost the sign out option on the app. For more than a few months (I lost count because it took them so long to fix this), I simply could not sign out of the Google+ app until the October 31st update.

Some things I noticed right away on this update (aside from the new design).

Your circles are listed alphabetically and you can’t reorder them to make it more convenient for you. I noticed this since the main site let me reorder my list of circles and it was reflected in the Android app. I’m now stuck with Acquaintances being listed first. I suppose I could number my circles, but I really shouldn’t have to.

When making a new post, you can select which circles to share with like before, but now everyone is your circles is listed after the list of circles – sorted alphabetically, of course. Since this is a phone app and you need wi-fi or a data plan, I imagine this might take a while to load if you have at least 300 people in your circles. I don’t, but I know some people collect ‘friends’ like other people collect stamps or coins. On the other hand, maybe this is a good thing because it forces people to really think about who to add to their circles. 😉 (Not that I’m complaining about people following me, but I much rather have people follow me because they actually read what I write.)

Some things Google has yet to ‘fix’ (though I guess ‘implement’ is a better word since it’s not in the Android app yet – I’m pretty sure about this since I’ve been using the app since it came out) is the ability to +1 individual comments to a post and the ability to edit your posts. Touching and holding on your comment to a post allows you to edit the comment. However, doing this on your post gives you the option to delete the post, but not the option to edit your post. Someone on my Google+ has also suggested an auto-save feature for posts since Google+ allows us to make long posts (in fact, there is no limit to the length of the post). I agree it would be a good feature to have. It would also make Google+ more like a social blog (Tumblr comes to mind) while having the ability to micro-blog like on Plurk and Twitter.

I guess I can be happy that I can now sign out of the Google+ app. (I occasionally like to sign out on my phone.) For those who are using more than one account, you can now sign out of one and sign in with the other. Hurrah! :)

~~~C

Addendum: In trying to post this into Google+ using its Android app, I noticed that the app doesn’t have an option to quickly add a link to a new post. I came back to my laptop to do this. It’d be nice to have the ‘Add a link’ to a new post on the app.

About Spoilers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Trying to understand this spoiler thing.

Some things are spoilers for me, but apparently not knowing who lives or dies in A Song of Ice and Fire because I read the books anyway even knowing certain characters were going to be dead by the end of book three (and certain not-my-favourite-characters are around in book four). Kind of hard to avoid knowing if you are reading book one and have book three lying around and there’s a list of characters in book three. Besides, I still had no clue what the “Red Wedding” was until I read the book. (“Red wedding”. Not a spoiler people, but a mystery for ya to figure out. :p Consider it a teaser.)

What does spoil things for me is knowing what happened – the exact details – before I read the book, and even then I might just read the book anyway. Frankly the end of the story isn’t always the most important for me but everything leading to the conclusion. A lot of the time, reading for me is just about enjoying how the words come together to form a picture of what’s happening. The same could be said about movies and shows – I simply enjoy how the story is put together. For videos, I enjoy seeing how well the visuals are put together.

Besides, who hasn’t re-read a favourite book or re-watched a favourite movie/show? Since you’ve already read/watched it once, you’ve ‘spoiled’ it so why re-read or re-watch? Arguably, there is some enjoyment to be had in experiencing the story over again (I’m assuming you haven’t forgotten everything that happened in the story.)

(And if you watched Game of Thrones before reading A Game of Thrones, you already spoiled the book for yourself.)

I think I might be delving into A Dance with Dragons very soon. 😉

~~~C

How to Post a Message to One Person in Google+

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

One of the first things you will notice on Google+ is that you can’t post on someone’s stream like you can post to someone’s wall on Facebook. If all you’ve ever used is Facebook and MySpace, you’re sure to be confused.

But if you’ve used Twitter or Plurk, you might have already figured out on your own how to send a message to one person only in Google+. Actually, the way to do this is exactly like Plurk and only vaguely similar to Twitter.

Here’s part of a comment I posted on “Opinions: Google+”, which is a decent article about Google+:

In your own stream, under the post box where you can choose the Circles you want to post to, you can also just type in one person’s name and that post will show up in only that person’s stream (and yours, of course). This is also how it works in Plurk when I want to post a message to one person.

I rather like this better than having to post on someone’s wall like in Facebook – there are some issues with that, like people trolling what you posted to your friend.

I know it’s not what everyone is accustomed to, but once you get used to this way of sending a message to someone, it’s much better and way more sane. Sanity at last!

I guess I should mention that you should delete any Circles selected and make sure only the one name of the person you want to send to is listed under the post box. (It seems not everyone is paying attention to the tiny little details as I may be sometimes.)

If people are still struggling with the idea of posting a message to only one person, the best I can say is think of the very first method of communicating online – email. When you want to send an email to someone you don’t go to their email box and drop the message, you write in your email account and click ‘send’. Somehow because of MySpace and Facebook, people have gotten used to thinking in the reverse. Just think of sending a post to someone, instead of writing on their ‘wall’. The end result is the same, communication between only the two of you.

~~~C

Reason #1 Why Google+ is Still in Beta Testing and is ‘Invite Only’ For Now

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Tim Bradshaw has noticed the same thing I did last night, a flaw in Google+’s resharing option. In his article, “The first Google+ privacy flaw”, Bradshaw explains:

Say a close friend of mine posts a picture of her kids to her “friends” Circle. With the “share” option on every Google+ post, I can reshare this with absolutely anyone, from another Circle to which my friend does not belong, right through to making it completely public. The same loophole applies not just to photos but to any kind of post, as far as I can tell.

If she’d known about this risk (and how would she?), my friend could have disabled resharing using the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of every post, but it doesn’t seem to be possible to do this before she’d already published it. Google+ also, for now, lacks any way to turn off resharing of all your posts from within its privacy settings.

Personal pictures, posts and location check-ins could quickly leak into the public domain this way. The Google+ equivalent of the newsfeed updates in realtime and doing most things on the service requires admirably few clicks. These are very good attributes for a new site that’s seeking to win people over through ease of use.

But it could also lead to resharing without giving a second thought to the light-grey text that indicates a post is “limited”.

Indeed, Bradshaw is correct about this. He did, of course, send feedback to Google about this. According to Bradshaw, Google “acknowledged the loophole. It says that this is exactly the kind of issue it hopes to identify and resolve while Google+ is still in ‘field trial’ mode.”

And that is why Google+ is still in Beta testing and is ‘invite only’ for now.

This resharing flaw in Google+’s Beta testing can be compared to posting on someone else’s Facebook wall. When you post on someone’s Facebook wall, people you don’t know can or may see your post depending on the wall owner’s settings. For example, if I post on Friend A’s wall, I don’t have the option of limiting who gets to see that post since it’s not my wall. If Friend A has allowed all his/her friends to see “friends’ posts”, then people I don’t know can see what I wrote. (There is a way to limit who can see “friends’ posts”, but you don’t know what settings your friend has chosen.) Facebook isn’t even in Beta testing, and they certainly aren’t going to change their wall posting feature since that’s what’s unique about Facebook. If you’re a Facebook user, you have to live with the fact that whenever you post on someone else’s wall, others can generally see your posts whether you know them or not.

Because Google developers are keen on addressing users’ issues with Google+, I can’t help but feel that in the long-term Google+ will be better than Facebook. It already is better in many ways. For one thing, they did get the contact management and organizing right via ‘Circles’. When I write a new post, if the option to post is set to ‘Public’, it’s obvious because of the green button right under the post box (unlike Facebook which only shows a tiny lock icon and down arrow – I actually forgot about it when that option first came out on Facebook). It’s hard to miss the green ‘Public’ button so I don’t accidentally post something public. When the option is set to one of your Circles, the button is blue. A nice feature of Google+ is Hangouts, which is like Google’s version of Skype within a website. Of course, Google’s chat feature is embedded in Google+ just like in Gmail and iGoogle. Huddles is a way to group chat on your phone with others on Google+ based on who’s in your Circles. Despite all the comparisons to Facebook, Google+’s posting of content and stream is more like a combination of Twitter and Plurk.

As for resharing in Google+, I like it. It’s the part that’s like Twitter. Obviously, the solution to this is to allow each person to turn resharing on or off for each post before they publish the post or to turn resharing on or off for all posts.

I like Google+ so far. Aside from this resharing flaw, I haven’t noticed anything else to make me worried. I can live with Google+ until they sort out all the flaws – big and small.

As Bradshaw wrote “Testers are in the early-adopter crowd who can probably live with this kind of thing before Google adds a way to disable any resharing by default.”

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I trust that Google will sort things out as we go. And better to do this before Google+ is fully released to the public. Yes, a very good reason why it’s still in Beta testing and is ‘invite only’ for now.

~~~C

Previous blogs on social media and networking:
iPhone Users: Not to Worry, Google Hasn’t Forgotten You
Deleting Facebook – Here’s How
As for Facebook…
Micro-blogging, Social Networking, and a Small Rant
Time to Say Goodbye to Facebook?

iPhone Users: Not to Worry, Google Hasn’t Forgotten You

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Google has developed a Google+ app for iPhone, but apparently the delay is on Apple’s end as the app is being reviewed.

In the meantime, Google+ has a mobile site set up if you go to plus.google.com on your iPhone, you will get the mobile version of Google+. (Of course, if you don’t have an invite yet, you’ll have to wait for someone to send you one or sign up for Google+ to notify you of updates.)

See this article: While We Await The Native App, The Google+ iPhone Mobile Web App is Pretty Solid.

Still an INTJ (Myers-Briggs testing)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

I’ve been interested in how life events and experiences will influence a Myers-Briggs test result. I did the test again on HumanMetrics.com. My results this time were:

Your Type is
INTJ
Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging
Strength of the preferences %
44 62 75 11

My previous blogs on Myers-Briggs indicate a trend in my Myers-Briggs test results. Interesting, really. I do think that life events and experiences can affect your score, although it seems that there will always be some consistency in your personality (otherwise, I wouldn’t keep getting INTJ). I notice that my intuitive and thinking scores went up while my judging score went down a bit. I consider this a good thing. I think I’ve been thinking more carefully about decisions and have been trying to be less judging overall. I’m still not afraid to make decisions, which is why I’m still an INTJ and not an INTP. 😉

~~~C

“Reader Beware!” (A Reminder)

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Someone sent the following article to me in email –
“Parliamentary law bars Harper from re-election. Found guilty of a culture of abuse of Parliament”

Here is my response to the sender about the above article (with some minor editing – mostly minor grammar, style, and linking to other pages):

I actually find the article a little misleading. While I detest Harper to the max and will never forgive how he treated protesters during the G20, I don’t think all the legal facts are accurate or presented in this article.

For one thing, the article itself does not cite primary legal sources (these would be relevant statutes and regulations of Canada). Only the person who commented provided some links. That person also left out some legal facts as well, such as what paragraph 502(3)(a) says. It says, “(3) Any person who is convicted of having committed an offence that is an illegal practice or a corrupt practice under this Act shall, in addition to any other punishment for that offence prescribed by this Act, in the case of an illegal practice, during the next five years or, in the case of a corrupt practice, during the next seven years, after the date of their being so convicted, not be entitled to (a) be elected to or sit in the House of Commons;” See Canada Elections Act, section 502. I shall point out that the person must be “convicted of having committed an offence that is an illegal practice or a corrupt practice under this Act” (“this Act” refers to the Canada Elections Act). This means that the person must be convicted of an offense under paragraph 502(1) and (2) of the Canada Elections Act.

As for “contempt of Parliament”, a quick search of the http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/ site does not provide any results. It is likely that while “contempt of Parliament” exists in Canadian law, it is not necessarily a criminal offense. Indeed, the Wikipedia article on “contempt of Parliament” states that only “Some jurisdictions consider contempt of parliament to be a criminal offence.” Another point to note is that Harper alone is not found in contempt of Parliament – his government was. This alone is a big distinction.

These are some of the things to consider when reading the article you sent me. Be very careful about random online articles purporting to report on legal ‘facts’ – a lot of the time they aren’t entirely accurate (usually due to the fact that the average person does not fully understand how the law really works, which is why there are lawyers and paralegals). Ever heard of “buyer beware” in terms of shopping? Well, reader beware! when it comes to journalists and the law. Journalists are not the same as law clerks who have been trained in legal research, unless the journalist has a legal background.

Thus, I would personally be very careful about disseminating that article without a caution to the reader and additional comments.

Additionally, since the presscore article mentions U.S. law, I would like to point out that Canadian law and U.S. law are different in many ways. Although I have not studied U.S. law, I do know that constitutional law is different in both countries, not just the constitution but in terms of procedure and how the constitutions came about. Furthermore, human rights are treated differently in the law in both countries. Additionally, laws on copyrights are somewhat different in both countries. I’ve come across Canadians who cite something they’ve heard based on U.S. law, but they are completely unaware of that fact. Notably, “fair dealing” as found in Canadian law is similar though not the same as “fair use” in U.S. law. Laws in one country are very complex and can become more confusing when viewed from an international perspective.

The topic of the presscore article aside, this reminds me how important it is for people to develop analytical and critical thinking skills. As a blogger, I want my readers to think critically about what I write and to analyze the arguments and viewpoints presented. (Often, I write because I’m trying to understand something myself!) I do not encourage blind agreement, which is why I always try my best to provide citations, sources, and links in my blog articles. I expect good writers and journalists to also provide the same.

~~~C

A Dedication to the G20 Protesters and All Those Who Fight for Freedom

Friday, July 16th, 2010

This is one of my favourite songs by Linkin Park – “Hands Held High”. This is a live version.

Turn my mic up louder I got to say somethin’
Lightweight step it aside when we comin’
Feel it in your chest, the syllables get pumpin’
People on the street, they panic and start runnin.’

Words on loose leaf sheet complete comin’
I jump on my mind, I summon the rhyme I’m dumpin.’
Healing the blind I promise to let the sun in
Sick of the dark ways we march to the drummin.’

Jump when they tell us they wanna see jumpin’
Fuck that I wanna see some fist pumpin’
Risk somethin’, take back what’s yours
Say somethin’ that you know they might attack you for.

‘Cause I’m sick of being treated like I have before
Like it’s stupid standin’ for what I’m standin’ for
Like this war’s really just a different brand of war
Like it doesn’t cater the rich and abandon the poor.

Like they understand you in the back of the jet
When you can’t put gas in your tank
These fuckers are laughin’ their way to the bank and cashin’ the cheque
Askin’ you to have compassion and have some respect.

For a leader so nervous in an obvious way
Stutterin’ and mumblin’ for nightly news to replay
And the rest of the world watching at the end of the day
In their living room laughin’ like “what did he say?”

[Chorus:]
Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen

In my living room watchin’ but I am not laughin’
Cause when it gets tense I know what might happen
The world is cold, the bold men take action
Have to react or get blown into fractions

Ten years old it’s something to see
Another kid my age drugged under a jeep
Taken and bound and found later under a tree
I wonder if he had thought the next one could be me.

Do you see the soldiers that are out today
They brush the dust from bullet proof vests away
It’s ironic at times like this you pray
But a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday

There’s bombs in the buses, bikes, roads
Inside your market, your shops, your clothes
My dad, he’s got a lot of fear I know
But enough pride inside not to let that show

My brother had a book he would hold with pride
A little red cover with a broken spine
On the back, he hand-wrote a quote inside
“When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die”

Meanwhile, the leader just talks away
Stutterin’ and mumblin’ for nightly news to replay
And the rest of the world watchin’ at the end of the day
both scared and angry like “what did he say?”

[Chorus x6]

[x6]
With hands held high into a sky so blue,
As the ocean opens up to swallow you.