You Won’t Share This Post

Not so long ago, there was a much wider gap between the various methods for acknowledging online content. At one end, you had the option of reading something and then doing absolutely nothing. On the other, you had things like leaving a comment, emailing the post to a friend, or writing a blog post in response to another you read elsewhere.

Like - Thumb Up
Like cc SalFalko

The habit of "liking" things on the internet would be difficult to break. But it inspires me a little because it gels with an upcoming experiment I have planned for The Geekorium.

To "like" (or +1) something is the lowest form of interaction you can have with someone's post, and it saves you from having to put actual thought into your response. I think I'd rather have "likes" on my posts than nothing at all, but I'd certainly appreciate some thoughtful comments more.

Len points out that the "like" button is one-size-fits-all. There's no way to say "I appreciate you posting this, even if I disagree with the content". There's no difference between liking your favourite noodle bar and liking news of your friends newborn son. And with the rise of sponsored posts on Facebook, your "like" on the noodle bar page now puts ads for that noodle bar front and centre above more important things like births, deaths, and marriages of the people I actually care about.

I expect this behaviour is here to stay, but I will try and think a bit harder before liking things in future, and I'd appreciate it if you'd do the same too.

Make Tiny Tiny RSS Look and Behave Like Google Reader

Since Google announced they were closing Google Reader down in June, people have been scrambling to find something to use in it's place. I'm not sure what the rush is, but I was caught up in it too. My replacement of choice is Tiny Tiny RSS because it's self hosted, meaning I don't have to rely on any third party for such an important task any more.

This article is not about how to set up TTRSS. That's been covered by the official Wiki and Forums. This article is about how to make TTRSS behave somewhat more like Google Reader, so you can jump right back in to reading feeds and not have to learn something new.

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Google+ (or Google Plus if you wanna be search-engine friendly)

So I'm hanging out on Google+. I mean literally of course - the second aor third? new social network that Google has launched in the last couple of years has a "hangout" feature where you can chat with lots of friends simultaneously via video. I've never tried it, so I'm sitting here in the hopes that someone will join in with me. No one has come past yet, but I think that says more about Australian/American time difference and my own social ineptness than the popularity of the feature. I hear very good things about it.

This article isn't about that feature specifically. This is about Google+ in general. The new social network that totally isn't trying to out-social Facebook bBut is really - everybody knows, you guys. It seems quite a hit! But then so was Buzz initially. You remember Buzz? The social network built knee-deep into GMail that a lot of people tried, but no one really liked cnot really deep down. There was also Wave - but that never made sense to most people dalthough I never knew why - it was pretty straight forward. I mock, but only out of love. Google, despite their failures are not a company to give up on something once they have it in their sights, and understandably they want to get in on this "social" act.

What "social" means exactly is anyone's guess, but in vague terms it means somehow putting all that information you generate when you browse the web and share the cool stuff you find with your friends to use. Sites like Facebook are all about giving you a central place to post videos and photos you like so other people can see how witty and clever you are for liking Transformers before they were ruined eor exploded by Michael Bay. This sort of sharing has come a long way since the web was made. It used to be that you had to own your own website and manually copy/paste links and videos into your pages and hope to hell that people might find, and occasionally re-visit, your site. Then sites like Blogger and WordPress came along and made that somewhat easier, then Tumblr and Facebook - making those sorts of short and snappy link sharing posts easier and easier to do. Now you wave your mouse in the direction of the Facebook tab and it pulls out that it's a Youtube video and picks out the title and description and even embeds the video, and you barely have to do anything. Well now Google is heading one step further. They aren't there right now - Google+ is still a lot like Facebook on the surface - but deeper down the steps are there to become something massive.

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Asides   [ + ]

a. or third?
b. But is really - everybody knows, you guys
c. not really deep down
d. although I never knew why - it was pretty straight forward
e. or exploded

Google!! Get it together!

The decisions Google makes don't normally annoy me, except in small geeky ways that most people would pfft at, and you may well pfft at me now but they are seriously annoying me now.

The Google Master Plan http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/ / CC BY 2.0

On one hand we have the recent integration of Buzz into Gmail and Google Reader. The upshot being:

  1. You cannot disable Buzz without disabling your carefully tended Google Profile.
  2. Because you cannot disable Buzz, you end up slowly accruing followers - you could ignore them, but you start to look like an ass.
  3. So you follow back and this breaks Google Reader.
  4. So the choice is between using Google Reader OR Google Buzz to read content from others. Google Buzz is so tightly integrated with Google Reader that I can only choose one or the other. There is no way I can see to effectively and simply use both at the same time.

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iPhone Competitors, You Have 4 Months

This might be my next phone...

In about June or July my iPhone contract expires. Looking at the new 4.0 software that won't run on my 3G phone, and knowing that the next model will be out about then with (hopefully) the newer faster processor and better battery life, I'll probably be looking to upgrade. The problem is despite loving my iPhone, and what is to come, I abhor that what my iPhone can run is subject to the whims of Apple, and I hate that I'm tied to iTunes in any way.

So this is my wish for all the makers of Android handsets and iPhone/iPad competitors:
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So… Google Wave. This changes everything.

Finally got around to watching this. If Google's Wave takes off (and it will), it will change everything. This is better than email, better than IM, better than a personal wiki. Within months of this going live, we will have a million new ways to communicate. That they've made it open source makes it more likely than any other tool to change how we communicate via the web.

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Someone hacked my Gmail!

Not really.

Google released a small update yesterday that adds information about recent activity on your Gmail account to the bottom of the Gmail interface.

Gmail account activity feature
The new option in the Gmail interface

It also includes a link to further information, including details of IP addresses and methods that have recently been used to access your account. If anyone has accessed your mail in any way, it will be reported here.

Gmail Activity Information
Argh! What is that?!

I checked mine the minute it showed up in my inbox, and was shocked to see a bunch of IP addresses listed, when I hadn't been anywhere near my computer in the last five hours.

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Starting the Google Treasure Hunt: How to do the first three questions

Google has been running a "treasurehunt" with unspecified prizes up for grabs for the fastest times to complete the tasks. What it amounts to is four questions spaced over a month, that you can log onto in your own time and attempt to nut out. The questions are randomly generated, but are of a different type each week. The first week was a number/maths problem, the second was a computer/file problem, the third a logic (and slightly computer network) problem. I haven't seen the final fourth question yet.

I thought I'd jot down how I answered the questions - not my particular answers - as they will be different for other people, but the methods for answering the questions which are the same for each of the four question types.

Please note that I cannot finish the treasure hunt. I got stuck at question four. I wrote up how I did questions one to three before I'd done four and it just seemed like a waste not to post them.

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Potential Google Game

Google Logo made of LEGO
google_logo by Gayle Laakmann McDowell.

OK, I haven't Googled it so this game might already exist.

Two or more players - one player does a bit of research (if they need to) and declares some piece of information that the other players must find. Ideally it should be something that will only be found on one page on the net - not common info like you might find on Wikipedia, but rather some small factoid on some obscure website in the outer reaches of the internet.

Then the other players have to craft the perfect search phrase that will produce that page in the top result of a Google search - without using any of the actual words you're searching for, or any prior knowledge of the page to your advantage. The player's score decreases with every failed attempt to make it into the top spot.

I can't think of anyone geeky enough to actually play this with me, so it's purely hypothetical. And it'd probably need honing and crafting to make it playable. If you're geeky enough you might also like Googlewhacking or you could check out this online archive of Google games.

My Love/Hate relationship with Google

Actually, it's more of a love/frustration relationship. It's so one-sided.

I'm a big fan of Google. About 3 years ago I realised that working between home and two schools, I'd have a lot of information that I'd need to share around easily. Web 2.0 had just hit its stride and instead of stowing everything I created, wrote or needed on a USB stick, I thought I'd see how much I could get online.

Google at the time was expanding rapidly, and had just added a calendar to its already successful online mail app. A little while later it acquired Writely - which luck would have it I already had an account at. All in all, Google was looking set to be able to take my data online and keep it all together in one big web-app.
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