Tag Archives: google

Gmail Chrome web app first thoughts (Sparrow for Windows pt 2)

offline gmailI’m trying out, on Damian’s recommendation, the new Chrome app for Offline Gmail. It looks a lot like the iPad mail app and that should be a good thing… but with a keyboard, and no keyboard shortcuts I can discern, I find it vaguely annoying!

The truth is, when I’m on the move, I tend to use my Macbook (which has the superb Sparrow Gmail app on it), and when I’m on a PC I have pretty decent broadband access. So the offline capability isn’t sufficient to capture my attention alone. Here’s to v2.

I’ve changed my mind about the Samsung Galaxy S2

Bugs en smartphones (no solo android) errores curiosos y peligrososI retract my desire to move to Android just yet. Despite the superlative professional reviews, on looking at the handset longingly on Amazon, I read this review by a former iPhone user. It points to some of the limitations – battery life, non-native music decompression (leading to a hot handset and short battery life), issues with multi-tasking  etc. Those are the main killers for me – my iPhone is my principle music devices and I don’t want to have to re-charge in the middle of the day – it’s frustrating (but rare) to have to do that with the iPhone and it would grate to have to do it daily.

For me, that’s a huge validation for consumer reviews and I’m grateful to the Amazon shopper who provided this insight for me. Tom loves his S2 but doesn’t use it as a music device so probably hasn’t suffered the worst of this. If you’re an iPhone user considering an S2 (or any Android device) go read this guy’s review. Very insightful indeed.

There’s something to be said for the benefits of long-term testing these devices! Pre-iPhone, I had at least two phones which I bought on the basis of cool features and good reviews that I grew to really, really dislike (the Ericsson T29 and the Motorola MPX 200)… given the year-long contract on those, it was frustrating indeed to be lumbered with them.

The Facebook experiment

Facebook.Given the open-ness and superior sharing controls of Google+ I’ve started the process of thinning down my Facebook friends list – this is partially an attempt to regain some sense of personal freedom for my "private" space on FB, and partially out of consideration for the contacts on my friends list inundated with my endless blog posts and photos of my daughter on their news feeds.

I’ve ‘unfriended’ about 20% of my list (I’d considered just moving them to a ‘limited view’ friend status but didn’t really see the point – the people I’ve unsubscribed have had very little interaction or conversation with me for some considerable time now), and we’ll see if anyone notices. I am hoping others fed up with me will unfriend me themselves – as my friends list crept upward I had a sneaking suspicion – which I’m sure will be justified by minimal re-adds – that I wasn’t as popular as Facebook was intimating.

Anyway, I sincerely hope I haven’t caused any offence and will happily get back in contact with people who so desire it!

Charlie Stross on ‘true naming’ – and Google+

I hadn’t really considered the full implications of Google+’s “true naming” policy, but Charlie has the issues mapped out perfectly here.

To start with, as Patrick McKenzie pointed out in his blog last year (before all this blew up), programmers almost always get name handling wrong because there is no universal format for a human name.

Charlie goes on to point out a whole bunch of other reasons why this is a problem for Google and it’ll be interesting to see how they resolve it. The anti-cultural bias of the ‘True Name’ policy is very unlike Google, despite the (admirable?) goal of keeping the social network honest. But as Charlie points out:

Google are wrong about the root cause of online trolling and other forms of sociopathic behaviour. It’s nothing to do with anonymity. Rather, it’s to do with the evanescence of online identity. People who have long term online identities (regardless of whether they’re pseudonymous or not) tend to protect their reputations. Trolls, in contrast, use throw-away identities because it’s not a real identity to them: it’s a sock puppet they wave in the face of their victim to torment them.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out… although of course, I’m still not quite using Google+ yet. It needs events, and more people I actually know, as opposed to randoms with no profile adding me, possibly expecting reciprocity.

As an aside, I’m still reading Charlie’s Rule 34 – took a break from novels to catch up on some DCU comics – and it continues to be awesome. Charlie’s mentioned a few AR overlays, a lot of tablets, a few 3D ‘fabbers’,  but no social networks yet – maybe, in the near future, we all forget our logins…

On refining my Facebook circles

Facebook friend wheelThe advent of Google+ has had me thinking about my Facebook friends list – I have over 500 people on there and anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m not that popular. But years of adding everyone I’ve gained more than a passing familiarity with and accepting friendship requests from the like has left me – perhaps – oversharing slightly. So a process of Spring cleaning must begin, and some criteria must be applied.

But rather than wholesale defriending people, I think I’ll go through a more Google-esque process, trying to align friends by how I know them (for the most part), restricting access to my updates to the people less likely to be interested in family pics, blog posts and the like. It’ll be a fairly tedious exercise but hopefully better for all involved.

If you’ve not been in regular contact but want to remain in an ‘open’ circle and see all my updates, do let me know…

Browser art?

Google Chrome LogoI think Google is fast inventing a new art form with its Chrome experiments. I loved Arcade Fire’s Wilderness downtown, the 3 Dreams ofBblack 3D accelerated music vid was fun and the new OK Go! personalised message dance video is a lot of fun – although it is making me wish I had waited four months and bought the Core i5 Macbook Air, as it is pretty processor intensive!

Check them out if you haven’t already.

Random adds on Google+

I’m not really sure what’s going on with Google+ at the moment. Whilst I like the interface, my inability to simply syndicate posts to it (via Tweetdeck or anything else), the limited number of "Real Life Friends" on it and the growing number of randoms adding me on there (at the present rate I’ll have more followers on my largely ignored Google+ account than I do on my reasonably active Twitter account in a few months) makes it all a bit confusing.

New features keep launching though, so we’ll have to see.

I can’t help but think that this is where the closed nature of Facebook is quite nice – the option to ‘decline’ friend requests gives you a nice kind of control over who you share with. I suspect Google will have to give you an option to view the posts from a selection of circles so you can selectively ignore posts from circles like "Internet Randoms," and/or we’ll end up creating ‘supercircles’ for one click sharing – i.e. I want to share with everyone except the Internet Randoms.

And to the Internet Randoms that are following me (and everyone else) – stick a decent bio / about page in. If I have no way of knowing who you are and you have thousands of people in your circles, I will block you. Sad but true… I just don’t have the time to be interested in people’s thoughts when I have no way of establishing who they are.

Awesome maths geekery

Pi pieI loved this story. Google bid random mathematical numbers for the Nortel patents, including Pi billion dollars. Fantastic. Trying to imagine Dr Evil demanding that in a blackmail demand, and I can’t quite do it – so it must be true that Google isn’t evil…

At the auction for Nortel Networks’ wireless patents this week, Google’s bids were mystifying, such as $1,902,160,540 and $2,614,972,128.

Math whizzes might recognize these numbers as Brun’s constant and Meissel-Mertens constant, but it puzzled many of the people involved in the auction, according to three people with direct knowledge of the situation on Friday.

On Google+ and Facebook

Google+å’ŒfacebookSo I love the concept of Circles, but Google+ isn’t quite there for me yet.

Here’s why not:

1) No APIs yet, so no limited extensibility and hard to work into my social media syndication strategy – I can’t get my blog to cross post to G+, for example. The xhtml / rel=me thing should work but between my ineptitude at HTML and bugginess in Buzz, I can’t make it work.

2) Not enough people on there that I actually know – the only circles of mine where people are saying anything are “randoms,” “journalists” and “PRs” – which tells you a bit about the early adopters I know.

3) Too many randoms are adding me for no apparent reason – I can understand why some of the big hitters have stepped off the platform within days of joining

4) I don’t use enough of the other Google apps (Picasa etc) that would make it really useful. Maybe I should.

On Facebook at the moment I have one fundamental complaint:  the newsfeed’s selection of news stories is currently completely borked. I’m getting old stories from a very small set of my friend-network because Facebook is trying to guess which "circles" I want to hear from and excluding many of my friends.

Sort it out, the pair of you!

Google+ iOS app first impressions

Google+ iOS AppThe Google+ iOS app isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. It’s buggy, crashes a bit and/or loses threads from notifications, occasionally fails to load beyond the login screen, and doesn’t seem to let you filter your stream by circle. Which seems a fundamental error. It also seems a little limited by way of available features for sharing, etc.

That said, Google is clearly iterating fast – the first bugfix release was out within 24 hours. And it has a nice, clean UI and a good touch interface. So we’ll see what happens.