Thursday, April 18, 2013

My New Habits in Google+

Since the annoucement of the retirement of Google Reader I was looking to change my reading habits. To be honest, I have not used Google Reader that much as in former years, but it still was my source for news and blogs, that were not updated that often.

Finding a New Source For Reading

My first decision was, that I did not want to switch to another RSS Reader, cause RSS is no longer available everywhere. Twitter, which I use some times dropped RSS and Facebook, which I don't use, also dropped RSS. But both provide simple JSON powered API's to get the news. Google+ never provided a RSS feed and in the beginning some other users complained and setup solutions, but none of them grew much.

Changing my Reading Habits in Google+

I had mainly used Google+ for my social input, but I was following too many people and pages and therefore I decided to rearrange my circles. I had realized, that I was using the Google+ communities more and more. So it was easy to drop a lot of circles, that I had added just for Python, Javascript, Appengine, Googlers, Journalists, News sources and a lot more.

Fortunately I had created one circle, that I have called Read and most people, that I really wanted to follow on G+, were in this circle. So one day, I dropped nearly all other circles and my following dropped from > 4500 to around 180 followings. I decided to follow a few more Google+ communities to be in contact with Javascripters, Python users and some others. The great thing about the communities is the fact, that the people in the community mostly talk about a topic or even about subtopics. People in communties mostly talk about the topic and I do not see all the other postings that everyone usually shares, do not come up in stream. For my main communities, were I really want to participate I have checked the notifications checkbox, so I always get a notification, when new content arrives. For the other communities I just used the standard settings, so every now and then some posts pop up in my regular stream.

I have switched the settings of my Read circle to max, so they all show up in the main stream. Then I created some more circles. One for all the Google Services I follow, one for Tech Pages and one for stuff, I regularly want to check out. But I switched off the checkbox "Show posts in home stream" so none of the postings show up in my stream. These circles mainly consist of Google+ pages and only some Google profiles. Because I had the impression, that pages are used more as output for blogs or magazines or are specific about one topic.

With these settings I have a very clear and not very noisy home stream. Once per day I can just check the other circles, if I have the time to read some more on Google+. I get notifications for my main communities and even get some posts from all other communities.

The positive part is, that I see a lot more posts from people I really want to read regularly and I have the impression, that I can easily watch the communities. Reading my special circles feels a little bit like a RSS reader. So I have most of my source in one place and it is easy to handle and easy to read. On the negative side the only things, that I miss, is better search, faster scanning through more postings and something like an archive or read flag, so posts do not show up, when I have read them already.

But overall I am quite happy with my new Google+ reading habits.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ingress in GLASS

Have you ever heard about the augmented reality game Ingress? I am quite sure you have, cause even in German's morning TV show, they have talked about it and showed how this new kind of game is changing the behavior of nerds, usually sitting at their computer desk and starring at flat screens.

This is a german morning magazin on TV

The game is played in the real world, if you are not cheating by using some GPS tools to make your smartphone think, you are somewhere in the real world. So the only way you can play it, is by going outside, checking the smartphone display regularly and looking for portals. Portals can be hacked and occupied. If you own a portal you can even link it to other portals. And by linking portals you can even create so called fields to occupy mind units for your faction. Oh by the way, there are two fraction playing against each other. Some call it frogs and smurfs, but in the game they are called The Enlightened and The Resistance. And as you may have guessed, they are green or blue in the game.

The game is very dynamic and because the portals have to be defied against the opponent party, you always have to be on the move and form groups working together closely to watch your fields. I have recently tried the game to see, how this all works out.
Imagine you are living in a parallel world, where you can see XM, portals, resonators and more. Nobody else can see it, without having the game on his smartphone and looking at the screen. This is quite silly sometimes, because you start looking around, if you see other agents playing the game. Everybody looking at their smartphone could be an agent, but you still do not know, if she is enlightened or in the resistance.

But strolling around looking at the smartphone is not so exciting as it could be. If you have seen the spot by Volkswagen about their new smilage campaign, you can see, that there are many parts working together quite nicely. You just connect you smartphone to the car and you can start your road trip. The app has the ability to connect in multiple people, combining their photos, milage, checkins, comments and the like, into a Smileage score. I really wonder how much from the experience of Google Field Trip app, which is available only in the US right now, can enhance the Smileage application, being on the road. This aggregates everything from your trip into a cool map experience, similar to Google+ events, where you can share photos from the event from all participants, who share their images with the event. And of course don't miss out Google Now, displaying the weather, traffic, nearby offers and more.

So how about combining Google's Project GLASS with the experience of Smileage or even better with Ingress. Google Glass's API is designed to get cards pushed from a server application to the Google Glass. So showing portals, resonators and XM floating around could be easily projected into your view with Google Glass. And as with the ability of Google Glass to take a video or make a picture, you could also hack a portal or deploy resonators and fire some arms to portals occupied by the enemy. Glass would be a really nice experience for lots of stuff, that could pass your way in the real world.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Der Tag nach dem Leistungsschutzrecht

Am Freitag soll das Leistungsschutzrecht oder kurz LSR, im Bundestag abschließend in der zweiten und dritten Lesung beschlossen werden. Das Leistungsschutzrecht ist eine Änderung am Urheberrecht, das Presseverlagen die Möglichkeit bietet von Suchmaschinen und News-Aggregatoren Geld für Kurzzitate einzufordern.

Derzeit wird die Gesetzesänderung heftig diskutiert und insbesondere Google wehrt sich gegen das Gesetz. Aber was wird nun passieren, wenn das Gesetz tatsächlich am Freitag mit der Mehrheit der Koalition, die das Leistungsschutzrecht zu allem Überfluß auch noch in ihrem Koalitionsvertrag festgeschrieben hat, beschlossen wird?

Am Tag danach

Die rechtliche Unsicherheit und die damit verbundenen zu erwartenden Verhandlungen mit den Presseverlagen, wird Suchmaschinenbetreiber wie Google, Microsoft und andere dazu zwingen, die Verlinkungen zunächst einmal abzuschalten. Sowohl in den Suchmaschinenergebnissen, wie auch auf News-Aggregator-Seiten werden nun mal Zitate, sogenannte Snippets, der Zeitungsartikel dargestellt zusammen mit der Überschrift und einem Link auf die Seite des Verlages. Sicherlich werden auch kleinere News-Aggregatoren wie Rivva darüber nachdenken, ob das Zitieren von Presseartikeln in Zukunft für sie zu einem Problem werden kann. Vertreter der Presseverlage haben das bisher zwar verneint, aber es ist wohl doch eine Sache der Auslegung des geänderten Gesetzes und der Verhandlungen danach. 

"Wir brauchen Google"

ist eine Aussage von Dr. Höppner, der für die Presseverlage das Leistungsschutzrecht vertritt. Allerdings wollen die Verlage selbst bestimmen können, was nun tatsächlich zitiert wird und was nicht bzw. was das Ganze in Zukunft kosten soll. 

Das Brüssler Vorbild

Die Presseverlage in Belgien hatten auch gegen Google geklagt und tatsächlich gewonnen. Google hat daraufhin keine Presseartikel mehr verlinkt bzw. in den Suchergebnissen angezeigt und die Verleger haben sich daraufhin recht schnell mit Google geeinigt, dass die Suchergebnisse wieder auf die Webseiten der Presseverlage verlinken inklusive der Anrisse. Wird in Deutschland das selbe passieren oder wie will sich die deutsche Presselandschaft in Zukunft im Web darstellen.

Newsaggregator der deutschen Presse

Wenn sich nun die Presseverlage in Deutschland zusammenschließen und ein Unternehmen gründen, das einen Newsaggregator betreibt, der von den Verlagen das Recht erhält, die Artikel mit Zitat in einer Suchmaschine zu verlinken. Wäre so etwas denkbar? Nimmt man das Beispiel Rivva, das als Ein-Mann-Unternehmen eine entsprechende Suchmaschine aufgebaut hat, dann könnte man tatsächlich Gefallen an dieser Idee finden. Zusätzlich müssten allerdings auch von Anfang an mobile Versionen der deutschen Presse-Suchmaschine als Apps zur Verfügung stehen. Zusätzlich hätte man eine gemeinsame Schnittstelle, über die sich etwa entsprechend einem polnischen Modell eine Nachrichten-Flatrate einführen lassen würde. Die Einnahmen könnten dann an die beteiligten Presseverlage ausgeschüttet werden. 

An einem Strang

Wäre es tatsächlich denkbar, dass deutsche Presseverlage gemeinsam an einem Strang ziehen und sich damit von Google befreien? Wäre es denkbar, dass sich ganz Deutschland umstellt und nicht mehr Google, sondern eine von den Presseverlagen betriebene Suchmaschine nutzen um wichtige Nachrichten zu finden? Das scheint mir ein wenig weit hergeholt und vermutlich wird das nicht passieren, obwohl es reizvoll wäre, einen Gegenpol zu sehen. Die Idee eine Einigung mit Microsoft und der Suchmaschine Bing zu treffen, erscheint auch nicht sonderlich zielführend, da Google bei der Suche in Deutschland einen Anteil von 90% hat.

Vermutlich wird es aber anders laufen und die Presseverlage werden einen Gang nach Kanossa vor sich haben und darum bitten, wieder in den Suchmaschinenindex aufgenommen zu werden. Die Frage ist, hat sich damit die Branche und die Regierungskoalition einen Gefallen getan, wenn es so enden sollte? Denn die Einigung, wie es in Frankreich geschehen ist, wird es hierzulande wohl nicht geben, dazu sind die Presseverlage zu mächtig und unsere Kanzlerin hat zu wenig Einfluß und würde ihr Image auch nicht gerade mit Ruhm bekleckern.
Aber das wäre für die Regierung auch nicht die erste Wende, die sie vollziehen würde.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Google Plus - Getting Rid of the Middle Bar Hints

The Google Plus user interface is hiding some information from your eyes because it tries to unclutter the sometimes already overloaded design. The middle bar seen in the next image contains lots of different information for your entertainment. But this is not always what you want.

Getting rid of unwanted stuff

In the above image I have marked some of the information boxes (click to enlarge) that you do not have to show up, at least with the information that is shown in it. 

Community Invitations are the newest kind of hints, that you get from Google. But there is help. Hover with your mouse of the area and you will see a little greyish x beneath the View button. By hitting the little x you can delete the community invitation. This can be done several times and all you invitations should go away. Even the headline will be removed, if there are no more invitations left.

The same can be done with the you might like tips, which are sometimes a little bit silly as I heard from several Google Plus users. Hit the x and see what comes up next.
The hints from the fun & interresting area, which shows up every now and then and is filled from the SUL (suggested user list) can also be annoying. Hit the little x and clear this area, if you don't want to see it.
And last tip before Christmas is to use the drop menu in every post, where you can do several things. If the post was written by yourself, you can easily edit, delete the post. You can disable comments and lock the post from resharing. 

If you are not the author you can at least, mute the post and remove the author from your circles.

Hangouts for meeting frieds and family

And try some Hangouts with your friends and family over the coming days.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Future of Google+ looks bright for 2013

Everybody is talking about  talk in Amsterdam about the future development of Google+. Only 20% of Google+ features are rolled out so far and a lot will following in 2013.


For the time being Google+ will be kept ad free. But this can change in the future but the environment is not that good for ads at the moment. Keeping in mind, that Google+ is ad free in the moment, this could be a big plus compared to other social networks like Twitter and Facebook who have to earn money from their networks. Google is using Google+ as an environment, where to grab lots of user information and interaction, which could be used in lots of different ways to enhance the over all Google experience.

google+ ipadAPI

There will be a completer API in 2013 - but nothing specific or any date was mentioned. Not having an API in the first place, or at least no write api, was a good decision. If you have found your circles to interact with, there is a good chance to get original content from your circles and not just the same ol' content from Twitter, blogs and Facebook again and again.
At the moment, there is only a small RESTful public read API, the history / moments API, that is only used by developers and of course the Hangouts API, which has drawn a lot of traction. 
And there is the Pages API, which is only available for social media companies with larger customers, who are working with Google+ business users with a lot more access to the circles and write access but only for pages and not for profiles.
And last but not least, there is a special Gamer API. 

Future Integration

From a developer standpoint I see a lot of work being done under the hood. Most API's from Google are changing and becoming more structured and easier to use. Developers console and the API explorer together with changes to OAuth2 are becoming the foundation for all future developments. If you remember the post from a Googler, who compared Amazon and Google and how good Amazon eat their own dogfood and developing everything Amazon as a service. 

In my perspective Google is just doing this now and very successfully. Checkout the Google Apps Script, which is a Javascript environment for working with Google Apps. More than 20 services are available in Google Apps Script, that could be used out of the box. Just recently Google Cloud SQL, Google's mySQL implementation in the cloud has been opened to Google Apps Script and can be used as a big data store. 

All these services can be used through the new API's and there are libs for PHP, Java, Javascript, Ruby and Python. Talking to Google's API becomes a lot more easier and the integration can start. 

Which services should be integrated more thouroughly into the whole Google+ echo system?

At first *Google Talk, Messenger, Hangout Chats, Hangouts and Voice* have to be streamlined and easier to access. The users often don't get it, that these services don't work together so well. Video talks have been changed to Hangouts. But Messenger and Talk are still different but using the same protocol. This is a little weird, but I guess, this comes from different development departments not working together in the first place. 

Next *Gmail contacts and circle profiles* have to grow together or at least work together more easily. Some integration has already happend, but there is still some way to go. The integration that took place between Google+ and GMail is already quite good. Calendar and Events do have some connections but I see more possibilities. 

*Google+ and Drive* have got some integration love already and it is quite easy to share Drive content to your circles, but the content has to be public or public linkable to be shared to circles. This has a lot of potentional if you think Google Apps for Business. Companies working together has become easier, but is not usable, because of the public viewable needs. 

*Google+ and Media Content* as there is YouTube, Google Music and Photos coming from Picasa or Google Books do have some integration, but Video content is not yet available on the profile page and the same is true for Music. Sharing video, music and photos to your circles could be a great way to show to your circles, what Music, Videos or Movies you like. 

*Local and Recommendations on Google+* have become a vital part for smaller and larger companies with all the Google Places. With the all new Photo Sphere application crowd sourcing of Street View could be done and store and restaurant owners can use it to provide views into their locations by just putting the Photo Sphere images in Google Maps or their Google Places pages. 

*Google+ and Google Now* will get more integrated. Google Now is using your phone to get your location. GMail is used to find reservations for Hotels, flights and other information, but tracking information from your delivery agency and more. Calendar is scanned for events, that you have uploaded or set from Google+ Events. You get updates for your routes and dates from Google Now and Google+ could be used to remind you to discussions you were involved or mentions from special circles, where you have given permission. The moments/history developers preview shows already what could be integrated and brought to your attention. If you have done a lot of searching on the specific topic, this is saved into your history on Gogole+. So Google Now can use this information to bring new content to your attention, if you have created a Google Now Card for it. Behind Google Now is the Knowledge Graph, that is based on the freebase database with millions of semantic informations in the graph. 

Now imagine, that for every user on Google+ there is a smaller Knowledge graph around your cirlces, interactions, likes and participations in events, check-ins and more and Google Now can use this information if you give permission to use it. There could be Cards for mentioning, that your inner circles are just checking in to a restaurant near you. And a lot more possibilities come to mind and the future looks even brighter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Reader, Mail, Calendar and more

Since Google has started the Plus Project, a lot has changed on the surface and in the background, but lets talk about the foreground at the moment. Google Reader has also got a new interface and many are missing the sharing features. A lot of people have complained about the missing share feature, but there is help.

Easy Share in Google Reader
Google Reader has got the new Google Plus Share button for the current item. So sharing is very easy and you do not need to +1 and share from the bottom line of the opened item in GReader.

Google Reader - and other Google Apps - have a lot of keyboard shortcuts to help get around quicker in the product. Unfortunately there are only a few shortcuts in Google Plus like the j/k for up and down and nothing for mute (m), +1 (+ or 1) and goto search, but hopefully they will come to Google Plus in the near future. In the meantime I share with you a little trick to get more out of your Google service by just pressing the Questionmark on your keyboard.

Here are some of the keyboards shortcuts as a screenshot. You can show them all the time just by pressing the question mark key. Maybe you have to activate keyboard shortcuts in your settings, if they do not work.

Google Reader - Keyboard shorts
GMail - keyboard shortcuts

Document list - keyboard shortcuts

Google Calendar - keyboard shortcuts
And here are the keyboard shortcuts for Docs and Spreadsheets, which are not available through the ? but you can find them in the help menu of Docs and Spreadsheets.
Google docs - keyboard shortcuts

And last but not least for Google Spreadsheet.
Google spreadsheet - keyboard shortcuts

Monday, October 31, 2011

New searchable bookmarking notepad within Google+

Before Google retired Google Notebook, I was a happy user, cause sharing to Notebook worked quite well. I have tried evernote and other tools, but it was not quite that handy for me. 

My new notebook solution

Shortly after Google Plus started the sharing feature, I created a circle called bookmarking with just me as the only one in the circle. I used it a lot, but it was not very useful until G+ plus got its searching feature. 

Now, when I find something on the internet or on Google+ I just share it to my bookmarking circle. I use hashtags for all the little snippets I share into my bookmarking circle so searching is more easy now. 

I also use the +1 chrome extension, which allows me to share even, if there is not +1 button on the page.

So Google+ has become my new notebook for all things, I find bookmarkable. And editing, deleting and resharing is possible, so I could insert hashtags into older bookmarked shares of my own.

Search becomes really easy, if you know another little search trick. If you want to search only for your own postings you can include in the search slot the following from:<google-21numbers-id> as you can see in the following screenshot. You get your own Google Id by going to your profile and looking at the URL. There you find the 21 digits of your Google Id.

So enjoy your little Google Plus notebook and bookmarking tool.