Buffer Feature Requests

Dual Window

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ have significantly different character number restrictions than Twitter. Naturally, Twitter limits posts to their notorious 140 characters. LinkedIn allows 700, and Google+ / Facebook allow about five thousand.

I like to post things with a quote from the articles I share that captures what I found most interesting about it. Generally, they fall between 200 to 200 characters. Too long for Twitter, which means I editorialize it to make it fit.

Something amazing about the Pocket tool to share to Buffer is it provides two different textareas. One for Facebook and one for everything else. Brilliant! So much so, that I am tempted to completely change my workflow to push anything I want to share to Pocket just so I can share it with Buffer in a way that makes sense. On Facebook the preview URL appears to Pocket rather than the actual destination which slightly bothers me because I’d prefer the source to get attribution.

Tumblr

It would be nice to be able to share to Tumblr through Buffer. It seems odd that Buffer would support App.net who has been dying for years and will finally be gone in 6 weeks yet not one of the larger social networks?

Hangouts New Message Annoyance

In Gmail, the Google Hangouts icon showed I had a new message. If there is an indicator of something new, then I must clear it. Not an obsession or a compulsion, but it makes me uncomfortable to have unread things laying around.

The conversation list only showed old items. There were a couple near the top which looked bold, so I clicked on them. Neither cleared the green “1” indicating I had a new message.

So… I clicked on ALL the conversations.

Now the icon says I have SIX new messages.

Search Engine: Quote Context

Is there a search engine that already does this? If not, then I hope one adds it.

Please make it easier to find the quote context. Someone posts a quote on Facebook. I want to see the quote in context. When I search for the quote the results are of the same quote over and over.

Google has a cool feature where if you put “define” at the start of a search, then it will just give back results from dictionaries. It picks a definition or two to highlight in a box above results.

It would be really cool if they added a feature where putting “context” provides results which displays the quote in context. Google Books search shows the search item in the context of the page. The top GB result could be shown in the highlight box.

Another possibility is a feature where putting “source” displays the source of the quote in the highlight box. Several sites list the quote and author, but they leave off the book name. Excluding those results would be helpful.

The cause for this rambling was a friend posting:

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
― Marcus Aurelius

I highlighted the quote, right clicked, and searched against Google. As an example, brainyquote lists the quote plus author and lots of author bio without the text source. I went back to the results and saw Goodreads who did list the book source as . So I looked up Meditations in Project Gutenberg. The HTML version did not have it. Back to the results and picked the Wikiquote page who also did not list it, I knew controversial stuff would be on the Discussion page, so I did find it there under “Is this a real Marcus Aurelius quote?” Turns out the quote is a simplification of various quotes into something easily remembered.

Remember that all is but opinion, and all opinion depends of the mind. Take thine opinion away, and then as a ship that hath stricken in within the arms and mouth of the harbour, a present calm; all things safe and steady: a bay, not capable of any storms and tempests: as the poet hath it.
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Twelfth Book section XVI.

This is why I’d love for search engines to make it easier to track down stuff. I spent probably half an hour on this triviality. Few people I know would bother. And while features to make it easier probably will not result in many bothering to fact check, maybe there will be the one who does and prevents me from having a stroke.

WP to G+

WordPress Jetpack finally enabled publishing to Google+. So, I guess my blog posts will finally head there.

UPDATE: Google permissions are hard. The first test post showed it was “Shared privately” which by looking closer appeared only to myself. My default permissions for approved applications is “Only Me.” I had to go into Settings > Manage Apps & Activities > edit next WordPress.

Trust in Info-Infrastructure

James Fallows has an interesting piece in the Atlantic called Why NSA Surveillance Will Be More Damaging Than You Think discussing trust in the US for the info-infrastructure of the Internet is part of why we have Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. As that trust gets eroded by the behavior of the US government, users may elect not to continue leaving their data with US companies.

The real threat from terrorism has never been the damage it does directly, even though attacks as horrific as those on 9/11. The more serious threat comes from the over-reaction, the collective insanity or the simple loss of perspective, that an attack evokes. Our government’s ambition to do everything possible to keep us “safe” has put us at jeopardy in other ways.

It will be interesting to see whether the fall of the US information giants could be due to a balkanization from a Asia, Europe, and South America backlash. Some regions already have giant amounts of participation in non-US alternatives. This was from long before the NSA scandal.

 

Unfriendly Connect For Feedly

So Google announced Reader will shut down. So I migrated to Feedly. It is okay, but I will miss Reader just like I still miss Bloglines. (The current Bloglines is actually NetVibes which I hate.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed one my categories displays in the left menu there are unread posts, but the main window displays there are none. It took a week for me notice on the right side the list of feeds in the list also shows there are unread posts. Two views say there are unread but the one that shows the titles or previews of them says there is nothing. WTF?

Even stranger, the category does not appear in the Organize section, so I cannot just move the RSS feeds to another category.

Apparently Feedly users have complained for 4 years about the category. And even worse, many of the solutions appear only temporary. Whatever they change restores itself later.

Today, I put together another clue. The problem category is called “blogger-following.” Google Reader displays it as “Blogs I’m following”. Blogger actually owns/creates these in Google Reader when I subscribe to them using Friend Connect. This also adds them to the Blogger Reading List on my dashboard. Feedly picks up these subscriptions from Google Reader.

I think making changes to these in Feedly updates Google Reader. However, Blogger will change it back. I tried removing blogger-following from the feeds. However, a logout and login restored those changes. I think because Friend Connect is authoritative to Reader who is authoritative to Feedly, the fix has to be upstream of Feedly.

However, unsubscribing in Friend Connect did not really do it. (At least through a logout and login.)  When Feedly pulled the data from Reader again, the unsubscribed feed came back.

Apparently Feedly relies on Google for authentication. So, I cannot just Revoke Access for Feedly to my Google account to do #1 below now.

So there are a couple potential ways to approach fixing this.

    1. Do nothing. Google Reader dies on July 1. That should remove Reader, the man in the middle. Without Reader there, Feedly ought to no longer know about Friend Connect based feeds.
      Pro: Least amount of work. Con: Six weeks is a long time. Unknown whether that will actually work.
    2. Unsubscribe in Friend Connect. I subscribed to a blog through Blogger and confirmed new posts showed up in Reader and Feedly. I removed the subscription in Blogger by going to Settings to the right of Reading List. I clicked Settings to the right of the blog to remove. Finally, I clicked “Stop following this site.” When I refreshed Reader and Feedly, this blog disappeared. Of course, any I want to continue to read need a direct subscription in Feedly.
      Pro: Not sure. Con: I will longer publicly support friends. Very cludgy to stop following these.

 Probably wait and see.

Undercounting Stats

Michael Feldstein posted on Twitter:

Seeing signs that Google Analytics significantly undercounts. Any recommendation for easy, reliable db-based WordPress analytics?

I knew Google Analytics relies on JavaScript to measure what users are doing. Bots typically do not execute JS, so go undercounted. That is OK, probably even great depending on how much they annoy me. It occurred to me browsers now incognito modes, which a desirable feature while in that mode would be to not execute known JS stats.

A response to Michael was:

Maybe try Jetpack? Has analytics built in.

I looked at the HTML for my own site. Jetpack appears to be JavaScript based as well.

Looking at Jetpack’s stats, though, I noticed a significant spike in traffic on September 27th. It got 487 hits compared to around 200 each day two weeks prior and since. Details for that day said my Nationalism post had 267 hits compared to my normal leader the Quotes to Make You Think. This made me curious. So I looked up the same day in Google Analytics. No spike in GA. So I pulled the raw access logs. The hits exist, but almost all were from a single IP. No visits to this page according to GA. Impressively disconcerting. I expected from Google Analytics 1 hit for the DSL user with 200+ hits, maybe 1 for the IP with no reverse DNS, and 0 for the Facebook bot.

Anyway, I looked at various WordPress plugins. I think WP Slimstat is the db-based WP analytics I will check out. It looks mature and seems pretty consistent with what I see in the hits. Too bad I did not add this a long time ago so I can compare Slimstat to GA and Jetpack. Will have to let it collect data and do this again.

Good thing I enjoy this stuff.

TED Talk: What we learned from 5 million books

Google Labs’ Ngram Viewer lets us look at the use of phrases over time. For example, my name, Ezra, appears to have been most popular usage peaks back in the 1600s and 1700s, but has been more consistently used since the 1800s. This kind of thing can get me lost for hours at a time. Ezra+Persia+Cyrus

Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel have some more interesting lessons learned.

If the below video does not work, then try What we learned from 5 million books.

I found this on a blog post where a TED intern picked her favorite TED Talks.

Why I Love The Internet

Everything is out there. From the most profound to the most mundane, whatever I need to know when I need to know it.

Last week I set my DVR to record a series. I knew it was in re-runs and British. The DVR sucks in the sense it gives an original air date but not an episode number. The first episode I got was not called “Pilot”. At this point I had no idea whether I have the first, the sixth, or the eleventh.

So I toss the show title with episode list into a Google search. It pulls up several sites with episode titles and their dates. I could have just gone to imdb.com. Turns out I had the third. (Plus there are places offering to let me watch the series online.)

Probably I search too much instead of going to specific sites I know first.

There is something rewarding between hitting the button and seeing results. It feels so good.

TED Talk: The power of introverts

I to really need to pick up Susan Cain’s book Quiet. I watched her talk at Leading@Google a couple weeks ago because I could not find her TED. Now the TED is available.

My family very much was the one where we would hang out together reading. I’ve always been the one to hang back and watch and observe until comfortable. Before I even understood systems, my mind was attempting to reverse engineer them. Only then could I figure out how to use them.

Too bad human behavior is messier than computers.

If the above video does not play, then try Susan Cain: The power of introverts.