I Miss Google Reader

The Google+ shut down reminded me that I still miss Google Reader. Google also shut it down about 5 years ago.

I use Inoreader now, but I do not spend nearly the amount of time reading through it that I did GR. I could spend hours a day browsing through articles and mulling the content. Now, I spend about the same amount of time on Twitter instead.

Some old GR posts.

Buh Bye Google+

After a security lapse with the now dashed hopes for a Facebook killer social media site in Google+, it is now going to be shut down for most users. They apparently want to keep it around as a competitor to Slack? LOLz.

Google says Google+ currently has “low usage and engagement” and that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds. Still, the company plans to keep the service alive for enterprise customers who use it to facilitate conversation among co-workers. New features will be rolled out for that use case, the company says. Google is focusing on a “secure corporate social network,” which is odd considering this announcement comes alongside news that the company left profile details unprotected.

Funnily enough, this post is going to go to Google+. See, I have WordPress Sharing set to post to Google+. I rarely go to Google+ anymore, but I have two users who +1s my posts there. Go figure.

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?

Daily Show Chrome Ad

Very strange to be getting an ad that works against the displayed content. The Daily Show web site gave me an advertisement to use Chrome. Yet, Google is actively dissuading its users against using Flash. And the daily Daily Show uses Flash in its video player. I was only using another browser because the Daily Show has not reached 2014 and switched to HTML5 videos yet.

Chrome is my browser of choice. However, I stopped not use Flash in Chrome even somewhat before Google’s recent blocking the video technology. It was a strategy to improve performance of the browser. And Flash constantly has serious vulnerabilities which Adobe was slow to fix.

Even Adobe killed Flash nine months ago. When the company making something says, “Damn, we give up,” it is time to move on to better technology.

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.

TED Talk: Don’t like clickbait? Don’t click

Fake clickbait like The Onion is good. ALWAYS click on The Onion. I don’t care if you dislike their fake news stories. I enjoy them. 🙂

The algorithms choose which stories we see. If you dislike what you see, then you need to change what you click. My Facebook feed? It is chock full of science, soccer, TED talks, baby photos, wedding photos, and of late Star Wars. I rather like my feed, but it took discipline not to send messages about my interest in fear mongering, gossip, and hate. Tough, I know. But the results were so worth it. I’m no longer thinking of declaring bankruptcy on Facebook.

As Twitter and other social media succumb to algorithms to display stories, apparently I am going to have to use the same discipline avoiding clickbait elsewhere. I wonder about the mental discipline required to achieve and maintain the Internet experience I desire. Hopefully, in achieving it, I develop good habits I can maintain.

Anyway, Sally Kohn discusses how to get the social media we want by being smart on what we click.

 

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.

Image Search

Mount Kazbek church, Republic of Georgia
Mount Kazbek church, Republic of Georgia

Google has a cool tool, Google Images, which can search images. Provide it text, and the images returned will have related metadata or page information to your search. Now, for the really cool part, you can search based on another image.

Click the camera icon in the search bar and another box appear. Enter a URL or click the link to upload one. It uses the image provided as the search and returns similar ones.

Some uses I have for it..

  1. Who is using your images. It is easy for someone to download any photo posted on a web site. Then they can upload it elsewhere under another attribution. Searching for your images can help locate someone who is re-using your work.
  2. Correctly attribute images. I see a photo without identifying information and desire to find the source.
    1. Painting. Maybe a painting and I want to see more of the artist’s work.
    2. Photograph. Ditto. A concrete example is I saw a background of a web page for a State of Georgia (USA) web site with a Russian-style church with mountains in the background that looked nothing like those in this state. Searching on that image turned up a Blogger page with the same photo identifying it as in the Republic of Georgia.
    3. Identification of plants, animals, etc.
    4. Locate higher resolution version.
  3. Finding similar work. Once you click into “Visually similar” photos, you have all kinds of neat controls like size, color, type, and time. Maybe a logo looks derivative, but I am not familiar enough to know. Image search can locate very similar logos and point to the original.
  4. Scams. A friend was renting an apartment in Amsterdam and wanted to know if the place was legitimate. Using the photos from the email, I was able to find multiple other listings that all used the same photos.
  5. Identify Fake Profiles. Scammers are lazy and take photos from elsewhere on the Internet. This can find the original.
  6. Debunk Social Media. People share doctored or misattributed photos on social media sites all the time. This can find the snopes or other anti-urbanlegend site’s page on the photo.

I am sure there are more.

Anyway, I use this at least once a week.