Learning to love Google+

Among the plethora of social networking tools, Google+ seems to come in for an awful lot of abuse. It’s been described as “empty”, a “desert” and a “failure” by various commentators.

Sure, it’s no Facebook.

But that’s the reason I’ve come to like it over the last year or so.

Let me expand.

  • Google+ communities are great for discussions and debates with fellow enthusiasts or technical experts. I’ve posted to various communities looking for input or feedback and had nothing but constructive and helpful comment. Are people better behaved on Google+? I can’t say for sure, but it has a far lower percentage of douches than you might encounter elsewhere.
  • The Google+ iOS app is really, really nice. It’s well designed, easy to use and fully functional. It makes me *want* to use it. As far as I’m concerned, Facebook and Tumblr are playing catch-up here. Additionally, the automatic photo back-up from the iPhone is very convenient.
  • With Google+, you get lots more control over who you share what with – from public right down to the individual. This is important if you care about your privacy or just want to share certain content and photos with close friends, while other links and thoughts can be open to the public. It’s really very intuitive once you get to use it.
  • Google+ is becoming a more popular sharing option on websites, alongside Twitter and Facebook, making it easier than ever to share content with friends. Even when not explicitly listed on websites, it’s as simple as a quick copy & paste and Google+ turns your link into a nice blog-style post.
  • Via a laptop/desktop browser, I *love* the Google+ interface. It’s clean and easy to navigate. It does great things with photos too! Its ‘auto-awsome’ features are excellent.

Again, it’s no Facebook. I use Facebook alongside Google+. One is full of friends and family, sharing pictures of babies and holidays. The other is full of interesting links to stories, photos of things that interest me and communities of fellow enthusiasts and fans of the things I like.

You don’t have to choose between them. They’re doing different things.

It’s got failings, but no social network is perfect.

Go on – give it a go. You never know, you might like it.

Postach.io joins the App Centre

932326b07b28d2bce64e168404c95d96The really very excellent Postach.io has joined the Evernote App Centre.

What’s Postach.io, I hear you say?

If you use Evernote, it’s an idiot-proof method for turning notes into a perfectly serviceable blog. It’s definitely idiot-proof as I’ve managed it – took about one minute to get it up and running. I really have a soft spot for Postach.io as it leverages a technology I use several times every day (Evernote) and means you don’t have to ever worry about your posts going AWOL when your blog host goes belly-up.

Even if (fingers crossed) Postach.io was vaporised tomorrow, all your blog posts would still be sitting in your Evernote account.


Yes, it’s missing lots of the bells and whistles of more advanced blogging platforms like WordPress and (shudder) Blogger, but I think that’s an advantage – it’s all about getting words down on the page and publishing.

Another advantage: Evernote works so well with IFTTT, you could set up all kinds of crazy auto-posting from other services like Twitter and Facebook. You could send all your tweets, Instagram photos and Tumblr posts to a single, easy to maintain blog.

I can’t wait to see how it develops over time – you can already import posts from Tumblr and I hear there’s a WordPress importer on the way. You can add Disqus for comments and use Google Analytics to keep track of hits. All in all, it’s a great alternative to the most established blogging services out there.

Who knows – they might be able to tempt me to blog there full time.

Check out the Postach.io Feed for examples of what others are publishing using this great app right now…

The Google+ paradox

I’ve been using Google+ for almost as long as it’s been available. It has a lot going for it: excellent apps for the iOS platform, a gorgeous browser interface and interaction with other users that is missing from almost every other social media platform I’ve used.

There are some fantastic interest groups / forums and a very varied user base. The recent update, coinciding with Google I/O was just lovely.

But…there’s always a but.

It just doesn’t play nice with other platforms. With Path, I can share a photo on Facebook, Tumblr and Foursquare simultaneously. With WordPress, I can automatically post to Tumblr.

Every system on the planet seems to interface with both Facebook and Tumblr at some level.

But Google+ sits on some kind of deserted island. If I want to ensure I cross-share a photo, this is a piece of cake on the aforementioned apps. Google+ requires an additional posting.

One could argue I’m using far too many of these social media platforms, that I should just pick one and stick with it and basically get back in my box.

One could indeed.

However, Google+ has amazing potential that I think may be hampered by its lack of connectivity. I don’t think Google’s strategy on this front is gaining them additional users. But thats just anecdotal, based on the very, very few G+ users I know personally.

Why can’t I post something on this WordPress blog and have a link and summary automatically posted to my Google+ stream automatically? Why can’t I ensure my Twitter stream of Wildean banter is shared with G-plussers too?


So right now, my online shenanigans (using this word far too much lately…) breaks down as follows:

Friends and family, social nonsense: Facebook (e.g. “look at this photo of me with my parents”)

Angry, one-liner rants: Twitter, possibly Facebook depending on the content (e.g. “I can’t believe Ireland got no points in the Eurovision”)

Longer rants, focusing on the geekier aspects of life: WordPress, automatically shared with Tumblr (e.g. this very post)

Pictures (mostly of my meals, admittedly): Instagram, automatically shared on Facebook and Tumblr (e.g. “Marvel at how much I ate this evening. And here’s a funky filter to make this burger look arty”)

Anything not for public consumption: Path (where I have very, very few connections, all close friends) (e.g. “Do you know who’s really pissed me off today?”)

Collation of Instagram, some Foursquare and all WordPress posts: Tumblr

Complex, no? Not really – it’s all set up via IFTTT. With some manual bits.

Ideally, I’d like all of this to appear in Google+, removing the need for Tumblr. A kind of “lifestream”, where everything I’m happy to share with the world at large is available in one place.

Now what are the chances of that?

Day One at a time

DayOneNot an error. I’m talking about the app called “Day One“.

I’ve blogged about it before, but I’m afraid it was lost in the great blog meltdown of 2012. (Still hurts).

DayOne is a great little app for keeping a journal. It’s on Mac OS and iOS and syncs in the cloud, so you can make journal entries on any of your Apple devices, knowing they’ll all be joined up next time you’re connected to the interwebs.

I use it pretty much daily, sometimes more than once a day. It’s so quick and easy to use, I can type a few words and maybe add a photo I’ve just snapped. Meanwhile, if I’m using the iPhone, it captures where I was when I made the entry and even – if I want – what the weather was like.

They recently updated the app with the facility to export your journal entries to PDF, which is a nice piece of functionality. But it got me thinking about the other improvements I’d like to see added. Now, I’m no app developer (I don’t even play one on TV), but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to add some/all of the following:

  • The ability to automatically add your social media nonsense. So, for example, adding what i tweeted or shared on Facebook on any given day. This would add some interesting context to journal entries, or even account for what went one on days when I couldn’t be arsed to write anything in DayOne. 
  • Foursquare check-ins would also be handy, reminding me of where I was on any given day.
  • I’d also like it to link with WordPress, so anything I blog is automatically added to the app. Again, it can help fill in the gaps on days when I haven’t been journalling everything.
  • Similarly, but going in the other direction, the ability to share your entries with other apps like WordPress, Twitter or even Facebook. For those moments when you’re convinced that what you’ve written is pure gold and deserving of a share with the rest of the world.

All of this is basically in an effort to avoid any duplication of effort. Yes, I could simply copy and paste anything written in DayOne into other apps, but I’d much prefer a simple ‘share’ button.

People of DayOne: hear my pleas! You have a great app on your hands and I’m a big fan. Some social sharing updates would make me even more so.

Tired of Facebook?

I know I am. And at the moment, it’s not unlike this video:

I’m actively considering deleting my profile, mostly because Facebook don’t seem to care a jot about my privacy. That, and I’m getting sick of the spam-like invitations to exchange non-existent items or work on non-existent farms. I’m bored with the over-the-top demands to sign unreasonable petitions or engage in pointless boycotts which are based on shaky evidence at best.

But each time I go to cancel my Facebook account, I’m plagued by the question: is there an alternative?

Well, is there?

Moir’s hate speech must be condemned

The odious Daily Mail was at it again today. One of its journalists ranters spewed forth a veritable bucket-load of bile, in the form of an ill-informed rant about the recent death of singer Stephen Gately. Casting aside facts, evidence and truth, Jan Moir managed to link Stephen’s status as a gay man (in a civil partnership no less!) to his untimely death. I was sickened when I read it. I don’t touch the Daily Mail, as it really is an offensive rag, but learnt of her diatribe via Twitter.

And thank jeebus for Twitter. “Jan Moir” is now a trending topic. As is “Daily Mail”.

In just a few hours, there was an incredible backlash against her hate-speech. A new Facebook group condemning her article has (at time of writing) over 2700 members. It also helpfully lists ways you can make your anger heard by the authorities, as well as the contact points for the businesses who advertised on the page today.

The Daily Mail has since edited the article online, changing its title. The orginal content remains here, so you can see for yourself what they originally thought fit to publish. All advertisements have since come down off the page, while apparently the Press Complaints Commission has been inundated with complaints. And rightly so.

All this on the day Stephen Gately’s family and friends are gathering in Dublin for his funeral.

If you agree, and feel that the homophobic, ill-informed rantings of Jan Moir should be challenged, you can email your feelings to the Press Complaints Commission at complaints@pcc.org.uk .

Finally, read Charlie Brooker’s critique of Moir’s filth here.