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Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Google+ Rolling Out Custom URLs To Users But Doing It Horribly

November 7, 2013 70 comments

Google Plus Logo

A few weeks back it was announced that Google+ was finally going to allow regular users to adopt Vanity URLs for their profiles and rid themselves of URLs like https://plus.google.com/105175761337711150993/posts (yes, that’s my real Google+ URL). Sounds great, right? Finally the common folk would be given on Google+ what most other modern social networks had from the outset, the ability to pick our own screen names and have a URL to link to which isn’t ridiculously unwieldy and next to impossible to remember.

All sounded fantastic until you went to the Google+ Help page and read their “Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs” file. The second one reads:

“You’ll see the URL(s) you’ve been approved for. If you see more than one option, select the one you like best. You may also be asked to add a few numbers or letters to make the custom URL unique to you.”

So wait, I have to use the one Google approves for me? I can’t be Google.com/+TheDanLevy which is  my screenname on darn near every other social network I use? OK, well maybe they’ll lighten up some day and I’ll be able to change it, right? NOPE! Check out the sixth rule in the red box below

Google Plus Vanity URL Rules

“Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so be sure everything is exactly the way you want it. Once your URL has been approved, you can’t request to change it.”

I was feeling a bit pessimistic when I read that but friends who are way bigger Google+ users assured me, “You can request a different one if you have a valid reason” and “There is flexibility… You just have to request it…” so I decided to see what Google did when they finally got around to offering me a custom URL. Well, today that finally happened!

Google Plus Vanity URL  Notification

The notification appeared at the top of my Google+ profile page and I clicked the blue button excitedly. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I saw what Google was offering me as my Custom URL. Read more…

Don’t Blame The Internet & Texting For The “Death Of English.” It’s Literally Been In Progress Since 1998!

August 27, 2013 5 comments

Literally definition according to Google August 2013 via imgur at JtfJDxn

About two weeks ago, someone at Gizmodo noticed via an imgur post that Google had updated the definition of the word “literally” to include an informal definition which actually contradicts the formal definition. The post on imgur was titled “We did it guys, we finally killed English.”

Forgetting the obvious hilariousness of them using the word in its own definition causing an endless feedback loop and a possible paradox in the space-time-grammar continuum I want to talk more about the people who said that we have finally been successful in killing the English language with this new definition of a word which contradicts what it actually means. When this was all playing out online I heard and read many people opine that it was the fault of our current school systems or the youth of today or the rise of texting and social media which has caused this calamity to occur. While I agree that it is extraordinarily silly to use the word literally in this contradictory manner and will never do it I hate the break the news to everyone but this isn’t a new or recent development and has actually been a long time coming.

First we jump back to the year 2002 when actor and comedian David Cross released a double-CD comedy album (with very NSFW language) called “Shut Up You F###ing Baby.” On it, was a 2 and a half minute rant about misusing that word which you can listen to below (warning, includes lots of swearing): Read more…

How Google Can Improve Google Now To Actually Give Us The Right Information

August 26, 2013 6 comments

Google Now Cards Motorola RAZR HD LTE

I have been using Google’s relatively new service called Google Now on my Android devices and absolutely love it. It learns about you as a user as you continue to use your phone and makes suggestions for you accordingly. However, for me one of the best features that it offers is the integration with your Google Calendar. Not only does it pop up upcoming events from your calendar in its own list of cards and on its widget but it will give you “Time to leave” notifications. Depending on what you have told it previously is your “Default Transportation Mode” it will alert you when to leave for upcoming calendar entries based on your current GPS location, the distance to the next entry, and the traffic along the way. It will pop up a “Time To Leave” notification on your phone without any alarm set or anything giving you a few minutes lead time to actually get out of wherever you are. It also gives you the option of instantly opening up directions to your next appointment with one simple click of an on-screen button. Read more…

SkillPages Email Spamming: A Warning, a Story, an Apology, & a P.S.A.

March 21, 2013 23 comments

SkillPages Home Page edit with spam notification

First, an apology to all of my contacts who I inadvertently spammed. I got taken in by SkillPages a service that is gaining users by spamming contacts of new members as soon as they sign up to the site.

I guess this is going to happen to the best of us sooner or later and it happened to me today. Even though I am generally super, duper cautious about what apps and sites I allow to access my data today I slipped up and the results were…horrible.  I received the below email this afternoon and thought to myself “Cool! A new site for connecting from a business perspective. Being the social media addict that I am I’ve got to check it out. As well, I know Jamie and he is a good guy who I trust not to send me spam. I am going to have to check this site out.”

SkillPages Spam Invite in Gmail

What I should have done was google the site. If I had, I would have seen these autocompletes*:

SkillPages Google Autocomplete

The above does not look like the kind of site I want to be associated with or allow to have my information without a lot more research. The third result is VIRUS for crying out loud! That is not promising but it gets worse.. Below is a screenshot of the Google search results for just the word “SkillPages”*: Read more…

Anti-SOPA Blackout Day. LNN Declares TheOatmeal.com The Winners

January 18, 2012 3 comments

I know that I have no right to do this and my blog is not widely read enough to do this but it is Anti-SOPA Day when many sites are doing something to protest the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act aka Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) laws in the USA.

Wikipedia shut down for the redirecting people from the regular homepage which looked like this (notice the notification at the top?):

Wikipedia SOPA before redirect

To this:

Wikipedia SOPA after redirect

That’s awesome and I fully support their protest of it because those laws are just plain silly but I think The Oatmeal with its usual irreverence totally won the explaining what SOPA & PIPA are and why they suck game with this animated GIF (a type of image) – also available at http://theoatmeal.com/sopa – on their page:

the oatmeal sopa

Wikipedia: You did a damn good job! You made it extremely noticeable and had sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Sorry though, Oatmeal totally won. Mainly because they used humor for their awesomeness and because they encouraged people to share the humor. I mean that literally, at the bottom of The Oatmeal’s page it says “P.S. Please pirate the shit out of this animated GIF.” Therefore, I think I am doing my part for the move against SOPA and PIPA by putting that image of awesomenss up for all y’all to grab.

If you want to know a bunch about SOPA and PIPA check out this TED Talk below by Internet writer and NYU professor Clay Shirky called “Defend Our Freedom To Share (Or Why SOPA is a Bad Idea)”:

Here is the direct link to it http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en//id/1329.

Google’s 2011 Holiday Eggs (aka Easter Eggs)

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

If you go to Google this holiday season there are a number of hidden messages or in-jokes which you can be a part of just by searching. Usually these kinds of things are called “Easter Eggs” but I don’t if it’s a fitting name since the winter holidays do not include Easter. That’s why they are definitely either – in my mind – “Holiday Eggs” or maybe even “Google Eggs.”

Google Holiday Egg Hanukkah

If you go to Google and type in certain key words you can get a little extra little addition for some extra holiday cheer. For Hanukka you can use the variations:

  • chanukah
  • hanukkah
  • happy hanukkah
  • happy chanukah

Google Holiday Egg Let It Snow start

One other one you can try is “let it snow” which starts snow on your browser window and eventually fogs it up as you see above and below.

Google Holiday Egg Let It Snow defrost option

And once the ‘window’ is all ‘fogged up with the snow’ your search button becomes a defrost button if you want to reset it. But wait! not so fast! You can use your mouse once the window is fogged up to write on it!!! Check out the image below and you’ll see what I wrote.

Google Holiday Egg Let It Snow write on windowThis also works on the iPad (so I assume it works on the iPad 2 as well) but it didn’t work on an iPhone 4S or a BlackBerry Bold 9900 when we tried it

But Google didn’t stop there. They made sure everyone was included! There’s Christmas…

Google Holiday Egg Christmas

For Christmas type:

  • christmas
  • merry christmas
  • xmas

As well, they also did Kwanzaa…

Google Holiday Egg Kwanzaa

For Kwanzaa you can type:

  • kwanzaa
  • happy kwanzaa

Seems that Happy New Years & New Years don’t do anything. Boxing Day doesn’t work either in case you’re wondering.

The Problem With Gmail’s New Look – A Lack Of Color

November 11, 2011 2 comments

I know a bunch of people have written about the new look to Gmail since it was officially launched in the beginning of November (Google blogged about it here). Some people are complaining about the way it was reorganized or certain specific changes like losing text labels and turning them to graphics – most of which I agree with – but no one that I have seen has discussed the lack of color in the new Gmail and how that affects efficiency when composing an email.

What do I mean by this? Well take a look at the old Compose Email interface from Gmail previous to their change at the beginning of this month. When I am referring to the color I am not talking about the overall light blue coloring because while that’s nice and all, it seems to be a simple theme change that can still, I think, be achieved within Gmail. What I am referring to is the way that the highlight color icon has a ‘T’ with a yellow background and a small highlighter with a bright yellow tip. At a glance, I can immediately find this when I am composing an email because my eyes are immediately drawn to the bright yellow. Similarly, to the highlight option’s left is the Text Color option which has the same ‘T’ only next to it is a color palette of six different colors. Again, that makes sense logically and conveys the message of what the button does without any words AND the user’s eyes can quickly and easily find it. There is almost no learning curve or memorization required here – it just makes sense.

Now let’s look at the new Compose Email interface and look at those same exact buttons. You’ll notice that everything is in the exact same order as it used to be but the loss of color on the buttons makes a huge difference when trying to find specific options at a glance.

For some reason, someone at Gmail/Google decided that instead of having a ‘T’ on a yellow background it would make more sense to just put the T on a gray field. Next to it, is a picture of an ‘A’ which is underlined which somehow is supposed to tell me that it is the text color option. The only reason I can think of to switch the symbols themselves – never mind the lack of color – was to make it match the Microsoft Word buttons for the same option but even here Gmail’s designers did a halfway job.

Above, you can see the same buttons taken from Microsoft Word 2010 and while the Gmail Text Color option does match Word 2010’s in terms of formatting it only does so if we assume that everyone who is using Gmail/Word 2010 only sees in black and white. As well, if the point here was to copy the Microsoft buttons why did they only copy some of them and not go whole hog and copy them all? However, I must reiterate that the most important issue for me here is the complete lack of color. I am well aware that it is only taking me an extra couple of seconds per email to format things the way I want them formatted but the reasoning for just getting rid of all the colors – which are helpful visual cues – just eludes me.

Has anyone else found this to be annoying as well? Did I just bring something to your attention I shouldn’t have because now I’ve ruined it for you too? (If so sorry.) Or am I totally alone on this? Let me know!

As for Gmail – do you think you could give us the option to turn colors in the Compose Screen back on? That’d be swell!

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