Tag Archives: Google

Ok Google, you win!

Google Magnifying GlassAfter months of working on options to pull myself away from my reliance of Google products I’ve thrown in the towel – my apologies to all those out there who were hoping I’d reach escape velocity.

Folks that have wandered around the site know that I’ve always been big on Google products and the fact that I couldn’t just drop them all and walk away shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but there are a few things I’ve observed.

  1. The world loves Chrome. There are some other great browsers out there (firefox comes to mind) but, they don’t really seem to get the love when it comes to add-ins. Yes, I have a few that are specific to Google services but there are others that I can’t seem to find an equivalent for, and since I don’t want to give my the functionality – Chrome it is.
  2. Gmail just rocks. I realize that might not sound professional but it’s the best way to describe it. I rarely have an issue accessing it and the spam filtering is fantastic – hard to give those up. I’m also on an apps domain which I share with others so I can just summarily take it down without impact them so that’s also a blocker for me as well. (By the way, the new inbox app for Android is pretty solid as well.)
  3. Google Voice. I’ve been using a number through their system since before it was their system (anyone remember GrandCentral?) and while it hasn’t gotten as much love as it could have over the years the voicemail system works well for what I need it to do.
  4. Mobile. Other than Apple there aren’t a lot of choices beyond Android and while I carry an iPhone for work (and everyone else but me at home does as well) I didn’t want one for my personal phone. I opted for the 2nd generation Moto X and, to be honest, have been very happy with it to date.

I could go one by I really don’t want this to turn into a Google fanboy post (it might already be there anyway).

Am I all in with Google? No, there are a few areas where the giant G taken over.

  1. Notetaking. As I mentioned previously I’ve moved to OneNote for my notetaking setup. These are the notes that I want to have for the long haul such as projects I’m working on.
  2. Social media. Yes, I’m still on Google+ and post things there from time to time and belong to a number of communities but my focus of late has been twitter and I’ve recently setup a facebook page for those that would like to use that platform to follow me (please be sure to like it as I’m just getting it rolling).
  3. Photos. While there is plenty of love for pictures inside of Google, I’m setup with flickr and don’t see that changing. It does make it easier to share over with family who primarily use facebook.

Does this mean that I’m going to look to the mighty G for a solution to everything and stop exploring other avenues? Absolutely not, if I’ve learned one thing on this journey is that there are never enough solutions to a problem and rarely are they all from the same source.

So the question has to be asked, are you all in with Google? Avoid them likely the plague? Or are you somewhere in the middle? Please share in the comments below.

 

It’s Okay to Leave

One of the great things about Google+ is the ability to join various communities and share with others that are of a similar mindset. Of course, over time, your interests change and you may want to prune your list of communities so that it only includes those you are interested in.

So how do you leave a community?

1. From your computer click on the Home button in the upper left hand corner of your browser and select Communities.

pick-community
2. Select the community you wish to leave.

3. Click on the gear icon and select ‘Leave community’

leave-community
4. Confirm you want to leave the community. Remember you’re only leaving the community the posts you’ve made in the system will still be visible – unless you delete them yourself

leave-community-confirm

Now it is possible to leave a community from a mobile device but I’ve found it’s just much easier and quicker to handle it from the computer.

How often do you prune your communities list?

Time for a Social Media Scrub

By Informartica8vo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsIn my initial post about Project Reboot I listed social media as one are that I was going to focus on and I figured I should dig into it sooner rather than later as it is an area that has gotten out of control.

(A word of warning, I’m going to use one set of terms for things here for simplicity. Please feel free to substitute the appropriate term for any given social media platform.)

When starting out I went through periods where I followed everyone, followed no one, unfollowed some, followed others, toyed with lists, alerts – you begin to get the idea I think. My social media engagement is far from optimized and I often find myself questioning the value of it.

Social media is a very interesting beast, there is no right or wrong way to do it – there’s the way you want to use it. Keeping that in mind I’ve decided to create a guidelines that I’m going to use going forward.

1. No more platforms (for now)

It’s easy to get sucked into the latest and greatest, that new shiny object, the killer platform that will the be death of facebook. For the foreseeable future I will not join any new platforms, nor will I evaluate them. I know that this is a rather drastic standpoint to take but if I don’t, I’ll continue to look at and join other networks which I may not be able to maintain going forward – best to cut to the quick and be done with it.

2. Focus on my core four

This is a follow on to item #1. I belong to a number of social media platforms and while I don’t intend to cancel my accounts with them I won’t be focusing on them. I’m not going to be looking to build networks there (at least for now) but will continue to use them in a reduced manner. The focus going forward will be my core four – Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and facebook.

3. Be more selective in who I “follow”

On some networks this is an easy thing to do as I was selective when I started using them, others, not so much. One I hit the reboot switch on this area (more on that in a moment), I’m going to force myself to ask the question, “what value is this person going to add to my life?” If I can’t answer that question in my own head I won’t follow them. That’s not to say the individual won’t go on a ‘watch and see’ type list, or a list centered around one of my areas of focus, I’m just not going to commit to the relationship right now.

4. Engage more

It’s a simple statement, and a bit vague to be honest, so what do I mean by it. I’m going to work on sharing a bit more, as Guy Kawasaki says, “act like NPR.” So expect to see a bit more from me concerning items of interest to me which I hope that you’ll also find interesting. Will there be personal updates sent out? I’m sure there will be, it is a social platform after all.

I’m also going to work on being better at responding to those that choose to reply or comment to what I post regardless of platform. In the past I haven’t been as responsive so I’m going to be working on that.

So, with those guidelines in place it’s time to get things under control. Since I’m focusing on four different platforms each will have it’s own ‘reboot instructions.’

facebook – I’ll start with this one as it’s my smallest network. When I began using facebook I made the commitment I would use it to connect with those I went to school with along with family and friends. So far I’ve been doing a pretty good job at keeping it that way. So for the reboot I’m going to review my list of friends and create a list for each distinct group so I can share things more appropriatly if need be.

LinkedIn – I’ve been on this network longer than any other (joined in 2005) and like my facebook account I’ve always been a bit more critical about who I connect with. The number of connections here is quite a bit larger than facebook but I’m going to take the same approach here – review and trim. I’m not expecting to remove connections but you never know, I’m also going to review my group memberships and the email settings (getting a bit too many from the system lately).

Google+ – This is the last network I joined and unlike the twitter and facebook I had a tendency to circle folks without necessarily looking at what they posted – good to build up what’s in your stream, bad if you’re looking to get value out of it. The nice thing about this network is that I did try to organize circles so sorting through things is a bit easier. So for this network I’m going to be uncircling a number of folks – not because I don’t like you but you might not fit in with what I want to focus on right now or you might not be using the service and you’re in a circle because you are in my regular contact list. I’m also going to look at the communities I’m in to determine if I should stay or go as well as look for ones that fit where I’m going.

Twitter – I saved this one for last because I tend to share the most on this network (at least lately) and it is also my largest network where I’m following about 3700 folks. At one point I was in that mode of “it’s all about the numbers” and worked the system to build a larger following (about 4700 folks right now). As both numbers grew the amount of just plain junk in my twitter stream has grown to where I sometimes can’t see any real content and feel I’m missing out on things. In this one case I’m going to simply wipe the slate. I’m going to unfollow everyone and then slowly determine who to follow. The nice thing about twitter is their list function, you might be in a list and I’m seeing your tweets but I may just not follow you.

One final word about this part of my project – it’s already underway. I know others that have done these types of things and given their followers warnings, not me. I’m going to just dig in, putting out warnings, asking for folks to contact you to stay connected are in my mind just ways of stalling. This post is enough of a stall for me.

So there it is, in not so small of a nutshell, my guidelines and reboot instructions for my social media setup – how do you keep your social media life in check?

Image by Informartica8vo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks Google, but I’ll Keep my Evernote

Yesterday Google officially announced what has been swirling around as a rumor for days, their note taking application – Keep (read the announcement).

The service is very similar to Springpad and my personal choice, Evernote. It allows you to input your notes, take pictures, and create lists. Currently you can use it from your Android phone (running 4.0 and above) or from the web – Google Drive integration is coming.

If you had asked me about this service a few months ago you might have gotten me to take more than just a look at – I might have even jumped to it, but not now for a variety of reasons.

The shutdown of Google Notebook

There are still a few of us out there that remember Google Notebook, Google’s original note taking app. We also still remember when they decided to shut it down and everyone went scrambling for a way to save off their notes (this was before takeout). The folks at Evernote, among others, stepped up and offered a solution and in some cases tools to import your notes.

The shutdown of Google Reader

This was just announced (read about it here) and like Google Notebook it hits home for many of us. I’ve been a fairly regular user of either Reader or a service that depends on it for some time and have been now forced to find an alternative (I’ll post about it when I decide). I won’t sit here and “rage against the machine” that Google is for taking away this service as it is their right and they have given us plenty of time to migrate to something else. It does go to show though, that once again we were beholden to the almighty Google.

My decision to diversify

I mentioned a few months back, I’m diversifying my tool set. As many who know me would tell you, if it was a Google product, Scot would be “all in,” but that has changed. While the prospect of having my notes available right there in Google next to other items of mine I cannot bring myself to contradict my earlier decision. Will Google Keep be better than Evernote? There’s no way of knowing at this point but given that Evernote is working to be a 100 year startup, have clients for all the major platforms (Linux the notable exception) and have a profitable business model (yes, I pay for it) it’s hard to argue against them.

So, I know where I stand, how about you? Will you take to the walled Google Keep or use a different tool for your note taking and web gathering? Take a minute and share your thoughts.

Use a before filter to create an email DMZ

out.of.control.emailIf you’re like many the end of January marks the time when you realize that you haven’t kept up with your New Year’s Resolutions.

  • You haven’t been to the gym in a couple weeks
  • You’ve already cheated on the diet
  • That stack of paperwork is still sitting there
  • Your inbox is still out of control

While I can’t help with everything, your email inbox I can make a suggestion on – slim it down so it doesn’t look as large of a task.

First, I’m not going to suggest that you declare email bankruptcy and just delete everything. I’m also not going to suggest selecting everything and hitting the ‘mark as read’ and ‘archive’ buttons. I’m going to suggest you create an email DMZ that you can work through as time allows.

If use Gmail for your mail among the many features you have available to you is an outstanding search system (go figure). What we’re going to do is create an email DMZ for the year 2012 and then move everything prior to January 1st of 2013 into it.

First thing you need to do is create a new label for your DMZ, I would suggest 2012 DMZ as we’re looking to create a place for our left over 2012 emails to go. Once you have your label set up you need to then use the powerful search available to you in Gmail and grab all the emails prior to January 1st. As it turns out it’s a single search option with the right data point:

filter

As you can see in the screen capture above the trick is to use the “before” option in the search. When you use this option it’s important to not the way the date is entered – four digit month first, two digit month, and then the two digit day. For a lot of folks that format is not what you’d expect and takes a bit to get use to but once you do it’s a rather powerful way to write the date (more on that in a later post).

Once you get the search results back you can apply your DMZ label and then archive the whole shooting match out of our Inbox.

I can hear you screaming at me now, “you said we wouldn’t archive all that email!” Ok, you got me, yes we did archive it out of your inbox but at this point it’s also all tagged with a label so you can find all of those emails in one place, a listing you can work through. Of course you may just decide to leave them all there and not touch them again – that’s a choice you’ll need to make yourself.

Do you use a DMZ for email or do you just declare bankruptcy and delete everything?