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Friday, 14 October, 2011

Google Plus: Understanding Circles

gpluslogoPeople tend to be confused about circles on G+.

The concept is really pretty simple:

  • A G+ user can have any number of circles.
  • When you put people in a circle, their public posts appear in your stream.
  • You can also use circles to filter your stream. For example, view only the posts made by people in a specific circle.
  • User can choose to make a non-public post that's visible only to people in specific circles.
  • You can add as many people as you like to your circles, and remove them when they get annoying. In other words, what you see on G+ is completely up to you.

That's it. To keep it simple, you can easily get by with only one circle.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @8:22am | Comments (8)

Thursday, 13 October, 2011

Google Plus: Lesson 1

Google Plus (G+) is a free service offered by Google. Anyone who has an account can post items, much like blogger make blog posts. G+ posts can consist of links, photos, videos, or just text. If the items are posted publicly, anyone can read them.

Here are examples of user pages of some G+ users (just six out of millions of such pages):

You'll notice that each user's list of posts resembles a blog. Although they all look the same, you'll find that each user has his or own style of posting. Like a blog, the most recent items appear at the top, and each item can be viewed on a single (permalink) page by clicking the timestamp. G+ users can also post comments.

Remember, anyone can read those posts just by visiting their user page. But if you'd like a better G+ experience, get an account and then put those people in a circle. G+ users have a "stream" that shows all posts made by people in their circles -- all mingled together, but listed to show the most recent first. In other words, you can basically create a multi-author blog that shows posts only from people you're interested in.

Other advantages of becoming a G+ user: (1) You can make your own posts, (2) you can leave comments to posts, and (3) you can be notified when people comment on your post or a comment is posted after your comment (these "notifications" are good way to see who has responded to something you wrote).

That's how it works.

Next: Understanding G+ Circles.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @4:23pm | Comments (17)

Wednesday, 21 September, 2011

Google Plus Now Open To Anyone

It used to be an elite group, now any Tom, Dick, or Harry can join: Google's social network opens to everyone.

"For the past 12 weeks we've been in field trial, and during that time we've listened and learned a great deal," Google's Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president for engineering, said in a blog post. "We're nowhere near done, but with the improvements we've made so far we're ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce our 100th feature: open sign-ups.

"This way anyone can visit google.com/+, join the project and connect with the people they care about."

When you sign up, stop by and see me.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:33am | Comments (10)

Tuesday, 13 September, 2011

Windows 8 On A Tablet

This is probably at least a year away. But it's looking pretty good.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @4:05pm | Comments (6)

Sunday, 11 September, 2011

Site Search

Phillip Cairns has switched over to Chrome, but he misses the handy drop-down multiple search engine feature in Firefox:


Just for fun, I made a Web page that (kind of) mimics this feature. Try it here.


The main problem is that it's not customizable, unless you save a copy and modify the Javascript and HTML. The other problem is that it's very much old school -- something you might find in an ancient HTML/Javascript tutorial. I'm sure there are much better ways to do this sort of thing, but I haven't bothered to learn them.

There should be a site that already does this. If there is, I couldn't find it.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @5:25pm | Comments (17)

Friday, 26 August, 2011

Who Wants Allah.com?

It'll cost you: Allah.com for sale for an amazing price of US $21,000,000.

Though to be fair to the seller, the domain Allah.com would be bundled with www.MOSQUE.com & www.MUHAMMAD.com too. All three are fantastic investments to say the least, but the price is a mammoth sized one.

Speaking of good religious domain names. god.com is owned by Evangelical Media Group. And jesus.com redirects to Metropolitan Community Churches. Oddly, satan.com is owned by the Gospel Media Network.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:26pm | Comments (9)

Sunday, 07 August, 2011

How Google Plus Works

I think there's some confusion about Google Plus. Some think that, by getting a G+ profile, you automatically buy into some stupid social network like Facebook. That's not true at all.

When this blog ends, you can continue to have the same "J-Walk Blog experience" by doing this:

  1. Get a G+ account (it's really easy).
  2. Put me (John Walkenbach) in a circle.
  3. Go to the G+ web site whenever you want to read what I post.

Then, you will see my public posts and comments made in reply to my posts. You can also post comments. Everything will be just like it is now. It will look different, but that's just cosmetic.

After a while, you might decide to enter Phase II… For example, you might like reading comments made by Curtis, Don Coyote, wormpicker, AZJohnB, or Wally the Duck. Some of these people also make public posts rather than just comments. If you'd like to read their public posts, just add them to a circle. Then, all of a sudden, you're reading The J-Walk Blog + Posts From Other People That You "Know."

You can add as many people as you like to your circles, and remove them when they get annoying. In other words, what you see on G+ is completely up to you. And if you see a comment by someone who annoys you, two clicks is all it takes to block them from your view.

BTW, when you make a post, you determine who sees it. It can be public (everyone who has you in a circle can read it), or "private" (only the people in the circle you post to can read it -- but only if they've added you to a circle). It sounds more complicated than it is.

It's really a nice concept.

Note: Even if you don't have a G+ account, you can still read my posts.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @5:58pm | Comments (32)

Monday, 01 August, 2011

Facebook-Related Law

Show-me state news: Missouri Bans Student-Teacher Facebook Friendships.

It's time to do a massive Facebook friend-purge, Missouri teachers. A new bill signed into law by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon makes it illegal for students and teachers within the state to have private relationships on Facebook.

What about Google Plus?

We should note that the new law isn't targeting Facebook exclusively–or even social networks. The entire point of the legislation centers on curbing sexual misconduct between teachers and students. The "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act," named for a former Missouri public school student who was molested by a teacher decades prior, increases penalties for school districts that fail to report abuse allegations within a timely manner and fail to disclose instances of past abuse by former staff members.

Buried within the law, however, is a provision that effectively eliminates private social relationships between students and teachers on any of the Web's many social networks. Missouri school districts are required to develop written policies to address the "appropriate use of electronic media" by the start of 2012, which must include guidelines for social network use.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:25am | Comments (22)

Monday, 18 July, 2011

Google+ As A Blog Substitute

As you may know, I've been using Google+ lately. I've been posting stuff here at the blog, and completely different stuff at Google+.

Could G+ ever be a substitute for this blog? Here are my current thoughts:


gpluslogo Making posts to this blog is much more flexible, with virtually no constraints. Posting is very easy, thanks to Microsoft's Windows Live Writer.

Making a post on G+ is even easier, but it has lots of limitations. For example, a post can have only one "pretty" link. I can paste other links, but you see the actual URL rather than descriptive text. And if there's a "pretty" link, there can't be an image. I could probably get used to that. It's also very simple to embed videos. G+ doesn't support categories, so there's no way to filter my posts by subject matter.


G+ account holders can easily add comments to my G+ posts. They can paste links in the comments, but they can't post images. Comment spam is a problem at this blog, because I allow anonymous commenting. Comment spam in G+ is virtually non-existent.


Currently, this blog gets about 4,000 to 5,000 unique visitors each day -- and the number has been steadily declining. I can keep track of them with pretty good accuracy using Google Analytics. With G+, I know the number of people who have put me in a circle, but I have no idea how many people actually read my posts. I don't think my G+ posts will ever attract as many readers as this blog, but that's not really important. I'd rather have quality readers who contribute than a massive number who don't contribute.


I'm not in it for the money, but I do have ways of making this blog pay for itself (and a tiny bit more): Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliate income. I can post Amazon links with my affiliate ID on G+, but (obviously), I can't use Adsense. But it's a moot point, because G+ is free. I pay $80/month for this blog's hosting.


I have complete control over this blog. I can make it look however I want and arrange things as I like them. With G+, I have no control whatsoever.

The Social Aspect

At this blog, I'm the king. I write stuff, and people respond. Because of spam, I don't even allow commenters to post a link to their sites anymore. With G+, it's a completely different story. If you read a comment and you like it, you can just click on the name and see if that person has made any posts of their own. In other words, every commenter can be a blogger, and I'm no longer the king. I don't mind that at all.


Most would agree that the appeal of this blog is 80% due to the quality of the people who post comments. The other 20% is due to my wonderful posts. Truth is, I'm starting to think G+ could be a good substitute for this blog in 454 days when it ends. But it's possible that this blog won't last another 454 days. The jury is still out.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @5:40pm | Comments (53)

Saturday, 16 July, 2011

Google Plus Guide

If you want to find out what it's all about: Google+- The Complete Guide.

Warning. This guide is at Mashable -- a site that (literally) uses every obnoxious Web site gimmick ever invented. It's one of the ugliest and least usable sites on the Web, but occasionally they publish useful stuff. I can't even imagine how bad it would be if I didn't use Ad Blocker.

By the way, wormpicker and I tried the G+ "Hangout" feature today. It provides a video and audio chat window with participants that you invite. I don't have a camera attached, so wormy only heard me. But I saw him in full living color (he needed a shave, and his hair was a mess). Although it works, it's not optimal for jamming.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @11:13am | Comments (20)

Friday, 15 July, 2011

Google Plus Needs More Chicks

Ladies, where are you?


Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @12:56pm | Comments (27)

Thursday, 14 July, 2011

Watch Your Spelling!

Why? Spelling mistakes 'cost millions' in lost online sales.

spellrite An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses.

Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.

Mr Duncombe says when recruiting staff he has been "shocked at the poor quality of written English". Sales figures suggest misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website's credibility, he says.

The concerns were echoed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), whose head of education and skills warned that too many employers were having to invest in remedial literacy lessons for their staff.

I saw a spelling error on the Internet once.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:27am | Comments (12)

Wednesday, 13 July, 2011

Google+ Observations

So I've been using Google+ for more than 24 hours. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but I think I figured out how it works.

I thought I'd hate it, but I don't. In fact, I really like it. G+ has been up, with limited "invitation only" membership for about two weeks. In that time, it has attracted a mind-boggling 10 million users. But Facebook has about 750 million -- although a huge number of those are probably inactive.

I've never used Facebook, so I don't know how it compares. But I must say that Google's implementation of a "social network" is very impressive -- even for those of us who aren't really social. In a way, it can be a substitute for RSS (which I rely on heavily). In another way, it's an efficient way of keeping in touch with a small group of friends who share a common interest.

Some big names have attracted a huge number of G+ followers. See Google+ Social Statistics. For example, Robert Scoble has 43,000+ followers and 3,600 friends (which leads me to think he has a different definition of "friends" than most people.

Here's how I'm doing:

I can easily see this as replacing blogs. When this blog expires in 459 days, I might have a new place to post stuff. Or maybe I'll just make this a 9-year blog. Simple fact is, everyone can be a G+ "blogger" with minimal effort. The good ones will attract followers, and the bad ones won't. It's kind of a built-in natural selection thing.

People who are adamantly opposed to this are just like I was two days ago: Me? I don't need no stinkin' social network. But I've tried it, and now I understand how it works. Some will continue to be opposed on principle (and I don't hold that against them). Others will give it a try and see if it works for them.

But what really boggles my mind is the infrastructure behind this. I can almost understand the how this blog's server can handle the traffic. But multiply that by 10 million (and eventually, probably 1 billion), and my mind is blown.

Even more mind-boggling is that fact that there is no apparent income stream (so far) for Google. They're footing the bill while millions of people are having fun.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:46pm | Comments (33)

Error: Cannot Send Smile

From a Christian dating site.

send a smile

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @2:33pm | Comments (18)

Tuesday, 12 July, 2011

I Have Joined Google +

I still have no idea what to do with it, but it seems like the thing to do.

I've mastered Excel, but this seems very complicated.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @5:51pm | Comments (33)

10-Hour Movies

Apparently, YouTube increased the maximum length of video uploads. You can now post movies as long as 10 hours.

People are putting this new capability to good use. For example:

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @12:12pm | Comments (11)

Monday, 11 July, 2011


Who has jumped on the Google+ bandwagon?

I've looked through the web site, and didn't find a single thing that would make me want to join. The problem is, I'm not very social.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @1:29pm | Comments (36)

Friday, 08 July, 2011

Facebook Will Charge Fees

The free ride is over: Facebook to charge users.

fb Facebook is planning a subscription-based service with monthly fees starting at $0.99 for a basic “friendship” which allows for the posting of text and just one profile picture. 

This fee will increase, depending on the number of friends you have, the messages posted and sent, and the pictures/videos/ games put on a user’s page.  The monthly fee will be capped at $50.00 per month at the high-end.

Bottom line:  the more you use Facebook, the more you will pay.

That seems reasonable and fair.

Industry watchers estimate that the new fee-based program will generate well in excess of $20 billion in new revenue for the company – based on the most conservative assumptions of usage and the proposed tiered fee structure.

Note: Some people will claim that this is just another a rumor. But it's really true. Please help spread the word.

* * *

Update: I just heard from a reliable source that Twitter will also begin charging fees next month. Tweets that use fewer than 20 characters will remain free. Tweets that contain 21-70 characters will cost a penny, and tweets that consist of 71-140 characters will cost $0.02. That also seems reasonable and fair.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @12:13pm | Comments (51)

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