G+firstGen

First of all, in case you only recently started following this blog, I am an unabashed fan of (just about) all things Google. I was an early adopter of Gmail, Buzz, and Wave. Gmail was a home run; the latter two (especially Buzz) were foul balls. I think Google may have hit for the cycle with Google Plus (Google+, or G+). I believe Google finally got social media right, this time around. However, I’m not going to bore you with a lot of stuff about what G+ is, and what it isn’t. If you need that info, Google it! *mischievous grin*

Instead, I am going to share some of my early observations, questions, and what-not about Google Plus, that I’ve made over the past eight or nine days. If I’m in one or more of your G+ circles, chances are you’ve seen some or all of these. There may also be the occasional (well, at least one that I know of) observation that was posted on G+, but isn’t actually related to G+. I’ll save that/those for the end. So without further ado…

 

On Google Chat

Sometimes, I/you/we just want to chat (IM-style). I know there are 3rd-party chat clients out there: I use two of them. But wouldn’t it be nice if Google Chat enabled tabs if you’re having more than one conversation? (It does happen.) I grok Huddle, and Hangouts, but I’d still like those who want to talk to me, one-on-one, to be able to do so through Gmail Chat or Google Chat, and keep ‘em in one window. Am I asking too much?

 

Add Google’s +1 Button to Your Blog

I did it; it’s pretty easy. Here’s how:

Plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-plus-one/screenshots/

PHP Script: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/

Because I use Headway theme, I opted for the script, since adding php scripts to the header or footer (I used the footer) is pretty easy.

 

Beginner’s Guide to Google Plus (TL;DR: You don’t need one.)

Gina Trapani, the most-followed woman on Google+, is a programmer and Google fangirl (and I mean that in the most complimentary fashion). She wrote the best guide for Google Wave, a year or so ago. However, when asked if she intended to write a companion guide for G+, she answered, “There’s no need.” Another G+ user, Nat Williams, had this to say:

GUIDE TO GOOGLE+ IF YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO SAY; I’ve got a Google+ account but now I don’t know what to do/how to use it.

First off: Seriously? Really?
But I’ve seen this sentiment enough to feel like a handy how-to guide may assist people. So without any further delay…

POINT ONE: Google+ is a social networking tool and website, made by Google. If you are having difficulty with this concept, perhaps the “internet” as an entity just isn’t for you yet. But in brief, the goal of G+ is to connect, share and interact with other people. Pretty simple, huh?

POINT TWO: This is an opt-in beta. This isn’t the finalised product. It’s not complete. They’re allowing access so that we, the users, can assist in the development process. So use it, try stuff out, push it around, see what it can do, see if you can break it. You see stuff you like? Don’t like? Think should be included? Doesn’t work? Then let Google know. That’s why there’s a “Feedback” option, after all. If you’re here, and wondering where all your friends are or not using any of the features or providing any feedback, then perhaps you don’t really need an account yet. Double that sentiment if you only wanted/got an account because it seemed like the cool thing to do this week. And if you’re using the G+ beta as a spammer, you really are missing the point.

THAT’S IT. THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW AS A BEGINNER’S GUIDE. SERIOUSLY.

So if you ever feel the urge to open your mouth or flex your two keyboard fingers to opine “I’m in Google+ but I don’t get it”, this is for you. Really. It’s not that difficult.

General Comments, Questions, and Feedback I’ve Submitted

Is there a way to tell which members of your many (or few) circles are online? GChat almost works, except it doesn’t, really.

In 5 nine days, I’ve “+1’d” way more than I clicked a Facebook “Like” button in over 2 years.

A couple things I’ve sent feedback to Google, for G+:

  • Allow shift+Enter for Comments/Edit Comments.
  • Reduce post thread synopses to just a couple lines, to preclude scrolling forever to get to the “more” button

Folks, the reason G+ exists is to share. So, for the love of kittens, put something in your Profile! Please?

One thing I really like about G+ is that as I scroll through Notifications, I can comment directly in that dropdown, without having to go to the original post!

As easy as G+ makes it to share photos from my phone (via the Android Google+ app), I may just have to start using it a lot more. Just wish the Droid X’s phone were as good as the one in, say, iPhone 4. But it’s better than the iPod Touch 4g. (To clarify, the Droid X takes great pictures in daylight/bright lighting conditions; it’s not so good in low-light situations.) There is an option in the mobile app to automagically upload photos to your Google account; however, they aren’t shared until you explicitly share them.

 

A Couple Places for Useful Information on Google+

Google+ Info—Unofficial information about Google+. Tips, tricks, how-to, et cetera.

Welcome to Google+—A collaborative (120+ people!) Google Document that is practically a G+ Wiki.

 

Shorten your Google Plus ID

G+ ID Shortener—Your Google+ ID is a 20-digit number. Now maybe some of you have no trouble remembering strings of twenty random digits, but I (and a lot of others) do. gplus.to is an unofficial site that will shorten your G+ ID to gplus.to/YouPickIt. Google will probably come up with an “official” one at some point, but until then, this does the trick.

 

A Tip on Curating Circles

This tip was originally shared by Pavan Desikan, who works at Google, on Gmail and Google+:

When you get a notification that a random stranger has added you to a circle, do not feel compelled to create a circle for “Random strangers” and add them to it. It is okay to ignore the notification. They are only going to be able to see your public posts.

Your circles should contain people who you know, not necessarily all the people who know you.

Put Googlers in Your Circles

A list of Google employees on Google+—Here is a list of Google employees, including its founders, so pick a few whose interests or areas of concentration interest you, and keep in touch with Google. Folks, these people DO want you to encircle them, read their posts, ask them questions. So DO IT!

The level of engagement and interaction by Google employees during this field test has been nothing short of phenomenal, and by that I mean phenomenally excellent. We all know there are glitches in beta tests (which, in truth, is what the current field test is). But I think it’s going above and beyond when one of the devs posts a public apology on a weekend when something happens that might have negatively impacted some users.

 

Add Google Plus to you Search Engines

If you’re using Chrome (no idea if/how this works for other browsers) you can also add G+ to your search engines:

  • Preferences > Basic > Scroll down to Search > Manage Search Engines
  • Search Engine: Google+ Posts
  • Keyword: post
  • URL: {google:baseURL}search?q=site:plus.google.com inurl:posts/* %s

Then, make this your default search engine so it jumps up with Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, then revert to your normal default.

 

Hangouts and Headsets

I’d love to take part in, or host, Hangouts. But I have a problem: No matter what magic I try to invoke, the Settings options won’t let me change my mic at all, and even when I select my headset for the Speakers option, saving my changes reverts everything to defaults.

Is anyone else able to use a headset? (I’m using an iMac, and the settings dropdowns clearly show my two different headsets, as well as, of course, the default input/output devices.)

 

And Finally…

My youngest son, who turned 30 a few weeks ago, shared a Gizmodo article on Google Reader: “Why Google+? Your Parents Can’t Find You There.” His comment in GReader cracked me up: “Umm…my dad was the first person I know who had G+, so…no.” 

I should note that while I’m in at least one of his circles, I haven’t seen him post anything on G+. You don’t suppose he’s excluding me, do you? *grins*

 

Perspective

Fifty years ago, I wanted to be the first man to walk on Mars. Fifty years ago, that idea didn’t seem quite as farfetched as it is today. I mean, we were going to send a man to the moon, and safely return him to earth, before the decade’s end. Mars in another forty years certainly seemed doable.

Well, it’s been almost 39 years since a human being last stood on an extraterrestrial body. Mankind hasn’t left low-earth orbit since. And last Friday, the United States launched its last manned space flight for…how long? Did I watch the last US space launch of my lifetime?

 
  • Tami Jul 11, 2011, 13:26

    Great stuff in there (and quite a lot of it!).

    You and I should play with the hangouts thing, see if we can get it working.

    • Steve Jul 11, 2011, 15:31

      Rut roh…your ComLuv info didn’t show up.

      And +1 re: Hangouts. Actually, it’s working for me, but I can’t change from the default mic/speakers on the iMac (haven’t tried on the laptop).

      (Maybe I need to name my machines, like you do…)
      Read Steve’s recent post: Some Observations on Google PlusMy Profile

  • Steve Jul 11, 2011, 15:34

    By the way (since I forgot to put this in the OP), I do have invitations to Google+, if you want one. Send me an email with your email address, and I’ll set you up. (Check the navigation bar for my email address.)

  • Ted Jul 11, 2011, 17:24

    I wish there was a way to add a nickname in Google Plus. Some people I know by their Twitter or other online handle, and I’d like to be able to add that to their Google+ so I know better who they are.

    • Steve Jul 11, 2011, 18:04

      It shouldn’t be up to you to do it: Everyone can add all the nicks, etc., they want, through their Profile’s “About” page: Twitter, Facebook, Quora, About.me, Pandora, MySpace, etc. I’d much prefer the people I encircle to be responsible for their profiles, than for me to have to try to figure out how I know them.

  • John T Jul 12, 2011, 04:45

    Google plus also has a advantage when you change your profile pics the previous pics are also stored.

  • Rob Jul 18, 2011, 18:58

    You know, when they first released Google Plus i thought it would go the way of Buzz and Wave (down the drain…). I’m starting to see some features that should really make Mark Zuckerberg worried though!
    Read Rob’s recent post: Mozilla Aurora is Here: Will it Win the Browser Wars?My Profile

  • Lola T Aug 25, 2011, 05:06

    hey I knew only knew that +1 is a combination of face book and twitter, but this article has proved me wrong showing something much better than what I had understood. Thanks for sharing a beautiful article.
    Read Lola T’s recent post: Tips para bajar de peso con el alpisteMy Profile

    • Steve Aug 29, 2011, 12:05

      Glad I could provide some enlightenment, Lola! And gracias for stopping by—always glad to see a new face at the Aerie. :)

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Acknowledgements

First, a flourishing tip of the hat to Matt Mullenweg and the entire Automattic team for giving us the wonder that is WordPress.

Chris Pearson and the crew at DIYThemes deserve a huge round of applause for the Thesis Theme for WordPress. You lot make it look like I know how to write CSS and php!

However, even with Thesis, I'd never have made the site look half as good without the fantastic, step-by-step tutorials by a wonderful Aussie lady,Amelia Briscoe at Thesis Video Tutorials. Couldn't have done it without you!

Finally (saving the best for last), the Aerie would still be gathering dust if not for the occasional poke from my dear friend, Tami Moore. Her good-natured wheedling culminated in an offer to host a guest article from me, and was the spark that reignited my blogging fires. Even embiggened virtual hugs aren't enough to express what Tami's friendship means to me.