Archive Google+
Google+Social Media
28. March 2019

It all came faster than expected – today is the last day I chose to stop posting regularly on Google+ before the so-called Sunsetting that will start next Tuesday on April 2. My first post on Google+ was sometime in September 2012 and that means I’ve posted there almost daily for more than six and a half years. I met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world there, some of them I even got to meet in real life. I’ve posted thousands, maybe ten thousands of photos and many other articles. Thankfully, almost none of those will be completely gone when Google+ is being wiped off the face of the internet in a couple of days because I mostly posted in parallel to my own website!

Together with only a few hundred other users I was invited into the Google+ Create program and in the high times some of my photos and other posts were so popular that they got thousands of Plusses, as the Likes were called on Google+. It was a great time and even though Google+ had slowed down somewhat since then, it was still the social network of choice for many people who were dissatisfied with all the other ones. It was heaven for photographers, technically superior and vastly more user-friendly than the competition and perhaps we won’t see anything like this ever again. For this reason and the great people who kept Google+ alive all those years it’s a huge disappointment that Google decided to give up on its social network that was so far ahead of the rest of the pack.

Back when the end of Google+ was announced, I was really, really angry. Over the last few months, I saw Google+ decline more and more as most people left for other places and now I’m just sad that everything will cease to exist next Tuesday. But it won’t be like it never happened – Google+ has changed the landscape of social media for the better and now there are newcomers like Pluspora and Mewe around. Especially the latter looks very promising because the people behind the scenes are actively taking care of us Google+ refugees and even provide a tool for importing Google+ data.

But I’m still not putting all my eggs into one basket, though – my resolution to not post anything to a social network I don’t also have on my own websites has proven to be very valuable after what happened to Google+ and I will continue to archive everything on my own. But that doesn’t mean I will stop posting to other social networks, quite the contrary – I will still be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MeWe and (occasionally) Youtube. And I hope I will see everyone on some of those platforms again!

But for now it’s… Goodbye Google+, you were the best social networks of them all!

Google+Social Media
9. December 2018

I haven’t written much about Google+ lately, mostly because it just seemed to be working well and while it was a bit more quiet than before, it still was a pleasant social network with many unique features. But in early October, Google dropped a bombshell of epic proportions: following an undisclosed and covered up security leak, Google+ will be shut down slowly over the next ten months. Sometime in August 2019, Google+ will cease to exist.  [Update December 10: It gets even worse. Today Google has announced in another blog post that Google+ will be shut down in April next year, not in August because another security bug has been found…]

This is something I never, ever expected to be happening. Google+ had lost a lot of its popularity recently and has been declared dead or a ghost town by many, but for a large loyal group of users, especially photographers, it was the social network of choice. Evidently Google doesn’t think much of those people, some of who were invited to special communities and programs like Google+ Create and others. Kicking everyone out with ten months’ of notice is at least halfway decent, but still feels like being betrayed. In the original announcement Google claims that Google+ “has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds” –  but what about the other 10%? How many users are that? Millions? Tens of Millions? Evidently not enough.

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10. February 2017

Now that the old Google+ user interface has been permanently switched off, everything revolving about photography has changed on Google’s social network – but not from one moment to the other. Ever since Google Photos was introduced, it was evident that the photography and image organizing features of Google+ were going to be moved to the new service – which is not a bad thing at all. It may be a very subjective view, but I’ve always found the image organizing features in the old Google+ clunky, slow and sometimes borderline unuseable, so after some initial misgivings I’ve been using Google Photos ever since it was introduced back in Summer 2015. So, in the danger of this blog becoming too much Google infested, here are some observations and tips about the new relationship between G+ and Google Photos.

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18. January 2017

Back in November 2015, Google had announced a new user interface for its social network Google+ and there was a lot of justified criticism about this new version that had been introduced in parallel to the familiar look that had been in place since Spring 2013. Yesterday, about fourteen months later, Google announced that the transition period is going to end and the ‘Classic’ interface will be permanently switched off on January 24, next Tuesday. While I expect there will be a fair amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Google has actually done everything right this time. Almost four years ago, the first user interface change was thrown at the users practically without warning, but this time, Google has made sure that the over a year long transition was also accompanied by listening to feedback and actually making the improvements the users really want. At first, the new user interface was a bit of a mess, but now, especially after yesterday’s announcements, it has finally become fully useable, although some things have indeed changed.

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15. October 2016

Google had already rolled out the first test version of the new Google+ design last November, but at the end of August they finally made the makeover the default view. While the old “classic” interface has not been completely switched off yet, its days are now definitively numbered and it’s now time to get acquainted with the new Google+. I’ve actually been using it since last winter and after a couple of weeks, I never switched back to the old version because missing or faulty features had been quickly re-instated or fixed and Google has made a lot of improvements to the new Google+ ever since. There have been a lot of unwarranted complaints recently because of the change, but most can be boiled down to a simple fear of change, which is understandable – but the new Google+ is much easier to use and the restructuring has overall been very beneficial to the social network.

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Kategorie: Google+
7. March 2016

I really like Google Chrome and I’ve switched years ago from Opera when my former favourite browser had become a sad shadow of itself, but sometimes Chrome can get on my nerves too. Yesterday, I had upgraded from Version 47 to the current 49 and suddenly tabs I had open in the background began to reload when I clicked on them again after I hadn’t used them for some time. This is extremely annoying for users who like to have a lot of tabs open and can even destroy data you’ve entered into online forms or editors. But wait, we’ve had this before, it’s not a bug, but a feature and is called Automatic Tab Discarding.

You can go to chrome://flags/#automatic-tab-discarding (copy & paste this into the browser’s address bar because Chrome doesn’t allow hotlinking this for security reasons)  and disable this feature – and believe me, even on a system with only one or two Gigabytes of RAM there will be no low memory problems. At least not if you have a reasonable amount of tabs open, like ten or fifteen, depending on the contents. Overall Chrome 49 seems to be much better in the memory management department, it runs much smoother than before.

I’ve also noticed that the downloads page now looks completely different with a material-like makeover – you can also switch that off on the Flags page at chrome://flags/#enable-md-downloads if you like to have the old version back. Unfortunately, the switch to disable the new bookmarks system I’ve described in a previous blog post seems to have been removed, but if you switched it off before upgrading to Chrome 47, the old bookmarks system should still be active.

There’s also a lot of talk about the Vivaldi Browser whose development is being led by former Opera co-founder Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner – I have actually tried it, but it didn’t run as smoothly as Chrome and the big hurdle for me is that I would need a way to sync my Chrome Bookmarks, which is still impossible at this stage. The bookmark migration from Opera to Chrome was difficult enough and I don’t want to go through that again.

18. November 2015

It’s been over two years since Google had last given its social network Google+ an overhaul and yesterday it happened again with a big announcement… this time, it’s thankfully not a forced switchover, but only an option to try it out and come back to the old layout – so far. This is very good, because there are still a lot of things missing and broken in the new layout, some of which actually may render everything completely unuseable for some people. Like me, unfortunately… although I actually like the new visual style because it is basically an expanded version of what the mobile site has been looking like for some time. The new site centers heavily around Collections and Communities, which is fine… but most everything else has been either removed or put into external services, which is in some parts very problematic. Here are some observations.

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7. July 2015

At the end of May, Google had unveiled its new Google Photos service at the I/O conference. This came as no great surprise, since there had long been rumours and hints that the photo section of Google+ would be spun off into a separate product as a competitor to Flickr, Facebook & Co – and the results are okay, but the spiffy new web interface and mobile app are still a long way from being perfect. I’ve been using Google Photos in the last couple of weeks a lot because I post my photos not only on my own website, but also over on Google+ as well and while I’m overall somewhat impressed, there are still some minor problems and limitations. Here are some observations, complaints and tips how to make the best out of it.

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29. May 2015

Hooray, it’s the end of May and that means another round of the Google I/O software developer’s conference is happening right now. Or, as I like to call it nowadays, Don’t Panic Time, because there are always a lot of new and exciting things being announced which almost inevitably will get lots of people annoyed, angry or both So, let’s see what’s going on this year from my humble perspective – which means that this is part observation and part rant. Of course you can also watch the recording of the whole keynote address on Youtube, including the very astronomy-themed intro animation.

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14. May 2015

It came out of nowhere and some people, including me, only noticed it after a while. Sometime in the last few days, Google had disabled one of the key features of its social network Google+: the ability to share circles. Circles are just collections of users like Twitter lists, but you are able to post to a selected group of users by sharing with a circle and until recently it was possible to share a circle. It was the one feature that set Google+ apart from other social networks and an incredibly useful tool that created a whole culture, but for some inexplicable reason Google has now decided that circle sharing is not needed anymore.

If you started out on Google+ long before communities were introduced, the way to connect with other people was to look for shared circles and get shared yourself in a circle. This is what built Google+ in the beginning and still continued to build the network until circle sharing was disabled – but existing shared circles can still be added. This means that, for example, my own collection of shared circles, which I last posted at the end of 2014, is still available, although I’m not able to update them any more. This is a really sad development that could affect the whole of Google+ negatively on a big scale – there are actually rumours that Google+ traffic has gone down by more than 50% since circle sharing has been disabled and I noticed myself too that it seems to have become more quiet recently.

Why Google has disabled circle sharing still remains a mystery, because there has not been a proper official statement – it only has been confirmed by some Google employees that it is not a technical glitch and was done deliberately. The common opinion is that Google has pulled the feature because it was too much abused by spammers and marketing people – which is a fair point. But killing the most useful feature of the social network instead of implementing some spam-reducing measures like an option for users not to get shared in circles is very disappointing to say the least and an extremely user-unfriendly solution. Another quite likely theory is that Google wanted to get around implementing circle sharing on mobile devices, which was never built into either the mobile apps or websites.

What happens now with Google+ is anyone’s guess, but while circle sharing is now dead, a new tool called Collections has been introduced, a Pinterest-like feature to gather posts, but not users, together. This may be the best way to work against Google’s later counter-productive move, because instead of sharing a collection of Google+ users, it is now possible to share a collection of user’s posts, which should work almost as well as circles did. This is what I am going to do in the long run especially with the photographer circles – reshare one post of each user into a collection to rebuild the exceptional community that has grown over the years.

Although I consider the disabling of circle sharing one of Google’s worst moves since the closing of Google Reader two years ago, this will not be the end of Google+ by far – the network has always been incredibly dynamic and interactive and all the really sensible users will find a way to survive and thrive even without being able to share circles.