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Social Media
20. December 2022

TL;DR: I haven’t abandoned Twitter (yet), but I’m now also on Mastodon!

I remember a time when many people thought that Elon Musk was basically a good guy who is just a bit peculiar… but those times are long gone. The Tesla and SpaceX owner, now the richest human being on Earth, has mutated from benevolent billionaire to grotesque supervillain in just a few years – and with the recent purchase of Twitter this spiral has only intensified.

I don’t really have a stake in Twitter, I mostly follow, read and only post my photos there, but seeing an at least relatively well-functioning social network collapse in just a short time beacuse of the new billionaire owner’s very “special” management style is spectacular to watch to say the least. If Twitter goes under, I will not be particularly sad about it because this isn’t my first rodeo – a couple of years ago I witnessed Google+ being eliminated from the face of the Earth first hand!

While I think that Twitter is still going to limp along as a former shadow of itself, I’ve never put all my eggs in one basket. That saved me when Google+ was killed off, because most of everything I write and post comes from my own websites where I have full control over (almost) everything. I’ve tried out several Google+ replacements in the last couple of years, but I didn’t really got along with anything and instead ended up posting my photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter… until now.

I had already created a Mastodon account earlier this Summer when the whole Twitter debacle was not even on the horizon, but I only recently decided to really post over there. Right now I’m mainly crossposting my daily photos from the Photography Blog that also appear on the other social networks, but I’ve also started to repost some other retrocomputing and games content that I had originally created for Google+ and never got around to put on a proper website over here. There’s also a new Mastodon icon on the top right sidebar!

I’ve also written a short introduction post too a Month ago:

Time for an introduction? Hi, I’m Guido and I live in a small-ish city in northwest Germany. I usually post photos, but I’m not a professional photographer even though I work in a camera store. I also like to dabble in music, playing piano and guitar and I love old computers and (vintage) games. I also love all things science and astronomy! I’ve had a presence on the web since the late 90s and I’ve been on social media for over ten years. I’m also a Google+ and probably soon Twitter refugee.

Mastodon just feels right, like the early Google+ way back ten years ago when people discovered each other through circle sharing and not through algorithms. Mastodon basically relies on word of mouth and the decentralized server structure is almost like the Fidonet and Usenet of the 1980s and 1990s, just with slightly more modern technology. There are so many interesting people of all kinds all over the Fediverse and many are just setting up shop after abandoning Twitter. I really like the friendly atmosphere and I’m already following people from all over the world and chatting with them, mostly in the science and astronomy fields but also in the vintage computer and gaming communities.

Myself, I ended up on the original main server because I didn’t know any better in the beginnig – with hindsight, I probably should have chosen another server but for now it will have to do. The beauty of the Mastodon technology is the decentralized nature of it since you can always follow users from other instances and you can basically make your own federated universe, the Fediverse. My posts on Mastodon might be temporary and not be archived for all eternity, but that’s why I will always be maintaining my own websites. I’ve also archived the few Mastodon-exclusive shorter posts I’ve created lately to make some new content for this website too.

I haven’t made any decisions whether I should actually stop posting to Twitter or just continue as usual, but most of my posts will go out as usual to Facebook and Instagram too because quite a few people still follow me there. Nothing will disappear as long as I can pay for my own webspace.

I have no ides where this is all going to lead, but for now Mastodon feels like a good idea. Just come over to the Fediverse, everyone – it’s a new beginning!

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.

Continue reading »

AndroidGoogle+Social Media
21. January 2015

I’ve been using Google Hangouts as a text chat communications tool for a while now on both computer and tablet and despite some limitations, it really works great – IF it works, that is. That was unfortunately not the case when Google released an update of the Android Hangouts App – version 2.5.x – in mid-December, which seems to have completely broken the background push notifications and message synchronization of the app. Notifications only arrived when the app was actually in the foreground and messages appeared in the wrong order and often only when scrolling down manually. Notifications from all other apps including the Facebook Messenger worked perfectly, so it was not a general system problem and on my older tablet under Android 4.0.3 the problem did not even occur, so the Jellybean 4.1.1 of my current tablet didn’t seem at fault.

In short, the app became completely unusuable, and from the Play Store reviews it looked like I wasn’t the only one with this problem. There were various approaches to fixing the broken notifications, but from setting the notification sounds back and forth to switching notifications on and off in both the app and the system settings to several complete reinstalls, nothing worked. Then I read somewhere about the unlikely radical approach of removing and re-adding the Google account in the system settings, which surprisingly worked! It seems that something fundamental in the synchronization of the account was broken and only this drastic step fixed it.

The full steps that fixed the problem on my tablet were:
• Uninstall the Hangouts App. If it’s a system app on your device, uninstall all updates.
• Remove the Google account – if there are more than one, remove them all just in case.
• Re-Add all the Google accounts one by one. This might take some time because there will by a lot of synchronization in the background.
• Re-install the Google Hangouts app from the Play Store.
• Test the background notifications and make your preferred settings in the app.
• Rebooting with the Google accounts removed should be avoided, because some apps may not like it and could stop working, making reinstalls necessary. Other Google apps like Google+ did not notice the temporary removal of the Google accounts.

This should work in the more stubborn cases of broken Hangouts notifications – if this doesn’t fix it, only a  What I noticed is that the process was not running when the problem occured, but appeared afterwards – obviously this service is the one handling all the notifications for the Hangouts app and for some reason it breaks on certain systems when the new 2.5.x version is installed.

One other peculiarity I noticed is that you are not getting any sort of notifications anymore on your mobile devices while you have a chat window open on a computer in the browser or in the Chrome hangouts extension. This especially happens when you use the older 2014.1119 version, which pops up the chat window as soon as a message arrives, while the newer 2014.1204 doesn’t open windows automatically and instead shows the messages as notifications on the app icon first, only marking notifications as read when a chat window is actually open.

I hope this article is going to be some help for those who encounter the same problems, as there don’t seem to many solutions out there.

Bibra-OnlineGoogle+Science & AstronomySocial Media
31. December 2014

For the last blog post of 2013, I did something unusual by posting a collection of Google+ circles and for the end of 2014 I wanted to repeat this and make it a regular feature in the future. This is not as easy as it sounds because most of my circles are utter chaos, but once again I chose some of my most important circles to share at the end of this year to highlight and thank all the amazing people I’ve met there. I originally shared the circles yesterday directly on Google+ and this is just a blog article collecting those posts together, but in addition I also included a few of my Twitter lists here in this year’s post because this medium has also become a great source of information and interaction. But before we go on…


Google+ Circles

Photography Essentials – This first one is my “small” Photography circle of people I mainly found in the beginning over two years ago, although the size of this circle has doubled in the last twelve months. These are people whose posts I don’t want to miss even when I don’t have time to look at all the other circles. Don’t be disappointed if you’re not in there – there are two more much bigger photo circles coming up after this!

Photography One – This is the first part of my “big” hand-picked Photographer circles. Everybody from the Essentials circle is also in here, plus everyone I noticed in other circles, who plussed or commented on my posts or who I learned to know through other people. If you’re not in there, either I haven’t noticed you yet or you don’t fulfil my one requirement: you have to post your own work. There are only original photography content creators in here.

Photography Two – The second part of my “big” Photographers circle. I had to split it to be able to share it because of the 500 user limit. This one has already grown almost up to the limit and there will be a Photography Three circle in the future.

Science, Space & Astronomy – One of the other things I try to get involved in, or at least promote, is everything about these three fields and for this reason I have a hand-picked circle with everything about science, spaceflight and exploration and astronomy around. It’s a relatively low-noise group, but everyone from space journalists and scientists from the CosmoQuest & Universe Today crowd, many astronauts and a lot more people are in here. If you want even more, have a look at Fraser Cain’s Super Science Circle, on which my circle was originally partly based on – but it has taken on a kind of life of its own during the last year.

CosmoQuest, Universe Today & Co – This is a slightly more condensed circle and could be called “Friends of”, because in addition to the scientists and journalists working for CosmoQuest, Universe Today, The Planetary Society and Astronomers Without Borders, it also contains all those people who have or have had some connection to them. Most of those people are in the previous circle, too.

Astrophotographers – There is some overlap with the Science circle, but I chose use a separate circle for astrophotography to see all the beautiful images in one place. Credit where credit is due, though: this circle is also based, but not completely similar, to one with the same name originally shared by Fraser Cain.

Twitter Lists

Science & Astronomy – The first three lists are the Twitter companions to the Google+ lists of the same name, only with more and sometimes different people. This is where the conversation and often breaking science news happens – if a supernova goes off, a meteor comes down or something exciting happens in space exploration and science, this is often where you can hear about it first.

CosmoQuest – A further condensed science circle only with scientists, journalists and other people loosely affiliated with CosmoQuest, Universe Today and related organizations.

Astrophotographers – Even more semi-professional Astrophotographers are active on Twitter and that is where they often post their photos

Astromomers – This is actually a link to a Twitter list from Fraser Cain, who put together a great collection of astronomers who are active there.

Astronauts – There are a lot of future, active and retired astronauts on Twitter and I’ve tried to collect them all in this list, which I’m sure is still incomplete.

Astronauts on the ISS – This list has only the Twitter-using astronauts which are currently on the International Space Station – as of late December 2014, half of the crew is actively tweeting!

Spaceflight – Everybody and everyone related to spaceflight in all its forms, from the various NASA accounts to mission project leaders and the private space companies.

And this is the end of 2014 – let’s see what 2015 will bring! :-)

Bibra-OnlineGoogle+Social Media
8. September 2014

Perhaps some visitors have already noticed those snazzy new icons in the top right sidebar – I put them there last week on all three websites because I thought the links to my social media profiles should be a bit more prominent now that I’m getting more and more involved in those. While my own websites are still my main headquarters and all the important content I post off-site will always appear here too, I’m not scoffing at social media any more and have actually found it enormeously fun and useful. So where can I be found except around here?

Google+ has rapidly become my favourite place on the web to connect to other people and share my content. My main focus there is on photography, but I always share all the links to my other blog postings too. The community and interaction is absolutely astonishing, wonderful and friendly – I’ve met some great people all over the world there. Rumours presist that Google+ is dead or dying, but after almost two years I now have over 4000 followers and over three million views on my posts and if that is not alive, I don’t know what is! Interaction is the key – writing comments, having conversations, joining and sharing circles and taking part in communities is what Google+ is all about. If you circle me on Google+, I will most probably circle you back if you post something interesting in your stream and perhaps give your posts some +1’s or comments.

Twitter was actually one of the first social media sites I mainly joined for fun back in 2011 and I haven’t really done much with it from my side except that I regularly tweet the updates from my websites by way of WordPress and only occasionally talk with people. 140 characters are simply not my thing, but in the other direction it’s almost entirely different – I follow over 300 people and enjoy my daily dose of tweets very much to keep up with everybody. I’m just not very good at this kind of high-frequency sharing myself, although I can certainly see the use of it as a communications tool. I actually have two different Twitter accounts: @guidobibra has the updates from all the websites, while I use @dvdlogger only as a legacy account for the DVDLog website.

Facebook has become more of a necessity than anything else. I have a few followers over there, but those are mainly family and friends who are not on Google+ and I exclusively post my website updates automatically from WordPress – although I sometimes write comments if I have something to say and will answer comments from others. This is mainly because I really don’t like Facebook from a technical standpoint – I hate the web interface, the official Android app is completely unusable and if it wasn’t for some third-party clients I would hardly look at my Facebook feed at all. I don’t intend to get involved into Facebook any more than I have to, so if you really want to interact with me, I would suggest Google+ instead – although I certainly won’t deny any Facebook friend requests or commenting.

Instagram is just a bit of fun for me than anything else. I actually installed the Android app to follow some other people, but because I’ve had a tablet with a very basic camera since last year, I have been posting the occasional crappy tabletcam shot there. It’s nothing really serious, I consider this throwaway stuff and the “real” photography will always appear on my websites. I actually like the Android app, but I have no idea if I will keep this up further because the tablet camera is a bit cumbersome. Although once I get a smartphone with a decent camera perhaps later this year, there could be more silly Instagram shots from me, so even if it’s still boring in my stream there, feel free to add me :-).

The first icon in the row is, of course, the RSS Feed which WordPress is still generating automatically and as long as the software supports it, I will continue to provide a feed. Even with the untimely death of the Google Reader last year, the format is stronger than ever and other services like Feedly have risen to the occasion and filled the gap perfectly. If you add my blogs to your feed, you’ll always get my articles as soon as they’re published here!

Okay, that’s enough self-promotion for now. I’m actually not really good at this sort of thing and I almost threw this article away, but sometimes you just have to toot your own horn :-).

About the Icons: Credit where credit is due – the four in the post logo are from Brainleaf Communications, I just loved that retro look and had to use this free icon pack in this article. The icons in the sidebar are based on a collection called Socialtograms put together by Steffen Norgard Andersen – I was trying to find something simple and was already half through creating some from the app icons, but these really hit the spot and I think they fit well into the websites.