The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s


imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

Here’s my (growing) collection of Google+ How-To articles… Yeah, I’m really liking G+.  It’s a refreshing change from the cluttered look of Facebook and has MUCH better security and privacy controls.
You should really start with the first article, “Privacy Settings You May Want to Adjust” as soon as you get your G+ account.

BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image.  That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it.  You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.  I’d also appreciate you clicking the “+1” at the bottom of this post.
See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can quickly quickly get up and going with Google+.

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

A Facebooker’s guide to Google+ (or Google Plus)


imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image.  That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it.  You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.  I’d also appreciate you clicking the “+1” at the bottom of this post.

Also check out The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s

Google+ and Facebook are not two faces for the same type of service, though, they may look it at first.  This guide is for people familiar with Facebook and want to get started with Google+.  I’ll refer to common tasks or terminology known to Facebook users and introduce their counterparts in the G+ world.

FB Label

G+ Label




Following or “in circles”

One facebook user finds another fb user and sends that user a “friend request”. The FB service forwards the request to the other user. The other user sees an update from FB that “Jane Doe” is requesting a friend connection. The recipent of the friend request, accepts, rejects, or ignores the request. If the recipient accepts, then both users’ accounts are officially connected and each can see everything the other posts, for the most part.

On G+, Alice searches for Bob and finds him. She then adds Bob to one or more of her circles. Bob is automatically notified of this. Alice receives no special permissions to Bobs data, other than, anything Bob posts publicly, Alice will see on her data stream (similar to FB’s “News Feed”. Bob may or may not choose to add Alice to any of his circles. If he does, in a way, you could say their “friending” is complete in a Facebook kind of way, but a G+ user would not say that.


Remove from circles

On facebook, when you defriend someone, you break your ties with them. They no longer see your posts or photos and you no longer see theirs. They don’t show up in your friends list and vice versa.

In G+, there’s no such thing. You can simply delete people from your circles and you’ll stop receiving their posts in your stream. They may still have you in their circles and will continue to see your public posts.



“Poking” is a FB exclusive. You can choose to “poke” a facebook friend and they will receive a message that you poked them.

There’s no equivalent on G+ for poking.



In Facebook, each user has their own “wall” where their friends can post stuff and their own posts and activity are consolidated there.

In G+, you have a profile page, that is essentially the same thing as a FB wall, but people can’t post anything on your profile page.

Post on wall

Post to user

On FB, you can go to someone’s wall and write a message just to that person. It shows up on their wall for all their friends to see and in all that person’s friends’ news feeds.

In G+ to post directly to a user, you just do a normal post and when you’re choosing which circles can see it, you enter that person’s name and only that user can see it.

Send a message

Post to user

FB has something similar to e-mail, where you can have private conversations with any friend. No one sees them except you and your friend.

In G+ to post directly to a user, you just do a normal post and when you’re choosing which circles can see it, you enter that person’s name and only that user can see it.



FB has a very unknown feature, and very cumbersome to use feature called “Lists”. You make a list and add certain friends to it, then when you post, you can choose which lists of friends see it, rather than posting it to all of your friends.

G+ has what are called “Circles” where you can create as many circles as you like, give each circle a name, then add people to them. Circles are very central to the whole G+ experience. They’re front and center and everybody uses them. Every post you make, you pick one or more circles (or one or more individual users), and/or you choose “public” so everyone sees it, even strangers, just like a Twitter post.

Like +1 When you’re browsing the web, you’ll find FB like buttons everywhere.  If you’re logged into FB on another browser tab or window, it will cause a new post to show up on your FB account for that web site.  Inside FB, you can “like” comments people make, or their photos or videos and it shows up as “John Doe likes this”.  You can also “like” groups, which is a significantly different thing.  It actually enrolls you in that group and starts publishing their spam to your NewsFeed and gives them access to your private data. When you’re browsing the web, you’ll start finding “+1” buttons all over the place, usually in a button bar with both a FB and a Twitter button, like I have at the bottom of this article.  Clicking that while already logged into your Google account causes you to post that site to your +1’s tab on your G+ account.  It will also increment a counter on the item you +1’d so others who visit the item will see how many people have +1’d it.  You can do this to G+ posts, photos, and videos too.
Friend List In your Circles In FB, a friend list is a list of all the people whom both you and they have mutually agreed to be friends. In G+, your circles list is simply a list of people you’ve decided to follow.  It doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not those people have accepted anything from you.  It’s like following celebrities on Twitter.  They don’t have to follow you back.

In essence, G+ is more like a merger of Facebook and Twitter.  While the user experience in Facebook is nearly identical to the user experience in Google+, there are fundamental principle differences.

In Facebook, you only see posts of people you’ve friended, and it has to be a mutual friending.  If either of you defriend, you both lose access to each other’s information.  Your access to each other’s data is the same as any other stranger’s after a defriending.  Neither of you show up in each other’s friends list.

In Google+, there is no hard, mutual connection.  You simply follow other people, just as you would on Twitter.  Of course, it’s wrapped up in a nice web user interface that looks an awful lot like Facebook.  Unlike Facebook, you can follow ANYBODY, just like on Twitter.

On Facebook, most people feel somewhat free to post things they wouldn’t post on Twitter because they know (or they think) that only their friends can see their posts (and if they have their security settings set up right, then that’s true… most people do NOT, so they’re posting to the whole world and don’t know it).

On G+, part of the user experience of posting anything is choosing which circles and/or individual users can see it.  This is the differentiating feature for G+.  But, Facebook has something almost identical in concept called “Lists”, but the big difference between the two is not how they function, but how easy they are to use.  FB lists are almost entirely unknown and are cumbersome to set up and use.  G+ Circles are extraordinarily easy to use and are central to the whole G+ experience.  When you invite a user to G+, you are immediately presented with a list of all your circles and you can put a check mark beside each circle you want that user in.  The user doesn’t even have to have a G+ account for them to be in your circles and your posts can be automatically e-mailed to those users in that case.

The biggest differentiating factor between FB and G+ is the ability to easily control who sees what posts.  On FB, a lot of people have to tread a very thin line because they have personal friends AND coworkers AND bosses AND parents as “friends” and anything they post will be seen by all (unless you’ve mastered Lists, that is).  In G+, you can freely post without worry of who will see it because ONLY the people or circles you choose to see it will see it.  You can have a circle called “work” where everyone whom you work with is in there and another circle of “drinking buddies”, where you can post photos of your weekend stupor and tell dirty jokes and never worry about who sees it… just make sure you’re not drunk WHILE you post it though, to make sure you don’t post the wrong photos and jokes to the wrong circle of people.  You’d feel awfully embarrassed if you posted your skinny dipping party pictures to your church circle!

That should be about enough to get you thinking in a G+ kind of way from your prior FB knowledge.

See this image? image_thumb26

You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can quickly learn how to convert their FB knowledge to G+ knowledge.

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

Google+ (Google Plus) Android App: What you CAN’T do


In case you weren’t already aware, there’s an Android app for Google+ in the Android Markeplace.  It’s pretty simple and straightforward and has a nice, clean interface.  Obviously, you have to have a Google+ account, or you can’t use the app and the Google account you created your G+ account with must already be on your phone.  I know they’re working on an iPhone app too, but I don’t have an iPhone so I don’t know anything about it.  I’d imagine it’s likely very similar in functionality to the Android app.

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Now, the Android app is good for reading posts, writing posts, uploading pictures and videos (even automatically), but you can’t do any of the following with the Android App:

  • Invite new friends.
  • Edit your profile.  As of 9/20/2011 or so, you can now change your profile picture.
  • Change your security settings.
  • Change your privacy settings.
  • Create, Edit, or Delete circles.
  • Share a post.  As of 9/20/2011 or so, you can now share a post.
  • Hangouts, which are live video chat sessions with shared whiteboard and RTF editor.
  • Search.
  • Sparks, which are really just saved searches.
  • +1 a comment.
  • Edit your own comments.  You can only delete one and then enter a new one.
  • See how many people are following you.
  • See the animation is animated GIFs.  These are popular on G+.

In short, the Android app is to be used from an already configured G+ account.  You have to use your web browser to do all the things listed above.

Please use the “Feedback” button from the main menu in the app to request all these features.

Also check out The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s

Hope that helps!

See this image? image_thumb26

You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can quickly quickly get up and going with Google+.

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

Google+ (Google Plus): How to invite people


imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

Also check out The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s

I’m getting asked a lot how to invite people to Google Plus.  It’s fairly straightforward:

On your home page, on the right, bottom link is “Invite people to join Google+”:


Click it:


The “Invite People” box pops up:


  • Click on the blue, “+ Add people to invite” text inside the text entry field.
  • Enter your invitee’s e-mail address and press Enter!
    • If you don’t press Enter, when you click the Invite button, it’ll delete what you just typed… annoying, but after 30 or so invites, you get used to it.
    • You can enter multiple e-mail addresses.  Just hit the Enter key after each one.
  • Click the “Invite” button.  This is when the invitation goes out.
  • Next, you can pick which circle(s), if any, you want to add that person/people to.
    • Note that you can have people “added” and optionally, in your circles, BEFORE they’ve accepted the invite and before they even have a Google+ account.  When they eventually DO create an account with your invite, their icon on your circles page will change from their e-mail address to their name they created on their profile.

That’s it!  Hope that helps!

See this image? image_thumb26

You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can quickly learn how to invite friends!

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

Google+ (Google Plus) Privacy Settings You May Want to Adjust


imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

Not all of Google Plus’s default privacy settings are the best, but they’re certainly better than Facebook’s default security settings.  My personal preference, and my recommendation for all things internet is to make everything private, by default, and only expose the things you explicitly intended to expose.
Also check out The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s
To get to your G+ privacy settings, click on your name in the upper-right corner and choose “Privacy”:
In the “Profile and privacy” section, click the “Edit visibility on profile” button beside “Public profile information”.  Let’s lock that down and only expose what you’re comfortable with sharing with your enemies and strangers on the net who want to hack your account and steel your identity and harm your children… Yah, seriously, that’s how you need to think about security on the internet because that’s what’s really going on.
First, let’s lock down your circles.  There’s no good reason people that intend to do you harm should be able to see your list of friends or the circles you’ve created.  Below your profile photo is a “View all” link for your circles.  Click that.
It’s safe to check “Show people in” (see image below) because this is just what YOU see.  BUT! Under “Who can see this?”, by default, you’ll find that “Anyone on the web” is selected.  Change that to “Your circles”.  Now, only people you’ve accepted into your circles can see it.  To be honest, I’m not real sure yet what “it” is, but it has to do with friends and circles, so don’t be sharing that with strangers.
Also, uncheck “Show people who have added you to circles”.  This actually might be safe, but until I know for sure, I’m recommending unchecking it.  I don’t know if this means just show them on your profile page just for YOU to see, or if it’s for more than you.  When in doubt, assume it’s shared publicly to everyone on the internet, so, uncheck it.
Now, on the right, is a list of all the items on your profile.  Click each one and choose wisely who can see it.  I’ve selected “Your Circles” for most, if not all of them that can be changed.
As you click each item below, think about someone wanting to steal your identity, find out where you live, harm your children, and finding your profile… what sort of information would you NOT want them to have?  Remember, if you expose bits and pieces of who you are, they can put those together to form a full identity, so be careful what you expose.  Again, my recommendation is set them all to “Your circles” or “Only you”.
Next, let’s secure your photos.  Click on the “Photos” tab.  Note (image below) that it says, “Albums in the Photos tab are visible only to people they’ve been shared with.”  THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!!  I tested this myself and from one Google+ account that had not been invited to the other, and I was able to see all the photos!  Those two accounts were “strangers to each other”.  This must be a bug, but now that we know that your photos are public, uncheck “Show this tab on your profile” and change “People whose tags of you are automatically approved to link to your Profile:” to “Your Circles”.  When I did that, my “stranger” account could no longer see my photos, but my friends still can.
Uncheck “Show photo geo location information in newly uploaded albums and photos.”.  Until we know this security feature works appropriately, let’s uncheck it.  Remember, this is still a beta product and not all the security is working properly.  Secondly, I recommend against publishing geo tag data in your photos unless there’s a specific reason to do so, and then, make sure that only people you trust can see it.  This one is actually more critical than you know.  If you publish your Christmas morning photos with Geotagging information and your photos are viewable by the general public, you’ve just told all the pedophiles on the internet where your children live!!!!  Seriously, this is really important.  You should hide your home address from everyone except people you’re inviting over to your house.  Don’t ever link your home address with anything publicly available on the internet.
Click “Save”.
Now, click on the “Videos” tab and uncheck, “Show this tab on your profile”.  I haven’t uploaded any videos yet, so I’ve not had a chance to test this.
Click “Save”.
+1’s… (see image below) In case you don’t know what this is, let me explain.  You know how all those web sites you visit have a little button bar with a twitter icon, a Facebook icon, etc…?  You click that and you share the web page with people that are following you on Twitter or share it with your friends on FB?  +1 is Google’s version of that and it’s showing up all over the internet now.  Already, +1’s are more popular than Twittering.  I’ve even got a +1 button at the bottom of this article.  If you find this useful, please click it! Smile  Anyway, use your best judgment as to whether or not you want your +1’s publicly broadcast and permanently known to be from YOU by anyone on the internet.  So, don’t be +1’ing those NSFW sites!  Keep in mind, if you make it public, your current and potential future employers and mates will see what you’re recommending for people to read.  If you’re going to +1 NSFW sites, then I recommend making this viewable only to your circles.  If you’re OK with letting the whole world know it’s YOU that is recommending the page, this is probably safe to make public.  Since I blog a lot, I’m making this one all the way public for myself.  User your best judgment.
Click “Save”.
Buzz:  WTF is Buzz anyway?  Seriously, I really don’t know what this is.  Google published it like a year or so ago and it flopped.  I’m guessing because hardly anyone else knows what it is either.  When it doubt, make it all private.  I unchecked all the check boxes, just to be safe.
Click “Save”.
There!  Those are my preliminary security recommendations.  As I get more familiar with this service, I’ll update these security settings.

[Update]: Now, it wouldn’t be a full security article (and it still won’t be full) if I didn’t mention the user profile name rules that Google has been enforcing lately.  On Saturday, 7/23/2011, I believe it was, I discovered I couldn’t post any updates, I couldn’t invite anyone, and my circles were uneditable.  I figured, well, it must be bugs in the beta, but after a day or so, I finally went to my G+ profile page and there was a message there saying my account had been disabled because my pseudonym of CSharpner wasn’t acceptable and they wanted my real name.  They have since restored my account and I’d like to thank whoever did that as well as my followers on G+ that petitioned Google to restore my account.  But, as best I know, their policy is still that they want you to use your real life name and not your online handle or pseudonym.  In spite of the awesome security features built into G+, this policy of forcing real names cancels out all the coolness of the built in security.  A lot of people post political, religious, and other opinions online with the freedom of speech of knowing they can freely say it without harm coming to them in their real life with their employers, family, strangers, or coworkers because they say it under their pseudonym, giving them some important shielding.  Battered wives, rape victims, etc… all need the ability to freely speak without fear of retribution from their attackers, to name just a few examples of why it’s incredibly important to be able to use pseudonyms.  I call on Google to “do no evil” by allowing this incredibly important protection of online life.

I don’t normally ask this, but since this is security related and we’re on the ground floor with this new product, if you find this useful, please forward it to your Google+ friends.  The more people that get their security tightened up at the beginning, the better off we’ll all be!
See this image?  image
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article.  Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can tighten up their security!

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck!

Google+ (Google Plus) doesn’t hoard your data like Facebook does

imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

One of the many really cool features of Google+ is that you can download your data from your account.  It’s not locked up inside Google+.  This is an intentional slap in the face to Facebook who jealously hoards your data, not letting you easily download it (if at all).  For example, you can’t download your contacts from Facebook.


Google+ is available at

I highly recommend it over Facebook.  Click here for my first impressions review.

Also check out The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s

BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image.  That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it.  You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.  I’d also appreciate you clicking the “+1” at the bottom of this post.

See this image? image_thumb26

You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can quickly quickly get up and going with Google+.

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

GE Money CareCredit card–DON’T GET IT!!!

Unless you’re in dire straits, I suggest you NOT get this GE Money CareCredit credit card offered by your doctor (or offered anywhere else).  You should know that their interest rates are the highest legally available.  You should ALWAYS check the interest rate on any line of credit you apply for and soundly reject those with abusive rates.  In mid 2011, a good rate is around 9%.  Most cards offer around 15%, which is not that great.  Anything over that should not even be considered.  Any offer over 18% deserves a speech from you to them about ethics and questioning them how they can sleep at night.  GE Money CareCredit is approaching THIRTY PERCENT!!!  This vastly surpasses the line of questionably ethical.  GE Money CareCredit is a huge rip off!

BTW, Pay off your debts!

And, while I’m on the subject of interest rates, call all your debtors and see if you can get a lower interest rate.  When you’re paying off your debts, pay the minimum on all of them, except your highest interest debt.  On that one, pay as much as you can possibly afford.  Sacrifice as much as you possibly can.  Cancel all magazine subs, downgrade your TV cable/satellite plan to the bare minimum (or even altogether and just watch over-the-air TV), if you still have a regular home phone system, drop it and just use your cell phone or convert it to a lower priced VOIP system ( or  Stop eating out.  Learn the sales patterns at your grocery store.  And, for the love of all that is good, use coupons!  Does your grocery store offer fuel points?  USE THEM!  All this gives you MORE MONEY to use to pay down your debts SOONER and the sooner you pay them off the LESS YOU PAY in interest over the course of the debt!  Stop using your credit cards unless it’s an emergency.

When that first, highest debt is paid off, take all the monthly money you WERE paying to that card and add it to what you’re already paying to the next highest card, until it’s paid off, then roll all that over to the next one, and so on, until all your debt is paid off.

Make sure your whole household is on board, ESPECIALLY your SPOUSE!  It makes all the difference in the world.  Make it a project that you’re both excited about (and you will be when you see your debt start to shrink)!

Good Luck!

Google+ (or Google Plus) First Impressions to Facebook’s new rival


Click here to follow me on Google+.

In case you’ve been living under a Rock, Google has launched a new social network called Google+ (or “Google Plus”).  It’s a direct rival to Facebook.  It’s in limited testing right now to only a limited number of people.  I was able to snag myself an account yesterday, and here are my initial impressions, coming from having used Facebook for many years now:

Also check out The Ultimate Collection of Google+ (Google Plus) How-To’s

First, let me say that I’m highly impressed with it.  Here are the topics I’ll cover in this post:

  • Security/Privacy
  • Look and feel
  • What does Google+ do that Facebook doesn’t?
  • What does Google+ do better than Facebook?
  • What does Facebook do better than Google+?
  • What does Facebook do that Google+ doesn’t?
  • What bugs does Google+ beta currently have?



Facebook has the wrong idea about protecting our privacy (in short, FB would prefer that all our data is public, and by default, on Facebook, it is!).  Google+ takes the approach of security FIRST.  Unlike Facebook, which changes their security layout every few months, and when they do that, random things you had secured in your settings becomes public again, and it’s a constant cat and mouse game between the users and Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has said, repeatedly that he prefers that all user data be public.

For example, when you log into Facebook, by just entering “” into your browser’s address bar, you get an unencrypted login page:


Notice how it’s “http://” and not “https://”?  (The “s” is missing, meaning it’s NOT a secure page!)  That means that Facebook won’t present you with a secured login page unless you specifically enter it in.  If you want to login to Facebook over a secure connection, you have to intentionally type “” into your browser’s address bar.  If you don’t do that, you will not get a secured connection to facebook.  Google+, on the other hand, when you type “” into your browser, you’re sent immediately to THIS secured page:


Notice, that it automatically goes to a secure page!  This is significant, especially if you’re on a free wireless network, like at Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, your hotel, the airport, or any other of the thousands upon thousands of free wifi hotspots, when you are on an unsecured page, anyone within range of that free wifi signal can capture everything you see, as well as everything you type, including your login name and password!  How close does someone have to be to your free wifi hotspot in order to capture all the data going over it?  If you think a few dozen yards, think again.  I, personally, have connected to wifi networks more than FOURTEEN MILES AWAY!  It’s VERY easy to do and I can GUARANTEE you that people are doing this at nearly every open wifi hotspot.  They’re honeypots for hackers.  If you use a free, wifi hotspot and you send data to or view unencrypted pages over that open network, you should expect that someone else now knows your login credentials.  With Google+, you don’t have to think about it.  No matter what, you’re on a secured page.

Security/Privacy: Who sees your posts?

On Facebook, when you post an update, everyone on your friends list sees it.  If you haven’t gone into the deep recesses of your security settings, not only do your Facebook friends see it, but so does anyone on the planet with an internet connection.  Again, Zuckerberg WANTS all your posts to be public.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that only people you’ve friended can see your posts.  Unless you’ve deliberately changed your security settings, your posts are public to the WHOLE INTERNET!

This is posted in the security settings in Facebook:

Information you’ve shared with everyone – as well as your name, profile picture, gender, networks, and username – could be seen by anyone on the internet. Please be aware that it will be visible to anyone viewing your profile, and apps and websites you and your friends use will be able to access it.

Facebook also has a feature, or so I’m told, that you can divide your friends into groups and each post you make can go to only friends in whatever group you choose.  Were you aware of that?  If so, do you even know how to do it?  99% (or more) of Facebook users either aren’t aware of that or don’t know how to use it.  I’ve looked, and looked again, and just looked again for this article, but I’m not sure how to create groups of friends.  I know there are public groups and the documentation on Facebook doesn’t clearly distinguish between the two.

In short, hardly anyone knows how to block their employers from seeing every post they make on facebook.  I prefer not to share my personal posts intended for my friends with my employer(s) or my work colleagues.  The relationship dynamics are drastically different.  For example, there’s no benefit at all for my employer or my colleagues at work to know my personal politics or the embarrassing and undignified positions we sometimes find ourselves in and tell our friends about it, nor do we want our employers seeing complaints we make to our friends about our work.  For that reason, I’ve not friended anyone from my employer on facebook.  The risk is just too high.

In Google+, you have what are called “Circles”. 


Circles are essentially groups where you can drag and drop your friends into.  Any friend can be in zero, one, or more circles.  When you make a post, right there, you have the ability to choose the circles of friends you want to see your post.  No one else will.  This completely opens up the option for me to start friending my coworkers and bosses.  Any post I make, I can easily post to just my friends, or my family, or my coworkers, or everyone in my “work” circle.


As you can see, from the image above, I’m on my home page of my Google+ account and am typing a post.  Right there, I choose which circles get to see it.  If I don’t want my employer to see it, I won’t include the group(s) that my employer(s) is/are in.  Try doing THAT with Facebook!  I didn’t even have to look up how to do it with Google+.  It’s just so blatantly obvious.  I’ve been on Facebook for 3 or so years and I STILL don’t know how to do it there, and I’m skeptical that it actually can be done there.

Look And Feel:

If you’ve used Facebook, you already know how to use Google+.  It looks remarkably similar.  Here’s my home page:


If someone didn’t know any better, they might think they’re looking at a Facebook home page.  My learning curve, so far, has been ZERO.  The first time I logged in, I just started using it.  So far, I haven’t had to search for finding out how to do anything.  There’s not a whole lot more that can be said for the look and feel.  It’s very intuitive, especially for experienced Facebookers.

What does Google+ do that Facebook doesn’t?

  • Easy management of your groups (circles) of friends.
  • Allows you to follow other people that aren’t your friends (like Twitter).
  • Allows you to make Twitter like posts.
  • All pages (including the login page) are always encrypted.
  • Group video chat.
  • Divide posts you follow into your circles.  In other words, you don’t see ALL posts on your home page.  Each circle has its own “stream” that you can view, independently, or choose “Incoming” to view them all at once (like Facebook’s only option).


What does Google+ do better than Facebook?

  • Security and Privacy, beyond the shadow of any doubt!
  • Controlling who sees your posts.
  • The whole experience is much more intuitive.
  • Integrates with many Google products, like Picasa (you link your Picasa account with your Google+ account and that’s where your photos go).


What does Facebook do better than Google+?

  • Apps and Games.  I’m not saying Google+ doesn’t do this, but it’s still in beta and to the best of my knowledge, there are no apps or games available yet.  That’s the only thing I can think of at the moment.


What does Facebook do that Google+ doesn’t?

  • Apps and games (maybe… again, I’m new to Google+, so maybe it has this ability).
  • Skype integration (just announced for Facebook), but Google+ does do video chatting, just not with Skype.

What bugs does Google+ beta currently have?

I don’t know them all, but here’s what I’ve experienced:

  • Some Chinese guy was already connected to me when my account was created.  I see his posts when I select “Incoming” under “Stream”.  They’re all written in Chinese and I have no idea who he is, what he’s saying, or why I see him, nor how to make him go away.  I don’t know if he can see my posts because he’s not in any of my circles, so this is really strange.

That’s the only bug I’ve experienced myself, so far.  Other bugs are being reported by tech writers and the Google+ team is working on them.  Remember, this is an early beta product.

My overall impressions:

I’m very happy and impressed with Google+.  It is the anti-Facebook.  Most everything it does, it does better than Facebook.  Security is, by far, my biggest complaint with Facebook.  Google+ is light years ahead of Facebook in that regard, and will continue to be so because Zuckerberg doesn’t believe in protecting your privacy.  Google, at the very least, has the appearance of wanting to protect your privacy and they’ve really excelled at giving you control over your privacy here.

I look forward to using Google+ and dropping Facebook.  I’d really like to friend my employer(s) and coworkers and with Google+, that becomes a reality.  It’s not feasible for me on Facebook.

What do YOU do now?

At the time of this writing, Google+ is on a limited trial, so not everyone can get in.

If you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image.  That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it.  You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.  I’d also appreciate you clicking the “+1” at the bottom of this post.

See this image? image_thumb26 

You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can quickly quickly get up and going with Google+.

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

If you do get an account, and you’ve got an Android device or an iOS device, there’s an app for it.

GMail Failures

Don’t get me wrong… GMail is great and all (especially considering its price), but it does have its problems and its shortcomings.  Here’s one problem I ran into last night while setting up Thunderbird 5.0 (a popular, free, Windows E-Mail program (Available for Linux and Mac too)).

What are the problems?

First Problem:  One message had errors:

I know this is a GMail problem for the following reasons:

  1. Other people have reported this that aren’t using Thunderbird.
  2. The E-Mail message in question could not even be loaded using just the GMail interface in the browser.

While downloading my E-Mail into my Thunderbird 5.0 for Windows client app via POP3, Thunderbird received this error from the GMail server:

The RETR command did not succeed. Error retrieving a message. Mail server responded: Unable to retrieve rfc822msgid:

The RETR command did not succeed. Error retrieving a message. Mail server responded: Unable to retrieve rfc822msgid:

Then refused to try downloading anymore E-Mail messages.  The fact that it refused to move beyond this error is Thunderbird’s fault (I think), but the error itself is GMail’s fault.

To check on whether or not this error was Thunderbird’s or GMail’s fault, I loaded up GMail in my browser and did a search on the msgid listed in the error (that was the only identifying piece of information Thunderbird gave me and this is information that’s normally hidden in the header).  Luckily, GMail’s search found it while I was using the browser UI (which means that GMail does look in the details of the message headers during a search… This is good!).  When it found the message, it listed it in the search results.  When I clicked on it, it showed me this:


I clicked on “Show Detailed Technical Info” and it revealed one more line of text, “Numeric Code: 54”:


Temporary Error (500)

We’re sorry, but your Gmail account is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.
If the issue persists, please visit the
Gmail Help Center »

Try Again Sign Out

Hide Detailed Technical Info

Numeric Code: 54

©2008 Google – Gmail Home – Privacy PolicyProgram PoliciesTerms of UseGoogle Home


I don’t know if it matters, but the message had an embedded image in it.  After about 5 or 10 minutes, the error went away and both the GMail web interface and more importantly, Thunderbird were able to process this message without any errors.  I was on the verge of deleting this message from within the GMail interface to allow Thunderbird to continue downloading.

Second Problem:  GMail only allows you to download each message twice via POP3.

I’ve been using Thunderbird for years.  In October 2010, I had a hard drive failure and when I installed a new drive and Windows, I didn’t install Thunderbird right away because I wanted my old e-mail in my new Thunderbird installation.  With a normal POP3 provider, I’d just Install Thunderbird and set up my account and download all my e-mail.  Unfortunately, since GMail puts limitations on how many times you can download a message via POP3, that wasn’t an option because some of the older messages had already been downloaded twice.  That means I‘d have to recover my Thunderbird profiles folder(s) from my old drive, which was preferable anyway, because I already had 4 e-mail accounts configured and nearly 120 message filters set up.  My old drive was very flaky.  It wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to get it running long enough to recover my e-mail from it.  Oh, and did I mention that it was backed up to Carbonite, but Carbonite DELETED 100% OF MY BACKUP DATA!?!?!?

Third Problem:  GMail reports a seemingly random number back to Thunderbird as to how many new messages there are.

I subscribe to several programming mailing lists and newsletters, so I get a LOT of e-mail.  Between October 2010 and now, we’re talking tens of thousands.  I also do a LOT of personal e-mailing too, so we’re talking thousands there too.  I’m not going to get into an argument about when e-mail should or shouldn’t be deleted here though, but I don’t delete anything, considering how cheap storage is, among plenty of other reasons.  (Note, that I get virtually zero spam.)

Last night when I hit the “Get Mail” button, it was reporting that only around 500 new messages were there and would proceed to download those messages.


As soon as it was done, I’d hit the “Get Mail” button again, and it’d report a random number (close to what it reported before… sometimes a little higher, sometimes a little lower) and proceed to download those messages.  I continued this for hours.  The trend in the random number was going down over time.  It got down to around 60 or so before I gave up and went to bed.

Now, this morning, it’s only downloading SIX messages at a time



and we’re only up to getting messages from early June (Today is July 10th).  I don’t know exactly how many there are, but there are orders of magnitude beyond six!  At this rate, I’ll NEVER get everything downloaded.  Closing and reopening Thunderbird doesn’t work.  This is a GMAIL problem.

Fourth Problem: You can’t do a POP3 download of your messages more than twice.

You’d think, “Well, why would you ever need to download it more than ONCE anyway?”.  For these reasons:

  1. Over time, you’re going to have more than one hard drive failure.  If you don’t have a backup, or your backup service provider (like Carbonite) screws you like there’s no tomorrow, you’re going to need to re-download your messages.
  2. You have several computers you use (home PC, notebook, work PC, maybe a 2nd home PC) that you’d like to use a client side E-Mail program on to access your E-Mail.

So, those are the major ones poking me in the eye right now.  I’m not recommending that you NOT use GMail.  It’s a GREAT service and provides some awesome features not available from other, free, E-Mail providers and if you use it right, you can virtually eliminate spam.  I’m not talking about Google’s SPAM filters either (which present a new problem I haven’t covered here).  Believe me when I say this:  In the past year, I’ve received fewer that TEN spam messages!  No, I’m not talking about 10 that slipped through GMail’s spam filter… I’m talking 10 TOTAL, whether or not GMail’s spam filter caught them (and, it did, BTW).

To take advantage of this ability to virtually eliminate spam using GMail, read this series of articles I wrote explaining how to do it.  It does take some change of your E-Mail practices, but it totally works!

  1. How to Stop SPAM: Basic Tips

  2. How to Stop SPAM: Advanced Tips

  3. How to Stop SPAM: Expert Tips


Things you should NOT do in response to this suggestion from Google:;=en

  1. Disable POP3 via the GMail interface, then turn it back on.

    • Why not?  Because this will reset GMail’s counter of the last message you downloaded.  Next time you download, you’ll start all over again, and you’ll have TWO OF EVERYTHING, and will NOT get any further ahead, and in fact, will be even FURTHER BEHIND THAN WHEN YOU STARTED!  I made the mistake of doing this, so trust me when I tell you, THIS IS NOT DESIRABLE!

  2. Set your client to delete messages on the server.

    • Why not?  Well, if you’re OK with losing them on the server, then go right ahead.  This means you’ll no longer be able to search them with GMail’s web interface nor see them from that interface.  The only copy of them will be on your local hard drive.
    • There’s theoretically a server setting to keep messages on the server, even after a delete request from a POP3 client, but I couldn’t find it in the settings.  The closest thing I found was on forwarding messages to keep the old ones, but nothing about keeping messages even after a delete command is issued.

  3. Set GMail’s POP3 to only download NEW messages posted AFTER you activate the setting.

    • Why not?  Because you’ll never get the message that were posted before then, but after the most recent one you’ve successfully downloaded.  You’ll have a large time gap on your local messages.

[Update 2011-07-12]

A couple days ago I followed one of the suggestions in the Google recommendations above under my warning… I changed the setting to download only items new after the change, then changed it back, and it reset my counter and when Thunderbird requested new mail, GMail started sending mail starting way back from 2008.  I figured, fine, I’ll let it run for a few days and I’ll delete the duplicates.

NO LUCK!  As of last night, GMail has been reporting “NO NEW MAIL!” and Thunderbird’s latest downloaded e-mail message it retrieved last night before GMail stopped sending was 8/9/2010!  That means, there’s no NO WAY for me to download any e-mail between then and now.

I have one last option.  Reset the counter on GMail to start downloading all again, and in Thunderbird, tell it to NOT keep messages on the server, while telling GMail, ignore that command.  Theoretically, this will let Thunderbird download via POP3, send delete command to GMail, which should NOT delete them, but will reset the counter of the last downloaded message.  I’ve already got it going and so far the first message I tested was successfully downloaded and NOT deleted from my GMail account.

Of course, now I’m getting a THIRD copy of everything going back to 2008.

Now, in about a week, I should have all my E-Mail downloaded locally.  Jeesh!  What a pain! DISASTER! Why you shouldn’t trust them!

[Update] I received this post, supposedly from a Carbonite rep, but I contacted carbonite and the 2 e-mail addresses he gave me are not recognized as any of their employees, nor is his name:

Hello, I’m sorry to hear about the negative experience you had with your Carbonite account. I work with Carbonite and would like to talk with you when you have a second, so that we can try our best to correct this problem.  You can reach me at or

Dave, if you are truly a Carbonite representative, please contact me again, but via a verifiable channel.  I’m judging your contact as a scam otherwise.

I’ve been using for 2 or 3 years now.  I’d been recommending them, strongly, during that time.  I’ve even been saved, TWICE with their service.  But, I’m reversing my recommendation today to “AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS”.  Here’s why:

My last hard drive failure happened sometime around October 2010.  Instead of one of my extra drives, it was my boot drive that failed PLUS an extra drive.  It had e-mail archives, all my music files, an encrypted volume using TrueCrypt, and I think some source code.  It also had the documents for my son’s Cub Scout’s pack popcorn sale, for which I was the one responsible for managing the whole thing for the pack.  I was able to log onto Carbonite’s web sit into my account and retrieve the popcorn files I needed to complete the season’s popcorn sales.  I didn’t need the entire drives’ contents right away, so I set the bad drives aside, and felt comfortable with my data being held in a locked backup on

I bought a new hard drive, installed Windows, recovered what I could directly from the drive (which was very little) before the drive died completely.  I couldn’t begin my carbonite restore process because of the way their restore process works.  I had about 5 or so hard drives backed up to and to do a proper restore, I had to have the same physical drive letters available on my system as what was aware of, or else a 30 day timer would start and anything I didn’t get recovered would be deleted on their end.  This takes time and effort, time which I didn’t really have.

Well, I had ANOTHER drive failure just recently (Late June 2011).  I figured it was time to get my system back in shape and get it configured the way needed it so I could begin the restore process and also get back to being backed up again, since it hasen’t been backing me up since October 2010 because it was in a suspended state to not lose my already backed up data from the bad drives.  (If you turn on normal backup operations, deletes files that you had backed up if they’re not on your local system for 30 days).

So, I logged into my account yesterday to pick a few files I desperately needed and low and behold, ALL OF MY DATA WAS DELETED!  It turns out, my auto-renewing credit card was never renewed, NOR was I sent any e-mail notifications that they were having trouble renewing my account!  In May, my account was ended, and 30 days later (14 days ago), they DELETED MY ENTIRE 110GB OF BACKED UP DATA!


Here are other problems with the service:

  1. When you restore your data, you’re capped at 1mb/s.  If you have a lot of data, it can take WEEKS to restore it!
  2. When restoring your data, if you’re not done in 30 days, anything not restored IS DELETED from their end!
  3. Browsing your backup with a web browser is broken!  Not all of your files are accessible via the web browser.  They know this is broken, but they don’t seem to have any intention of fixing it.  This means, there are lots of files that can only be recovered via a FULL RESTORE!
  4. Apparently, their auto-renew service is broken.
  5. Apparently, their notification system to let you know your account is about to expire is broken.
  6. Apparently, their notification system to let you know your account is expired and your data will be deleted in 30 days is broken.
  7. Apparently, their notification system to let you know your data is about to be deleted is broken (or non-existent).

So, save yourself (and your data) by not trusting your important data to

Other services to consider.  Note that I’ve not tried any of these yet, so I have no opinion, but I thought I should at least offer some alternatives:

This site has a fairly comprehensive list of services: