Anonymity and Privacy disappearing in all Google products!

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Many of you have already heard about the anonymity and pseudonym crisis going on with the new Google+ social network service.  Googler’s had solace in the fact that at least they could create GMail accounts with anonymity.

NOT SO ANYMORE!

Check out these screen shots for creating a new GMail account.  It used to be that the First Name and Last Name fields were NOT required.  Now they’re required and this happened only in the last week or two.

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Not only do you have to enter a first and last name, but now you have to give them your phone number too!  This removes just about any possibility of plausible deniability if you’re a whistle blower for a big company, a political dissident, etc…

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This is starting to get out of hand.  It’s been stated numerous times all the legitimate reasons people (normal, every day people) need anonymity, not to even mention the life saving reasons people in oppressed countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, etc… need to protect their identities while still being able to communicate with the outside world.  Whistleblowers, battered wives, abused children, even people with minor to major celebrity status, people with a JOB that’d like to express their political opinions without being punished by their supervisors or bosses who may happen to disagree or to avoid receiving ridicule from their coworkers.  The list goes on and on.

Detractors in favor of the real names policy have been saying (Including Eric Schmidt himself), if you need anonymity, then Google+ is not the service for you.  He said that in response to a question someone threw at him in an recent open Q&A.;  Part of the response was that Google+ was first created as an identity service.

Well, that may have been (“have been” being the key phrase there… PAST TENSE).  It’s NOT that today.  Today, it’s a social network that competes head on with Facebook.  The Google+ social service can easily be separated from the “profile” service… THAT’S the service where the real names identity is enforced.  In fact, they already ARE separate entities (Google+ and the profile).  This is because you have a Google account (which lets you access all your Google services like GMail, docs, picasa, YouTube, Google+, Google Voice, etc…).  The profile is an addendum to your Google Account.  Your profile can be “suspended” without you losing access to your Google Services like GMail, docs, etc…  There’s absolutely no reason why Google+ can’t be (or isn’t already) just another Google service.

If Google wants an identity service, then, by all means, make one, if the profile service isn’t already that service (and I declare that it IS).  But let the battered wives, the political dissidents, the job hunters, the sexual crime victims, the people with embarrassing health issues, et. al. have the ability to interact with the outside world without having to reveal their real names!  Let them maintain their privacy!

Here’s a list of arguments FOR the real names policy and why those arguments are wrong:

  • If you don’t want to use your real name, don’t use G+.
    • That is, of course, an option, but If Google achieves what they want with G+ (to defeat Facebook), then where is one to go if all your community is on G+?  It’s been demonstrated time and again that only 1 social network can exist as everyone moves to where their friends are.  Remember MySpace? and that other one I can’t even recall the name of that was once “THE social network”?  When a large (VERY LARGE) company, such as Google, becomes a centralized service that hundreds of millions of people depend on, their moral responsibility shifts.  They have a social responsibility too.  Google admits as such with their motto, “Do no evil”.  Well, how is telling a 12 year old incest rape victim that she either has to reveal her real name or go somewhere else NOT evil?
  • Or just simply change your last name to Smith or something. (stated by the same person that made the above remark).
    • If you support the real names policy, then you can’t support this activity.  And if you think this is a solution (which, obviously, people will certainly do), then what’s the point of the real names policy if it can so easily be defeated?
  • He’s got a point (referring to Schmidt’s response). Nobody’s forcing you to use G+. If you don’t like the policy, there are plenty other social contact services (Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo! Pulse, LinkedIn) that you’re welcome to go to.
    • See my response to the first bullet.  Besides… “Yahoo! Pulse”?  Who’s ever heard of that?
  • Exactly, in much the same way as you will never please everyone. If they allowed pseudonyms then there would be just as many people that were unhappy about that.
    • I seriously doubt it.  Here’s why:  On G+, you choose who you follow.  So what if there’s a “Darth Vadar” user?  If you don’t want to follow that person, then simply DON’T.  Nobody’s forcing you to and I doubt you’d even know that person even existed on G+.  You know the people you want to follow.  Just do it.  And don’t follow the people you DON’T want to.  It really is that simple.
  • The problem with pseudonyms is that we’d run into the Facebook problem. 750m names spread over half that number of people.
    • Refer to the pro real names comment above stating “Or just simply change your last name to Smith or something”.  Also, Facebook also has a real names policy, so you’ll get the same effect on G+.
  • In this case I agree with Eric Schmidt. Use your real name and identity and take responsibility for what you write.
    • Really?  So a battered wife should have to reveal her REAL NAME online when seeking support?  A 12 year old rape victim (raped by a family member) should have to reveal her REAL NAME online when seeking support and help?  A drug addict who’s seeking help should have to reveal their REAL NAME so their employer can find out?  An Iranian, Afghan, or Chinese civilian should have to reveal their real name when they’re reporting on atrocities by their own government?  Pardon my French, and I’ve NEVER used this language in ANY of my posts until now (look at them going back many years), but HOW F%$#@!NG STUPID DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO MAKE THAT KIND OF A STATEMENT?!?!?!?!?
  • Aside from a few name glitches, what is the big deal here?
    • See my response just above.
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Kodak engaging in MORE unethical behavior

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Kodak receives another Hall of Shame award:

When I signed up with Kodak’s e-mail offers, it was immediate, as would be expected.  When I just unsubscribed, they falsely claimed it’d take 7-10 days to “process” my request. 

Click here to follow me on Google+.

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Seriously Kodak! Do you think there’s anybody on the planet who’s got enough brain cells to operate a web browser and e-mail who doesn’t get that you’re intentionally delaying the request? Everyone knows this is 100% automated. When we signed up, it was a simple and immediate insert into a database record that took a millisecond and we received e-mail within a second or two to confirm it (or just received our first newsletter immediately). Removing us from the subscription is a simple modification or deletion of that same record.

BTW, side note:  Here’s a good alternative to Kodak’s All-In-One printers with falsely advertised “cheapest ink” line (like their ESP 3250):

In order for this unsubscribe request to be delayed, you (Kodak) actually have to put extra effort into it.  You have to write and deploy code that records the request, but NOT ACT ON IT RIGHT THEN!  Then you have to write another program that queries your e-mail database for unsubscribe requests to finally act on it days later.  Then, you also have to do some finagling with your software schedulers to make that unsubscribe program run at specific times of day to do the intentionally delayed usubscribing.  In reality, it’s a HECK of a LOT easier to update the e-mail record at the moment the user clicks the unsubscribe link, just as you did when they originally subscribed.  How do I know this?  Because I’ve been programming since 1982.  Any programmer will tell you the same thing.

Do you (Kodak) actually believe that there’s anyone that doesn’t understand that you’re refusing to comply with our usubscribe requests for 10 days?

This gets you the hall of shame award for 3 reasons:

  1. For believing that any of us are naive enough, in this day and age, to believe that it takes 7-10 days to unsubscribe us from your spam database… as if you’ve got some clerk working a full time job, running around the office with pencil and paper making this happen!
  2. For presenting a bold face lie.
  3. For intentionally delaying our request to not receive anymore of your spam.

Here’s what I did, and I encourage everyone else to start doing this too:

  1. How to Stop SPAM:  Basic Tips
  2. How to Stop SPAM:  Advanced Tips
  3. How to Stop SPAM:  Expert Tips

I had an e-mail address that I only gave to Kodak.  No one else in the world knew what it was.  Whenever I receive e-mail on it, I know who sent it, not because of their from address, but because of my to address.  No one but Kodak should be sending me E-Mail on that address because no one but Kodak knows about it.  So, if I start getting spam from someone else, I’d know that Kodak was responsible for leaking the address.

Also, now that I’ve unsubscribed, I’ve turned off that address and it now gets forwarded to a special address where all my unsubscribed e-mail goes to… a REJECTED address who’s sole purpose in life is to reply with a “vacation responder” that they sent mail to a disabled or nonexistent address and I provide a link to a contact form (which filters out e-mail addresses and URLs, sends a confirmation e-mail message to the person requesting contact, then, after they confirm their e-mail address is real, it finally sends a a message to me, giving me the details of their contact request).

Kodak’s spam that is inevitably coming multiple times between now and the end of the 7-10 day window of self-declared immunity to my request, now gets tossed to that REJECTED address.

Shame on you Kodak!

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”.

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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!

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Free Voice calls from your cell phone

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If you’re tired of outrageous fees for minutes on your cell phone, read on, I can tell you how to get you on your carrier’s cheapest plan and get unlimited minutes.  Read on…

 

Let me clarify:  After this, you’ll STILL have to pay a monthly fee to your cell phone provider.  This article instructs you how to make calls without using up your plans’ minutes!  Everyone clear on that?  Good.  Now, let’s get started!

What you’ll need:

Option 1:

  • A cell phone with the minimum plan that supports a “friends and family” or “faves” plan that let’s you add 1 or more phone numbers as always free calls to or from that (or those) number(s).
  • A free Google Voice account with a free telephone number.

Option 2 (doesn’t require friends and family plan):

 

How?

Instructions if you don’t have an Android or an iPhone (skip ahead to the “Android or iPhone” instructions if you have an Android phone):

Regular cell phone (NOT an Android and NOT an iPhone) (least preferable, but this still works):

  1. Call your cell phone service provider (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc…) and ask them if they have a “friends and family” type service (different carriers call it different things.  Verizon calls it “friends and family”, T-Mobile calls it “My Faves”, and others may have different names and not all of them have it).  This service lets you set up one or more telephone numbers as always free calls.  This is so you can add your Mom or whomever you call most and those calls (either incoming or outgoing) will never use up your bank of allowed minutes.
    1. If you cell provider doesn’t offer this, stop now because this won’t work for you, unless you upgrade to an Android phone, then you can skip to the “Android Only Phone” instructions below.
    2. If your provider DOES offer this, you’ll need to add your Google Voice number to the plan (continue reading these steps for instructions on acquiring a free Google Voice number).
  2. Go to http://voice.google.com and either log into it with your existing Google account (if you have a GMail account, you have one) or create a new one.
  3. You’ll be prompted for a new phone number.  Follow the instructions and pick a phone number in the area code you prefer and pick a number you like.  If you have family in a different area code than your cell phone currently is, maybe choose a number in THEIR area code so they can call you free of charge to THEM.
  4. You will be prompted to have calls to that number forwarded to your cell phone.  Go ahead and enter your cell phone number.
    1. When prompted if you want to use Google Voice to replace your carrier’s voice-mail, I recommend to do this, but it’s not necessary for this free calls tutorial.
  5. Now, configure GV (Google Voice) to show YOUR Google Voice # instead of the incoming caller’s caller ID (this makes all incoming calls FREE via your “Friends and Family plan”)
    1. Click on the gears icon menu in the upper right of the web page (not your Browser’s wrench menu, which on Chrome, is just above the GV gears menu) and choose “Voice settings”.
      1. image
    2. Click the “Calls” tab, then select “Display my Google Voice number” by “Caller ID (incoming)”, then check the global spam filter, then click “Save changes”:
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      2. The other settings can be set to anything you like.
  6. Set you PIN (Personal Identification Number):
    1. Click on the “Voicemail & Text” tab.
    2. By the “Voicemail PIN” label, enter your PIN in both fields.
    3. Click “Save changes”
      1. image
  7. Now, call your cell phone provider (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc…) and add your new Google Voice number to your “Friends and Family” plan (or the equivalent plan with your carrier).  Note that you MAY have to upgrade to a more expensive plan to get this if you’re on T-Mobile’s cheapest plan.  This will NOT be worth it if you never go over your minutes.  If you’d LIKE to have more minutes and not worry about it, then upgrading might be a good option.  You’ll have to weigh it yourself.
    1. I recommend you do NOT tell them that this is your Google voice number.  If they ask for a name to be associate with the number, just say “Home” or make something up.  That name is just for your reference later so you know who that number’s for.  Just don’t say “Google Voice”!
  8. Tell everyone you’ve changed your cell phone #.  Give them your new Google Voice #.
  9. When you make outgoing calls:
    1. Call your Google Voice # (this is necessary so that your carrier sees this outgoing call as one going to one of your “Friends and Family” numbers, making it a FREE CALL.
    2. When you hear the v-mail greeting, dial *.
    3. Enter your PIN (the one you created in step 6 above).
      1. Next, if you have new voicemail messages, you’ll have to either listen to them or hit 7 on each to mark as “read” (you can listen to them later via your phone or with your web browser).
    4. Enter 2 to place a call, then follow the instructions.

This, obviously, adds extra steps and time to making outgoing calls, BUT THEY’RE FREE!  For incoming calls, you lose the caller ID information because it’ll always show your Google Voice #, BUT THEY’RE FREE!

 

Android or iPhone

If you have an Android or iPhone, this next set of instructions works better than the instructions above for non smartphones.  There’s an even better option for Android only phones.  For that, skip ahead to the “Android Only” section.

Follow instructions 1-8 above, but forget about step #9 above.  Since you’ve got an Android or iPhone (and I think this works for Blackberries too), do this:

  1. For Android, download GVMyNumber.  For iPhone, download this app.
    1. Why not use the official Google Voice app for Android?  Because it may not call the same number every time, making calls OUTSIDE of your FREE friends and family list!  This is probably a problem on iPhone too.  There may be an iPhone app like GVMyNumber that always calls your OWN Google Voice number.  If anyone knows of one, please leave comments at the bottom for our iPhone users.
  2. For GVMyNumber:
    1. Start the app and tap “Settings”.
    2. Tap “Google Voice Number” and enter your Google Voice Number, then “OK”.
    3. Tap “Google Voice PIN” and enter your PIN that you create in step 6 above, then “OK”.
    4. Now, when you place a call, you’ll be prompted if you want to use GVMyNumber or not.  If you’re calling during prime time and to a number not on your friends and family list AND not to a number that fits your carriers free numbers, let the app take over.  The call will take a little longer to go through because it’s going to call your GV number, enter your PIN, go through the menu and such to make your call, BUT IT’S FREE!

 

Android Only

If you have an Android phone, this may be the preferred method.  Note, however, that you can use THIS method as well as the method above in the “Android and iPhone” section.  I recommend installing GVMyVoice regardless.

What’s different about THIS set of instructions?  All the sections above make and receive calls via your cell providers voice calls.  Your cell provider is aware of the phone calls (maybe not the final destination).  They appear to your cell provider as a call to or from your GV phone number and they DO use your plans minutes UNLESS you have your GV # on your “Friends and Family” plan.  Your cell provider will log the call(s) and probably show them to you on your bill as minutes accumulated on your free calls.

THIS set of instructions doesn’t use your cell providers voice service AT ALL.  As far as your cell provider is concerned, with THIS set of instructions, you never place or receive call.  This is because you’re using your DATA PLAN instead.  These are VOIP (Voice Over IP (Internet Protocol)) calls.  In other words, it’s as if you’re using voice chat from one PC to another over the internet.  You’re not using the phone systems at all.  It’s all internet traffic as far as your cell provider is concerned.

Here’s now:
  1. Go to http://voice.google.com and either log into it with your existing Google account (if you have a GMail account, you have one) or create a new one.
  2. You’ll be prompted for a new phone number. Follow the instructions and pick a phone number in the area code you prefer and pick a number you like. If you have family in a different area code than your cell phone currently is, maybe choose a number in THEIR area code so they can call you free of charge to THEM.
  3. You will be prompted to have calls to that number forwarded to your cell phone.  DON’T DO THIS!
  4. Open the gears menu in the upper-right and choose “Voice Settings”
    1. image
  5. Click on the “Phones” tab, then uncheck everything except “Google chat”.  Make sure “Google chat” is checked.
    1. image
  6. Install the app Groove IP from the Android Market.  This app is not free, but for a one time fee of $4.99, it’s well worth it for unlimited free calls to and from your cell for life!
  7. Open the app, open the menu, and choose “Settings”.
  8. Tap on “User name” and enter your Google Voice account name that you use to log into your Google Voice account, then “OK”.
  9. Tap “Password” and enter your Google Voice account password that you use to log into your Google Voice account, then “OK”.
  10. Check ON “Allow 3G/4G calling”.  Read the notes on that option and decide if you really want this.  Almost certainly you DO!
  11. “Accept calls on answer”:  I recommend leaving this UNCHECKED so you can screen your incoming calls.
  12. Tap “Built in dialer preference”.  I recommend choosing “Ask every call”.  When you place a call using your phones standard dialer, Groove IP will intercept and ask if you want to use Groove IP for the call or let the call go through as a regular cell phone call that your carrier will handle.  If the call you’re making would be a free call through your carrier (nights and weekends or someone on your friends and family list, or with some carriers, calls to any mobile, or calls to other mobile users with the same carrier), you’ll want the call to be handled by your carrier.  It is more reliable and usually slightly better quality.
  13. Tap on “Call Filtering”.
    1. Tap “Exclusion Numbers”.  You’ll set up a list of number that should never use Groove IP for calls… Any phone number that’s always free, you should just call it normally without using Groove IP, especially other cell phones on your account (your spouses, your kids, on your same plan are almost always free calls).  In addition, if you REALLY want your other numbers on your plan excluded from Groove IP because even though it may be free for you to call them with Groove IP, it’s probably NOT free for them to RECEIVE them, because they’ll be receiving a call from your Google Voice #, NOT YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER!, so your provider will NOT consider it a free call ON THEIR END!
      1. Enter all the phone numbers that are always free from your regular cell phone.  Separate each phone number with a comma.  Make sure you enter the area codes on all of them too.  Tap “OK” when done.
  14. Go back to the Groove IP main menu and scroll down to the bottom and tap “Miscellaneous”.
    1. Check ON “Autostart” so that this app starts when you power on your phone.

That’s it.  Feel free to peruse the other options on Groove IP and fix to your likings.

Now, when you place calls, you can either use your phone’s standard dialer or open the Groove IP app and dial from there.  If you use the Groove IP dialer, you won’t be prompted if you want to use your cell provider for the call.  All calls will go over the internet as VOIP calls, except for those numbers in your exclusion list.

Incoming calls (as long as the person calling you dialed your Google Voice number and NOT your cell phone number) will trigger Groove IP to ring your phone.  You’ll answer the call with the Groove IP app (which will already be up, front, and center when an incoming Google voice call arrives).

Note that if someone calls your REAL cell phone number, your cell phone will ring normally and when you answer, it’s a NORMAL call that consumes minutes per your contract plan.  Incoming calls will NOT be free unless they’re to your Google Voice number.

Be sure to tell everyone (except those whose incoming calls are free anyway, like your spouse and kids on the same plan) that you’ve changed your cell phone number.  Give them your new Google Voice number.

Congrats!  You’re done!  And all of your incoming and outgoing cell phone calls should be ABSOLUTELY FREE! with the obvious exception of people calling your cell phone number instead of your Google Voice number.  You can easily just let those go to voicemail, then call them back with Groove IP and give them your new number so they’ll stop calling your old one that costs you money.

Caution!:

Since these are INTERNET based calls, the quality can be crappy sometimes.  In those cases, you can either wait until you’re in a wireless LAN spot, a 3G or better spot, or if it’s important that you make the call right then, just make a regular call and use up your minutes.  You should have an ample supply of minutes every month with your carrier’s cheapest plan though since the vast majority of your calls will be over the internet.

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 printer scam.

Check back later for updates too

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.

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck!

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Don’t Buy Kodak ESP-3250 Printer

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Don’t buy those Kodak printers that claim they have the cheapest ink.  I made that mistake and now I’m paying for it.  I presume all current production Kodak printers do this now too.

Here’s why:

I don’t print in color, except in very very rare occasions.  I almost always tell it to print in draft and black and white only.

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My black ink cartridge that came with the printer ran out of ink shortly after I bought the printer and I’ve been running on a full sized replacement since then that I had to buy separately.  I’ve not replaced the introductory color cartridge because I have no need for it.

When I just now tried to print a document, using the settings shown above, I got this error:

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Notice, the ONLY option is to “Cancel Printing”.

On the printer, I get this:

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(Error  Color ink cartridge needs replacing. Press OK. (Error code 3508)

If I press OK, it moves the print heads to where I can pull them out, but won’t print.

If I press the “Cancel” button on the printer, it just cancels the print job.

If I remove the color cartridge, then put it back in, it KNOWS it’s still empty and behaves the same way.

I contacted Kodak support via chat.  The final results from the tech support agent are:

  1. Even when you explicitly image tell it to use only black ink, it still uses color ink for the “grays”.
  2. There’s NO WAY to tell it to use JUST black ink.
  3. There’s NO WAY to make it print, at all, even if you’re just printing black, have PLENTY of black ink image, but ONE of your 5 color wells is empty.

So, my options are:

  1. Buy ink I don’t need and don’t want, throwing out probably about 90% of the original color ink that’s STILL IN THE CARTRIDGE in the color wells that were never used.
  2. Toss this POS and buy ink for one of my shelved printers that actually WILL print, even if the color is out, and heck, even if the black is out too… at least it’ll attempt it.
  3. Hack this oversized paperweight to trick it into thinking it’s got a full color cartridge.

On a related note, check back later for an article on how to hack your Kodak ESP 3250! Winking smile

BTW, Kodak’s main selling point of this line of printers is that they’ve got the cheapest ink, which is a lie.  I found ink just as cheap for other printers.

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Here are TODAY’s prices for color ink at WalMart:

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And, BTW, ink for inkjet printers is more expensive per gram than PLATINUM!  I have an acquaintance that actually cracked open one, weighed the ink, and was able to determine that by weight, the ink is considerably more expensive than an equivalent amount of platinum.

According to WolframAlpha, the current price of platinum is $1,716 per troy ounce.  Hmmm…  My acquaintance made the measurement about 5 years ago, and it looks like the price was about $1,100/oz then.  Maybe… just Maybe, platinum has become more expensive than printer ink… not quite sure.

image

[Update]  After I posted this I started searching for “kodak esp 3250 scam” and I found other people reporting the same thing, and worse:

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.
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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 printer scam.

Check back later for updates too

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck!

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Google+, Facebook, & Twitter: Be careful what you say!

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imageClick here to follow me on Google+.
I can’t believe some of the things people post publicly on these social networks!  It’s incredibly important to understand that every time you post something negative about your job, a friend, or someone important to you, there’s a chance that they may find it.  That chance is probably much higher than most people think.  For example, here are some things that strangers to me have said that I have access to (and if I have access to it, you can bet your bottom dollar that their EMPLOYER has access to it!):
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The above comment disappeared shortly after I made that comment.  Good for that person for taking it down.
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This person, has on his public profile, “Complain about my job”!!!

image

Above is an example of a more safe post.  Note that it was NOT posted to public, but I was in the circle that it was posted to and this parent and I have never met, but now, I know where their kids go to school, that they’re girls, and the exact GPS coordinates of the school.  When I commented on her post, she seemed to have gotten a little miffed at me and a little insulted.  I wish that hadn’t happened, but, if it helps with her kids’ safety, then it’s well worth getting someone a little miffed at me.

While prepping for this article, I also discovered that posts that were either never private, or were public at one time, then removed, still linger in the cloud.  I did a Google search for instances of “hate my job” on Google+ and found a LOT.  Here are the first 3 results:
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The first one didn’t exist on the user’s public profile anymore (or might never have), but they’re available in a Google search result.  I did report this to Google.
Here’s another search for “I hate my boss” on just Google+!
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So, the moral of this story is, don’t post anything about anyone you wouldn’t say to their face, because chances are, that comment will never go away and they’ll eventually become aware of it.  You can ruin relationships and lose your job.  So please, use some common sense and be careful people!  This is NOT the economy you need to be looking for a new job in.

Don’t expose yourself or your kids to danger!

Another incredibly dangerous thing I’ve already seen plenty of people do on Google+ do is post that they’re “dropping the kids off”, while at the same time, doing a “check in”, which posts your EXACT LOCATION.
What you’ve essentially done is said,
“Hey internet predator pedophiles, I have kids and I just dropped them off at this EXACT location.  And guess what else?  I’m leaving, so I’m not there to protect them!”
Seriously folks, NEVER post your location publicly unless there’s a very very good reason to do so.
Other things you should be aware of:

  • If you’re going to post photos, make sure you remove the geo-location stored in them before posting.  Posting pictures of your kids opening presents on Christmas morning?  Guess what, if you have geo-location enabled on your camera and you post the pictures where they’re available publicly, you’ve just shown internet pedophiles what your kids look like and exactly where they live!
  • NEVER Announce that you’re going on vacation.  That’s the same as saying, “I’m leaving my home and all it’s belongings unguarded beginning on this date and ending on that date, so if you want to break in and steal my stuff, that’s the best time to do it!”
  • Don’t “check in” to cool places when you’re on vacation.  Again, you’re announcing that you’re far from home.  People can either deduce that your house is empty or that your wife and kids don’t have you around for protection.
  • Don’t post photos or make ANY MENTION of the vacation you’re on UNTIL YOU GET BACK!  There’s no need to let potential thieves know you’re not home.  Your vacation photos and stories can wait until you get back.  A lot of thieves say it’s easier to steal from people they know, so they just wait for them to announce they’re going out of town, then they “go to town” on your stuff.
  • Don’t make a habit of “checking in” with any of the mobile software for any service.  You could get caught up in a lie with your boss, your girl/boy friend, or your spouse.  You could also reveal a pattern that people could use against you in any number of ways.  People don’t need to know where you are and you need for them to NOT know.
  • Don’t talk about your home or auto security systems.  Nobody needs to know that UNLESS they’re planning to break in and steal your stuff.  You NEED for everyone to NOT KNOW ANYTHING about your security system(s).
  • Don’t post something unless you’re putting restrictions on who can see it.  It’s rare that you need to post publicly.  If you DO post something publicly, by all means, think of how your boss, your coworkers, your parents, your grandparents, your aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, kids, teachers, students, clergy, and potential employers would take it.
  • Be mindful of the kids that may be following you on all of the social networks you post to.  Don’t talk about college drunken parties when your kids or nieces or nephews may be reading (or your boss, or your parents, or your aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, scout leaders, church patrons, etc…) could be reading your posts.

In short, be aware of who has access to your posts now and at all points in the future up to and beyond your (hopefully distant) death.  Use common sense!
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!

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Major Google+ Security Flaw!

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imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

I was going to write an article about using common sense when posting comments on your Google+ account (and I still may do that), but I discovered something much worse!  Google is exposing your PRIVATE comments to the public internet!

Here’s how:

While doing some research for my article, I did a special kind of Google search to search Google+ for certain phrases that could get you in trouble at work.  I found plenty, but the first one I found, when I clicked on the link, it took me to the person’s G+ profile page and THERE WERE NO PUBLIC COMMENTS!

Here’s a snippet of what I found with my Google search.  The names and links of the “innocent” have been obfuscated:

image

The very first result is the one I was going to to get a snipped to paste into my article, but when I got to that person’s page, there were NO posts at all.  This tells me one of two things happened:

  1. They posted it as public, but have since deleted it.
  2. It was never public and Google is indexing NON-PUBLIC posts!

It doesn’t matter which of those has happened.  It’s a security breach that Google needs to fix pronto.

So, obviously, BE FREAKING CAREFUL WHEN YOU POST!  Just because you think it’s a place your employer, your spouse, or your X can’t get too, think again!  Just don’t post anything that could get you in trouble.  Use some common sense and don’t be under the false impression that it’s secure.

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!

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Help encourage your Facebook friends to join Google+

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imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

Let’s face it, no matter how good a Social Network’s technology is, it’s useless to you if no one you know is using it.  Fortunately, Google+ is growing faster than any other Social Network, and that’s while it’s still in invitation only mode.  Just look at these highly accurate numbers (they must be highly accurate, because I pulled them from some stranger’s post on the internet with no references! Smile

Days required to reach 10 million users for the following social network.

Social Network Days
Facebook 852
Twitter 780
Google+ 16*

[*Google+ required invitation to join]

Here are some things you can do to get your friends over:

  1. Send them an invite, of course.
  2. Post your content to G+ and paste links to your G+ post on other networks, instead of posting directly to the content.  For example, if you post a link to a youtube video to G+, get a link to your G+ post (This only works with posts you’ve made Public):
    • image
    • That opens the post in it’s own browser window or tab.  Copy the URL:
    • image
    • Then, on Facebook:
    • image
    • Paste the link:
    • image
    • Click “Attach”, Type a description if there isn’t already one, Then click “Share”:
    • image
    • Now, after they click your FB post, but they’ll be on the G+ website:
    • image
  3. A lot of people still haven’t heard of G+, so you can send them a link to this:
  4. Some people will ask what can it do that Facebook doesn’t.  Send them a link to this:
  5. Let them know it’s more secure:
    1. All pages are encrypted by default.  In fact, there’s no way to load a G+ page without it being unencrypted.  FB tries hard to send you unencrypted pages, including the login page.
    2. You have control over who sees your posts with Circles.
    3. Facebook tries to make everything you do public by default and every few months, they keep changing the security and privacy user interface and when they do, they also undo your settings, making things public again.
  6. Facebook won’t let you export your contact data easily.  G+ has a “data liberation” page where it will zip up all your contacts, posts, & photos for you to download and do with as you wish:

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!

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Getting Started with Google+ (Google Plus)

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imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

OK, I’ve written a bunch of articles on Google+, but I’ve not written just a general, getting started one, so here it is…

In this article:

  • What IS Google+?
  • What can you DO with Google+?
  • How do I get a Google+ account?
  • How is Google+ different from Facebook?
  • I’ve got a new G+ account, now what?

 

What IS Google+?

Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not exactly like Facebook, but it’s very similar.  It’s not a whole lot like Twitter, but it shares some common concepts.  Google+ is a social network that combines features of Facebook and Twitter into one experience.  Please see my article for Facebookers here.

 

What can you DO with Google+?

You can:

  • Create and maintain your profile (photo, name, birthdate, hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc…)
  • Post content (like status updates on FB or tweets on Twitter).
  • Follow other people (like following on twitter).
  • Divide your friends up into circles of your own choosing.
  • –==>>** Choose who sees each of your posts by selecting the circles and/or users that can see it!!! **<<==--
    • This is a KEY, differentiating feature of G+!  Don’t underestimate this easy to use, yet extremely powerful and game changing feature!
  • View posts from anyone you’re following in your “stream” (like Facebook’s newsfeed).
  • View posts from only people in one of your circles that you’ve created.
  • View posts from people that are following YOU, but that you’re NOT following back.
  • View posts from people that are currently nearby you, geographically, whether either of you are following each other (mobile app only).
  • Post photos.  Picasa is integrated into G+.  Choose which of your albums are viewable by which of your friends and/or circles..
  • Post videos.  YouTube powers this behind the scenes, but it’s fully integrated into G+ is is part of G+.  Choose which of your videos are viewable by which of your friends and/or circles.
  • Sparks:  This is touted a lot by Google and by all the fanfare in the press, but really, this is nothing but saved Google searches.  They show up on the left side of your screen.  When you click one, it performs a new search for that item.  It’s handy, but not all that important, in my view.
  • Hangouts:  This is group video chat.  I’ve not used it yet, but people say it’s great.  Web browser only.
  • Huddles:  This is group text chat.  I’ve used this and it can be useful.  All the press talks about it as a great way for multiple friends to easily coordinate the complications of getting everyone together for dinner and such.  Mobile app only.

 

How do I get a Google+ account?

At the time of this writing, Google+ is only available by invite only.  I’ll be happy to send you an invite.  Send me an e-mail message to image.  I’ll invite you via the e-mail address you sent the request from, or you can just tell me in the e-mail message to use a different e-mail address.  The invite I send will include instructions for getting to the site and logging in.  It will come from Google Plus, not me, but I can initiate the invite.

 

How is Google+ different from Facebook?

At first glance, it looks an awful lot like Facebook.  In fact, someone has made a skin for G+ that makes it look almost identical to Facebook.  There are a few fundamental differences though.

  • Security:  Facebook wants you to browse its site insecurely, from its login page, to browsing all the pages on the site.  It doesn’t use “https” by default and even if you force the “s” in the URL to turn an “http” address into an “https” address, sometimes it just won’t accept it or will change it back to “http” without the “s”.  Sometimes it will accept it.  That “s” is incredibly important as it ensures the page you’re on is encrypted.  This is ESPECIALLY important when you’re on an open, wifi network, like at your hotel or the airport or Starbucks or McDonald’s.  ANYONE can see exactly what you’re typing into an http page and can see exactly what you’re seeing on an http page.  If you login via an http page, you’re transmitting your login name and password to whoever is sniffing the open wifi traffic (and sometimes, on a wired network too).  G+ has no options at all to view any of their pages insecurely.  Try to enter just “http” and G+ will redirect to an https page to ensure your traffic is kept private.  This is a fundamental difference in principle between the two social networks.
  • Friending:  In Facebook, you find a friend, send them a “friend request”, then they either accept your friend request, reject it, or ignore it.  If they accept it, you are both linked to each other as “friends”.  You both see each other’s posts, videos, and photos.  In G+ there’s no direct equivalent of “friending”.  Instead, you just follow anyone and everyone you so choose (like Twitter).  You’ll only see the posts they make public and posts they choose for you to see.  They can follow you back, but that still doesn’t make any of their posts any more visible to you.  Instead, if they’re following you, they’ll probably add you to one of their circles (friends, family, freaks, etc…).  You won’t know WHICH circle of theirs you’re in, but when they add you to a circle, you’ll be notified that you’re now in one of their circles.  So, “friending” would be you following someone and they’re following you back.  You both still have complete control over which of your posts the other sees because an essential part of posting on G+ is choosing which friends and/or circles can see it.  Most people, if they don’t make their posts public, will choose to post it to all of their circles.
  • Control of your posts:  One of the problems you’ve likely run into with Facebook (assuming you’re a Facebook user) is that you’ve friended your friends, your parents, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, your kids, your coworkers, your bosses, and others.  Now, you’re in a predicament:  You’ve got a great joke to share, but it’s not appropriate for all of your audience.  What do you do?  If you’re responsible, you just don’t share it.  If you’re irresponsible, you post it, forgetting that your kids, your students, your nieces and nephews, and your boss are all receiving it.  In G+, since you have circles, you can post that off-color joke just to the group of people that are mature enough to see it and are not likely to judge you poorly for posting it.  You could even create a circle called “NSFW”, if you like and you’ve got an easy and convenient circle to post your NSFW jokes to.  You would, of course, exclude your employers, your coworkers (unless they’re close friends), your employees, your students, your teachers, your parents, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, your kids, you nieces and nephews, you scout parents, your scouts, etc…  If you want to complain about how you’re being treated unfairly at work, you’d probably want to post to a circle that doesn’t include your boss or anyone else that works there.  With G+, its very very very easy to make this happen.
    • Note:  Facebook actually has this feature too.  It’s called “Lists”, but it’s hard to find, hard to manage, and hard to use.  Probably more than 99% of Facebookers don’t even know it exists and the majority that know about it, don’t use it because it’s too cumbersome.
  • Privacy:  Facebook is created with the intention of “everything should be public and if you don’t want it public, you need to take extra steps to prevent that from happening”.  Mark Zuckerberg has stated multiple times that he believes all your data on Facebook should be public, and in fact, it helps HIM if all your posts are public, but it’s a big security risk for YOU, for many obvious and not so obvious reasons.  G+ takes the opposite approach.  Your data should be private unless you say so and you should have control over that privacy.  G+ does a good job (not a great job, but a good job).  Facebook gets an F-.  Google+ gets a C+.  One big problem with both of them is that they insist that you use your real name and that it be public and searchable.  There are, again, so many obvious problems with this I won’t go into them here.  G+ has gone so far as to mass disable thousands of accounts (including mine, temporarily) for not using real names… and even for women adding their maiden names in parenthesis by their real names!  Anyway, the privacy settings in G+ are easy to get to and easily understood, for the most part.

For more details of the differences between Facebook and Google+, I’ve put together this table showing the differences:

 

I’ve got a new G+ Account, Now What?

Now,

  1. Lock down your privacy.
  2. Start following people.
  3. Invite friends, family, coworkers, employers, etc… to join.
  4. Create circles.
  5. Entice your Facebook friends over.

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!

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Google+ (or Google Plus) How to “Friend” or “Follow” someone

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imageClick here to follow me on Google+. 

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

Google+ looks a LOT like Facebook, but fundamentally, it’s different.  You don’t actually “Friend” people on G+ like you do on Facebook.  Instead, you “follow” them, like you do on Twitter.  You can follow anyone.  They can, of course, follow you back, if they want, but they don’t have to.  If you’re both following each other, that’s the closest analogy to “friending” there is.

When you follow someone, they’re notified.  When they follow you, you’re notified.

You follow someone by adding them to your circles.  Circles are a central feature of Google+, are easy to use, and are the game changing feature in this Social Network.

Here’s how to follow an existing Google+ user:

  1. Determine if you already have a circle that’s appropriate to add the person to.  If not, create a new circle that’s appropriate for people of that type.  Note that you can add one person to multiple circles.  For example, you have have circles for “Friends”, “Conservatives”, “Liberals”, “Girls”, “Guys”, “Celebrities”.  One person can easily fit into 3 of those circles.
  2. Find the person.
    1. Using the “Find People’ search box at the top of the Google+ page, enter the person’s name you’re looking for:
      • image
      • image
    2. Click the name of the person in the list or use your arrow keys to highlight it and hit [Enter] (or [Return] for you Mac users).
      1. That user’s profile page will then be displayed.  Float your mouse over the “Add to circles” button in the upper right hand corner.
        • image
      2. A list of your circles will be displayed.  Check all the ones you want this person to be in.
        • image
        • BTW, to stop following someone, go to this same button (it’ll be green and will be labeled, “Following”) and uncheck everything.

You’re now following that person.  They will be notified that you’ve added them to your circles.  They will NOT be notified which circle(s) you’ve placed them in.  I do advise that you not make insulting circle names like “jerks”, “morons”, “enemies”, “not really friends”, etc…  You should assume that at some point, you will inadvertently reveal which circle they’re in either by a mistake on your part or some technical snafu, so I strongly recommend naming your circles both accurately for your own use, AND with non-offensive names.  Before you add ANYONE to a circle, ask yourself, “when, not if, this person finds out they’re in this circles, how will they take it?”.  If you think they might be offended, you need to change that circle name.

Now that you’re following them, their public posts (or and any posts they make to one of their circles that you may be in) will show up on your stream page.

image

 

Here’s how to follow an NON-existing Google+ user:

You’ll need to invite the user.

Then, just sit back and wait.  When that user finally joins Google+, you’ll automatically start seeing their posts and they’ll be notified that you’ve added them to your circles, so they’re likely to follow you back.  Be sure to send them a post welcoming them over and suggest some mutual friends and possibly some celebrities you’re following to help them get some useful stuff coming over in their stream.

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!

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Google+ (Google Plus) Android App: What you CAN do

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image

This article is not a “how-to” article.  It’s simply a list of the features found in the Android G+ app.  I might sprinkle a smidgen of “how-to” in it, but this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, documentation on how to use the app.

I’ve already written what the Google+ Android app can’t do here:

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

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Here are the things that it can do:

New as of about 9/20/2011:

  • Change your profile picture
  • Share a post.

From original version:

  • Profile Screen:  From here, you can see all of your posts and comments on them.
  • Stream Screen:  On here, you see posts from people you’re following and posts that people have posted to with you YOU in one of their circles that they’re posting to, and the comments to them, of course.
  • Nearby:  This is a feature that the browser version does NOT have.  While on your streams screen, swipe to the right to reveal the left stream, which shows you posts of people nearly.  By “nearby”, that’s approximately 15 or 20 miles in diameter.  You don’t have to have any kind of connection to these people whatsoever.  It’s a great way to meet new people.  I recently discovered a new Mexican restaurant in my neck of the woods that I’d have never found on my own.
  • Incoming:  This is the same as the “Incoming” stream on the web browser.  Swipe to the left to reveal it on the right.  This lists posts from people who are following YOU, but that you’re NOT following back.  These, are, of course, only their public posts.
  • Check In:  This is the check mark icon at the top of the Streams screen.  If you have location services enabled, it will find your location.  You can further refine it by choosing from a list of known, nearby places.  You can then post your location as a status update.  Others will see it as a link.  When they tap or click it, it’ll bring up their mapping software and show your geographical location.  WARNING!  DON’T DO THIS UNLESS YOU WANT PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU’RE NOT, LIKE NOT AT WORK OR NOT A HOME.  DON’T POST UPDATES THAT SAY, “DROPPING THE KIDS OFF” WITH THIS ENABLED.  YOU’RE ESSENTIALLY TELLING EVERY PERVERT STALKER PEDEFILE ON THE INTERNET, “HEY, I JUST DROPPED MY KIDS AT THIS EXACT GPS COORDINATE.  I’M LEAVING NOW, SO THEY’RE NO LONGER UNDER MY PROTECTION.  HAVE AT’EM!”  Seriously, use this feature SPARINGLY! and only when you KNOW there can’t be a security (or job) threat.
  • Upload photo:  This is also on the Streaming screen and is accessed via the camera icon on the top, just to the right of the check-in icon.  You can take a picture with it and upload it or upload an existing photo from your device.
  • Status Updates:  Also accessible on the Stream page, is a pencil icon, just to the right of the camera icon, on the top-right corner.  Use it to write a status update.  From there, you can also upload photos.
  • Comments:  While viewing any status update from yourself or anyone else, touch it and you can add a comment.
  • Filter by Circles:  In the menu, while in the stream screen, you can check on or off the posts from people in certain circles.  Note that you CANNOT create, change, or delete circles with the mobile app.
  • Notifications:  You can get notified of new posts, like you get notified when you receive a text message.  There’s a pane at the bottom o the home screen showing how many notifications you have.  You can drag it up to see them all, click them to view them.
  • Instant Upload:  You can set a setting to automatically upload your pictures when you take a picture.  I highly advise against this.  How many times have you accidentally taken a picture when you didn’t intend to?  Have your kids ever gotten ahold of your camera and started running around the house spanning pix of everything?  We have a few compromising photos from at least 2 events like that.  Turn this feature off.  It’s presented to you when you first run the app and it’s ON be default!
  • Send Feadback:  Always a great feature in any application.  It’s available in the menu.
  • Huddle:  This is a mobile app specific feature that’s not available in the web browser interface.  A huddle is essentially a group chat.  Note that at the time of this writing, there’s no way to delete a huddle, so be careful of what you say.  Wait, all you are always careful with what you say on the internet, AREN’T YOU?!?!?!?
  • Photos:  Manage your photo albums and view those of others.
  • Add people.  You can add people to your circles, but you can’t INVITE anyone with the mobile app.  You’ll need to browser for that.

That’s about it.  For more Google+ articles, please click here:

See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. If you found this helpful, please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can easily see what they can do with the Google+ Android Mobile app.

Check back later for updates too!

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck and Enjoy your new Google+ account!

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