iGoogle Officially Shut Down… For Now

iGoogle

iGoogle

They talked about it for over a year. People were confused why the personal homepage was shuttering. But is the page really gone, or just hiding?

iGoogle Shut Down

On November 1st, iGoogle – the webpage that allowed you to add RSS feeds, widgets and more – went offline. It was over a year in the making when Google announced they were shutter the service.

iGoogle launched in 2005 as an Ajax driven browser. You could create your own widgets using the Google Gadgets API. Of course, you could add RSS feeds for news from your favorite web sites.

Yahoo Capitalizes

Yahoo was one of the original creators of a customizable home page. If you were an IT administrator back in 2000, you saw the majority of employees that either wanted or had Yahoo as their homepage.

If you do a search for iGoogle, you will get www.yahoo.com/igoogle – pointing to the newest version of Yahoo’s customizable home page.

Is iGoogle Really Dead?

While Matt Eichner said it is no longer relevant 16 months ago, it might still be a part of future Google’s plans. Since Google is pushing more into their social network Google+, could iGoogle eventually reform into some type of page within Google+?

Chrome also has bounced back and forth on homepage ideas. It could easily add an iGoogle-esque option. all without having to type in iGoogle.

Of course, Google is moving to HTML5 and the Ajax driven iGoogle just wasn’t in the plans.

Google Plus Now Available for Google App Users

Google Plus I am a big fan of Google Plus and have been a member almost since the beginning. Anyone with a personal Google account could join Google Plus since the middle of September. However if you had a Google App account Google Plus was unavailable. I know of several people who refused to participate in Google Plus because of this. For example Cliff Ravenscraft of the Generally Speaking Production Network, who I follow on Twitter refused to sign up for Google Plus thru his personal account because of branding issues. He was waiting for Google Plus to become available for Google Apps accounts. Well the wait is now over for him and others like him, both organizations and individuals. Google Plus is now open for Google App users.

You can either turn on Google Plus manually through your Google App account now or if you have “automatically enabled new service” checked off it will happen automatically within the next couple of days. There are a couple of caveats, you must have Google Talk and Picasa enabled for this to happen automatically. If you do not have these two applications enabled, then you will need to turn on Google Plus manually. Once you have Google Plus turned on under your app account all members of your organization that have access to that account and who have a Google Profile will become a part of Google Plus. They can share both within the organization by the use of Circles or publicly. You can even share with people within your organization who are not in your Circles. You can have Video Hangouts with members of your organization and work on ideas and projects together using Google Docs, even if you are on the other side of the globe. If you are a business or organization, there are some things you need to think about before you start using Google Plus, I recommend taking a look at the support article by Google. If you do choose to join Google Plus, and participate in the community I am sure you will find it useful for your organization. Just make sure that you emphasize to members of your organization that it is important to share information to the correct Circles.

Would Mark Twain be Allowed on Google Plus?

Google PlusFirst off I am a Google Plus user and love the service. However lately Google Plus has been embroiled in controversy. There has been quite a few accounts suspended for violating Google’s TOS over the use of pseudonyms.  Have you heard of Woody Allen, Bono or Jackie Chan, of course you have. How about Allen Konigsberg, Paul Hewson or Chan Kong-Sang, I’m sure you have figured out by now that these are all the same people. However, if they decided to be on Google Plus and use the names the world knows them by.  They would be in violation of Google TOS and could be ban. I know what you are saying, that would never happen these people are known by these names around the world. You maybe right however it did happen to William Shatner (although his account was quickly reestablished after a stink was made) and it is happening to many less famous people who happen to use pseudonyms on the Internet. They are well-known by these names in the various circles that they socialize in on the Internet. In other words they are not anonymous, people within their circles know who they are and how to reach them

Google says it isn’t about real names, it is about having common names, removing people who spell their names in weird ways like using symbols and obvious fake names. Which to me seems that they are contradicting themselves right in that one sentence. You can’t say it isn’t about real names in on part and then say but we are going to delete you if you use a fake name as a user I find that very confusing. So in other words I can use a fake name as longs it sounds real to the person making the decision. Non-western names have clearly have special issues all their own. Then once they make the decision they can suspend your access to Google plus. In extreme cases this can not only affect your access to Google Plus, but to all Google products including mail, and documents. Which to many people is worse than having their phone or snail mail cut off. No details are provided other than you violated Googles TOS, which leaves you to guess what happened and figuring out how to appeal. There has to be a better way of handling this, perhaps an email to the person in question, before their account is suspended indicating there is a problem and they need to contact Google, if there is no response within 48 hours then block the account until they do contact Google.

I do think that there are pseudonyms that shouldn’t be permitted such as names that denigrate others race, religion or sexual orientation. I also agree that completely anonymous posting should not be allowed, that you must provide an email address where Google can contact you. I have to admit even this I am going back and forth on. The use of pseudonyms has been a long and honorable tradition throughout history. Some people use pseudonyms because they want to be cool or to separate their on-line world from their off-line existence. In many countries around the world having an open conversation under your real name is extremely dangerous and people use pseudonyms to protect their very life and freedom. What if you want to talk about a controversial issue that personally effects you such as homosexuality or abortion and you rather not use your real name, a pseudonym makes perfect sense. I don’t have all the answers to this problem, but clearly Google needs to come up with something better than what they are doing now, before they open up the service to the public.

Google+ Gets a Desktop Client – You Don’t Want It.

Twitter popularized the desktop client for social networking with third-party software such as TweetDeck.  With the introduction, recently, of Google+ and Google’s release of a mobile app, but lack of a desktop version, I had wondered if third-parties would jump in to fill the void.  I had planned to install, test, and write a review of a new Google+ desktop client called Gclient today.  It is the first one that I have seen.  However, along the way, I did some research before installing it.

The first clue was the convoluted installation instructions that I found.  There are none on maker Abelssoft’s website, but a third-party site gave a walk-through that involved such red-flags as “You want to fill out your e-mail address and full name, then click “Get free unlock code now.””

With that, I decided to check Cnet reviews and found that the app rated only 2 stars, with reviews such as “This is exactly what you don’t need!!”, “Don’t use this!!!”, and “Disaster”.  Not exactly what you want to hear about a software app that you thought would be useful.

Thankfully, I hadn’t installed it, and it sounds like nobody else should either.  It’s a lesson on why proper research is always in order before downloading and installing ANYTHING from the web.

Infographic: Facebook vs Google+

I have spent a week on Google Plus (and quite a bit longer on Facebook) and haven’t really formed an opinion yet because most people I know still aren’t on Google Plus.  Until it’s open, and everyone can join, it’s hard to get a real feel for which you like better.  They both have their features, and many of those are very similar.

One indication may be that we have seen an inundation of tools that allow Facebook users to migrate their content over to Google Plus.  Is that an indicator that those on Google Plus prefer it?  Or, is it simply the newness of of Google Plus that is fascinating people?

Until the day that Google Plus opens to the world we will see endless comparisons.  I recently came across one that seems a lot more comprehensive than the others I have browsed through.  The folks over at The Tech Addicts put together an infographic that does a great job of illustrating the features of each service.  View it for yourself below and see what conclusions you can draw from it.

A Week with Google Plus

Google Plus I have been participating in Google Plus for a week now and I am enjoying the interaction and community. There are a couple of things that I would suggest to new users to help make Google Plus more fun and useful

  • Create Circles
  • Follow People who interest you
  • You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you
  • Participate
  • Control your incoming Notifications

The first thing you want to do when you join Google Plus is set up Circles. How you set them up is up to you. You may want to have your family and friends in one. You may want to create another circle with people who have a specific vocation or avocation you are interested in (like photography). If you plan to follow someone who you know to have a very active community for example Robert Scoble or Chris Pirillo you may want to put them in their own circle so they don’t overwhelm the conversation. You can also put people in more than one circle, so you may want to create one large circle that combines two or more circles like family and friends plus people who interest you. Then make that your primary stream. One of the best ways to find new people to follow is by seeing whose post your friends and those who you are already following are sharing and commenting on. Remember you are under no obligation to follow someone just because they follow you. It is easy to get pulled into the numbers game, don’t. Google Plus is a place for conversation, don’t use it as a bullhorn. Participate by commenting and sharing other people’s post along with posting your own. If you just want to announce your latest and greatest adventure/conquest Google Plus is not for you. Finally to avoid notification overload click on the gear at the top right hand corner and then go into the Google + settings and decide when you really want to receive a notification. You can also decide how you want to receive the notification by email or SMS.

If you want to learn some tips and tricks for using Google Plus Comptricks has a great article 10 tips for Google Plus Beginners .  Finally have fun. Google Plus is a unique community it is not Facebook or Twitter. It  has its own strength and weaknesses. So I say welcome, come in and stay awhile.