Sunday, August 28, 2011

Add 'Cancel' Button in 'Edit Profile'

This is about as easy as it gets, but I can't say for sure how many times I've already wished I had this capability. When using the Edit Profile capabilities, the dark red/orange band appears at the top of the screen. That horizontal bar also includes a 'Done Editing' button.

Even though each of the 18 'About' elements is individually editable, there should be an overall bailout button in case one should change their mind and decide we're not happy with what we're working on. The only option now is to bail all together (close browser, click back button OR click Done Editing).

Clicking a 'Cancel' Button could essentially be a 'Reset' back to content before the Edit session began. Just my thoughts.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Excluding Circles in Stream

I feel as if I shouldn't even have to write this post. Perhaps hoping deep down inside that before I can even finish writing, Google will rollout a code update that will incorporate this new feature into the Circles integration with display of content in the Stream on the Google+ home page.

So...we've been using Google+ for a couple months now and we've seen some pretty rapid development. That's fantastic! It's probably the nature of things — the more we get, the more we seem to want. The higher the bar that Google clears, the higher still we raise it for the next jump.

With quite a few people in a total of 20 Circles, I've tried really hard to have the groups be meaningful to me so I can have 1-click access to filter my Stream and read just the pieces I want or need at any given point. But the way I've created my Circles, sometimes I want to read 2 or 3 or four Circles in my Stream at the same time OR sometimes I want to see most of my Circles, but exclude a specific few where there are lots of comments to the posts (some with 70, 80 or more comments). That really gets crazy - even now with collapsing comments.

I can write the spec for this, but I'm sure the engineers at Google have already considered this. How about giving users the ability to pull up their list of Circles on the home page and click the circle bullet that appears before the label. If it's filled in, then it means show the Circle in the post, if it's empty, don't show it. Or vice versa. Either way, some sort of Show/No option for each.

I know they want to keep the home page and navigation looking as good and clean and awesome as it currently does, but there also needs to be a nice balance between that and useability. The stream gets totally out of control when we can't filter it just the way we want/need to based on our real life Circle of contacts.

Anyone else have thoughts or comments on this?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drag & Drop on G+ Homepage

With such clever integration between the Stream and Circles, I find myself wondering why one additional feature hasn't yet been implemented on Google+.

While reviewing/reading items in my Stream, I sometimes realize that posts from certain individuals are no longer as useful as I had thought they would be when I first circled them. It's not that I want to block this person, but rather that when many people are circles, the Stream flows more like a Rapid and that's partly my fault. I've refined my Circles a bit and that has quickly helped, but that takes more clicks and jumping from screen to screen — something I don't often have time for.

I think it would be very useful to have the capability of dragging a post from the Stream and dropping it in another Circle or, better yet, in the Incoming Circle. This way, I've not blocked someone, nor have I muted their post, but I've essentially reassigned or demoted the importance of their posts (for now) and can always check the Incoming posts with a single click when I have time. And when I find that my interest in a topic peaks again, I drag a post (and therefore the author) back into one of my circles.

As always, let us all know what you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Is there a better alternative I've not considered?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sharing Desktop in Hangouts

This is quick, easy to explain, and I would think fairly easy to implement from an engineering perspective. While in Hangouts, I often find that I'm in discussions with others where I want/need to share my desktop with them or they need to share theirs with me/us.

I know there are third-party applications that can help achieve this, but I don't like installing all sorts of extra software on my machine unless it's absolutely necessary. There's enough on here as it is and I don't want to risk introducing a conflict. So, I've found myself jumping out of Hangouts and into a Skype call, just so I can share my screen with another and then discuss a length if needed, and, well, you see . . . now I'm no longer in the Hangout. No need for that.

In the last couple days alone, there had to be at least a half-dozen different situations. Someone was asking others to review and help decide on which new logo they liked better. He held printouts out up in front of his camera, but that just didn't cut it. Another person wanted to show the work they had done on their family tree and how impressive the chart is now that many generations are filled in and well documented. I wanted to have others review/critique slides for an upcoming webinar.

Well, I probably don't need to go on here, I simply want at least a basic ability to share my desktop with others in a Hangout. And I want them to be able to do the same on their end, at their option, of course.

What do you all think about this one? Share your thoughts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

SPARKS . . . part 2

A few conversations following my last post on SPARKS (via Google+ Hangouts) had me doing some more poking around G+ and also thinking about Sparks in general.

More than a few said they wanted to see a Genealogy default and sure, why not, because many of those in my circles and reading the posts initially are the early adopter genealogy crowd. But getting beyond our personal interests (like why not have a Photography default too), I have some other interesting thoughts to share and solicit feedback on.

When you are within Sparks Central (my name, not sure it has an official name), the Google Suggest feature helps you refine your query. One thing that has pros/cons that could be implemented in the results is something Google typically does with Web results — that is to bold the keywords that were part of the search. Now, that may not sould terribly needy or interesting at first, but then consider this. Another feature is the use of the tilde symbol (~) for a similar words search. So if you search for ~genealogy, you would also get keywords like family history and others. When those appear bold, it allows you to determine which keywords are or are not considered 'similar' according to the Google search engine and that can have some benefits.

So, my question is, how many of you regularly use the tilde symbol and have you tried it when creating Sparks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Capability to Manage Sparks

I could imagine this one easy enough. It doesn't necessarily have to be an additional button on the top nav bar next to the Search box (as I've shown in the mock-up above), but certainly clicking on the word Sparks should at least get us to a central point where we could not only search for topics of interest, but have the ability to managed how they appear in the left-side navigation.

I'm optimistic this is coming soon because just a couple weeks ago we were all surprised that such basic capabilities weren't possible for Circles and before we knew it, there they were. And I noticed this evening that those are getting better too.

As for Sparks, I'd like to be able to have a list on my left nav that I could pause certain items for a while, but be able to still recall and reactivate in the future. And certainly the ability to prioritize or sort them either in an alpha-list or drag-and-drop prioritization or something. Right now, it seems to be last in is first up.

Over time, might be interesting to see what type of integration might be possible with Google Alerts. How about anyone else on this topic? What else do you think about as far as Sparks are concerned?

Monday, August 8, 2011

As Google+ Evolves

Not that they need our help, but c'mon, we're all going to offer it anyway. If only to each other with our Monday morning armchair quarterbacking (sorry to those from outside the USA, that's a bit of a football expression), but certainly we'll use Google+ itself to Hangout, Huddle, and post items which will appear in each others Stream . . . all to share what we think of this great new platform for online social media. And it seems to have the potential to be soooo much more than that too, doesn't it.

I've traded many interesting thoughts with others from around the world this past few weeks about Google+ and how we're already adopting it for use in our day-to-day lives. To be fair, I'd guess that 75% or more of my contacts are somehow connected to genealogy or family history. While this group may not get the credit it deserves, I've found since the mid-1980s that those in the family history community are consistently early adopters of technology and have, in many cases found some very interesting uses for products or services designed for one thing, but then are absorbed by us in our family history pursuits.

If you doubt that comment, look no further than Family Tree Maker software, the best selling genealogy software of all time. That product was originally created by Banner Blue Software as a software product (ah yes, before the word App became so cool) to create organization charts for businesses. It evolved over time to Org Plus, then Org Plus Advanced and it wasn't long before their technical support team was responding to some very interesting questions with regularity. Seems people didn't want just one person at the top of an org chart - they wanted two, a husband and a wife. Hmmm. Interesting. Well, let me get back to my point because you get the idea.

Google built it, so yes, we will come. But it's up to us to put the product to use in ways that were never imagined and to let Google know where it needs to go over time. And not just Google, but the third-party developers that have already created extensions to enhance the capabilities of the Google+ base offering.

I'll try to get the discussion going and share and/or relink to other posts that I see that may be relevant or interesting. Share your comments, because the pro/con discussions are very useful in understanding different points of view from around the world . . . or even sometimes right next door.