Mad Men of Google+ turn you into an Ad

Google has automatically enrolled all Google Plus users in “shared endorsements.”  With shared endorsements, Google will use your profile picture in advertisements to your friends.  Then they discourage you from disabling the feature.  In protest, Google+ users are changing their profile picture to that of the Google CEO, Eric Schmidt.

While that is hilarious, I’d rather turn it off.  Go to Google+ settings -> Google+ and turn off shared endorsements.  Srsly Google?!

This is very annoying.  Obviously, if they defaulted shared endorsements to off, nobody would switch it.
This is very annoying. Obviously, if they defaulted shared endorsements to off, nobody would switch it.

New Pope brings end to Google Reader

White smoke was seen rising from my browser today; Google announced the sunset of Google Reader. The official Google Reader blog says it’s retiring Reader due to declining use, but I’m not sure we can rule out Papal involvement…

I’ve been using Reader for a while now and I have over forty subscriptions. That may sound like a lot, but it’s very easy to navigate the categories and quickly scan the feeds. Also, Reader support Gmail-like shortcuts, which make it even easier.

I don’t want email based subscriptions filling up my inbox, so a cloud based alternative would be ideal. IMHO, they are better than desktop based clients since if I read a feed on my phone, or on another browser, that status is synced across all devices. This feature alone made me switch off of client based RSS readers.

What’s everybody favorite RSS reader, or if you don’t use one, what do you do instead?


Samsung’s Chromebook: Thankfully it has SSH…

I am typing this post on my new Samsung Chromebook.  I was initially skeptical about such a device, because I viewed it as a nerfed laptop.  And to a degree, it is.  Normal applications can’t be installed on Chrome OS.  I mean, it doesn’t even run Emacs!  But despite this, I’m warming up to this portable computer.

With so many tablets, smart phones, and netbooks available, choosing a device is really a decision of aligning the correct device for your need.  For example, I have a desktop that’s my main workhorse, but I wanted a convenient portable device, that could still get “work” done.  Which for me means that it has a keyboard and can get access to email and the Internet.

So, the Chromebook fits that niche pretty well.  If you already drink the Google koolaid, than all of the Google services integrate well with Chrome (one would only hope…).  That and the keyboard is actually very nice.  I switched the “search” button with the ctrl key, but other than that it’s a very nice keyboard.  Probably not as nice as keyboards that cost more than the Chromebook itself, but otherwise not bad.  [Update 21JAN13: I posted a script to fix the trackpad issue here]

Samsung Chromebook keyboard.
Samsung Chromebook keyboard.

To mitigate against the limited OS (which to be fair, is limited by design), there is the option of dual booting linux.  Aptly named, ChrUbuntu (still in Alpha) provides a nice way to have a $249 ARM powered linux laptop (there’s no fan on this laptop!).  Amazon was sold out of them about two weeks ago, but it promptly arrived (yeah for Amazon Prime) once they received more in stock.  For me, I get my linux fix by sshing into a linux machine.  There is a built-in shell on Chrome OS or there is an Chrome app which nicely integrates ssh.

So, despite some drawbacks like not supporting Netflix (which I think is due to Chrome OS’s lack of support for Silverlight), it is a super portable laptop with a decent keyboard.  And for $249, it’ll do 90% of what users want to do: get on the Internet.  Other options, either better resolution tablets or higher powered laptops are at least twice as much and add only 10% of the features.

As of 30 December, I still get this Chrome OS warning from Netfilx.
As of 30 December, I still get this Chrome OS warning from Netfilx.