Tag Archives: google.

Take Two Google Accounts Into Shower?

Did you know that you can be logged into two Google accounts at once? This is particularly handy if your organisation uses Google Apps AND you have a personal Google account.

All you have to do to enable this feature is to go to your account settings and edit your Multiple Sign On setting IN BOTH ACCOUNTS. You’ll find you need to log out of the other account when you try to do this or because you have one foot in an multiple account world and one in the old fashioned single account world.

You’ll also find very funny things happening if you only do one. Funny if you like being logged out half way through editing a document.

Enabling the Multiple Sign On setting means you will get the ability to “Switch Accounts” from your account menu.

Warning: Being logged into two Google accounts is a bit cludgey. 

Once you’ve set yourself up to access two accounts, you’ll probably start coming across this dialog a lot. I do…

It’s a corker isn’t it? EVERY time I encounter it it twists my melon man because it’s almost not a double negative somehow isn’t it? The ordering of the two accounts in the message seems wrong ( or confusing ) somehow.

How was I to know which account I was trying to access my mail with? What SHOULD happen when I click “Cancel” – as it happens it redirects to a Google search page ( huh? ). I really don’t care what Google thinks I’m logged in with ( that’s their problem) , I simply want to do the thing I wanted to do.

And conceptually, Google are introducing a subtly different idea here, and that is, that although I can be logged into two accounts, when doing something like “reading mail”, there is the concept of there being the currently active account. I know this might technically be the case, and that instead of “reading my mail” I’ve actually tried to access a “read my mail URL that doesn’t exist for the other account” but the interface suggests that that is what might be going on.

Shouldn’t the dialog message go…

  • You are logged in with tom.smith@york etc..
  • But you need to be logged in to remarkability@ etc

[ OK – Go ahead and us to remarkability@ ] [ CANCEL – and take me to Google ]

A simple re-ordering, stating explicitly will happen when you click a button would make this crappy, mind-boggling UI much better. Or is it just me?

I’m reminded of the excellent work of Jef Raskin ( go read Humane Interface now ) because what he regularly managed to pull off was looking at something as ordinary as a error dialog and find a way to break conventional thinking and make it better. And using his “interface notation” idea, he’d be able to prove it was better…

So, with that in mind, and thinking about it for less than 5 minutes ( it might need work ) … isn’t this version better and more humane? It’s at least a bit clearer what is happening and what you might do about it.. the green is meant to show what you probably want to do as the default too. This would of course be off brand and optional.

Or is it just me?

My only reason for posting this is knowing that if York “go Google” then without a doubt we will have a shed load of people who want to keep using their personal Google accounts and make use of the Multiple Log In setting.

I have knack ( based on years of working on my own personal stupidity ) for knowing what will confuse people and I’m really not looking forward to trying to explain this one over and over again. I’m not sure if I’ve got the right solution, but at least it’s a bit less-is-more-y.

p.s I’ve just discovered that Google + doesn’t want to play nicely with the whole switching accounts idea… sigh…










My Death of the RSS Newsreader

I’ve been saying for a while now, that in terms of “information revolutions” we’re on the brink of the third wave. The first was about simply accessing information , the second about publishing information and the third is about manipulating or routing information (or data).

For years I’d assumed that RSS would play a part in the arrival of the third wave, but where have all the online RSS readers gone? Is Bloglines still “live”? What happened to Rojo? I remember a number of contenders, including desktop apps like NetNewsWire and the like but it seems now that there is only Google Reader left.

Other newsreaders like Rojo used to let me re-publish or share my news, but Google Reader doesn’t. And to be honest Google Reader is crap. Although using browser plugins like Feedly massively improve the experience of RSS it’s just not as automatic or fun as tools like Paper.li or how I imagine Flipboard (I don’t have  an iPad).

And although I have more control over an RSS account than what appears in my Paper.li or Flipboard pages, RSS feels more clunky. Images are often still shown as links, sites that post every few minutes flood your news and in general it just feels like you are too close to the technology.

Added to the clunk, is the fact that once you have a few hundred subscriptions in an RSS reader exactly where your news is coming from becomes mystifying. Especially if you’ve subscribed to a few aggregated feeds. It doesn’t feel like you are routing or even in control anymore. RSS starts to feel like an albatross.

As an experiment, I recently swapped my subscriptions (by exporting our subscriptions as OPML) with Andy over at Offmessage to see if someone with similar but different interests would enliven RSS for me. What I found was that amazingly, with almost a completely different set of news sources, the news felt the same. Or to put it another way, even with all of Andy’s lolcats, I didn’t feel I was missing out on any news, it was just coming to me via a different route.

What all of this is saying to me, given the fact that one of my roles is about sharing “best practice”, is that after years of being an ardent fan of the possibilities of RSS, I’m now doubting if it is worth the effort. RSS hasn’t delivered, RSS Readers (and by that I mean Google Reader) doesn’t do what I wanted, it isn’t putting me in control of anything, it isn’t delivering any magic and I can pretty much get “good enough” news in plenty of other ways.

A large part of this ennui with RSS has to be that, my interests are always shifting and I feel weighed down with usability or information architecture stuff, things I was interested in pre 2000. I’ve moved on but my RSS Reader hasn’t and it’s become too big to prune…. AND it doesn’t do anything to help me, it just sits there, spewing crap at me. You’d really think that Google Reader would do helpful things, like categorising news feeds, or noticing the ones you focus in on, or SOMETHING helpful.

Part of the “craft” of creating an enjoyable RSS experience is that feeds have to complement each other, there’s no point having information fire-hoses obscuring the infrequent writer. It takes time to create your own personal newspaper… and it’s almost impossible to create a collection of feeds for someone else, I’ve tried many times.

So there. You might still find RSS useful for you, well done, but given my current disappointment with it, especially from an evangelising perspective, I’m looking for a whole new way of being kept up to date. It probably will be Twitter-based, either that or paper. The walk to the newsagent will do me good.

Actually, maybe it’s just, for me, a death of news per se. If I see another “10 ways to XYZ” article again I think I might lose it. Rather than blaming Google Reader for being rubbish and slowly suffocating all the (better) competition there was, I need to look to myself and realise most news IS CRAP… and spend less time worrying about it.

But if you want to send me your exported OPML file, I’ll give it a whirl for a week and see if I feel news inspired by your picks of the internet. It can’t be worse than Andy’s pictures of cats…. can it?  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Google, Spam Blogs and Originality

Dear Google,

you can improve the quality of the web for all of us by killing spam blogs. It’s quite easy to do, just search for … “wrote an interesting post today on” and “Here€™s a quick excerpt“.

Here’s almost a million pages you can take out of your database right now..  using Google,

thank you,


p.s On of the things that really astonishes me about dullards who make spam blogs, is how little imagination they show. If I was creating spam blogs I’d at least mix up the words a bit to “let’s rip with a great post“… or “has written an iteresting article over here” or whatever. I’d at least use different a WordPress theme to Kubrick.

I imagine that with even the smallest amount of thinking that went “what are the characteristics of an unoriginal spam blog” would remove at least 10% of the web in a single stroke… (And 10% of Google’s income from Adsense but they don’t need the money do they?).

Because I’ve tagged my post with the iPhone tag, ironically, this post will automatically appear on blog spam sites like BestiPhone2U.info (an iPhone blog spam site)… which uses the Kubrick WordPress theme. You know, killing ALL sites that use the default options for WordPress wouldn’t be a bad idea… if you use Kubrick, you’re dead in the water imaginitively anyway.

Setting the creative bar a little higher would also force spam-bloggers to be more imaginitive, which in itself is a good thing, they need the mental exercise. Whilst being spammy yet creative they might also realise the errors of their ways and do something genuinely creative instead, like solving textual input problems on the iPhone, for example.

You never know.

How to tell if an SEO company risks getting you blacklisted by Google

It’s easier than it sounds…

  1. Ask for a list of clients. Most dodgy SEO companies will want to keep exactly who their clients are quiet because it’s ridiculously easy to work out what their SEO strategy is. Many use Link Farms which makes it more than easy for your competitors to report your efforts as spam and get you dumped from Google.
  2. Simply ask them how much they will recompense you if and when you get blacklisted by Google. If they aren’t doing lots of naughty things this won’t bother them, if they are you can enjoy watching them squirm as they realize you are onto them.

My next article may well be titled, How To Discover If Your Competitors Are Using SEO Companies That Use Link Farms And Get Them Blacklisted By Google.

The ethics of telling tales may still have a certain stigma attached to it, but … THEY STARTED IT!….

All’s fair in love, war and SEO.

The Tools Google Uses Internally

Google Intranet

Recently I’ve been on a project that uses BaseCamp. I really don’t know what all the fuss is about surrounding BaseCamp, for me it doesn’t do anything very well at all.. and often breaks to boot, but you tend not to know this stuff until you’ve been using the tools for a while (by which time your entire project is in there).

I wonder what the The Tools Google Uses Internally are like, better or worse?

I wonder if a consumer version of Subversion, with wiki knobs on, would be better than BaseCamp….