Mar 24, 2015

The Google+ Cut - Big Deal or Not?

This week it could happen. Eventually... or not. But it will come very soon. The Google+ cut from the services Photo, Hangouts, resulting in a left-over of Google Stream. Rumors are that not even the name Google+ will be used anymore.

Well, Google Stream would be a fine name, right? But maybe it's just Google+ in the end. Fact is, Photos will be an independent occurrence. Hangouts on the other hand, is already separated and never really was seen as part of Google+. Only a feature was integrated into Google's social site, making it possible to chat while using the site.
Photos however is the main focus. While Google+ is popular among professional photographers, the service connection to Google+ made some people uncertain to trust this place to archive private photos. It's kind of scary for many. Now with a standalone Google Photos app and rebranding, the way is set for people that don't want to do anything on Google+, to use it as one of the greatest places to store, enhance and share photos on the web.

Obviously Auto Backup photos and albums will be stored in Google Drive which would be a logical and good choice. Drive on the web could use the album frontend that now Google+ is using with a slight different design to integrate with. But that has to be seen.
Another question rises if space taken by the photos will be free like with Google+ Photos. All photos which equal or less than 2048 pixel per side, did not count towards your available space. So you had unlimited storage for such photos. Now rumors are that Google eventually lifted the 2048 pixel limit and give unlimited storage for all photos. Amazon offers unlimited cloud space for photos with it's Amazon Prime service, and Flickr giving 1 Terabyte for free, which is enough for most private users.

Google Stream (or Google+) could then be without too many changes just be what it is now. You can share easily with one click from Photos like it was before. Photos from drive can already be included if checked in the settings, and it could be that there is not a change in the user experience. However it could be a remake of Google+ which is unlikely. Rebranding in "Google Stream" is not really necessary.

So I can't exactly understand why some sites are again (like so many times) foretells us the end of Google+. I'll guess they just want a sensation and want to see Google fail again. Really sensationalist. If you lean back and look on your phone, there is Photos, Google+ and Hangouts already as separate occurrences. Now they make Photos, like the Hangouts app, really independent, and possible to use it without even knowing about Google+. That's all.
It's exciting, I see that, because it can attract many more users that want to store their photos without using Google+ at all. And the ones who do, still have all features available.

What exactly is happening, we will see this week, or next, or in May. But nope, no #pluscalypse on sight.

Animated G+ logo by Jakob Rode Gellett 

Jan 29, 2015

When Commenting Kills Blogging

Photo by ~C4Chaos  / CC BY-NC-SA
I was shocked to see how less I blog recently. But I'm writing articles almost every day. How can that be? After a research what went wrong it was obvious. I'm writing extensive articles as comments on someone's postings and forget about the topic. A big mistake that seems to affect not only myself.

If you are engaging a discussion about topics of your concern, you'll end up writing a lot of informative and useful stuff. No matter if it's your opinion, or a deep research because someone asks for sources or explanation. In fact, you just wrote an article. Think about it. Just add a nice photo and rearrange the paragraphs, text-styling and there you'll have it.
The problem is, it sits there. On someone else's posting. It's almost hidden for your readers. Even if there was an effective method to track down all your comments everywhere, not many would follow you around on the web.
You invest a lot of energy in writing comments sometimes and then it sits there read by the people in the discussion of the posting. That's it.

Two things you can do: Write your "comment" as an article from the beginning on your blog e.g. Then write a short comment text and link to your article in the blog.
This method however is not appropriate in every situation and post owners could easily think you are just spamming. So it's not ideal.

The 2nd way is better: Write the comment like you first intended to do. Then copy your own text from the comment and arrange it for a proper article in your blog. After that, you can inform people in the discussion of the posting that you have published the comment as an article, too. It's much more polite to do it this way, and you don't split the discussion of the original posting, but you have put valuable information on your site.

With that, you can build up a good posting frequency on your blog e.g. and still participate in discussion without losing the momentum.

Nov 19, 2014

New "old" game from Ron Gilbert: Thimbleweed Park

You know Ron Gilbert, right? Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island? No? Maybe this story isn't for you then. Or maybe it is. A new game in the 80s point 'n click adventure style is coming to you via a Kickstarter project. If the target is reached.

I know the retro style is getting "old". But if you can have a brand new game from the original programmer that made this style so popular, it's something different. New game means, a new story, new characters and new gags that those games was famous for.
To make this happen, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick started a Kickstarter project. The goal is $375.000. While at the time I writing this, with 29 days left about $128.000 are already secured. So this should happen.
The game is announced for Windows, Mac and GNU+Linux. The last is the important one for me. There is a funny option if you back the project with $25. You also get guilt absolution :):
"I pirated Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island when I was a kid and I feel bad!" This reward tier instantly absolves you of all guilt and includes the Thimbleweed Park game. All subsequent tiers also include guilt absolution.
Wow, that is the ultimate relief for the C64 generation, right? :)
If you are innocent like a new born child, you can chose other option, starting from $5. If you pay $20 or more you'll get the game, and with more money , you can get the soundtrack, a physical box, and other items.
If you dare to give $5000, a supporting character in the game will named after you, and you can give it an appearance like you wish. Awesome.

However, you really should back it up. The developers are quite clear on what happens if you don't.

Kickstarter Project Site: Thimbleweed Park

Nov 6, 2014

Why I will buy GTA V for the PS4 while I even had it on PS3

Today I saw a video comparison of the PS3 and the PS4 version. No, the much better graphics, the richer Flora and Fauna, the more living traffic and more realistic pedestrians, not even the real-time mirroring of the surrounding on cars polished coat, made me going to buy it all alone on the PS4.

Look for yourself, technically it's another world. So much more realism.

And still, great graphics is not the essential factor buying the game for the second time, after I played it for a long time on the PS3.
But there are additions to the gameplay, too. Especially that you can play it as a 1st person shooter. Yepp it's coming. There's a video showing the first person mode, too. This makes it a whole new experience to play. Even though I know it's not the same playing GTA from 1st person view, I think it will be awesome.

And there is another tiny reason. It's GTA! And I want this on my new console, too. The PS4 is not backward compatible. And only a few games are interesting for me.
I'll wait to buy a PS4 until Uncharted 4 is released. Together with GTA V / PS4, I'll have reason to turn on the console and don't feel sad to spend a lot of money. Yes, GTA is that important for me. And I'm pretty sure there are more people with the same thinking.

I hate to admit it, as I was infuriated that Rockstar didn't release GTA V for the PS4 first, instead using the last gen PS3, but the company did the right thing.
I bought a new PS3 for GTA V (my old one was damaged 2 years before), and I will buy GTA V on the PS4, too. It has such an impact.

Sep 16, 2014

Amazon's New Europe Strategy?

Party in Europe. The Fire is burning.
Something interesting has happened. Twice in 2-3 weeks.
You know, people in Europe got mad at Amazon many times for waiting too long to get new services announced in the USA. But in the last weeks, the company outposts in Europe, e.g. Germany, has not only offer the FireTV to pro-oder, but also the Fire Phone.

While with the FireTV it was only a matter of time to be announced (let's say 6-12 month?), the Fire Phone wasn't even expected anytime soon. But they all got it wrong, and the press didn't saw that coming. Now wonder if you see how long the Kindle Fire tablet took to take the trip to oversea.

As of now you can pre-order both devices. In Germany the Fire Phone will be available with a contract from T-Mobile exclusively for 1€. Yes, no misspelling. 1 Euro. For a new phone with these tech specs, it's a price attack.
The FireTV pre-order was a huge success. Within 1 day the first contingents were gone. If you order one now, there is no guarantee to get one before January 2015. A special offer for prime customers only pulls 49 Euro from your wallet. Normal price is 99 Euro.

Maybe this shows Amazon that even in Europe there is a demand for this.
How and why theses obvious policy changes are made, is not clear. Everyone was surprised. A few days ago, Amazon made it possible to watch Amazon Instant Video content on normal Android devices. Out of the sudden the app was available.

Looks like Amazon set Europe on Fire.

Sep 11, 2014

Actor Richard Kiel dies at age 74... so sad

Richard Kiel 2.JPG
Richard Kiel 2“ von dejahthoris from Vancouver, Canada - [1].
Licensed under 
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
I were shocked today to read that actor Richard Kiel died today.
He was widely known for the role of  "Jaws" in 2 James Bond movies together with Roger Moore.
In "The Spy Who Loves Me", and "Moonraker", he quickly got a big fan crowd.
He participated in more TV productions and movies. But never topped the appearance in the 007 movies.

A great actor and the best of the James Bond villains. In fact, he got more sympathies than expected for a "bad guy".

Richard Kiel, we'll never forget!

[via The Guardian]