Google minus

ZDNet's latest opinion piece about Google and specifically Google+ has a title that could be called ambiguous. It's hard to know if the writer Violet Blue is really for or against the company and the service. Because the headline is:

Thanks for nothing, Jerkface

It's come up now because of the two key people behind Google+, one of them has left the company abruptly and the other is now saying it was a mistake to get involved with it.

Now, I deeply dislike having to have a Google ID. It royally pissed me off that I used to have a pristine gmail address that nobody knew about – that sounds bizarre but it was a thing of beauty. At the end of every day or the end of every session writing something, I would email it to that address. More, I would also email it from that address. Any email received that wasn't sent to that address and also from that same address was immediately and automatically deleted. Consequently I had good five year run of every draft of everything, all right there and unsullied by spam.

I can't have that now.

People started getting really annoyed at me for ignoring their Google+ invitations. I never saw them: how could I? Instantly deleted, that was the entire point. And since I never gave that address out to anyone, how could they possibly know how to email me there? I still don't know when it happened that my address got out but I reckon it was when Google started joining services up.

Whatever the reason and whenever it happened, I can no longer use that gmail address for my archive. I've tried creating a new one but it is a true bugger trying to switch between them. Recently I did a magazine piece that required me to take screengrabs of Google Hangouts and I created a pile of addresses and IDs so that I could quickly generate some conversation threads, take the shot and get outta there. To this day, six weeks on, Google keeps logging me back in as one of my fictional IDs. I have specifically logged in as my original, own, real Google ID but, nope, I click to go to somewhere else and I am there as my fictional self.


As intensely irritating as I find the whole Google login stuff to be, I am conscious that I don't mind all the Apple login stuff. So I figured that it was just me. Because I use Apple Mail and various other Apple-y things, it is convenient to use an Apple ID and I don't have to think about it much. I presumed that if I were to be using Gmail as my main email and I was into lots of Google services, I'd be fine about that one instead.

Apparently not.

Many people now use Google+ without even knowing it, through its non-consensual cross-posting on YouTube, Android photo integration, the takeover of Google Talk, and the infinite ways in which people every day make Google+ profiles without realizing it. Want to make a comment on a Google product (even if you don't know it's a Google product)? Google makes you a Google+ profile.

Thanks for nothing, jerkface – Violet Blue, ZDNet

Blue pulls together tales I'd half-heard of how Google's actions have caused real problems for people. Not just my boo-hoo archive problem (I've switched to saving everything in Evernote, by the way, except that I don't always bother, I just let it stay there in iCloud) but actual, serious, real-world problems:

For LGBT, political dissidents, activists and at-risk people everywhere, Google's little Google+ project became a loaded gun pointed right at anyone whose privacy is what keeps them alive.

Users found out in January 2014 when Google+ force-integrated chat and SMS into “hangouts” in the Android 4.4 “KitKat” update.

At-risk users were disproportionately affected, most especially transgender people who needed to keep their identities separate for personal safety and employment reasons.

One woman was outed to a co-worker when she texted him, and risked losing her employment.

Allegedly, Google shrugged at that. Find out exactly how and what more is riling Blue in the full ZDNet piece.

Tweet in your sleep

This came up at a couple of recent The Blank Screen workshops: how to send tweets or Facebook messages when you’re not around. Both times it came up, it was evil people who’d just learnt I start work at 5am and they wanted to send me a tweet to check. But weren’t so keen or so evil that they wanted to be up at that time.

If you have nicer reasons to do it, try one of these two possibilities:

Free for personal use
Log in once to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and/or Foursquare and write a message for it to send to any or all of them whenever you tell it to.

A free iOS app and a free website – – doesn’t have Foursquare, so far as I can tell, but does the others easily and reliably.

I use Buffer for my personal Self Distract blogs that I write and publish on Friday mornings. The first tweet is live but then I always intend to send another one around lunchtime. And then that evening. And a last one the following Monday. Buffer lets me write the lot one after another and know that it is being sent for me at the time I say.

I do this because I regularly forget to send the tweets live. Now I regularly forget that they are going to be sent live and I suddenly get a unexpected notifications of retweets from the various tweets Buffer has sent for me.