Boycott Apple? Yeah that will work…


Using some strange mind control technique Jacob has managed to convince me we should do a weekly TechieBytes video. Being Jacob’s nature he instantly hijacked the show notes and added tons on controversy. This week it appears that Jacob is on the #BoycottApple bandwagon and wants needs demands the world agree with him. My perspective is a little different, I don’t see where this is an Apple problem nor how they should be punished.

If you need a little background #BoycottApple is nothing new. We se this hashtag show up anytime any group takes issue with Apple. First it was the Foxconn factory conditions, and proper wages for employees. Now it’s hijacked by whining Google fanboys & fangirls who simply want a newer cooler phone. Don’t believe me check it out yourself, it seems every post includes an iPhone Android comparison and why Android is “so much better”.

Yes, these Google fans believe you should boycott Apple for winning a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus. No consideration to the fact that it’s Apples responsibility to do right by its stakeholders. No consideration that Apple didn’t create the system, but is simply playing the game as the rules dictate. Nor do they take into account that several companies have been suing Google for various infringements, and that Google itself funds several hardware venders to sue Apple for various related issues.

I completely understand being upset with the patent process. In my opinion the system is broken, it was designed to promote innovation not protect generic processes. Still it’s the system we have so why be angry or penalize those who utilize it. In basic terms don’t hate the player hate the game.

We’ll have more discussion on the new show this week, and most likely let you join in on the topic. Google did have some other cool stuff come out at IO and we’ll discuss that too. I’m sure Jacob will be kind enough to add to this post with show times and topics.

Don’t like my opinion, use the box below to show your outrage. If you agree you can comment too, but I understand if you don’t.

P.S. Kristen didn’t edit this one so please protect me when she kabooms about my errors.

Google Docs (Sharing with teams)

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but in that time I hope you had a chance to try out Google Docs. Perhaps you’ve even taken the time to check out Google Drive. In this session I’ll show you some of the ways you can use Google docs to share, edit, and collaborate.

Perhaps the most common use for Google Docs is to allow others to review and edit documents you’ve created.

For example, in our office we have an edit and review process for our e-newsletter. One or more people write stories that are sent to an editor and consolidated. From there the e-newsletter is attached to an email and routed to several people for review. Each person reviews and supplies edits and returns the document to the editor. The editor then manages and merges these changes. Simple enough but time-consuming none the less.

When I write content, I create a draft (roughness depending on mood) share it with my editor and my content experts. Content experts can modify the live document, and the editor can work within the same document. What makes it even better is they can all be working on it at the same time if they choose.

The biggest difference is that many documents become one document. So how’s it done?

First click the share button in the top right corner:

This will open the sharing box:

Use the “Add people” box to add the person you want to share with. Once a person is added you can use the drop down to the right of their name to select permissions for them. In this case I want to allow others the ability to edit the document. When you’ve added the people you want to share with, click done. This sets the permissions on the document, sends them an email with a link, and adds the document to their Google Docs for editing.

If someone you’ve shared with accesses the document the same time that you do you will see a notification under the share button at the top right of the page. Any number of participants can access the document and make edits simultaneously.

You can also see where other users are editing the document. Below you can see that I’m editing the text highlighted in grey, as another user is editing the text highlighted in pink.

Granted the system isn’t perfect, at some point somebody will overwrite, or delete something you wanted to keep. Google Docs offers a solution for this as well. Revision history is located under the file menu and gives you access to all document revisions.

Google – Consuming news with Google Reader

Like most professionals I use the Internet to find, consume, and share information. Even with all the great types of content on the Internet, content itself is still king. Also, like most professionals I have issues with email overload. Often times getting newsletters via email that I plan to read later, or sometimes that I never pan to read at all. For me, keeping up with what’s happening in several different professions is critical, and sharing is part of my job so I needed a better way.

A few years ago I started using Google Reader to manage my information consumption. As Google says it, Reader is like a magazine that you customize. In short it’s just a really good RSS reader. From the image below, you’ll see the interface isn’t too different from email, so nothing here should be too scary.

Now what you’re seeing is my reader account, and it’s been tweaked over the years for my personal preferences and specific needs. Your reader experience will be significantly different, especially if you’re a new Google account holder.

So with a completely clean experience, Reader isn’t very impressive. The first thing we need to do is find some content to read. One way to do this is to do a manual subscription. Many sites have the ability to detect an RSS reader requesting a feed. TechieBytes happens to be one.

Now that you’ve added a feed, you should see some content in Google Reader:

Google offers other ways to find content feeds as well. Under the explore options you will notice Recommended Items and Recommended sources. Right now these are most likely empty or near empty. If not you’ve been using your google account for a while and Google has some idea of what you read. The more you add to and use Reader, the more items will be populated under these tabs. It’s good to check back to these frequently when you’re just starting out. You’ll be amazed at the new sources of news you’ll find.

Under these two options you’ll see a “View all recommendations >>” option. While it will most likely lack the needed data to make real recommendations at this point, it holds some valuable options. Browse and Search appear as tabs within this section.

Within the Browse tab Google offers almost 450 predefined bundles of feeds to choose from. These bundles are a great way to get started with finding new content. If you can’t find what you want within the bundles, jump over to search and see if you can find your topic of interest within the results.

In this post we showed you how to get started with Google Reader. In our next post we’ll show you how to organize and manage your feeds, how to share content, and how to build custom feeds based on Google Alerts.

Happy reading and as always, if you have comments or suggestions post them below.

Google – Alternate email link

When you created your Google account you supplied an alternate email account. This account can be used for account recovery and various other tasks. One vary important task an alternative email address serves is a method for others to share items with you. Google alerts you to various things based on your email account, and sometimes you want different items delivered to different locations based on who’s sharing.

To illustrate my point I’ll explain my own convoluted way of using Google Docs. Google Docs is Google’s online word processing software, and I use it for almost everything including this post. I use it for reviewing my children’s homework assignments, requests from clients, and documents from my staff at work. While I could have alerts for all these documents sent to a single account, I prefer to have alerts from my children sent to my MSN account, alerts from clients to Gmail, and work related documents sent to my work email address. To accomplish this, I set up my MSN and Ohio Society email accounts as alternative email accounts linked to my Google account.

While I’m signed into Google, I click my name and select Account Settings.

Then I find the Email addresses and usernames section.

Now I just click edit and enter the email address I’d like to link to my account.

Adding these additional accounts allows me to sign into my google account using any of these addresses as my username. It also allows users to share content with me using any of these email addresses. So co-workers share documents with my account and I’m alerted via my work account and I can access the documents from my work inbox. Clients on the other hand communicate with me via my account and I access those documents from that inbox. It allows people to share with me the way they’re used to communicating with me, while allowing me to separate parts of my life as I see fit. The best part? My documents are still located in one centralized location.

Granted this might not make sense now, but the ability to link email addresses is great and often overlooked. It gives you the ability to begin using and collaborating without the need to re-educate others on how to communicate with you.

Have problems linking accounts, or other uses for linked accounts? Let us know by commenting below.

Google – Create Account

While most people just assume that everybody has a Google Account, that may not be true for all. So, just in case, we’re going to go back to the basics and ask those who haven’t created an account to visit to get started.

If your primary interaction with Google has always been search, you might be surprised by the massive volume of features and applications this single account will have access to. Just by completing this one step you’ve created accounts for Gmail, Google+, YouTube, and several other services. What’s even more impressive is this account can be linked to several other sites for authentication.

It is for this reason that I strongly recommend you consider making this password rather strong. The power of your Google account quickly grows as it’s used. For ideas on how to create a strong password see my post on creating strong passwords.

Once you’ve created your account, sign in at

Google – Make It Happen

Perhaps you’ve seen the Google “Make it Happen” commercial? If not, let me give you a quick glimpse so we’re all on the same page.

Google has a whole series of these inspiring ads under the umbrella of “The Web Is What You Make Of It.” What I find most interesting is that they aren’t hyping anything. Everything they say is true, everything they show is real, and all of the “magic” is today’s product. What they can’t do in a 30 second clip is help people learn how to use all of this great technology, and that’s great news for us here at TechieBytes.

One of the hardest parts of having a blog is finding stuff to write about that people will actually want to read about. (Well, the first part is actually easy. It’s the second part that is a bit harder.) So now we have the ability to start a series of content that will help our readers begin doing all the cool stuff they see in the Google commercials.

Now I understand everyone will have different skills, some of the content might be below your level, and other content might be over your head. Either way, feel free to participate by asking questions or helping others in the comment boxes located on every page. Also understand that I’m not going to recreate the wheel for every post. I will be reusing quality content when appropriate, and I welcome guest bloggers if they are experts in a specific Google product.

All posts that are part of this series will be tagged with Google as a keyword, and will be linked back to this initial post to make items easier to find.

Do you have a specific feature you would like to see covered? Drop me a note below and let’s get started.

Do you know what Google knows?

Have you ever “accidentally” done an inappropriate web search? Perhaps you found something via search a week ago and would like to revisit it on another machine. Either way, if you’re a Google user your web history is part of your account. I was wondering about figuring out what Google actually knows about me and found poof when I realized that every search I’ve done since 2007 was archived.

For me, this isn’t a good thing. This level of monitoring makes me a bit uncomfortable. I also started digging into what other information Google might have collected about me. While I know I shouldn’t be surprised, I was. Simply visiting Google Dashboard yielded information on accounts so old I’d simply forgotten them. Just like Facebook, my Google credentials has access to several other applications, and several applications had access to my Google account.

Still beyond all of this, the Web search history was the most concerning. I found myself revisiting my search history repeatedly questioning if I should delete it or not. All my searches are explainable (even if I shouldn’t have to explain them), but even more concerning is that it tracks all the links I’ve clicked. An index of this much information just doesn’t seem necessary, and honestly the risk of someone knowing my browsing habits is higher than I’d like to admit.

While I left the data intact, I do feel violated. It reminds me that nothing is actually free, and when you use a service you’re not paying for you’re most definitely not the customer. With all of Google’s recent changes (most not good IMHO) I question if I should continue to trust them with all of this data.

Tell me what you think. Visit your Google Dashboard. Did you find things you didn’t know about? Are your comfortable with the data being tracked?

Google Dashboard –

How to search Google

I’ve been using computers for a long time, and during that time some things have become second nature to me so that they’re instinctual reactions and understandings akin to walking, breathing, and levitating frogs. Sometimes, I forget what it’s like not to know how to do something. The most basic thing of all? Finding stuff. You know, with Google.

Step 1: You do use Google, right? If you find yourself typing “yahoo,” “bing,” “msn,” “ask jeeves,” or “lycos” in to your web browser, you owe it to yourself to switch to what the rest of the world is using — Google. It’s faster, easier, and just better than all the rest.

Step 2: Don’t ask questions. Computers are essentially stupid. They can’t understand natural language — that is, what humans do. They actually can’t understand anything at all, unless they’ve been programmed to or have a statistical model, and even then, it’s not real understanding. Since they don’t think, you’ll lead yourself astray by typing things like “where can I find the best local pizza?”

Step 3: Understand what they have in them. Search engines scour the Internet, and download all the content they find. They don’t really understand it; rather, they just have a big index that they store and search through. So…

Step 4: Be unambiguous and exact. If you live in Cleveland, the word “nearby” isn’t going to be much help. Remember step 3? The computer is stupid. Where is “nearby?” You’ll want to use “in Cleveland” instead — or better yet, just “Cleveland.”

Step 5: Put it all together. Search for exactly what you want, being specific and concise. Below are some good and bad examples. Take a look and you’ll see the pattern (because you’re a human, not a computer). Follow it, and you’ll have much more success in your Googling. (The others work the same way, but that’s the only search engine that matters.)

  • Bad: “where is the best pizza nearby?”
    Good: “best Cleveland pizza”
  • Bad: “how can I get to New York City?”
    Good: “Cleveland to New York City directions”
  •  Bad: “what time is it?”
    Good: “time”
  • Bad: “I can’t click on the button”
    Good: “button grayed out”
  • Bad: “where to find photoshop demo”
    Good: “photoshop demo download”
  • Bad: “you shouldn’t mix Tylenol and alcohol”
    Good: “mixing Tylenol and alcohol”

Google Docs to Add Preview Pane, Music Player, Collections

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Google Docs and this rivals Windows “My Documents” experience. The gap between desktop and cloud closes a little more every day.

Google Docs code includes references to some upcoming features that could make the service better suited for storing media content. There are many references to a preview pane that will allow you to view more information about your files and even check the content without actually opening the files.

via Google Docs to Add Preview Pane, Music Player, Collections.

The iPhone that’s more amiable than your Android

Editor’s note: This post is in response to The Android that’s crushing your iPhone.

I sit comfortably reading my iPad educating myself about the newest Android-based slate devices, then it happens: I hear geek laughter from the corner. I see you with your taped glasses, pocket protector and mathematics degree. “Ahh, another Apple fanboy who needs educated on the real definition of technology,” you think to yourself. Most likely not, so keep it to yourself.

Will Android capture a majority percentage of the mobile market? Yes, most likely it will. Will it crush iOS? Most definitely not. Just as Ford, Honda, and Mercedes all coexist in the automotive market, several players do and will continue to coexist within the mobile market.

  1. It’s all about the people, coder. Customers buy devices. Some customers may be programmers, but the majority are not. Average consumers simply don’t care about the programming platform. They just want to have a great user experience. Apple makes application consumption and usage dead simple. Since the media feed Apple and, in turn, application sales, unless the media turn on Apple, iOS will still be a great platform for anyone who wants to make real money in mobile applications.It’s simply supply and demand: Coders like to eat, Apple gives them a great solution to sell products, and so coders won’t dismiss iOS.
  2. Peer Review doesn’t mean censorship. Several people have debated Apple’s philosophy regarding application review. I have to be honest: I can argue either side. The argument doesn’t seem to affect the customers, though, so, again, as long as money is to be had, programmers will seek to capture it. Granted, I jailbreak my iOS devices. It’s not that I have a need for additional applications, I simply like being a rebel. I will tell you that I’m far more comfortable giving my teen an iPhone than a Droid, so something positive can be said for Apple blocking out the porn applications.
  3. When you’re the best, you don’t need to imitate. Yes, Android runs on multiple devices, and no, that’s not a crushing blow to Apple. Windows CE as well as the new Windows 7 Phone both have the ability to move from device to device, but it hasn’t helped Microsoft crush anybody. In fact, it’s created more problems than done them any good. Apple controls the user experience on both sides of the equation, building the best overall experience for the customer. Having more hardware, more choices, and more training leads to an inconsistent customer experience. If iOS devices aren’t the best in customer experience, then why does everyone seek to recreate them?
  4. Come on, Google? Google is an advertising company with a great search engine and some killer apps, but they aren’t and don’t want to be a platform provider. Apple has an interest in maintaining and growing its platform because it sells hardware and applications, not ads.How many times has Google rolled out “the next killer app” only to be stomped into the mud and simply run away leaving users in a pinch? If you think the strength of cloud-based productivity tools is the winning combination, think again. The Microsoft Kin was a cloud device, and “poof.” we see where that landed. If Google isn’t collecting data about your spending habits, they’ll drop the OS like a hot potato. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s simply the business model they choose to maintain.
  5. It’s the 21st century. We carry more information in our pockets every day than we used to create in a lifetime. It doesn’t want to be free, in fact, we spend a considerable amount of time and money trying to protect it. This is a simple argument to win. (Linux on the desktop, anyone?) If something as great as Linux hasn’t benefited from an open community then it’s not going to happen for Android.Focus on customer goals: Saving time, increasing productivity, staying connected, and short-term entertainment. Mobile isn’t technology-driven, it’s experience driven, and that’s where Apple wins hands-down.

Android and iOS are simply different answers to the same problem. What we haven’t addressed is the fact several other players are also playing in the same space. With the introduction of tablets into the mobile space, customer’s needs will increase and the solutions will grow even more complex. Unfortunately for programmers, no single solution will win and so the market will remain fragmented for years to come. The only thing getting crushed this year is Jacob’s ego.

Just a side note: Many of the Android tablets being reviewed at CES look exceptional. I’m actually looking forward to the advances this competition will bring.

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