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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 8, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    About Google+…

    Ciara O'Brien

    Google+ has everyone talking. Mainly because everyone wants to see what all the fuss is about, but Google’s “limited field trial” means that even if you are invited by a friend, it’s hit or miss whether you’ll get in.

    So for the past few days, everyone has been talking about “Hangouts” (group video chat), “circles” (the equivalent of friends lists on Facebook, but probably a little easier on your privacy) and “Sparks” (stuff you’re interested in), while most of us could only hit refresh on the Google+ page and hope the “Join Google+” button would appear.

    If it’s a strategy to get people interested, it’s certainly working.

    My Twitter timeline is full of people either extolling the virtues of Google+, or complaining that they can’t get in, and what exactly the hell is going on?

    Up until yesterday, I was cluttering up other people’s feeds with complaints that Google+ didn’t appear to want me. After a brief tease where it showed me the sign in button, and then yanked it away when I clicked on it, I was pretty much convinced I was destined to be Google+-less for the forseeable future.

    But last night, thanks to some eagle-eyed Twitter users, I finally managed to get in.

    And as of 9.30am, I’m still not quite sure what I’m doing with it.

    In theory though, I like it.

    The circles feature means I can keep work and friends separate. And the Sparks section, well I’m still building that one.

    But I have only a handful of friends on it, so trying out the video chat will have to wait. It won’t be replacing Facebook just yet. I can see some of my less tech-aware friends being totally baffled by it though.

    In the meantime, Facebook has been doing some development of its own. Namely video chat, thanks to a tie-in with Skype, and group messaging. No it’s not revolutionary, they haven’t done it first, but it makes communicating with friends a little easier.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Well she (Google+) doesn’t seem to have everyone talking here. Must be my age. I’ve no more interest in all these features you mention than I have in using my mobile for doing other than making/taking calls sending/receiving texts and doing a bit of limited web browsing. All these ”App” thingies that purport to tell me anything I want to know from my annual rate of alcohol consumption to my fitness to drive (I might add those two are mutually exclusive I never ever ever…well not nowadays nor for a long time things were different in my youth) to my BMI index (certainly NEVER want to discuss that with anyone not even a machine) and so on and so forth leave me cold. I can still remember when our home telephone number was two digits long and you had to crank a little handle on the side to wake up Bridie below in the Post Office so’s she’d put you through. At least in those days we KNEW Bridie was spying on all our calls. You could hear the whistle of her breath on the line as she sucked air in over her ill-flitting National Health Service dentures.

      But at least you didn’t have to worry about anything you were overheard saying back then earning you a one-way ticket to Gitmo via Shannon War&Tortureport. Sick transit gloria mundi.

    • Tradesmen says:

      I’ve been clicking on it recently , only thing is kinda skews your search results when you are logged in. So you 1+ something, then the next time you search the result is pushed to the top.

      This can be positive or negative, In the past with Google it was good to see new search results all the time rather than seeing result which I may have found relevant in the past always being display to me.

      I suppose I can always logout.

    • Dave McG says:

      I’ve dipped on to Google+ to see if it’d be worth my time investment-
      Though the limited number of people i have to interact does mean i have limited means to experiment with it, but i hope this doesn’t last long!
      I’d hate to see Google struggle like a newborn deer to get to their feet once again… leaving them with their gangley legs of ambition struggling to stay in a fixed direction to hold them up!

      Still, i’m looking forward to seeing it develop-

      It’s probably not a good sign that i sent a friend of mine an invite to Google+, who promptly added me to his “circle” before logging on to Facebook to leave a post thanking me for the ‘Google+’ invite-
      He probably would have thanked me on Facebook chat, but that’s being dropping and abruptly signing me out since they released the new style of chat…

    • peter barrins says:

      More than happy to be Google+less forever more.

    • peter barrins says:

      @1 …John, are you by chance Ireland’s oldest man? Two digit phone numbers and winding handles, come off it!!

      I deleted the Google toolbar which had imposed itself on Explorer – it was almost taking over my mind by attempting to pre-empt and predict everything I was going to write. While, more often than not it was correct, I resented it’s presence at the implied suggestion that I am too stupid to think for myself. The cloneeies at Google may want to become Google, calling themselves, as they do, “googlers” (pass the bucket) but I am very wary of this organisation and the quiet manner with which it monitors internet usage and goodness knows what else. Google is just a little too virus like for my liking.

    • Chip says:

      Google+ is the next Facebook. End of story. And Facebook will keep promoting social applications, Flash(y) games and users’ personal pictures.

      Google+ will become a developers’ community, and skilled social marketers.

      Remember the Facebook – Hi5 story. History repeats itself.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Maybe I’m being too old-fashioned. Maybe I just don’t have the time nor inclination to learn all about these apps and what things like Google + can do. Sorry don’t mean to be such a fogey. But I’m more interested these days in the world of nature in things contemplative in stuff that doesn’t need lithium cells and micro-architecture, surrounded as I am in my working life by it, finding increasing amounts of my precious private time constantly hostage to these electronic leashes guess I’m just kicking ‘gainst the pricks (or oxen goads, if one’s to understand the reference properly). Hey talking to my dad there recently he reminded me of a story about Bridie below in the post office. Pardon if I’ve mentioned it before on this site.

      One day, a well-known plasterer in our town, fine respected gentleman of god he must be around 80 now still does the odd bit but this of course we’re talking 35 years ago now was on the phone to a client of his, a builder late friend of my father’s also. So the two were talking about some upcoming job that Tom the builder had for Jimmy the plasterer. Confidential discussions of course, and all of a sudden Jimmy heard the little *click* and the whistle of someone’s breath over their ill-fitting dentures. Bridie was in the house. So he didn’t say anything nor let on in any way, but a couple minutes later he smoothly said to Tom ”Right so we’ll shake hands on that deal at 50 million quid and I’ll be over in an hour to sign the paperwork Tom. That’ll be at…em…feck forgot me watch what time is it Bridie?” and she sez ”Five o’clock” and then the horrified silence and the two boys snorting with laughter before she clicked off and never, ever, listened into one of those two gentlemen’s conversations again. God be with the days hey? Doubt you’d catch Langley so easily nor the spooks in MI6. Maybe you would. Anyway.

    • orieldude says:

      Still waiting to get in. I’d love an alternative to Facebook – I only ever signed up to it for keeping in touch with friends abroad and sharing photos and so on. I’ve no interest in most of Facebook’s features, personally.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Somedays I feel it Peter. I’m only 45 tho’ chronologically speaking. And yeah, in our little midlands town we had manual exchanges i.e. our number was Ballyjamesduff 84 until around 1977. Plus bakelite phones big heavy black ones with a wee crank handle on the side. You cranked and cranked and when Bridie deigned to answer you she sent a signal back up the line that increased the resistance on the crank handle. Years later when working as a fishery protection officer above in Donegal I heard tell of a wheeze that poachers used involving those old phones called ‘fish phoning’ or ‘phish phoning’ as it might be spelt nowadays. Basically they stripped the wires and hung them in the water of a pool where salmon/trout were thought to be, then twirled the crank handle and ‘stunned’ the fish with the resultant electrification of the pool. Now I never saw it being done, nor do I find it easy to credit it. Could the small electrical generator in the phone produce sufficient ehrm ”current’ to flood a river with electricity? Dunno mebbe some ex-P&T engineer out there might answer. Anyway. Yeh. Feelin old. Even though I work in the tech sector the blizzard of apps and services and latest sensations in cyber-space increasingly leaves me cold. Whither the enthusiasm of youth hey? Ou sont les neiges du printemps. My kids are digitally native and adopt new technologies (smartphones, ipod touches, playstations and x-boxes) with alacrity. I just wish they’d spend more time running around outside. Was sat there on the edge of my bed Sunday morning feeling every day of me age (not helped by the couple bouteilles du vin swamped the previous night) and looking at a square patch of sunlight on my bedroom floor in a sort of gluey-eyed blue-jowled manner as I was when something flickered across it, the briefest of shadows, a torn rag of umbre, probably a sparrow or something. And I thought of that zen story where Basho the monk and his student Hyakujo are walking beside a lake when a duck flies up from the reeds and Basho asks ”What is that” and his student answers ”It is gone”. And i seemed to realise that could extend to everything, particle by particle the world changes and what was is no longer of moment but only the present only the now. And for some goddam reason that made me even more depressed. So I took some Solpadeine and felt better in half an hour. Thank God for technology hey?

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      (Sorry Ciara I do tend to ramble on)

    • Brtendan says:

      What if some people *want* junk , trash and flashy games, as they seem to do on Fbook ? will Google + accommodate them ? I have applied for Google + but haven’t been accepted yet

    • peter barrins says:

      I suspect that a decade form now Facebook and other such sites will be discussed in the past tense and reviewed in the context of the damage caused. They facilitate and promote what I would regard as an abject invasion of privacy and for young people in particular it is blurring any concept of personal space and privacy. When all is said and done, humanity, the human spirit, the personal touch and so on, can never be replaced by an application. The usual IT nerds and their associates will talk of such developments as if they are somehow life critical – they’re not nor are they likely to ever be, thankfully.

    • S.De Klein says:

      Actually Peter – I grew up in County Kerry and we too had a 2 digit phone number complete with winding handle – along with everyone else! I am in my 40′s and live in Canada now – where were you then!! Oh that’s right – you weren’t born yet which left plenty of time for us ‘old timers’ to rollout new technologies around the world which you are now enjoying whilst simutaneously getting an MBA and having kids! Chillax dude!! Sarah

    • peter barrins says:

      Well Ms. DeKlein, I grew up in the west of Ireland, have just turned 40 and do not ever recall winding handles or two digit phone numbers. Belated congratulations on “getting an MBA” and (I presume) your many, mamooth, achievements in respect of which the world owes you a debt of gratitude – not that your humility would ever allow you to mention it, of course!!

    • S. De Klein says:

      Hi Peter, given that the last manual exchange in Ireland, at Mountshannon, County Clare, was switched over to an Alcatel E10 digital exchange on 28 May 1987 completing Telecom Eireann’s rural digitalisation project it’s reasonable to assume that you must have known of it’s existence if you are 40.
      Have a nice day!

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      I was leafing thru’ a copy of a book by De Paper (Examiner) and its old b&w photographs of Cork throughout the 20th century. There was one showing the upgrade of a post office from manual to automatic. That was in 1976, when I was ten, which is around the period I reference above, peter barrins. Moreover, I see here: (http://www.answers.com/topic/eircom) that ”when Telecom Eireann took over the national system on January 1, 1984, only 309 manual exchanges remained. The last of these older switches was replaced in 1987.”
      Lastly, you can still make crank calls from Ireland it might seem. Just have to go on E-Bay. That’s the same phone we had, only it didn’t have a dial it had a little handle on the side and the face was as yet blank tho’ you could discern a black bakelite blanking plate where the dial ought to have been were our exchange automated. Tho’ I don’t recall the wooden box with bells thing. Reckon someone’s having a laugh with that. http://cgi.ebay.com/Antique-Irish-Crank-Telephone-Ireland-/190525173669