Saturday, 20 August 2011

Google+ stream widget

A great widget for your blog / website that displays your most recent publicly-shared items from your Google+ stream.

G+ feed widget

Get your Google+ feed widget and put it where you like (uses an iframe) -- all you need is your Google+ profile id and they show you where to get it.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Google+ looks like it might suit...

I've not really connected with Facebook, because I have a healthy scepticism (well-proven!) about their concern for the welfare of our privacy.

Will Gooogle+ fit the bill?

I think it might. My first impressions give no cause for concern.

Circles

Using the metaphor / analogy of circles of family, friends, acquaintances etc. everything becomes quite intuitive. You set different sharing settings for each circle so the "heads" you drag and drop into each circle can get a different set of your "shares".

Adding new circles is really easy, as is managing who's in which circle (and of course someone can be in more than one circle).

Streams per circle

Again, this feels like a natural way of doing things - keep an eye on what your friends from the pub pool team are up to, or the latest stuff that happening with family.

Privacy

The privacy policy for Google+ is quite readable, if lengthy. And it looks like they are being fully transparent and playing the "good guys". Again, the concept of circles makes it second nature to stay in control of what gets shared with whom.
And if you decide after a while it's not for you, you can download your data and then remove the service by deleting your Google profile from your account. I'm not sure about the ramifications of this, though. It sounds fairly major.

Initial conclusions?

All in all I think this does what I'm after so I'm going to stick with it.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

How a positive attitude can turn problem into opportunity...

..or a bad outcome turned good...

Background

Go along with me a moment so you get a feel for how I felt...
I recently wrote a tutorial / guide for Zazzle storekeepers who were new to Zazzle's design templates and quick create tool.

I put in a huge amount of effort to produce a quality guide with as wide a reach as possible. I went through a proper review process, where volunteers of different skill levels tried it out (from self-professed dummy level to 'old hands' at the game) and gave their feedback publicly on the Zazzle forum topic dedicated to it.

All the feedback was then used to amend and polish the final product.

The knock-back

So I was really upset at first when one of Zazzle's high-profile pro-seller storekeepers somehow took offence at the fact I was selling the guide. It seemed to be down to the fact that she (and others) provide guides covering similar topics for free (with the sort of quality you get with 'free'). And all this was without actually having seen the guide!

Even allowing for the fact that things that folks write can often come across much more aggressively than was meant, or can even be completely misinterpreted, the sheer "acidity" of tone and content quite upset me for a while.

A great example of a positive attitude?

I gave an initial polite response (I am British after all!) and then mulled it over for a few days, trying to see some form of positive in it.

Then it came to me. First, there's no smoke without fire - so I needed to understand the stripped-down essentials of what she was saying and then see if she was either expressing a legitimate concern or had misunderstood something.

Secondly, if one person is thinking that and actually saying it, there's probably many more who are staying silent.

So by thinking laterally about it, I found a way to
  • let others judge for themselves and then provide feedback, helping waverers make up their minds
  • keep the discussion thread on the front page so folks who might have been put off get a chance to see that they actually can judge for themselves
  • A chance to do a promotion on my guide and keep it in the eye of potential customers
Given these great benefits to me, manners and an honest sense of gratitude behove me to thank the very person who initially upset me.

A great outcome, don't you think? How would you have handled it?

Have a great rest-of-weekend
~~Mark (Highton Ridley)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Drag and drop from / to your iPhone - free app

What a pain to get photos from your iPhone to your mac/pc. Not any more...

Now you can drag and drop...

..with this free app from macroplant.com

iTunes is still needed for it to work but that's all transparent and the "magic stuff" happens behind the scenes.

Gets my vote...

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A great free utility - AutoHotkey

I needed a way of remapping some awkward key sequences so went off looking. I found this great free utility that exceeded my expectations - it's simply great!

I made the F1 key do a and the F12 key do a complicated series of paste, home, type, switch browser tab. What a time saver!

Getting AutoHotkey

Windows only :( Download it from http://www.autohotkey.com/download/

Why did I need it?

For my Zazzle store... In the final stages of a guide I was writing, I was showing how to speed up editing multiple products dramatically. Part of it wass having lots of products open in different browser tabs and then using ctrl-tab to switch between them.

With AutoHotkey I was able to automate a huge part of it. I should say that AutoHotkey has nothing to do with me, just one I found that came highly recommended.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Use what's left in the kettle...

This is a great one that falls into the reuse before recycle category - and makes some of your energy use even more efficient!

Having tea or coffee?

Kettle manufacturers tell you never to under-fill their kettles - having them on when there is little or no water can damage the heating element so it is this small amount of extra water that we're talking about here.

There's two things you can do with what's water left over...
  • Tip it into a jug and later use it for watering plants
Many water companies add things like fluoride to our water to benefit our health - but such additives don't necessarily help our plants. When such water is boiled, these chemical additives get driven off, making the water much better for the plants. And remember if you're in a hard water area it softens it too.
  • Sterilize your wiping-up cloth
Squeeze out any excess water and pour the just-boiled water over it, making sure the whole cloth gets a soaking

BUT don't add extra water to your kettle just to allow the above, otherwise you're energy use becomes less efficient. Without adding extra water to the kettle, you'll still have at least half a mug-full left over.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Getting a finely controlled drop shadow in Zazzle's design tool

It would be nice if Zazzle's design tool included a way of applying a drop shadow to text... but until then, you'll need my nifty technique.

Drop shadow on text

See this great text drop-shadow tutorial over on my Razamazazzle blog.

What makes the tutorial extra-great is that it also shows you how to make the text with its drop-shadow into a  template object. This neat approach means that your customer just types their text once and, lo and behold, it's automagically got the drop shadow :)

Enjoy and let's see lots more customisable drop shadows on your products!