To Block or Not To Block? That’s the Google+ Question

Ok, first let’s dispense with the Google+ Love – so far I really like it.  Circles is a good advancement in social networking, and provides a base for much more advanced features.

As I’ve been using Google+, however, I’ve run into a few issues that I don’t like so much.  I can do anything about some of them – like all the left-margin dead space – but I can make a suggestion about one item: what to do when you have lots of people to circlize.

If you let G+ connect with an external contacts list (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.), you end up with LOTS of people to sort through, circlize, etc.  In my case, I had 1,200+ after connecting one of my external accounts.  Here’s what it looks like after quite a few circilizing rounds.


Google+ Circlizing Page


So, here’s the problem: As you go through the list to circlize people, all the  uncirclized people stay in the “Find and invite” queue.  Going through hundreds of people 11 at a time is grueling, especially when you have to revisit many of them over and over again.

Some might say, “That’s what the Blocked Circle is for.”  But that’s going too far for the large majority of the people in my list.  Blocked is very useful (I already have some in there), so I don’t’ want to dumb it down.

  • No, what I really wanted was a way to indicate:
  • I looked at this person
  • I am not ready to put them into one of my circles yet
  • But I may want to revisit and reconsider them later
  • And, if they circle me, I’d like to know about it
  • Therefore, I don’t want to Block them

In effect, I want to defer these people. So, I created a Deferred Circle.  Interestingly, I’m now going through my list and seeking deferrals first.  I just keep selecting people to defer until I encounter someone I want to put in a “real” circle.  Then I drop all the selected people into the Deferred Circle, select the encountered person, and drop them into the appropriate circle.

I like this much better and would like to see Google implement something like it.  If someone else has other ideas, I’d love to hear about them.


UPDATE: Another way to hide people from from the “Find and invite” queue is to use the little close icon to remove them from the queue.  This icon is a little “x” in the upper right corner of the person’s card in the queue.

G  Contact Card 01

This approach is certainly reasonable for cards that you know you won’t be adding to Circles.  I’ve been using this for mailing lists (e.g., * and some individuals.

The problem with this approach for those you want to defer is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to view or retrieve a list of cards removed from the queue.  I can always add people by manually entering their email address, so that’s why I’m not using this removal function very much – it imposes the possibility of lots of manual entry later.

Google Spreadsheet Sorting Bug

I needed to tally votes from a simple poll for determining priorities of some topics.  Several other people need to analyze the results; since they are from different organizations, I decided to use Google Spreadsheets.

Instead of going through the whole process of how I arrived at the bug, I’ll cut to the chase and just explain the problem:

If a Google Spreadsheet uses references to another spreadsheet, sorting the spreadsheet does not adjust the referenced cells correctly.

To demonstrate the problem, here’s a few screenshots:

Google Spreadsheet - Initial State
Google Spreadsheet - Initial State

Note that cell A3 uses formula =’Topics’!A3 in order to display the value from the corresponding cell of the Topics spreadsheet.

Google Spreadsheet - Incorrect Sort Behavior
Google Spreadsheet - Incorrect Sort Behavior

After sorting on column D, notice that columns C & D (in green rectangle) are changed, but columns A & B (in red rectangle) are not.  The result of the sort is incorrect and useless at this point because Topic A, Choice 1 is not truly the top rated item.

To demonstrate a bit further, I changed hard-coded the values in column A rather than have them reference the values in the Topics spreadsheet.  The result of sorting after this change looks like:

Google Spreadsheet - Partly Correct Sort Behavior
Google Spreadsheet - Partly Correct Sort Behavior

Here we see that columns A, B & C have changed correctly, but column B has not because it still uses references to the Topics spreadsheet. (Note the value of cell A3 shown in the Formula bar just above the spreadsheet)

So, is this a bug or not?  I would count it as “unexpected behavior,” but I guess Google will have to determine whether they want fix this or not.  I got the results I expected from Excel, however, as you can see here:

Microsoft Excel - Correct Sort Behavior
Microsoft Excel - Correct Sort Behavior

If you’re interested to tinker with or investigate this issue, you can copy the Excel spreadsheet, import it into Google Docs and tinker away.  Caveat: You may have to set the reference formulas in the Results spreadsheet to point to the appropriate cells in the Topics spreadsheet.  I don’t think Google converts the references to hard values during import, so verify it beforehand.

Winners and Losers in Oracle’s Java Battle

I have a confession to make: I don’t use Java much.  There, I’ve said it.  You’ll have to take this post with whatever grain(s) of salt you determine.

I’m a software developer who works primarily in the Microsoft technology stack.  Many years of C#, .NET, etc. in my history, and now Azure is my main focus area.  However, I’m very interested in Android, so lately I’ve been tinkering with it and considering building an app for the marketplace.  Isn’t it interesting that a cell phone OS is the pull for me to get into Java, GAE, Eclipse and even Linux? But that’s probably better saved for another post.

Consider the case for Android developers: The up-front costs for Android development is almost exclusively hardware.  You need a development workstation and, eventually, Android devices for real-world testing.  Linux, Eclipse, Java and Android are all free.  Well, for now.

What happens if Oracle gets its way in the Java suit against Google?  Would Google continue giving Android away for free while paying Java royalties to Oracle?  These questions clear the fog a bit in terms of the suit’s potential impact.  And those impacts have already begun.  Many developers are now forced to take a wait-and-see approach to Java-based projects, including Android projects.

So it seems that Java-based or -oriented projects, big and small, are losers in this equation.  Who are the winners?  Will Oracle be a winner?  They may well see a revenue upswing, but it will drive many away from Java.  Will IBM continue it’s Java investments?  That leaves Microsoft.  Will Java developers migrate to .NET?

“May you live in interesting times.” – Chinese proverb

Who wins market share from #Oracle’s #Java suit on #Google?  #Microsoft? #IBM?

OnClosingOSS(Oracle, Java, Google)

What is the impact of Oracle suing Google over the latter’s use of Java in Android?  Is it just a little spittin’ match between two software giants?  Or will it have industry-wide implications?

Unfortunately, this case will have substantial, industry-wide implications.  If you’re not so sure you agree, I recommend you check out

The Rymer/Hammond post lays out Oracles options after acquiring Java.  I agree with them when they say that Oracle chose to “Supercharge Java as a money machine.”  The other option?  Reinvigorate Java as an OSS leader.

Although it’s impossible to predict what will occur in the Java development community, I do think it’s clear that Oracle’s suit against Google will drive many formerly Free OSS (FOSS) systems to For-Profit OSS which would be better named OSSINO – OSS In Name Only.