The Shame of the Motorola Sale

I’m not going to comment much on the actual sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo or why Google has done it … not really that interesting to me and the rest of the internet is handling that part quite well/horribly.nexusae0_128734-050-2AF822A11

However, this is the end for one of the true pioneers of the mobile space. Motorola was a once-proud company making real strides and now it has been picked apart and sold for scrap. The once dominant company has now been sold for parts. That’s kind of sad. Nokia is in the same boat right now. They were the two dominant players in the old-school cell market and now they are both pretty much gone.

However, it does give me more respect for companies like Microsoft and Apple who are still hanging around after 30+ years. That’s remarkable. Even IBM, who is still there, is not the same company today as it was 30 years ago.

But Microsoft and Apple are still here, doing their thing. That earns respect from me.

Google (and Gmail) is Google+

File this one under the Just Be Aware category. Also, yes, this is more sour grapes about Google from me. You should be used to this by now.

Google has announced, and The Verge has reported and clarified, a new “feature” that will be introduced into Gmail in the coming days. It basically boils down to this:

  • Google+ is now even more integrated into Gmail
  • When you type in a person’s name to add them to an email, Google will recommend people with that name from Google+ … both people in your circles, and people outside of your circles
  • Now anyone can send a message to your Gmail account
  • If you do not have that person in your circles, it will be filtered into the Social category
  • This behavior (people being able to just search for a name and send a message to your Gmail Social category) is opt-out

People who know and love Google and Google+ might not have an issue with this, and that is fine. Everyone is free to make their own choices on what services they use and how they use them.

However, this is another case where I am glad I’ve moved my personal email off of Gmail and to somewhere and someone else (iCloud at the moment).

The consolidation of every Google property into Google+ freaks me out as a user. The fact that they make such things opt-out instead of opt-in is just another case of being willing to burn down everything to try to beat Facebook at their own creepiness game.

John Gruber pretty much echoed my first thoughts with his short commentary:

This has to be a mistake. Surely Google will change this from opt-out to opt-in.

But the more I thought about it, the more I agree with Marco Arment on the overall theme of many of the decisions Google has been making not just with Google+, but with every single product that they own:

I don’t know why anyone’s surprised. To be clear, for anyone who thinks Google is some benevolent, selfless entity handing out free services to everyone out of the goodness of its heart:

Google’s leadership, threatened by the attention and advertising relevance of Facebook, is betting the company on Google+ at all costs.

Truth be told, Google is free to do this if they like and people are free to continue to use Google services knowing full well what Google is trying to do. That’s the beauty of having choices in this market (and luckily, we do have choices).

However, this is another nail in the coffin between myself and Google. I’m hoping that they will enable an option in their Google Apps for Education admin interface for me to switch the default to either Circles or No one. At that point, people can make their own decisions on how they want people to be able to find them.

In the end, maybe that is my main beef: the default setting. Defaults matter. Defaults, many times, say something about your company.

Making this opt-out tells me just a little bit more about where Google is heading.

Google Reader Replacements

As has been known for a few months, Google is shutting down Google Reader on July 1. Sadly, no clear alternative has come out for me … or at least, not a complete solution to replace my reliance on Google Reader + Reeder.

Google Reader Death

As such, I am just going to outline, briefly, what I have tried and what I am holding out for at the moment. Luckily, I have moved off of Google Reader (and have for the past month or so), but now I am starting to think about how I might mitigate this issue from happening again in the future.

This is my story.

Feedly

I give them credit, they have a very pretty-looking site and pretty apps as well. No app on the Mac is a bit of a problem, but it works pretty well. They just switched everyone over to their own backend, so it is definitely an alternative.

One issue I have had is that it is just so DESIGNED. I’m not quite sure what doesn’t sit well with me, but their entire experience is so full of whiz-bang effects that it doesn’t quite work as just a simple, easy, feed reader … which is what I am looking for. Reader + Reeder was able to cut out most or all of the cruft that Google kept bolting on, so it worked really well.

So it might work for you but it really didn’t work for me. It also invited me to get into categorizing my feeds more, which is a time-sink and the cost-to-benefit ration quickly dissipated over time. I don’t need additional stuff.

Oh, it is also free, which is not going to turn into a theme for the rest of this.

Feed Wrangler

From David Smith comes a pay-to-play RSS reader. For a subscription fee of $19/year you get access to the Feed Wrangler backend, the online reader, and (currently) the two iOS apps made specifically for Feed Wrangler.

While the feed scraping isn’t as fast as Google Reader, being able to pay for the backend myself (or help to do it) makes me feel better about the service as a while.  While currently there is not a Mac app available, Silvio Rizzi, the developer of Reeder, has announced that he is currently working on adding Feed Wrangler support for future versions of Reeder on both Mac and iOS.

That’s awesome.

The current iOS apps work well, and I’m sure David will continue to update them, but I’m hoping those mythical Reeder updates come out soon so that I can hook up my Feed Wrangler subscription and be a happy person.

It is a simple service and that allows it not to annoy me as much as Feedly did/does. Right now this is where I house my RSS feeds until such a time as something better shows up.

NetNewsWire

The grandfather of RSS applications on the Mac.

Black Pixel just released the first public beta of NetNewsWire 4 for OS X and it is fast. It is pretty. It is an OS X app through-and-through.

Those are all things in its favor currently. Sadly, it is also incomplete and lacks one of the basic things missing from any solution replacing Google Reader: syncing.

They have announced that they are working on a sync solution and also have stated that their iOS apps are currently in-flux due to the imminent release (this fall) of iOS 7. Those are not exactly good things …

… but the current beta is so good that I am trying it out as a secondary feed reader on just OS X. My hope is that their sync solution will maybe allow me to host it myself on my own server, but I will just need to wait and see.

Just go and try out the beta and see if you like it. So far I’m extremely happy, but I need to see how they are going to handle sync and also when they are going to get their iOS apps out before I can choose this as a complete solution.

Conclusion

Right now, there is no complete solution for me. Reeder doesn’t support Feed Wrangler yet, Feed Wrangler doesn’t have an OS X app yet, and NetNewsWire is the least-ready of them all … with an OS X application.

So, I keep my stuff in Feed Wrangler for now and hope that I will have a better picture by the time my subscription is due next year.

Google Glass

J. D. Bentley over at Digital Asceticism pretty much mirrors my initial reaction to Google Glass from what I have seen, heard, and read.

Google Glass

One thing I had not put a lot of thought into is the why portion. He nails it pretty much on the head:

But what’s notable about Google Glass is that my dislike for it isn’t sustained primarily by my own unwillingness to use it, but my adamant opposition to being around those who do.

I will take another second to recommend his blog because it really is full of some really good insights into the intersection of technology and our lives.

Google Killing Google Reader

Good bye old friend.

Google Reader

And like that, Google has decided to kill off Google Reader after 8 years.

Google Reader is really what I cut my teeth on for RSS, and I’ve had the same account syncing my RSS subscriptions since then. First I worked with Google Reader in iGoogle (which they are also killing) and then moved to Reeder when I picked up my first iPhone in 2009.

However, come July 1, that will all come to an end. I’m going to be on the lookout for an alternative until it finally shuts completely down, but I’m hoping, like Marco Arment, that this will maybe usher in a new era of innovation for RSS. Maybe the death of the 800 pound gorilla who killed all other RSS readers will allow others to come in and really spread their wings.

Alright, that last sentence was terrible. Forgive me.

On the bright side, this is one less thing I will be relying on Google for. This really just leaves Google Talk and Google Docs/Drive as the only services Google provides that I could not easily go elsewhere for.

Maybe they will be replaced in the future … or Google will just decide to kill them off for me.