Google Shared Stuff: First Impressions [en]

[fr] Google Shared Stuff, nouveau venu dans l'arène du social bookmarking. Pas convaincue qu'ils aient pour le moment quelque chose de plus à apporter que leurs concurrents déjà bien établis.

I’ve briefly tried [Google Shared Stuff](, and here are my first impressions. I’m one of those horrible people who always see what the problems are instead of what’s good, so I’ll just say as a preamble to the few gripes I’m raising here that overall, it looks neat, shiny, and it works roughly as it should.

#### Profile Photo

Your Shared Stuff -- Upload Picture

– **nice:** I can choose photos from various sources
– **not so nice:** “The photo you specify here will be used across all Google products and services which display your public photo, including Google Talk and Gmail.”

I already have a photo in my Gmail/Google Talk profile. Why can’t you use it? If I upload a photo here, is it going to overwrite it? Need more info, folks.

#### Private vs. Public

This is my shared stuff:

Your Shared Stuff -- As I See It

Shared stuff can be public or private. Above is the page as *I, the account owner* see it. Below is the page that the public sees:

Shared Stuff from Stephanie Booth -- As Everyone Sees It

See the missing link? (Not difficult, there are only two in total.) “Hah, you’ll say, you made the second link private! That’s why the public can’t see it!” Try again:

Trying - And Failing - To Share CTTS

The link was shared as “public”. This is obviously broken in some way, folks. Please fix it.

#### Email/Share Bookmarklet

The bookmarklet is nice, but nothing revolutionary:

Sharing Bookmarklets and Buttons

What about the sharing pane? It looks very much like the sharing pane, but more cluttered. The nice thing is that it lets you choose a photo to illustrate your share (like FaceBook does, for example):

Google Shared Stuff Email / Share Bookmarklet Pane Sharing Pane

Besides being less cluttered, the pane has a huge advantage over the Google one: it’s a resizable window. Really really appreciated when a link you clicked (or a page opened by Skitch) uses that window for the new tab.

One interesting feature of this sharing pane is that it allows you to share to other social bookmarking services — not just Google’s. That’s nice. Open. No lock-in. But… isn’t it a bit pointless when I can access the bookmarking pane in just one click instead of three?

Google Shared Stuff Bookmarklet Pane

#### What I Wish For


I’d like a one-click bookmarklet which works exactly like the “Share” button in Google Reader:

Google Reader Share Button

Clicking the “Share” button adds the post to the stream of my [Shared Items page/feed]( Painless. I can easily add them to my sidebar:

Google Shared Items on CTTS

However, now that I’m using [the Google Reader “Next” bookmarklet]( more, I find that I’m in Google Reader less, so something like a “Share Bookmarklet” (Google Reader-style) would come in really handy.

The main point here is that to share something in Google Reader, I click once. With Shared Stuff or, I click at least twice.

**[Holes in Buckets!](**

So here we are. Again. Make all this stuff communicate, will ya? **When I share stuff in Google Reader, I’d love it to be pushed to my account automatically, with a preset tag or tags (“shareditem” for example).** It annoys me to have links I’ve saved [in]( **and** in Shared Items (Google Reader). It’s not as bad as it was when you couldn’t search Google Reader, but still.

Am I going to add yet another list of “shared stuff” to my online ecosystem? That’s the question. Make that bookmarklet share to Google Reader Shared Items, and let me push all that to, and you’ll really have something that adds value for me.

Otherwise, I’m not sure where Shared Stuff will fit in my social bookmarking life.

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Geeky Frustrations [en]

[fr] Quelques râlages (comme quoi je ne fais pas ça qu'en français) au sujet de certains outils que j'utilise quotidiennement.

Right, so, just so I can get it off my chest, here is a list of little things that bug me with the tools I use daily. If I save them for a “proper write-up” they probably will never be posted, so… here goes.

– Twitter: let me see a differential list of those I follow and those who follow me, both ways. I need to know who is following me that I’m not following (maybe I missed somebody out) and who I’m following but they’re not (to keep in mind they won’t see stuff I twitter).
– Twitter: let me tag my friends, or sort them into buddy groups. Then let me activate phone alerts for only certain groups. One-by-one management is just impossible with 100 or so friends.
– Adium: let me [turn off Gmail notifications]( I have Google Notifier for that. I hate having to click “OK” on that window all the time.
– Google Reader: let me [drag’n drop]( feeds from one folder to another.
– Facebook: let me import more than one RSS feed in my notes.
– Nokia 6280 and Macbook: please sync with each other *each time* I ask you to, not once out of three.
– Nokia 6280: gimme a “mark all as read” option for my text messages, please!
– Nokia 6280: I’d say something about the really crappy camera, but there isn’t much you can do about it now, can you.
– iPod: let me loop through all episodes of a podcast instead of having to go to the next episode manually.
– iTunes: let me mix playlists as a source for Party Shuffle (30% My Favorites, 30% Not Listened in Last week, 40% Artist I’m Obsessing Over These Days… for example)
– Google Reader and find a way to allow me to automatically post Shared Items to too.
– Flickr: let me link to “My Favorite photos tagged …” so I can show my readers what I’ve found.
– **Added 18.02.07 0:10** [Google Ajax-y Homepage]( let me Share Google Reader items, not just star them.
– …

Certainly more, but these were those which were bugging me badly just now. Well, they’re off my chest, now I can go back to fretting about all the [stuff I need to get rid of]( in my flat and which is still lying around because I haven’t quite figured out the optimal way to dispose of it.

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Please Make Holes in My Buckets! [en]

[fr] Tour d'horizon de mes différents "profils" à droite et a gauche dans le paysage des outils sociaux (social tools). Il manque de la communication entre ces différents services, et mon identité en ligne s'en trouve fragmentée et lourde à gérer. Ajouter des contacts en se basant sur mon carnet d'adresses Gmail est un bon début, mais on peut aller plus loin. Importer ses livres préférés ou des éléments de CV d'un profil à l'autre, par exemple.

[Facebook]( is [Stowe](’s fault. [Twitter]( was because of [Euan]( [Anne Dominique]( is guilty of getting me on [Xing/OpenBC]( I can’t remember precisely for [Flickr]( or [LinkedIn]( or — OMG! — [orkut](, but it was certainly somebody from [#joiito]( The culprits for [](, [DailyMotion]( and [YouTube]( “Even got there early enough to grab ‘steph’ — now I get password reminders almost everyday, great…”) have disappeared into the limbo of lost memories. [Kevin]( encouraged me to [sign up for a good dozen of blogging platforms](, open a [MySpace account](, and he’s probably to blame for me being on [Upcoming]( As for [](, I’ll blame [Matt]( because he’s behind all that.

Granted, I’m probably the only one responsible for having [gotten into blogging]( “Story here, abbreviated version.”) in the first place.

Let’s get back on track. My aim here is not primarily to point an accusing finger to all my devious friends who introduced me to these fun, [addictive](, time-consuming tools (though it’s interesting to note how one forgets those things, in passing). It’s more a sort of round-up of a bunch of my “online selves”. I feel a little scattered, my friends. Here are all these buckets in which I place stuff, but there aren’t enough holes in them.

Feeds are good. Feeds allow me to have Twitter, [](, Flickr, and even stuff in my blog sidebar. It also allows me to connect my blogs to one another, and into Facebook. Here, though, we’re talking “content” much more than “self”.

One example I’ve already certainly talked about (but no courage to dig it out, my blog is starting to be a huge thing in which I can’t find stuff I know it contains) is contacts or buddies — the “Mine” in [Stowe’s analysis of social applications]( I have buddy lists on IM and Skype, contacts on Flickr and just about every service I mentioned in this post. Of *course*, I don’t want to necessarily have the same contacts everywhere. I might love your photos on Flickr and add you as a contact, but not see any interest in adding you to my business network on LinkedIn. Some people, though — my **friends** — I’ll want to have more or less everywhere.

So, here’s a hole in the buckets that I really like: I’ve seen this in many services, but the first time I saw it was on Myspace. “Let us peek in your GMail contacts, and we’ll tell you who already has an account — and let you invite the others.” When I saw that, it scared me (“OMG! Myspace sticking its nose in my e-mail!”) but I also found it really exciting. Now, it would be even better if I could say “import friends and family from Flickr” or “let me choose amongst my IM buddies”, but it’s a good start. Yes, there’s a danger: no, I don’t want to spam invitations to your service to the 450 unknown adresses you found in my contacts, thankyouverymuch. [Plaxo]( is a way to do this (I’ve seen it criticised but I can’t precisely remember why). Facebook does it, which means that within 2 minutes you can already have friends in the network. Twitter doesn’t, which means you have to painstakingly go through your friends of friends lists to get started. I think [coComment]( and any “friend-powered” service should allow us to import contacts like that by now. And yes, sure, privacy issues.

But what about all my **profile information**? I don’t want to have to dig out my favourite movies each time I sign up to a new service. Or my favourite books. Or the schools I went to. I mean, some things are reasonably stable. Why couldn’t I have all that in a central repository, once and for all, and just have all these neat social tools import the information from there? Earlier today, [David]( was telling me over IM that he’d like to have a central service to bring all our Facebook, LinkedIn, OpenBC/Xing, and MySpace stuff together. Or a way to publish his CV/résumé online and allow Facebook to access it to grab data from it. Good ideas, in my opinion.

I’ll mention [OpenID]( here, but just in passing, because although in my dreams in used to hold the promise of this centralised repository of “all things me”, I don’t think that it’s what it has been designed for (if I get it correctly, it is identity **verification** and doesn’t have much to do with the **contents** of this identity). [Microformats]( could on the other hand certainly come in handy here.

So, please, make more holes in my buckets. Importing Gmail contacts in sticking feeds here and there is nice, but not sufficient. For the moment, Facebook seems promising. But let me use Twitter for my statuses, for example, or at least include the feed somewhere (I can only include one feed, so I’ve included my [suprglu one](, but it has a huge lag and is not very satisfying). Let me put photographs in my albums directly from Flickr. Talk with the profiles I made with other similar services. Grab my school and work info from LinkedIn and OpenBC. Then make all this information you have about me available to republish how I want it (feeds, feeds, feeds! widgets! buttons! badges!) where I want it.

Also, [more granularity]( Facebook has a good helping of it: I can choose which type of information I want to see from my contacts. I can restrict certain contacts from seeing certain parts of my profile. I’d like fine control on who can see what, also by sorting my people into “buddy groups”. “Friends” and “Family” as on Flickr is just not enough. And maybe Facebook could come and present me with [Stowe-groupings]( of my contacts, based on the interactions I have with them.

Share your wild ideas here if you have any.

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Google Reader Share Limitations [en]

[fr] J'ai peur que mon amour pour la fonction "share" de Google Reader ne soit en train d'appauvrir l'ajout de liens à mon compte

I told you [I liked the sharing feature of Google Reader]( After a week or so using it, I worry that I’m [“sharing” stuff]( instead of putting it in []( It’s not a problem *per se*, but it is because I can’t search my shared items.

Wishlist: I’d love a “” button next to the “share” one in gReader. Of course, I’m dreaming, as is Yahoo.

**Edit:** by the way, thanks to the people who use the [add to feedflare]( to help me add their posts to It’s really useful.

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Tags and Categories are not the Same! [en]

[fr] Les tags et les catégories, ce n'est pas la même chose. En bref, les catégories forment une structure hiérarchique, prédéfinie, qui régit l'architecture de notre contenu et aide autrui à s'y retrouver. Les tags sont spontanés, ad hoc, de granularité variable, tournés vers le partage et la recherche d'information.

Update, Sept. 2007: when I saw Matt in San Francisco this winter, he told me he had finally “seen the light” (his words!) about tags and categories. Six months later, it’s a reality for WordPress users. Thanks for listening.

I got a bit heated up last night between [Matt’s comment that tags and categories function the same]( and a discussion I was having with [Kevin]( on IM at the same time, about the fact that [Technorati parses categories as tags](

I went back to read two of my old posts: [Technorati Tagified]( and [Plugin Idea: Weighted Tags by Category]( which I wrote about a year ago. In both, it’s very clear that as a user, I don’t percieve tags to be the same thing as categories. Tags were something like “public keywords”. Is anybody here going to say that keywords and categories are the same thing? (There is a difference between keywords and tags, but this isn’t the topic here; keywords and tags are IMHO much closer in nature than tags and categories).

Here are, in my opinion, the main differences between tags and categories, from the “tagger” point of view.

– categories exist before the item I’m categorizing, whereas tags are created in reaction to the item, often in an ad hoc manner: I need to fit the item in a category, but I adapt tags to the item;
– categories should be few, tags many;
– categories are expected to have a pretty constant granularity, whereas tags can be very general like “[switzerland](” or very particular like “[bloggyfriday](”;
– categories are planned, tags are spontanous, they have a brainstorm-like nature, as [Kevin explains very well]( You look at the picture and type in the few words it makes you think of, move on to the next, and you’re done.
– relations between categories are tree-like, but those between tags are network-like;
– categories are something you choose, tags are generally something you gush out;
– categories help me classify what I’m talking about, and tags help me share or spread it;
– …

There’s nothing wrong with Technorati treating categories as tags. I’d say categories are a kind of tag. They are special tags you plan in advance to delimit zones of content, and that you display them on your blog to help your readers find their way through what you say or separate areas of interest (ie, my Grandma will be interested by my [Life and Ramblings]( category and subscribe to that if she has an RSS reader, but she knows she doesn’t care about anything in the [Geek]( category. (By the way, CTTS is not a good example of this, the categories are a real mess.)

So, let’s say categories are tags. I can agree with that. But tags are not categories! Tags help people going through a “search” process. Click on a tag to see related posts/photos. See things outside the world of this particular weblog which have the same label attached. Provide a handy label to [collect writings, photos, and stuff from a wide variety of people]( “The LIFT06 tag.”) without requiring them to change the architecture of their blog content (their categories). If you want to, yeah, you can drop categories and use only tags. It works on []( But have you noticed how most Flickr users have [](sets) in addition to tagging their photos? Sets aren’t categories, but they can be close. They are a way of presenting and organizing things for human beings rather than machines, search engines, database queries.

To get back to [my complaint that does not provide real tags](, it’s mainly a question of user interface. I don’t care if from a software point of view, tags and categories are the same thing for WordPress. As a user, I need a field in which I can let my fingers gush out keyword-tags once I’ve finished writing my post. I also need someplace to define and structure category-tags. I need to be able to define how to display these two kids of tags (if you want to call them both that) on my blog, because they are ways of classifying or labeling information which I live very differently.

Am I a tag weirdo? Do you also perceive a difference between tags and categories? How would you express or define it? If categories and tags are the same, the new WP2.0 interface for categories should make [the Bunny Tags Plugin]( obsolete — does it?

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Thinking About Tags [en]

What if taggy applications like Technorati, Flickr and started allowing us to query multiple tags with “and” and “or” operators?

[fr] Une proposition pour pouvoir combiner les tags (comme "blogosphere ET blogosphère", "livres OU films") dans des services comme Flickr,, et maintenant Technorati.

Some quick thoughts about tags, following Technorati Tagified.

So, there is “blog“. And “weblog“. And “blogs“. And “weblogs“.

How about a way to get the posts/photos/links tagged with any of these tags? Maybe something like .../blog,blogs,weblog,weblogs/.

That would also solve some multilingual problems: get “blogosphere” and “blogosphère” together on the same page with .../blogosphère,blogosphere/.

At, I tag the books I’ve read with “books/read“, and films I’ve seen with either “films/seen/cinema” or “films/seen” (if I saw them on DVD). This used to work fine, because a bug (poor me thought it was a feature) would include links tagged as “films/seen/cinema” when one asked for “films/seen“. That doesn’t work anymore.

Say I avoid messing with tags-with-slashes, and tag films I saw at the cinema with “films seen cinema” and others with “films seen dvd”. I’ll probably also have links tagged “films” or “cinema” but which are not tagged “seen”. How could I pull out a list of links tagged “films” AND “seen”? Perhaps something like .../films+seen/.

Update, 10:00: Kevin tells me “+” signifies a space in a URL. Maybe “&” could do the job instead, then? And if “&” can’t because it’s supposed to separate parameters, any other suggestions?

Update, 11:40: holy cow, does this already! I’ve updated my tags and lists. See “books+read” for books I’ve read, and “films+seen” for films I’ve seen. I’m a happy bunny!

Let’s get wild, shall we? .../books-read/ could list things tagged as “books” but not “read”.

Now we only need a way to assign operation priority, to be able to start retrieving lists like “books I’ve read or films I’ve seen which are also tagged as india” — wouldn’t that be cool?

Taggy application developers, hear the call!

Thanks to rvr and GabeW for the little discussion on #joiito which prompted me to write this post.

P.S.: has anybody written that WordPress plugin yet? (You know the one I’m talking about: the one that lets you painlessly technorati-tag your posts.)

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MagpieRSS Caching Problem [en]

I have a caching problem using the PHP MagpieRSS library to parse feeds. Any help welcome.

[fr] J'ai un problème de cache utilisant la librarie PHP MagpieRSS. Toute aide bienvenue!

I’ve been stuck on a problem with MagpieRSS for weeks. This is a desperate call for help.

At the top of my sidebar, I have two lists of links which are generated by parsing RSS feeds: Delicious Linkball and Recently Playing. They don’t update.

If I delete the cache files, the script creates them all right. If I keep an eye on the cache files, I see their timestamp is updated every hour, but not the contents. I’ve uploaded the PHP code which parses the feeds.

Any suggestions welcome. I’m not far from giving up and setting cron jobs to regularly delete the cache files. Thanks in advance.

Update 13:00: The Recently Playing list updates once an hour (when the cache is “force-refreshed”), it seems — but not the Delicious Links one.

14:00: Some progress: doesn’t seem to update unless I clear the cache on my machine. (Huh?), on the other hand, is — but why does the cache update only once an hour, and not each time the feed is modified?

15:00: crschmidt just pointed out that the last-modified date on my RSS feed was horribly wrong. Might be something that was done at the time when my caching problems were causing me to nastily abuse the poor server. I’ve sent a mail to Joshua to see if indeed this could be the problem.

15:50: Still thanks to the excellent crschmidt, I’ve finally understood how this caching is supposed to work. (Yes, I know, we’re starting to have lots of edits on this post.) There is a setting which determines how old the cache must be to become “stale”. As long as the cache is not stale, any requests made will use the cache directly, without pulling the feed in question. If the cache is stale, a request is sent to the server hosting the feed to check if it has changed since it was last accessed. If it has changed (i.e., if Last-Modified is more recent than the cache), it gets a fresh version of the feed. Otherwise, nothing happens (the cache age is just “reset”).

Now, for a LinkLog service like, setting the cache age to a couple of hours is more than enough as far as I’m concerned. However, for a list of recently played songs, every few minutes should be better. MagpieRSS seems to allow this to be set on a per-call basis by defining MAGPIE_CACHE_AGE, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me. Another variable is set on a per-installation basis: var $MAX_AGE = 1800; — but changing that won’t really help, as I want different values for Recently Playing and Delicious Links. Suggestions on this secondary problem welcome too!

16:40: After exchanging a few e-mails with Joshua, it seems that there was indeed a problem with the Last-Modified date on my feed. Not quite sure how it came about (somebody requesting the feed when I hadn’t posted in some time?), but it should be fixed now. I’ve cleared my cache files to see if my 30-minute “stale time” is working or not.

17:30: (See how I’m updating every 50 minutes? Freaky.) So, the not-so-nice things about PHP constants is that they are constant and (?) local to the function in which they are defined. (Not sure I go that bit right, but.) Important thing here is to note that MAGPIE_CACHE_AGE can’t be used to set different “stale cache” ages for different feeds. The stale cache age needs to be set at the bottom of (the only place I hadn’t touched) — so my cache is now refreshing every half-hour. (Which is a bit too often for, and not often enough for Audioscrobblers.) oqp says he can write a wrapper to get around this limitation — I’m waiting impatiently for him to do it!

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Delicious! A Great Bookmarks Manager [en]

Delicious is an online bookmark manager. It makes it very easy to add and categorize bookmarks, as well as share them with other users. You can also extract your bookmarks from delicious and integrate them in your blog to create a linklog. When I say ‘easy’, I really mean it!

Now, why on earth didn’t I start using delicious ages ago, when I first stumbled upon it? Maybe it didn’t look pretty enough, and didn’t flaunt its features loudly enough for me?

A couple of days ago I paid delicious another visit. See, somebody on #joiito mentioned my Keeping the Flat Clean post, and I suddenly found there was a bunch of people from delicious visiting that article. I thought: “My, people are actually using this thing!” and signed up for an account.

So… what does delicious do? It allows you to easily add pages you visit to your bookmarks, using intelligent bookmarklets (two clicks and no typing to add a link if you want to be minimalist). This is already easier than what I have to do to add links to my LinkBall.

You can categorize your bookmarks very easily by typing words in the “tag” field of the bookmarklet. No need to define categories — delicious takes care of it all for you. You can then view your bookmarks by category or (and this is where it gets interesting) all the bookmarks marked with a same tag. Each bookmark in your list is one-click editable, and each bookmark in somebody else’s list is one-click copyable. For each link, you can also view a list of all the users who have bookmarked it.

Does it stop there? No. All the bookmark lists (by user or by tag) are available in RSS and can be subscribed to within delicious. As a user, you have an Inbox which aggregates the feeds you have subscribed to. You may subscribe to a “user feed” or a “tag (category) feed”. On top of that, bookmark lists are available in plain html, and many users have contributed various hacks which can help you integrate your bookmarks with your weblog. (Update 02.06.04: one thing you shouldn’t do, though, is simply include that HTML feed with a PHP include or an iframe, as this will cause the delicious server to be hit each time somebody views your page.)

If you aren’t a user of delicious yet, you need to go and register right now.

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