Getting Google Buzz to post to Twitter

Google Buzz has been out for a couple of days now. It certainly seems to be getting a lot of attention, personally speaking it looks a lot more active than Twitter was when I first joined it. There is quite a bit of scope to link accounts to Buzz from the off, I’ve already got my blogs, Flickr, Twitter and Youtube posting to it. However at the moment it is all one way. What if you want your posts on Buzz to go back to Twitter?

Well for starters, looking at the API, it looks like that will come soon. However for now I have come up with a way of doing it to some extent. An existing service that has been pulled in to become part of Buzz was Google Profiles. This now has your Buzz posts on it. Usefully though, it also has an RSS feed (okay, an Atom feed), containing your Buzz posts. See my Google Profile for an example, once you’re there, in Firefox click on the blue RSS icon in the address bar, and you should get the option to subscribe to the page (depending on your settings). This will give you the URL for that page.

So, go to your own profile page, grab the RSS feed URL, and then go over to Create an account there, set it up to use your Google Profile feed, and after a delay of a few hours, it will start posting your Buzz posts onto Twitter.

Provisos are:
1) Obviously Twitter has a much shorter character limit, so your posts may potentially get cut short
2) If you set a post limit in Twitterfeed, it will only take the first x posts you’ve made.
3) It is only your posts, no comments
4) You’ll not get any of the other data such as location etc.
5) It does seem a little flaky thus far, there is potentially for tuning a bit how Twitterfeed changes the post to get it on Twitter, but not lots of options.

A proper integrated solution within Buzz will probably fix all of these, but it will do for now.

The real-time web is sort of coming soon

A couple of interesting but not unexpected developments today, first Bing announced it was including <a href="http://www viagra suisse”>real-time Twitter updates in its searches(this doesn’t look that live yet), then a few hours later Google announced the same.

Real-time updates have been coming from a few directions in the past few months. There has been a little buzz about PubSubHubBub and to a lesser extent RSSCloud, both of which look to extend RSS (or in RSSCloud’s case take advantage of what was in RSS 2.0 already), and these can be used to provide real-time updates from blogs to RSS readers and to search engines.

Then came the public beta of Google Wave. Wave is many different things, but one of the main parts is messaging and collaboration in real time. You can see collaborators typing letters in real time, and can also publish a wave on a site outside of the interface, so it can be see by others at the same time.

Another example in the real-time space is OneRiot, who are building a real-time search engine. Their index only goes back one day at present, they try to index only the current content about any topic, using a combination of tracking member behaviour and monitoring Facebook, Digg and Twitter.

The movement seems to be at the moment to speed up the flow of information from web sites and social networks into the tools we use, whether that is a search engine, a web site, a blog or a social network. Lots of small pieces are starting to come together to form a larger whole. It is a refinement of existing technologies rather than a revolution, perhaps nothing that would merit the annoyance of the tag Web 3.0, but it is interesting to see this movement starting to form into results over the past few months.

How Google Notebook can help with your Christmas shopping

As well as search, Google Reader, and Gmail, there is one other Google product I’ll use every day, and that is Google Notebook. It works so well for me for making todo lists, storing links and information, and sharing with other people. You need a Google account to use it, and once set up you’re able to create multiple notebooks for whatever you want. It is worth also installing the Google Notebook Firefox extension, as that then gives right-click access to store links instantly, and a popup mini-version of your notebooks in the bottom-right corner of the page you’re on.

How will this help with your Christmas shopping though? Well, let me explain:

1. Making your Christmas shopping list

As you search online for potential presents across several sites, simply add the page for each possible item to a notebook just for presents. Make notes and comments on those links, compare the prices and ideas, drag and drop them order of which are the best. If you have a lot of presents to buy, you might even want a notebook for each person. Add text notes in the same list as well, reminders or a list of what you have to find. I’m also doing a todo list in one of my notebooks which is my Christmas card list, reminding my wife and I of who we have to send cards to (more on that shortly).

2. What about my presents?

Wish lists have been around for many years now, Amazon being perhaps the best and most well-known example. How do you create a wish list for several online shops though? Well, as above, add all the items you’ve found to a notebook.

When your list is bulging with goodies, go to sharing options for that notebook. Say yes to making the notebook a public web page and save. You’ve now got a page that you can send to your friends and family to let them know what you would like for Christmas. In the top-right of your notebook it will now show as published, with a link to view that page. Do note however that this is a public page that anyone can see.

You can add, change or remove notes from within your notebook, and your public wish list will be automatically updated.

3. Organise Christmas together

If you go back to the sharing options, you can also invite other people to collaborate and use the same notebook. Do this if you don’t want to make your list public to anyone. In this case, anyone you invite can edit and add to the notebook in the same way you can. I’m using this option to plan Christmas with my wife. We’ve got our todo list, a list of presents we need to buy for our collective family and friends, and our Christmas card list. Obviously I’ve also got a separate private notebook for presents I might get her too.

So there you are, a few simple ways to use Google Notebook to help get ready for Christmas. It is a wonderful little tool for all sorts of planning tasks, and it is nice and easy to get even newcomers used to using it.

Google Maps Mobile v2.2 released

Google have updated Google Maps mobile to version 2.2. Works on the N95 fine, seems a bit speedier and neater. Google Transit seems to cover the South of England in general, so I can potentially use it to plan bus journeys should I need to as well.
Google Maps Mobile Hits v2.2 With Public Transportation

Spicebird 0.4 available for download

Spicebird is an open-source collaboration suite. Simply put, it is built on Mozilla’s Thunderbird code, and also includes calendars, instant messaging, notes, contacts, feed reading and an old-school news reader. It look nice, is well put-together thus far, has a lot of integration with Google applications such as gmail and calendar, and is shaping up nicely. It isn’t there yet, you can only use Jabber (including Google Talk) with it thus far, you can only import Google Calendars thus far, but I’m in the market for something that I can stealthily replace Lotus Notes with on Linux, and this has some potential.

I’ve tested Spicebird out quickly, it works on 64 bit Kubuntu without much complaint, it seems fairly intuitive, and definitely has a lot of potential. If I could have all my IM accounts in there (so MSN, AOL, Yahoo, ICQ, IRC as well as what it does at the moment) I’d be interested. If it could do social networking like Flock does, I’d be very interested. If they could build Firefox into it, so all my desktop tabs mixed with my web tabs, I’d be incredibly interested. All these all possible, I just wish I could sit down for the next few weeks and write them myself (if only).

EDIT 2014 update: Spicebird is no more, but some of its ideas are availbable as plugins for Thunderbird, and Mozilla even now offers its own IM client, Instantbird.

Gmail and AIM – together at last

So now Google Talk within Gmail has support for AIM. Google ask that other networks get in touch with them if they are interested in being included. Well what about the networks and systems that are available already? How about Jabber as a whole? Seeing as Google Talk is based on Jabber, surely this would be easy to offer? And for a bigger ask, what about IRC for us oldsters that have been around a while?

I’m hoping against hope for Jabber and MSN to be added. I’m really not counting on the latter happening any times soon, but it would be so good. I currently use Meebo to be logged into my IM accounts on my browser, as it seems to do this the best out of the things I’ve tried, but if Google Talk could add a few more systems for me, I’d be very tempted to move over.

Another piece of the Google puzzle in place – Social Networking

Well I’d just finished writing the previous post, just went to flick through my feeds, and found this little gem. Google Maps is going Social. They’ve now added a profile section to Google Maps, so that any maps you chose to share will also now have your profile attached to them. I checked this out, and sure enough, I’ve already got my avatar and website in there already, from some other Google service I’ve used.

It’s very likely this is going to slip into the Google Apps family over the next few months. I suspect that it would go nicely into Gmail, so that you could find out more about anyone who mails you from a Gmail account.

This is going to be Facebook by stealth. Rather than a launch of a rival, they will add the profiles in. Rather than adding apps to a social networking app, they add the social networking to their existing apps. Google has Google Groups (formerly known as Usenet, in a way). They’re even a step ahead of Facebook by having IM and voice chat in place too. It’s starting to fall into place.

Sync Gmail Contacts with Kontact

So I’m on a quest to get, well, everything on everything. I want everything in sync. Now that’s quite a project, so I’m taking little steps. What I’ve done today is to get my Gmail contacts to sync with my desktop contacts app, Kontact (in Kubuntu). I do all my email in Gmail, so it makes sense to me that I have that as the base point. I thought that if I could get my contacts onto the desktop, then I’ve got a place to then figure out how to get them onto my N95 later on.

What I used was a rather nifty piece of software called GCALDaemon. What this is designed to do is to sync Google Contacts and Google Calendars to, well, pretty much most things you can think of. And it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux (as it’s Java-based). Follow the detailed instructions, and then you can have both sync’d. I’ve got it working nicely fairly quickly. The only thing I can’t do yet, rather embarrassingly, is get the Daemon itself to run automatically on login. I’m going to hassle someone to help me out with this.

One gotcha is to make sure you are running Java 1.5 or higher as your default Java JRE, I missed this first time round.

And I found this thanks to the lovely people at Lifehacker.

Applications I’m missing at the moment

I was just thinking about the applications that I don’t have, that I would like. So I thought I’d write a quick list, explain them, and then revisit them in a few months time to see if they exist. I was going to put SMS notifications for Google Mail for my phone on there, but a quick check just now revealed they have added that since I last checked, so I’m one up for the evening already!

  • Firefox Mobile – I have to admit, I don’t mind Mobile Opera. However it does seem a bit basic, and I’m not that keen to have to pay for a browser with more features. I’d like to use what I’m so used to using on my computer, and ideally to be able to extend it to do many other things.
  • Decent Nokia software for Linux – I’m lazy, I just want to plug it in, and it to do all that it does in Windows, as that is a rather nice little suite of software. One day.
  • A proper movie file browser and player for Ubuntu – What I want is a self-updating catalog of all my movie files, thumbnails (in a perfect world I’d just hover over the thumbnail for a couple of seconds, and it would start playing in the thumbnail itself, so I could identify it if it wasn’t clear), and proper indexing and searching. I’d love something for video that was the equivalent of Amarok for audio. Kaffeine is almost it, but the index/search side lets it down a bit. This may be down to my knowledge of it though.
  • A way of syncing contacts between Google Mail and my phone – Again, I want an easy life, and I just want them all to keep up to date, rather than having to maintain two lists.
  • An open-source program that edits CSS in a WYSIWYG style – I’ve heard tell that this sort of functionality is creeping into Dreamweaver now. Great, I’d like it for free. Ideally in a way that would plug into Eclipse as well.
  • Something that manages podcasts perfectly – I’ve never found this since I started listening to podcasts. It’s always felt that it’s been tacked onto music programs such as iTunes. Amarok does a better job than most, but it still feels like hard work some times. I’m going to think about this more, try and describe what I’d want.

Well that should do me for starters. How about you, what applications do you want that you don’t have yet?

Testing my blog’s development

I’m picking up on the post from Lorelle on her Lorelle on WordPress blog about testing your blogs development. She lists a set of links you can test your blog on, and see what sort of results are returned. So without further ado:
Live Google PageRankResults
An average pagerank of 2.7, which considering that when I started the blog a few months back, pagerank was essentially 0, is not bad going. Pagerank is one measure I would like to test on again in 6 months time and see where I stand then.

Visual PageRankResults
This is a good tool, shows the pagerank of every single link on a page. I note that I don’t seem to be quoting many major sites in terms of links in a post generally, if I was wanting to live by pagerank alone, I should have more links, and to higher ranking sites. I know that is by no means the only path to improving pagerank, but this tool does highlight the relative merit of your links.

Google Cache Tool
This checks to see what internal links have been cached by google, having read through the front page of the blog. According to this, 3 out of 7 have. Not sure if I would need to get the rest cached, but it is caching the main url of the site, which is what I would want.

Spider ViewResults
Okay, as a topic I’ve discussed several times on here, I checked Ubuntu as a keyword on the site. This showed that I’ve mentioned it 18 times on the front page as it stands.

3 results here. I’ve found personally that Alexa is a bit sniffy in some senses, as they profess to only be interested in the top 100,000 websites, rather than providing information beyond this. Also, their ratings depend in part on users installing spyware, which isn’t really the ideal way forwards.

Search Position CheckerResults
I know from a little while ago that one of my most successful posts on this blog was a simple little explanation of how to install realplayer on Ubuntu. I was getting at one point 20 hits a day direct from google for the post. So I used this tool to search for the keywords ubuntu realplay edgy, and see where I am ranked. It shows no results for google, which suggests it may be a bit borked, as a manual search shows I am #2 for that search on google. It does show me as 5th on MSN and 11th on Excite.

Link Popularity CheckerResults
Important to remember here that I am only searching on, not, which does get very different results. Note that google shows no results at all for the www version. I use google sitemaps to submit the version without the www, but have been meaning for a while to sort out with www. This underlines it needs doing, and that each can be treated very differently by search engines. At least 3 search engines there see over 100 results with the www.

Keyword Analysis ToolResults
This shows the frequency of words throughout a page. So for the front page of here, as I had guessed previously, Ubuntu was the most regular, followed by WordPress and product. Again, if I was targeting a particular audience, I would want to up this count in certain areas.

Google Webmasters Site Status Test
This confirms that I am included in the Google index, and that I was last indexed on the 9th February. I can get a lot more detail once I log into the Google webmaster tools, and I may well do this as a seperate exercise to blog on here soon, going through the results and seeing what they show.

So there are a good range of tools here to check how search engines view your site. Do note by the way that the results I have referred to will change once I publish this post.