29 September 2011

If you ran a bookshop . . . .

I've visited some lovely bookstores in my travels. I make a point of doing so, though it is harder and harder to carry the loot. I even found a Wendell Berry in a thrift shop in LA on my way back to NZ. Made room in it in my suitcase, even though it meant leaving my gnome behind.

Where's your favourite bookshop?

What's so appealing about it?

If you ran a bookshop yourself, what would you offer your patrons?

Would you have a theme?

What food might you offer?

What would you call the bookshop?

28 September 2011

Facebook or Google+?

Grumbles and rumours seem to be the most common theme on Facebook these days. While I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, I know some people just don't like change.

Fair enough, but remember Facebook is free. It's not like they are changing something you're actually paying for. The money comes from advertisers, gifts and people buying virtual stuff. I may have devoted a certain amount of time to the relationships I maintain through Facebook, but I've not devoted any actual cash.

But I am exploring Google+. Why not, I use Google's search engine, maps, Reader, blogger, Gmail, Scholar, Docs, Calendar . . . . get the picture. I use Google for so many things already, why wouldn't I give Google+ a go?

A nice feature I like about Google+ is that I have different circles of friends, people I know to different degrees, from different seasons or in different ways. To FRIEND everyone in the same way is not really natural. A boss is different from an old or future boyfriend. My mom's old friends are different from co-workers or my nephews. Facebook only gives me one level of FRIEND. Google+ allows me to create circles and then choose what I share with whom, protecting my privacy and giving me more control of what is shared.

The drawback right now is that the vast majority of my friends are on Facebook, and only a few have found me on Google+. That will probably change. A network can only be social if it's where your people are.

1. Integration with Google Services

The biggest wedge Google has for driving people toward using Google+ is integration. That is, Google will build Google+ social networking features and tools into almost all of its existing online services from Search to Documents to Video (YouTube). Google+ is already integrated into the navigation bar at the top right of almost all Google products; this lets you monitor all Google+ events (updates, messages, etc.) as well as share content with friends without ever

leaving the Google service you happen to be using. Millions and millions of people use Google's free services (Gmail, Docs, Search, etc.), and with Google+ bound so tightly to them it may start to seem silly to jump out to some other site (Facebook) to do your social networking.

2. Better Friend Management

Google is right that the “Circles” concept is more in line with the way we make friends in real life. We have many different kinds of friends, and we interact with them and communicate with them in very different ways. Facebook’s Groups feature lets you form ad hoc groups of friends, but compared to the way its done in Google+ it seems cumbersome. After all, Facebook’s Groups feature is pretty new; it was “built on”, while friend "circles" are the bedrock of the Google+ platform.

3. Better Mobile App

If you're an Android user, you may find that getting content from

your phone to your social platform is easier, cleaner more functional with the Google+ mobile app. The app is already great, but Google will seek more and more ways to make your Android phone a seamless appendage of your Google+ social platform.

4. Easier to Find Stuff to Share

Google+'s Sparks feature is another important differentiator from Facebook. Spark is Google leveraging its search engine to do something Facebook can’t do—give users an instant wellspring of relevant information to share with friends. Because Facebook has no search engine, its users must leave the site to find shareable data or wait for their friends the share it with them. The question "how do I find stuff to share" is immediately answered with Sparks.

5. You Can Get Your Data Back

Facebook is notorious for its poor stewardship of personal data. You are forced to make certain parts of your personal data "public" for example, and It is very hard to permanently delete your Facebook profile. Google, on the other hand, makes it possible for you to pick up all the data you’ve banked at Google+ and walk away. This is done through a Google+ tool called “Data Liberation.” With just a few clicks you can download data from your Picasa Web Albums, Google profile, Google+ stream, Buzz and contacts.

6. Better Photo Tagging

When viewing photos in Google+ you can “tag” the people in them similar to the way you do in Facebook. You draw a little square around a person's face, then type in their name in the box below it (or choose one of the names Google+ guesses). But there’s a big difference in the way Google handles the privacy aspect of photo tagging. When you tag someone, you see this note: “Adding this tag will notify the person you have tagged. They will be able to view the photo and the related album.” Facebook, on the other hand, does not make an effort to warn people the they’ve been tagged (possibly in an unflattering or compromising photo) and give them an immediate chance to remove the tag.

Also, Google has wisely decided to shy away from using facial recognition software, which Facebook now uses to automatically identify people in photos uploaded to user albums.

For a network to be Social
your people have go to be there.

7. Strong Group Chat Features

Google+ has Facebook beat in the area of chat. Forming ad hoc group video chats using the Hangouts feature in Google+ is easy, and forming ad hoc groups for a little chat seems like a natural and fun thing to do in a social networking setting.

8. Safer Content Sharing

Privacy advocates have long called for social networking sites to let users assign a privacy level to each piece of content they share, instead of using a pre-set list privacy settings to govern all shares. Google obviously heard those calls, and built the capability into Google+. For instance, when I share an article or upload a camera image, Google+ gives me choices of which friend circles I’d like to share that content with. Advantage Google+.

9. Google Is a Better Steward of Your Personal Data

Running a social network is all about responsible stewardship of users' personal information. Facebook is a young, fast moving company that has proved itself to be cavalier in its movements, lacking in respect for user data privacy, and accident prone. Google on the other hand, is a far more mature company that is, I would argue, seen as more trustworthy than Facebook.

Check out Sullivan's whole article in PCWorld for more info, links to related articles, etc.

See a YouTube video telling you what Google+ is and why you need it.

27 September 2011

What is Google+ (Google Plus) and do I need it?

Stuff or Space: How much is enough?

Have you ever complained about not having enough room for your stuff, for an activity or just feeling a bit closed in?

In NZ it's nice to have room for the kids to play cricket or rugby. In America some people like to have room for a veggie patch. Expectations vary from urban to rural, country to country and generation to generation.

Check out these photos where one, two or more people live in what I would consider a very small space?

‘Photographs of residents in their flats in Hong Kong’s oldest public housing estate. 100 rooms, each 100 square feet in size’

- Michael Wolf

From www.howtobearetronaut.com 100x100

Click or tap any photo to go to the Retronaut site.

25 September 2011

Disappointments: Different in hindsight

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."

Mark Twain

Tangible Memories, Presents, & Keepsakes; Just in case

My friend Tash is a thinker and a feeler. Some overdo or underdo on either of those. Tash's heart is connected to a keen mind and an informed spirituality that keeps Tash, and those who know her, stretching and growing.

Click the link below to see what Tash says about How to keep memories without staying trapped in the past.

Tash's Blog

23 September 2011

Rob Bell resigns to pursue other opportunities

Author of Love Wins, Rob Bell has resigned from his Michigan church pastorate.

Other prominent pastors and leaders, including Francis Chan, N. T. Wright, and Jim Belcher, have left their church positions in the past few years to pursue broader activities.

Read article

The Mars Hill Church website was down, possibly for editing, possibly from overload by too much traffic.

- Posted using BlogPress.

Perspective on Time, a visual representation

Check out this perspective on time, technology and more. I'd love to hear what you think.



Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being.
Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.

22 September 2011

Tapestry: Best seen upon completion and from a good vantage point

"God's share (in the work of our lives) is like the upper side of those magnificent pieces of tapestry which are woven point by point from the reverse side. The weaver employed on them sees nothing but the point on which she is working and her needle, and these points successively filled make up those magnificent figures which only appear when, at the completion of all the parts, the right side is displayed, although during the time of the work all this marvellous beauty is in obscurity."

From Father J. P. de Caussade,

21 September 2011

September 21st is World Alzheimer's Day

Learn more about Alzheimer's disease and efforts to address the sixth leading cause of death in America.

Facts about Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia among older adults. It involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language and can seriously affect a person's ability to carry out daily activities.
Although not a normal part of aging, the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases with age. Most individuals with Alzheimer's disease are over the age of 65. However, people younger than age 65 also can develop Alzheimer's disease.
Scientists do not know what causes Alzheimer's disease, but it is believed that it is similar to other chronic conditions and develops as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause.

Global Alzheimer's Disease
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 18 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease. By 2025, this estimate is projected to grow to 34 million people, with the highest increase expected among developing countries.

Alzheimer's Disease in the United States
It is currently estimated that approximately 2.6 million to 5.2 million Americans currently have Alzheimer's disease, depending upon the approach used for identifying individuals with dementia.
If no cure is developed and present population trends continue, as many as 16 million individuals may have Alzheimer's disease by the year 2050.
Alzheimer's disease ranks as the 6th leading cause of death among adults aged 18 years and older, and is the 5th leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older.
For people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, the total payments for health care, long-term care, and hospice are projected to increase from $183 billion in 2011 to $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2011 U.S. dollars).

The joke may be on you one day. Respect people who struggle. Dignity is a precious thing.

Check out what Maria Shriver has to say via Huffington Post

Where to buy multi-pocket travel clothing

If you can get by with fewer than a dozen pockets, check out the travel vests from Magellan's and L.L. Bean.

I'm traveling this week. Makes me think back to former posts about packing. Former posts

My bags are overweight, and so am I. My muscles are not up to the challenge, even though each bag, even my carry-on is wheeled. They still must be lifted on to scales, x-ray machines and overhead compartments.

I've off loaded a hardback book on my second flight, a gnome in LA, and have posted non-essentials to arrive soon after me. My bags are mostly filled with gifts and Goodwill finds I couldn't pass up: Christmas presents, baby gifts, and just 2 bags of Lemon Drops.

I coulda done better; I coulda done worse.

I think I need a multi-pocketed travel vest in which to tuck my Kindle and snacks for the flights.

09 September 2011

9/11 and Rugby: Odd juxtaposition

For an interesting Kiwi American perspective on 9/11 anniversary and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, check out Tim Wilson's take . . . an excerpt

The murder of just over 3000 civilians was a spectacle seemingly made for television, and unleashed all kinds of consequences, intended and unintended, including Bin Laden's own bloody execution earlier this year.

As the world returns its eyes to New York (somewhat wearily perhaps; the hacks agree this will be the last big year for 9/11 ceremonies), New Zealand is justifiably receiving some attention as the Rugby World Cup commences.

I've been thinking about 9/11 and the RWC. The two events share only the characteristic of being spectacles of a dimension not previously witnessed within those countries.

What happens during such events, and what follows? Having observed 9/11 for the past 10 years, I can suggest some general points.

First off, the prophets will be proved wrong (feel free to consider what follows as prophecy). For example, I remember reading well-reasoned stories about how Osama Bin Laden had slaughtered irony in American cultural discourse. My arse he did.

Okay, I'll amend that. Expect a lot of nonsense. Much of it will be well-intentioned speculation by members of the press who are trying to earn a living.

On no account are such people to be taken seriously.

Go make a cuppa

An excellent tell is the reliance of the first person plural. When a columnist/journalist starts overusing the royal 'we', go and make a cuppa.

The rule of big events is that they're essentially meaningless, in that they're so large they can be twisted to mean whatever you decide. Rugby is good; rugby is bad. Rugby fans drink excessively, with boorish results.

They have too much/too little fun when doing so, and become prone to self-pity. Will there be a baby-boom, post RWC? Yes! Yes! All of the above. In big events, there are too many stories.

Conversely, a cast of familiar characters will emerge. They'll come - for better or worse - to exemplify whatever it is that the Rugby World Cup is finally agreed to represent.

Take, Rudi Giuliani, NY mayor at the time of 9/11. Some believe he's a hero. Others say he's a cross-dressing fascist. Strong evidence exists to support both views.

A line in the sands of history can be etched from 9/11 that includes Dick Cheney and George Bush. Perhaps -depending on the RWC's outcome - another line may be drawn extending to Graham Henry and Ritchie McCaw.

Whatever fissures exist within the country will only be exacerbated. Big events only erase divisions momentarily.

Remember the Le Monde headline the day after 9/11, "We're all Americans now"? It was true that morning of Europeans and Americans, Republicans and Democrats. All felt united. A few months later many Americans didn't feel like Americans. Unity - if produced - will be passing.

The event won't change anything fundamental. How can it?

But what follows the event will be decisive, as was the case with the Iraq war.

Some will profit from the event hugely. Others won't. The difference will not be a measure of comparative intelligence, but it will gauge scruple.

Enough. Some will be muttering to themselves this very blog is poor form. Of course it is.

The crucial difference between 9/11 and the RWC is that one spectacle was a terrorist attack, while the other is a series of games held with the intention of discovering a winner, and entertaining some people at odd hours of the morning around the world.

9/11 was a horror show; the RWC's a sporting fixture. Pray God they don't get confused, and play on.

Tim lives in the US and reports back to NZ via TV One and other outlets. He's often enroute to somewhere else. He writes with humour, insight and common sense. I like that. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimWilsonBarrio