Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Buzz: First Impressions

I've played around with the new Google Buzz.

Why is Buzz a big deal? This article explains, somewhat.

My take is that Buzz is trying to be both public and organized. I'll explain by describing how I do not use Facebook and Twitter normally.
I'm a terrible Facebook customer. All I do on Facebook is look at the "Friends, Status Updates" page. I spend as little time on Facebook as possible. I shun any games or add-ons. I don't see any ads because of Firefox's Adblock Plus. In other words, if my friends were willing to put their status updates in a public RSS feed I would quit Facebook.
Twitter is a public RSS feed. I'm not sure why most of my Facebook friends do not also use Twitter, since they never post anything very personal in their status updates. Perhaps they prefer Facebook because it keeps comments and "like" votes with the original status update.
I'm a terrible Twitter customer. I never visit its website! I only use my Twitter account to feed status updates through Firefox's Twitterbar to Facebook. This is more convenient than visiting Facebook to update my status, and I don't care that it is public instead of private. In other words, any better way to feed status updates to my Facebook friends would make me quit Twitter.
Buzz is ready to be the better Twitter. Buzz does what Twitter does, but also keeps comments and "like" votes with the original status update. (Buzz will be better once all of the third-party stuff like TweetDeck gets created for it. A user can direct any desired RSS feed into a Buzz profile to give friends an organized way to notice and comment on what the user is sharing with status, blog posts, photos, videos, readers, etc.)

So Buzz is currently reaching out to Twitter users.

I expect it will soon reach out to Facebook users, but it must overcome the privacy issue first. And Buzz is doing a miserable job of courting privacy-wary Facebook users. Currently the default privacy settings are too public, as this article describes.

What will Google do to woo the Facebook crowd? Will folks like most of my friends ever switch from private status updates to public ones?

If you want to see Buzz in action, you can look at my Google profile here, or my Buzz RSS feed here.

UPDATE: I realized Buzz also relates to Blogspot.
I'm a terrible blogger. I usually write medium-sized text-only posts without pictures. My blog has no unifying theme. Without pictures or a theme it has almost no following, and very few posts prompt comments. I just write to help myself process my thoughts and to let family and friends know what I am thinking about.
Buzz could easily replace Blogspot for me, once the tool-structures are created to sort updates in a sidebar by category and month, and to import a Blogspot archive (as Wordpress can do).

Beyond the Flip?

I've blogged about my Flip camcorder quite a bit.

Eventually I'll replace it. Anyone have suggestions? Popsci reviewed some here, back in November.

Khuzdûl based on Hebrew

Anyone who has studied Hebrew knows that its three-letter noun roots is the core of an exceedingly elegant system. But actual use of the language (as with any language) has led to many exceptions to the rules for common words.

I recently read that Tolkien used Hebrew was the basis for his Dwarvish tongue, Khuzdûl.

Now I wonder if he, as a linguist, found it more satisfying to keep the three-letter root system elegant or to be realistic and insert into Khuzdûl "degenerate" forms for common words.

Posture, Running, and Muscle

At the end of January I mentioned getting a spa, and how it was helping my lax ligaments and posture.

The change has been remarkable! I had slight but noticeable lordosis. In a week it was gone most times I checked my posture.

I've done tai chi for years, and knew about proper tai chi posture. But I've never had back muscles relaxed enough to keep that posture throughout the day.

Running can be extra tricky posture practice. Last week I only ran three mornings, because of rain and Smiley's teething limiting my sleep. This week I had a cold (and Smiley is still teething) so I have not done any running!

Here is an interesting article about letting your pulse rate slow every 40 minutes or so during a run. My morning route has a halfway place with a bench that is good for doing more stretching, and some bars that are good for pull-ups. So taking a break is nice to do anyway.

Free Lovecraft Audiobooks

Yesterday I read a funny description of the "ideal" scenario for a Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.

I have been enjoying audiobooks, and know Lovecraft's works are effectively public domain. So last night I did some searching for free audiobooks of his stories.

I found several, eight at Voices in the Dark, then two and three more at Yog-Sothoth.

I have not listened to any of them yet, so I cannot vouch for quality.

Free Online Math Videos

A few months ago, some math colleagues shared websites with free online math videos.

The three that were recommended were at,, and

Not about math, someone blogged about great virtual tours.

More YouTube Videos Suitable for Smiley

Sorry for the lack of recent posting. Math lecture slides consumed me, then a bad cold.

Yesterday I did let Smiley have some video watching time. Since he has been enjoying his two train books so much we found two videos of a steam locomotive.

The he wanted to see airplanes. The only ones I could find that kept a fixed camera position were about remote controlled airplanes, which I enjoyed much more than he did.

I also found an adorable video about baby penguins that my wife would enjoy. But it has a frequently changing camera position so it's not great for Smiley.

UPDATE: Another two nice steam locomotive videos. Also, the Little Engine that Could and a train at the Omaha zoo.