Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Google and Facebook piss me off!

Playwright and theater director, George S. Kaufman went back to see a musical he had directed some months before. Afterwards, he sent a note to the cast that read: Rehearsal tomorrow at 10 AM to remove all the improvements.

Can I send the same note to Blogger? And Facebook?

Warning:  I'm cranky. 

Recently, Blogger (operated by Google) flipped to a new interface. Why? I didn’t ask them to. And it’s not like they added any great new features. You still can’t play mp3s. The server still won’t fix my bad jokes.

It’s not that I’m one of those malcontents who resist any change. When my RCA Model 17-PD-8096 Black & White breaks down I will get another TV. I am happy to embrace change if it makes my life better, more interesting, or costs less. But change for change sake makes no sense to me.

This is always a big issue in the writers room, especially on multi-camera shows. You see runthroughs every day and hear the same jokes. So naturally, by the third time you hear it it’s not funny. You have to resist the urge to change it. Most of the time you’ll make a lateral change or write a worse joke.

But getting back to Blogger, they tout this new interface as a big upgrade. But now if you compose your blog entries on Word you can no longer cut and paste them in the window provided for new posts. From paragraph to paragraph the font suddenly varies wildly in styles and sizes. Blog posts look like ransom notes. And if you paste them in the HTML section and switch back to compose, all of the spaces between paragraphs are removed. You’re left with one giant block of text.  So your posts now look like Chuck Lorre vanity cards.  

Fellow blogmeisters, don’t most of you compose your posts on a word document and then just transfer them over? What good are new features when you can’t do the most basic and necessary task of all – cutting and pasting content?

Trade in your car for our new model. It’s sportier, with new design, and now has heated door panels. The only thing is, you can no longer shift the car into Drive.

Didn’t anybody at Blogger TEST this new template? Not being able to post content seems to be a pretty big bug.

Blogger has allowed users to go back to the old template (for at least another couple of weeks). Facebook won't even let you do that.
I hate the new Timeline template. It’s confusing, clunky, and makes my home page look like Martha Stewart’s To-Do list. Entries now are in two columns. This is fine if you’ve taken the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading course and you’ve trained your eyes to scan back and forth on the page. But for the rest of us, we don’t like playing visual tennis.

In theory, you are supposed to fill in your Timeline, year by year. Now there’s a little task. Go back through every year of your life and post pictures, stories, videos, and maps. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but just think how many people will be coming to your Timeline to see what shoes you bought in 1993! And again, Facebook will tell you the purpose is to better express yourself when in reality it just gives Zuckerberg more marketing data about you.

By the way, if you would like to Friend me, unfortunately I’ve reached my limit. But you can follow me on Twitter and everything I post on Facebook I post on Twitter first. And since I don’t plan to upload photos of my first haircut, you’re not missing much.

People have said to me, “You’ve had your blog for six years. Why don’t you change the template? Spiff it up. Customize it.” And my answer is always, “Why?” Will it make my content any better? Will it bring in new readers? Will Miramax finally buy the movie rights to Friday Questions? I think not. So for now I see no reason to change. Although to increase traffic I am considering changing the title of my blog to “By Kim Kardashian.” What do you think?

Yes, I realize these are not earth shattering problems but BLOG stand for Bitch Loudly Over Google.   Feel free to share your rant in the comments section.  We may not solve things but we feel better. 

70 comments:

Yossi Mandel said...

Be more subtle. Change it to By Ken Kardashian.

Brian H said...

On the topic of copy/paste and formatting, Google for PureText. Install it. Make the hotkey for it -V. Then anytime you want to paste something and you don't want the formatting to come along, hit -V instead of Ctrl-V.

Brian H said...

And by "-V" I mean *Windows Key*-V.

Johnny Walker said...

Timeline sucks. Who the hell reads from one column to another?

As for Blogger, I always compose my posts in their interface. You can save a draft, so wherever I am I always have a ton of half-finished blogs.

Brian Phillips said...

Everyone knows that the RCA 8096 is the far superior TV. President Truman has one in his study and loves it!

Mike Barer said...

Luckily, I think that there are more pressing things for me to worry about then facebook and blogger changes, although, I too got annoyed when blogger changed. However, I was able to utilize the new system, to the point where my ads started earning a little more.
Facebook reminds me of the old AT&T. You hate it, but you still use it.

Anonymous said...

I've run into problems on my blog pasting from Word before. If you use WordPad (which can be found in "Accessories" once you've hit the "Start" button and looked under "Programs" on your computer).

WordPad has enough functionality for you to write and format your writing, but doesn't seem to pose the same problems when pasting.

benson said...

Yes, Mike, and in a few years, the govt. will come in and break Facebook and Google up.

Raj said...

Agree with you, Ken. I usually type my posts in plain text format and then cut paste. Even then, blogger gives problems but probably less that if you do it from Word.

As for FB two column profile, I think it's ingenuity is in the same category as that of Microsoft Zune.

Roger Owen Green said...

Ken - I solved my Blogger problem. Go to Options. Under Line breaks, click on Press "Enter" for line breaks. That way I won't get that mass of text for which I need to add breaks. But I found it by trial and error.

No fix for frickin' Facebook, tho...

James O'Hearn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James O'Hearn said...

Personally I love the new Blogger. I like having Google Analytics tied in, and the interface is more responsive.

That said, while I am a fan of Blogger, it does face limitations in regards to audio and video. But all you have to do is upload your media someplace online (I prefer PB Works for this) then click the HTML tab next to the Compose tab when you post, and embed the audio or video in your posts.

There are a few easy ways of getting your mp3s out there. I can't paste the embed codes here, but I have put up a guide for Video and Audio embedding which I use on the forty odd Blogger blogs I run.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X48HMGN59_cUWRNL-5Qygpj--cXOIY_CLTaxgGZsM4I/edit

Anonymous said...

Facebook has always had this company spirit of "we do stuff the way we want and for our good, not for you, and you will have to go with it" - some people embrace Facebook (why? beats me...), others seem to consider it a sort of necessary evil. I couldn't disagree more, it's entirely possible to lead a very healthy and very happy life without Facebook, or without any membership on a "social network" for that matter. It just might be a BETTER and safer life too, for multiple reasons.

Google has recently adopted a company spirit that values "streamlined experience across all services" over useability and bug testing, and also over the cool-new-stuff random innovations they used to be so good at before. This is a problem not only on Blogger, but on other Google services as well: command comes from the top suits that this or that has to be implemented (such as Google+ sharing everywhere, or a new interface design), and the techs in the lower ranks have to figure out ways how to role that new thing out quickly without breaking too much in the process. Which is impossible to do.

If you're fed up with Blogger, you might want to consider switching to alternatives. I've always considered e.g. Wordpress a worthy blogging platform. Vote with your feet.

Becca said...

I love these curmudgeonly posts!

404 said...

As noted above, Google made these "improvements" pretty much across the board. The only thing I've noticed is that now I get less content on the screen at one time. My gmail is more confusing to read, and with less items being shows. Same for Google Reader. I used to be able to view all of my feeds at one time, now each entry takes up so much extra space that it's an impossible task.

True, it's not the biggest crisis in the world, but I use it every day, and it's one more hassle that I have to deal with. And the fact that this change added nothing--no new feature I didn't have before, nothing exciting or innovative--is very annoying. Why do it, just because you can?

It's like this well-known blogger I follow who recently changed his capchas so that now they are pretty much unreadable, and it makes it more difficult to post comments...

Terrence Moss said...

I don't hate the new blogger interface as much as I did at first but I sure has hell will never like it or find it a necessary change or see it as an improvement.

The same for Facebook timeline. Waste of energy. Pointless change. Hardly an improvement. Unfortunately, since the entire world is on it, Facebook has become such a necessary evil when you're trying to build a name for yourself.

I prefer the Twitter. And I actually like Google Plus.

But I hate, abhor and detest capchas.

Anonymous said...

I think the most insidious change Google has done is making all blogs country specific. Unless I physically add /ncr (no country redirect) when I type in the address Google automatically redirects to a .ca (Canada) rather than .com. What this means is 1. Google can censor blogs by country and 2. Any comments I make will not show up on the .com version.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I honestly believe Google just sits back and looks for ways to screw us over... I mean seriously, HOW many times have they made drastic changes to the designs of YouTube that actually held no benefits to the users whatsoever? No improvements, no new features... matter of fact, you can't even read channel comments anymore, which doesn't make sense, considering there's still an option to post comments, but then they just disappear when you post them.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Google is the Hitler of the internet.

Dan Fiorella said...

It seems Word has a lot of baggage when it comes to moving it to other mediums:
http://www.georgiadebate.org/2010/11/paperless-future-hey-ho-microsoft-word-has-got-to-go

Maybe?

Ken Levine said...

Roger,

THANKS so much. That Option option seems to have solved it. I can't tell you how much I love all you guys for jumping in with suggestions. I'm a computer idiot. I need tech support like a 99 year-old needs care taking.

Continue to rant all!

Thomas said...

I remember this with Adobe Flash. For about 3 years in a row, there were all manner of extra features, but the simple drawing parts got more buggy with each new version.

And Timeline is so garishly pointless. It says, "We have the money to waste development time on something that user testing would not approve of - if we ever did user testing!"
I hate when I'm browsing for a specific link a friend posted, only to realise it was in the column I wasn't looking at.

And I no longer comment anywhere that links the comments to Facebook. Luckily, Ken, your blog is nice and open, letting me comment however I want. (That said, it always *tries* to default to my Gmail account. I just don't let it.)

Change is... dangerous. Companies need to use it wisely.

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RCP said...

“Although to increase traffic I am considering changing the title of my blog to “By Kim Kardashian.” What do you think?“

If that’s supposed to be funny, you’re sadly mistaken.

“When my RCA Model 17-PD-8096 Black & White breaks down I will get another TV.”

Wonder how it compares to my late '50s Zenith Space Command television purchased in an antiques store for $23 (the result of double discounts going on that day). Pristine condition, weighs a ton, and still works. Well - back to the subject at hand.

rap said...

Yes, I hate Timeline too and am not fond of the Blogger redesign at all.

The more Facebook changes, the less compelling it becomes. Not a good thing to do on the eve of an IPO...

The only recent improvement to Blogger, in my opinion, is the option to turn on a Mobile interface to allow people viewing your blog on a mobile device to do so in a more convenient and easier-to-read format.

Give it a shot, Ken.

Curt Alliaume said...

Friday question:

I listen to baseball games through the internet of on MLB's AtBat 2012 app. While I don't listen to every game, I use it for more than just hearing my favorite team (New York Mets) since I can't hear them over the radio (Chicagoland). But I'm not always sure who to listen to.

So -- which current radio baseball announcers are your favorites, and why?

JP said...

I had a look at the fancy new dynamic page layouts but useful gadgets like blogrolls vanished so I'm keeping the format unchanged for now.

Old school blogs formats actually do their job pretty well which is a small amount of text plus a graphic - a bit like half a page single column of a newspaper.

Having said that blogger does seem to have stayed still and been overtaken by tumblr style blogs.

As to editing - I do it all in blogger as otherwise the formating goes to hell.

Simplest is best: type pure text and then do italics, bold, pictures, links etc.

You should be able to get rid of capchas as the blogger spam filter is pretty good.

Paul said...

You're the first person I've heard of who still types posts in Word and transfers them. The people working at Blogger likely don't even know about the issue because few people do it.

Why type it in Word? Cut out the middle man and type it right into Blogger. Most browsers have spellchecking included these days.

Ken Levine said...

Paul,

I prefer not typing directly into Blogger if I can help it. I don't trust their SAVE, I worry that I will accidentally post something before it's ready (that's happened on several occasions), and also worry that if Blogger is down for some reason I can't access my drafts.

Plus, by composing in Word I have copies of every post. What happens if Blogger should crash one day and suddenly six years of archives are gone?

But like I said, reader Roger seems to have found the solution to my issue.

Anonymous said...

I have downloaded a Valium from Peoplespharmacy.com and will be emailing it to you.

Brent said...

Ken, in an effort to brighten your day, you should know the MGM channel showed Mannequin II this morning, so you should expect that nice, fat residual check soon! Right?

Seriously, and it's my fault, but I've put up way more than one partial facebook post by hitting enter in the place of a carriage return to start a new paragraph. Yes, I said carriage return. I learned to type, on a manual typewriter, a LONG time ago.

Oh yeah. I think timeline stinks, too.

Hope to hear you on the radio soon.

ankshisc rsiners said...

Dump the RCA and step up to KINESCOPE.

Chris said...

http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2012/04/justin-halperns-the-six-types-of-people-you-meet-during-pilot-season-and-live-thread - Is this as accurate as it is funny?

Matt Tauber said...

I too was jarred by the new Blogger, but find that so far I like the new format. It's easier now to add links and pictures (unless I was just doing it wrong before).

I do compose in Blogger. Now you've got me nervous about saving my archive!

chuckcd said...

That's what E-Bay does all the time.
Change for the sake of change (while making things worse).
All just to get more marketing info from their users.

Orangutanagram said...

Also, over here, they've localized the Blogspot sites. So when I enter your blog, it redirects me to kenlevine.blogspot.com.ar, which screws up any internal searches I might want to make, as Google indexes it only under .com.

Frank said...

I'm still holding on to old fashioned Facebook as I don't need Timeline to remind me how stupid I was.

RadioVegan said...

Ken,

I hate to admit it, but I do like the occasional purely cosmetic update, if for no other reason than to just change the look of the thing I've been staring at for years. Kinda like repainting the bathroom I guess.

Here's what irritates me about blogger: You can't put an image EXACTLY where you want it, or size it the way you want. If you try to move it up one line or two, it jumps the entire paragraph. And how difficult would it be to let me grab a corner and decide for myself how big the image is to be? You can only choose from small, med, large or "original size."

Wow, I actually feel much better after complaining. I should do it more often.

AlaskaRay said...

Ken Levine said, "By the way, if you would like to Friend me, unfortunately I’ve reached my limit."

You're lucky. I reached my friend limit 30 years ago when I was in college... and I'm much happier for it.

Ray

Kirk said...

I always compose in Blogger, but that's because, due to economic changes forced on me in the last five years or so, I do all my blogging at the public library. Yes, I could do it on Word first, but I can't save it as it disappears soon as you log off the computer. I least I THINK it does.

Having said that, I agree with you about the new interface. For all I know it has all kinds of new features, but if I can't find them, what good are they? I have a hard enough time finding the OLD features now! As for Facebook, as of 4/24/2012--yesterday--you could still use the old design. I haven't checked it today. I dread going there.

Kirk said...

@JP--I decided to add some pictures to my sidebar, and when I did they clashed with the existing design. So I decided to go with a whole new layout. I chose one of the new designs, and my blogroll came through it all right.

One thing I don't like about changing the design, though. When you do, you change it all the way to the beginning. My very first post is now in the new design. I would prefer it to be the way it is with magazines. When Time went from a white border to a red one sometime in the 1950s, the old issues from the '20s, '30s, and '40s remained white. You have a sense of history that way. According to my stat counter, people do occasionally stumble upon my posts from years ago, and when they do, they probably think I had the same design then as I do now. I feel like I'm being dishonest!

D. McEwan said...

I almost always write my pieces in Word and transfer them, once I'd found out how to do that in the new interface. Once I'd solved that, I found I liked the new interface a LOT more. I would not voluntarily return to the old interface.

"Timeline" is beneath contempt. Fortunately, it hasn't gotten me yet, but I dread the day.

James O'Hearn said...

@ RadioVegan

Actually, if you click on the HTML tab, you can set the image dimensions manually, and if you want to shift the position, just cut the code and paste it where you want it.

Pat Reeder said...

I have a Facebook page only because they forced me to create one before they'd let me make a fan page for my wife, who's a singer. Unfortunately, these days, entertainers HAVE to have a Facebook page. I never even look at my own page, but I noticed yesterday that FB had forced the hideous Timeline layout onto my wife's page. It's incredibly ugly and hard to read. I am urging her fans to return to her MySpace page, which I hadn't updated for her in two years, but I just did.

Recently, several other people I know, including my niece who was a FB addict, have either stopped posting or canceled their accounts and removed their pages. Good, I hope that trend continues. Go out and make some real friends.

That entire site exists for the sole purpose of mining private information about you and selling it to marketers. Same reason I do everything in my power to avoid Google. I hope the ugliness of Timeline inadvertently harpoons the Facebook fad and kills off what Betty White so aptly called "a tremendous waste of time."

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about Gmail. I didn't ask for the new look, I responded several times (every time they asked, in fact) that I HATED the new look, and yet, I'm stuck with the new look.

Elizabeth H said...

I'm the anonymous Gmail hater. Quick Draw McGraw on the Enter key. Sorry.

RJ Battles said...

Hi, I have a Friday Question-

I was reading Kathy Griffin's book "Official Book Club Selection" and she writes about being a guest star on various sitcoms. One of the shows she worked on was "Ned And Stacey" and she said she saw Thomas Haden Church gather the writers together and scream at them. She said he was very talented and funny but brutal to work with. She wrote, "I'm sure his behavior is the reason he doesn't have his own show now..."

What was he like when he was on "Wings"?

Don K. said...

If this has been addressed before I apologize. what I can't stand is when I click to read the comments, it automatically takes me to the bottom of the page and the last comment, so I would be reading chronologically backwards. What the hell? I realize it isn't hard to scroll to the top, but it's like being prompted to read a story from the ending first. Just stupid.

Johnny Walker said...

Great. Now Ken has made me worried that Google might suddenly lose all my data. That's never going to happen, though... Right?

Richard Jenkins said...

Don K, if it makes you feel any better, the automatic jump to the bottom of the page meant that I read your comment first.

Don K. said...

Richard, I feel so, so warm because of it. But if were the first thing you read in all of this, you'd wonder why I wrote it.

As for Facebook and Google changes, remember kids, they do this things because it benefits THEM. If along the way it helps the end user, rest assured that's merely incidental, not to mention accidental.

DBA said...

While I don't think it's unreasonable to want to be able to post from Word and not lose formatting, no, I have never done that. If I blog I generally type it directly in the composition window, using html tags as desired. It hadn't even occurred to me that someone else might compose in Word first (or any other word processing program).

Portland Corey said...

Maybe that's why I can't open your blog on my Blackberry Torch. Am I the only one with this problem?

Prolix said...

Hi Ken--I'm not sure what specific options are available on Windows, but on a Mac the program 'TextEdit' will take your Word-formatted text and turn it into html, which you can then paste into the html window with perfect results. I've stuck with an old Appleworks word processing program** which also retains that functionality, and I find it indispensable for posting on the web. I am fast using that program and its spell-check function has my user-modified dictionary and that's essential for my writing.

Word processing programs in general and 'Word' in particular have many "control" characters that glitch out entries if you try to just paste them as text. With the above method, you will quickly find yourself learning the HTML tags that you use all the time, and maybe even some slick new ones, such as tables, etc.

I am totally on board with your paranoia about a blogging platform not saving your post, or somehow posting at the wrong time. I actually back up my writing on DVD-Rs and jump drives as well. The cloud, you say? Pfft...which is the sound of 0's and 1's disappearing into the ether.

_____
**Just using this program actually makes me kind of a Luddite even though I'm actually fairly proficient technically...

Paul Duca said...

I tried the test version of the new Google Groups and hated it. It gummed up my computer and I couldn't figure out if it had a search option for posts, especially older ones. I did write them and let them know how I felt, but I don't know what happens when, as say, old Google Groups goes away.

The Milner Coupe said...

I agree. Period. Everything you said. A site gets popular, hires junior geeks to maintain it. They make their bones by 'improving' it, and fuck it up.

Dale said...

I don't do Facebook, Twitter etc. what a waste of my time. Ken's blog is the only blog I read. I read books.
What Facebook & Google do is not my concern.
Ken I admire your work. Have done so since long before bloody Google.

CCroom said...

Ken,
There is a browser plugin called socialfixer that gives you tons of ways to format Facebook . It almost has too many options. Google it. Download the version for your browser. It will walk you through the basic setup.

Barry Traylor said...

I share your outrage Ken. Google mail recently changed the look of the page and all it has done is make it less user friendly. Graphics I do not like (nor asked for) functions that are now hidden that once were in plain sight. Argggh!

jb said...

I started at Blogger but switched to WordPress about five years ago. The interface and functionality were exponentially better, and there's a function that permits you to transfer everything from your old Blogger blog to your new WordPress site.

Phil In Phoenix said...

Ken, you know better than to complain about Dear Google and Dear Facebook.

They know what is best for us and they will tell us what is best for us.

And we will be grateful.

All bow before Dear Google and Dear Facebook!

VP81955 said...

Ken, last year when LiveJournal was having occasional service disruptions (largely a by-product of Russian politics), I was fearful that years of archives at my site, "Carole & Co." (we celebrate our fifth anniversary in June) would be lost. So late last year, I began copying my archives from day one to Wordpress (it was time-consuming; since I have a "community" rather than an individual blog, I had to copy each one, doing all the months up to December 2011 in monthly format). Since then, I have copied each day's LJ entry to Wordpress. I have a few subscribers through the latter site, but I essentially use it as a backup in case worse comes to worst.

Regarding Timeline, my main beef with it is the pointless two-column format, which only should have been instituted if the content on the left column would be thematically different from that on the right. Other than that, it doesn't bother me, and I love the header concept (mine is a shot of Hollywood Boulevard, near Grauman's Chinese, in the '30s, complete with streetcars).

JP said...

Its worth doing a backup of your blog every now and then just in case.

If you look under blogger settings you'll see the option to export blog: this doesn't change what you have on the web just downloads an XML file containing your posts.

D. McEwan said...

As for this opening comments at the bottom of this page, I have no problem with it. On a first look, gee, I have to click outside the Comments box and then hit the "Home" key. When I return to read further comments and follow-ups, it lands me closer to where in the thread I need to be, and if it shows the same last comment as last time,I know I can go away.

WesParker in IA said...

Amen! When you reinvent the wheel it should still be round.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

Yeah, I feel your pain, I'm pissed this week too. Not just the blog, but BECAUSE Software Nerds are MORONS! Google is now fitting right into the groove of Microsoft, so is facebook for that matter!
Google mail USED to allow you to search both mail and the web from the mail page. NOT ANY MORE! I know they did it so you'll go other places and see other google bullshit content. What I did was go over to Yahoo and begin using their mail. Microsoft had FINALLY gotten it right with Windows Xp. So what did those fucking genius' decide? To change it for change' sake and move shit around to where you can't find it anymore! There's nothing worse than a socially inept nitwit code-writer decide what is easy for a novice to understand! It's like axle-grease for sex lube.

Now, I ask you, does it REALLY surprise anyone that Apple is now the largest company on earth?
Keeping it simple somehow seems to appeal to those of us that don't give a shit about how many lines of code it takes to generate an animated icon on my desktop of a dog shitting pinecones.

Doktor Frank Doe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel Ryane said...

YES! I hate what Blogger did. Hate it. Numbskulls! Taking up way too much of my time. GRRRRR.

Mitchy said...

Ken, if you using Google Chrome as your web browser, then there's an app available that blocks Timeline and restores your old profile page format. Other people will still see Timeline but you won't. It's not perfect, but it makes me feel a little better to know I've at least partly thwarted FB :) (There must be apps for other browsers out there, too)

*tarazza said...

It took me awhile to figure out the HTML line breaks thing too, but yeah, there is an option to interpret "enter" as a line break. Thank god, because that was the number one thing I was pissed about over this new interface change.

And yeah. I really, really despise this new interface for multiple reasons.

Life Coach Gone Bad said...

I totally agree.
I am not computer literate and it took ages to learn blogger THEN they changed it.
For one week I spent more time in the help section then I did writing.
My theory is that the team at blogger like to look at our blogger questions and have a jolly good laugh at our expense.