Why won’t Google let me reorder locations on my custom map?

UPDATE 9/15: There is a workaround. Basically, as long as you leave the top item on the list in place, you can reorder other items and the map will save and retain that order. So just consider the top item on your list a placeholder, and list the “real” items in the order you want below that. Kinda clunky, but I’ve tested it and it does work.

Recently Google maps changed something, I don’t know what, and it’s broken a feature I use a lot. Very annoying.

I keep a custom google map where I mark the locations I need to be for upcoming appointments and events. I list them in date order. This has worked great for me, with all the running around I do, for the last year — especially via mobile.

BUT… Sometime in the last couple of weeks, Google maps stopped respecting the order I specify for places on my map. It’ll let me reorder locations in my map, and save them — but that order only last the session. When I reload the map, all my newer locations are back down on the bottom of the list!

There’s a Google Maps Forum thread on this, but so far no help.

Does anyone know how to fix this problem or get around it?

It’s even more annoying because Google Maps’ “starred places” function doesn’t let me add notes, or specify a custom order. So that’s not really a solution for me.

How NOT to do media relations: Fake-friendly pitches

Just because someone posts something personal online doesn’t mean it’s OK to use that to manufacture a faux-personal connection in order to persuade them to do you a favor.

Case in point: Yesterday a clueless media relations professional whom I do not know sent me an e-mail with the subject line: “I sent a poem to a wannabee crotchety old bitch.” He was alluding to my recent birthday post, in which I reflected on aging.

The comment this person attempted to append to that post — which I did not approve — was the poem When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. That was in itself a mistake, though not a fatal one. If ever there was an overused, reflexive cliche response to any woman who mentions aging in a positive light, that poem would be it.

So this PR guy e-mailed me to let me know he’d tried to post that comment. Here’s the start of his message, and where he really screwed up…

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FDA approves prescription Placebo (Onion Radio News)

A recurring theme in my thoughts and work lately is psychological resistance to demonstrable facts. (See: Why facts will never be enough to make people believe). Sometimes that’s due to cognitive dissonance, emotional reasoning, or herd reinforcement. But sometimes it’s due to a plain lack of understanding of what science is and how it functions.

So this recent episode from The Onion Radio News reduced me to helpless giggles. Enjoy!

UPDATE: On a related note, science journalist Christie Aschwanden alerted me to this 2008 NYT story: Experts Question Placebo Pill for Children. Thanks! Brilliant! You just can’t make this shit up!

The inevitable mid-life birthday reflection post

Me atop Twin Sisters peak yesterday, Estes Park, CO. Geez, I hope it's not ALL downhill from here!... (Click to enlarge)

I’ve always said that my one true goal in life is to be a crotchety old bitch, sitting on the deck of my mountain cabin, a cup of tea or jug of wine and a plate of smoked salmon or trout at my side. I’ll have a shotgun across my knee, ready to cock it at anyone coming down the driveway and yell, “You from the gummint?”

I’m actually not kidding.

I’m not saying I’ll shoot anyone (necessarily), but crotchety old bitches tend to be able to get away with stuff like that, so why not?

The good thing about having this kind of life goal is that simply by continuing to exist, I’m progressing toward it. Today is my 45th birthday, and I’m starting it right — sitting on the deck of my cabin in the Rockies, still shaded by aspen…

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I don’t feel so bad about my e-mail inbox now (Or: tips for using e-mail well)

One of my favorite podcasts is Get It Done Guy, by Stever Robbins.

He just did a blog post that addresses one of the banes of my existence: e-mail overload. I hate e-mail for the purpose of sharing links, collaboration, coordination, or keeping up with tasks and project. But I can’t seem to wean from e-mail the people I need to connect with on that stuff. Everyone uses different tools and services to manage their own processes, and too often the lowest common denominator is e-mail.

In Inbox Zero and the Critical Mistake That Saps Productivity, Stever writes:

“I believe that an empty inbox just means you’ve ceded control of your thinking and priorities to everyone who emails you. They control the volume, order, and substance of your attention for the time you’re processing your email. It *feels good* to have an empty inbox, but it also feels good to gorge on Oreo ice cream cake. That doesn’t mean that Oreo ice cream cake is good for you, only that it feels good. Inbox Zero has the extra sugary bonus that since *some* email is an essential part of our job, it’s easy to believe (with no evidence at all) that therefore it’s useful to spend some time on *all* email.

“Rather than striving for inbox zero, I advocate learning to identify the truly relevant emails very, very quickly, with an absolute minimum of cognitive load or context switching.

Whew! I don’t feel so bad now about the nearly 1000 items in my Gmail inbox…

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Google+, Facebook & mobile

I just spent most of the day testing the new Google+ social network service, and its Android app and mobile web app — and writing a review for CNN.com about the mobile experience. Generally, I liked what I saw, despite some glitches. This offering is still really, really beta — but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

My review: Google+ a clean, intuitive mobile experience so far

Clearly Google+ is going head-to-head against Facebook, and I think it has a decent chance of winning in the long run, especially if it includes good mobile integration of core Google services like calendar, Gmail, and docs.

But what about Facebook?…

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Like diversity? Facebook will let you have it, but not keep it

Yesterday I wrote about an annoyance I have with Facebook’s web user interface. In a nutshell, I personally prefer to regularly view in my news feed the latest items from ALL the people, groups, and pages I’ve friended or liked in Facebook — not just the select few which Facebook has noticed I already interact with most frequently.

Why? I prefer diversity. I’m a fairly casual Facebook user, but I do use it as a way to connect with people, organizations, and communities for whom Facebook is really the best way to keep up with them. This includes many community groups, people whose social/professional circles really don’t overlap with mine otherwise, and even people/orgs with whom I disagree.

This is because, as I’ve written before (and so has Ethan Zuckerman), I think too much homophily is a problem — not just online, but in life.

But so far, Facebook seems to want to give me no choice but homophily — at least, they won’t respect my preference on an ongoing basis.

Here’s what I mean, based on what Vadim Lavrusik of Facebook told me this morning….

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Facebook: How to change your default news feed setting to “most recent”

UPDATE JUNE 30: Unfortunately, this fix doesn’t seem to be persisten. Today, my Facebook news feed default reverted to “Top News” — without me changing that setting. I asked Vadim Lavrusik of Facebook about it, and the bottom line is: it is not currently possible to opt to persistently see “Most Recent.” They’ll change you back to “Top News” when you’re not looking, like it or not. Seriously. Read more

I use Facebook strictly as a casual way to communicate with people I know. I’m not a heavy Facebook user because their interface sucks, and it keeps on sucking. But there’s one thing about Facebook that was really bugging me, and I finally just figured out how to fix it.

The Problem: The default setting for your Facebook news feed (list of recent updates) is “Top News” — which is somewhat misleadingly named, since it’s really only updates from the friends and pages that Facebook’s algorithm, in its infinite and inscrutable wisdom, believes you interact with the most.

In order to see in your news feed updates from ALL the people and pages you’ve chosen to connect with on Facebook, you need to select the “most recent” option. Totally unintuitive, but that’s par for the course with the Facebook interface.

BUT: In order to routinely see updates from all your Facebook friends and pages, you must change that default setting. Facebook doesn’t make this easy — again, par for the course for Facebook.

I figured out how to do it. Below is my quick video tutorial.

WATCH VIDEO TUTORIAL: Facebook News Feed settings

…You’d think that with all the money they’re making, Facebook could afford to hire some good UI designers and do some usability testing! I think I might mail them a copy of Don’t Make Me Think (old by internet standards, but the principles are timeless).

ONAcamp Denver, June 23: Resources for my mobile journalism session

I’m back in Colorado for a few days, and in a few minutes I’m heading over to ONAcamp Denver — a daylong event with training and workshops in digital journalism. My session runs 9-10am MT. Here’s the info, if you’re going:

Adirondacks (Tivoli 440/540): Mobile Reporting
As more and more users turn to mobile devices for news and information, journalists should be including the platform in their news gathering and delivery. But how? This session will take a big-picture look at trends in the mobile industry, the differences between mobile and the web, the significance of having a mobile presence and the best tools to use in the mobile space.

Here are some things I’ll be mentioning…
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Know your mobile media channels

Mobile media reaches far, far beyond mere just smartphone/tablet apps. There are lots of ways to communicate with, and engage, your audience via the mobile devices they have in hand right now — even if they don’t have smartphones (which is the case for about 70% of the current US mobile market).

If you’re in the news business, or in any way involved with media, it’s important to devise a mobile strategy that’s inclusive. That means: Unless you’re really only interested in serving the small minority of the population that can afford (and has lots of time to play around with) souped-up, pricey smartphones and tablets, then it’s crucial to offer at least some mobile content and services that works well with simpler devices and slower data connections.

The low end will always be the largest part of the mobile media market. If your plan is to focus on smartphones and wait until most people get the kinds of devices and plans you think they should have in order to serve them, the next Craigslist is going to come along and eat your lunch. Again.

Here are the key mobile channels… Continue reading