Saturday, January 29, 2011

Using OS X Spaces, Expose, Minimize and Hide - best practices 2.0

I'm an old dog. It takes work to change my habits. A year ago I took a look at how I use my OS X workspace: Using OS X Spaces, Expose, Minimize and Hide - best practices.

Since then I've switched all my machines to 10.6. This is what I do now (I use two displays):

  • I've given up on Spaces. It almost works, but some multi-window apps get scattered across Spaces. Even when it works, it's not quite right. Even in 10.6 it fits poorly with Expose, Minimize, and Hide. I think Apple has given up too; the newest keyboards have a labeled shortcut key for Expose, but not for Spaces. I now use Spaces only when I'm running Fusion -- it gets its own Space.
  • I love 10.6 Expose. There are four things you need to know
    • If you click-hold on an app's doc icon Expose shows only that app's windows
    • If you show all windows in Expose, then click on an app's doc icon, you see only that app's windows
    • With 10.6 minimized windows show up in expose in their own row
    • Hidden windows do not show up in Expose -- unless you click on the app's doc icon. Then they are forced to appear.

With 10.6 I recommend ...

  • Learn Expose.
  • Use minimize and the "grow" button [1]
  • Don't use Spaces except for unusual cases such as running a VM. I might try using my 2nd Space just for Aperture.
  • Don't use Hide and Hide Others. They are legacy functions left over from Mac Classic. They don't mesh well with Expose.

[1] The "grow" button is problematic. iTunes is completely non-standard for minimize and grow (need to hold opt key to get correct behavior), and many apps simply expand to the entire screen instead of following the "grow to best size" algorithm.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reeder and Reader change how I read the NYT

My Google world editions experiment has a B grade so far. It's not bad, but Google's news algorithms underrate the NYT and the Guardian. I get too many 2nd and 3rd tier news sources.

Fortunately, my favorite Google Reader iPhone client [2] has changed the way I access the NTY. has integrated Arc90's Readability.

Why does this matter? It matters because the NYT's feed posts are not full text. They're simply pointers to the web articles and they are not mobile-optimized. Byline, my previous iPhone GR client, used to cache these articles [1] so they were fast to display, but Reeder doesn't. Until recently I used Reeder's integrated Google or Instapaper mobilizers to read NYT articles, but that stopped working.

I could use the NYT's iPhone app to read the NYT, but that's a source-specific workflow. Worse, the NYT iPhone app doesn't integrate with my Google Reader shares.

Now, however, Reeder with readability works perfectly with the NYT. To the NYT it looks like I'm fetching pages via a browser, but Reeder's readability function post-processes the page so it renders perfectly on my iPhone.

Screen shot 2011-01-22 at 2.41.30 PM.pngMy NYT workflow starts with the NYT RSS resource page. From there I added about 10 feeds to Google Reader. Individual feeds belong to any of several "folders", but they all belong to an "NYT" folder.

In the articles show as short titles and introductions. By tapping a small icon, or using a spread-finger gusture, I tell Reeder to load the entire article using Readability. From there I can share via Google Reader Shared Items or add notes. Those shared items, in turn, go into my twitter stream. (Typically with truncated annotations. I'm not among those who praise Twitter's insane string length limits).

It's a far better workflow than using the NYT iPhone app. Recommended.

[1] I'm not sure the NYT allows this any more.
[2] There's an iPad client too. A Mac OS X client is in beta, but on the desktop I typically use Google Reader's native web interface.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The surprisingly quiet OS X App Store: I buy iWorks'

I'd been considering buy iWorks for a while. I've been particularly interested in Apple's, as I don't have a desktop spreadsheet on my Macs and I don't want to install Office. I've been using Google Spreadsheet for a few years, but that's an annoying experience. I've also considered Mariner Calc, but it seems a lost (noble) cause given the growth of iWorks [1].

I was going to wait for the next version of iWorks, but with the OS X (Apple) App Store launch Numbers is sold separately for $20. I decided to combine a Numbers purchase with a visit to the App Store. Along the way I picked up Spanning Sync's Contact Cleaner for $5 (recommended). Here's what I learned.

I'll dispense with Numbers first. On initial testing, Numbers feels like an OS X version of AppleWorks' spreadsheet. Some of the UI elements are bizarre. It includes data filters, for example, but the data filter checkbox is grayed out until you click the "+" control to the right of the criteria entry fox. Clearly this was not built by Apple's A team.

Numbers will import from Microsoft Excel, AppleWorks 6, CSV, tab delimted and Open Financial Exchange (OFX) format. It exports as Excel and CSV (amazingly, not Apple's longstanding tab delimited format). The installer does not include a user guide, but there's a help file link to Apple's user guide download site. I expect the DVD version of Numbers has more templates and examples than the App Store version.

Numbers is probably worth about $20, especially if it works for Emily. It's not worth more than that given its proprietary file format.

Numbers is worth $20, that is, depending on its DRM. This is the interesting part of the Apple Store. How does the DRM work?

You purchase an app from the Apple OS X App Store using your iTunes account. You don't get an installer. Installation is managed by "App". There's no "uninstall" documentation in the associated help function or anywhere on Apple's site (drag package to trash basically). If you change machines you're supposed to authenticate to the App Store using your iTunes credentials and reinstall. If you want to install on multiple machines (apparently supported by the DRM, Darwin knows what the EULA says) you authenticate and install on each.

The installer has no progress indicator. It feels like it's a very early beginning, which is typical of new Apple products. If you click on the "Purchases" icon you will see a progress bar (137MB download) [2].

The installer places the app into the Global "Applications" folder, not the user Applications folder. It is available to all accounts on the host machine. I don't know if vendors can change this. As an experiment, I zipped up the package from my Applications folder and copied it to a 10.6.5 machine that didn't have App Store installed. It ran there without complaint.

I also tried copying to a G5 running 10.5. It didn't work on this machine. Whereas iWorks '09 supports the G5 (universal app) the downloaded from the App Store is Intel only. This isn't an Apple problem of course -- Apple doesn't license these apps to be installed outside of the App Store, much less on a G5. Still, there are, for now, some advantages to buying Numbers on the DVD.

For the moment then, the app store DRM is light. Even if Apple vanished next year, you could still use Numbers. Unlike, say, what happens to Google's Documents when Google vanishes someday. Of course this is likely to change, and there are probably options to make the DRM controls tighter even with the current store.

In bullet form, some further impressions of the Jan 2011 App store

  • Vendor pricing is largely unimpressive. It's usually identical to retail. Yes, I'm looking at you, Omni Group! Considering the DRM uncertainties and installer absence most geeks will want to buy direct. Of course since Apple takes a 70% cut ...
  • Apple's prices are price competitive. Apple's 70% overhead goes to, you know, Apple. I like the unbundling of iWorks and iLife. Since Apple doesn't offer upgrade discounts on most products the App Store versions are interesting. Of course there's no installer, no universal apps, probably fewer templates, etc. Still, for Apple products the App Store is interesting.
  • The $80 new user price of Aperture is aggressive (it's about the upgrade price for current users). Be warned, however, that Aperture is not iPhoto Pro. Apple is slowly turning Aperture into iPhoto Pro but there are still missing data structures. If you migrate, for example, you lose all your Album and Event annotations. At Apple's current lethargic pace they are probably 3 years away from turning Aperture into a true iPhoto upgrade. (Sure, they market it as an iPhoto upgrade. Did you know Apple lies?)
  • I did see a few interesting utilities and, of course, small games. We all expect to see more OS X versions of iOS apps distributed this way, but there aren't many yet.
  • In general the app store felt sparse and quiet.

What's in the App Store?

  • Apple's consumer products and Aperture (which used to be "Pro" but is slouching towards being, maybe one day but not yet, iPhoto advanced).
  • Printshop 2 by Broderbund (Wow. Still exists.)
  • World Book encyclopedia for $30
  • Omni Group products, all at list price
  • MarsEdit
  • TextWrangler and BBedit
  • Yojimbo
  • Spanning Sync utilities (I bought Contact Cleaner for $5)

Apps that aren't there (yet)

  • Rogue Amoeba: Their wonderful apps help us do things like capture streaming audio. Not supported by Apple!
  • Apple's professional market products
  • Mathematica: Probably too expensive
  • Filemaker apps: Pro and Bento. This surprised me. Are they just not ready? Do they violate guidelines? Is the 70% cut too harsh?
  • Nisus Writer Pro: It's on the way, but not there yet.
  • Most of Mariner's software
  • Adobe products
  • Microsoft products
  • Many of the interesting niche market information management apps

I suspect that the smaller vendors are going to come along, but the price advantage for Apple products is harsh. Few will be able to compete with that. [3]

[1] iWorks, of course, has completely proprietary file formats. The only saving grace is that many files embed PDF in the package structure, so perhaps we can dig out the PDF and interpret the data after Apple disappears in 2027. I fear the battle for open file formats has been lost. Sometimes the good guys go down, but there will be many replays in years to come. For documents I use Nisus Writer Professional, despite its clumsy handling of images (no $#@! compression?!) and worthless HTML export. The default RTF output is as close to a standard file format as 2011 provides.
[2] I've read that the file that download is an installer, but it's hidden and deleted after installation. It doesn't go the trash.
[3] Eventually this may get them into European antitrust issues.

Update 1/30/11: There is more to Numbers that I realized. One of the big limitations of Excel is that you your print surface is your worksheet. In Numbers worksheets are distributed on the print/view workspace. That is a big improvement. I need to do a separate post on Numbers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How I synchronize OS X Contacts with Google Contacts and my iPhone

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Dante.

This one is for Martin.

I have synchronized my OS X Address Book entries with Google Contacts and MobileMe/iPhone for over a year. It mostly works. This is how I would do the Google Calendar part of it if I were starting out today. The MobileMe stuff is relatively easy [1] and I won't describe it further.

Before I begin, however, I require any reader to pass through three gates of informed consent ...

Gate 1. “Do I feel lucky?” Well do ya, punk?

If there's anything in this post you don't understand, you shouldn't try this. It could blow your Address Book apart. You might spend months reassembling it.

Gate 2. Read my 2011 resolution on managing complexity.

This is on the premature adoption end of things. It's taken about twenty years of boring, career destroying committee work to develop an incomplete and flawed standard sharing calendars and invitations. We're ten years of pain away from a similar standard for exchanging contact information.

Gate 3: Scan my Synchronization is Hell post.

Ok, you're informed. If you proceed, as a fringe benefit, you may come to understand why healthcare, a trillion dollar industry, seems stuck in the dark ages of IT. If it's hard to get address books to communicate, how much harder is it to send patient records from system A to system B? You may start to understand things like Halamka's post on a "Universal Exchange Language" for healthcare (heavens, but he's an optimist).

I use OS X Address Book as the "source of truth". That's where I add new addresses, and that's where I define what gets pushed to Google. If most of your contacts are in Google you would take a different approach.

Step 1: Buy Spanning Sync's Contact Cleaner ($5, App store) and try Spanning Sync ($25 a year, $20 if you use my referral code NXC8PS, 15 day free trial). I don't use it sync calendars, just contacts.

Step 2: Back up Address Book. Then use Contact Cleaner to clean it up; note warnings about unusual suffixes and the like. Sync works best with a first name, last name for individuals (no spaces) and a string (with spaces) for "companies".

Step 3: Define a group in Address Book that you'll sync to Google Contacts. Start small and build up. I call mine "Google Sync. Configure Spanning sync to only sync that group:

Screen shot 2011-01-15 at 11.00.46 AM.png

Step 4: After sync used Contact Cleaner again. Try a few reps until you're no longer getting duplicate or messed up contacts.

Step 5: As you use Google, keep an eye out for duplicates. Use Google's merge tool opportunistically. It works well, better than OS X Address Book merge.

Step 6: Over time add more names to the Address Book Google Sync group. Until you've got every address you care about synchronizing.

- fn --

[1] Apple controls both data models and they're roughly congruent, at least if you're on 10.6.6. I don't sync via iTunes because I already own MobileMe and it lets me sync to my accounts on multiple machines. The rest of my family can't sync directly because we all share one iTunes account, they have to sync to MobileMe and separately to their OS X accounts on multiple machines.

Spanning Sync contacts cleaner - a quick review

I bought Spanning Sync's Contact Cleaner for $5 from the OS X App Store.

I've used their flagship product for years to sync my OS X Address Book to Google. It's relatively expensive ($25 or so a year) but it mostly works. Since synchronization between differing data models is an impossible problem, "mostly works" is excellent.

So I was willing to give this utility a try.

Briefly, for an early product, it works pretty well. It has a few bugs, but it's definitely worth $5. The app offers to make an Address Book backup on 1st use -- that's a good idea.

I'm a pretty good test case because

  • I sync my OS X Address Book to both Google (Spanning Sync) and MobileMe
  • I have over 800 cards in my personal book (more in my separate corporate directory)
  • I routinely define a "Family" as a "Business" to get around the first name, last name problem.
  • For individuals I often link them into "Families" by use of the "Business" field to hold a family name (or, in my case, the domain name for our family)

These are the bugs I found:

  1. If you choose open in Address Book, then change type from individual to business in Address Book, Contact Cleaner will crash
  2. Details view for "one name" errors omits email addresses
  3. Details formatting not always optimal
  4. Can't manage the individual to company conversion

I'm also a bit suspicious about how it manages group memberships when it merges or alters contacts. This may just be my paranoia coming out.

Some advice on using Contact Cleaner

  • Turn off all other sync while using this tool. I sync my OS X Address Book to both MobileMe (and thus to my iPhone) and to Google Contacts [1]. Just disable your network connection.
  • If you edit in the Address book, save your changes (click out of edit mode) then Rescan in Contacts Cleaner. Otherwise it won't pick up your edits.
  • I like to make changes in Address Book then rescan - gives me more control and I can see the full results
  • Be wary if you use non-default Address Book fields. This kind of cleanup is a very hard problem.

[1] I sync a selected subset of my entire Address Book to Google Contacts. I create new addresses in OS X and then let them sync to Google. Once they sync I can safely make smaller edits on either side (esp. email address updates). I can also do merges safely on the Google side. Group assignments are independent. I define a "Family" entry as a type of "Business", that seems to work.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

iTunes PDF books won't sync to your iBooks app?

You are frustrated.

You can drag and drop PDFs to the iTunes Library icon (iTunes open). They get organized into the Books section. They seem to sync to your iPhone (iPad). Except they don't. Nothing shows up.

You've tried everything. Maybe even inspected permissions.

Try this.


See that lovely little button that says "Books"?

Tap it.

Now you see your PDFs.

You are welcome.

PS. You can create a collection called "All" and, using Edit, tap on items, then tap Move you can put your Books and PDFs together.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Authenticate your Google Apps email - and help finish email spam

The web is overwhelmed by splogs and garbage sites full of noiseware (emphases mine) ...

Why We Desperately Need a New (and Better) Google

... Content creation is big business, and there are big players involved. For example, Associated Content, which produces 10,000 new articles per month, was purchased by Yahoo! for $100 million, in 2010. Demand Media has 8,000 writers who produce 180,000 new articles each month. It generated more than $200 million in revenue in 2009 and planning an initial public offering valued at about $1.5 billion. This content is what ends up as the landfill in the garbage websites that you find all over the web. And these are the first links that show up in your Google search results.

Google is falling, because it's trapped by its own business model.

It looks bad, just as bad as email spam was just three years ago. Today, though, email spam is dying.  The cure was clear by the late 90s, but it's taken ten years to really work. The answer was differential filtering based on the managed reputation of an authenticated sending service. Today we call that Domain Keys Identified Mail or DKIM. DKIM doesn't identify the sender, it identifies the sending service. The sending service then assumes responsibility for the sender (they know who the sender is). If the service doesn't police its users, it gets a bad reputation -- and starts being filtered aggressively.

Gmail accounts have used DKIM for a while, but Google Apps email has made do with SPF -- an inferior solution. Google has only now rolled DKIM out to Google Apps users. If you use Google APps you should enable this (it's not automatic yet). Without it the email you send will be increasingly "second class" and more likely to be filtered out.

It took about two minutes  activate DKIM for our free Google Apps family domain. We were able to use the automated method because that domain is managed through Google's Registrar partner - eNom. It sounds like it might be trickier to activate for domains managed by my favorite registrar/hosting service - DreamHost though I expect it will eventually be automatic everywhere.

We beat email spam. It wasn't that hard, though the fix did take a long time implement. It's clear we could do the same thing with garbageware sites. That fix, however, may require a company other than Google ...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Replacing a broken 3G iPhone screen: what iFixit doesn't tell you

I used the iPhone 3G Front Panel Assembly from iFixit $70) to successfully replace a broken 3G iPhone screen. I followed the iFixit assembly directions, watched a video for a related procedure and improvised when both omitted critical steps.

You shouldn't try this. I estimate the average non-obsessive geek has a 50% chance of ending up with a fixed phone, a 30% chance of ending up with a more broken phone, and a 20% chance of ending where they started less $70 or so. Once you do this successfully once the odds of success increase dramatically, but the learning curve is steep. If you insist, then please read this post carefully. It will boost your success rate to 75%.

I recommend finding someone who's done this before and paying them to fix your phone. Or see how much you call sell the broken phone for, the buyers will easily fix it. Or buy a 3G display assembly instead ($100) and avoid about 30% of the repair hassle.

I did not attempt the $40 front panel procedure. iFixit rates that as "difficult". In English this translates to "impossible".

Lastly you can pay Apple $200 and they'll do a perfect job. Keep in mind that a new 4G iPhone costs about $700 out of contract and a new working 3G is probably worth at least $350.

If you do proceed consider also replacing the battery at the same time. About half of the hardest steps are common.

I hope by this time you've stopped, but perhaps you're already committed. Or maybe you want to make a business out of this. That would make sense, especially for someone in college where broken iPhones must be common. Here's what I learned (this supplements, but does not replace, the video and the ifixit directions)

Ordering and shipping

  • The front panel assembly does NOT include tools. I missed that, because I started out looking at the insane option of the "front panel" only kit. You definitely need the plastic spudger. You could use a very slender flexible knife or a scalpel blade in place of the metal spudger. I had a magnetic 00 philips screwdriver, I don't know if their's is magnetic.
  • It's surprisingly hard, with a worn black 3G iPhone, to identify that it is, in fact, a 3G iPhone! Elders will need a magnifying glass.
  • The model numbers on Apple's site are only for the first batch of devices. I visited Apple's site and followed their external identifier directions.
  • The assembly came inside loose bubble wrap and a simple envelope; I'm surprised it made it.
  • The parts don't say Apple anywhere.


Here's what I laid out. I was able to make up for the parts I didn't order, I had an old spudger that was fine. I think the screws are all the same but I had a different bowl for each and a picture of the step behind each bowl. The tweezers and compressed air were essential. The white paper is sticker backing to hold the cursed black tape removed during the procedure. I wish I had had a magnifying glass, but I'm 51. A bright light source should suffice for the under 40 crowd.

It took me about 2.5 hours to do this with several breaks when I ran into problems. An expert could do it in under 20 minutes.


iFixit front panel assembly directions

Read the directions very carefully several times and watch the video for the similar but harder front panel assembly. This is what they left out:

  • My panel came with a screw in place. Look for this and remove the screw. If you don't know this you'll discover the screw when you do the reassemby; and you'll have to take it all apart again.
  • The panel has plastic covers you'll want to remove only at the time of assembly.
  • The video is an edited series of cuts. It omits several key operations.
  • Reassembly is harder than disassembly.
  • I wore latex gloves (powder free) to reduce hand oils and sweat getting on things.
  • The relevant portion of the video is from about 1:13 to 2:06. Watch that several times, unfortunately key parts were excised.
  • Manufacturing changes over time. There are differences between the very first 3Gs and later models.
  • There are two forms of cable connection. There's a standard pressure join and there's the iPhone destroying FPC connector (see below). When reassembling you really need to visually line up the pressure connectors. It takes a modest push to seat them; you will then feel a soft but obvious "thunk". If you don't clearly feel this they're not really connected.

The treacherous black tape

  • Study this carefully before your remove it.
  • At one point you are instructed to remove some black tape. This is very hard to do, I had to work one end up. A scalpel might help. Use tweezers. The tape will curl; but mine curled in a benign way. Leave the curled loop on your paper. When you reassemble, either have someone hold the phone for you or put it in a clamp of some sort. I think the best approach would use a light locking clamp to hold the tape and tweezers. Reposition it, hold it in place, try to flatten it out.

The FPC connector

As of 1/2011 there is a key image missing from the assemblydirections at "step 6". if you haven't done this before you will have NO idea what is meant by the "PFC lock"

I have tried to capture it below, but I should have used a macro lens. It is that small. The PFC lock is a 1mm x 3-4 mm white bar that sits over the distal end of cable 3 as it emerges from a black connector cover. It is shown here in the unlocked, upright position. A simple flick of the plastic spudger will flip it up. Then cable 3 will slide out.

20110108_PFC lock_7690.jpg

To reinsert cable 3 I suggest using fine tweezers on the black cable sheath to push it into the black housing above until the white line on PFC cable is about at the proximal side of the black cable cover. Then flip the PFC lock down.

Good luck.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Kensington USB hub maxes out at 4 iPhones

3 kids, 2 parents = 5 iPhones (2 used as iTouch, 2 with data plan, 1 voice only).

Charge and sync is a pain. I tried connecting all five to one Kensington 7 port dome USB hub. It worked ok until the fifth connection, then the newer iPhones (4, 3GS) started complaining that they couldn't charge of an unsupported peripheral.

So four is the practical maximum for this hub. I suspect that's about as good as any hub will do.

Monday, January 03, 2011

How to reset a passcode locked iPhone

After I got home with my stolen iPhone I found I couldn't reset it. iTunes told me I had to enter the passcode. What could I do?

Cough. Ok, seriously. For the 2nd time our good friend C. has given one of our kids her ex-iPhone [1]. C. is a wonderful person, but she has been heck on iPhones. This one has a broken screen, I'll attempt a FixIt repair after I've tested the phone. I didn't want to bug C. for her passcode (after all, it could be her bank PIN too), but Apple documents a procedure for initiating recovery mode on a device that won't mount in iTunes: iPhone and iPod touch: Unable to update or restore.

Be sure to hold the home button as you connect the cable. If you do it correctly the recover dialog appears quickly.

[1] When both her brothers had iPhones, it was clear my daughter's wrath was building. That is not something any sane human would choose to face. Getting this one for free was a lifesaver.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

What can you redownload from Apple's iTunes store?

You only get one download of songs, videos (includes movies), iPod games and albums ...

iTunes Store: Purchased songs, videos, iPod Games, and albums can be downloaded only once: "When you buy a song, video, iPod Game, or album from the iTunes Store, you are entitled to download it only once...."

On the other hand, iOS apps can be redownloaded as long as they are still sold [1] ...

How to redownload purchased apps from the App Store

Click the Buy button. ... You will then see a dialog similar to one below. Click OK to continue with the download.

The rules variation is a bit confusing. There have been reports, by the way, of Apple allowing redownloading of lost music under some circumstances. Those reports, however, reference a form that no longer exists.  I suspect Apple has discontinued that service.

At 1-2 GB each movies can add up fast. If Apple were to allow redownloads we could delete movies we don't often watch, and retrieve them from Apple. Of course this may not be Apple's decision to make, I suspect the rights holders are the issue.

This policy is one reason I prefer DVDs to iTunes purchases, though I fear the days of the DVD are numbered.

[1] It's not easy to find a record of all purchased apps, but if you keep the invoice emails Apple sends Spotlight will help.



Saturday, January 01, 2011

Rogue Twitter/Google feedburner connection - a casualty of the Great Google Identity Integration Initiative

My Google Reader Share Twitter (re)stream is being updated -- but the posts are coming from a rogue Feedburner bot. None of my Google Identities have control of this feed burn. I think I've run into a bug related to the (covert) Great Google Identity Integration Initiative (GGIII) of 2011.

What, you may wonder, is the Great Google Identity Integration Initiative of 2011? Why do I say it's covert  (covert)? I'll provide some background before I give my take on this alleged bug.

The GGIII is covert, first of all, because Google hasn't named it, much less documented what's going on. Three Google articles provide some limited context (emphases mine) ...

More Google applications - Google Apps Help

After your Google Apps accounts are converted, your users will have access to most Google products. Previously, many Google products -- such as Blogger, Reader, and Picasa Web Albums [jg: and Feedburner] -- were available only in personal (consumer) Google Accounts...

Get ready to transition - Google Apps Help

... If any of your users have a conflicting account, they will be required to rename their conflicting accounts the next time they sign in to their personal Google Account...

... Any Picasa Web Album, Profile, or Wave usernames cannot be moved from an existing account to your Google Apps account

If your users used Picasa Web Albums with personal Google Accounts, they will not be able to reuse their old Picasa Web Album display usernames. They will have to sign up for new display usernames....

Known Issues - Google Apps Help

Reading between the lines there are two aspects to GGII ...

  1. Unification of usernames across Google properties where username is an email address. (example - So if this username is used for both a Google Apps account and a traditional Google Account then the two accounts will be unified.
  2. Tie all Google services to a Google Profile. This was recently mandated for all Picasa web album users, even paying customers. Not all customers were happy about this.

Phew. So, if you're still with me, this is what I think happened to a feedburner bot associated with That "identity" used to be split between a Google Apps domain (email, etc) and a true Google Account (blogging, feedburner). When I (carefully [1]) activated "More Google applications" for my Google Apps domain Google merged two distinct identities that shared a single "name"

  • - Google Apps
  • - Google Account

My guess is there's a bug with this process when a user has a Feedburner bot linked to a Twitter account using the Feedburner "socialize" feature. I think I have two feedburner services associated with, but one of them is unreachable.

I doubt there's anything I can do, I just have to wait for Google to fix this. In the meantime I've posted questions with somewhat different angles on two forums ...

See also:

-- fn --
[1] I expected problems. Since this is going to be mandatory in the next few months, including for our family domain where we have similar distributed identity issues, I chose to make a test case. I expected bugs like this.

Update 1/2/2011: The problem stopped. I suspect it was related to another Google identity of mine, and so this is probably not a Google bug ... (see below)

Update 1/3/2011: Mary, in comments, points out that this article has more details. It in turn references an article on "conflicting accounts" that tells us

Account merge and data move options : Basics and getting started - Accounts Help

Unfortunately, it is not possible to combine two accounts or to merge data.

Except that Google also tells us ....

Moving product data : Managing and using Google products - Accounts Help

... In most cases, it's not possible to move products from one Google Account to another ... This may change over time, so check back here for updates...

Right. Clearly, this is a flaming mess.

So what happened was that the feedburner configuration in my google ( account was vaporized when the transfer process destroyed that account's data, but it took a while for the bot to die. Hence the duplicates.

This transition should be avoided as long as possible. If you do make the merge I suggest:

  1. Give the old account a new email address (you'll have to dig one up somewhere).
  2. Delete the old account after you've gotten all your data out of it and after you've ensured that any associated blogs have an admin user with the new identity.