Google+ is a very new service. It isn’t generally released yet – Google are calling it “early alpha”. It isn’t surprising that there is functionality missing, and that some aspects of the service are a bit rough around the edges. So, as a follow-on to my first thoughts post, and not intended as criticism in any way, here are just a few things that I think need to come at some point. They are in no particular order…

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I know, blogging about Google+ is passé already. I should have done it last week. And anyway, all the clever people have done it already, so what’s the point? Well, thus blog is as much about me thinking out loud as anything else, so, after using Google+ for less that a week, here are some thoughts…

Google+ is Google’s latest attempt at being social, previous attempts being Google Wave and Google Buzz. Wave got a lot of hype for a while, but then everyone lost interest. The technology was amazing, but it was too different and nobody understood what to do with it. Buzz was closer to the mainstream social applications – Twitter and Facebook – but I never really found it engaging enough. Is Google+ any better?

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I was at the Virtual Futures conference over this last weekend and decided to take a camera and, purely for fun, try photographing the event. This process brought together a number of pieces of technology besides the camera itself, and when I sat down afterwards and thought about it I was amazed at how far photography has come since I was last seriously interested in it 10 years or so ago, when my camera still used film. This is best demonstrated by one particular photograph from the weekend…

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I’ve had my livescribe pen for a couple of weeks now and have started to settle down into a bit of a routine with it. I suspect this routine will change a little as I continue to experiment, but here’s how I’m currently using it. I also have a few ideas that would improve its usefulness to me.

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I got a Livescribe Pulse smartpen just about a week ago. This is a device that records your penstrokes (i.e. writing and drawing) and, optionally, records audio alongside, allowing both to be transferred to a PC afterwards. I bought it with the intention of using it to make better notes in meetings and seminars, and at conferences. It is a rather clever piece of kit, and I thought it would be worth making a note of my thoughts after a week of playing.

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A little while ago I wrote about using close-up lenses as a possible cheap alternative to a macro lens. I was quite pleased with the results, but decided to try another cheap alternative – extension tubes. Essentially extension tubes move the lens further from the camera, allowing you to focus on objects closer to the lens, and therefore produce larger images. They have advantages and disadvantages over close-up lenses…

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This is the second of my unusual reviews of Nokia kit. This one is even of a mobile phone! So what’s unusual about it? It is a review of a phone that’s already obsolete even though it was released barely more than 6 months ago – the Nokia N8. It is obsolete because it is a Symbian phone and Nokia have abandoned Symbian as a smartphone platform, in favour of Windows Phone. At first I wasn’t sure there was a point in reviewing the N8 at all, but in the end I was sorry to see it go.

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Nokia BH-905iThis is the first of two slightly unusual reviews, both of Nokia kit kindly lent to me by WOMWorld/Nokia. Nokia is usually associated with mobile phones, and yet here I’m reviewing a pair of headphones. They are bluetooth headphones and they will operate as a wireless headset when paired with a phone, so it does make some sense. The most interesting thing about them, though, is that they have active noise cancellation. I’ve never tried noise cancelling headphones before so I was very curious to see how well the technology worked.

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I’ve just discovered a new piece of Internet plumbing, or Internet automation – If this then that…, ifttt.com. It is in its early stages and currently running as an invite-only beta. It looks very promising, though, and right now can replace the combination of RSS feeds and feedmyinbox.com I use the keep my twitter archive in Evernote. It can do much more, too.

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I’ve always wanted to have a go at close-up photography, but never quite summoned up enough enthusiasm to shell out for a decent macro lens. Last week I came across a set of close up lenses on Amazon, for the bargain price of £8. Yes, £8. Clearly they aren’t going to be the highest quality, but for £8 I thought it was worth the risk. They might just be good enough to get me hooked, and enthusiastic enough to buy some proper kit!

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