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Paolo Amoroso
Non-viral space & Google gems
Non-viral space & Google gems

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Making a Google+ collection trailer
Book trailers are a common promotion tool in the publishing industry, especially among indie writers.

To learn about video making I thought it’d be fun to create a trailer for my collection Space Apps for Android and experiment with YouTube, outreach outside of Google+, and maybe play with that internet of experiences buzz. Here’s the collection:

This is the result, my very first edited video.

The story
Well, I’m no storyteller. But I tried to give some logic to the sequence of visuals and information.

The trailer opens with a series of space images that progressively reveal the user interface elements of Android apps. Then a screencast demonstrates searching for the collection on Google+ and browsing it, thus featuring the content itself.

The video ends with a call to action information panel listing the collection’s name and tagline, a capsule description of what content it features, and links.

As in the collection I added to the trailer a touch of branding and content cues by referencing a couple of Android elements, such as the collection’s Android green color and the Roboto font.

Call to action
The information panel has two links to the collection, a full link and one shortened with the URL shortener, which also provides useful analytics.

Remembering and typing a URL is not always practical, so for redundancy the trailer includes a video clip demonstrating how to search the collection’s name through the Google+ search box. Assuming this is more intuitive or memorable, of course.

I took the screenshots on my Android phones, recorded the screencast with and edited the video with Using cloud tools is a requirement for me -- and a choice -- as all my desktop devices run Chrome OS.

The video features static images animated through the Ken Burns effect, crossfades, a video clip, and a few text elements. Here are some notes on how I made the video:

Making a video with WeVideo: my experience

I linked the trailer from a post pinned to the collection:

About Space Apps for Android

I don’t own any communities but I guess trailers may be useful there too.

Lessons learned
Planning and production were easier and faster than I thought, possibly because I kept the story simple for both production and fruition reasons.

The legibility of the screencast videoclip is terrible on mobile, so it’s not clear it’s initially supposed to demonstrate how to search for the collection’s name on Google+.

But it’s a start.

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New device simulator in Newsstand Producer
Google Play Newsstand Producer replaced the old device simulator, which dated back to Google Currents, with a new one providing a layout closer to the app’s. However, the edition’s header area is now blank and transparent backgrounds in logos are rendered as solid.

Just open an edition in Producer to view the new version.

Unlike the old simulator that allowed you to select multiple form factors like tablets or smartphones, the new one features the screen area of a generic phone-like device. You can scroll through the articles and click their cards to open them. Click the X icon to go back to the article list. However

In the screenshot you can see one of my editions in Producer featuring the new simulator.

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Editing PDF documents in the cloud with DocHub
I didn’t know I needed a PDF editor until I did.

I recently had to fill and submit a PDF document containing a form. I could have printed the PDF file, filled it by hand, and scanned it again but it was relatively long and error-prone. So I looked for a PDF editor to edit the form on my Chromebox.

I originally thought only PDF files with explicitly set up editing fields could be filled but a PDF editor can also annotate, i.e. add arbitrary text, shapes, and highlights over a document. So I ended up trying which has a good free plan.

DocHub integrates well with the Google ecosystem as you can sign in with your Google account and the editor is accessible in Drive through the right-click > Open with menu. Here’s the Chrome app:

I used only the basic tools such as adding text and symbols like checkmarks. However, the editor provides more features such as signing and templates.

DocHub is easy and handy to use. But be sure to double check the exported, edited PDF file as the positions and alignment of some elements may differ from what you see while editing. Be sure not to make text lines too long.

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Samantha Cristoforetti’s advice to Italian high-school seniors
In these late June 2017 days, in Italy the state finals are under way for high-school seniors. As part of a campaign by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, a video features +Samantha Cristoforetti giving advice to the seniors for their exams.

This short article summarizes in English Samantha’s advice and includes the full video in Italian.

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View images of the universe with Hubble Gallery for Android
Hubble Gallery is an Android app for viewing astronomical images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope:

This unofficial app works well but it’s missing a search option, which requires a lot of browsing and scrolling.


Hubble Gallery lets you browse and view Hubble’s images as well as getting basic information and facts. In addition you can share the images, save your favorites, and set them as wallpapers.

The main screen has a gallery view list of all the images. Tap a thumbnail to open the corresponding image.

In the image screen tap the image or the full screen icon to display it at full screen, then pinch to zoom. The heart icon saves the image as a favorite. The 3-dots menu icon has options for sharing the image, saving it to your device, opening it in the browser on the Hubble website, set it as a wallpaper, or get a shareable link.

In the main screen the menu icon has options for switching to different groups of related image galleries such as Galaxies, Nebulae, and Solar System. There’s also an option for opening the Favorites screen.

Tapping the filter icon in the main screen lets you sort the images by most popular or by resolution.

The very first time you open the app it displays a series of introductory screens. It may not be immediately clear that you need to scroll down to proceed, i.e. swipe up.

By default when sharing an image the app includes a link to its Play Store listing, so be sure to edit it if you prefer not to have it.

The main screen of Hubble Gallery on my Nexus 6P phone.

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Using Google+ to promote ebooks
This article provides tips for promoting nonfiction ebooks to various social platforms, including Google+:

Aside from the tips themselves it’s interesting for the author’s positive perception of Google+ and its potential in this niche. He writes:

”[Google+ is] fаѕt becoming a force to be reckoned with ѕinсе ѕurраѕѕing Twitter as the 2nd mоѕt рорulаr ѕосiаl mеdiа platform.”

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Asteroid Itokawa for Android
Asteroid Itokawa is an Android app for viewing a 3D model of asteroid Itokawa, explored by JAXA’s Hayabusa spacecraft:

The app doesn’t do much but it gives a good idea of the asteroid’s overall shape.


The app lets you only rotate around the 3D model of the asteroid, which is based on Hayabusa data.

In the opening screen tap the (i) button for getting information on the app and START for bringing up the main screen with the model of the asteroid. Tap and drag to explore the view in the main screen.

The Asteroid Itokawa app on my Nexus 6P phone.

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Samantha Cristoforetti’s 2nd landing anniversary
Two years ago today, on June 11, 2015, the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft landed in Kazakhstan.

The spacecraft brought back to Earth +Samantha Cristoforetti at the end of her 200 days Futura mission to the International Space Station, her first adventure in space. Along with Samantha were fellow astronauts Anton Shkaplerov and Terry Virts.

Let’s celebrate the anniversary with this photo of Samantha peeking out of the hatch as she’s being brought outside.

Photo credits: ESA-S. Corvaja. Original image:

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Chrome OS’s Google Drive synchronization still needs work
The Chrome OS file system has built-in support for Google Drive, which is accessible also from the Files app.

This is extremely handy for working in the cloud but the feature hasn’t been working for a long time. Most of the times, the Drive view from Chrome OS isn’t up to date and the only fix, clearing a Chrome OS Drive setting, is temporary at best. I discussed the issue here:

Synchronizing the Chrome OS Files app with Google Drive

Once in a while I check whether the issue was fixed and this is still not yet the case. But there’s some progress I first noticed with Chrome OS Stable 58.0.3029.140. Now accessing Drive from Chrome OS lets me see most of the times also the files created or added moments earlier.

Let’s hope a permanent fix is coming so that we can enjoy the full potential of the cloud:

From the desktop to the cloud mindset: the Chrome OS file upload dialog


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Newsstand 4.5 for Android improves performance and image viewing
Google released version 4.5 of the Google Play Newsstand app for Android. It improves the quality of image zooming through pinching and the speed of opening articles from external websites.
Google Play Newsstand Updated With Improved Browsing Speed & Image Viewing #AppUpdate #Android #Google #GooglePlayNewsstand

The Google Play Newsstand, Google’s news curation and information app, has an update rolling out in the Play Store.  The update, version 4.5 for those keeping score at home, improves browsing within the app and also improves the handling of photos with…
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