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Allen “Prisoner” Firstenberg


We hold these truths to be self-evident...
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
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Share and Share Alike

Google Classroom has announced a new Classroom Share button that websites can add. This will let teachers and students who are using Classroom share stories, images, videos, etc. I'm not very familiar with Classroom, but it sounds like you can share it with a specific class or session... pretty much what I would imagine. I can think of quite a few websites where this would be awesome.

In fact... that would be just about every website.

In fact... didn't Google do something like this before?

What did we call this... oh yes! The Google+ Share button.

Now... I actually can understand how these might be two different things. Classroom accounts are different since they need to deal with account-holders that are under-age. Share targets are slightly different than people/circles/collections as well. But it is a shame that Google has decided to create something new instead of taking advantage of something that people have already widely deployed.

And now the burden of adding the button falls on websites. Just adding a new social button isn't always straightforward - it involves questions of layout and design. I wonder how many will remove the G+ button to find space for Classroom... when they next get around to it. I wonder how many will ask if it is worth it and what Google's commitment to yet another sharing target is. I'm sure the sharing widgets will catch up quickly, however, and that will probably make it easier for many, but it is still a shame that they will have to.

The setup makes it appear that the Classroom account won't be available to the page, for example, but there doesn't appear to be any content restrictions on the pages where it may be used. But I think this illustrates, again, where Google took a wrong turn in the past. Instead of finding a way to create accounts for youth (see my proposal four years ago at, they created a separate space... and would have to adapt systems to deal with this separate space.

So let me be clear - I think this is awesome. I love things that encourage learning and sharing in a classroom. I'm just disappointed it wasn't handled better.
Noble Ackerson's profile photoAllen “Prisoner” Firstenberg's profile photo
I think that sites that target students will  gladly want to implement. But for many it isn't just "toss the code in". They'll need to change their page design to accommodate the button.

As for every website doing so... I'd like to hear the opinion of SEO strategists on that one. I certainly can't think of many content producers that would say "oh, someone else to share my content with? sure. why not add the button?" More significantly, if they didn't do this, then it doesn't really help out teachers and students who might still need to share using the URL of a story, which isn't bad... but lessens the usefulness of the button as a whole.
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Plus Four - two four letter words

This is my 5370th post on Google+. It seems almost difficult to believe it has been four years since I got my invite (from who, I don't remember) and started poking around.

In that time... a lot has happened. Google+ has connected me to friends new and old (such as +Gerwin Sturm, +Moritz Tolxdorff+Natalie Villalobos, and  +Linda Lawton). Because of Google+, I've gotten more involved in my local developer communities (+GDG New York and +GDG Hudson Valley), become a Google Developer Expert (thanks to people like +Jonathan Beri, +Timothy Jordan, and +Jenny Tong), and wrote a book with someone (+Jason Salas) halfway across the world. I've worked with folks (+Dan McDermott and +Pam Adger) to do a weekly video show, which I never would have done before, and been able to interview people from +Sarah Hill to +chee chew to +Vic Gundotra. I've learned about, and become very involved, with technologies from +Google Glass to +Polymer to +Android and the +Google Cloud Platform. I've been on +Google Photos walks with +Vivienne Gucwa and +Alan Shapiro and hunted for the great +Chrysta Rae. Many of those posts weren't public, but to share privately with family like +David Firstenberg and +Lisa Bauer.

It wasn't always (and still isn't) perfect. In the early days, I fought the #nymwars aside people such as +Sai and +Meirav M., and I'm glad reason eventually prevailed. Layouts have come and go. Integration with +Blogger and +Google Drive have come... with mixed results. There have been some ambitious changes, some less so, and some that I'm still wondering how they got approved. I've debated merits of changes and new features with +Michael Banks+Oleg Moskalensky, +Mike Downes, +Mike Elgan,  and many others who have visited my posts.

And I'm not going to stop. I immediately saw the potential in Google+ four years ago. It has yet to see all of that potential... perhaps not even a tiny fraction of that potential... but I'm ever hopeful. Damned if I know why, since I see missteps at every turn, but I'm still optimistic about what +Google+ can be.

Four years ago I started with a modest post:
These days my posts are much... longer. I don't know how Google+ encouraged this introvert... but it has.

So a happy birthday, and my thanks, to +Bradley Horowitz and the entire team. Here's a brief note from +Yonatan Zunger about what things were like four years ago from his perspective:

Enough looking backwards. Onwards to post 5371 and beyond. And what's next for Google+? I can't wait to find out.
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that like gross
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Search: Rainbow

For some reason today, I wanted to try a search on "Justice" and "Liberty", but neither turned up many photo results. "Marriage" and "Wedding" turned up quite a few! But most of them contained many personal photos, so I won't publish them here.

Instead, here's "Rainbow". Mostly accurate, tho I'm surprised it only turned up on of the hot air balloon photos I've taken. And, at least in the preview, some of the photos are sideways when they weren't in Photos.

My favorite shot, however, is the double rainbow which I used a while back for the topic "Colorful" in +Chrysta Rae's photo hunt.
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Pixar: Lava

I have a lot of thoughts about Inside Out, which I will share soon. But in the meantime, just a couple of thoughts about the short shown before it: Lava.

+Disney's Pixar shorts are almost always interesting, and frequently serve as testing grounds for new technology and storytelling techniques. This is one of Pixar's most beautiful and brilliant shorts and is beautifully paired with the feature that followed.

The effects are all nearly perfect here, feeling both real and animated at the same time. The story, told entirely in song, unfolded beautifully. I'm not from the islands, but the music felt spot-on. Pixar is at their best when the stories they tell can only be told using their unique animation - and they've perfectly done it with this short.

It left my eyes moist... which was just the right setup for Inside Out. Make sure you see it with someone you lava - I'm glad I did.
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Must... get...

um... in a kids size... right... a kids size...
to match the one I'm going to get for myself, dammit.

This is way too freaking awesome.
Daniel Bentley (ShadowDrakken)'s profile photoRichard Wooding's profile photoJennifer Freeman's profile photoZac Pérez's profile photo
Here's a shop that has that shirt... it also has one with Neil and Bill Nye :D
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Streaming? For whom?

+YouTube Creators released a video giving 10 features "coming soon" for YouTube. Number 8 was tantalizingly titled "Better live streaming".

But the segment doesn't talk about better live streaming... it talks about better live streaming for gamers. Which is fine and dandy and good and a great target audience...

... but it sure makes it sound like it omits everyone else. People who have been experimenting for the past four years with Hangouts "live on the scene" (remember when +Sarah Hill was the anchor for live reporting from the Canadian riots a few years back?). People who are currently using Perisope and Meerkat (like... everyone... even +Dan McDermott is doing it).

I don't think live streaming for Gaming is bad... but if the focus is truly that narrow, Google and YouTube will have missed a golden opportunity.

George Kozi's profile photoDan McDermott's profile photoAllen “Prisoner” Firstenberg's profile photo
+Dan McDermott - On the YoutubeCreator blog, they describe it as "We just made it easier for you to set up and manage your live streams. And where better to show them off than in our upcoming YouTube Gaming app?"

Which is great. But
(a) I still have no idea what they're talking about when they say "easier for you to set up and manage your live streams", since I can't find any other blog entry about it.

(b) Judging by when you start the show every week by going "What the **?", I get the impression that if they simplified something, you haven't found it yet.

(c) Is there one-touch-to-live from my mobile? If not, there are still a lot of boats to lift. I understand they are focusing on competing against Twitch. But in the process, they now need to compete against Meerkat and Periscope too.

(d) When talking about the gaming live streams, they talked a lot about making discovery easier. But nothing about discovering other live streams easier. You know... the other half of the problem... which you constantly complain about... {:

If they are making new live streaming features available for everyone... great... that is what I want, and what I think many other non-gamers want. And I don't think we begrudge gamers any new features, either!

But it isn't clear that's what they mean.
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Downhill From Here
Day of the Day July 2 — Half Way There Day

365 days in a typical year. So day 183 is halfway through the year. 182 days before, 182 days after.

Suggested Observance: Prepare some delicious round food items, such as pizzas, pies, or cakes, sized for one person. Cut them in half. Share them with a friend.
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Bauer, Battery, and Booms

Last Thursday, I traveled to the southern point of Manhattan with +Lisa Bauer for an event. Didn't quite expect that we would be treated to some incredible views of New York Harbor and the new Tower... but I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity. Really didn't expect that, as we were leaving, we'd be treated to a fireworks show over the Statue of Liberty. But it was a fantastic time.
Michael Ellis's profile photoAllen “Prisoner” Firstenberg's profile photo
We couldn't figure out why they were shooting fireworks off Liberty Island... but we weren't complaining. (Even tho we then had to run to catch our train.)
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Rainbows Around the Web
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Corporate Murica....never let any opportunity go by.
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Justice and Liberty, for all
Same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you may have noticed that I don't publicly comment about most hot-button topics. Civil rights for homosexuals, however, has been one of the few topics I've been outspoken about for decades, even tho this issue has never affected me personally. To me, it has never been about "gay rights". It has been about "rights".

In the 90s, I was a strong supporter to allow homosexuals to serve in the military. By the late 90s and early 2000s, I had to make that clear that it meant the right to openly serve. I spoke to many fellow members of the military during that time, and for many, this just wasn't a big deal.

By 2010, I was a strong advocate of same sex marriage. I listened anxiously when my state, New York, voted in favor of it, and immensely proud that it was my State Legislator who put the vote over the top.

And I was thrilled when, in the middle of work today, +Lisa Bauer sent me a message saying "WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!", and I knew that the court's decision was in, and that it would match what many people already felt - #LoveIsLove  

I want to take that one more step - this is not a day for hate. No day should be. You can disagree with the court. You can disagree with the petitioners. You can disagree with me. We can talk about that disagreement. But that is, and will be, different from hatred.

I've read the decisions. I agree and disagree with some of the statements made by both the deciding opinion and the dissenting opinions. I'll have more to say about the opinion from all sides on the Court. But these statements jumped out at me, as they have so many:

"The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed."
-- Justice Kennedy, Opinion of the Court

"This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. The four principles and traditions to be discussed demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples."
-- Justice Kennedy, Opinion of the Court

"If rights were defined by who exercised them in the past, then received practices could serve as their own continued justification and new groups could not invoke rights once denied."
-- Justice Kennedy, Opinion of the Court

"fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."
-- Justice Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943, cited by Justice Kennedy, Opinion of the Court

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
"The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed."
"It is so ordered." 

But I choose to end with a slightly different quote. It was suggested by both sides in the opinions, and was being drafted just 239 years ago.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
-- Declaration of Independence

Today we find ourselves one small step closer to those words of the Declaration being achieved.

George Kozi's profile photoNinja On Rye's profile photoRyan Mattison's profile photoJaime Chaire Huerta's profile photo
"fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." - too true
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Father's Day 2015

My dad, +David Firstenberg, didn't teach me how to be a father.
He taught me how to learn how to be one.

My son didn't teach me how to be a father.
He's still helping me learn.

Wishing everyone a good Father's Day.

Scott GrantSmith's profile photoJason Salas's profile photo
Beautifully written, +Allen Firstenberg. As always. Happy Father's Day, my friend.
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Allen's Collections
Let me tell you a story...
...or tell me one of yours.

Our lives are made up of stories, and is a story in itself.  Stories are fact or fiction, can be told by a wandering minstrel or projected on the big screen, are written in books or woven into games, are heard through poetry or prose in many styles, let us experience the tale with sound or silence, and can stimulate any or every one of our senses and emotions.

It has been my goal in life to understand stories and storytellers, to help people tell stories, to explore new ways to tell those stories, and to enjoy and appreciate the stories swirling around us.

So come... sit by the fire.  Let us share a story for a little while.
Basic Information
Other names
Prisoner, Allen Firstenberg, Allen "Prisoner" Firstenberg, Jean Valjean
Software Visioning and Development
I was a kickstarter backer of this store, but actually trying their donuts exceeded my expectations. It is clear that the staff both care about the quality of their donuts, coffee, and other drinks, and want to make sure their customers enjoy themselves. From the quirky and interactive decor (wifi still isn't working on that typewriter?) to explaining every step of their pour-over coffee if you ask, the attention to detail is outstanding. Their Maple-Bacon donut is their signature item, but I have yet to find a flavor from their ever-changing menu that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. I'm not a coffee drinker, but they have plenty of other varieties of quality drinks to quench your thirst. Visit. Enjoy. Share.
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Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
1 review