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Robert Hamilton
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West coast of Scotland 

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PCMag's OS X Lion Review: It's a deep dive on a very good product.

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Newly introduced Apple display 27" Thunderbolt display just as glossy as old ones!
Still perfect for people interested in their own looks but unfortunataly professionals will have to look elsewhere :)

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"Hubble Captures View of 'Mystic Mountain' "

This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.

This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble's launch and deployment into an orbit around Earth.

Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from super-hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of hot ionized gas can be seen flowing off the ridges of the structure, and wispy veils of gas and dust, illuminated by starlight, float around its towering peaks. The denser parts of the pillar are resisting being eroded by radiation much like a towering butte in Utah's Monument Valley withstands erosion by water and wind.

For more info and photos:
Full size image:
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team

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Catch you on the flip side.

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Filtering the stream

In my latest post ( I suggest that we could use the example set by Sparks to apply filters to our stream on a per circle basis.

Rather than have our stream filtered for us I believe we should be able to apply whatever filter we choose and (as with Sparks searches) save them for easy reference.

I've posted it here so you don't have to go read the post if you don't want to.

What do you think to this concept?

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Google+ Update: Membership May Pass 18 Million Mark Today

The viral growth of Google+ has slowed somewhat over the past few days, but my new-and-improved 1,000 surname model shows that more than 750,000 people joined the site on Monday, bringing the total user base to just under 18 million.

Last week we saw two days where more than 2 million signed up in a single day. If that rate had continued, Google+ would have reached 20 million users by last Sunday night. But the last four days have averaged only 948,000 new users and yesterday the site added only 763,000. Yesterday's growth of 4.47% was the slowest viral growth since Google opened up invites back on July 6th.

Google hasn't started marketing Google+ through any of its other channels yet. More than a billion people worldwide use Google products, including its top rated search engine, YouTube, and Blogger. Chairman Eric Schmidt says the vision is to integrate Circles and sharing with all the other Google properties. When that happens, you will likely see millions of people joining Google+ every day for some period of time.

Why hasn't Google turned on the marketing machine yet? Perhaps the product management team is still trying to get the product right. They are certainly paying attention to what customers are saying and responding quickly to try to improve the service. Perhaps the engineering team, which has publicly admitted some degree of surprise at the amount of traffic Google+ has already generated, needs more time for scalability. It's probably a combination of those two factors.
As always, I admit weaknesses in my model. Larry Page announced Google+ had "over 10 million users" on Thursday, July 14th, but unfortunately he didn't say when they passed that milestone, or how far they had passed it by. My model showed more than 13 million users when he made that announcement, so I suppose my model could be overstating the actual usercount by 30-35%. But if Google+ actually hit 10 million a day or two before the formal announcement, then my model may still be spot on. I wish I knew. I'm looking forward to future Google announcements or announcements from other industry players who have other ways to measure web site traffic growth.

I don't have access to log files or to a massive consumer panel. I'm simply measuring how many Google+ users there are of various randomly selected surnames every day. Last week I increased the sample of surnames that I query from 100 to 1,000. Over a 4-day period, the 100-surname sample showed a Google+ growth rate of 28.4%. The 1,000 surname sample showed a growth rate of 28.5%. Statistically insignificant. So I'm not sure whether to keep running 1,000 surname queries per day or just stick with 100. Yesterday, the number of users with the 1,000 surnames jumped from 23,922 (all counted by hand) to 24,990, for an increase of 4.47%. I tried to get the count a full day after the original count, but there is no way to make sure that my data entry team can time it exactly right. The counts could be off by several hours, cutting into the accuracy.

With a surname sample size this large, the connection to what is really happening with Google+ user growth seems very tight. Within the surname set are popular surnames from many highly populated countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. But we currently have no ability to count users in certain non-Romance languages.

If I stick with the smaller sample, I'll have more time and resources to do male/female ratio analysis, look for number of people in circles, study the number of posts per user, and run more customer surveys.

Here are some of the other things I'd like to track over time:

- Percentage of active Facebook users who say Facebook is their favorite social network
- Percentage of active Facebook users who have heard of Google+ and who have tried it
- Percentage of active Google+ users who say Google+ is their favorite social network
- Percentage of active Twitter users who say Twitter is their favorite social network
- Average number of people in circles
- Average number of public posts per user per day
- Male/Female ratio

What questions do you have about Google+ adoption and usage? If you had the ability to know what is really going on, what would you like to know most?

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