All posts by Michael Banks

A Soldier, Photographer, and Developer

Google Drive Viewer Updated!

Since I am a soldier and student I use Google Drive religiously. I use it to take all of my notes for classes and housing resources that I want to access online at any given time. I recently opened a .docx file in +Google Drive and this popped up:

It seems to me that the team has updated the Google Drive viewer. Basically any view-able Non-Google Drive formatted files will be viewed in the viewer. (images, pdfs, word docs, PowerPoints, and spreadsheets) show up in this light-box experience. Similar to Google+. It also works for files that use a Drive app. So you can quickly

preview Google Drive Docs by selecting a Google Drive file and pressing the “p” key. You can select more than one file at a time which is great. If you use Google Drive enabled apps like I do you can manage defaults that a file opens up with by using the gear as shown in the photo. This experience feels like it took a thing from Google+ and has a similar look and UX which is not a bad thing at all. I am glad it was updated and I look forward to using this feature as I continue to utilize Google Drive. I wonder what will come next. I see a long road for Google Drive. Drive could be the next GMail in a sort of way. Applications like Drive have definitely created a shift to moving things solely in the cloud.

Here’s what the Full new Google Drive viewer looks:

What Do You Think?

Combined Clouds with Busy Flow… Almost what I want!

Busy flow is basically a system in beta that allows you to collaborate on projects with others while integrating many different cloud services. It allows you to connect with services like +Dropbox annd +Google Drive .. . It is a neat service and works fine… What I want as a great service would be a locker or place that I can take all the great features and utilities from all these great services like +Box and +GitHub Anywhere and access it in one location taking my 50GB from box and my space from Drive and access it and edit etc… and  utilize it in 1 spot…

What busy flow has done is close.. It is more project oriented, which don’t get me wrong isn’t bad, but not what I need at the moment. What they are doing now isn’t anything that you can’t do anywhere else… seems to be basically a share script and a link to the sharing space on each platform, but it is convenient and a time saver… one step closer to what I need a virtual “corner office…” in this Google campus of an internet… lol

They seem to know how to set things up right for example they allow you to oauth into the service because no one likes the username and password input fields anymore.. and they are mobile in the App Store and Google Play.

I expect great things from +BusyFlow

Why I put my Nexus 7 Down! and Why I’m picking it back Up!

Ever since I got my high-end laptop I haven’t really even touched my nexus 7. I have been neglecting it. I’m not sure if it is due to the uncompelling apps that have limited capabilities or if I just get more done quicker with a laptop. Regardless of the circumstances, I really need to utilize the technology that I have spent my hard earned money on. What I plan to do is reintegrate the #Nexus7 into my workflow. The things that I use it for and that it is great for is consumption. Whenever I do pick it up one of the first apps I use is flipboard. Other than that, all I use it four is light gaming, which I hardly ever have time to do, and use the browser.  Finding other use cases and finding what the #Nexus7 can be used for will be a good step forward to make the #Nexus7 useful again. I plan on keeping it with me from now on though.

In this photo is my Nexus 7, a Poetic Case, and Bamboo Stylus

What do you do to keep using your tablets?
Right now I plan to integrate it as a GPS/Music Center for my Jeep! I use my phone, but I feel that this could allow me to prolong my battery life on my phone throughout the day. I use CoPilot for GPS which requires no DATA connection and my music is saved to the device.

Here are some apps that are great for the Nexus7 that I use:

+Flipboard :

+SwiftKey :

+Google+ (of course) :

+Snapseed :

House of Cards got me back on Netflix

With +Netflix releasing quality shows like House of Cards will definitely keep me with an account on Netflix. I must say I was debating on cancelling it.

I have been a little bit away from Netflix in the past few weeks and Netflix has had a drop in users in reports that I have been seeing. House of Cards was definitely an awesome production. It baffles me every time it comes on that it is a Netflix Original. House of cards is good on many levels since it shows the the reporter and media side of the line and the political side of the line, which is what was missing from The Newsroom. The actors fit the roles and I must say that Kevin Spacey is great in this series. I like that Netflix released the entire season in one swift motion. It shows that Netflix is really keeping up with the wants of today’s time. There’s been reports of a world wide drop in productivity and I am sure a boost in activity on Netflix servers.

Now the One Million Dollar question: Can they keep it up?

If you have a Netflix account and you are into Politics, Media, and how a Pissed person gets their revenge, this is a definite MUST WATCH!

Here’s a link to it:

Google Drive SDK Early Access Program Coming Soon… Real Soon

This is interesting, I wonder what will be in store from +Google Drive Today +Google Developers had a live stream about +Cooliris  and their integration with Google Drive and now this popped up in my feed. Got me interested. I will definitely be tuning in for this announcement. I live in Google Drive for school and other things. Here’s what is said about the event:

Today we announce the Google Drive SDK Early Access Program, an on-going program covering multiple aspects of the Drive API. Participants will get early access to upcoming features and the opportunity to shape the direction of the SDK. Join us to learn more about this program, how to be part of it and what features will be available to developers.
Add it to your Calendar: January 22, 2013 11:00 am PST

Here’s where the event will be Streamed: Stream Live Event

Why a Faceless Brand is more effective than as a Personal Brand

Posting information on a National scale for a mission or for profit is more effective as a faceless brand than a personal brand.. A brand has a better way of pushing out information to mass people without readers tying the writer as a bias. It’s harder to blame something if you don’t have “someone” to blame. If you try to push out information to a mass audience as just a person, people are more skeptical to judging the things you write by all of your actions and interactions that you might have elsewhere. For mass distribution of a main goal or purpose would require a blog on a medium that is sole controlled and doesn’t live in someone else’s hub.  Register that brand on the big three social media platforms ( Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and then you will slowly gain people to get it out. Takes time… but works.

The Equation I like to use is: Quality > Quantity, but you still need quantity just for Validity

The social media aspect should always drive people right back to the blog. The only thing that social media “SHOULD” be used for in a brand point of view is to push out site updates, engage in user conversation, push out a pic or two and chat with users. All content should be created on the blog/site. This is where people make a great mistake because people burn out on social media creating content in all of these different mediums and it is very tiring.

What’s Going On with Google Plus?

 I started go get these nonchalant errors in Google Plus for a good while now. Things seem to go smooth

in my stream, then I go to my stream, profile, hover over someone’s name, or add someone to circles and 

there is that pesky RED notification. They are starting to Scare me now… It started with a simple “Error 

Loading Circles”, then I ran into a “Failed Lookup” and Here’s the latest 

one I’ve seen. I got this one from trying to add someone for the first time to a circle. “Error Changing 

Circle Memberships”

These have been getting worse and worse with the errors that it is 

reporting, It seems harmless on the front end, but I hope it’s no jacking 

things up on the back end. I have noticed some issues with Google talk, 

which is managed with contacts, which is managed through circles.

Anyone have any errors other than these?

Does anyone know what’s going on?

The Ultimate Hangout Prank…

I am in Google+ Hangouts all the time and some people do some annoying things. Don’t you just hate it when someone leaves the hangout for an extended period of time? Well here’s what you do to teach them a lesson. This is a harmless, but funny prank if done right… lol. 

I Call this prank: Black Boxed

  • Have everyone in the hangout load the Hangout Toolbox (hangout app)

  • Load the overlay through the Hangout Toolbox and enable. (Make Sure Everyone Does It)
  • Enjoy the reaction on their face when they return. (TIP: Save as a preset for quick access)
You can definitely be creative in hangouts and if you have a prank please feel free to share, they are a lot of fun.
I also would like to thank +Michelle Li +Stormy Henderson +Kim Beasley +Kyle Salewski +Anthony Ramos +Danielle Best for participating in this prank.

Google+ Now vs. 1 Year Ago…

Recently, I saw a post from +The Verge asking readers if they use Google+ more now than they did six months ago. It sparked an ideal and I decided to view my usage on Google+, for as far back “publicly” that I could find, to see my habits on this platform. I used a service called ALLMYPLUS to acquire the graph above, and I chose to go as far back as possible for public posts. ALLMYPLUS has some great information about your habits on Google+, and it graphs them in a way to easily let you find old posts and photos.
Looking at this information I had to look back into the changes that +Google+ has made. Some things in the past 12 Months Google+ has:

Why has Google+ been so successful? If not for these things, I believe it’s people like +Vic Gundotra and other Google Employees listening to their users. Community Managers like +Natalie Villalobos using the service and being in the trenches with their users really shows that connection. I definitely have increased my usage on Google+ and I continue to do so. One trend that I continue hearing from Vic is, “It’s Only The Beginning.” So I cannot wait to see what’s in store.

DSLR’s of the Future???

I was minding my business one afternoon and something interesting went by. +Erica Joy mentioned that she was buying a Piquant Smartphone Tripod Mount. This was actually something that is right on time because I will be starting video interviews and plan to use the smartphone ad a second video source as a multi-cam video. 

Piquant was a kick-starter project that originally launched March 17th, 2012 and was successfully funded. It is labeled as a low-cost method of shooting steady video with their cell phones.  Piquant is a tripod mount that connects an iPhone or smartphone to any standard ¼” threaded tripod. I think we already have started to see many using their smartphone as a main video camera and if you plan on making that your plan, it is a must have accessory to aid you in that venture. I would recommend this mount for ANYONE that takes a great deal of video.

Could this replace DSLR’s as smartphone videos and camera sensors get better?

It only cost $11.00 @