Buzz privacy changes and a few integration tips

In spite of all the Google Buzz naysayers, the service seems to be off to a strong start. Google claims that as of Thursday afternoon there've been nine million posts and comments created on Buzz. The better news? Google is listening to the concerns about privacy and is making some changes to help you manage your information.

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First of all, when you initially sign up for Buzz and create your Google Profile the choice of showing or hiding your followers/following lists will be much more prevalent (as things stand now you have to edit your profile to turn this option on or off). Second, they'll be adding the ability to block anyone who is following you. Currently in order to block someone, you need to visit their Google profile. The problem is that some people who're following you may not have a Google profile, so there is no way to block them. These changes hit my Buzz account early this morning; hopefully everyone will have them soon. For more details on these updates, see the Google blog. Buzz fans have been enthusiastically cobbling together systems to help get more usefulness out of the service. For instance, while you can natively link your Buzz account to Twitter so that all your tweets will flow into Buzz (as an aside, this seems to be frowned upon inside my circle of Buzzers), Google provides no way to push Buzz updates to Twitter. And there's no Facebook connectivity in either direction. There's a couple ways to get around these limitations. The first is to use the TwitterFeed service. You'll need to create an account there, then create a feed that points to http://buzz.googleapis.com/feeds/{username}/public/posted (replacing {username} with your profile name, of course). Under Advanced Settings pick a frequency (and sadly every 30 minutes is the shortest frequency) and the number of items to send to Twitter each time the feed is polled. Under "Post content" choose "Description Only" and, if you like, add a Prefix such as "From Buzz:." Click Next Step and choose to send updates to Twitter, Facebook or any of the other services Twitterfeed supports. This system, while cumbersome, works pretty well, but you'll be 'batching' your updates every thirty minutes, so I'd keep the number of items to send low. Another solution is to use Ping.fm to update both Twitter and Buzz at the same time. This tip comes from Seesmic, who recently purchased Ping.fm and who tell us they're planning to add Ping.fm support to their various apps. Once again you'll need to create an account. In the list of services to update from Ping.fm, pick Twitter and GTalk Status. Then over in Buzz click on "connected sites" and add "Google chat status" to the sites that are synced with Buzz. Now you'll use Ping.fm to post to both Twitter and Buzz (and any other social networks you've configured in Ping) simultaneously. Seesmic has a nice post with images describing this process in more detail. Setting aside other social networks, if you just want an easier way to share a link on Buzz, the Shareaholic system (yup, you guessed it...account required) has already added what they are calling Buzz updating. What it actually updates is your Google Reader Shared Links, and that in turn will update Buzz. They offer extensions/plugins for Chrome, Firefox, IE, Flock & Safari. If you don't want to use your Google Reader account for this, you can use Shareaholic to update Ping.fm (after following the steps in the last paragraph), which will then update Buzz. Like I said, we're cobbling systems together. This should all get a lot easier in the very near future as Google fleshes out the Buzz API and developers get a handle on it. There's also a Chrome Extension for displaying Buzz posts. It works as advertised, but you lose a lot of the richness of the Buzz experience. Handy for a quick skim of what's new, though.

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