Thursday, May 7, 2015

Overview of Google+ Collections

Google launched Google+ Collections in May 2015. It’s a new feature in Google’s social network to help organize posts.

With Collections, users can group their posts, including pictures and videos, based on topic. Doing so, will help you keep your posts organized and help your users find relevant posts more efficiently.

Also, given that each Collection has a separate URL, users can follow a particular Collection if they wish. By default, anyone following you on Google+ will automatically be following all your Collections.

Google+ launched in June 2011 and hasn’t garnered as much popularity like Facebook has. Based on stats that I’ve seen online, currently Facebook is estimated as having over a billion users. Comparatively, Google+ has approximately 300 million users.

I was among the first to test out Google+ when it first launched by invite-only. Ever since, I’ve been using Google+ fairly actively and I would say, much more than I use Facebook. Anyway, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to everyone. However, if you are a business owner, including being self-employed, you would definitely benefit from using Google Plus.

Well, getting back to Google+ Collections, given that they are fairly new, I’m sure they will evolve, so we can expect changes as we go along. But for now, you can create Collections around topical posts; you can customize them with a relevant name and personalized cover photo, as well as apply different colors to them. The recommended size for the cover photo is 1080x608 pixels. The maximum photo size is 2120x1192. And the picture should not be smaller than 480x270.

You can also control who sees your Collections. That is, you set the privacy settings to private or public. However, note that at this point, you cannot edit the “private/public” settings of your Collections once you create them. Though, if you wish, you can delete a particular Collection.

Once you create a Collection, you can add previously shared Google+ posts to the Collection. Also, you can share Collections with those following you, just like you would a regular Google+ post. Personally, I like this new feature that Google has introduced because I like to keep things organized.

Google+ Collections is available on Android for smartphone users. You will have to update your Google+ app to be able to access this new feature. Apple iOS users will have to wait to use Collections.

I’ve created several video tutorials on Google+ Collections, so feel free to check them out. You will find videos on: what are Google+ Collections; how to create, edit and customize Collections, and others.

Learn to use Google+ Collections, I think you will find them useful. Google also has a Featured Collections page, you never know when your Collections will get featured and give you that little bit of extra exposure.

Friday, May 1, 2015

How to Make Animated GIFs Using GIF Maker

Sharing GIF animated images has become popular, especially on social media. I’ve been contemplating creating some simple GIF animations, and I’ve quite enjoyed using some GIF animation websites.

One particular website that I liked was What I like about this GIF maker website is its simplistic design and that you don’t need to open an account to create animated GIFs.

Before I proceed writing my review on, I thought I’d explain what is a GIF image. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format which is essentially an image file format. You’ve probably heard of file formats like PNG (Portable Network Graphic) and JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group).

GIF file formats support animation, however, they are limited to 256 colors. Thereby creating low-resolution images with smaller file sizes. Therefore, they are not recommended for color photos, rather they are used for simple graphics, logos, icons and cartoons. By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed the animated blog post intro image. Well, it’s an animated GIF image created using and so is this Mark Twain quote below:

All the animated images you see on this blog post are examples of GIF animated images. All these animated GIFs were created using Creating GIFs using this website is quite simple. You can create a quick GIF image in three easy steps:

  • Step 1: Upload your pictures;
  • Step 2: Set the canvas size and animation speed;
  • Step 3: Create the animation.

You can then download the animated GIF image which will be in “.GIF” format and then share it on social media, on your blog or website. You can check my video review on and see it in action as I create the GIF as well as share other features and functionality of the website.

Even though I mentioned earlier that GIFs are not recommended for color photos, I did try to make a GIF with recent photos of my Niagara Falls visit. As you can tell, the picture quality is not that crisp, however it’s ok to share this animated GIF on social media sites. The more pictures you include in an animated GIF and the more colors in the photos, the bigger the file size. In this particular GIF image, I included about 15 photos and it ended being a 3.96 MB file size.

Animated GIFs can be very useful as short instructional tools. Rather than creating a video tutorial, GIFs can be used for providing quick instructions just by taking screenshots and creating an animation. You can give it a try and create your very first GIF using't worry you won't break anything!

Credits: logo and screenshots are copyright protected, used with permission.