29 February 2008

Google Sites

Google Sites looks to be a SharePoint alternative of sorts.

I'm still trying to figure out where Gears fits into it all.

24 February 2008

Google Central (part 1)

Update: Grand Central has become Google Voice


I feel that I'm turning into some sort of Google-watcher these days or have been a Google junkie without realizing it.

A couple of days ago I found an entertaining video on YouTube (how apropos) of interesting sites and places to visit in Google Earth. I recently posted about new Google search functionality and presentation options. Before that it was a brief look at Google's Android mobile phone platform. Last year I was - and will soon be again - looking at Google Trends as a potential prediction tool for the American Idol contest winner.

This is sort of interesting as it brings a set of old school (Groups - Usenet, Scholar - refereed journals, and Glossary - reference sources) content together with new school (YouTube, Blogger, Google News commentary) together in a jumble of seemingly disparate audiences through Google-branded channels. It clearly extends new school functionality (Web 2.0) into old school mediums (proto-web and Web 1.0) while trying to preserve or normalize the presentation, experience and general consumption of content and services. Through this normalization process, Google is able to preserve/build brand recognition (Google TM) Grand Central, "a production of Google." Their info page asks and answers: "What is GrandCentral? Get all the same calls, but in a whole new way." That's all fine and dandy; it's nothing you can't get from existing, consumer VoIP providers. Their feature set is pretty comprehensive which conceptually place it as a virtual voice communication firewall in some regards.

That's kind of cool but it doesn't seem like a Googlesque sort of venture. Until you add other Google services. Now you have an interesting stack supplying different, but converging on, fully integrated services:

This is only a partial analysis (and none too in-depth, by any means) and doesn't take into account relevant issues, such as Google's wireless 700 MHz spectrum bid, which help with the convergence understanding and visualization. I'll post again as it's sort of fun to be an armchair Google strategist.

22 February 2008

Google Earth Fun

Ten minutes of mostly entertaining Google Earth fun.

Secrets Of Google Earth

The PC World staff have some still shots of some of the highlights as well as a Google Earth placemark file you can download and import to explore on your own.

My Coffee Maker...Seg Faulted???

So it's snowing today and I'm working from home for other reasons. Isn't it nice to enjoy a cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee in the morning. It sure is...until your coffee maker decides to dump core.


I haven't tried it again but if I need a new unit it damned well better be able to receive SNMP traps so I can set it to brew while I'm away.

17 February 2008

Useful Kibble

I've been catching-up on some reading and thought I would simply share three sites/feeds that I find to be truly useful. In no particular order:

  • Lifehacker, "an award-winning, daily blog that features tips, shortcuts, and downloads that help you get things done smarter and more efficiently."
  • Wise Bread "is a community of bloggers here to help you live large on a small budget."
  • Parent Hacks "is a collaborative website that collects and publishes parents’ tips, recommendations, workarounds, and bits of wisdom – their hacks – in a single pot so we can all partake."
  • Geekdad, "tech toys, science projects and other nerdy things to do with your kids."

They may not have ground-breaking news, cutting edge technology reviews or deep, theoretical insights but I always manage to extract some useful kibble from them to apply to my daily existence.

03 February 2008

Great Analysis of the World's Under-Sea Fiber Network

"A flotilla of ships may have been dispatched to reinstate the broken submarine cable that has left the Middle East and India struggling to communicate with the rest of the world, but it took just one vessel to inflict the damage that brought down the internet for millions."

02 February 2008

New Google Search Features

Google has introduced some new search features as experimental through Google Labs. They've added
  • right- and left-handed search navigation
  • keyboard shortcuts for search results
  • keyword suggestions
  • alternate views for search results

  • I like the left-handed search navigation and was playing with the layout and widgets a bit myself last summer when playing with Google's Web Toolkit. eBay has been doing some very similar UI work in its eBay Playground site that I've enjoyed. Amazon tends to overwhelm me at times with JSON this and AJAX that and they can't seem to resist the urge to package the search results and product descriptions to the extreme. I guess this shouldn't surprise me so much as they are a self-billed department store. Netflix, on the other hand, strikes the right balance with me through their consistent and concise detail drill-down through the AJAX essentials, XMLHttpRequest object and javascript onmouseover() event.

    I don't particularly care about keyboard shortcuts and search results. This is a personal inconsistency however as I don't use keyboard shortcuts in Gmail either but almost always use the keyboard to navigate between applications, tabs and the OS in general. Maybe this is my unverbalized position that I just don't like the way Google implemented keyboard shortcuts. Maybe I'm just inconsistent after all.

    The keyword suggestions have been available as a Google Labs offering called Google Suggest for a while and the search bar in Firefox provides JSON-enabled search term suggestions.

    The alternative search results are a great move forward with regard to search result presentation, specifically addressing the need for better contextual-based and grouped/ordered search results. I've written about this previously and was eager for new search primitives to address this perceived shortcoming or at minimum search options that accomplished the same thing.

    At least I'm not alone in liking the latest search presentation options. Ars Technica described it simply as "awesome".