Posts tagged: Google

Google’s Google Me – Social Circle/Social Content

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By , August 9, 2010 9:10 am

So I was logging into my work machine this morning and I accidentally hit return after I had put my name into Chrome’s magic bar. So Google diligently went off and performed the vanity search on just my first name. The result this time was different than before. I noticed a new BETA tag.

Google had pulled up not only me, but people who I have in my address book and their content as well – in a “Facebook turned inside out” manner, it seems that they have taken the original ideas behind Pagerank and Backrub and made it social.

If I go and take a look, I get some interesting results. Some of the returns make sense, others don’t. But not bad for a three letter search parameter. At this point, it is certainly geeky and likely not something anything other than edupunks geeks would get into in the educational realm, but the fact that Google is starting to search socially suggests that things are certainly going to heat up soon between Google and Facebook.

Are the telcos missing the point?

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By , May 4, 2010 8:22 am

In a story from The Guardian, it looks like UK telcos (and that means others world wide are likely watching) are preparing to launch their own app store. They want in on the cash that seems to be flowing to Apple and Google. But something tells me that they are missing the point – much like they are still concerned about minutes of voice communication – the telcos are a utility, not content creators (at least on this part of the equation). This would be like the water company wanting into the soup business as well as the sippy cup cartel because well; they deliver water for use in those applications don’t they?

I know Apple isn’t going to let it’s store go down without a fight, and Google likely doesn’t care – it will still have it’s stock OS that the power user can install and get access to the Google Market. Google even allows other markets already, so what is the big deal? The deal might be for developers – if they can submit to one clearing house that then feeds the various App Stores, then the telcos might have hit on something. They are still a utility, they don’t really get in the way and in some way, they take a cut… but then what happens to all those free apps?

This should be an interesting development to watch over the next few months.

Rooted my “Telus” Hero

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By , April 28, 2010 12:45 am

Well, after lots of research to make sure I understood what I was getting into, making sure I had enough lingo to ask a good question should I run into trouble and most importantly clearing up time in my schedule to do so, I finally took the plunge and rooted my Telus (130) Hero. Why? Well the 2.1 update to Android had been promised by HTC and by extension Telus since I got the phone at New Years and to date, there is nothing official. What’s worse, the dates for the HTC “unbranded” release keep getting pushed back and that means that the branded releases are certainly not on any fast lane out of the compiler.

So what did it take for me to get root and start seeing what Android is about today rather than when it first came out? Well, Telus uses a very up to date firmware build for 1.5. This means that many of the easier (read – less step intensive) processes are not possible. So that means if you want to root this phone, you need to create a gold card. Now before I go any further, I’ll say what every other guide out there says… do this at your own risk… you could brick your phone and I am not going to be able to do anything for you other than say “it worked for me”.

So what’s a gold card? Well, it’s a card that has had part of its file system modified slightly. The process is rather simple and of everything, outside of setting up Apps2SD (which I’m doing tonight before bed), is what takes the most time. it is also the step where you might have to lay out money. I wanted to get a faster card and so I managed a deal on a 4GB Kingston Class4 and I used this guide and created my gold card on my second attempt. What went wrong on the first try? Well, I didn’t read the instructions – I chose the wrong disk to change – Choose Physical Disks! You’ll notice that the guide is one that tells you how to root the same phone, so why am I spending electrons on typing more out? Well, the guide is good, but only as a high level guide, other than the gold card process, it felt weak to me. It also suggest updating the radio, but I didn’t and it work fine. This process could take 20 minutes depending how long it takes for the gold card server to email your disk image back to you.

After the gold card, you have to downgrade the firmware – don’t worry, the 405 version that is suggested works just fine if you chicken out at this point or want to go back to some thing “official”. This took some fiddling for me as I needed to get a virtual machine that would actually let the sync app see my phone. It seems that XP is your best be here. Install the RUU exe and wait out the 5-10 minutes that it takes. The guys at The Unlockr have written up the guides that will take us the rest off the way – and this stage is outlined here. There is also a decent gold card method here, but you can choose the one that you want.

After you’ve downgraded, you have to install a new recovery image. Not hard – follow along – but if you are like me, you’ll have tried to see what the stock recover is and been met with a caution sign on boot. Don’t worry – I think the carriers are trying to keep their phones “protected”. Be sure you adjust your input to reflect the file names/numbers that you are planning to use. You’ll spend about 2 minutes on this stage and after this you can flash the ROM of your choice – I’m a fan of Villain 5.4. Oh yeah, if you are running an unlocked phone, it’s still unlocked.

Once all this is done – maybe an hour later – you’ll have the bigger job of putting together all your screens and logging into all your services, but that should be just as much fun. Mybackup Pro was a wonder agent to allow me to get most of my data back and FYI – reboot the phone a couple times and make sure Google has done its syncing before you pass judgment on the ROM.

I’m certainly happy I went through with this – I was scared at the outset, but I so dearly wanted to be free of Telus that you can not image how it was hurting to be bound to them again even for this little thing. Can I live with a few extra bug and hiccups that were not there before I started – sure, because the trade off is that so much more of what the system is capable off is open to me and in the end, it’s Android – there are at least two ways around every bug, more if you start looking at them as features or challenges.


Buzz… why it might work out afterall

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By , April 7, 2010 2:44 pm

I think I have figured out where/what Buzz will find itself most useful – In Google Hosted Mail/Apps. Why? Well instead of sending around office spam using email, office denizens can “buzz” about it and keep their inboxes clean – just don’t look at your “all mail” or “sent mail” folders/labels. The same would hold true for a school. Students could buzz about personal things and keep the inbox for “formal” communication. I know this thought is late to the party, but it seemed so obvious when Buzz came out that I didn’t post it, why? I thought others would have (and they may have), but since I haven’t seen it, better late than never.

Google Buzz First Impressions

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By , February 10, 2010 11:44 am

Well, I’ve got to try Buzz and I have to say that I’m underwhelmed. The system works well for sucking in content (sometimes quite delayed), it allows for content to be reposted to one’s Google Profile, but not back out the the original site. The interface itself is like Friend Feed, but lacking the links back to the longer stories/posts Friend Feed used as a paradigm to allow for posting to other services. Buzz isn’t aware of content in the Gmail system, so you can’t share pictures/videos/links into your buzz network from your email and finally, the interface to get back to the setup for connected sites tends to hide.

The bonus? Well because it links into Reader, it gives people a reason to get back into Google reader and start to star and share things from there again.

Buzzed about Google

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By , February 9, 2010 1:40 pm

I haven’t been able to play with it yet as it is not on my phone or on my gmail yet (though one of the iPhone guys in the office has been able to get it!), it is looking like Google’s got everything it needs to get hip deep in to the location based sharing and status game. The web based application for gmail looks like “wave for everyone”, while the phone app looks like a combination of foursquare (without the points) and Twitter without the character limit and Facebook without the constantly changing (not evolving) interfaces. I don’t know if it will take off, but in light of Project Titan (Facebook’s email project), Google will need to come up with something to keep eyeballs on their gmail inbox and to do it in such a manner that it becomes seamless.

Looking at the promo videos right now it feels like they took the ideas for Buzz from the Sense and MotoBlur adaptations of Android and rolled them together – those of the OS collecting and being able to update/manage all updates and data streams from a unified application. If this works, they will have caught the “power social media user” demographic, the ones that have multiple networks and are obviously multiply connected. This also gets the people who are into only one Social Media system. It doesn’t do anything for those who are now using one system exclusively (those Facebook shut ins and Twitnuts out there), but I don’t think that was ever Google’s intention.

Finally, looking at what else Google is saying, this rolls out to regular gmail first and then to hosted accounts. This could be the real kicker – all of the sudden, institutions/companies get a social system to share media “for free” and Google gets a host of users using it’s share paradigm in return… it should be interesting to see how this plays out.

HTC Hero running unlocked on Rogers

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By , December 30, 2009 10:36 pm

Well let’s deal with the problems first…

First, Android 1.5 doesn’t play nicely with ics files, so invites over email don’t work. Even if you use the browser(s), it seems that you can’t accept the invite via that method either. So even though the calendar updates like greased lightening to Google Calendar, you have to add meetings you are invited to manually (for now) and you can’t use the calendar app to invite others. If you want to do that you have to use the web interface.

Second, Android chews data like there is no tomorrow. Granted the 150+MB that I’ve used in the last 24h is as much due to grabbing apps, playing with YouTube and otherwise populating the device. This device is going to certainly push me through the 250-300MB/month that I was pushing on the Bold, so I’m glad I have been able to “slide” my data plan over, according to two Rogers agents, there is no difference in BB and regular data. This is a nice seque into the good.

The good… just about everything. I purchased the device 24h second hand off Kijiji and the guy I got it from basically had done what I was planning on doing – Buy the $450 Hero (vs the $600 Magic), unlock it and get it ready to roll on Rogers by updating the APN and other settings.

Primary gateway IP:
Username: wapuser1
Password: wap

Username: guest
Password: guest

MMS Settings:
Username: media
Password: mda01

So a quick SIM card swap and a quick boot later (way faster than BB!) I was up and running.

In my first 24h I’ve played with Layar and this is really where things are going to go in my opinion. AR will give data a home in our world, not just on screens in an office, lab or class. I’ve played with Google Sky and been blown away by this “ancient AR” app. I’ve had to grab the Smsfixtimes app to deal with the SMS timestamp issue, but that opened the world to the modular nature of the phone. Don’t like the default client for “X”, find another one and try it out and more often than not, it works (except it seems for games that seem to really suck right now).

I’ve grabbed chompsms as my SMS client now, I use Dolphin as a secondary browser (for one essential feature – saving YouTube videos… ’cause you never know when Bug’s going to want/need a silly song) and I’ve grabbed Ringdroid to chop mp3s into ringtones easily. All this is Android stuff, but where this device really shines is via the Sense UI.

Ubergadets are all about data and HTC has figured out that data is only useful when it is presented at the right time. So HTC has cooked up Scenes that let you choose how to display data. I thought this was a gimmick at first, but as I build the Scenes, they are making more and more sense. Some of the widgets are GPS enabled, so the update based on location, other apps help with usability in certain conditions – like driving. So until Eclair hits (I’m hoping I’ll be able to do the update even though I’m not with Telus) I can build my own car mode.

I’m just starting to scratch the surface and if I were to characterize the experience that I’ve had so far when it comes to smartphones – WinMo is your ‘rents phone… it’s a computer that got misplaced to make calls, the iPhone is for those who want everything neat and tidy, BB is for those who want a bit more customization, but want to have a solid base underneath, Android is the wild west with things coming and going – pretty good most of the time, but there are some rough spots that really give it character.

GoogleDNS vs OpenDNS

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By , December 5, 2009 2:26 pm

Well this week, we saw things move one step closer toward the day that Google will complete it’s mission of “organizing the world’s information”. GoogleDNS has arrived and regardless if you think 8 is lucky ( or – I think it was luck that those addresses were free at all) or not, someone is going to come up a winner. Why? Well like the people behind OpenDNS, competition in this rather interesting market can only be good. Google doesn’t yet offer filtering, so right now there is a reason to choose one over the other.

If I have kids over who are going to be using my computers and I want to make sure that everything is above the board, I’ll swap things out for OpenDNS ( That way I can block off things that would make for uncomfortable discussion before it even gets a chance to get going. But if I know everyone is going to be responsible and I need to get results fast, I’ll likely use Google.

Google’s move is likely paired with the launch of ChromeOS – I have a hunch that it will route everything through there and mine that data for revenue streams later. OpenDNS makes money from filtering and it’s other options, so I can’t imagine that Google doesn’t have a plan for monetizing this.

If you want to see how fast Google or one of the other public DNS tools might be for you, check out namebench.

It’s about the apps…

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By , November 30, 2009 11:07 am

Many people have been noticing for a while now that the mobile telcos have been promoting the apps that run on their phones as opposed to the OS, or even the specific device. I have no doubt, this was inspired by Apple, and the App Store, but it seems to have spread rather handily to non iPhone carriers as well. With this in mind, I think we have started to see an age of mobile computing that really doesn’t care about the OS that is running the phone as long as there are a collection of apps that will allow the user to get the work that they consider “mission critical” to get done, done. People also don’t want to have to bother with the OS at all when they are using a phone. Form factor also comes into play, as some people like the keyboard and others don’t, but the long and the short of it is that if you want to be able to get to your Facebook on the go in addition to being able to use star charts, you have X number of choices. As you increase the length of the wish list, the number of devices that you would find acceptable drop, assuming you are equally comfortable in any environment.

This last point is important, as if you are not comfortable in the the interface presented on say the Blackberry, and prefer the iPhone app, well then you are likely going to pick an iPhone (or iPod) when it comes time to get a phone. If one of the compromises that you are not willing to make when mobile is the use of physical keys, then you might be forced back the ‘berry, but you might then also consider one of the Android or Symbian phones out there. These sorts of compromises are expected when looking at the smaller form factors, but as the form factor gets larger, people are willing to compromise less and arguably, the definition of mission critical application also changes.

Moving into the netbook space and beyond, you might start looking at being able to do more than initiate and respond to messages. You might want to be able to create and edit, with some degree of sophistication, content. Both MacOS and Windows based laptops provide this functionality, but with different amount of babysitting on the part of the user. The MacOS and Win7 provide “just works” level of operation, while XP, Vista and *nix systems will suffer some with respect to usability. This need to babysit the OS detracts from being able to use the apps that one wants to be able to get to for their work. As the machine gets bigger, physical and connectivity compromises change, but there will always be the need to give and take with respect to something.

Nothing I’ve said here should be rocket science to anyone, so why take the time to write this up? Well, this weekend I got thinking about ChromeOS and what it will take for it to really take off with the non geek crowd. It will be the apps. There are already ‘net based versions of Photoshop and Office and I can’t imagine that with those two suites moving to online offerings, that others won’t follow. Right now, those apps will work on a range of browsers, making compromises for all manner of browser based issues. But if that ‘net app is accessed through Chrome, some of those compromises will likely be mitigated as they would be able to have access to many more resources than they currently can. So if Chrome rolls out with a suite of apps from Microsoft, Adobe and Apple (I really hope Apple is thinking about doing something with respect to a ‘net based Aperture for Chrome), things might just take off, solving another problem users of netbooks and larger systems. That being what the heck should they buy?

This question is what crystallized this post for me yesterday while watching the game with my brothers. Apple has really helped users simplify the purchasing process by presenting the basics – size and price (and charging a pretty penny for this simplification). Windows systems on the other hand are just as complex a buying experience as ever, in large part due to the selection that serves to drive prices down to loss leading levels. So how should someone looking to buy a computer make the choice these days? It should not matter what the hardware is or what the OS is. Google’s move into the OS market might help this out however. If ChromeBooks start coming out next year, the hardware will really become irrelevant. It won’t matter if you get one built by Acer, Asus or AnyOneElse. With Chromium, it won’t even matter if the hardware is Apple, once you boot and login, you have access to what really matters, the apps that you use to get things done.

Doing the Wave

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By , October 13, 2009 8:45 am

[wave id=”!w+sjvxmJ1sA”]

I’m passing this wave along to other EdTechers to see how this tool might in fact get used. It’s fine to have an account, but unless there are others out there who you can share with, it’s no fun. So, if you have an account, be sure that you are logged in and you’ll be able to see what is going on. For everyone else, I’ll try to post screenshots as things move along.

Edit – so it seems that the sandbox account that you need to see exported waves is not connected to one’s googlewave account. So I guess for now, there is no way to publicly display waves.

Edit 2 – Let’s try this:

Edit 3 – It seems that GW is already playing nice with webkit mobile browsers. So while it seems that this might be a confusing message board for the desktop, the setup might do very well on the mobile side. I’ll have to try it at home as it crashes the BB browser.

Edit 4 – This is the best explanation of why Google Wave is important.

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