Thursday, 29 January 2009

Gmail Goes Offline

Update: I can now access Gmail offline!! The installation is very simple, and took about 10 mins, check out the pics below. 

Gmail can now be used offline!! This is an experimental feature but it means that even without an internet connection, you can visit within the web browser and get access your email. This works similar to Google Docs offline, and requires the installation of  Google Gears. Messages can be read, labeled, starred, and those sent will do so when a connection is detected. There is also a flaky detection mode, for those extremely slow or unreliable connections whereby the local cache is used but mail is synchronized with the server. This will be available within the next few days US or UK English users can try it out by visiting the Labs tab. This is a great addition to Gmail, and will silence some of the critics of web-based email who use the argument of "what happens when the internet goes down?" Now we (yes we) finally have an answer. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Measuring With Measurement Lab: New Tools By Google

Measurement Lab is a new open tool introduced by Google use to measure such things as connection speeds, ISP blocking/throttling, and run diagnostics. Google is really backing this, and the people at Bell in Canada won't be too happy: Google is providing researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the US and Europe to develop tools to be used in M-lab. Right now, if you visit the website there are just three tools available to users, but it is a very good start to providing valuable information to researchers and internet users. Since cloud computing is growing rapidly, internet speeds/connection will be of a major concern, and these tools available at M-lab will provide great support to the growth of the cloud.  

Google Earth has Vancouver in 3D

I've never been to Vancouver, but after looking at the recent updated imagery to Google Earth, which has 1400 3D buildings for Vancouver, I  definitely want to visit. I showed this to my students today, and they were totally amazed. Google Earth is definitely bringing the world to people, and has become an excellent teaching tool. Also, it's nice that Canada is showing up on Google's radar. 

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Having Fun In The Google AJAX Playground

Today, Google announced the AJAX API Playground. This is a learning place for Javascript (which I really badly want to learn!!!) where there are 170 samples from 8 Google Javascript APIs. When you visit the site, you select the API, then this can be edited, the source code can be viewed, and any changes made can be easily observed, saved, and exported. This is a great tool, and I plan on spending many hours going over the examples. Check out the screenshot below to get an idea of what this has to offer. 

Watching Videos in Gmail Chat

Not much to say here, when someone your chatting with in Gmail Chat sends you a YouTube or Google Video, you can watch the video within the chat box. Its not life changing, but still, a nice addition. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Lotus in the Cloud

Yesterday, LotusLive was released with is a collection of online collaboration services and will integrate with the, and Skype networks. Currently two services can be used, Meetings which is offers audio/video conferencing and Events, this helps users manage and host online conferences. The cost of the two available services range from $48 to $98 per month.....wowzers!! This seems a bit pricey to me and will be a hard sell in these recession times. Lotus really needs to release something revolutionary and cost effective if it wants to gain some ground in these tough times.  

Google Web Drive in 2009?

Update: Check out this article released today on blogoscoped, it seems like the GDrive is going to happen.

As reported by blogoscoped, there are indications that a GDrive (Google Drive) may be coming in 2009. Apparently, the Mac version of Picasa, which was recently released, has a "Google Web Drive" option. Here is a screenshot:

Also, Todd Jackson, who is Gmail's product manager, said the following in a CNET interview:

We know people’s file sizes are getting bigger. They want to share their files, keep them in the cloud, and not worry about which computer they’re on. Google wants to be solving these problems

So it seems that Gmail is very concerned about file sizes. Just in case you were wondering, the GDrive would be a cloud storage device, so files could be accessed from anywhere. If this is released, it is going to be big, can you imagine having your music collection available from anywhere? We wouldn't need an iPod, all we would need is a device with an internet connection. Also, if this is released, will Google still push it's cloud computing software such as Google Docs? If the files are available in the cloud, than all that is needed is the software to run it. Anyways, 2009 looks to be a very interesting year on the Google front.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Knol Hits 100000 Articles

In ~1 year, Google Knol has hit 100 000 articles, although this is smalled compared toWikipedia's 2 702 519 pages, it is a good start. I've used Knol a few times, and I like the layout and the associated credibility with posting the author's photo and background. Still, basically everything is on Wikepedia, and it has been as automatic as a Google search for information retrieval. 

Google Transit: No more need for bus maps

I'm a public transit kind of person. I think its excellent for the environment, it's a cost effective way to travel, and it doesn't have the stress of driving. So, when I had heard that Google Maps was getting a Transit layer, I became very excited. To view this layer, all you have to do is click on the More button and then Transit tab. The goal of this layer is to allow people to see public transit routes without having to look and try and interpret those nasty schedule maps. The full list of cities are available here, and be sure to check out the photos below. Finally, I say this about alot of Google products, bring this feature to Canada soon!!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Google's Cloud Is Getting Smaller

These are definitely recession times, and not even Google can avoid them. Google announced yesterday a whole lot of negative news:

  1. Dodgeball is gone
  2. Google Mashup editor is gone
  3. Google Catalog search is gone
  4. Jaiku is gone
  5. 100 full time jobs at Google are gone
  6. No more maintenance on Google Notebook, and no more new accounts. 

Except for the jobs being lost, I think that this is actually a good thing. Google releases a lot of products, and quite a few of them fail (i.e., Lively) and some should be released with more refinement (i.e., Chrome). Maybe Google will become more selective in product releases and require them to be more finished. It's as if baby Google has grown into adult Google, hopefully they don't grow into an adult Microsoft. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Reselling Google Apps

Google Apps for businesses can now be resold! Right now it is being used by more than 1 million businesses and growing at a rate of 3,000/day. Now, there is a Google Apps Authorized Reseller program that allows companies to resell, customize, and support Google Apps. This will definitely increase Google Apps market share, which they will need with the recent talk about a new version of Office. For more information, check out the video below, and catch this interview with Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels. 

Monday, 12 January 2009

Recession=SAAS Growth

There was a study released today that Software as a Service apps (SAAS) will increase grow tremendously with a large amount in the Asia Pacific region and more than half of all developers are planning on working on SAAS apps. This is not much of a surprise, as the economy is really sucking these days and money has to be saved, this will work well for apps that are free/low cost such as Google Apps. I work in an education setting, and I know that universities across the country (Canada) are looking to save money, and SAAS is a definite way to do this. Recession times will help SAAS succeed.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Viruses: Bad for Computers and Humans

The past two weeks has been extremely slow for me, myself and my home computer were infected with viruses. Finally, both of us are getting better. So, the story begins with me coming back from vacation with the flu, feeling very lazy, and doing some web surfing. I noticed that all ads on websites on all browsers were the same, and they were for pills to increase the size of a certain part of the male anatomy (these were not present before the holidays, maybe guests clicked on a bad link or something?). Next, I noticed that when I did a Google search, links were redirected to advertising websites and when I tried to sign in to my Gmail account, a message like "link is not valid" would appear. Something was terribly wrong. I tried to do a virus scan, but none of my antivirus software would update, things had gotten worse. My girlfriend then took over, she was virus free and went on the Tech 101 Forum (extremely useful) and they gave her step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of the virus. It took ~5 days to get rid of it, and at some points we could not access our C or D drives. Now, the computer and myself are feeling better, and are looking forward to a wonderful winter of blogging.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Santa Gave Me a LG Dare

Santa gave me an amazing gift this year: a LG Dare. The story of this gift begins with me owning a Motorola Krzr, the phone was OK but the internet was absolutely brutal (awkward and slow) and I wanted a phone that could do a whole lot more. I decided that I wanted a touchscreen phone, and my list consisted of the following:
  1. iPhone: This phone looked amazing, but since I already had a contract with Telus, and this is only available with Rogers up here in Canada, it would have cost me a lot of money to get this phone. I also heard of monthly bill horror stories, and Rogers service for cellphones is only good for the larger centers in Newfoundland, St. John's and Corner Brook. Since I am from a very small community, Robinson's, the iPhone wouldn't work there. 

  2. Samsung Instinct: This phone looked really nice, similar features to the LG Dare, and just a bit more expensive than the Dare, $399 vs. $349. 

  3. LG Dare: I decided to go with this phone because of its smaller size than the instinct, better camera (3.2 MP vs. 2.0 MP), cheaper price,  and just an overall better look and feel. 
I've been using the Dare since Christmas Day, and I am very happy. The touchscreen is very responsive, the internet is extremely fast, the camera has many options,  videos are of good quality (black and white can be shot), the charging screen can be set as a clock, icons are customizable, the menu system is very user friendly and seems to be well thoughtout, a drawpad is present (rough sketching and handwriting recognition), and photos can be edited. I find this such a good phone that I am spending less time on my desktop computer and more on the phone, it's excellent to have on hand when watching some TV or trying to fall asleep before bed. The only negative things of this phone are the poor support of Google Mobile Apps and the lack of apps in general. If your looking for a high quality cost effective ($0 on a 3-yr contract from Telus) touchscreen phone, definitely check out the dare.

LG Dare (Telus) Review

Photo of beautiful Twillingate NL taken with the Dare

Friday, 2 January 2009

Google Chrome's Market Share Above 1%

Preliminary figures released by Net Applications show that Chrome's market share increased from 0.83% in November to 1.04% in December. FireFox increased from 20.78% to 21.34%, Safari increased to 7.93% to 7.13%, and IE fell to 68.15% from 69.77% (in Feb. 2008, this number was 74.88%),  that's a decrease of 1.52%. Net Applications noted that results may not be accurate because of a lower amount of workplace internet usage, browsers such as FF and Safari have a higher proportion of home usage. I think that these numbers are showing that users are finally realizing there are excellent alternatives to IE, hopefully one of these will come prepackaged with Windows and more people will realize that IE is a terrible (and slow) browser.