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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

ESPN And ABC Are Coming To YouTube

Youtube, your favorite online video watching/sharing site is now getting ad-supported channels from ESPN and Disney/ABC. The official press release from Youtube states that the agreement "includes the launch of multiple ad-supported channels featuring short-form content from ESPN and the Disney/ABC Television Group." The ESPN content will arrive in mid-April and early May for ABC for US viewers, no announcement has been given regarding viewership for outsiders (not living in the US) like myself. To view these channels all you have to do is go to www.youtube.com/abc or www.youtube.com/espn. I checked out the ABC YouTube preview and it looks like viewer's will be able to view short videos of hit shows such as Grey's Anatomy and full episodes of lower rating shows like scrubs along with behind the scenes footage and interviews. I couldn't access the ESPN preview since I'm in Canada :( but it's expected there will be lots of highlights and some sporting events on their channel.

Youtube had to make a move like this since they were failing at making money from advertising and loosing viewers to the highly popular Hulu. In the near future more networks will add content and more people will be able to access it. People want to be able to watch their favorite tv shows anytime and any place (woohoo for the cloud!!) and the tv networks are finally realizing this. I am so glad that I signed up for unlimited video streaming for my lg dare cellphone!!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

We Can Now Draw With Google Docs!!

Well folks, the whole Google Docs suite just received a major update, the ability to insert drawings into documents, presentations, and spreadsheets....WOW!!! I gave it a very quick spin and the there is an excellent selection of shapes, arrowheads, and line properties. This feature was a major thing missing from Docs, and especially from Presentations. I"m definitely going to be using this feature a lot in the future, and I'm probably going to spend tomorrow morning revising a presentation on water quality and including some new drawings. Awesome addition!!!





Find and Replace Gets Updated in Google Docs

One of the features of Google Docs has been updated; Find and Replace. In the past this wasn't really like the feature in desktop word processors, it was basically replace all and was only moderately useful. Now they've updated it, such that you can replace all or find next and then replace individual occurrences. Also, this feature has options such as case-sensitive matching. 



I really like the style and location of this new feature, hopefully future additions to the Google Docs team will look as nice. 

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Gmail Labs Gets Undo Send

I'm sure it has happened to everyone out there; you have just clicked on the send button for an email, then you realize that your future life is ruined as a result of that email, and then you dream of time travel. Now with the latest Gmail labs feature, Undo Send, you can go back in time and stop that nasty email from being sent...not quite. What happens is that the email will be placed "on hold" for 5 seconds. This will give you time to simply click on the undo button, and save your future life. I just gave it a try, it was super easy to setup, super simple to use, and I think a super addition to the Gmail labs warehouse.  




Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Google Experiments With Chrome Experiments

As everyone knows, Google Chrome contains a very powerful JavaScript engine. Google has decided to to show off this with Chrome Experiments. To get a sense of what this actually is, check out the video below this post. Basically, it shows what the Chrome Browser is capable of doing (I find it kind of trippy, definitely need some Pink Floyd music playing). The Chrome team decided to put this interesting note in their blog:

Although you don't need Google Chrome to view the site, some of the experiments may run slower, or incorrectly, in older browsers. To download Google Chrome, click here.
Personally, I find it kind of cheesy that Google mentioned this; I tried a bunch of them in FF and they worked fine. Anyways, these experiments really show the power of Chrome, hopefully (and Google is really hoping for this) their market share will continue to rise from the low 1.15%

Google Docs Spreadsheets Can Finally Import Excel 07 Files

Update: Google also added a list view that allows a very simplified view of your spreadsheet. Note that this was added to the mobile version a few weeks ago. Check out the pic below. 


Today, Google Docs Spreadsheets received an update. The biggest feature added is the ability to import Excel 07 files although there is no exporting to this file type. Other updates include:
  1. New features added to Motion Charts such as bar charts and zooming (click here to see the pic below in action). 

  2. Automatic identity for Google Apps users completing forms, this means that email addresss will be automatically collected for Google Apps members completing forms. 
  3. Finally, the form summary page can be printed through the browsers Print menu. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

New Beta Version Of Google Chrome

Today the folks at Google released a new beta version of Chrome. This new version is much faster, check out the graphs below: 




Also, they have added features such as: form autofillfull page zoom, support for autoscroll, and a better view for dragged browser tabs (check out video below): 




There is also a new blog, titled the Google Chrome Blog. This will post feature releases and announcements for Google Chrome; the original Google Chrome Blog still exists though.

I have been using Chrome since day #1, and I love it. Occasionally I go back to FF and rarely I'll IE, I really dislike the smaller viewer and especially the slow browsing speed. Chrome rocks!!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

New Google Voice = GrandCentral

When I first heard of GrandCentral, I was really impressed; one number could be used to ring all of your phones...amazing. Now Google has released this wonderful service as Google Voice. Other features of this service include transcripts of voicemail, archiving and searching of SMS text messages, the ability to make cheap international calls, a central voicemail inbox accessible from the cloud (web), and the ability to screen calls by listening in live as callers leave a voicemail (awesome!!). All of this is free! Currently, only GrandCentral users can use this but more will be able to sign up in the future, but only if your in the US. Hopefully Google will bring this to Canada soon. For more details, check out the help site for Google Voice and the video below:


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Google's New Form of Advertising: Tracking the Sites We Visit

Google today launched "interest-based" advertising. What this nicely coined term means, is that the ads you see will be based on your browing history. I browse a lot for website programming and help with my LG-Dare phone, so I would see ads related to these on most of the websites that I visit, even if some of these sites do not contain LG-Dare or website programming content. With this new form of advertising, there is the option to select your favorite catagories of ads (i.e, sports) or the categories you don't want to see. Currently "interest-based" advertising is in beta and is present on Google's partner sites and YouTube.  
To deal with the issue of privacy (web surfing activities being watched) , Google listed the following on their blog:
  • Transparency - We already clearly label most of the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and on YouTube. You can click on the labels to get more information about how we serve ads, and the information we use to show you ads. This year we will expand the range of ad formats and publishers that display labels that provide a way to learn more and make choices about Google's ad serving.
  • Choice - We have built a tool called Ads Preferences Manager, which lets you view, delete, or add interest categories associated with your browser so that you can receive ads that are more interesting to you.
  • Control - You can always opt out of the advertising cookie for the AdSense partner network here. To make sure that your opt-out decision is respected (and isn't deleted if you clear the cookies from your browser), we have designed a plug-in for your browser that maintains your opt-out choice.
It's good that they offer the above options, but a lot of the web surfers out there won't be aware of these and will be "watched" without knowing. Personally, I'm not a fan of this advertising, I just hate the idea of our activities being monitored and I think we should stay with the current model of ads being based on the content of the page. I like the good ol' days. 

Monday, 9 March 2009

Google Docs Accidentally Shared Private Documents

Update: Google admitted that only 0.05% of documents were shared. Also, my opinion has changed on this matter. Initially I thought this would be a major blow to cloud computing and Google Docs, but this is the first time that I've heard of a security issue with Docs. In the desktop world, "secure" files are always being hacked, accessed by P2P file sharing, taken by hackers, and stolen along with the computer. So, I guess that cloud computing and Google Docs does still rock!!

Well, this was the nasty surprise sitting in my Gmail inbox today from the Google Docs Team:

Dear Google Docs user,

We wanted to let you know about a recent issue with your Google Docs account. We’ve identified and fixed a bug which may have caused you to share some of your documents without your knowledge. This inadvertent sharing was limited to people with whom you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document. The issue only occurred if you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, selected multiple documents and presentations from the documents list and changed the sharing permissions. This issue affected documents and presentations, but not spreadsheets.

To help remedy this issue, we have used an automated process to remove collaborators and viewers from the documents that we identified as being affected. Since the impacted documents are now accessible only to you, you will need to re-share the documents manually. For your reference, we’ve listed below the documents identified as being affected.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this issue may have caused. We want to assure you that we are treating this issue with the highest priority.

The Google Docs Team


They also put a notice up on the Google Docs blog and information on the Apps Status Dashboard. For my account, it only affected 1 document and it was somewhat minor. But for others it may have been a disaster. Until Google and other vendors get these problems worked out, cloud computing growth will never reach its potential. 

Friday, 6 March 2009

Google Sites Outage.....

Update #2: Outage is over, here is a message on the Apps dashbar:

"The problem with Google Sites should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

Update #1: I just checked the Google Apps Dashbar, and the Sites team is aware of the problem and will have an update later today. 

Google Sites is down. I tried to log in to my account and received the following screen: 


Other Google services seem to working fine. I love working in the cloud, but when these outages happen I start to have doubts. Hopefully, Google sites will soon get offline editing. 

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Sharing With Google Health

For anyone using Google Health, you can now share your information with others. Just in case you didn't know, Google Health is a service that allows you to organize all of your health (doctors, pharmacies) information in one place.
Its simply a great idea, and I have been using it ever since I hit the big 3-0. Since I'm in Canada, I cannot link to other services (i.e, pharmacies) that have my health records , but I find it great for my own personal account of my health history. Now, Google Health users like myself can share their profile with anyone (other features in pics below). This is done by simply sending a link to the desired person(s). For security issues, the link (which expires after 30 days) cannot be forwarded on to others, the person can only view the shared part (which you select) of your profile, sharing can be disabled, and you can view who has seen your profile. This is a great idea and reduces a lot of the communication problems and use of paper in the health field. Now if Google can solve the problem of paper receipts at stores!! 


Wallet Sized Printing of Health Information



New Graphing Feature Added to Google Health

Google Code University: I Didn't Know There Was One!!

Google has a ton of resources and products, and one that I didn't know of is the Google Code University. This is a collection of resources for computer subjects ranging from C++ programming to website security. Google has some of their own stuff in there, but links to outside sources are also there. For myself, this is a great discovery because I want to learn more about website security, design, and programming. Thanks Google!!




Tuesday, 3 March 2009

New Templates in Google Spreadsheets + More Possible Features

Templates are a nice feature to Google Spreadsheets, now some new ones have been added to the collection. I use them frequently due to their great look and the simple fact that you don't have to go through the process yourself of setting up the spreadsheet. Along with this, blogoscoped is reporting that Google spreadsheet testers are experimenting with macros (recorded sequence of commands), "Sketchy" which maybe like clip art, "Solver" which could be optimization problem solver, and the possible protection of cells. Hopefully all of these features will be coming to spreadsheets and even more will be coming to documents and presentations. 


Jon Stewart Talking About Twitter

Check out this video of Jon Stewart talking about Twitter, extremely funny!!


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Twitter = Another Addiction

In addition to my current addictions of caffeine, cloud computing, and cashews, I have a new one...Twitter!!!. I've heard about this a lot in the news, so yesterday I decided to give it a try.


Twitter is very easy to setup, and Twitter imports contacts from your email but none of my Gmail contacts are on Twiter :( so I had to added some "suggested users." At first I wasn't really sure what the purpose of Twitter was, but this changed after some exploring. Twitter lets the world know what your doing and lets you know what the world is doing, this is done via updates where you can type up to 140 characters into a facebook-like status box. If the updates are not protected, anyone in the world can follow them, I think this is so cool. I am following updates from people such as Levar Burton, Lance Armstrong, and Al Gore. It sort of gives a feeling of connection to these people whom I'll probably never meet in person in my life. This is how Twitter is so much different than Facebook where your connected to smaller networks. Google has signed up to Twitter, and rumors have it that they may in fact purchase Twitter.

The first Google Tweet

Another part of Twitter that I discovered yesterday is that you can post an update for blog posts via
Twitter Feed. This is extremely easy to setup, all you need is an OpenID account, and within a few clicks, your blog updates are sent directly to Twitter as status updates which should increase blog traffic a lot.


A major aspect of Twitter is the mobile side. First of all, the mobile site is very cellphone friendly, graphics look excellent and it is very easy to navigate. Second of all, Twitter can send SMS text alerts of updates from followers, note that if your in Canada, it only works on the Bell network. Users can also update their status via text.

Since yesterday, I've been using Twitter alot. I think this is going to get really big, people want to know what
the World is doing!!