Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Protect Those WorkSheets In Google Docs

Google Docs introduced a great collaborative feature today, the ability to protect individual worksheets (aka sheets) in a spreadsheet . All you have to do to protect a sheet is click on the sheet button, select Protect sheet and then set the editing features.

I'm sure this will be useful for many users and I will be definitely using it for the labs that I teach. There are 10 Teaching Assistants for these labs and now I can control which sheets they can enter marks for. Awesome feature.

Control Who You Want To Edit Worksheets

Monday, 27 April 2009

Life With My LG Dare

As reported earlier on this blog, I am the owner of an LG Dare phone. In case you didn't know, this is a touchscreen phone, that's classified as a smart dumbphone, and has a 3.2 MP camera. I have owned this phone for 4 months now, it has worked fine except for some problems, these belong to the "what I hate" section immediately below:
  1. Crappy Music Player: My contract is with Telus, and we are forced to use the Telus music player, it is absolutely horrible. I gave it a try for 5 minutes and haven't went back.
  2. My Email App: This is another problem due to Telus. My Email is an app that you can use for email instead of going through the browser. On the LG Dare it only works for about 5 hrs immediately after the phone is restarted!! Any other time and it freezes. I've been waiting 4 months to get this fixed.
  3. The Browser: The browser that comes with the LG Dare is OK, but nothing compared to Opera Mobile. Since the LG Dare is BREW based as opposed to JAVA, Opera can't be installed.
  4. Google Maps Doesn't Work: The crappy web version that looks archaic is the only version that works on the Dare, no high-res satellite photos here.
  5. Lack of Apps: Currently there are only 4 apps available for the Dare through Telus, 'nough said.
  6. It's Not a Smartphone: In the past few months there has been a lot of great apps released for smartphones, and Blackberry now has an app store. Sometimes I wish my phone was smarter.
Now it's time for "what I love":
  1. The Camera: Since I bought this phone, I rarely take my digital camera with me. The Dare camera has a really good lens and images come out looking very nice.
    East Coast of Newfoundland Shot With the LG Dare

    There are many options of the camera, my favorites are
    slow motion video mode, shooting in sephia, panoramas, and frame shots. All of these (including videos) can be easy uploaded to facebook or twitpic with just a few taps on the LG Dare touchscreen and no use of wires or a computer!!
  2. The Touchscreen: I was skeptical of touchscreens, I thought they would break or wouldn't be responsive. I've took this phone on many hikes and bicycle rides, and the screen is still extremely responsive. Looking through photos is done really nice, all that's required is a finger swipe across the screen.
  3. The Interface: The interface has a good layout and look. Things are easy to find, icons are clear, and items are logically placed.
  4. Full Screen QWERTY Keyboard: When your typing a message/note/web address and the phone is tilted 90o (it's horizontal) a full QWERTY keyboard appears. It is very responsive, and rarely does the wrong letter appear in the message.
  5. Customization: Like most phones, any photo can be used for the wallpaper, but what's really neat is that animations can be used!! The icons that appear on this screen (i.e. Browser) can be moved around, and you can customize which ones appear there.
  6. It's Not a Smartphone: OK, so this one did appear in the "what I hate" section. The big thing here is that where it's not a Smartphone, it's about $30/month cheaper (with taxes) because it doesn't have a data plan. For $70 per month, I get the Telus My Faves 5, unlimited web browsing, voice mail, caller id, unlimited YouTube videos, MSN Messenger App, My Email App, and early evenings/weekends. To get this with a Smartphone is at least $100/month.
Overall, I am happy with the LG Dare. The camera is definitely the best feature and the worst feature is the lack/support for apps. Since my phone is looking dumber everyday (comparatively), I'm hoping that Santa will bring me a smartphone next Christmas.

Friday, 24 April 2009

View PowerPoint and TIFF Files in Gmail; Changes to PDF Viewer

Gmail just keeps getting more powerful!! Announced yesterday was the ability to view PowerPoint files and Tiff's!! using the same viewer as the PDF one. Origininally you could click on View as slideshow to see the PowerPoint (only .ppt is supported, pptx currently is not) files, which would open a new browser window and would look the same as viewing a Google Docs Presentation. The advantages that the new viewer over the old one has is that you can copy and paste text, print the document, and zoom. This new viewer also allows easy editing, all you have to do is simply click Edit Online.

This is a great feature and will save the hastle of having to download attachments, having the right software, and having to switch between web browser and desktop software.

On a minor note, the PDF viewer restrictions for documents have been lifted/increased. Now you can upload PDFs that are longer than 100 pages (size limit of 10MB) and you can have more than 100 PDFs (not sure what the limit is on this one).

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Smartphone Market Share in the US

I just came across this interesting graphic from cnet of smartphone market share in the US:

I was aware of the iPhone's popularity, but I didn't think it was this popular, it has a 50% market share!! That's insane!! It is over 2x more popular than the RIM (Blackberry) OS. Also, I thought that Windows Mobile and Android would have a greater share. The iPhone is definitely the phone that people are buying.  

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Google Labs Releases News Timeline and Similar Image Search

Google Labs, along with a new webpage design, has released two new features, here's some info on both of them:
  1. Google News Timeline: This organizes various search results into a graphical timeline. It collects results from many sources such Google News, YouTube, Blog Search , archival newspapers and magazines from Google News Archive. The search time can be set along with timeline of results. Check out the pic below of a search that I did for the St. Louis Blues, my favorite hockey team that is down 3 games to 0 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

    You can see that I have two sources selected, Time Magazine
    and Wikipedia, these can be changed to any of the sources mentioned previously (i.e., blogs). Other options are available but honestly, I do not find this latest labs feature that useful.

  2. Similar Images: This feature seems much more useful than the #1 above. With this new tool, it makes finding similar images much easier. Quite often when I'm searching for a Google Presentations image, I can find a good one, but not a great one, and I'm thinking "I know there's a better one out there." With this feature, you simply click on the similar images link below an image, and relevant images will appear. This is really neat since the searching is done based on image characteristics on not text. Check out my search for similar images for a St. Louis Blues Drawing:

The Future Web: 3D Envionments

Below is a video of a 3D environment being explored in a browser....super cool!! This definitely looks like the future of video games. For more details on this visit The Chromium Blog.

Friday, 17 April 2009

YouTube Gets Huluish-like+ Online Video Caption Editing

YouTube announced yesterday that viewers (in the US only) will be able to watch movies and shows from Sony, CBS, MGM, Lionsgate, Starz, and BBC. To deal with these new additions, the YouTube homepage has been redesigned with two new tabs, Shows and Subscriptions.

So far, the shows/movies selection is less than ok unless your a fan of shows like "Bewitched" and films such as "Blue Lagoon." I'm thinking that most of the viewers to YouTube probably aren't into this type of programming. Maybe this will change if users are charged fees, as mentioned by Google CEO Erich Schmidth on Thursday. YouTube is also hoping to make money off of Google TV Ads Online, which is still in testing mode. Advertisers will be able to use to to insert ads within the ad breaks for TV shows.

Other news in the world of YouTube is a new web app. called CaptionTube that allows users to add captions to their videos all online. In the past, this would have to be done offline using third party software, which was a real pain. Maybe CaptionTube will develop into a full online video editor?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Blogger Posting Becomes More Mobile Friendly

Most of us live a busy life, we are constantly on the move from place to place. Now, Blogger has added a few features to help with "blogging on the go." First of all, you can post via SMS or MMS directly from your cellphone. This is very easy to setup, just click the phone icon on the dashboard, then a claim code will be shown which is sent to BLOGGR via SMS or go@blogger via MMS from your phone; this allows Blogger to associate your phone with your blog. Note that SMS is only available in the US :(

The other feature added by Blogger is Email Posting which is setup by clicking on the envelope icon in the dashboard. After this, you simply setup a secret email address for your blog. These are two great features, hopefully a mobile app is in Blogger's future.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Interview With Twitter Cofounders Williams and Stone

Twitter is definitely all the buzz these days. Below is an interview with the cofounders of Twitter, Evan Williams and Biz Stone. They seem like average computer guys who are not concerned about $profit$.......yet. Enjoy!!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Viva La Vevo: Universal and Google Partner Up

Universal Music Group and Google have teamed up to create a video/music entertainment site called Vevo. A deal like this was sort of expected since Google has been having difficulties making money off of the heavily trafficked YouTube. Advertising revenue will be split between the two giants and at this moment, only Universals content and artists will appear on Vevo but they are hopeful that other major players in the music/video industry will sign up (rumors have it that Sony Pictures is about to sign on to YouTube).

Right now there is only a landing page on the Vevo site. You can follow them on Twitter ( and sign up via email for updates (I did!!!). Hopefully, music/video will be added soon and people outside the US will be able to view it, but I'm kinda thinking only the lucky Americans will be able to get this service. Yay for the movement of video and music content to the cloud :)

Friday, 10 April 2009

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season Finale Tonight!!!

First of all; this post have nothing to do with cloud computing. It is about one of my favorite shows on TV, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (abbreviated TSCC). Compared to the movies, TSCC has less action, but the main and substories are really intriguing. This is too complex to talk about here, but check out this great summary of what has happened in the show so far. The whole concept of machines taking over the world along with time travel and extremely powerful computers absolutely grabs my attention. In the beginning I would compare TSCC to the movies, but I no longer do this, TSCC is so much better!! Anyways, the season finale is on at 8 et tonight (Friday, April 10th), below is a preview and below that is a recap of season 1, enjoy:

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Using Twitter Has Increased My Google Adsense Revenue

I have been using Twitter ( for about 1 month now, and I absolutely love it. It is a superb method for obtaining up to date news, real time search, and following the lives of people with similar interests (as opposed to facebook, I'll blog about this sometime during the weekend). During my first week of using Twitter, I added Twitterfeed, which allows blog updates to be sent to your Twitter Update. Note that this was extremely easy to setup. Since the addition of this, my blog traffic has increased by 35%, and Google Adsense revenue by 52%, fantastic!! The reasons why I think this has happened are:
  1. The twitterfeed link is simply more exposure for my blog which will lead to an increase in traffic.
  2. Most of my twitter followers love technology, so when they see a technology related post, they will be likely to click that link. This also explains the traffic increase.
  3. Similar to reason #2, Twitter users in general seem tech savvy. So when they visit the public timeline, they may see my post and click on it.
  4. Now for the revenue increase. Maybe tech savvy viewers are more likely to click on ads than the average web surfer. This could be due to an understanding of how advertising works for bloggers/site owners.
These are just a few of the reasons, there are probably many more. But, the main point of this is that if you want to increase your blog traffic and AdSense revenue, definitely sign up to Twitter and Twitterfeed. Show me the money!!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Google Gets Local Search

I've been wondering/hoping when Google was going to add this feature, and now finally they have: Local Search Results. When you do a search for something using this feature, such as pizza, a map will be shown of local (in your city) search results:

Where should I get pizza tonight?
(There are so many tough decisions in life)

The location is based on your IP address but this can be changed by clicking on the change location link to the upper right of the map.

This is a great feature and will definitely save some time.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Rumor Mill: Is Google Going To Buy Twitter?

Here's a nice Friday rumor, sources have told TechCrunch that Google is in negotiations to buy Twitter or develop a real time search engine with them. If it happens, it would be the second time that Twitter creators Biz Stone and Evan Bizstone sold a product to Google, 5 years ago they sold Google the product that I'm using right now...Blogger!! If the Twitter acquisition happens, Google would definitely be a major player in the social networking world. Now it's time for me to go Tweet!! 

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Chrome Market Share Increases Again, IE Drops Again

Google Chrome's market share increased by 0.08% to 1.23% for the month of March while IE decreased by 0.62% to 66.82%. This trend has been occurring for Chrome since it's release and for IE since July 2007 when it had a 79.26% market share. So, these numbers indicate that people are getting tired of IE's slowness and are starting to install the faster browsers like Chrome and Firefox (now 22.05% market share, increasing trend). 

I have been using Chrome since day 1. Initially some webpages would not load properly and plugins were working, now all of that seems to be fixed and the speed is blazing fast. Sometimes I try out newer versions of IE and FF, after a few slow page loads, especially for IE, I switch back to Chrome. Google Chrome rules!!