Thursday, September 27, 2007

NBL Ladder Gadget

My infatuation with the Google Mashup Editor continues. This time I've used Dapper to turn the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) standings ladder into an Atom feed, which I'm using to power the NBL Ladder Google homepage gadget.

The GME hosts (and lets you edit) your gadget's XML definition file, and your gadget can feature any of the tags and themes supported by the GME -- so it becomes a 'one stop shop' for creating rich mashup gadgets.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Google 'Shared Stuff' Social Bookmarking Service

Google is quietly launching a new service today called 'Shared Stuff'.

It's a service that lets you bookmark pages, add comments and add tags in a similar way to how Google Notebook works, but with an emphasis firmly on sharing. As well as a 'shared stuff' page, your friends can add your Shared Stuff as a Google Homepage module, or subscribe to your RSS feed.

Once you've 'shared' an item, Google will tell you how many times it's been shared (like every social bookmarking site ever) but also how many times it's been viewed.

It looks like they'll be building this in to all the Google services that allow sharing (Maps, Video, YouTube, Reader, Picasaweb, Blogger, ...), but at the moment it's only supported in Google Video and via a browser (Share This) button. This suggests this is the mysterious Mocka-Mocka social service suggested in the Google Reader training video that was leaked earlier this month.

It's still not properly launched, so I expect we'll see a 'home' page for the service, similar to the Digg or front pages that show us what's getting shared and viewed the most, before too long. but you can still see the 'most popular' items, or you can see the most popular items by tag.

As it is, it's
a very workable replacement for sending emails of cool stuff you've found online (or having a blog for the same).

For those playing at home, this accounts for the mysterious Google service 'S2'.

Javascript API for Google Calendar

Google has just released a Javascript API for Google Calendars.

The client side library supports full authenticated read/write access the the user's calendars, letting you create calendar mashups that insert and change a user's calendar entries.

It was the Maps Javascript library that drove the explosion of Maps Mashups, so it'll be interesting to see what the development community comes up with.

Interestingly, yesterday on Joel on Software, Joel Spolsky predicted the next paradigm for development will be an online SDK that lets developers create powerful Ajax applications that can interact with each other and have consistent interface elements. A 'NewSDK',
"...which combines a great portable programming language that compiles to JavaScript, and even better, a huge Ajaxy library that includes all kinds of clever interop features. Not just cut ‘n’ paste: cool mashup features like synchronization and single-point identity management..." - Joel Spolsky
With the Google Mashup Editor and a library of full access Javascript APIs, Google may be well on the way to creating 'NewSDK'. The Google Maps API has helped make it a ubiquitous online map. Will the same thing now happen with Calendar? Then Spreadsheets, Docs, Picasaweb, GMail, ...?

Windows made it easy for developers to create applications that looked and behaved consistently and provided a level of application interop. With Javascript APIs and tools like the Google Mashup Editor and GWT may be trying to do the same thing with web development.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Easy Come, Easy Go(ogle)

There's never a shortage of speculation surrounding future Google releases. With rumours flying around at breakneck pace it's easy to loose track.

With Google presenting at TechCrunch40 later today, let's take a moment to review some of the biggest, longest running, and most eagerly anticipated Google product rumours: Google Television, GDrive, the GPhone, GoogleTalk-to-Phone, Google's Social application, and Google Office.

The Google Phone
Alias: GPhone

Speculation on the GPhone started as early as 2005, and it's been regular blog fodder since then, with the rumour mill hitting overdrive in August thanks to reliable reports of an impending post-Labour Day release.

Early speculation suggested a hardware device similar to the iPhone, but recent comments from Google's head of research, Peter Norvig, suggest it won't be a Google created handset. The smart money now is on a Java-based Google powered phone OS along with a suite of mobile Google applications available on 3rd party hardware, with Business Week claiming just last week that a gPhone mobile phone platform is nearing release.

Original Speculation: December 2005.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Post Labour Day, 2007.
Trending: Peaking.
Likelihood of imminent release: High.

Alias: Platypus, Google Drive, WWW10

Rumours of a Google powered online storage solution started in 2005, but it was the inadvertent release of suggestive power point slides in early 2006 that really got people's attention.

After a massive bout of online speculation things died down until July 2007, when CorsinCamichel discovered an internal Google GDrive client codenamed Platypus. More recently Tony Ruscoe found that 'GDrive' was available to some users as a service within Google Apps, fueling speculation of a possible public release.

Original Speculation: March 2005.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown. Likely to be part of Google Apps.
Trending: Stagnant.
Likelihood of imminent release: High.

Google's Social Application
Alias: Makamaka, Ninianne Wang's Social Project, Google World

Google's decidedly underwhelming Orkut service has led to speculation that Google intends to release an alternative social application that takes a radically different approach. Revelation's in May 2006 that star Googler Niniane Wang was heading up a new project in the social space led to speculation that the project might be a killer combination of Facebook and Second Life leveraging Google Earth.

More recently Google Operating System highlighted Google's investment in SocialStream (a social networking aggregation project), and the accidental leak of a Google training video described the 'big social effort' at Google (Makamaka), as the framework for Google's social efforts.

Original Speculation: April 2005.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown.
Trending: Upwards.
Likelihood of imminent release: Low.

Alias: Google Television

Google TV has been rumour fodder since before the launch of Google Video in January of 2005.

In March of 2006 job openings for an Interactive TV Product Manager and Software Engineers with experience in 'emerging TV standards' and 'deploying robust, high-volume applications for consumer devices' fueled speculation that a GoogleTV set-top-box might be on its way.

In January 2007 an brilliantly spoofed 'how-to guide' to register for the GoogleTV Beta program was released on YouTube sparking a surge of interest as hope overcame common sense before the hoax was revealed.

In March Google announced a television AdSense trial, and in August Vint Cerf (VP at Goolge) suggested that television is approaching it's 'iPod moment', when most users will be downloading their television.

Original Speculation: 2004.
Last Heard From: August 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown.
Trending: Stagnant.
Likelihood of imminent release: Low.

GoogleTalk Phone-Out
Alias: Google Voice, Google SIP

When Google launched GoogleTalk in August 2005 with audio conferencing using the open source libjingle library,there was wide-spread expectation that a Skype style PC-to-phone service would follow.

In July of 2006 GoogleTalk was updated to provide 'voice mail' for missed audio calls and in May this year the accidental release of a Google slideshow including a screen-capture of an updated GoogleTalk client including a 'dialpad' renewed speculation that GoogleTalk would soon be upgraded to include a PC to phone service. A month later Google acquired GrandCentral, a 'one number for life' phone management startup.

Original Speculation: August 2005.
Last Heard From: June 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: Unknown.
Trending: Stagnant.
Likelihood of imminent release: Moderate.

Google Office
Alias: Presently, Google Wiki, JotSpot

The Google Office suite (or MS Office killer) has been a target of speculation GMail's release in 2004, but only really grabbed hold in March of 2006 when Google purchased collaborative online document editor Writely. Since then Google has added a Calendar and Spreadsheets to there Office suite, and has packaged all three tools as 'Google Docs' and embedded them with the Google Apps service.

More recently Google has acquired business focused wiki JotSpot, and online presentations software creator Tonic Systems. Neither acquisition has yet resulted in a Google offering, though Information Week suggests that the release of Presently (Google's PowerPoint offering) is a dead certainty for Tech40 today.

Speculation continues regarding an offline component to Google Docs, and the release of a JotSpot powered wiki component.

Original Speculation: 2004.
Last Heard From: September 2007.
Suggested Release Schedule: September 17, 2007.
Trending: Upwards.
Likelihood of imminent release: Near certainty.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Google Mashup Editor Goes Social

Isn't it great when you get exactly what you ask for?

The latest release of the Google Mashup Editor lets your mashups share data between users, letting you create real social apps within the GME. So My Travel Maps now includes 'Their Travel Maps', a tab where you can see your friends' Travel Maps.

Sign in and add your friends' GMail addresses to the 'Their Travel Maps' tab, then select a friend to see their trips (and their Picasaweb albums). Add me as a friend -- my GMail is Reto.Meier at -- to see the result.

Along with social application support this release has a bunch of new features, including the ability to add labels and rating to external feeds, support for editing HTML and CSS project files within the editor, plus better styling and CSS support along with general performance improvements and bug fixes.

It's an impressive new release that's moving the GME further along the path to full-blown online GoogleOS development IDE.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Massive 7.9 Earthquake Hits Sumatra

A massive earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale has been recorded just off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Earthquake! illustrates the size and scale of the quake, the light red 'felt' region extends over much of south east Asia as far away as Sri Lanka and Myanmar and the dark red damage zone covering a fair chunk of the Sumatran coast line.

There's currently a Tsunami alert in effect for the surrounding region.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Google Library

Wow. Google has just announced an incredible new service on the official Google Blog.

Book lovers rejoice, you can now create a virtual library of your book collection using Google's Book Search. You can maintain your entire collection by adding books using ISBNs, using Book Search, or copying from other people's libraries.

Once added, books can be rated, tagged, and reviewed, and you can browse in cover view, detail view, filter by tag, and search your library. Viewing a book's details gives you a varied wealth of information, including book publishing details, online reviews, online references, references from other books, regularly quoted passages, related books, and in some cases even a map of places mentioned within the books pages.

Your library is public (my library) so you can share your collection with your friends, or use your friend's collections as inspiration for your own reading.
There's even an RSS feed of new additions and an XML feed of your collection to download or mashup in your own applications. The XML feeds include ISBN, author, title, your tags, reviews, and rating -- the RSS feed also includes the cover art.

At the moment it's a little US-centric, with cover art and detailed book details missing for books published overseas -- which is a bit of a problem for those of us in the UK or Australia. That's not going to stop me from importing my 1000 book database into
My Library later tonight though!

I hope they extend the data feeds further.
I'd dearly love to be able to add books to my collection (and rate, review, and label them) using a GData feed like PicasaWeb; I'd also love to have access to some of the wealth of book information Google have aggregated for each book. In fact, while we're at it, I think they should extend 'My Library' to include music and movies I own as well as books.

I don't know many people that were big users of Google Books, but just about everyone I know with a collection of more than 100 books has some way of cataloging their books (Excel spreadsheets, custom software, etc). I think this is a wise move precisely because it gives people a new reason for regularly visiting the site.

Distances on Google Maps

As of today Google Maps will display the length of any line you draw on a map (you can add lines in the 'My Maps' tab). Just click on any completed line to get a total distance.

Finally I can see exactly how much longer the 'scenic route' to work is.

They didn't invent this, Yahoo! has done it for a while and I know of a couple of mashups that do the same thing, but still -- it's pretty handy!

At the moment all distances are shown in yards and miles -- maybe the next release can show us some metric love?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Google Reader UI Update

I noticed a general update of the Google Reader UI this morning.

There's now a gray arrow button between your list of subscriptions and the reading panel, just like the one in Google Maps between your map and the search results. Just like in Maps, clicking it will hide your subscriptions list, replacing it with a 'My Subscriptions:' dropdown.

It's a nice UI tweak that gains me an extra 30% - 50% of horizontal reading space when I'm going through my feeds in the morning.

They've also updated the blue 'loading' dialog, replacing the blue beaker with a smaller orange loading message that sits at the top of the page.

I've seen this update come-and-go all morning, so it looks like they're in the process of testing / rolling it out.

Update (6 Sep 2007): They've also added search functionality! You can now search through any of your folders to find specific feed items. Neat.