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October 9, 2015 - No Comments!

Friday Link Bait: A More Civilized Commenting System, Google Docs Disaster and a new Relaxation App

Link-Bait

We heard you missed us, we're back. The Mechanism's "Appy hour" must have started early last week. Enough with the excuses, let's talk about stress this week in your weekly dose of Link Bait - October 9, 2015.

  • In recent weeks, we've become more aware of the fact that our glorious concept of the interwebs becoming a hive of blissful creative collaboration, is nothing more than a pipe dream. Littered with vicious, hate-mongering, vapid mongrels - the idea of civil discourse is all but a dream -- Until now, of course! We discovered an interesting project underway from Civil Comments that promises a "new set of online social rules that more closely mirrors how we treat each other offline." Bravo! We'll be following this closely...so should your favorite internet troll (we're looking at you "monkeybutt102"!).
  • Unbeknownst to anyone who has not been within fifty feet from me, I live in a constant state of unrelenting stress. My floors and drawers are littered with every type of stress ball known to (hu)man, so I was skeptical about this $1.99 app called "Pause" from UsTwo, and Pauseable (not to mention a nice, modern and creatively relaxed typeface design by Pedro Azedo). Without getting into too much detail, what it does is to focus your mind on something visually calming by forcing you to perform a very subtle task with your finger. My screen glass is not cracked yet, so it must be working...
  • Speaking of stress, however - Google Drive has been down for most of the day. Much to the fury of millions of users. Keep up with the madness here.

September 6, 2013 - Comments Off on Is Google Knowledge?

Is Google Knowledge?

Another great episode from PBS' Idea Channel.

"Google it" seems to be the quick and easy answer for every question we could possibly ask, but is finding facts the same thing as knowing? Having billions of facts at the tips of your typing fingertips may not necessarily be making us any smarter. Some people even think it's making us more stupid and lazy. Whatever way we process the vast sea of data available, the question remains: is the act of googling the same as knowledge?

Published by: antonioortiz in The Thinking Mechanism
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June 21, 2013 - Comments Off on Inside Digg’s Race to Build the New Google Reader

Inside Digg’s Race to Build the New Google Reader

Look, the Internet is made of fast. You go fast or you die. But lost in the Clouds of bullshit and hype there’s this true thing: The internet is a technology that can connect us instantaneously to all sorts of information. That instant access lets us learn and connect and transact in entirely new ways. It’s what drives everything online–from I need to know about the Peloponnesian War right now to who is nearby that will take a couple of bucks for a spot in their back seat, sharing economy, #YOLO. It’s just impossibly fast. Even so, few things move faster than they do at the new Digg. This is the team who, in just six weeks, took a dying brand that collapsed under the weight of its own spam and made it something vibrant and vital: a place you wanted to go.

 

So in April, when Google announced it was shutting down Google Reader on July 1, it was almost unsurprising that Digg replied–that same day–We’ve got this.

 

This is the story of how a tiny team took 90 days to pull off the impossible.

 

via Inside Digg's Race to Build the New Google Reader: Wired.com.

That is but a taste of the fantastic article by Mat Honan for Wired. A true behind-the-scenes of what modern day development is like, you should check out the whole thing. It reminds me of the famous Marcel Proust quote "The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains.'

 

 

Published by: antonioortiz in The Thinking Mechanism
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June 18, 2013 - Comments Off on Project Loon: Balloon-powered internet for everyone.

Project Loon: Balloon-powered internet for everyone.

The idea does sound crazy, even for Google—so much so that the company has dubbed it Project Loon. But if all works according to the company’s grand vision, hundreds, even thousands, of high-pressure balloons circling the earth could provide Internet to a significant chunk of the world’s 5 billion unconnected souls, enriching their lives with vital news, precious educational materials, lifesaving health information, and images of grumpy cats.

 

via Exclusive: How Google Will Use Balloons to Deliver Internet to the Hinterlands.

Once again Steven Levy is granted exclusive access to the world of Google and Project Loon. This redefines the concept of mobile computing.

 

Published by: antonioortiz in The Thinking Mechanism
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July 29, 2011 - Comments Off on The Thinking Mechanism – 7/29/11

The Thinking Mechanism – 7/29/11

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

• Now that you finally got an invite, how Spotify works.

Google Offers To Re-Write Your Webpages On The Fly, Promising 25% To 60% Speed Improvements.

• OK GO's next viral hit, featuring Pilobolus, goes interactive with Chrome: All Is Not Lost.

• Apple makes Xcode free to all with release of 4.1 on Mac App Store.

• Information Architects - Should you scroll or flip pages on the screen?

Think Quarterly by Google hits the US with The Innovation Issue.

This is why your newspaper is dying.

• And lastly, Lucas loses Star Wars copyright case at Supreme Court.

July 22, 2011 - Comments Off on The Thinking Mechanism – 7/22/11

The Thinking Mechanism – 7/22/11

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

• Mac OS X Lion is out. Here is what to do to prepare for it, what to expect from it, and a massive book-length review from Ubernerd John Siracusa.

Apple said to be considering making a bid for Hulu.

• Quarterly results are out: Nokia, Microsoft, Apple.

Apple opens Business App Store for volume purchases.

R.I.P., Google Labs.

Andy Hertzfeld on Google+, UI design and how Bob Dylan influenced the Mac.

Translation technology may let humans speak with dolphins.

Reinvent NYC.gov - An unprecedented community event at General Assembly to kick off the reinvention of New York City's primary web presence. Civic participation meets the digital age.

• Speed Matters: How Ethernet Went From 3 Mbps to 100 Gbps … and Beyond.

• And lastly, Russia classifies beer as alcoholic, until now it was considered a food stuff.

July 13, 2011 - Comments Off on The Social Mechanism – 7/13/11

The Social Mechanism – 7/13/11

On July 12, media sources were reporting that Google+ -- Google's latest (and potentially most successful) foray into social networking, launched in a limited-release on June 28 -- had already, or would soon have reached 10 million users. Now, that's not much to crow about if you compare it to Facebook's 750 million, or even the (recently sold-for-scrap) MySpace's 37 million remaining accounts. But when you consider that Google+ is still an invite-only party that has been online just two weeks, and that those invites were out-of-service for much of that time -- 10 million starts to sound a little more impressive.

Of course early-adoption is no guarantee of success, and it's obviously too early say whether or not Google+ will be able to attract users beyond the first flush of novelty -- it certainly wouldn't be the first time Google laid an egg in the social networking realm (*cough*Buzz*cough*), but based on what I've seen and experienced so far, I will say that Google+ has legs, and I'd be willing to bet that, while I wouldn't call it a "Facebook killer," exactly, it has the potential to become even more integrated into our daily lives than Zuckerberg's oeuvre has. Here's why:

  1. It's not Facebook. Or as someone in my Google+ circles said, "I'm trying to escape Facebook!" Perhaps a backlash is inevitable anytime something goes from niche-popularity to total ubiquity and market-dominance, but Facebook detractors have no lack of reasons to welcome a new player onto the field. From concerns about personal privacy to frustrations with the graphical interface, Facebook has pissed off a lot of users, and Google will doubtless benefit simply by being an alternative that works. Additionally, Google has been paying attention to people's complaints, particularly as it concerns privacy, and they seem to have learned from others' mistakes. The Google+ Privacy Policy is shorter and an easier read than Facebook's, and the privacy settings on Google+ are (for now, at least) more customizable than Facebook's, which by itself could be the deciding factor for a lot of people.
  2. You're already using it. Okay, so maybe you haven't gotten an invite into Google+ yet, but it's fairly likely that you've utilized one of Google's several other web products, such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Blogger (re-branded as Google Blogs), or Picassa (now Google Photos). Even if you haven't taken advantage of any of the offerings in the Google "cloud", chances are pretty slim that you've spent any time on the internet in the last 10 years without availing yourself of the web's most popular search engine.So Google isn't some new kid on the block -- it's a source we're all familiar with, and that a lot of us use often in our day-to-day routines, for work and pleasure. Google+ interacts with all of its sibling programs and products, with notifications and the ability to share things among your "circles" in the upper-right-hand corner of any Google site. How much easier is it, for those of us who are already using Google sites and products for our workflow, to check our notifications, or write a status update from the very page we're already working on?
  3. Granular control of your communications. Google+ gives users more control of the messages they send into the ether -- not only by allowing people to use "circles" to organize their contacts, but but also by allowing users to edit and remove content they've added to their streams, or to "mute" conversations they're no longer interested in. It seems small, but how many times have you wished you could go back and edit that typo out of your status update? Or wished you didn't have to be notified every time someone else leaves a comment on your sister's new profile photo?
  4. Huddles and Hangouts. I haven't had the chance to use the Huddles feature yet (this is a mobile-only feature that hasn't been released on iPhone yet -- more on that below), so I'll reserve comment except to say that the idea of a non-SMS chat for mobile phones sounds good, and will no doubt be exceptionally popular with the teen and tween populations currently forced to send texts one-at-a-time to their friends.Hangouts are a bit more exciting -- think of them as temporary, virtual living rooms (or cafes, or pubs, or screening rooms, what-have-you...) where you and your circles can convene, chat, view media together, and generally, well, hang out. This is more than just video conferencing. I haven't used it much, but I can see Hangouts being useful in several different arenas, from professional conferencing to long-distance family reunions. As another of my Google+ contacts put it, "I just really like being able to share a real experience (even if virtually) with people I can't see because of geography."

Things are not all sunshine and rainbows, however. As with any new product, there is some room for improvement, and some areas where Google has some kinks to work out. Personally speaking, my only real complaint is that they launched Google+ without native iPhone or iPad apps (yes, I understand they're giving their own Android apps a leg up, but no iPhone app out of the gate? Really?). Other users I've communicated with offered such wish-list improvements as better integration among the Google sites (being able to access Google calendar without having to open a new tab, for example) and a more consistent, less "cutesy" naming convention for the various functions and features. I have heard a bit of grumbling online that the "Sparks" feature (a kind of customizable recommendation engine) is not quite ready for prime-time (to be fair, I've also seen this called the most underrated of Google+ features), and while the Huddles feature is a great addition to the mobile platform, there is no analog for regular web users (we're stuck with the now old-fashioned feeling Google Talk). But that's why Google is calling this a project instead of a product -- it is still a work in progress, and will continue to evolve as it continues to gain a user-base (my Google+ circles have been growing steadily since I signed on nearly two weeks ago), and communities form.

Here are some useful links for those of you not yet familiar with Google+, and those of us hoping to learn more:

Published by: saraweythman in The Thinking Mechanism
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July 8, 2011 - Comments Off on The Thinking Mechanism – 7/8/11

The Thinking Mechanism – 7/8/11

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

• Facebook's "awesome" announcement this week: Video Chat via Skype.

One Week In, Google+ Users Are Growing Followers, Getting Traffic.

Google Web Fonts v2 is now out.

Barcodes Enter Expressionist Period.

The New York Times lists all their journalists on Twitter.

The Dieline Awards 2011 Winners - Honoring the best in package design.

A brief history of hacking.

MediBabble: The iPhone App That Could Save Your Life

Slipscreen: A Love Story - a fantastic short film shot entirely on a phone.

May 20, 2010 - Comments Off on Developing web apps for the Chrome web store

Developing web apps for the Chrome web store

Erik Kay

Yesterday's keynote recap

* HTML5
* Web apps
* Chrome web store

Two perspectives on web apps

* Users: How can I get better web apps?
* Developers: How do I make money doing this?

From a user perspective, web apps can be difficult to find. Awareness.

No authoritative place for web apps. Web apps may contain a lot of contain, but generally doesn't contain content that can be crawled and indexed in the standard way.

The cheaper the purchase is, the more the trust and convenience issues get in the way.

Web apps are special to users, but the browser treats it like any other page.

Web apps don't have a shortcut to launch them, don't have deep OS integration. Etc.

Security model of browser is good, because able to trust most links. Part of model enforces limited capabilities. There are times we'd like the web app to do more, but no way to indicate this trust.

Web store link will be integrated tightly with the Chrome. Link always there.

Apps launched from the apps tab will display differently. Address bar hidden (to make the app central). The actual app tab will be smaller, but the favicon will be larger. Trying to treat the app as a first-class citizen.

How to monetize web apps

If costs are high and traffic is low, you don't get to set the price, it sets itself.

Need to integrate with payment processors.
In order to attract the most users, must target the least capable browser.

Web store wants to handle licensing and payment for you. Web is not a captive audience--not like the other phone app stores.

Pushing us to just use Chrome (???) and the Chrome web store. A lot of users on Chrome. Explicitly said, "We don't need to target the lowest browser anymore." Interesting (especially since the web app is available on the web) and a lot of these features aren't even supported in Firefox. Reminds me a lot of what Gears promised two years ago (and never delivered). And then it was gone.

Any app can go in the web store (HTML, Flash).

Can add a JSON manifest and icons for packaging to the store.
Can add permissions at install time to remove some of the browser's security model!
Can add permissions property to JSON manifest (array of required permissions).

If user trusts and installs the app, then will not be constantly prompted by the browser.

Installation similar to an extension.

Google Maps added geolocation support for select browers. (hadn't noticed this before)

Action items

* FAQ: http://chrome.google.com/webstore
* Docs: http://code.google.com/chrome/apps
* Build a really cool web app
* Join the discussions

Developer preview this summer and then open to public in the fall.

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Programming Mechanism
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