Here’s a neat toy from Google that I hadn’t seen before: Google Search Stories. The concept is that you can create your own story via search terms, in the manner of the Google Superbowl Commercial (and others that they’ve done in the last year or so). If you haven’t seen it, watch the commercial, and then visit the Search Stories homepage to make your own. You get six searches and a final entry to tell your story, and can choose from a series of Google specific searches to highlight the term in the proper way (Web, Image, Blog, News, Map, etc). It’s an oddly compelling way to construct a narrative.
So compelling, in fact, that I’m going to sponsor a contest using it. Use Search Stories to tell a story about libraries … funny, dramatic, horrifying, or anything in between. Just make it about libraries, and post the video or a link to it here in the comments. I’ll assemble a non-partisan set of judges, and the one chosen as the best will win a copy of my latest book, Mobile Technologies & Libraries. I’ll mail it to you personally if your video is chosen as the winner. Deadline for entry is September 30, 2010, and the winner will be chosen and announced right here on Perpetual Beta.
So get those creative juices flowing, people! Wow us with some crazy search stories!
After promising to revolutionize online communication, Google Wave suffered from the same thing that many Google services do: engineers designing user interfaces is a bad, bad idea. Google announced today that Wave will no longer be developed, although pieces of it may be moved into other Google products. Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, said on the Google Blog today:
…Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects. The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave’s innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began.
I am actually disappointed in this, because I saw huge opportunities for Wave in libraries. Given a better UI, I think it could have changed a lot of things about communication online. Here’s hoping that others do decide to extend the protocols that Google used for this product, and make something even better from it.
After over a year of being invitation-only, Google has finally opened up Voice for signups. If you haven’t heard of or used Google Voice, it’s an interesting service that has a lot potential. The general idea is: you sign up, and Google gives you a new phone number. This number then becomes a sort of relay, forwarding calls to any number of other phones simultaneously. For instance, if someone calls my Google Voice number, it rings my Work phone and my Cell phone at the same time, and I just pick up whichever is more convenient.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though…Voice also gives you a ton of control over how incoming calls are dealt with. It uses your Google Contacts as one source for logical rules, and you can set up things like “If anyone in my Friends list calls me, send that to my Cell phone and don’t go to Voicemail”. On the other hand, you can easily say something like “If anyone on my “Do Not Call” list calls, don’t ring my phone and send them to Voicemail.” Or even block them completely!
Voice also does voicemail speech-to-text transcription, will txt you when you get a voicemail, and integrates seamlessly with Android phones. It’s an incredible service…if you haven’t tried it, and you hate the phone as much as I do, Google Voice will change the way you deal with the phone.
Not a lot of details quite yet out of Google I/O as far as this is concerned, but Google just announced a TV product (GoogleTV) that interacts with your existing TV and gives you web on tv. I’m really unsure how this is going to go over…remember, Microsoft tried for years and years to get people to browse the web on their TV and mostly failed. Apple as well, with AppleTV.
I already use a piece of software that does pretty much all of this, an open source project called Boxee that runs on just about any computer. Boxee is an offshoot of the XBMC project, which does most of this as well, and runs on a ton of different hardware. I’m not sure where the value added is for this, but knowing Google, it could be very, very interesting, especially if they start integrating it heavily with Android.
New version of Google Docs rolling out over the next few days, with a new drawing tool rollling out today to users. Very exciting stuff…it looks like they really improved the “printability” of the documents. I can’t wait to try it out.
Google has been assailing us with new products in the last 6 months, but nothing I’ve seen has had the same OMG effect this video did. Google is calling this Liquid Galaxy, and it’s something between a Star Trek Holodeck and something out of Harry Potter. Eight separate computers are running this, and it’s being flown by a PS3 SixAxis controller. I’m just imagining GIS departments in libraries getting their hands on one of these!
I had the unfortunate luck late last week to contract a really terrible trojan/virus on my work computer called Vundo. Ok, I admit, I should never have clicked on the email my father sent, but I had a moment of stupid, and boy did I pay for it.
But this post isn’t actually about the hours of attempting to clean the infection, or the fact that it buried itself in the master boot record and would reinstall at every reboot, or even that it prevents both booting into Safe Mode AND the installation of all common spyware removal tools. Even though I have a LOT to say about all that.
This post is about how cool it is to be able to do a complete reinstall of a computer these days and not worry about my data. I had all of my critical documents in Dropbox, and they were all synced to the cloud and to my other computers. My place of work uses Outlook and Microsoft Exchange, so all of my calendars and emails were backed up on the server (and even if they weren’t, I sync Outlook to Google Calendar so I wouldn’t have lost anything there). Xmarks, the Firefox add on that syncs my bookmarks and my saved passwords, restored pretty much everything I need quickly on Firefox, and Delicious has all my important bookmarks anyway. Most of my active documents are in Google Docs, and I back them up every week or so to Dropbox.
This all means that I was able to low-level format my hard drive, install Windows 7, and have a pretty functional system with all my important data in just an hour or so. Operating system, install Firefox, install Dropbox, install Outlook….more or less done. Not only that, but I know that no matter what happens, even down to the loss of my main machine, I can restore and keep working quickly and easily.