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Driverless Vehicles – Two Kinds

Google released an amazing video showing one of their driverless car taking a blind man out to get tacos and pick up his dry cleaning. This is good.

In a tweet the other night, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo pointed to a swarm of programmable Nano Quadrotors and mused, “It’s with confidence and dread that I’m guessing the future of warfare is going to involve lots and lots of these” This is bad.

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Current Events

Google Wallet in the Wild

OK, call me an idiot if I missed something but I just saw a headline speculating on rumors about a launch date for Google Wallet. Everyone’s searching around online for leaked memos for clues but meanwhile, in the real world, at the Peets in downtown SF, I already see a Google Wallet reader right there at the register.

Google Wallet

I snapped the photo above on Friday but saw it on Thursday as well. I asked the barrista and he said they were put in on Thursday but were still waiting for instructions.

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Google Flight Search UI – Brilliant

Google’s Flight Search scatter plot visualization of fares is brilliant. Word is that fare data is still light (they don’t have any international, non-US fares) but the UI has put all other travel comparison sites on notice.

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Current Events

Cloud Computing through the Ages

The Network is the Computer – Sun Microsystems – 1990s

Nothing but Web – Google – 2011

Two perspectives on an old idea, twenty years apart. For a humorous perspective on Silicon Valley spin, check out Larry Ellison’s schtick at the Churchill Club, “The Cloud is Water Vapor.”

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Current Events

All Aboard for the Cloud Wars

Marketing campaigns are gearing up for the major players offering cloud services as add-ons to their core products.

Google Docs recently launched Google Cloud Connect,  a plug-in which lets  you add your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to Google Docs and share with your colleagues. (Ars Technica reviews Cloud Connect and says it’s “not ready for primetime”)

Microsoft will be ending the beta of it’s Live Mesh service on March 31st and has announced Windows Live Mesh 2011 with the byline, “Access the stuff on your computers from almost anywhere.” It’s part of Windows Live Essentials bundle which you download and install and includes,

Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mail, Writer, Family Safety, Bing Bar, Messenger Companion, Microsoft Silverlight, and the Outlook Connector Pack (Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector and Microsoft Outlook Social Connector Provider for Windows Live Messenger)

There is a custom install option in case you don’t want to take all of this in one go. You can learn more at explore.live.com

Finally, Apple has just changed it’s tune. I took a screenshot of me.com yesterday and got the image you see above. It’s all about the services. Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Photos, Cloud Storage, and the Find my iPhone app. I just went back today and the site has been refreshed and the message is totally different.

Today, when you visit me.com it’s all about the hardware. The cloud is front and center and behind are the familiar outlines of the Apple brand of glass tablets and phones. If you wave your mouse over the cloud, you’re greeted with a pixie-dust effect adding some magic to an otherwise plain ol’ login page.

Could this be positioning for the launch of the rumored Media Stream service or is this just a routine update now that we’ve rolled over from February to March?

David Segal on Search

David Segal, the same New York Times journalist who filed the fascinating 5,500+ word piece in November about decormyeyes.com is back again. The Dirty Little Secrets of Search with a great piece looking into an unwitting, client (and now victim) of black hat SEO, JC Penney. His piece goes into quite a bit of detail (for a mainstream newspaper anyway) on the underground mechanics of the link sharing economy but what I like best is the following description.

When you read the enormous list of sites with Penney links, the landscape of the Internet acquires a whole new topography. It starts to seem like a city with a few familiar, well-kept buildings, surrounded by millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls.

Exploiting those hovels for links is a Google no-no. The company’s guidelines warn against using tricks to improve search engine rankings, including what it refers to as “link schemes.” The penalty for getting caught is a pair of virtual concrete shoes: the company sinks in Google’s results.

Sounds like a rough neighborhood.

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Current Events

Google and Intergalatic Law

What happens when you open Google in a non-standard browser like Opera Mini? You get the following snippet.

Sorry, but this browser does not support web word-processing.

Please see our system requirements page for a list of supported browsers.

If you are working to fix problems with a specific browser and would like to bypass this check, just add ?browserok=true to the end of the Google Docs url.

Please note that it is a violation of intergalactic law to use this parameter under false pretenses, so don’t let us catch you at it.

And, it won’t work very well — really.

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[Humor] Sponsored Conversations

What do you get when you combine speech recognition, contextual advertising, text-to-speech software, and a disruptive business model? A phone that’s free as long as you are willing to listen to advertising.


New Google Phone Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly Into Users’ Ears

Don’t laugh, the idea has been kicked around before. But why stop there? You could link the price of the monthly contract to selected offers. Some other ideas,

  • Use GPS to verify check-ins at certain locations. As long as you’re at that location, long distance calls are free. Mom, I know it’s noisy at this bowling alley but as long as I’m here, this call is free.
  • Use 2D barcodes to redeem mobile coupons that unlock discounts. Buy a Big Mac and get 1000 text messages free.
  • Track coupon history for special offers. Feeling sick after that Big Mac? There’s a gym right down the road from you. Why not stop by for an orientation?

The mind reels.

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Fun with Google Text-to-Speech

UPDATE: Bummer, looks like it no longer works.

Fooling around with Google Translate and their 100 character Text-to-Speech engine I strung together a few lines from Eric Schmidt’s editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

Eric Schmidt! WOW! Welcome Google to Argentina! =)
Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

Click on the following links in order.

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. Four
  5. Five
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Fun with Google Social Search

Google Social Search is now available in Google Labs. Danny Sullivan has the most in-depth coverage out there but it’s worth turning on yourself because you’re going to be the best judge of how well this feature performs for you.

Be sure to dig deeper than the default two results Google throws timidly down at the bottom of your search results. Click Show Options and click on the Social category in your sidebar. Check out the results you get for People and you’ll get a feel for the power of this feature.

Google Social Search

You have the full index of Google quickly filtered by names that should be familiar to you. In a stroke of genius, Google has re-labeled this extended network your, “social circle” which a much better label than “friends” (which didn’t sound right) or “social graph” which no one really understood.

The screenshot above is my aha moment – I had no idea that Caterina ever was in Finland and certainly didn’t know that she took the time to suggestions of things to do in Helsinki. This is a post from 2003 which most certainly have been lost to the sands of time if it were not for this feature which surfaced this gem in just a few clicks.

And now for a feature request. As you can see, this is a great feature for retrospective searches which makes the foggy past plainly visible.  What about adding an RSS subscribe option so that you could apply these searches to the prospective future?

It would be great to know when any of my extended social circle also wrote about my adopted hometown. I suppose it would be easy enough to script something but why not build it in?

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