Tag: Google

Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 24, 2009

How to check out quickly if Twitter is for you

Looks like Twitter is now becoming quite popular in Europe too. At first sight it seems like a waste of time for most people, but only if you take some time to check it out will you really know if that is true or not.

Here a list of the things you can do to get your feet wet:

Introductions: read the Twitterhandbook first, then you can also go through the new Twitter 101 for business. Also great tutorials can be found on Slideshare, which I recommend reading after these two introductions and after you have actually signed on and started using it already. There are more than 4,000 presentations on Twitter already uploaded. (a nice one is this here.)

Using your first apps: some apps you might want to install are Twitpic, which lets you upload pictures and also send them simply via e-mail. To start getting some discussion going you can try out TwttrStrm, which lets you post questions. You can also link to your Facebook account with twitter/badges. There are endless apps available. One recent one is Geo Chirp, which allows you to search for Twitter users locally.

Install on your mobile: to make things really neat you have to install a Twitter client on your mobile. I have tried a few apps on my iPod touch and all of them do the job quite well. It is more a matter of personal taste I think what app you pick: I use mostly TweetDeck now but Tweetie and Twitterrific are good choices too.

Only time will tell if Twitter is indeed the most initially undervalued business app or the most hyped up tool.

My feeling is that either Google or Microsoft might acquire them if not even Facebook, who seem to have some close links to them already.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller June 17, 2009

GoogleDocs and acrobat.com to threaten Microsoft?

These are exciting times – from an innovation point of view – for web collaboration tools. The last weeks brought major news from Google and Adobe who are both pushing hard on web tools now.

Over the last two weeks I have been trying out GoogleDocs and using it as much as possible. While it performs well and loading pages is very fast, there is still some work ahead for Google to make it a mainstream daily business tool. For example, the file upload limitations were a big problem for me as our presentations are usually big and to have an only 500k doc size limit means I cannot use it other than for creating new presentations. The text editor is usable, although I had problems here too uploading our company Word template. It did not do that properly, which means I would have to create a new theme as well to be able to use it. I did not try yet the collaboration functions but will do so shortly. Overall this was a promising but not fully satisfying experience.

So when Adobe announced its acrobat.com platform, I was ready to try it out as well and see if it is more suitable for daily work.  The presentation tool did not allow me to uplaod any presentations at all, though. Maybe it is because that they have not opened up that feature to international users or it is not yet supported. I did not further investigate as I had no time to fiddle around with something so basic. To create new presentations though is – WOW – very, very cool. Excellent graphics and templates that make creating a presentation a very enjoyable experience. The GUI is Apple-like but as far as I can tell (I am still not a Mac user) even better. The best was the sharing function, though that provides nearly the same features as a GoToMeeting or Webex but also here looks actually nicer and impressive. Not surprisingly for Adobe the PDF online viewer is fast and very well done too.

So as a first and not final summary of my excursion into a very interesting new web collaboration software world, I must say that Adobe’s online sharing ConnectNow is something we will use for sure and I can highly recommend. The online text editors have not yet convinced me, although I will keep GoogleDocs here on my radar screen and if they manage to do even more good things then maybe it can replace Word. For now it won’t be able to do that though.

Last, but not least, if both companies could combine the best that they have then I guess they could really threaten Microsoft. Of course that won’t happen as you can also see with the fact that Adobe’s acrobat.com does currently not support Google’s Chrome browser. :-) Which is a sign that they see each other more as competitors than partners.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller May 21, 2009

Android consumer electronic devices on the rise

While the first-gen of Android phones did not really impress me too much (everyone compared them with the iPhone and that race they lost with a huge margin), what is coming out now soon looks more impressive though.

Next week will also be the Google IO developers conference in San Francisco where Android is a topic of course as well. Maybe they will use that to announce new things. In any way Android has been chosen now by HTC, Samsung and Motorola for their mobile phones and it looks like it will also come out on some netbooks (e.g. Dell’s). Archos seems to also work with the Google OS and is supposed to announce that in June and Fujitsu is using it in a digital photo frame. So the list of vendors and consumer electronic devices is growing. Also more mobile operators are announcing deals with Android type of phones: T-Mobile, O2 in Germany, Bouygues Telecom in France and others as well.

A good day-to-day usage test report in the German FAZ shows that its software is very nice although Google still has full control over the parts that are strategic for them such as its browser Chrome or Gmail. No official support for Microsoft Exchange (although there seem to be workarounds) which will mean that they cannot seriously threaten RIM’s Blackberry for business use. I would hope and expect that they will also open it up as well for these programs.

Of course what can be expected is that the soon to come out new Apple iPhone 3.0 and OS (see latest rumors on its specs) will widen the gap again to Android and others.

The new Samsung I7500 Android phone has some pretty decent specs and when it is available I plan to take a look at it and then compare with the new iPhone 3.0:

  • Android 1.5 OS
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, dual-band UMTS/HSPA
  • 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A CPU
  • 3.2-inch HVGA cap acitive OLED touchscreen display
  • 5 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • 8GB internal flash memory
  • microSD slot
  • 3.5 mm stereo jack
  • Metal case, 11.9 mm thick

Ralf HallerRalf Haller May 16, 2009

PR event: WolframAlpha launch live on TV

WolframAlpha is launching the service over the weekend, and it is planned to be available on Monday as a public service. Of course, it is still up to us all to decide if we’ll add WolframAlpha to our list of daily online tools to use – I started taking my first steps just now and don’t have an answer yet. Now what I have to note as remarkable is that they’re showing the launch live on TV. This adds a nice personal touch, I think, and could perhaps be taken as a model for other projects. Why not do so for your very own launches? At the very least, it is quite brave to do this, I must say, and of course a nice PR activity that reminds me a bit of a Space Shuttle launch. To add to the show, there is a tornado warning in the area around the control center. It looks almost as if they had been waiting for that to happen to add some drama to the story. :-)

Ralf HallerRalf Haller May 5, 2009

WolframAlpha Launching in May?

The semantic search engine WolframAlpha got my attention this morning when it was featured in an article in the German newspaper FAZ. So I went to their website thinking that I could check it out myself but no, it does not work although it says “Launching May 2009″. Today is May 5. Maybe someone should tell this knowledge engine people that their PR is ahead of their product launch? So I maybe will come back next week or so if I don’t forget. Also their logo reminded me of some virus animations that you can see right now in all the media. I only hope for them that their product is actually better than their communications. Also Stephen Wolfram announced in this blog post back in March that it would go live in 2 months, commenting:

I wasn’t at all sure it was going to work. But I’m happy to say that with a mixture of many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amount to some serious theoretical breakthroughs, we’re actually managing to make it work.

Pulling all of this together to create a true computational knowledge engine is a very difficult task.

So Steve let’s see what “time machine” you’ve got… my colleague Francis Turner just pointed out that Steve is a smart guy for sure; so now I am curious. Update: RWW has some screenshots at least from a web presentation that they attended a week ago here.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller February 7, 2009

Google opens public domain books to mobiles

Two days ago mobile book reading made another major step forward on its quest to become mainstream when Google announced that 2 million books (US and international) can now be read on your mobile phones as well.

The continued adoption of e-book readers should get another boost by this and also Amazon seems to have plans to open their books for many mobile devices while their new Kindle e-reader is due on Monday.

Meanwhile, if mobile e-books are your thing, a few other nifty apps are available for the iPhone that do a good job: Stanza, eReader or BookShelfLT are all free.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller January 10, 2009

New Favicon from Google

Favicons are the icons in the browser URL line that are small versions of companies’ logos (typically) and as such an important part of a their corporate identity.

Google was not entirely happy it seems with its last favicon redesign from mid-2008 so decided to tap into volunteer help calling for submissions. The outcome is this new favicon:

Update: as Francis Turner pointed out this new Google favicon resembles color-wise that of AVG, a security software vendor, which has been around since 1991, suspiciously well:

And another guy had a lot of fun pulling together 24×24=576 favicons into a “modern art” favicon gallery.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller January 6, 2009

Apple “steals” ideas from Google and others and makes money with them…

Today’s keynote at the Macworld event was filled with new announcements and following it on CrunchGear in near real-time my mouth started watering and a decision that has developed over the last year came finally through: my next laptop will be a Macbook for sure. They are now light years ahead of Microsoft that I think not using a Macbook and its OS would mean a severe competitive disadvantage.

Now back to my heading. It is pretty obvious that Apple has stolen quite a few ideas from Google. The funny thing, though, is that while Google seems good at coming up with good new stuff only Apple is able to make money with it.  Google still today has “only” managed to commercialize its search and I do not think that they will ever be able to do anything else really – commercially speaking.

Here the list of things that I have seen Apple borrowing from its friends in Mountain View and others:

  • face detection in iPhoto (Picasa started that a few months ago)
  • GPS geotagging in iPhoto (a clear Google maps domain)
  • iMovie UI seems to be taken from Blackberry
  • iWork.com is clearly using ideas from Google’s iDocs
  • remote Keynote application app over Wifi on the iPhone is a copy of an existing app, i-Clickr, thanks guys!
  • over 75 million accounts linked to credit cards, aha, I can smell what is coming here soon, Amazon’s of the world fasten your seat belts

One nice thing that maybe has not been noticed as much as it should have due to its possible impact on the telecom industry: iTunes music store now works over 3G and offers the same pricing model. At last the mobile operators have a smile too on their 3G investments. Thanks, Apple.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller October 4, 2008

Google showcases its green data center technology

Green data center topics have become the center of discussions for Marcom people in many IT companies. Now Google is throwing its hat in the ring as well, with their own website explaining how their data centers are built to be highly efficient, and of course doing this much better than the rest of the world.