MoreNotesToSelf

Technology, Finance, and Life

Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google Voice Opening Up!

Posted by DK on June 25, 2009

From Google’s official blog:

A couple of months ago we announced Google Voice, a service that gives you one phone number to link all your phones and makes voicemail as easy as email. We are happy to share that Google Voice is beginning to open up beyond former GrandCentral users. If you requested an invitation on the Google Voice site or previously on GrandCentral, keep your eye out for an invite email.

Finally!

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What Is A Browser?

Posted by DK on June 17, 2009

The Google office in NY asked people on the street to define “browser.” I’m shocked (link care of Techcrunch).

Mirror at NotesToSelf

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Google IO Wave Video

Posted by DK on May 29, 2009

Google continues to differentiate with Wave, a new protocol that combines different modes of communication and collaboration into a single, integrated system. If you have an interest in this type of stuff, you should definitely watch the keynote video below to get a better idea of what Wave can do. The demo is on the long side, but trust me, it’s cool. Be sure to catch the simultaneous translation feature at the end. It may destroy international romance by taking the mystery out of non-verbal communication! (“I thought those were smoldering looks of passion, but it was just indigestion! This guy is so boring…”)

Anyway, while Wave won’t be available until the end of the year (and who knows how easy it will be to get an account when the service goes live), the extensibility of the service may change how we interact with the Web (no hyperbole intended). In some ways, I consider Wave the next generation of Posterous (no offense to the Posterous guys, I love this service!). Posterous makes it easy to syndicate content via email. It’s a one-way, one-to-many type of service (I understand comments allow readers to respond to posts, and email alerts you to when comments are made, but the syndication is one way). Wave, on the other hand, is a two-way, many-to-many type of service. The keynote demo makes it clear that Wave can be extended to blogs, webpages, Twitter, etc., where changes can be viewed instantaneously anywhere (in the Wave client, the blog page, on Twitter, etc.). Accountable collaboration (enabled by the “playback” feature) kicks it up a notch. If any of the Posterous guys read this, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

From a business point of view, Wave buttresses Google’s differentiation in a powerful way. Google’s Internet innovation is obvious, but it has been criticized for poor integration of its different properties. Wave could bind Google’s ecosystem together more tightly while also offering a gateway into other non-Google services (e.g. Twitter). Furthermore, as the market leader, the benefits of any growth in data capture, search, or advertising will likely accrue to Google. It’s a classic example of the market leader increasing the size of the market. And while privacy and anti-trust advocates are increasingly waving red flags, Google’s “self-serving altruism” continues to shape our interaction with the Web.

I imagine some will have difficulty with Wave’s usage model. After all, constraints often help us keep track of things in our heads. Some will prefer to keep their web interactions disaggregated into email, blogging, chatting, twittering, etc. Nevertheless, the Wave’s easy collaboration, infrastructure control (through its federation model), and extensibility is pretty compelling.

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Google and Auctions

Posted by DK on May 26, 2009

I just read a fascinating Wired piece on Google. While Google’s use of auctions to sell ads has been well-publicized, I did not know how pervasively Google uses auctions in its own operations. Consider the following excerpt:

Google even uses auctions for internal operations, like allocating servers among its various business units. Since moving a product’s storage and computation to a new data center is disruptive, engineers often put it off. “I suggested we run an auction similar to what the airlines do when they oversell a flight. They keep offering bigger vouchers until enough customers give up their seats,” Varian says. “In our case, we offer more machines in exchange for moving to new servers. One group might do it for 50 new ones, another for 100, and another won’t move unless we give them 300. So we give them to the lowest bidder—they get their extra capacity, and we get computation shifted to the new data center.”

It sounds like Google has constructed the most transparent market every created (to Google at least), given its ability to capture every piece of data associated with a search and keyword. The article goes on to describe Hal Varian’s role as Google’s chief economist and his efforts to track billions of clicks via the Keyword Pricing Index (Google’s version of CPI).

The Keyword Pricing Index is a reality check. It alerts Google to any anomalous price bubbles, a sure sign that an auction isn’t working properly. Categories are ranked by the cost per click that advertisers generally have to pay, weighted by distribution, and then separated into three bundles: high cap, mid cap, and low cap. “The high caps are very competitive keywords, like ‘flowers’ and ‘hotels,'” Tang says. In the mid-cap realm you have keywords that may vary seasonally—the price to place ads alongside results for “snowboarding” skyrockets during the winter. Low caps like “Massachusetts buggy whips” are the stuff of long tails.

Geeks will be happy to hear that Varian credits Harry Seldon, the mathematical icon in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, as the inspiration behind his career.

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Google Reader Bundles

Posted by DK on May 22, 2009

A few posts ago, I wrote about parsing a Google Reader OPML file to share selected RSS feeds with friends, etc. Well, looks like the Google Reader team finally figured out that people want to share feeds with each other and created a new utility called ‘Bundles.’ Your friends also have to use Google Reader though, so the OPML trick might still come in handy.

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Update to Google Apps Script

Posted by DK on May 9, 2009

The Google guys finally updated the python client to reflect the addition of Groups to Google Apps. Groups allow admins to set permissions on distribution lists (for example, only list owners can send email to the list, etc.) Anyway, they basically added another “groups” service that allows the user to access Group objects. The group feed objects, however, are translated into regular python dictionaries for you and are not XML feeds. I’ve attached an updated python script (see this post for the original) that reflects the change.

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Posted in Python, Tech | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »