Google Chrome on the Mac – a la CodeWeavers

Google launched its new browser Chrome on September 2nd and the web was abuzz with talk of a new contender in the browser space. My choice to pepper my house and cube at work with Macs rather than Windows boxes left me complaining about the lack of a native Mac version of Chrome…which Google assures us is coming.

Code Weavers, however, has just released Crossover Chromium built from build 21 of the Chromium Open Source browser.

Chromium

The initialization of Chromium the first time I opened it took a while but once it was up and running, things were pretty solid. The browser has all the JavaScript and DOM debugging tools but it seems the process manager tool isn’t fully functional..which is really my draw to the browser (when I get dead set on playing with the Process Manager tool, I’ll break down and install Chrome with Parallels). I suppose I’ll be following CodeWeaver’s suggestion:

Q. Should I run CrossOver Chromium as my main browser?

A. Absolutely not! This is just a proof of concept, for fun, and to showcase what Wine can do. Chromium itself is just beginning. As the Chromium project progresses, they will be providing more compelling support for Mac OS and Linux, particularly with process security and memory management. Those future versions from Chromium will be better suited for daily use than this version.

Until Google launches its official Mac native Chrome, Chromium will satisfy me for now.

Google 411

So, Google Labs has another sweet service that’s pretty sexy…Google 411. What is it? Well…as Techcrunch explains it:

Google threw a new product called Goog-411 into Google Labs today – a free telephone based information service that could replace toll 411 calls. About 2.6 billion 411 calls are made in the U.S. each year, and it is a $7 billion/year market.

Free is awesome. All you need to do is dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and leveraging Local Search you can:

  • search for a local business by name or category. You can say “Giovanni’s Pizzeria” or just “pizza”.
  • get connected to the business, free of charge.
  • get the details by SMS if you’re using a mobile phone. Just say “text message”.

GOOG-411 is a completely automated service using voice recognition that prompts you for a series of questions (city & state, business/category, and result browsing) and if you or the system messes up at any time, simply say: go back and you’ll return to the previous menu. As I am a user of 411 (although I dial 555-1212), I’ll be adding GOOG-411 to my speed dial on my cell.

Google Personalized Home Just Got Sweeter

googleigI came in to work this morning, headed over to my Google Personalized “Portal” and what was there? A sweet new feature! Google/ig is now themable! (with a few pre-built themes).

The style of art used in the themes are to my taste and make for a pretty fun layout. You can select from:


Classic
google_classic

Beach
google_beach

Bus Stop
google_bus

City Scape
google_city

Sweet Dreams
google_dreams

Tea House
google_tea

Seasonal Scape
google_seasonal

Now, those are pretty neat in and of themselves, but the sweet feature is the fact that when you select a theme, you can specify your city or postal code and the theme will change depending on the time of day! It’s the little things that make something so sweet. Nice job Google!

My favorite theme is Tea House :)

Gmail Address Flexibility And Filtering

You hate spam. I hate spam. Lets face it, we sign up for things online and our e-mail address become prone to being spread all over hell’s half acre and our inboxes inevitably gets invaded by irritating e-mail. Heck…sometimes we set up accounts on sites that we want kept out of our inboxes to avoid irritating clutter. Here’s my easy little Gmail solution.

Gmail has a nice little feature that allows you to tack on a phrase to the end of your username without destroying the delivery of e-mail to your inbox. Here’s how it works:

  • Lets say my e-mail address is super.awesome.coder.ninja@gmail.com and I want to sign up at Amazon
  • All I need to do is add a phrase to my e-mail separated by a + when I sign up!
  • Lets say I add the word shop…my e-mail would now look like: super.awesome.coder.ninja+shop@gmail.com
  • Now any time mail is sent to super.awesome.coder.ninja+shop@gmail.com, I receive it at super.awesome.coder.ninja@gmail.com with the ability to create Gmail filters to mark as read; add a label; move to trash; etc…all based on what e-mail address the e-mail was sent to.

Very awesome.

If you’re curious, here’s what I use this feature for:

  • Sending pictures, documents, etc to myself so I don’t have to carry a physical storage device. I just send it to myemail+storage@gmail.com and with filters: mark it as read and archive the e-mail.
  • Sign up for online stores and gaming accounts. I sign up as myemail+shop@gmail.com.
  • Sign up for multiple test accounts on systems I develop to allow me test as multiple users with the same e-mail. I sign up as myemail+[somerandomstring]@gmail.com

All told, this feature has proven great for e-mail organization and the reduction of spam (at least spam that reaches my inbox). Lets just hope spammers are slow to pick up on this…although I’m sure this blog isn’t helping in the prevention of their knowledge of this Gmail feature…ah well. Hope this helps you out :)

Google Spreadsheets and Writely Merge

Since the Google acquisition of Writely and the creation of Google Spreadsheets, the two office-like products have sat separate. Office documentation has become more simplified as of last night! Google Spreadsheets and Writely have merged into one web application: Google Docs.

Google Docs has kept the functionality of the two products intact while adopting the simplified look-n-feel of Google Spreadsheets. The next logical step would be to merge some of the functionality of each application…adopt discussions in the document (ex-Writely) section and give the collaboration/publish functionality to spreadsheets. (yeah yeah, you can already collaborate with spreadsheets, but the collaboration is limited)

I’m excited to see what pans out with all of this. Oh, and as a side note, I see that Google has added a ‘Photos‘ link to the quick-nav at the top of Google Docs. Google is finally pushing Picasa…interesting.

Google Talk Just Got A Whole Lot Sweeter

The other day, Zach posted about some sweet features that were coming to Google Talk.

The first two are hugely cool, the third is a little lame (in my opinion). Check out the announcements on this alternate “Just Launched” page.

Shortly after NoSheep posted about the new features, a reader commented telling where you can download the new GTalk Sweetness. Get the new version here.

Blingo Partners With Publishers Clearing House

PCHBlingo This is a tad late in begin posted but still quite intriguing. As of July 2, Blingo has partnered with Publishers Clearing House. They write:

Over the last two years you’ve come to enjoy great search results and fun prizes at Blingo. We’ve given away over 22,000 gifts since we started, but in an effort to give away more, even bigger prizes, Blingo has partnered with the king of sweepstakes. Yes, you guessed it: Publishers Clearing House, the folks who give away things like $10 million at a time. The new PCHBlingo will be the same great site but with a bit more punch.

Watch the site for new features and exciting prizes, and thanks for searching and winning on Blingo!

A couple of weeks ago, I won for the second time so I’m hooked :) I’m curious what Publishers Clearing House will be bringing to the table? Blingo has given away a big-screen HDTV to one lucky winner…perhaps we’ll see more prizes such as this!

Check it out and join. It uses Google search results so all its just Google with perks.

Wow. I just won again on Blingo.

Blingo I posted last week about winning a movie ticket through Blingo recently. I was psyched. Well, I just checked my e-mail and lo and behold…I just won another movie ticket. Its awesome. Sign up. Search. Happiness may follow!

The things you can win:

  • iPod Nano
  • Visa Gift Card $150, $100, $50, or $25
  • Blingo Movie Ticket
  • iTunes Gift Certificate

Needless to say I’ll be going to see Superman for free (sans concessions).

Blingo Pays Off

Blingo I started using Blingo back in December and I’m happy to say that I have received my first reward! A week and a half ago, one of my sign-up friends won a movie ticket and because I was a referrer of them, I won one too! Yup. Thats $8 I don’t have to pay when I head to the movies (maybe more if I go see Superman in Mass.).

Blingo is a search powered by Google. Its results ARE Google results, so for those of you that swear by Google and its excellent filtering of sites, well, you won’t lose anything by using Blingo. So whats the benefit of using the it? To put it simply…they give prizes. As you search through Blingo, you become eligible for prizes (that they give daily!).

Go sign up and use it!

Google Calendar (CL2) Launched

In February I posted about the Google Calendar and speculated that its arrival was fast approaching. Well…CL2 was launched tonight (the 12th of April). Create your calendar here. My initial opinions are as follows:

Its great. The interface is pretty darn snazzy…very Gmail-like with its layout; which is great to see as this just screams the at coming full integration between CL2 and Gmail. Everything is Ajax-ified as would be expected with any of Google Services and they do the whole event creation thing right. Its quick, its easy, and fairly intuitive while screwing with advanced event options. Whats really great are the options for repeating events; they have the standard weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, etc…but they also have very student friendly time slots: events that occur on Monday/Wednesday/Fridays, on Tuesday/Thursdays, and on every weekday.

Another huge win is the social aspect that is delivered at launch of CL2. You have the ability to add guests to events and calendars. Oh, and thats another thing! You can create multiple calendars and make them publicly viewable or make them private (you can restrict viewing to just yourself or open it up to certain people). A nice thing about the multiple calendar stuff is that you can view all your available calendars on a single calendar page where it combines events. Very cool stuff.

Other cool features are:

  • Notifications for events can be sent via E-mail, popups, and by Cellphone!
  • Discussion threads on events
  • Event integration with Google Maps
  • Ability to add other public calendars to your own…
  • A number of country specific holiday calendars are available for adding into your list of calendars.
  • Importing from csv and ical

I’m a happy camper.

Thumbstack – A Web-Based Presentation Application

thumbstackA while back, my pal Zach posted about S5, “A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System.” Now, its important to note that S5 is trying to set up a standard and not develop a full blown application. S5 seems to be a solid foundation…all it really needs is a slick editor and I’m sold.

Well, as I’ve been waiting for and S5 editor to come along, Thumbstack has come along instead and I’ll be content goofing around with that for a while. While Thumbstack isn’t built off of the S5 standard, it is a sold web implementation of presentation software complete with a decent draggable presentation builder…themable to boot! (although the available themes are dumb right now, that’s sure to improve). The editor is a div based-DHTML pumped-Ajax integrated layout; the presentation itself seems to be Flash. Interesting stuff.

It shows promise, but there are a few things it lacks that I hope to see:

  • More themes
  • Slide transitions and animations (nothing too crazy, basic will do fine)
  • Export to Powerpoint
  • Ctrl+S to save
  • While viewing a presentation, right clicking should give a contextual menu.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Thumbstack. Google recently bought Writely, which means they are interested in web-based Office software. They’ve got Gmail, an upcoming Calendar, a Word Processor, and a Webpage Builder. All they need now are solid presentation and spreadsheet applications. The race is on.

Google Acquires Writely

Back in October I was extremely excited about Writely. It has been a few months and my love for the word processing application grows each time I use it. I wrote:

The gist of this application is that its a Word Processor online! You can type documents (much like you can with MS Word or OpenOffice.org) through a web interface. The application has an auto-save, hot keys, exporting to HTML and Word, HTML editing and the ability to publish to blogs! Oh, and the sweet part about it…you tag your documents and can distribute them with other users.

Writely is an excellent product and, like most other web 2.0 applications out there, larger companies caught notice. This time, rather than Yahoo acquiring this web 2.0 app like it did Flickr and Del.icio.us; Google made this acquisition. There is now a Google Writely team. Jen Mazzon, a Writely developer posted this on the official Google Blog:

For the last five months, I’ve been part of a Silicon Valley startup called Upstartle, which makes Writely, a collaborative word processor that runs in a web browser. Well, as of Monday, I’m happy to say that I, and the rest of the Writely team, are now part of Google.

The Writely team seems happy with the acquisition (as I would be). Sadly, if you are interested in creating a Writely account, you’ll have to wait until they re-open account registration…which they plan to do once they’ve re-located to Google. The good news? Those that already have accounts will still be able to use them as is. Also those that have existing accounts can still add collaborators to documents despite the closed account creation process. Sexy.

And if you’re curious:

Here are our “top 10″ reasons why being part of Google is fantastic for Writely and the Writely team:

10. Writely is like a caterpillar that we hope to make into a beautiful butterfly at Google!
9. We love Google’s philosophy and values — especially “Focus on the user.”
8. We’re as passionate as Google is about respecting users’ privacy.
7. Many of our users are already Google fans using other Google services.
6. Being at Google will help us do more great things faster.
5. Some people didn’t feel comfortable trusting a tiny startup with their documents…and we’re no longer a tiny startup.
4. We like lava lamps and they’re pretty much standard decor at Google.
3. Three words: Free Googleplex lunches
2. As fun as it’s been to launch a popular, global, 24×7 Web service, it’ll be nice to take a vacation once in a while!
…and the number one reason???
1. We’ll be able to bring Writely to not just thousands but millions of users — the more, the merrier

Google Calendar Screenshots

I posted about Google CL2 last month. I’m happy to see that some screenshots have been leaked and have been posted over at TechCrunch.

CL2 makes it easy — even effortless — to keep track of all the events in your life and compare them to what your friends and family have going on in theirs. We’ve designed a calendar that works for you — helping you add events from email, friends, and other public calendars — so you don’t have to spend all your time maintaining your schedule. CL2 even helps you discover new events you might be interested in. We think it’s a great tool for managing your daily schedule, keeping track of what everyone in your family is doing, organizing events for a club or team, or creating public events that you can promote to the world.

CL2 is closely, very closely, integrated with Gmail. It includes now-standard web 2.0 features – Ajax, suscription feeds for integration with iCal and other desktop calendars, event creation, search, sharing, notifications (including SMS) and more.

It’s also clear from the event creation functionality that Google is is going to attempt to aggregate events like eventful and zvents do now. If they combine their event creation feature with a web crawl and parsing of event data (exactly what zvents does), they will be able to create a very large events database.

Sadly, the article also mentions that CL2 is a long ways off and there are currently only 200 beta testers that can’t invite others. Things are hush hush, but I hope more will be leaked in time!

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Government Punches Google In The Face

punch.jpgBless Google. It seems that our handy-dandy Bush Administration wants to be able to sift through the data Google collects on users’ search results. According to Yahoo News, Google doesn’t like that much. Google says – and I’d have to agree with them – that providing that information is a violation of privacy rights. The article states:

The 18-page brief filed Friday argues that because the information provided would not identify or be traceable to specific users, privacy rights would not be violated.

[...]

The department believes the information will help revive an online child protection law that has been blocked by the
U.S. Supreme Court. By showing the wide variety of Web sites that people find through search engines, the government hopes to prove Internet filters are not strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material online.

While the reasoning seems to be fueled by good intentions…it also seems like the government is trying to weasle in to get a hold of data that they could turn around and use for other purposes. Yay. The government gets an inch, they’ll stretch it a mile. Lets hope things go Google’s way come the hearing March 13th.

Google Calendar Coming Down the Pipe

googlecl2.gif I knew it was coming, but when will it get here? I’m talking about Google’s Calendar a.k.a. Google CL2. It seems as if the calendar may come sooner than later, as google is leaving bread crumbs hanging around that point in the direction of a calendar app. Here’s a blurb from PaulStone.net (where I first read about this sweet news):

I can’t see the links show up in Gmail itself yet, but if you go http://mail.google.com/mail/?view=barc you can select which links to show. And when you go to the calendar url (http://www.google.com/cl2/) it gives you the login box, but if you try to login it gives you an invalid request page.

I’ve no clue what Google CL2 has in store, but I’m hoping for something on par with Zimbra‘s integrated calendar. I speculate that it will be hand-in-hand with Gmail, it will be Ajaxified, and I can only hope it has RSS features. Just another sweet tool to be added to Google’s list of services!