Meetup at Google NY: JavaScript Gets Serious

I was at Google last night, at their 8th Ave. location in NYC, attending a JavaScript Meetup.

I almost didn’t make it: I was on the waiting list up until the last minute.

So what brought over 125 people into the 10th Floor of Google’s Manhattan franchise?

(By the way, Googlers know how to dress for a NYC summer: they were pouring out of the building around 6:30 all wearing cargo shorts and comfy T-shirts.)

Anyway, we were all there to hear about their JavaScript in-the-cloud service, called Apps Script.

Who would have thunk so many so many passionate developers would be coming out on this rainy night, and why would Google put a client-side language into the stratosphere?

It all became clearer by the end of the talk.

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Google Transit is Pretty Good.

In 2008, Google Transit pulled up into the New York and New Jersey areas and took in a few passengers.

They launched partnerships with New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the people who run the subways and buses, and New Jersey’s own NJT, which get commuters into Manhattan and around the Garden State.

Over the last few years, my own commuting has been cut back, so I had less need for Transit.

But recently I’ve been making more trips into Manhattan and find myself forever having to download the latest NJT schedules.

I decided to try out Google Transit, letting it plot a plan of attack to get me from my house into New York City using our area’s public transportation system.Continue reading

Royal Wedding on YouTube

Reuters reports that the Royal Wedding, scheduled for April 29, will be live streamed on YouTube over the The Royal Channel.

Remote commoners will be able to watch and even interact with all the pomp and ceremony.Continue reading

Google on USF Reform: Bill and Keep

Maybe it’s the result of a second espresso I had this morning, but Google’s recent comment on the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Universal Service Fund reform doesn’t read like a typical carrier screed.

It’s their engineering culture. They won me over a little when they said that “IP transmission, in itself, is not ‘magic pixie dust’ that somehow creates a regulation-free zone.”Continue reading

Everything Will Be Up to Date in Kansas City

Now that Larry “Willie Wonka” Page has named Kansas City, Kansas the winner of the golden gigabit contest, residents there will soon be like kids in the broadband candy store.

If all goes to plan, they’ll be gorging out on super high-speed Internet goodies in 2012

You’re probably asking what the broadband situation is like in Kansas City currently, and what about a color-coded map based on the FCC’s 477 data?

We gave this project to our own oompa loompas, and they’ve cheerfully come with just the right map.Continue reading

Kikin Edge: Likable, Not Lovable

I recently received a gentle reminder that Kikin, a browser plugin that brings additional relevant content to Google search results has been updated and is accomplishing more than, as some blogger put it, filling in feature holes.

That blogger would be me, and the Kikin version I was reviewing at the time was duplicating the functions of Google’s left navigation column—the one that, um, brings you more relevant  content.

In February, Kikin revamped their Firefox plugin, it’s now called the Kikin Edge.

Time to take another look at it.

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Google's SIP Tease

As has been reported everywhere, last week Gizmo5 users learned that Google will soon be hanging up on this open-source softphone.  Acquired by Google in 2009, the SIP-based Gizmo5 service will do its last “INVITE” in early April.

Now some fleeting good news: Over at OnSIP, the cloud-based PBX company, there’s an interesting post about a SIP door that  opened over the weekend and then just as mysteriously closed.

For a shining moment, Google Voice numbers had associated with it a SIP address of the form:

In other words, it was possible for a few days to make free calls on any device that supported a SIP stack!

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Google Public Data Explorer Visits NYC

I admit to being more than a little envious of those hackers who made creative use of New York City’s publicly available databases for the BigApps 2.0 competition.

Is there a way that non-programmers can share vicariously in the fun but without taxing limited tech muscles?

Yes. You just have to speak Google.

With their Public Data Explorer and the recently released DSPL formatting language, anyone with modest configuration skills—an area I excel in—can view statistical files in Google’s remarkably well designed graphing and charting app.

After spending a little time learning DSPL straightforward syntax, I decided to explore one NYC agency’s population dataset.Continue reading

Boost for Gov 2.0: Google Data Explorer

The Google Public Data Explorer is a visualization app that brings life to public policy data (or really any statistics you have) through animation.

Google picked up the software when it purchased Trendalyzer in 2007.

You may a remember a popular TED conference video, “Dr. Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes.”  Rosling was using Trendalyzer software developed by his non-profit organization, Gapminder, to dramatically display life expectancy improvements as income levels rose.

Last week, Google opened up the Public Data Explorer to accept anyone’s data— until now you could view a few sets of data from various US government agencies and the World Bank.

There’s a new data format to master as well.Continue reading

Inventin’ with App Inventor, Part II

I have completed a .1 release of my first Android app, hammered together with Google’s App Inventor toolkit.

It’s a simple but trailblazing RSS displayer that pulls in bill status from the New York State Senate’s own open government platform, called unsurprisingly, Open Senate.

To be truthful there’s nothing unique or groundbreaking about another Android app that displays government information.  In fact, half-way through my work I discovered Open Senate already has shrink-wrapped iPhone and Android apps.

The revolutionary part of my efforts has little do with me; they reside with Google.  Thanks to its App Inventor, any somewhat technically evolved person can make and customize useful mobile apps that are just right for their purposes.

And it’s all free, minus your own perspiration equity. Continue reading

FeedSquares: A Google Reader for Archos

I finally found one.

With all my relevant RSS feeds already nicely organized in my Google Reader, I naively thought it would be easy enough to view my feeds with an Android app.


For those who have tuned in late, the Archos 7o Internet Tablet doesn’t come loaded with Google Market. It’s a serious inconvenience  since I don’t have access now to Google’s free Android apps, although not fatal.

My first idea was to try loading a semi-official Google Reader apk onto my tablet. The one I eventually tracked down in an Android forum predictably failed to register with my online Google credentials.

I turned next to Archo’s own Android app store, AppsLib. After a few false starts, I discovered a winner.Continue reading

Inventin’ with Google App Inventor, Part I

I first learned of Google App Inventor’s existence through David Pogue’s New York Times column. Over the summer, Pogue reported on his experiences using an early beta version of this then invite-only software.

As a former user of visually-oriented rapid development environments, I had a good sense of what the Googlers had come up with.

So it was fun to read how Pogue, no technical slouch by any means, and an expert assistant (his 13-year old son), struggled with this early, glitchy release of Inventor.

Pogue decided that App Inventor was not, in the words of Google’s marketing team, “programming for the masses.”

Based on a long afternoon’s work with the new public release of App Inventor, I would describe it as follows:  “a lightweight Android development environment that lets programmers, students, hobbyists, corporate IT-types, and others in this demographic install a simple app onto a smartphone.”

I can see why Google went with their more enticing call to action slogan. Continue reading

New Year, New Android, New SIP Client (Sipdroid)

I made good on the first of my New Year’s resolutions by overcoming my Android Thriftiness Syndrome and splurging for the Archos 7o Internet Tablet. As soon as I powered it on, it was clear my investment (about $270) had almost paid off.

I watched as the 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor and graphics accelerator made the grass in the default wallpaper gently sway in the virtual breeze. Everything else was equally fluid: WiFi, keyboard, and gesturing. And then with an over-the-air firmware update, I finally was able to enjoy the stabler Froyo (Android 2.2).

I was ready to download a SIP client app, preferably cSipSimple, which I had written about before. Unfortunately, Android Market is not available with the Archos tablets.


I had known this before the purchase, but  didn’t realize how limited Archos’s own “AppsLib” was. Less choices, and more importantly the CSipSimple version I installed on my Archos 7 was not the same as the Market one. Continue reading

Google’s Ngram Viewer: Internet vs. Telecommunications

While waiting for the text of the FCC’s Open Internet Order to show up on their web site, I decided it was the right time to take a quick at look Google’s fascinating Ngram viewer. So what has Google wrought this time?

From their vast digitized collection of 15 million books, they’ve analyzed 5 million and produced a frequency dataset of all phrases or ngrams up to five words in length. Even better: the frequency of a particular ngram occurrence includes a time dimension.

With the new Google Ngram Viewer, you have a cute visualization app that shows the rise and fall of phrases or expressions over the years. In the context of the FCC’s “momentous meeting” this morning, it’s worthwhile to really see how the Internet has become what we mean by communications.

I decided to compare the usage of the words “Internet” vs “telecommunications”.Continue reading