Recap of last week

It’s been a busy week. Some of the stuff I didn’t get a chance to talk about this week:

- It sounds like Google will participate in the 700 Mhz wireless auction. It also sounds like there are anti-collusion rules that mean that participating companies aren’t supposed discuss the auction, so I don’t expect to talk about this subject anytime soon, even on my personal blog. :)

- Google Reader added both recommendations and drag-and-drop. To me, these releases show how the Reader team is in tune with Reader users. When I did an informal poll of desired Google Reader features, those were the #1 and #2 most-requested features. I’m sure that the Reader team was working on these features before that poll. The recommendations feature is especially nice though. Among my recommendations are AI3, Cre8pc, and BitWorking. I used to think that I really needed drag-and-drop, but I’ve gotten used to reading my feeds without rearranging their order.

- Blogger is experimenting with allowing OpenID. I believe this is a good thing for identity across the web, but I’ll be the first to admit that OpenID hurts my head a little bit. :)

- Google announced that it wants to fund research to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. The initiative is called RE<C (Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal). In my experience, Larry and Sergey have been interested in energy issues for a long time. Remember the solar panels? The push for more efficient power supplies? When Larry pleaded for standardized power adapters in his Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote? To be fair, it is pretty cool that phone manufacturers have decided to standardize on the micro-USB standard for charging. The announcement also caught my eye because I enjoyed reading about high-altitude wind-power production by Makani Power in Cringely’s column a few weeks ago.

- Techdirt covered a back and forth and back regarding Google’s partnership with the University of Michigan for book scanning. If I had more time, this is something I’d like to dive into more. U of M has posted their agreement with Google if you want to dive into it more.

- Google Maps added a terrain view. That may not mean much to people living in flat areas, but if you’re from Eastern Kentucky, it’s fun to see where all the “hollers” are:


View Larger Map

- Google Maps for Mobile added the ability to locate your phone even if you don’t have GPS based on your cell tower. Also pretty sweet.

- This is older, but Google Checkout added a “Oops! Undo that purchase” option. For up to 15 minutes after a purchase, you can undo that purchase. Speaking of payment stuff, I like that PayPal started offering a service to generate a one-time MasterCard number. I’m not whether Checkout offers this, but it would be nice. And still on the subject of credit cards, I thought this was an interesting post.

- I thought Pandia’s parody of Black Hat SEO was hilarious. I need to circle back around to Pandia’s Christmas wish list and see how we did.

- If you have an iPhone and use Gmail, I really really recommend reading this overview post about how to make IMAP on an iPhone work well with Gmail.

Update: Crap, I completely forgot the voting experiment for personalization. Congrats to the folks that are playing with that. :)

30 Responses to Recap of last week (Leave a comment)

  1. Harith

    Matt,

    “Google announced that it wants to fund research to make renewable energy cheaper than coal”.

    I wish to see Google funding researches worldwide. I was warking as a chemist in 1990 on a research project concerning Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells (PAFC) in Denmark Technical University DTU in Copenhagen. We had really big problems to fund the project and progress was slowly because of that. Wish that Google, Larry and Sergey were there :(

  2. the drag & drop feature in the reader is awesome!
    kudos to the Reader team!

  3. The development of inexpensive renewable energy sources is absolutely one of the top issues of this century. With more inexpensive energy you can run desalination plants and produce as much water as you like. With water and energy you can make and grow almost anything you want easily, which will give the world plenty to do with their time. No more fighting, and then we can spend our work and time doing more important things like making artificial surfing reefs, and more skateboard, snowboard and BMX parks, downhill ski runs, and racing tracks! (add on ballet, music, and symphony stuff for those so inclined)

    A buddy of mine who is actually the real deal in the world of inventors and designers has excellent plans to convert wave energy into water streams that would turn turbines generating electricity. Most smart kids with a little physics background could visualize this. Waves, and wind are nice concentrated energy sources already available in many places around the world, and leave very little in the way of waste or harm to the environment.

    For a project like that, man, sign me up!
    dk

  4. Hey Matt I’ve not been here for a while, but I notice you now have nofollow on comments – can I ask why?

  5. “Google Maps for Mobile added the ability to locate your phone even if you don’t have GPS”

    That is awesome. My mom left her phone at the Piggly Wiggly – how do I find it?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. I remember seeing a cell-tower-triangulation demonstration in 2000. I’ve been wondering why we’ve never seen anything so simple in the wild.

    -OT

  6. You’re right, the terrain view is sweet. Great for planning hiking or mountain biking in the E Ky parks. Hopefully we’ll get trail maps soon! Oh, yeah, mash up time!

  7. Google announced that it wants to fund research to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. The initiative is called RE
    Once again, Google is miles ahead of the pack on things. We really need to look at ways to cut down on fossil fuel consumption, and about 5 minutes ago.

    But this leads to another question: will Google fund research for other energy initiatives such as grey water use? (For those who don’t have any idea what grey water use is, check out The Sustainable Condo and how they use sink water.) Or are you guys just going to focus on one initiative?

  8. Good luck with the alternate power :-) just hope that L&S stick with it it’s a very long term project

    I started work back in the late 70′s at the worlds leading RnD organisations in the field of hydro dynamics (BHRA now the BHR group http://www.bhrgroup.co.uk/) ok some of the areas we where only no2 in the world the rest no 1.

    We did a lot of research into wave/tidal power and its still as far off as ever unfortunately this is going to be a 20-30 year project.

    More efficient solar great but you need to be able to store the energy maybe a roof that charges a fuel cell with surplus energy that is used at night.

  9. Kim Krause Berg (cre8pc)

    Holy cow (not what I REALLY said to myself when I saw your recommendation…). I wasn’t using Google Reader, but since you made it sound so interesting, I’ll go check it out. Sorry to not have the chance to say thanks in person next week, but this year I get to stay home and spend more money on X-mas :)

  10. Thanks for the iPhone IMAP gmail tip. I just set it up and it works like a charm. Will be so much better than the default way to check gmail with the iPhone!

  11. Matt,

    My Location is something I have been yearning ever since Google Maps came to mobile phones. I am really surprised it isn’t yet available for the iPhone, especially considering how nice Google Maps plays with the iPhone in general. Any idea how soon iPhone users expect to see this new feature?

  12. The terrain view on the google maps is cool. I like to see that as it really is helpful to have that sort of information.

  13. Hi Leslie, it’s the default on WordPress comments.

    Oliver Taco, I see a couple options:
    1. (easy) Go to Piggly-Wiggly. Call her phone. Listen for the ring and hope it slipped onto a shelf somewhere.
    2. (harder) Go back in time and load a pinging program on the phone so that it sends its IP address to a known location. Now simply trace the IP address. ;)

  14. Scott Clark, that’s exactly what I thought! I wanted to see the Jenny Wiley trail or the Sheltowee Trace overlaid on those hills. :)

    deblockquote’ed, M.W.A. I suspect that the energy stuff would be Google’s main thrust, but if there’s a charity that tackled grey water, they could apply for a Google Grant.

    Dito, I believe that Google Maps for Mobile requires a Java download. If a phone doesn’t support Java (e.g. the iPhone), then My Location wouldn’t work. On the other hand, presumably the iPhone could send this information the iPhone version of Google Maps, which would be pretty neat. I wonder what the odds are that Steve Jobs will see your suggestion? The odds may be low. :(

  15. mark

    Matt,

    Your latest posts here have been incredibly helpfull. Thanks

    I have a question about how to stop these blogspot spammers. Not the ones who are low key just trying to make a few cents here or there with adsense . I mean the ones who are using automated comment spam and other techniques that point to pages like this percocet-sale.blogspot.com ( I have hundreds of other examples) which has a blogspot addres but redirects to some other link spam page.

    So actually google misses out on any adsense money as well. I see them everywhere now. Especially in the blog search. Is there anything that we or google can do? Thanks

  16. Thanks, Matt. That’s information that is actually of some use to a couple of my clients. (Not bad for a Sunday night.)

    Much obliged!

  17. Speaking of maps, I just thought of something I’ve always wanted to see on a map but never think to ask anyone of…traffic lights and/or stop signs. Any possibility of icons on the maps for those in the near future?

  18. Huh. I honestly don’t know, M.W.A.

  19. Was trying to write RE (less than) C and it keeps cutting my comments! ;-(

    Oh well, just wanted give props to the “years instead of decades” for solar thermal.

    If you can edit out my multiple messy comments I would appreciate it Matt, thanks.

  20. Aaron: use RE &lt; C and it will work.

  21. Done, Aaron Pratt. Yup, every so often Google does something that makes me really glad I work here. RE < C is one of those. The high-altitude wind-power generation is what I liked.

  22. the register has an interestng story about a Spanish Polytechnic that has invented a laptop that runs on a miniature bicycle.

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/12/03/intel_competition_pedal_laptop_madrid/

    maybe Google could use this to power its pc’s and let the googlers work off the pounds from the Google resturants

  23. Matt,

    the terrain view is great, but sadly although it was launched with maps for the main cities in Argentina, by now they have mostly dissapeared. They had several errors (the place where I live is shown as a lake), but overall they were a welcomed improvement.

    Hope they appear again.

    Regards
    Javier

  24. Will

    How do we become part of that experimental search? I do not see it on the list of available experiments to join:

    http://www.google.com/experimental/

  25. Thanks MWA and Matt, yeah that Matt, “high-altitude wind-power generation” and solar thermal to replace coal can and will lower emissions now that Google is creating the buzz. I can see it now, by 2012 ALL new Google datacenters will be 100% off the grid. Outstanding! :)

  26. “Google Maps for Mobile added the ability to locate your phone even if you don’t have GPS”

    I just tried this last week on my Windows Mobile and to be honest it was cool to start with but quickly the initial wow-factor died. I have GPS via bluetooth so I never felt the need for this other than when I didnt have my GPS unit with me. Now if i turn on Google Maps it basically centers around where I am which is handy. So, well one Google. But, that it. thats all it does. So I guess it got a bit more media coverage than it deserved, considering other products coming out of Google.
    —-
    Future Converged
    http://www.futureconverged.com

  27. Matt…

    Is there a good reason for the entire address from the terrain map to get automatically inserted into my toolbar search box every time I visit this page?

    Dave

  28. google gone bad

    I feel very bad about the last google reader “feature”. I didn’t mind having people added to my google talk automatically, but now thanks to an under-thought feature I’m invading their personal google reader space!

    It’s ugly, it’s bad, and I think Google has jumped the shark here. Why where there no controls before exposing my personal info? I really think this is 100 times worse than facebook beacon.

    Ok beacon was bad too, but at least it wasn’t a problem for me and tthey had a post the fact method to opt-out. Reader isn’t giving me any of that. I have to erase all my shared posts in order not to invade someone else’s space.

    Bad Google, bad. Today something broke in our relationship.

  29. It’s nice to see google looking into research such as cheaper energy. What other researches are they looking into (if any) that we might not be aware of. I didn’t have a clue about the cheaper energy research :-)

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