Archives for September 2008

Five fun smartphone tips

Tip #1: See what you’re ordering. You’re at a restaurant and looking over the menu. But you don’t know the difference between a turkey bolognese and a turkey piccata. What to do? Fire up your iPhone, Android, or other smartphone and go to and do a search for turkey bolognese. In just a few seconds, you’ll see what to expect:

Turkey Bolognese images

Ah, turkey-based sauce over spaghetti or pasta. Why couldn’t they just say that? 🙂

Tip #2. Comparison shop. A few days ago I was in a college bookstore that wanted to charge $178.60 for a copy of Mathematical Physics, by Eugene Butkov. $178.60? For a used, paperback book? Grrr. I took a picture of the UPC code and/or ISBN number:

UPC code

You can search for an ISBN or UPC code (e.g. [9780201007275] ) on Google or other search engines and usually find out a product pretty quickly. I found a copy for $115.34 at Amazon, plus eBay had a hardcover copy with a current bid of $23.20. For a college student, $60 to $150 is a lot of savings.

Tip #3. Make a note to remember later. You’re at IKEA or Petco or someplace where you need to remember a part number or the aisle/bin to pick up some IKEA furniture. Do you need to write the info down with a pen and paper? No! Just whip out your phone and take a picture of the label or part number:

Cat toy

In this case, my cat Ozzie loves the “long boa” cat toy, but two different Petco stores were both sold out. Taking a picture let me order the exact right product from Petco later online.

Tip #4. Archive a brainstorming meeting. If you end up brainstorming on a white board, it’s nice if someone is taking notes. But just to be safe, you can snap pictures of the whiteboard before you leave the room:

White board notes

Now you can refer back to the notes you made.

Tip #5. Keep a food diary. Some blogs have a direct “email-to-post” address that you can add as a contact in your phone. When you eat interesting food, take a picture of it and email it to that address:

Food diary or blog

Sometimes it’s fun to remember the more memorable meals you’ve eaten.

Are there smartphone tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment..

Where to submit Chrome feedback?

The best place to submit Chrome feedback is at

Not here (I’m going to disable comments on this post) and not over at Search Engine Roundtable. I still see a comment a day or so trickling in over there, probably because the post ranks highly for “Chrome feedback.”

Just to repeat, if you want a Chrome person to see your feedback, the best place to leave comments is at

Google Moderator launches

Here’s a fun link for you. Google just released a free service called Google Moderator. This is a port to Google App Engine of an existing tool we use all the time at Google. Internally it was called Dory (after the fish who asked questions all the time in Finding Nemo).

What does Google Moderator do? When we have tech talks or company-wide meetings, it lets anyone ask a question and then people can vote up the questions that they’d like answered. The user interface looks like this:

Google Moderator screenshot

My team uses it often at Google, e.g. it’s great for prioritizing which questions are most important.

I like that Google is in many ways turning itself inside out by taking many of our internal tools and making them available to the world. We use tools such as Gmail and Google Docs all the time in-house to share information, presentations, and docs. Guido van Rossum recently announced that a version of Mondrian, our internal code review tool, is available for the outside world to use. Now Google Moderator is another tool that anyone can use. Projects such as Google Code and Google App Engine make it even easier to share code or applications with the world. And releasing low-level tools such as protocol buffers or high-level tools such as Google Web Toolkit makes life easier for lots of developers.

Google is not the only company that does this, of course. Yahoo for example has their excellent Yahoo User Interface Library, Yahoo Pipes, or YSlow. Its just nice when companies release code or tools that benefit lots of people on the web.

At any rate, give Google Moderator a whirl. You can create your own “series,” which lets people ask and vote on questions. Who knows, maybe we’ll try to find a way to use Google Moderator the next time we do a webmaster chat. Oh, and Google Moderator is a free service, so give it a try sometime.

P.S. Congrats to the engineers that launched this as a 20% project. 🙂

Traveling => Light posting

I’m not-in-California for a few days, so expect light posting. If you want to try to guess where I’m visiting, I may start posting “Where is Matt?” hints on my Twitter stream for people that want to play along.

While I’m gone, enjoy the Android coverage. Even though I love my iPhone, I think lots of people appreciate the concept of an open phone. To the people that point out potential flaws, I would mention Android’s software will only get better. And I love the ideas behind the Amazon music store where you can buy MP3s and listen to them on any device. If a Shazam-like application is coded for Android, I have a hunch that a lot of people will be impulse-buying music any time they hear a song they like.

Lastly, you should really check out Project 10^100. Also known as “May Those Who Help The Most Win,” it’s Google’s 10th anniversary contest where you can propose ideas to change the world. Google will ultimately commit $10 million dollars to the top ideas. I know some of the people that worked on this, and strongly believe that it’s an important project. You can help by submitting your idea for how to make the world better.

Yo ho ho! Happy Pirate Day, mateys!

I hope everyone be havin’ a great Talk Like a Pirate Day! It looks like Google added support fer Pirate in our user interface. I ‘ave t’ admit that I didn’ see that one comin’.

Special thanks t’ th’ online pirate translator fer help wit’ this post, don’tcha know. May the “black spot” not darken your door, and may your parrots and monkeys behave well today!