Google IO 2011 Keynote Day One

Huge crowd, heard the attendance was 5.5k give or take. There was a veritable geek stampede getting into the room this morning. Not sure if there is any big news that hasn’t already been leaked. The Google music service launch, growth in Android market share, and possibly some more info on Honeycomb. It’s all going down in about 12 minutes.

Vic Gundrota upon stage. His review of past IO conferences ends with a shot at Apple. (You stay classy, Vic.)

Hugo Barra kicks off the Android keynote. Review of the Android numbers. Still focused on activations which is the wrong stat. 210 available devices (mostly phones) is still impressive and 200k app in the Android app store. A healthy market, no doubt.

Two new services being announced today. One must be the music locker.

3.1 Honeycomb being released today. Good stuff in the update: resizable widgets, better USB support, and more. 3.1 will also be available on Google TV.

Next release, Ice cream sandwich, in the 4th quarter. The top priority will be device choice but it looks like the OS will become more homogeneous. Like iOs. Unlike iOS some of it will be open source.

Cool head tracking demo using the device camera to adjust an Open GL scene.

Android market now adding movie rentals. Terms are similar to other online rental outlets like iTunes. You can stream and “pin” a movie to a device which downloads it for playing movies on planes. No tethering to a computer to pin the content. So music must be next.

Music beta. All in the cloud. Uses a client app to move files up to Google’s servers. So far it looks like Amazon’s Cloud Drive. Looks like they have a “Genius Mix” feature like iTunes. All demos are showing off both phone and tablets. Of course no tethering required. The service launches today in beta. It’s free while it’s in beta.

Barra announces an industry group that will govern how updates will happen to Android mobile devices. Should help speed the rate of Android updates.

Android Open Accessory is a new open standard and API for device interconnect. Demoing using an Android device with an exercise bike. Interesting idea. It’s a hardware and software solution based on Arduino. (wow) this looks like a great program for building Hardware that interfaces with Android devices.

Android at Home is an extension of this idea but they are short on details on the hardware and software that drives the simple X10-like lighting demos. Still pretty new. Not available.

Looks like Google and Samsung are giving us all Galaxy Tab 10.1! Thanks! Nice way to wrap up the keynote!

Google IO 2011 Keynote Day One

Let’s Get Baked

There was a lot of talk on the Interwebs about baked vs non-baked blogging platforms. To summarize, a “baked” blogging system renders all content to static HTML and moves that content to a plain old HTTP server. The alternative is to have a blogging system that renders a dynamic page for every request. The advantages of the former is that nothing serves up faster than static HTML files. It will keep you site from getting slashdotted (does that still happen?), fireballed, etc. if you happen to write something interesting that people want to read.
My original blog, giolist.com was for the longest time a statically hosted site before Google eliminated publishing static HTML using sftp from Blogger. The closest I came to a meltdown was a while ago when I posted something that Dave Winer liked and linked to from scripting.com. Of course because it was all static HTML my site never went down even though it was hosted on a puny Linux box running Apache. This incarnation of my blog is hosted on WordPress.com and I’m not sure it would handle the traffic if I were to come up with something profound. I find myself wanting to go back to a “baked” system partly because of the scalability factor but also because of the simplicity. Using static HTML doesn’t preclude interaction or other dynamic elements. You can still do interesting things with JavaScript includes like twitter badges, or photo streams in the margins of your site, and of course Disqus is more than happy to host your comments if you want them.
I’ve been looking a lot at systems like Jekyll and Hyde but I’ve also been looking at rolling my own blogging system again. A short list of requirements would include:

  • Markdown support
  • no database, all posts are generated from files
  • no server-side CGI required or exposed to the Internet
  • plugin API
  • functional but not overly complex templating system
  • post on the go from an iOS device
  • Dropbox integration (although if your file based I think you get this for free)

It’s an interesting project I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It might just use one of the open source projects as a base, since it’s easier to add some of the features to an existing system than starting from scratch building everything. The templating engine could be a pain and there are lots of good ones out there in many languages. I wrote one ages ago in Perl. I’m not sure I want to do that again. The idea of writing my own system seems right. Now if I can only find the time. *sigh*

Let’s Get Baked

There really isn’t much of a “tablet” market

…when normal people — not gadget bloggers and geeks like us — need to consider an alternative to the iPad, they’re not just thinking of Apple’s lack of “openness” (as Google so vaguely and poorly defines it in relation to Android) or the iPad’s lack of some individual hardware feature. Buying an alternative means giving up Apple’s entire ecosystem. That’s worth it to some buyers, but it’s incredibly impractical for many.

Interesting post from Marco Arment. He may be right. A tablet probably can’t be successful without the kind of support ecosystem and the seamless integration between hardware and software that Apple can provide. My favorite part of the article is how he divides the tablet community along the lines of those that know what RSS is and those who do not. Seems like a simple acid test.

There really isn’t much of a “tablet” market

Will I Switch to a Verizon iPhone?

A lot of people have been asking me if I will switch when the iPhone is available on the Verizon Wireless network. The short answer: Probably not. Here is my thinking.
First, I’m assuming there is a huge pent-up demand for the iPhone on Verizon. That will consist of existing Verizon customer and a slew of disgruntled AT&T customers who have been itching to switch because of AT&T’s less than stellar network. This is going to mean a ton of new subscribers hitting the Verizon network with data hungry iPhones. I have a feeling Verizon’s cellular network will bend and probably break under the strain. So the Verizon network might get worse for the first few quarters while it’s under rapid expansion of subscribers and the load on the network increases. There hasn’t been a CDMA version of the iPhone so we are not sure how it will behave on that network. The result may be a poor network experience for all those new switchers.
Second, I have to buy a new phone. My existing iPhone won’t work on the Verizon network so I’ll have to buy a new phone and new plan with Verizon. Which means I’ll have to cover two plans at once. Just to switch to Verizon. Not terrible but not ideal.
Finally, I remember all the issues that AT&T had with activations when they first launched the iPhone a few years ago. We don’t know the details but there were a lot of processes between Apple and AT&T that weren’t fully baked and tested. The first few months were a bit rough for users with activation problems. Apple can certainly bring a ton of experience to bear but Verizon is new to the iPhone. I anticipate glitches in the Apple/Verizon backend system integration that might cause issues for new switchers.
So I’m going to uncharacteristically sit on the sidelines for this launch. I have been happier with AT&T service over the past 6 months. It seems to be getting better, although I haven’t traveled to Mountain View lately. It’s been working very well in the NYC Metro area. Who knows. Maybe all those folks fleeing AT&T just might give us some more bandwidth and improve quality of service for those of us left behind on AT&T.

Will I Switch to a Verizon iPhone?

Ruby in the Cloud Just Got a Shot in the Arm

Salesforce.com Buys Heroku For $212 Million In Cash via TechCrunch

I’ve never used Heroku but I’ve always known it to be the premier solution for hosting Ruby apps in the cloud. The acquisition by Salesforce.com is interesting from the standpoint that Sf.com cloud app solutions have been primarily Java based. I think their broadening their strategy, and potential user-base, by opening up to more languages. Java dominates the enterprise (Yes, I know that’s a dirty word in the Ruby community.) application space which is traditional ground for Sf.com. Presumably, vmforce, Sf.com’s Java cloud app solution will service the bulk of their customers. I don’t see how they can simply merge the two services but it will be interesting to watch this evolve.

Update: Heroku CEO Talks About Salesforce, Future via GigaOM

Heroku apparently has over 100,000 apps hosted. That’s damn impressive if they aren’t loosing money on every customer. According to the Heroku CEO, Sf.com want them to “keep doing their thing”, which should soothe the fears of those using the service. So that indicates that Sf.com will be providing a “right cloud for the right job” rather than a “one cloud to rull them all” approach. Possibly better for users but less efficient for Sf.com to run multiple businesses using different technologies.

Ruby in the Cloud Just Got a Shot in the Arm

Google Apps for Everyone?

Going Google has now become a possibility for the individual. Google is in the early stages of making more of there services available to Google Apps accounts holders. That means the differences between a standard Google account and a Google Apps account are being erased. In the past services like Google Analytics, Adwords, Blogger, and Picasa could not be used by Google Apps account holders. If you wanted to use those services you had to use a standard, personal, Google Account. This makes the decision to create a Google Apps account for a “prosumer” a no brainer. Why sign up for a personal account with a generic ‘@gmail.com’ address when you can sign up for a Google Apps account with your own personal domain? It certainly boosts the stock value of a Google Apps account.

Google Apps for Everyone?

AirPrint Configured. First Impressions.

Over the long weekend my three year old Canon printer gave up the ghost. Some kind of power supply problem. Normally I would be upset but the event simply gave me a perfect excuse to buy a new printer. Since I recently updated all my iOS devices to 4.2, that new printer would be one that supports ePrint which would let me print from my recently updated iPhone or iPad.
I found the iOS: AirPrint 101 doc from Apple very helpful. It told me exactly what printers supported AirPrint. Be forewarned. Not all ePrint compatible printers support AirPrint. Stick to the list supplied by Apple. I settled on the HP PHOTOSMART PLUS e-All-IN-ONE B210. It not only supported ePrint but wifi, decent photo printing, and scanning. It’s perfect for a home printer.
Configuring the printer hardware took about 5 minutes. Nothing out of the ordinary. The printer chugged along, cycling through diagnostics, finally prompting me to configure the wireless connection. Once that was complete, the printer emitted a diagnostic page with some information about the ePrint setup. (More about this below.) On each of my Mac OS X machines I installed the drivers, added the printer, and printed a test page or two. Each worked fine.
There is nothing to install on your iOS devices to take advantage of AirPrint. You just need to update to iOS 4.2 and AirPrint should just work. I used the aforementioned AirPrint 101 doc as a guide. My tests with the standar apps (Mail and Safari) were fine and went as advertised. I was also able to view the print queue right from my iOS device by double pressing the home button and tapping on the AirPrint “app” running in the multitasking area of the iPhone and iPad. Everything just worked. The only disappointing bit was printing from Pages. That didn’t work or at least there was no print button off the share button. I also tried Numbers and Keynote. No joy there as well. I have updated the apps recently so I’m not sure when these apps will have the print button. I would think Apple would have included this in the last update.
There is a workaround for apps that don’t have the print button. The ePrint configuration on the HP printer creates a special, Internet accessible, email address. It looks something like asdf123asdf@hpeprint.com. If you email documents to that email address it will print on your printer. It’s a great feature but you need to make sure you lock down just what email addresses can send to your printer. Anyone that knows the email address can print to your ePrint printer. As a safety measure, HP allows you to restrict what email addresses can send jobs to the printer. This setup is pretty simple and the instructions are printed on that first page the printer prints at the end of the hardware setup. I tested this from Numbers and it worked fine. A bit annoying but it’s functional.
Overall I’m quite happy with AirPrint so far. The HP printer works great. Apps that support Airprint work flawlessly. While I’m waiting for the rest of the apps I care to print from to support it, I can use the standard ePrint via email. But like all things iOS this is just going to get better as time passes. Pretty magical, eh?

AirPrint Configured. First Impressions.

How I Use Twitter

When most people who don’t use Twitter (let’s call them “normals”) find out I have a Twitter account they always ask, “What do you use it for?”. Most of the information here is meant for “normals”. The twitterati will find most of this information old hat.
Twitter is a feed of information from friends or other people/services I find interesting. I scan this feed for anything that I may find useful

or amusing.

Because the information is usually “real-time” Twitter is a great way to keep on top of things that are happening now.

The half-life of a “tweet” is usually pretty small. That last tweet above is probably terribly old but at the time I wrote this post it was hot. Tweets are the freshest of fresh news and like fresh mozzarella it’s best consumed ASAP before it gets hard and dry. The quality of the tweets in your Twitter feed is going to be directly proportional to the quality of the people you follow in Twitter. The people I follow come from many backgrounds from technology, news, and the arts. I also subscribe to friends and other acquaintances because sometimes Twitter is the best place to get real-time updates on what’s happening with them.

No matter where they are in the world. Twitter is an amazing tool.
You can read tweets right at http://twitter.com but most people use a Twitter client on their desktop. I happen to use Tweetie on my Mac. Twitter is also great on mobile devices since you can read and post right from the palm of your hand when you are on the go. I use the official Twitter client on my iPhone when I’m on the road or just standing in line somewhere. There are a lot of Twitter clients out there. You should try out a bunch and use the one that’s right for you.
Twitter is read/write. So besides consuming the information in my Twitter feed I post often. I try to post things that people may find interesting.

Sometimes my posts are just what I’m doing or where I happen to be at the time.

Other times its just for fun.

That last tweet, besides containing an embedded link to a photo, shows off how Twitter is integrated to other applications. Twitter is everywhere and can be integrated into all kinds of sites and tools. My tweets are automatically sent to Facebook.
Twitter is remarkable but like all tools born of the Internet you have to spend some time working with it before you’ll get any utility out of it. There is no wrong way to use Twitter although if you post too much nonsense you may find your posts ignored and yourself very lonely. The worst thing you can do is ignore it before you’ve given it a decent test drive. So do some research and give it a go.

How I Use Twitter