Google’s Project Glass

…in which we wonder if Google’s Project Glass might go anywhere.

I realize I haven’t posted on here for awhile — which is fine, I suppose. I’m working on a major think piece on downtown density and some distractions that have gotten in the way as of late. The piece will blend urban themes and deconstruct some of downtown Phoenix’s metanarratives and macrostructures. Intrigued? I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you.

But anyway, this came across my radar screen. My posting of this is a few months tardy but a friend shared this with me last night and I have to admit that I’m fairly intrigued. It’s Google’s Project Glass, which takes the mobile phone (which is practically attached to us anyway) and physically attaches it to us.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4

The question is this: Would you wear this? I totally would. If this were integrated into some other services and had open APIs, my goodness: this thing would be useful. Take the scene at the Mud Truck food truck. Instead of just checking in there, what about doing some online payment (a la Square and Square Wallet)? Now that would be useful.

Migrating from Gmail?

Migrating from Gmail? Finding another email service that matches Gmail’s workflow is difficult. Here are some considerations for discussion.

[Author’s note: This post is the first in the series of this blog’s feature on migrating away from Google in response to Google’s changes in privacy policy and terms of use. Read the introductory post here and follow along with the rest of the series here.]

One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to migrate away from Google is find something that is comparable in workflow. That’s the case with Gmail, Google’s eight-year-old email service. When it was launched on April Fools’ Day 2004, many people thought it to be a joke because 1 GB of storage was unheard of at that time. But it wasn’t a joke, and Gmail’s led the way in the email storage department. Today, users get 10 GB of email storage space for free and paid users of Google Apps or Google Drive get 25 GB of storage space.

What makes Gmail unique from other email providers is the archive feature. My email workflow is this: emails requiring attention from me are in my inbox and everything else is archived. From time to time, I’ll delete emails that are from email lists or alerts from various social media outlets. Other than that, I save things.

While its original selling point was the storage space, today’s Gmail is more than that. Gmail users who have Android or iOS smartphones have native synchronization with their device’s mail, contacts, and calendar applications. On iOS, the operating system that powers Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, users get push updating of new email and changes to one’s calendar or address book.

And that’s the problem. For various reasons, I seem to be using Apple products at the moment, including my MacBook Pro, my iPad, and even my iPhone. That native integration between Google and my iDevices’ mail, calendar, and address book is what’s making this whole process so difficult.

To provide some sort of soundness of research to this project, I’ve developed a list of considerations that are important to me and I sense are important to you, the reader. Those considerations are, in no particular order:

  1. What is the workflow of the proposed replacement? For email, as an example, what parallels exist between Gmail’s archive feature and that of a replacement?
  2. What integration does it have with mobile devices? Does it integrate natively with the system apps for email, contacts, and calendars on my and many other mobile devices? If so, what protocols are called?
  3. Can the email service be hosted at a domain (e.g. @edwardjensen.net) or must it be used at the provider’s native domain for email (e.g. @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, etc.)?
  4. What support does the proposed replacement have for different email addresses? Can I use the webmail interface to send email from a different email address for my work, for instance? Or does all email have to be funneled through the primary email address?
  5. What costs are involved with the proposed replacement? Is it free or is there a minimal charge to use the service? If there is a charge, what additional services are provided for that charge?
  6. What sort of authentication mechanism exists for securely logging in to the service? Is there some sort of two-step authentication involved? Google introduced two-factor authentication, in which some services, like IMAP/ActiveSync authentication no longer take the account’s primary password but a sixteen-character password that only works for a specific service.

Those are the considerations I’ve developed thus far. What should be added? What considerations do you have when looking at hosted email? Please share in the comments!

Apple closing iWork.com public beta

Apple is ending the iWork.com public beta service and rolling that into iCloud. Here’s what Apple has to say about that.

We at Downtown Technology Company and edwardjensen.net have used the iWork.com public beta for sharing our documents with our clients, friends, family, and those with whom we want to share our work. This morning, we received this email from Apple that the iWork.com service will close at the end of July, being replaced with the iCloud documents sync.

Here’s the email from Apple:

Dear iWork.com user,

Thanks for participating in the iWork.com public beta.

Last year, we launched iCloud, a service that stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Today, there are already over 40 million documents stored on iCloud by millions of iWork customers. Learn more about iCloud.

With a new way to share iWork documents between your devices using iCloud, the iWork.com public beta service will no longer be available. As of July 31, 2012, you will no longer be able to access your documents on the iWork.com site or view them on the web.

We recommend that you sign in to iWork.com before July 31, 2012, and download all your documents to your computer. For detailed instructions on how to save a copy of your documents on your computer, read this support article at Apple.com.

Sincerely,
The iWork team

Keep that in mind when creating and sharing content. We’ll report when we fully test the iCloud documents sync.

How to De-Google Your Life

Much has been made about Google’s new privacy policy and terms of use lately, including how they are overly broad.

Much has been made about Google’s new privacy policy and terms of use lately, including how they are overly broad. Some people have contemplated jumping ship from Google but it’s difficult when so much of our information is entangled in Google’s services.

I’m a complete Google addict: I use Gmail both through Gmail and for Google Apps for Domains, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Reader, Google Search, AdSense, Webmaster Tools, Google Chrome, App Engine, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, and so on. (I think you get the picture. An intervention might be appreciated!)

In a series of posts to follow, I’ll try to find my way through alternate services that provide a decent feature set compared to Google’s. And it has to be free or very inexpensive. For email, it has to be domain friendly (meaning I can use that email at my domain, e.g. edwardjensen.net). And it all has to be mobile-friendly, meaning native or near-native integration with my mobile devices.

If you have any suggestions for service replacements, let me know in the comments beneath!

Facebook oversharing

Chalk this one up in the list of things that Facebook is encouraging: oversharing information for all to see.

Chalk this one up in the list of things that Facebook is encouraging: oversharing information for all to see.

Facebook’s revamped profiles to be timelines. The idea is that the Facebook timeline is an annotated biography of your life complete with links to people, pictures, and more information than should be shared.

There’s one big issue with Facebook’s new timeline feature that I see that I don’t think has been explored too much: no matter what your existing privacy settings are for other content, your privacy settings for adding in your life events (e.g. jobs, relationships, where you live, etc.) is set to “public.”

Here’s a screen capture of the prompt to add a life event:

If you can’t read the annotation on the screen capture, this is what I said: “Here’s where you change things. Bear in mind that there is no Facebook global setting to limit the privacy/visibility of your life events. If you want to restrict who can see what, you’ll have to change it ON EACH ITEM.”

This is my big beef with Facebook. The default privacy setting for new content, it seems, is “public.” People don’t necessarily check permissions settings (in a rush to share things) and so stuff that might be intended to be seen only by a handful of individuals ends up  being shared with the whole world. I don’t know if this is an oversight or something that Facebook’s doing by design. Whatever it is, it’s annoying.

That leads me to my First Axiom of The Internet: Anything you post online (be it on a social media site, a forum posting, or a site that requires a login) will end up being shared with more people than you originally intended.

Just keep that in mind the next time you’re going to post something.

My breakup with Google+

It’s not me, Google+, it’s you (or: in which I break up with Google+).

It's not me, Google+, it's you.

I had such high hopes for Google+ when it came out a couple of months ago and when I got my invite to the service. “Finally,” I thought, “a service that’s sort-of like Facebook but completely not evil.” As a technophile, I am completely fine with this. The idea of circles to share content with specific people is absolutely genius. Or hangouts, which are live in-the-browser video chats with our friends. Or editing posts after I’ve posted them (as I’ve done with this post…three times!). There is so much potential here.

But there are times when the point of social media is that social aspect; more specifically, I want to create a conversation and dialogue here. (Ideally, I’d like to take that conversation and move it offline into a face-to-face setting. But that’s just me.) Of those in my circles, the last person posted something here over 36 hours ago. The last person to comment on one of my posts was three days ago. And it’s not that I care or that I demand comments to what I post. But sometimes, it’s nice to know that people are reading, internalizing, reflecting, and acting on what they’ve read.

And it’s that lack of communication here that have caused me to break up with Google+ for the time being. It has such great potential to be something absolutely so amazing but it seems like Google is hampering its development. Where’s our API so we can update G+ or see others’ posts from other applications? Why are you still playing around with Buzz? Where is integration of the “+1” buttons that are starting to dot the Internet? What is your compelling reason to use G+? Are you seeing it as a profile page? Or as a new way in which people can share content with each other?

Anyway, I’m not going away. I’ve started a tumblr blog, “#dtphx musings,” in which I post photos and share content that my friends have posted to their own tumblr blogs. It’s at downtownmusings.com — and I still tweet with great regularity at @edwardjensen.

I am not a robot. I am a unicorn.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to each other.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to (and occasionally insult!) each other.

Thank goodness that IBM’s Watson, the Jeopardy!-playing computer, had a much nicer disposition. And credit to Crave, CNET’s gadgets blog, for first posting this video.

The Lion roars on my Mac!

After playing around with the new OS X Lion, I have to say that I’m pretty okay with it.

After playing around with the new OS X Lion, I have to say that I’m pretty okay with it. The new iOS-like features are new, and although I’m not sure how to use them now, I’m sure I’ll figure that out later. I’m not sure what to make of the new Dashboard and Mission Control: They’re like Exposé but they’re kind of not like Exposé. Grin.

Screen capture from my Macintosh of OS X LionAll of the programs I had running under Snow Leopard still work well, including MS Office 2011, Firefox, Thunderbird, Spotify, Picasa, Skype, VirtualBox, and Sibelius 6. Connections with my network drive seem to be a touch faster in Lion than in Snow Leopard. I did try the revamped Mail, iCal, and Address Book apps and I still don’t like them. I’ll stick with Thunderbird since that has true Gmail integration. Also, battery life seems to be a hair better, but that’s just based on my gut feeling, not actual science.

If you have a trackpad, you’ll find that the scrolling gesture is different. It’s like that on iOS devices, not traditional trackpad gestures. The default Lion scrolling gesture is counter-intuitive, in my opinion: to scroll down, for instance, you move your two fingers from the bottom to the top of the trackpad. If you don’t like it, it is an easy change in System Preferences but it’s just a bit annoying at first. Also, there are a few new gestures that are enabled by default that take place of some gestures from Snow Leopard. Again, an easy change in System Preferences.

While I wasn’t originally thrilled with the App Store-only delivery of Lion, I was thrilled that one could easily create a recovery DVD based on a disk image hidden within the installer app. To test it out, I actually formatted my Macintosh’s drive and installed Lion from the DVD I created. Also on the recovery DVD is Disk Utility so that’s great. The Lion installer creates a recovery partition on the local disk but I’m not a big fan of on-disk recovery partitions since I have had far too many hard drives fail on me.

The only issue I have discovered thus far is that I have to get Boot Camp to recognize that I have Windows 7 installed on the “BOOTCAMP” partition on my computer. I suspect that if I did an in-place installation of Lion, I wouldn’t be having this issue. If I run the Boot Camp Assistant, it would have me reformat the drive to reinstall Win7. I’ll have to do a bit more digging to see how to get Lion to recognize that partition. Also, because I did a clean install of Lion, I need to install the iLife suite from my Snow Leopard disks. But that’s a trifle since I don’t use iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand.

So there. From those who installed Lion in place over their Snow Leopard installation, the installation was very easy. I took the more difficult route because: 1. I’m Eddie and that’s just what I do, and B. I wanted to start my computer over from scratch just because it had gotten a bit slow.