Tag Archives: Google

Google in the 60s

My first encounters with computers were through the medium of punch cards and line-printers.

Thus, finding the Google60 art project made me a bit nostalgic. The project tries to show how you would interact with the all-pervasive Google through the mediums of the 60s.

Click on the image to experience it yourself…

Google60-inout

Google 60 Art Project

Google Chrome – Profiles, User-Data and Users

I have to admit that I am a collector of Google accounts.

Never really intended for it to become so excessive – it just happened. Most of the incoming mail still goes into my central Thunderbird mail hub but there is the need to log into some of these accounts directly, at least once in a while.

Google Chrome has been my tool for this as it had this nice command line parameter allowing me to define the location where it stored all it’s data. Thus I created a number of copies of my default data storage at

C:\Users\mememe\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data

as

C:\usr\browser\chrome000
C:\usr\browser\chrome001
C:\usr\browser\chrome002
C:\usr\browser\chrome003

and created shortcuts to different instances of Chrome with targets like

%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome000"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome001"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome002"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome003"

and logged into each of them with a different Google account. This way I had direct access to all of my accounts with all their associated features (like Analytics, or Adwords, etc) without the need to go through logging off one and logging in to the other.

Today then it became obvious that I had to uninstall Chrome. Not necessarily because I did not like it any more, but there were just too many little bugs that had crept in that a possible re-install could not fix. For example LassPass did not show up right, and Google Maps – of all Google application – had rather nasty rendering problems.

So, I bit the bullet, uninstalled Chrome and even ran the manual uninstall of Chrome to make sure I got rid of all remains.

Then came the re-install and in the process of setting up all these old profiles (actually more than profiles, as I found out) I learned that Google, in the meantime, had developed something that actually could make this whole process of accessing a multitude of Google accounts easier – ‘Users’ within one data storage like contained in the folder

...\Google\Chrome\User Data.

Under this directory you always had a folder ‘Default’ which contained all the data for a user. Now you could add a user in the Chrome settings page and log into a different Google account as that user. The user interface for this feature is cute but very usable:

If there is only one user within one Chrome data set (–user-data-dir), the top left corner of Chrome looks like

But when there is more than one, a selectable icon appears to the left of the tab bar and it looks like

Now you can click on the little ninja and select from a pop-down menu a different user

There is another command line parameter to chrome which now allows to create shortcuts for the different users within one data set:

%chromepath%\chrome.exe --profile-directory="Default"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --profile-directory="Profile 1"

so that you don’t depend on the GUI interface to the different profiles. The names as given above are selected by chrome when you add users, but it appears you actually have control over the naming of these profiles. During my testing I found out that if I use the above command line with a non-existing profile name, this profile will be created on first start. Creating a shortcut with the following target (all in one line, obviously)

 %chromepath%\chrome.exe
       --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome000"
       --profile-directory="Heinrich

created the profile ‘Heinrich’ which I could then use to log into yet another Google account. And on this command line you see that these two command line parameters can be combined to have different users within different Chrome data sets.

Google Search Operators

Just a quick summary of Google search operators for myself. If it helps somebody else that is OK for me as well¬† ūüėČ

“xxx” Exact words and phrases
excluding word
site:domain domain to search
~ related words
* wildcard in exact phrase
2000..2012 time range
filetype:xxx only match files of type xxx
OR one word or another
define:xxx find the definition of xxx
/ * + – calculator
X [units] in [units] unit conversion

 

Photosynth of Devil’s Postpile – or so

Just before a trip to Mammoth Lakes this summer I had learned about photosynth, one of these project where Microsoft tries to be as cool as Google. This is technology which allows you to combine a whole set of photos taken of or around a subject into a 3D view of that subject.

I remembered PhotoSynth when up there at this amazing view of the Yosemite mountains, close to Devil’s Postpile and took a set of photos with the intention to try out photosynth with those.

The online web-all allows you to stick all your photos together into a synth, but in order to get a real nice panoramic view, you will first have to download a (free) application and do a more elaborate stitching off-line before uploading the results to photosynth.

The result of all that looks like…

Don’t forget to hit that little “full screen” button on the bottom of the synth to enjoy it to the fullest. Funny though, that the software decided that nature is more important than people and cut out Gigi in favor of nature. Not quite, as the lower legs and feet stayed in. I’m sure, if Google would have done this project, they would either have removed all signs of a person or leave the person in all-in-one – – just kidding.

Custom Fonts on the Web – Google did it Again

Just found out that Google has a cool new trick up it’s sleeve – custom fonts for your web site.

Obviously I had to try it right away, and you should see the title of this web site – the ‘Magic of Life’ up there, in the Shadow into Light font.

What did I had to do to change from the standard Helvetica?

Pretty little, actually.

  1. I added the following line as the first line in the <head> section of the headers.php file in my wordpress theme:
    <link href=’http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Shadows+Into+Light&v1′ rel=’stylesheet’ type=’text/css’>
  2. In the css for the site title element I added
    font-family: ‘Shadows Into Light’, arial, serif;

That’s pretty much it!

To see what font’s Google has available, you can check at Google Webfonts.

All About the AppleGirl

I know, the title might be a little pretentious, maybe even a lot, but running into her on a Google Help page was a rather interesting experience – who would expect to find a music video on a Google Help page – and so I dug a bit deeper and by collecting my findings here I might save you your own digging.

First things first – here is the video that Google gave me as an example for what it was explaining on the help page…

I certainly liked the music and video, but why was she ‘AppleGirl’?

A bit digging let me find the likely answer that it was because the instruments she played in her first video on the internet were iPhones – yes, iPhones! Four iPhones running different music apps, attached to some kind of rack-contraption, were her instrument(s) of choice. And she became famous – the video and the follow up went viral. Here is that first one…

and the next one where she explains a bit more about here instruments.

Mysteries do get people hooked. So, the mystery of who that girl, only known as AppleGirl, was, might have helped the fast spreading of these videos. By now the mystery is solved and it’s all known that she is Kim Yeo Hee, and the latest video (the first on at the top) with it’s professional lighting, recording and editing is a strong indication that her careers is taking off.

So, what was the effect on me? I got some enjoyment out of watching these videos, and got the idea that if there is music apps for the iPhone, there must be some for Android as well. This assumption turned out to be true and I now have a virtual piano and guitar on my G1. I know, it’s ridiculous, I still have a G1 but at least I have it rooted and running Froyo (2.2) on it – even though a bit slow. By the way, even with that version of Android and an adapter directly from HTC my squareup.com card reader, “the cube,” still does not work.

The origin of the name Google – where it really comes from

Google LogoHave you ever wondered where Google got its name from. There are some of these companies that have become household names and nobody really considers any more where their names come from – Amazon, Yahoo, et al.

But somebody must have sat down and really thought about it. It is rare that something is materializing out of thin air. Often we get an inspiration from something that passes by – even if only fleeting.

Google, after being known around the world and even becoming a verb now could not possibly admit that its name would not reflect deep thought (pun intended) and consideration, so the official version is that Google comes from the mathematical term “googol”, to equal 10100, a number much larger than even the atoms in this universe.

But here I now have for you the “real source” of the¬† name:

Today I re-read, for the xth time, Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and there it was – plain and simple:

In the story of this (must read) book where the two programmers Lunkwill and Fook talk to the computer Deep Thought the first time after its completion to find out if it will indeed be able to compute an easy answer to all the questions about life, the universe and everything, and this computer classifies itself as only the second most powerful computer in the universe, the following dialog pursues:

“There must be a mistake,” he [Lunkwill] said, “are you not a greater computer than the Millard Gigantubrain at Maximegalon which can count all the atoms in a star in a millisecond?”

“The Millard Gigantubrain?” Said Deep Thought with unconcealed contempt. “A mere abacus – mention it not.”

“And are you not,” said Fook leaning anxiously forward, ” a greater analyst than the Googleplex Star Thinker in the Seventh¬† Galaxy of Light and Ingenuity which can calculate the trajectory of every single dust particle throughout a five-week Dangrabat Beta sand blizzard?”

“A five-week sand blizzard?” said Deep Thought laughingly. “You ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.”

There you have it – modest Google does not (yet) compare itself with Deep Thought.

A little side note that other well know subjects have been inspired by Douglas Adams. Many of you will know the TIFF file format used to store image data. This format is a tagged format and one of the initial tags that identifies the file as a TIFF file has a value of 42 and the official comment was that this value was chosen for the deep meaning of this particular value. The drafters did not quite come out with the full credits for this value which took seven and a half million years to compute, but made this tongue in cheek choice for all those geeks who know TIFF and Douglas Adams.

Will Google SideWiki be Censored?

Today was an exciting day for me.

A few years back I realized that there was something missing on the world wide web, something essential – commenting without the consent of the site owner.

There are many web sites – including this one here – that allow comments on all articles. But these comments are definitely censored because the site owner can easily delete comments he does not like. Good web sites will not misuse this power and allow opposition and controversy to stand, even though spammers and pure nuisances will be removed.

But imagine a site like that of the IRS. Could you imagine how the comment section of this site would look like if only spammers and flamers would be removed? Could the site speak of its ‘service’ and still be credible if you could read thousands of comments describing incompetence, evil and injustice?

That is where I started to plan a system that would allow – through a toolbar widget or similar – to attach comments on any website. One of the basic features of this mechanism would have to be that it could not be centrally shut down, but instead would have to be a distributed system where a part that went down would be replaced immediately by a redundant site on the other side of the planet – a kind of SETI for accountability.

I talked to some potential partners, as this was too big a project for a single fighter, but have to admit that I failed to get it off the ground.

Today I read about Google SideWiki! Could this be what I had felt was missing, could this be the one feature that would keep people away the dark side of the force?

The fact that it is Google is definitely a disadvantage, as Google has been bullied into doing things that were against the mantra of ‘doing good.” Let’s just hope for the best.

Besides hoping for the best, there is a nice test in progress that investigates the freedom of speech and opinion of this new feature. Somebody posted a pretty nasty post right on the main page of the IRS’s site, wondering how long it will be there. Let’s all go there and observe.

The post is not a nasty post in itself, it is just something that I could imagine the site owner would not want to be on his site. It talks about so-called tax protesters and gives the web site of one of the more grounded protagonists. In all fairness this post also mentions a site run by – probably – tax attorneys chastising the whole bunch of cooks calling themselves the tax honesty movement. But then again, we are talking about lawyers here and then those that deal in taxes and probably love the system as it feeds them.

This post goes even further and introduces the philosophy site Free Domain Radio, that introduces the idea of a society based on voluntary interaction instead of a government run bureaucracy that is backed up by violence, claiming a monopoly in initiating violence.

I will certainly keep an eye on the IRS web site to see if this article disappears. If this post stays there that would be akin to the wikipedia entry for the IRS containing a section about the tax honesty movement, the thoughts that the tax law as written might not apply to most American and thoughts on how society could work perfectly well without an IRS and a central government.

I hope that Google is really not evil

Did this ever happen to you…

The first time I had this happen to me, I have to admit, it was rather creepy. But since then I got so much used to it that I hardly ever notice the Google guy standing in my living room.

The only times I do still get a bit freaked out is when I look for this kind of amateur two-some and the Google guy enters my bedroom. But I think just a few weeks and I will also be used to that.

I remember it was Mel Brooks in his movie Space Balls who invented this kind of concept. Watching a movie about the own situation and then fast forwarding to find out what will happen. Wonder if Google pays Mel Brooks some kind of intellectual property fees?