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Google acquires EtherPad online collaboration tool

Google, probably the most prominent advocate of moving traditional productivity software such as word processors online, acquired a small company called AppJet whose EtherPad service fits into that agenda.

AppJet announced the Google acquisition Friday. “The EtherPad team will continue its work on real-time collaboration by joining the Google Wave team,” the site said.

AppJet offered free and premium versions of its service, which could import Microsoft Word documents, Web pages, PDFs, and plain text files, and let groups of people edit them collectively on what it called pad. A “time-slider” feature let people look back at earlier incarnations of a pad.

Google Wave has similarities. It’s a sort of hybrid between instant messaging, wikis, and e-mail. Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt sees Google Wave as the future of collaboration, in particular given its intrinsically networked nature and its real-time view of what collaborating people are up to.

That real-time collaboration is a thorny problem. It can be difficult to permit multiple people permission to edit the same document at the same time while ensuring one person’s changes don’t interfere with another’s work. And showing simultaneous work complicates a service’s user interface, too.

Google Docs–the online word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation services–also offers some simultaneous editing abilities. AppJet dings it in its EtherPad FAQ.

“With Google Docs it takes about 5 to 15 seconds for a change to make its way from your keyboard to other people’s screens,” the site said. “Imagine if whiteboards or telephones had this kind of delay!”

Google Wave and Google Docs are perhaps the closest rivals to AppJet, but in the big picture, the rivalry is between cloud computing and the way most people use productivity software today, on their PCs. Notably, though, Microsoft is working on an online version of its dominant Office suite.

Current EtherPad users should brace themselves for the end of the service: “If you are a user of the Free Edition or Professional Edition, you can continue to use and edit your existing pads until March 31, 2010. No new free public pads may be created. Your pads will no longer be accessible after March 31, 2010, at which time your pads and any associated personally identifiable information will be deleted,” AppJet said.

That left one user, JavaScript programmer and jQuery project creator, John Resig, unhappy.

“Super-lame that Etherpad is shutting down. We used it all the time for jQuery planning,” Resig said in a tweet on Friday.

Google extends personalized search to all

Google now intends to deliver customized search results even to those searching its site without having signed into a Google account.

Google keeps a history of your Web searches for up to 180 days, using what it says is an anonymous cookie in your browser to track your search queries and the results you most frequently click on. For several years it has allowed those with Google accounts to receive customized search results based on that history, but now even those without Google accounts will receive tailored results based on a history of their search activity, Google said in a blog post late Friday.

For example, Google described in a video how the query “SOX” might signal one type of search intent coming from baseball fans in Boston or Chicago, and another type of intent from an accountant closing the books on the quarter. Based on that particular person’s search profile, Google can promote links to baseball scores or Sarbanes-Oxley details higher in search results than other links affiliated with those queries.

This, of course, is not just about search results. By building a profile of past searches, Google can also gain insights into what kinds of advertising you’re most likely to favor, therefore placing more targeted (and expensive) ads alongside those search results

Privacy advocates will likely be put off by the fact that this is an opt-out rather than opt-in service. Beforehand, the customized search results were only available to those who were signed into a Google account, and although Google has always stored the search history of anyone who visits its site, it didn’t change individual search results based on that history.

Google was careful to describe the procedure for opting out of personalized results, and emphasized that it doesn’t know who specifically is attached to a given set of search queries. But in essence, even those who search Google without being signed in can now be used to help Google improve the targeting of its search results and its ads.

An overview of how Google arrives at Personalized Search results.

Users’ opinion of Google wave

Google has been actively collecting feedback on Google Wave with an ongoing survey, which was distributed via email, the help center, and Twitter. Today they’ve published the initial findings for public dissection.

So far results indicate that users love the concept of Wave, appreciate the collobartion features, and like the extensions, gadgets, and robots. On the flip side, however, the most perplexing part of the Wave experience is that users’ friends and contacts don’t have access to Wave. Respondents also complained of speed issues and indicated a desire for integration with more tools like email.

Based on our experience with Google Wave , the results that Google has published are spot on and point to some of the reasons why the system is both a game changer and, on the other hand, still not ready for mainstream attention.

Google does say that they will be acting on your feedback and opinions:

“With these responses and other data, we’re organizing our team around the core issues that are important to making waving better. We’re working hard to scale our systems so you can invite your friends and colleagues to wave with you. We’re also thinking about how to integrate with existing communication and collaboration tools. And since we all know that fast is better than slow, a large portion of the team is working to make Google Wave faster.”

Google’s chrome OS to launch soon

Google’s Chrome OS project, first announced in July, will become available for download within a week, we’ve heard from a reliable source. Google previously said to expect an early version of the OS in the fall.

What can we expect? Driver support will likely be a weak point. We’ve heard at various times that Google has a legion of engineers working on the not so glamorous task of building hardware drivers. And we’ve also heard conflicting rumors that Google is mostly relying on hardware manufacturers to create those drivers. Whatever the truth, and it’s likely in between, having a robust set of functioning drivers is extremely important to Chrome OS’s success. People will want to download this to whatever computer they use and have it just work.

We expect Google will be careful with messaging around the launch, and endorse a small set of devices for installation. EEE PC netbooks, for example, may be one set of devices that Google will say are ready to use Chrome OS. There will likely be others as well, but don’t expect to be able to install it on whatever laptop or desktop machine you have from day one. Google has previously said they are working with Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba on the project.

We’ve seen convincing and not so convincing screenshots of Chrome OS over the last several months. The good news is the speculation is about to end, and you can try it out yourself. If you have one of the supported devices, that is.

via Techcrunch

Google Go

The Go Web site (golang.org) explains the rationale behind creating Go, mostly citing the change of the computer landscape that’s occurred over the past decade or so that’s seen very few (if any) major systems languages spring up: more powerful PCs, many of which use multicore processors; increased dependency management in software that’s not reflected in the “header files” of C-based languages; the growing desire for dynamically typed languages (such as Python and JavaScript) instead of type systems such as Java and C++); and the poor support for concepts such as garbage collection and parallel computation.

Google says that Go takes full advantage of modern, multicore hardware; that it simplifies dependency analysis and avoids the overhead present in C-style languages (such as files and libraries); that Go’s type system has no hierarchy, which saves the programmer from having to define relationships between types; and that Go is fully garbage-collected and naturally supports concurrent execution and communication.

If you’re interested in getting started with Go, or you just want to learn more about its inner workings, Golang.org is loaded with tutorials, manuals, FAQs, and other documentation for easy assimilation . There’s even a section devoted to C++ programmers who want to learn Go. Also there to be found are code samples, such as the traditional beginning to all studies, “Hello, world!”:

05    package main<br>
07 import fmt “fmt” // Package implementing formatted I/O.<br>
09 func main() { 10 fmt.Printf(“Hello, world; or Καλημέρα κόσμε; or こんにちは 世界\n”);<br>
11 }

It’s way too early to tell, of course, what the impact of Go on programmers or programming will be. But we have a feeling that in this way, as in so many others, quite a few people will fall behind Google and look at this as a convenient way of writing programs for modern hardware. If it won’t spell the end of the various programming languages in common use, it will undoubtedly represent at least the start of a major C change.

Google wave

Google Wave is “a personal communication and collaboration tool” announced by Google at the Google I/O conference on May 27, 2009. It is a web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wiki, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages, and numerous other extensions. It was announced in Google’s official blog on July 20, 2009, that the preview of Google Wave would be extended to about 100,000 users on September 30, 2009.

Its October 2, 09 and I am still waiting for my wave invitation 🙂

Google Wave is designed as the next generation of Internet communication. It is written in Java using OpenJDK; its web interface uses the Google Web Toolkit. Instead of sending a message and its entire thread of previous messages or requiring all responses to be stored in each user’s inbox for context, objects known as waves contain a complete thread of multimedia messages (blips) and are located on a central server. Waves are shared and collaborators can be added or removed at any point during a wave’s existence.

Waves, described by Google as “equal parts conversation and document”, are hosted XML documents that allow seamless and low latency concurrent modifications. Any participant of a wave can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Users can reply to blips within waves. Recipients are notified of changes/replies in all waves they are active in and then view the changes when they subsequently access a given wave. In addition, waves are live. All replies/edits are seen real-time, letter by letter, as they are typed by the other collaborators. Multiple participants may edit a single wave simultaneously in Google Wave. Thus, waves not only can function as e-mail and threaded conversations but also as an instant messaging service, merging the functions of e-mail and instant messaging. It depends only on whether both users are online at the same time or not, allowing a wave to even shift repeatedly between e-mail and instant messaging depending on the user’s needs. The ability to show messages as they are typed can also be disabled, similar to conventional instant messaging.

The ability to modify a wave at any location lets users create collaborative documents, edited in a manner akin to wikis.

The history of each wave is stored within it. Collaborators may use a playback feature in Google Wave to observe the order which a wave was edited, blips were added, and who was responsible for what in the wave. The history may also be searched by a user to view and/or modify specific changes, such as specific kinds of changes or messages from a single user.

Google Wave is still in active development. It is expected to continue to be so until later in 2009, launching to about 100,000 users on 30th September. Google Wave access can be requested. Developers have been given access to Wave proper, and all wave users invited by Google can invite up to 8 others. Those who receive indirect invitations (were invited by someone who was invited by Google) will not be able to invite others. As of October 1st, Google Wave testers were unable to add extensions because “settings” is under construction.