Premier Google Apps Demonstration

Came across this video on the Official Google channel on YouTube. It’s a tutorial that demonstrates how organisations can improve their productivity by adopting Google App’s. It show’s some of the customisation capabilities Google are providing for organisations to brand the apps. There’s heavy focus on how you can use Gmail for more than just email – e.g. instant messaging, calendars etc. There’s also a great deail of emphasis on the collaboration features in the tools, which are quite impressive. They also demonstrate how easy it is to for administrators to configure the tools, branding and permissions. The premier addition also allows organisations to switch of adverts.

Google Tech Talk : One Laptop Per Child

The aim of OLPC is to change how kids learn.

Ivan Krstic, Chief Security Architect at OLPC gives a technical talk on how the laptop was designed and how they are going about building it. He goes to great length to explain why they are doing this, the rationale behind the project, and why this influenced many of the technical decisions.

How do you build laptops for kids?

The Original XO-1 laptop has the following spec:

  • Geode GX-500 1.0W, 366Mhz,16kb L1, cache no L2
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 512 MB NAND Flash

The newer version has the following hardware spec:

  • AMD Geode LX-700 0.8W, 433Mhz, 128KB L1, 128KB L2.
  • 256 MB Ram
  • 1024 MB NAND flash

The laptop has no moving parts which helps keep the power usage down. It;s peak power consumption is 4-5W, the standard consumption is closer to 1-2W. Compare this to a normal conventional laptop which is around 40 – 50W. One of the things that stands our for me in this talk is that the OLPC team and doing what is probably the most aggressive work in Power Management using Linux anywhere in the world. In order to conserve more power they’re goal is to suspend the machine every 2 to 3 seconds if nothing on the screen is changing. They actually target they have set is to be able to suspend and resume the machine at the edge of human perception which is ~100ms. That’s incredible!

If you set aside the social aspects of this project and focus purely on the technical goals they’re attempting to achieve, the OLPC project could radically change the way laptops are built. It’s well worth watching the talk, there’s a number of other unique advancements the project has made, and I for one will be keeping a close eye on its development.

Google Tech Talk: Change your mind, change your brain – The inner conditions for authentic happiness

This is one of the most original and engaging talks I’ve seen over at Google. The talk is given by Matthieu Ricard a gifted scientist turned buddhist monk. The talk focuses on the question “if happiness is an inner state, influenced by external conditions but not dependent on them, how can we achieve it?”.

Google Tech Talk: Mashups – Combining Web Applications to Make Desktop Productivity Tools

An interesting tech talk by Mark Birbeck CEO of X-Port. Some of my colleagues saw Mark talk at the mashup* event in London last month. Although I have reservations about the Sidewinder framework he proposes, we at Talis are doing more and more work to make API’s available to developers that can be called from desktop based applications like the widgets and gadgets Mark describes. The problem with Sidewinder though is it provides a wrapper around web based applications allowing you to run them on your desktop – and im struggling to see the value in that.

I’ve done a fair bit of work creating Yahoo (Konfabulator) Desktop Widgets that use our API’s which will be released in the new few months, as exemplars of how developers out there can mashup our API’s with other services to create interesting and even compelling new applications. We like mashups at Talis, in fact we held a very successful mashup competition last year, which we are running again this year so if your interested why not enter the competition.

7 habits for effective text editing

Here’s a really cool talk by Bram Moolenaar the creator of Vim. There’ some really great tips some of which are obvious others aren’t. I remember when Rob and I were paired on Cenote, we did most of our development work on Fedora Core, Rob re-introduced my to Vi and Vim and gave me loads of great tips, this talk was somewhat reminiscent of that. It’s definitly worth watching!

Google Tech Talk: Fixing Electronic Literature … with Transclusion

Fascinating Tech Talk by Ted Nelson. For those who haven’t heard of him Nelson is the man who coined the phrase hypertext all the way back in 1963. Nelson has spent several decades trying to make computers easily accessible to ordinary people. He’s been working towards finding ways to improve web structure, arguing that as it stands the web is actually very limited by browsers we use and that the one-way links that appear on pages actually limit connectivity. In part he attributes this to the fact that the web imitates paper … watch the talk to understand why I wont delve into that here.

He’s an advocate of Transclusion based hypertext, the idea of including parts of documents within other documents by reference, so you aren’t storing the same bits of information twice.

After listening to the tech talk what strikes me is that this kind of approach will work well when the transcluded sections of text are actually self contained and that the meaning and the validity of the text is independent of the context in which it is transcluded into other documents. I don’t know how well that would work since context forms an important part of any document, and its very difficult to write documents without forming some kind of context, that’s why there’s always an inherent danger when you tug in a quote that you might mis-represent it or use it in a context it was never intended to ( just ask the Pope!). I know Nelson says that you can compare the context side by side, yet this doesn’t seem intuitive to me.

I know the man is the genius who is credited for inventing hypertext so why am I not convinced, am I missing something? Any thoughts anyone?

Actually thinking about it the Xanadu document browser Nelson shows off in the tech talk, is very similar to a Document Hyper browser developed at Xerox Research that Alan once showed me. I cant find any reference to it … but I’m seeing him tomorrow so I’ll ask him.

Google Tech Talk: Are there search-engine distruptive ideas?

An excellent tech talk about what kinds of technology could be potentially disruptive to Google, and how it to understand it and how to turn these into positives.

The talk focuses around the democratization of  information and the cultural implications of this. What I found really interesting is that this talk touched on several points that Alan made during his talks to our group yesterday about providing better semantic support for users trying to find information.

It’s a truly fascinating talk and if your working with search engines do watch this talk!

Google Tech Talk : 7 ways to ruin a technological revolution

James Boyle gives a fascinating talk about how one might go about undermining the technological revolution of the last 30 years. It’s an alarmist talk, he exaggerates for comic effect but not all that much and it’s extremely thought provoking, especially when we consider the question … how many of those things are we doing now? Much of the talk is around Intellectual Property rights and what that has meant to the technological revolution up and until now, and also how it might evolve going forward. Also he touches on Google’s standpoint on copyright and IP with reference to the Libraries project and Google Books.

One of the funniest anecdotes he mentions is when he spoke to someone from one of the collections societies and said to them “theres always been a private space where people can enjoy music, like in the shower” to which the indivual replied “thats just a problem of monitoring” , on the grounds that it could be interpreted as a performance! 😉

Code reviews at Google with Mondrian

Another excellent Tech Talk. Our development group at Talis has been experimenting with different ways to carry out code reviews and I think its safe to say were still trying to find what works best for us.

I think this tech talk is very relevant not just to the discussions were having internally, but to any organisation that is serious about wanting to ensure that they are developing great, maintainable software.