I <3 Google Chrome Frame

Google Chrome Frame is an early-stage open source plug-in that seamlessly brings Google Chrome’s open web technologies and speedy JavaScript engine to Internet Explorer. With Google Chrome Frame, you can:

  • Start using open web technologies – like the HTML5 canvas tag – right away, even technologies that aren’t yet supported in Internet Explorer 6, 7, or 8.
  • Take advantage of JavaScript performance improvements to make your apps faster and more responsive.

Google’s OpenSocial

Google OpenSocialGoogle’s OpenSocial is definitely a shot across the bow of Facebook. Google’s idea is to create a common API that can be accessed by any social network to exchange data with them. Out of the gate, Google’s already gotten support from Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart (Vox, LiveJournal, TypePad), Tianji, Viadeo, and XING. This is big news that will no doubt impact the social web for the next several years.

What’s the next step for Google? A: World domination.

Ending AdSense

Last month, I decided to place Google AdSense ads onto single entries on the site. 1.5 weeks later I’m ending the AdSense Experiment. In practice, AdSense is a good idea, but for a small site like this it’s unnecessary and adds nothing to my site. I learned a few things during the experiment:

  1. Ads aren’t always relevent. As a matter of fact, I’ve found that most of the ads that appeared on this site were very irrelevant and border-line offensive. Ads asking “Are You Gay?” don’t have anything to do with anything on this site.
  2. I don’t get enough traffic to warrant sufficient click-throughs. One or two clicks here and there doesn’t equate to much. Over time, it might add up, but at what cost?

Why even bother with this sort of stuff? Well, this site’s always been a place where I could experiment. Whether it’s trying to get better at HTML, PHP and/or CSS; search engine optimization; site monetization; etc… I’ve tried to use this site to learn ways to add value to customers I service at my day job. After all, why suggest anything to a client if you haven’t tried something and succeeded at it yourself? You should never be content with what you know in this field. If you are, you’re going to get left behind.

Resource Availability

I won’t go into the whole Premium Google Apps stuff… Plenty of others have covered that since last night. What I wanted to (briefly) discuss was a new, undocumented feature I encountered while using Google Calendar this morning: Guest and Resource Availability.

Before I go on… obviously this is a feature that Outlook has had for years, and it’s especially useful when used with an Exchange Server. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before in an online calendar application.

(I should note that I current use Google Apps with my domain… and as far as I know, this isn’t a Premier Edition only feature, but I could be wrong.)

When creating a new event in Google Calendar, you now have the option to “Check guest and resource availability”.

Snapshot of gCal’s Add New Calendar Event screen

Clicking on the link, gives you the menu previewed below. (It appears right on top of the Add Event screen.) Due to space constraints, I’m only showing a small portion of the menu. The menu actually spans the full width of the available browser area when available. (Click here to see a full preview.)

Preview of Guest and Resource Availability Menu

It shows you a person’s availability for the day(s) you’re planning your event for. You’re able to modify the timeframe you’re looking to schedule your meeting, and you’re able to filter whether you only want to view Working Hours Only. If you want to add additional guests, you simply type their name in the Add a Person text field. If the person is in your Contact List, it’ll auto-suggest a person based on what you’ve typed:

Adding a Person

Once you’ve added guests, you’ll be able to see whether they are available for your event. If the person you’ve added isn’t publicly sharing their calendar events with you, it will let you know.

Guests Have Been Added. w00t

Once you’re done with this screen, you click Okay and go back to the Event entry screen. It auto-adds the guests you’ve entered in the ‘Find a Time’ windows into your Guest List for the event (so you can send them an invite to it).

This is a great addition to Google Calendar… especially on the heels of the Google Apps Premier announcement. It’s one of those little details that most people can do without, but would work really well for businesses…

Happy Birthday Google!

Happy 8th Birthday, Google!

Wow, you’re eight years old today. Where has the time gone? I wish I could say I’ve been using you from the very beginning, but I haven’t. But now… you’re indispensible. I rely on you for email, calendaring, spreadsheets, searching… You’ve become a trusted tool in my online life. So, with that, I wish you a happy birthday, Google. May you have many more!

Google Adds Tabs to Personalized Homepage

Google Personalized Homepage

Looks like Google just subtly added a new feature to the Google Personalized Homepage

It’s a nice addition for folks that want to maintain seperate “dashboards” of content on their homepage. One page might be for news, another for entertainment, etc… It’s not really anything “new”, but it’s nice to see that Google is continually improving their homepage offerings.

Measure Map, Revisited

Measure MapI’ve been using Measure Map since November 11th. Since that time, I’ve found it to be extremely efficient at tracking stats within my blog. I’m also evaluating Google Analytics for a higher view at how my entire site is doing, stat-wise… but it is very unreliable… and seems to update only when it’s good and ready to.

The only problem I have experienced so far with Measure Map is its ability to track comments on my site. But I think that is a result of how Blogger is setup. So I can’t really fault it for that.

Interface

I love the use of flash in the interface. It is quick, and definitely aids in the use of the application. It’s easy to increase date ranges using the flash sliders. Data gets pulled into graphics and is populated into flash graphics. Very slick, indeed.

Ease of Use

Measure Map couldn’t be easier to use. It present information in an easy to use format that even entry-level users could understand. It doesn’t present meaningless data – only what is important and most relevant. You can’t beat this sort of reporting. Simplicity rules here.

I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Measure Map. I’ve really enjoyed it these past two weeks and look forward to continuing to use it!

Google Reader Revisited

Google has released some pretty impressive products in the past couple of years: Gmail, Google News, Google Desktop, Google Earth, etc. Sadly, Google Reader doesn’t fall into that category.

I know it’s still in the Labs… but Google Reader is a big disappointment. Adding feeds to your subscriptions is a bit of a hassle (unless you search for them). I spent at least half an hour trying to add to RSS feeds. The way Reader is setup you have to Preview the feeds first, then subscribe to them. (I know I want to read what’s on em, I don’t want to preview it!) The system was way too slow. It was way to heavy on the AJAX (if you’re going to use it, make it be there for a reason!)

The idea behind Google Reader is sound, but this first iteration really stinks. I’ll give it a few months to “grow up” and then maybe, just maybe, I might give it a try once more.