Posts tagged ‘google’

g|Ethiopia event 7-8 Feb, Addis


The Google team is thrilled to announce our first g|Ethiopia, happening February 7- 8 in Addis Ababa. We’re looking forward to engaging with this community of developers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs who are as passionate about technology as we are!

For those of you who are interested in our Mobile Developer Challenge, but are unsure where to start, g|Ethiopia has a session titled ‘Intro to Mobile Development’.

A month without Google

Seeing myself getting completely locked into using Google products, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to try not to use any Google services for a month. [I’m also still a little annoyed with them for not sorting out the problem I still have with Google Groups].

Perhaps I’ll find some other interesting tools and services, or maybe not, but at least it will push me to explore and look for them, rather than going into default ‘use Google’ mode.

The main Google services I use are search (obviously), mail, reader and alerts. A while ago I was also using docs, but stopped doing so once I’d been in Ethiopia and couldn’t rely on an internet connection. So what are going to be my alternatives?

Not a huge choice here, but then I don’t tend to do very sophisticated searches. Going to give Bing a try, and maybe Wolfram.

I did question whether or not I should exclude myself from using Google for search, after all, then where do I stop – not using YouTube? But I decided it would be good to force myself to try out some other search engines.

Although I read my mail through my GMail account, it’s usually a forwarded copy from my own domain. I could, with minimal effort switch to the Squirrelmail or Horde mail interfaces provided by my hosting provider. This will work fine in the UK, but back at Mekelle Uni, these interfaces run off non-standard ports, which are blocked by the Uni proxy. So, I’ve installed RoundCube to use instead. It has quite a basic interface like SquirrelMail, but has some Ajax features such as drag and drop. I don’t think I’ll miss GMail labels, but it’ll take some getting use to not having the conversation style layout of messages, to which I’ve now become accustomed.

Google Reader
Again, this wasn’t a huge deal to switch from. I installed Tiny Tiny RSS on my domain and imported the OPML from Google Reader. The functionality is very similar to Google Reader, but it has the advantage that I can choose to cache images from feeds. It may not sound like a huge deal, but it will mean when I’m in Ethiopia that I’ll be able to view the photos and other images from blogspot feeds, which are otherwise blocked in Ethiopia.

Google Alerts
This was the only service where I failed to find an equivalent. There are other alert services (, Yahoo alerts and more) but these seem very restrictive and targeted at people wanting updates on news, sports, stocks etc. rather than general web and blog alerts. So, for now, I’ve kept my Google Alerts in place, but I’m very willing to try out other alerting services if anyone can point me in the right direction.

I like the idea of being more in control of the tools and services I’m using, despite the fact that I need to be more self-reliant for backups etc. Having my own domain (and associated email), made it relatively easy to install and run roughly equivalent services without huge upheaval.

Will the reduced (or just changed?) functionality and usability make me miss Google too much? I’ll find out in the next month, or maybe just the next couple of days.

Google Groups grrr…

Just been to visit the “IT Volunteers in Ethiopia” group that I set up the other week, only to find that I get the message “The owner of this group has banned you from this group. “:

So apparently I’ve banned myself from the group :-/ (not quite sure how I would’ve managed that- or why!)

Then if I try to return to the groups homepage, I get “Forbidden Your client does not have permission to get URL / from this server”:

*but* if I then log out of my Google account, I’m able to see the group and I have permission to get to the Groups homepage…


I’ve finally got around to having a look at OpenSocial, following it’s launch last year (and all the subsequent blog postings) I’ve not really heard too much about it, or who’s actually implemented it, but it seems quite a few social sites have done (though obviously not facebook): hi5, Ning, MySpace to name a few. My comments below are my first impressions from only having looked and played with the docs/examples for couple of hours, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about anything below!…

The first thing I needed to find out was what OpenSocial actually is and what it gives you (apart from the generic description that it’s an API for social web applications). My impression had been that (and I don’t know why I thought this), as well as a way to write applications (Google Gadgets) that can run in compatible social sites, OpenSocial would also help solve the problem of having multiple disparate networks of friends on different social sites, so you didn’t need to recreate your friends network when moving between different social sites. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case (please correct me here if I’m wrong!), but it does give application developers the chance to build applications for social sites which will run in multiple sites, rather than having to learn a different API each time.

The problem of friends being on different networks was one we came across when thinking about developing a Facebook application for MSG. Users would already have a set of contacts in MSG, but how to link match these up to Facebook friends. The point of having MSG in Facebook, or any other social site, would be so that you can chat directly to your friends within that network. It seems we could run up against the same problem if we created an OpenSocial MSG Gadget too.

I did find this little video about Shelfari and their OpenSocial implementation that we should be able to learn something from – though even after watching this I’m still a little confused as to how your Shelfari friends match up to your friends in Orkut :-/ . Then I got slightly distracted looking at some blog postings about Shelfaris invitation process – it appear rather similar to how Facebook used to (or still does?) automatically invite all your email contacts.

The part that I found most interesting (and also most confusing) was how you could make a social site compatible with the OpenSocial API (i.e. allow users to add applications to their profiles). It certainly seems a non-trivial task to create a site which would be compatible with the OpenSocial API – which is why in the tutorial I get pointed to a number of “container” sites which will allow me to test out my new (hello world) Gadget.

So… will be having a think now about how we can apply some of this to Cohere – and what should a Cohere Gadget embedded in a social network site actually do/look like?