Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Google adds rainbow for Gay Pride

Posted by Fred on June 19, 2008

If you search for the word “gay” on Google, the search results and Sponsored Links will be separated by a rainbow, rather than the usual thin blue line. It’s a wonder the AFA hasn’t sent out one of their Action Alerts trumpeting another attempt by The Gays to advance their Agenda.  It’s only a matter of time; can’t allow gay people to search for stuff on the internet, after all.

On the plus side, the search provides another opportunity to find the almost-certainly-fake but still funny Gay Bands List.  There appear to be new parentheticals since the last time I looked at it – my favorite is “George Michael (texan).”


Posted in internet, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New from Google: Gadgets for Linux and Gmail Labs

Posted by Fred on June 9, 2008

Over the past couple of days, Google has rolled out a couple of interesting new products, a version of Google Gadgets for Linux and Gmail Labs, a testbed for new features for Gmail.

Google Gadgets for Linux is about what you’d expect, an implementation of Google’s gadget platform, previously available only to Windows and Mac users, for either the GTK+ or QT toolkits.  For those who care about such things, GGL is licensed under the Apache License, rather than the closed-source license for the other platforms.  To install, you’ll need to build from source, which is not a big deal, although it does require an Ubuntu user to jump through some hoops first.

The first step is to install some additional packages, if you don’t do much development work:

sudo apt-get install subversion build-essential zlib1g-dev libmozjs-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libxml2-dev libdbus-1-dev libmozjs-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev libcurl3-openssl-dev libdbus-1-dev libxul-dev libcurl3 libcurl3-dbg libcurl3-gnutls libcurl4-openssl-dev libcurl-ocaml libmozjs0d libmozjs0d-dbg libmozjs-dev g++-4.2-multilib g++

Some of these packages may already be installed, many undoubtedly are not.  Now download the source from Google.  You can get a source package, but it may be outdated, so I used the svn repository.  From a terminal, do this:

svn checkout google-gadgets-for-linux-read-only

Assuming you’re using the svn repository, prepare the build script:
cd google-gadgets-for-linux-read-only
sh autotools/

Now configure and build from the source code:
mkdir -p build/debug
cd build/debug
../../configure --enable-debug --disable-qt-host --disable-qt-system-framework --disable-qt-xml-http-request --disable-libggadget-qt --disable-qtwebkit-browser-element
sudo make install
sudo ldconfig

To start the sidebar, hit ALT-F2 and run ggl-gtk.  An icon will appear in the panel, which you can right-click to add gadgets.  To run at startup, click System>Preferences>Sessions and add ggl-gtk to the Startup Programs tab. If you want to use QT, build using just ../../configure –enable-debug and run ggl-qt instead.

Gmail Labs adds some experimental features to Gmail, many of which probably could be added via Greasemonkey scripts.  Unlike Greasemonkey, the Gmail labs features appear to be available in any browser.  To turn Gmail Labs on, go to Settings/Labs and enable features one at a time.  As of this writing, there are 13 available, ranging from Custom Date Formats, which “adds options to the general settings page allowing the date and time format to be changed independent of language. For example, you can use a 24-hour clock (14:57) or show dates with the day first (31/12/07)” to Signature Tweaks, which “places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the ‘–‘ line that appears before signatures.”  Most of these don’t do much for me, but there are two I enabled:

Quick Links “adds a box to the left column that gives you 1-click access to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages, and more.”  Open any Gmail view, such as an individual message or a search, and click Add Quick Link.  The most useful application for Quick Links is with searches.  Add a link for is:unread to quickly view unread messages or has:attachment to find messages with attachments. Quick Links would also be a good way to find message from certain correspondents.

Superstars adds new icons to the default star for marking messages. You get additional stars in new colors, along with a check mark, exclamation point and question mark.  To use, you have to enable on the Settings/Labs page and then choose the stars you want available on the Settings/General page.

Presumably Gmail will keep adding Labs features, which will appear on the settings page.  if any feature messes up your inbox, just go to to disable Labs.

Posted in Technology, Ubuntu | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Get Baseball Line Scores on Your Phone via Google

Posted by Fred on June 3, 2008

If you search for Indians score via Google on your mobile phone, you get this:

If you do the same search via, you get search results, but no line score. You can get the score via a PC by using I don’t know what it does if a game is in progress, but for that I like the MLB site better anyway, as it has the pitch-by-pitch updates.

Update: It also works if you just search for Indians.

[via RotoNation]

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

NewsGator Inbox 3.0 beta

Posted by Fred on April 17, 2008

NewsGator has released a new beta of version 3 of their now-free NewsGator Inbox, which lets you read feeds in Outlook, just like any other email message.  It has some useful features compared to my usual reader, the web-based Google Reader.  Grab a copy and install – it’s very straightforward, but here it is in pictures (click for bigger):

Let\'s begin.  Click Next.Your standard EULA. You know you\'ll ignore it, so accept and move on.Clicking install seems like a good idea.

Lookee, a progress bar.  Installation is fast, so don\'t blink.Already done.  Click Finish.Now set up synchronization.  Set up a new account or use an existing NG account.

Standard \Time to add some subscriptions. Use the OPML import to move feeds from a different reader.All done. Let\'s get started.

Some useful links here, but be sure to disable it or it will be annoying.

Installation was straightforward, but some issues came up right away.  The OPML import from Google Reader didn’t work properly for me, and it imported only the first feed in the list.  This is probably an incompatability with the XML file Google creates, but we can work around it.


An additional try with the XML file didn’t work any better for me, but NewsGator Online did.  Login to NewsGator Online, and click on Add Feeds. 

From here, click Import, and you’ll be able to upload the same XML file you used before:

Success! The Google feeds now appear in NewsGator Online, and because Inbox 3.0 syncs with NG Online, they’ll show up in Outlook.  To get there, however, you’ll need to update the subscriptions.  Clicking Refresh on the NewsPage (what you’ll get by clicking My News in Outlook’s Folder List) seemed to have no effect, but the toolbar button did (it’s the arrow next to the NewsGator Inbox dropdown).

Now you can read your RSS feeds in Outlook.  I’ve only been using it for a half a day, but a couple of features seem quite useful.  One problem with Google Reader is that if I don’t read items for a few days, they really pile up.  It would be best just to ignore the unread count, but I’m psychologically incapable of doing so.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to mark only certain posts as read.  NewsGator solves that problem, and offers to do so automatically:

You can also do this cleanup any time you want by using the NewsGator Inbox dropdown.

Inbox 3.0 also lets you easily post to your blog about any item.  Setup was a breeze – just open Options from the dropdown and click Posting Options.  Choose and fill in your account information.  Now you can post automatically using the NewsGator Publisher plugin.  Using the plugin is a bit clunky, however.  There’s no toolbar button, and no right-click option.  You have to choose Post to My Blog from the NewsGator Inbox dropdown:

If you use the NewsPage view, it’s a bit easier.  Each post has four buttons at the end.  The last one is a Post to My Blog link (I highlighted it in the image).  I don’t particularly care for the NewsPage view, however.  I know Dave Winer says I should like the River of News format, but I don’t.  I like folders – I don’t want a story on NewsGator Inbox to follow a story on how pitiful the Tribe is this year.  This brings up the other issue I have with NewsGator Inbox.  The Outlook Folder List shows your NewsGator folders, but it doesn’t tell you how many new items are in a particular folder, or if therre are any new items at all.  You have to expand the folder to see individual feeds.  You also can’t click on a folder to see a River of News-style list of all items in that folder, nor get a NewsPage view of a single folder.

NewsGator Inbox thus isn’t perfect, but it has some advantages.  I’m in Outlook all day long, so it is an easy way to read news.  Posting to the blog from an item works well, and works even better if you use the Windows Live Writer plugin instead of Publisher.  Feed and post management is easier than on Google Reader.  It should also work well offline, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Google now has offline access to Reader, however, so this isn’t the advantage it once was.  Plus, it’s free.  I plan to use it for a while and review it more fully later.

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AT&T’s real view of open networks

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

Back in December, AT&T responded to Verizon’s proposal to open its network to additional devices and applications by arguing that the AT&T network was already the most open in the world:

“You can use any handset on our network you want,” says Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T’s wireless business. “We don’t prohibit it, or even police it.”

Everything that Google has promised to bring to the wireless market a year from now AT&T is doing today, de la Vega says. “We are the most open wireless company in the industry.”

Today, however, saw two articles that together show how AT&T really feels about openness.  The AP says that AT&T focused its efforts in the recent 700 MHz auctions on the non-open portions of the auction because it better fit their business plan:

AT&T spent $6.64 billion for licenses in the 700-megahertz band auction but avoided licenses in the consumer-friendly “C block” because of the additional regulatory requirements, said Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of the wireless unit.

“The auction worked well … but it highlighted that people put a premium on spectrum that is not encumbered by heavy regulation,” said de la Vega in a conference call with analysts and reporters.

And it’s not like AT&T didn’t value the C Block of the spectrum – they just didn’t want to open their network, so they spent $2.5 billion to buy Aloha Partners, which owned unencumbered C Block spectrum. 

Today also saw an article suggesting that AT&T may introduce an Android handset of its own, now that they are confident they can modify it to fit their own business plan:

When we spoke to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega a few months ago, he said AT&T was open to the possibility of Google’s Android phones being on their network. Today, at CTIA, he followed up on this and said that he’s already met with Google executives and is “encouraged by the idea that an Android phone could host AT&T branded apps.”

A possibility was to take an Android phone and shove AT&T’s own money-generating apps onto it, such as MediaFLO mobile TV. “One of the things we were looking for was that it was truly open and that you could put other features and applications on it.”

AT&T must have a different dictionary than I do. Open spectrum that allows the customer to use any device or run any application is encumbered by excessive governmental regulation.  A mobile OS expressly designed to breach the mobile carriers’ walled gardens, however, is only open if AT&T can litter it with revenue-generating crapware like AT&T Navigator or MediaFLO TV or $5 ringtones.  You can be sure that they’ll also make sure it has a crippled java implementation, crippled GPS, crippled (or missing) Wi-Fi, non-existent OS upgrades and other revenue-generating “features”.  All in the name of openness, of course.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy April Fool’s Day, Google Style

Posted by Fred on April 1, 2008

If it’s April 1st, and my calendar says it is, then that means the web monkeys at Google have been busy creating I-really-wish-they-were-real services that will disappear tomorrow. Here are my personal faves:

From Gmail comes Custom Time, which uses an e-flux capacitor to send emails from the past. But only as far back as April 1, 2004, the day Gmail was launched, as after all,

You’ll only be able to send email back until April 1, 2004, the day we launched Gmail. If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born — crazy talk.

<– Note the sleeping dude. Note the lovely pink hair.

Google Calendar brings you the Google Wake Up Kit, which I actually thought was real at first, as an SMS wake up message is kind of a good idea.  But then one gets to this description:

In combination with the kit, you can receive a new type of notification from Google Calendar, called the “wake up” notification. This notification is relentless in ensuring your timely awakening from restful slumber.

The “wake up” notification uses several progressively more annoying alerts to wake you up. First it will send an SMS message to your phone. If that fails, more coercive means will be used. The kit includes an industrial-sized bucket and is designed to be connected to your water main for automatic filling. In addition, a bed-flipping device is included for forceful removal from your sleeping quarters.


Google Talk says that on Earth Day, they will be converting all conversations to IM-speak, in order to save the 0.0000000000000000034 metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere by each character of a message. They also provide a conversion bot to let you practice.

My personal favorite, however, is Virgle, which Google and the Virgin Group describe as “a jointly owned and operated venture dedicated to the establishment of a human settlement on Mars.”  They have a web site, press release, FAQ and 100-year plan, culminating in the creation of Virgle City, projected to have a population of 100,000 by 2108. Fill out the application questionnaire and submit a video explaining why you should go to Mars.  Unfortunately, only the last bit is real.  The project will be Open Source, so the geeks will be happy:


Posted in Funny, internet | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Google accused of collaborating with … Republicans ?!?

Posted by Fred on February 19, 2008

Clarification: Doc Searls says I misunderstood his point, and I agree that I was less than clear. See more below.

On Friday, the GOP named Google its Official Innovation Provider, in a press release clearly written for the sole purpose of attracting the attention that all press releases mentioning Google get.  Says the GOP:

Embracing technology that will propel the 2008 Republican National Convention to the forefront of the digital age, the GOP today announced that Google Inc. will serve as the Republican National Convention’s Official Innovation Provider. Convention President and Chief Executive Officer Maria Cino made the announcement in a unique video posted to the convention’s new YouTube channel ( The video is also showcased on the convention’s website (, and highlights Google’s cutting-edge, computer-generated SketchUp graphics of the Xcel Energy Center, where the convention will be held.

That’s notable mostly for stating the obvious (convention stuff is on a YouTube channel) and for creating yet another meaningless title (Official Innovation Provider) which bears no resemblance to reality (Google is innovative, sure, but there’s no sign they’re doing any actual innovating between now and September 1st).  Nevertheless, the announcement drove some people insane.  Literally insane.  Marc Cantor proposes boycotting Google for “helping” Republicans (he also gets McCain’s actual record almost 100% wrong, but that’s another story).  Doc Searls compares the Republicans to the Chinese government, implying that selling services to the GOP is doing evil.  What the hell?  Disagree with Republican policies all you want, but to suggest that an American technology company should refuse to do business with an American political party is really just insane. There is an argument that Google should refuse to do business in China (it’s not a particularly persuasive argument, but it’s a legitimate argument).  Refusing to do business with the GOP would simply be crazy, and Google’s not particularly likely to seek out retribution from American politicians.  What is it about the Republicans that drives people so crazy?

In the comments, Doc says he wasn’t saying that it was evil for Google to do business with the GOP, but that “[w]hether one likes or dislikes Google’s engagement with China, or the GOP, at least it’s engaged. For some things it may be in a better position to make a positive difference than if it were not engaged.”  This is a good point regarding China, and closely tracks my own view.  What struck me about Doc’s post was that he appears to be suggesting that doing business with the Republicans has more in common with doing business with the Chinese government than with, say, Walking Tree Travel (which uses Google Apps Team Edition) or Clemson University (Google Apps Education Edition) or Holiday Home Rental (Google Custom Search Business Edition) or Proctor & Gamble (Google Apps Premier Edition). That Doc thinks it notable that Google is providing services to the Republican Party, that the GOP is an organization with which Google should be “engaged” in order to “make a positive difference” is telling.  Doc does say he’d say the same thing if it were the Democrats.  In my view, it’s no more notable that Google has a contract with the GOP than it is that they have one with P&G (and I’m not a registered Republican either).

Posted in Politics, Technology | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Google finally fixes Gmail IMAP for Windows Mobile

Posted by Fred on January 30, 2008

When Gmail announced free IMAP access for all, users rejoiced.  But then we tried to use it, and Windows Mobile users said Boo! Now Gmail says they have fixed IMAP for Windows Mobile users, so we can rejoice again.  Google has updated the configuration instructions for WM6.  These instructions are incomplete, however, so here is an illustrated guide to setting up IMAP.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in internet, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Google releases new YouTube mobile site, works on Windows Mobile

Posted by Fred on January 24, 2008

Google has released an updated version of the mobile YouTube site, which now allows you to view any video on the main YouTube portal, instead of just the videos selected by Google.  You can search for videos or even upload videos if you have a profile set up on the mobile page.  It streams to just about any device capable of handling multimedia, using the device’s default application, which means it finally works properly in Windows Mobile (at least for me).  A brief screenshot tour:

youtube_main The main screen, as seen in Opera Mobile on a Motorola Q9h. The main page lists some recently featured videos and a search box.

youtube_browse Scroll down a little further for additional options. You can browse by Most Viewed, Top Rated, Videos or Categories.  there’s also a second search box, which is handy because it means you don’t have to scroll back up.

youtube_videoHere’s what you get when you search for a video. Your usual basic stuff here, including a screen capture, running time, uploader, etc.  Click on the image or “Watch Video” link…

youtube_playingThe site launches the default media player and streams the video. The old version tried to do this, too, but it just resulted in an error message on my WM6 devices. Workarounds sprung up, but now it just works. Video quality seems pretty good.  The audio is surprisingly loud.

It’s nice to get all the videos in the YouTube library, but I’m really happy to see that it Just Works on Windows Mobile.  Too often lately, Google seems to be optimizing for the iPhone and telling WM users to pound sand.

[via the New York Times]

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Google Addresses Windows Mobile IMAP (sort of)

Posted by Fred on January 24, 2008

Some time ago, Google rolled out IMAP access for Gmail users, to great fanfare. Unfortunately, on Windows Mobile, IMAP is useless, as many messages show up as headers only, with blank message bodies.  Google has known about this for months and months, but done nothing about it.  Now it seems they may actually be trying to work on it.  Many messages still show up with blank message bodies for me, but some HTML messages actually appear to work:


Unblocking pictures doesn’t work, but that’s certainly not Google’s fault.  Perhaps HTML messages worked before and I just missed it.  Has anything changed or is it my imagination?

FlexMail is still your workaround if you want full Gmail IMAP on a Windows Mobile device.  That FM works and WM Messaging doesn’t proves it is Google’s problem, not Microsoft’s.

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