Development, Musings

Day 2 with Google Wave

Impressions after more partipants have gotten their invites. Wave is a huge mess once everyone tries to talk (not unlike a real life meeting). You can also hijack a person’s message if you want to so that can be rather distracting. Still not sure how it’s going to work unless we work on a project using only Wave (I wonder if Sales could be convinced to use this though).

Performance-wise, its rather bad once a huge wave or even an ongoing one with 2 people starts to load, cpu utilization goes up and it definitely feels laggy. KC mentioned that he had shown me a similar XMPP style code collaboration tool in Eclipse so real-time messaging isn’t something new.

On the plus side, I really liked SAP and Salesforce demos especially the customer support bot.  Check it out here.  Can’t wait to see what gadgets are being developed!

Some things I’ve found out to make it a better experience if you’re starting out the first time

To add a wave to the public timeline, do this

  • Add contact “” , force add it even if the submit button remains disabled.
  • Add “” as a participant in the Wave.

More waves are appearing locally and here’s an effort to organize them
Making a Singapore Google Wave List

Actual Waves (about Singapore) , you can search by doing this “with:public singapore” or whichever keyword you want to look up. You’ll need wave access for following links.

Tweety, add to your wave and once you authorize in the pop-up (lower right bottom corner of Chrome), you’ll be able to post to Twitter and read status updates within Wave itself.

Most importanly, treat this as a new experience and forget about Outlook and Notes (I try everyday to forget I’m using it). Wave is messy, its gory but what’s not to like about a mash of IRC, ICQ, Forums, Search, Widgets(or Gadgets) and Google way!

Development, Musings

Day 1 with Google Wave

Managed to get Google Wave access yesterday and have been testing out the various features. An area of interest to me is how to best reduce the UI clutter of various windows and incoming streams as I keep up to date with news and try to work at the same time.

The concept of waves to mash up all the various streams into conversation threads seems like a great idea but definitely requires more polish to succeed.  I can see myself using it if gmail was tied directly in today. The idea of “wiki” style collaboration on documents in real time could really improve how things work in most places. However the barrier would be resistance to change (happens in any product that dramatically changes how people work). Google’s idea of pushing their brand and products to schools (great work on signing up MOE) is definitely the right step to get young minds hooked and warm up to the idea of new ways to work and collaborate.

Some gadgets I’ve tried

While waiting for the invite (took 2 weeks!) I  came across some good reads and discussion on this very early dev release (thanks Google for the invite, hopefully more will be able to experience a more polished product soon).

Lastly, here’s an embedded wave just to test out the interaction

[wave id=”!w+3ZQOxMf0E”]


Google Voice… Invited but not available!

Just got a alert in Gmail “You’ve been invited to Google Voice” and I thought the policy had changed to allow registrations outside of US. Unfortunately scrolling down further stating its only available for sign up in the US.

If you haven’t already heard about it, Google Voice is a service that makes using your current phones much better!
Here’s what it offers:

  • A personal phone number that rings all of your existing phones when people call
  • All of your voicemail in one inbox with unlimited online storage and free voicemail transcripts sent to your phone and email
  • Low-priced international calling to over 200 countries and free SMS
  • Other powerful features like the first phone spam filter to protect you from unwanted callers, the ability to ListenInTM on your voicemail messages while they are being left, conference calling and more

Tried my luck anyway and got this :

Google Voice is not available in your country.
Thanks for visiting Google Voice. We’re not yet open for users outside the US, but are planning to expand our service to additional countries in the future.

I do wonder with e-mail, browsing habits and now voice (leading to Android platform), will Google hold too much information on a person’s habits?


Battle of the Mashup Editors (Yahoo Pipes – 1, Microsoft Popfly – 0, Google Mashup Editor – 0)

When Yahoo Pipes first got released, I didn’t really think much of it and didn’t even attempt to look at the mashups being created. Then Microsoft got into the fray with Popfly and I tried my luck and got an invite into the Silverlight creation. Next came Google with their Mashup Editor and since I use so many Google apps, I dropped my email for an invite too. Finally got it yesterday and seeing it as a good chance to try out creating a mashup from the perspective of a novice creator, I got my hands dirty and did some tweaking to make sure Where2Makan? had a proper geocoded RSS feed (I had already been tagging the posts with custom fields named “Longitude” and “Latitude” so the job was a little easier).

Unfortunately, GeoRSS was having a server migration so the WordPress plugin that was supposed to make life easier wasn’t available for download. I managed to track down an earlier build at Ravi’s Blog and so added functions to the plugin that could work with my custom fields.

Had to hack wp-rss2.php in WordPress but managed to get

<item> …
<georss:point>$lat $lon</georss:point>

to show up properly in the feed. Frustratingly, both Firefox and IE refused to format it. Banged head a few times before realizing the namespaces weren’t being recognized and so added two lines at the header and it finally worked.


Now that I had a good feed (looked at Flickr’s example just to be sure), it was time to create a map with the editors.

Test #1 – Yahoo Pipes

User interface upon logging in was great. It was my first time but pretty easy to understand that you need to drag a module onto the workspace, quickly configure it and drag its output onto another module. I used “Fetch Feed” -> “Location Extractor” -> “Pipe Output”. Noticed the debugger pane below and quickly looked through the data to make sure it had parsed the feed correctly and hit “Run Pipe”. The map overlay with my posts and titles popped up pretty quickly and presto, I had a mashup of Where2Makan? with Yahoo Maps. Total Time : <10 mins with practically not much to do other than configuring the feed URL!

Test #2 – Microsoft Popfly

Moving on to Popfly, you’ll notice that the user experience is entirely built in Silverlight for the editor. Cool effects like having the background change when you drop a relevant block into the workspace makes it look all rather snazzy. I initially tried to drop a RSS feed block onto the workspace and just hook it up to the Virtual Earth block but couldn’t see the Lat/Long values being parsed. Was about to give up when I realized I should should search for a GeoRSS block.

Thankfully, GisLi0 had shared the block created and I thought I was off to a good start. Configured the feed, went to Virtual Earth’s block to modify the Lat/Long mapping and hit “Preview”. A great nice map of USA zoomed into view and after scrolling to Singapore, no pushpins to be found. Hit the console to check the debug errors and seems that Lat/Long pairs were not parsed. I had to start looking through documentation to see if there was any way to edit the code of the GeoRSS block but it seemed that shared user blogs are private. Attempted to download the BlockSDK but that meant having to fire up Visual Studio, understand the SDK docs, write code and lose sleep! Total time spent : >15 min with no results to show for.

Test #3 – Google Mashup Editor

Finally came to the last editor. As usual, Google’s simplified interface and cool blue theme was in full effect. Here you don’t even get drag and drop modules to configure. This is for the power users, if you understand a bit of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, this will be the app to empower you. If you don’t, its going to look like a whole mess of a foreign language. I opened the sample “Maps Mashup” and did a test run. Looked great with the sample feed. Naively, I replaced it with Where2Makan?’s feed and did another test. Same result. Nice map of USA with no pushpins. This time, there was no debugger to view the parsing results although I highly suspect it didn’t even read the feed properly since I couldn’t see it loaded in the feed browser. Time spent : < 5 min with no results.

Summary and Conclusion

I can’t say I took a great big dive into all three editors but went into them with one purpose, to create a Map Mashup of Where2Makan? and the maps provided by each company. Based on the initial experience and my goal, I would say Yahoo Pipes has a definite edge with a slick UI, intuitive modules. It is slightly lacking in the customization of modules area but the fact that I practically only had to paste a URL in for the mashup to work just gives it extra points. 

Microsoft Popfly with its Silverlight offering feels a bit bloated and although it offers some customizations at the block level, creating a block definitely takes a fair bit of understanding and an IDE! Also, not being able to output results like Pipes makes it a little short on reusability.

The latecomer Google Mashup Editor has a bit of catching up to do with its rather simplistic UI although I think it might be the most powerful of them all with what its samples look like (Calendar, Tasks, Map Wikis). Look forward to evaluating it again when it matures a little more. For now though, shall look into how to use Yahoo Pipes to create some other interesting mashups.

Final Notes

Yahoo announced samples for Maps Mashup couple days ago. And with Google’s announcement that GeoRSS and KML feeds will be supported by the Google Maps API, this is going to another interesting way to show map overlays.


Google goes offline (for Apps!)

Finally! A way to get Google Apps offline. I’m an avid user of Gmail and GReader and also often need to travel around. My complaint with web apps are that they need connectivity ALL the time! With a flaky M1 Broadband modem, it is just bearable but when it goes offline for no reason, I can’t do much emailing or reading. So Google Gears sounds like a great solution.

Google Gears (BETA) is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality

Source :

Downloading the application took awhile but upon installation and loading Google Reader showed a dialog box asking for permission to store data locally. Tried this on my desktop so can’t seem to see any offline caching going on. Shall try on the laptop next.


Wondering when the next Page Rank update will be? Take a look at its history!

I was doing some updates to the website and wondered when the next Page Rank update would be and so started doing a quick search for this information. Came across the following site which lists down the trend of the Google Page Rank update. Pretty interesting results.

As of May 12th, there has not been a Toolbar PR export for 12 day(s). The longest time between toolbar PR exports recorded in the below Page Rank Export List was 122 days (Oct 19/2005 to Feb 18/2006).

Source: Page Rank Update or Export List History – PageRank – PR

 Also another useful tool would be a Page Rank predictor below:

Google PageRank Prediction
This predictor tool does what it says, it predicts your future Google PageRank.

Source: PageRank Prediction – Predict Page Rank Predictor