Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Send Gmail attachments while offline

One of the most requested features for Offline Gmail has been the ability to include attachments in messages composed while offline. Starting today, attachments work just the way you would expect them to whether you are online or offline (with the exception that when you're offline you won't be able to include inline images). Just add the attachment and send your message.

If you have Offline Gmail enabled, you'll notice that all your mail now goes through the outbox, regardless of whether you're online or offline. This allows Gmail to capture all attachments, even if you suddenly get disconnected from network. If you're online, your mail will quickly be sent along to its destination.

If you haven't tried offline access yet, follow these instructions to get started:

1. Select Enable next to Offline Gmail.
2. Click Save Changes.
3. After your browser reloads, you'll see a new "Offline" link in the upper righthand corner of the Gmail page, next to your username. Click this link to start the offline set up process and download Gears if you don't already have it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Google Chrome OS First Look

oday we released Chromium OS, the open source project behind Google Chrome OS. Google Chrome OS is an operating system that is intended for people who spend most of their time on the web. It aims to provide a computing experience that is fast, simple and secure. The Chromium OS project as you'll see it today is comprised of the code that has been developed thus far, our early experiments with the user interface, and detailed design docs for many parts that are under active development.

To get a feel for the Google Chrome OS user experience, you can watch the demo from this morning's announcement event


Sunday, November 15, 2009

12 Things to Know About Google's Go Programming Language

Google's new programming language, called Go, took the application development world by storm when the search giant released it Nov. 10. The ambitious technology's pedigree features programming experts from the Unix world, including Ken Thompson, who teamed with Dennis Ritchie to create Unix. Created as a systems programming language to help speed up development of systems inside Google, Go is now viewed as a general-purpose language for Web development, mobile development, addressing parallelism and a lot more.
Google's new programming language, called Go, took the application development world by storm when the search giant released it Nov. 10.
The ambitious technology comes with a pedigree featuring programming experts from the Unix world, including Ken Thompson, who teamed with Dennis Ritchie to create Unix. Created as a systems programming language to help speed up development of systems inside Google, Go is now viewed as a general-purpose language for Web development, mobile development, addressing parallelism and a lot more.
Ironically, Google launched Go just a week before Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, which typically dominates the software development landscape while it is running. This time there might be a little Go buzz at the event.
Go is an experimental language that is still in the process of being tweaked and maturing, but it holds huge potential. The Google Go team blogged about Go, saying, "Go combines the development speed of working in a dynamic language like Python with the performance and safety of a compiled language like C or C++. Typical builds feel instantaneous; even large binaries compile in just a few seconds. And the compiled code runs close to the speed of C."
1. Where did the idea for Go come from?
Pike, Thompson and Robert Griesemer of Java HotSpot virtual machine and V8 JavaScript engine fame, decided to make a go of developing a new language out of frustration with the pace of building software. Said Pike:
"In Google we have very large software systems and we spent so long literally waiting for compilations, even though we have distributed compilation and parallelism in all of these tools to help, it can take a very long time to build a program. Even incremental builds can be slow. And we looked at this and realized many of the reasons for that are just fundamental in working in languages like C and C++, and we needed a different approach. We also decided the tools that everybody used were also slow. So we wanted to start from scratch to write the kind of programs we need to write here at Google in a way that the tools could be really efficient and the build cycles could be very short."
2. Go is a multipurpose language
Pike said Go is appropriate for a broad spectrum of uses, including Web programming, mobile programming and systems programming. "We based it on our ideas of what we think systems programming should be like," he said.
Then a Google engineer told the team he wanted to do a port to ARM processors for the Go language because he wanted to do some work in robotics. With the ARM support, "We can now run Go code in Android phones, which is a pretty exciting possibility," Pike said. "Of course, ARMs also run inside a lot of the other phones out there, so maybe it's a mobile language."
He added, "I think people, once they absorb it a little bit more, will see the advantage of having a modern language in some ways that actually runs really fast. And it's an interesting candidate to think of as an alternative for JavaScript in the browser.
"Although getting Go supported inside browsers is going to be a seriously challenging undertaking ... but it is an interesting thing to think about because it has a lot of the advantages of JavaScript as a lightweight, fun language to play with. But it's enormously more efficient. So some of the big, heavy, client-oriented applications out there like Google Wave would be much zippier if they were written in Go, but of course they can't be written in Go because it doesn't run in a browser yet. But I'd like to see some stuff in that direction, too, although how that's going to happen I don't know."

Google Chrome OS: A Nice Place to Visit, But?

Google's Chrome operating system could mark a turning point in computing, but many questions remain. Today's rumor is the OS will be released to developers next week, answering some questions but probably raising even more. Google had previously promised Chrome OS, in some form, before the end of this year.
Chrome OS strikes me as being just enough Linux to allow an underpowered computer to run Chrome browser and connect to cloud-based applications. How exciting can that really be?

On a netbook, Chrome OS may be enough to provide mobile functionality. On a desktop, Chrome OS may turn a PC into a glorified terminal, relying on the Internet for nearly everything the user does.

There are many questions about Chrome OS, some of which may be answered when Google releases whatever it decides to make available to make good its promise to release the OS, in some form, before the end of this year.

Among those questions:

Just how limited will Chrome OS be? What will and won't it do?
Will it natively run third-party applications on the hardware where it resides? Or just to connect to applications in the Internet cloud?
Will cloud apps need to be written specifically for Chrome?
Will Chrome create a standard for the look-and-feel for cloud application?
Might Chrome only run applications that Google hosts?
Will Chrome require--or even use--a hard drive? Might Chrome OS netbooks have a small silicon drive and nothing else?
When Google promises an end to security hassles, such a viruses, malware, or updates, what trade-offs are required?
Google has previously said Chrome is intended to be lightweight and get users connected to cloud applications quickly. The company seems to believe that cloud apps will become pervasive and will not require a very powerful machine to run them.

Thus, Google is creating a very lightweight browser (Chrome) to run atop what amounts to an embedded operating system (Chrome OS) running on netbooks (to be released next year).

I also expect the OS to include Gears, Google's technology for offline access to its cloud-based applications.

What will Chrome do beyond that? Maybe nothing. If Google really believes its cloud rhetoric and is really serious that Chrome OS will be virus-free, maybe the new OS won't run applications, just the browser and Gears?

Add a robust security mechanism, to make certain the cloud-based applications and Web sites haven't been tampered with, and Chrome could be a more secure operating system than we're used to. If only by keeping the computer from doing anything besides interacting with Web sites and web-based applications.

I find that idea strangely attractive, though it will certainly result in devices with limited functionality, just like today's netbooks. However, performance may actually be better since netbooks could be freed from laboring to run Windows and heavy Windows applications.

Google Chrome OS introduces a new computing model and may even change how we think about operating systems. Its importance hinges upon how widely and quickly cloud applications take center stage, what trade-offs customers are willing to make, and most importantly, what Chrome OS actually turns out to be.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Will Google's Wave Replace E-Mail—and Facebook?

Google has big plans for Google Wave, its new online communication service—and they won't all come from Google.

The Web search giant is hoping that software developers far and wide will create tools that work in conjunction with Wave, making an already multifaceted service even more useful. Google (GOOG) is even likely to let programmers sell their applications through an online bazaar akin to Apple's App Store, the online marketplace for games and other applications designed for the iPhone. "We'll almost certainly build a store," Lars Rasmussen, the Google software engineering manager who directs the 60-person team in Sydney, Australia, that created Wave, told BusinessWeek.com. "So many developers have asked us to build a marketplace—and we might do a revenue-sharing arrangement."

Combining instant messaging, e-mail, and real-time collaboration, Wave is an early form of so-called real-time communication designed to make it easier for people to work together or interact socially over the Internet. Google started letting
developers tinker with Wave at midyear and then introduced the tool on a trial basis to about 100,000 invited users starting on Sept. 30. Invitations were such a hot commodity that they were being sold on eBay (EBAY). For Google the hope is that Wave, once it's more widely available, will replace competing communications services such as e-mail, instant messaging, and possibly even social networks such as Facebook.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Google Wave first Invitees

Google Wave is about to open to new users. Starting today, Google will send 100,000 invites to some of those who were eager to use an early version of the service. Google's blog lists three categories of users that will receive invites: Google Wave Sandbox users, those who signed up and offered to give feedback on Google Wave and some Google Apps users. When you receive an invitation to Google Wave, you'll be able to invite other people so you can use Google Wave together.

"Google received more than 1 million requests to participate in the preview, said Lars Rasmussen, engineering manager for Google Wave, and while it won't be able to accommodate all those requests on Wednesday it is at least ready to begin the next phase of the project," writes CNet.

Like Gmail's early version released in April 2004, Google Wave lacks many basic features: you can't remove someone from a wave, you can't configure permissions or write drafts. The interface is not very polished and some of the options are difficult to find, but it's important to keep in mind that Google Wave is just one of the ways to implement an open protocol. Gmail revolutionized email with an interface inspired by discussion boards: messages are grouped in conversations and it's easy to handle a large amount of messages. Google Wave wants to revolutionize real-time communication by extending a protocol mostly used for instant messaging, XMPP.

Combining email, instant messaging and wikis seems like a recipe for confusion, but Google Wave pioneers a new generation of web applications, where everything is instantaneous. As Google explains, each wave is a hosted conversation and users can edit the conversation in real-time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Personalized YouTube Homepage

YouTube tests a new homepage that is customizable and centered on your activities. Instead of displaying the same content for all YouTube users, the new homepage looks different, depending on your preferences and your activities. Here's what's new:

* recommended videos, a feature that relies on your previous activity: favorite videos, subscribed channels
* latest from your subscriptions: 12 videos from 3 of your subscribed channels
* friend activity: a list of videos uploaded, favorited or rated by your YouTube contacts. This information is displayed only if your contacts added it to their public profiles.
* inbox: messages, friend invites, received videos.
* statistics about your videos (total views, subscribers) and your activity (subscriptions, comments).
"The goal with all of this is to gauge people's interest in having a YouTube that's tailored to the individual. Ultimately, we want to get you one step closer to the videos you'll enjoy most every time you come to the site," explains YouTube.