Google, what are you gonna do now?

Yup, that’s my question to Larry Page and Sergey Brin. I really would like to have written this in an email to them, but well can’t find their address the easy way, so I thought I’d share it with you guys.

Google+. A name synonymous for getting excited at first and then dust it out. Yes neither have you used much of Google+. I was wondering when I got the invite why has Google not get rid of Buzz. Well it turns out Google haven’t planned much except releasing a product that “plusses on Facebook’s minusses”. Google+ has been a story of it competing with Facebook head on. It was an exciting thing at first, the fact that many people were dying to get the invites. But the moment I got it I knew Facebook has heaved a sigh of relief. Here was a chance Google had in upping the ante in the Social networking business, and they bombed it just like US in Iraq. Even a Google employee hit out against Google+. I’ll leave all the shortcomings and failed promises of Google+ to this article [0] [1] [2].

I rather would like to ask Google – What now? Yes, Google is known for a lot of experimentation. And with experimentation there will be lots of failures and some success. Luckily this some success turned out to be good enough to succumb to failures (read search, Gmail, Android, AdMobs etc). One thing that’s not in Google’s kitty is Social networking. It’s many attempts – Wave, Buzz, Google+, only seem to confuse users more than ever. Make no mistake, all these are good products, some even great (I do use buzz, which still seems a relevant feature). And Google+ did bring some nice features. Hangout is a great idea, I like the concept very much. Circles is a good stuff (animation is real slick) and adding friends is so damn easy. Real easy! And the interface is pretty slick, I like the top bar that comes in every Google site and the notifications the way they are organized and pop up. All these are great. But unfortunately (or fortunately? more coming up) it flopped and is on the downhill. Maybe it can beat wave faster to being exterminated! However I really hope this doesn’t happen and Google does have time to recover, hell lots of time to recover!

What Google should do now is learn from the mistakes and look ahead with clear head and focus. Focus is key and the focus would be to build a nice ecosystem. I say that with a lot of emphasis. It’s of utmost importance to Google now and it actually might be the best time to start thinking about. What I feel Google should do is instead of competing with the Social Networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, why not promote them? Why not help making them better. Why not join hands with them and build a richer ecosystem that would benefit them all? What I see here is that each (Google, Facebook, Twitter) have a different great working models and ideas in their kitty and that they will be a real force when gelled together. I love to see a future when android phones are deeply integrated with facebook and twitter and we would be using all these services in our daily routine! Yeah such a co-existence would take some time to nurture, but then Google has lots in their hands to do. First thing is don’t even think about shelling out Google+. Instead integrate it with every other Google product. Why not have hangouts integrated into Gmail? Why not see what other people have searched similar to your query? Why not make a messaging service (though it’s there, but not ubiquitous) that just works like in iOS?

People do use a lot of GMail, though majority would be nudging through their Facebook walls to see what their buddies are up to. All I’m suggesting here is stop thinking about what other people are doing and how to counteract them. Start building your own cool stuff, Google. GMail was and is one of the best emailing services that everyone has started using. AdMobile is doing a really great job that others just forget about competing against. Android is being phenomenal in the number of devices being activated and the pure brute power the latest versions of the OS will bring. And the new ideas are real cool, like android@home, ChromeOS for netbooks. And how can I forget – Search. Google search is something so awesome and “I can’t live without it” thing that people have forgotten to use the word “search” for “google it out”! I mean this is what makes Google so Google! And Google is still a really great and respected company. I just don’t want it to lose steam, which by the current crop of releases, is. 😦

I do wonder why I write this post. Why waste time on this. But I really like Google and I really hate to see Google getting a bit ashamed of what they are doing. Well, it’s part and parcel of life (Hello, even Apple after 1999 had those, remember Ping?). And what worries me is the fact that Google really doesn’t have a platform, rather an ecosystem on which others can rely Google upon. Many companies have started to realize that, but Google still won’t look into this direction. I guess it’s Google realizes this and head out to a new direction of wonder and glory and all the crazy and cool stuff that Google is going to invent and make. Google, I am sure, is going to be one the companies that will lead us to the future. But Google, listen ok? πŸ˜›

[0] http://mashable.com/2011/10/12/google-engineer-rant-google-plus/

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-yegge-google-platform-rant-2011-10

[2] http://siliconfilter.com/google-engineer-google-is-a-prime-example-of-our-complete-failure-to-understand-platforms/

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The next leap of technology.

A few days ago, HP announced the tablet version of the WebOS – the TouchPad. WebOS is a great operating system for the mobile. Since the takeover of the Palm company, HP has wasted no time to put the acquired resources to place. Across the Atlantic ocean, Nokia has announced the partnership with Microsoft to ship Windows Phone 7 in the Nokia phones. Though a lot to be done, WP7 is a great OS in the making. Back to North America, Honeycomb was well received for being a great android OS for the tablet version, and many indications point to the fact that these slick features would be made available to the smartphones also. And iOS, as always, is the undisputed king of mobile operating systems around.

Now what’s common among all these operating systems and others I’m yet to mention? The user experience. Every manufacturer, be it the computers, smartphones, tablets etc know that usability has become the primary criteria for their successful business ventures. A good example is the Symbian platform. Even though it is a good OS, symbian failed in the category of user experience. The latest updates have failed to address this matter. As a result, their numbers among the hands of the users are declining drastically, and so is their desperate steps to join hands with Microsoft. RIM realized this fact too well, and has come up with Playbook that has the potential of a great device with a smart OS. Thus, there’s a general shift towards making the products more user-friendly than adding features.

But this trend has a side-effect. There would come a day when all the smartphone or computer operating systems would be equal in terms of user experience. And there is, I believe, a limit to how much more user-friendly a device can be made. Also as is evident in the present competition, the difference in features among the competing devices would be negligible. At that time, it would be a matter if taste of the users. That might lead to even-ing out of the competition, leading to lesser profit generation, finally ending up with lack of willingness among the producers to make these devices.

Or it could be that some new innovation can up the ante for any company. I believe that right now companies should look to look for new ideas, out of the box, that could spice up their devices and thus bring about change in the technological landscape. There are many examples in the past which validates this point. Take for instance the iPhone, which brought in a whole new way of how people see and use the touch phones. Apple also brought in the PC – personal computing revolution, which changed the entire world. Google and facebook has changed the way people use the Internet.

But the current trend is to copy what others started and add on some new features. Android, at it’s infancy, was very similar to iOS. And then it was made possible to make it available to a whole variety of the masses and thus gaining wider acceptance. Sony are using the android platform to push their PlayStation engine into the phones. Microsoft has made a brave effort to provide a different user interface for the smartphones, but still has lots to do to catch up. Nokia-Intel’s Meego project is on very similar lines as that if the android. There are many others to indicate that real innovation is stagnant, and all these companies are trying to do is make their product more attractive.

I guess we should now be looking at various ways technology can leap forward. Maybe there would be a time when people would be groping in air instead of on the touch screens. There maybe a time when the devices can do things just as we think about it by reading our mind. Maybe a combination of the technology used in Kinect, Pranav Mistry’s Sixth sense, and a mind reading technology could the hit the shelves of mobile stores one day. Maybe afterall we would be interacting the way the guys at Microsoft dreamt of, in their video of the world in 2019. Whatever it maybe, the times ahead may or may not be awesome, but I personally would look towards Apple for the next leap of technology. πŸ™‚

5 kBps toΒ GSoC!!!

Strange title ain’t it? This is the speed of the connection I used for the past 2 months to get myself a project for Mozilla in Google Summer of Code!

That’s right, my proposal got accepted. Here’s the link for those nay-sayers! (Just Kidding…. πŸ™‚ )

It’s like a dream come true. From the time Vipin Sir spoke about my chances in GSoC just after I completed the Open Solaris project, I began dreaming (oh dreaming is my pass-time indeed!) about GSoC! I waited for many, many months for this (8 months to be precise) to get the news of GSoC 2010! And boy was I crazy about it! Continue reading

Google Image Search – Cool search for images!

Google has come a long way (though in a very short time!) to become the leader in web search. It has grown such that the word google has become a household name. Whenever one wants to search something, we say google it out! Now google has spread it’s wings and has almost touched all the frontiers of computer science that is visible in the Internet. One of them that I’m going to talk about is the Image Search Engine.

It has come quite a long time ago, but has matured ever since. The head at Google have been working on it, and over the years have added several features to it. So first I’ll guide you through what image search is, and then talk about the cool features Google has to offer in this field. Continue reading

GSoC 2010 is ON folks!!!!!!

The Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2010 is here and alive folks! Just when everybody thought Google may not think about it, it’s finally there! This great news was put in the GSoC google groups discussion[1] and I actually regret the fact that I came to know about it 3 days after it was announced!

The timeline has not been fixed yet. The details are that from March 12 to 19, submission of applications from the mentoring organisations will be from March 8th till 12th and the submission of application from the students will be from March 29 till April 9th. The details can be got from the discussion in [1] as also from their blog [2]. But the most important thing is to visit the GSoC website [3], which at the time of writing this post has not been updated so far, but soon will.

I can’t tell how excited I am knowing that finally 2010 will see another edition of this great Open Source venture. I’m so thankful of Google to promote open source, as this is one of the best ways to do so. For those who are unaware about this, GSoC is a venture from Google where they sponsor open source development. Here Google will help in the development of many open source projects by providing a platform where mentors and students can contribute. Google will select a list of mentors who they feel are eligible of mentoring a good open source project, and then the students will start applying for the projects by talking to the mentors. Once selected, the students will engage in developing whatever so in a span of 3 months, and once completed Google will acknowledge them with great goodies. Only current students above 18 can participate in GSoC. For those who are not, they can help by being a mentor!

The best part about GSoC is the amount of fun one can gather by being part of this. The projects need not be from Google, anything that is open source is good for Google. So this a perfect opportunity for those who have not yet joined the wagon of open source. And I’m sure doing all I can to jump on to the wagon!

Adios amigo and hope to see you in GSoC!

[1] – http://groups.google.com/group/google-summer-of-code-discuss/browse_thread/thread/d839c0b02ac15b3f#

[2] – http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/

[3] – http://socghop.appspot.com

[4] – http://socghop.appspot.com/document/show/gsoc_program/google/gsoc2009…

[5] – http://delicious.com/gsoc2009

[6] – http://socghop.appspot.com/gsoc/program/accepted_orgs/google/gsoc2009

Remebering Rajeev Motwani

On June 5th, 2009, Rajeev Motwani was no more. He died of an accident in the swimming pool when partying for the end of academic year at his residence. He was survived by his wife Asha Jadeja and two daughters.

Many of us have not heard of this wonderful man. He was one of the mentors of the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. He was born in New Delhi, India, on March 26 1962. He graduated in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, and did his Ph.D. in Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1988. Then he joined Stanford soon after U.C. Berkeley.

He wrote two books, Randomized Algorithms, published by Cambridge University Press in 1995, and an undergraduate textbook published in 2001. A kind, approachable man, Motwani was still active as a professor and was teaching a couple of classes as recently as last year, despite his financial success with his internet start-ups.

His awards include the Godel Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in theoretical computer science, the Okawa Foundation Research Award and the Arthur Sloan Research Fellowship, the National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Kanpur, the Bergmann Memorial Award from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and an IBM Faculty Award.

References :

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/technology-obituaries/5487846/Professor-Rajeev-Motwani.html

http://theory.stanford.edu/~rajeev/

http://reflections-shivanand.blogspot.com/2007/08/rajiv-motwani.html

Wikipedia : Rajeev Motwani