Shut down for an hour

For the second year in a row, my wife and I participated in Earth Hour. At 8:30 I hit the main breaker in our apartment shutting everything down for an hour. During that time we read together by candlelight and reflected on just how much energy we use on a day to day basis. It was amazing to us how quiet it was without the ambient hum of electronics running, serving our whims, and it was humbling to think how hard it seemed to read by candlelight and how much we rely on technology for every aspect of our lives.

If you didn’t participate in Earth Hour this year I urge you to do so next year. It’s a simple and symbolic way to focus on saving energy and the mounting energy crisis.

Twitter Tip: A Better @replies List in TweetDeck

@Replies tab on Twitter
@Replies tab on Twitter

Both Twitter and TweetDeck (as well as most other Twitter Clients) give you an easy way to get a list of responses people sent you.  On Twitter itself, this is the @Replies tab off of your home page. TweetDeck gives you a Replies column by default, and if you delete it, you can get it back by clicking on the replies button Replies button in TweetDeck on the top of the screen.  TweetDeck’s replies button uses the replies twitter feed feature from the Twitter API to work, so it returns the exact same list that you get on the home page.

I’ve found however, that I often want to track everything that is said to or about me, even if they are not technically @replies.  Because of this I’ve ditched the replies column in my TweetDeck and instead have created my own @replies list of sorts using the Search feature in TweetDeck which uses the Twitter Search API. To do this yourself follow the simple instructions after the break.
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Google Chrome Extensions Coming Out by May!

That’s right, I said it, and so far I’m the only one who has. Google has announced that extensions are coming to Google Chrome but have been mum on when. However I saw something today, that indicates the timetable may be short. Google officially opened up registration for Google I/O 2009, their third annual (first one was just called Google Developer Day) Developer’s Conference.

Google Chrome Extensions Session at Google I/O 2009
Google Chrome Extensions Session at Google I/O 2009

Like last year, it will take place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Along with the open pre-registration, they’ve also posted a list of Sessions (subject to change). High up on the list is a session entitled “Developing extensions for Google Chrome” which contains the following description:

Learn how Google Chrome makes it easy to write extensions using the web technologies you already know. This talk will cover the basics of the extension system (distribution/packaging, installation, updates), as well as the different APIs to enhance with the browser.

I’d say this is a safe bet that if Extensions are not released BEFORE Google I/O, then they will be released as a new feature AT Google I/O. Extensions are coming, but what about Mac Support?

UPDATE FROM GOOGLE I/O: While the session went through as planned, it turns out my theory was wrong, they simply aren’t available to announce support for extensions yet, although it is coming soon, and they are really well implemented in beta.

UPDATE 2 (June 3rd): The Session video is now up on youtube, I’ve embedded it below:

Mashup Camp, Next Week

Mashup CampNext Week, I will be attending parts of Mashup Camp at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA (across the street from Justia Headquarters).

Nick and Dan at Mashup CampLast spring, I went to Mashup Camp with my coworker Dan, and competed in their SpeedGeeking Best Mashup Contest. Dan did rather well, scoring 4th place with his iPhoneLocator Facebook App (although he’s rather disappointed as only the first 3 places won prizes), and I unfortunately came in last place. I haven’t decided if I’m going to compete again or not, but I can guarantee you if I do, I refuse to get last place again.

This years event looks like it will be fun however, including a Keynote by Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, which, among other things the company does, is my favorite publisher of Technology books.

I’m way behind blogging about this, as Dan blogged about it back in August

Amazon Kindle Reader for the iPhone

I wish I was posting this as a follow up to an announcement, but actually it’s a suggestion to Amazon on how they can make more money, sell more Kindle books, and make more people happy.

Amazon KindleFor those of you who don’t already know, the Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader that uses E-Ink technology to display content on a screen. What’s cook about e-ink is that once it has rendered the screen’s contents, it takes no power to keep the content on the screen. The result is that battery life of the kindle is measured in “page turns” instead of hours. The Kindle is also cool because it has WhisperNet, provided by Sprint, which lets you have books you purchase from Amazon’s kindle store be sent straight to the Kindle, without the need to plug the kindle into your computer. The Kindle also gets a special email address where you can email documents to this address and have them appear on your Kindle for a nominal fee for reading. All in all, it’s a fantastic product, it only has one little problem, the price. The Kindle is $349 (previously $399), available only from Amazon, which is still a bit steep for an up-front cost before you start buying books from the Kindle store to put on it.

Amazon, I know you want to sell Kindles, but your bread and butter will always be the books themselves. My suggestion is that you write an iPhone app that can read the Kindle book format and will validate like a Kindle to your own DRM. You could sell this app in Apple’s app store to make even more money, I’m thinking something along the lines of $20 to $40. This way people with an iPod Touch or iPhone (which is quite a lot of people, including yours truely) can start buying Kindle books without a Kindle, and get the enjoyment of having instant access to literature the way only the elite Kindle owners do. The iPhone already has access to the internet, so it could support all of the functionality of Whispernet without any difficulty from you the developer. The iPod Touch has WiFi, so even it can download books directly when it’s on a hotspot.

Amazon can even take this one step further. Amazon already partners with Apple’s iTunes Music Store as a place to purchase content from it’s own Audible.com, once someone has purchased your iPhone app, partner with iTunes again and have people able to shop for books right through the iTunes music store, making it even easier for iPhone owners to purchase your Kindle books.

What I think Amazon may find surprising if they did this, is that it probably would bolster sails of the Kindle devices itself, not only the Kindle books.

See I’m a bit leery of buying a Kindle, and buying Kindle books, knowing that those books are locked to the Kindle. If I could start buying those books now, and reading them on another device, I’d probably later buy a Kindle knowing it’s a better platform for reading them on.

It’s also not exactly outside of Amazon’s business model to offer their digital products to other platforms either. In March, 2007, I blogged about Amazon and TiVo teaming up to make Amazon Unbox Videos (now known as Amazon Video on Demand) available on TiVo boxes. I immediately started buying Unbox videos when I never had before. Incidentally, I’d love it if Amazon Video-on-demand Videos were playable on the iPhone as well, and I’d probably buy a lot more videos from Amazon if they did, but I think that might be a bit of wishful thinking.

So come on Amazon, release an iPhone app that can read Kindle documents and you’ll have even more of my money then you do now, and I’d bet a whole lot of other people’s money as well.

Keeping in Step, how to Sync your iPhone’s Calendar with Google Calendar

I love Google Apps for Domains, I use it for all of my domains, I’ve even setup holodeck3.com with the Partner edition so that my users can get @holodeck3.com email accounts and services through them. Google does a lot, for free, and they do it well. I’m also a Mac an an iPhone user. I am never without my iPhone, and only rarely without my laptop.

Google has, over time gotten a lot better at providing me with services I need in order to keep my world more in sync. I was glad to be in the early adoption crowd of users for IMAP on GMail, and the first person among my group of friends to get IMAP support on my Google Apps for Domains accounts. This has helped a lot as my iPhone is now what I use for email when I’m away from my laptop, and in fact I find myself not going to the computer quite as often when I’m “off duty” because of it.

I love Google Calendar and prefer to have my calendar events in Google as opposed to simply a local Calendar on my computer or phone, however when I am at my computer, using iCal is so much easier then using Google Calendar (and having to keep yet another browser window open), and then of course there’s the little matter of keeping my calendar on the iPhone so I have my events easily at hand. Google has long allowed you to subscribe to a Google Calendar using iCal’s ics format, but this was one way, only allowing you to read your Google calendar in iCal, not make changes to it. Until very recently the best way to keep iCal in sync with Google Calendar is to use Spanning Sync, a $25 program (use this link and you can get $5 off!), that keeps your calendar in iCal in sync both ways with your calendar on Google.
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Google I/O – Part II – The Opening Keynote

Google is following it’s trend from last year’s Google Developer Day by posting up videos of all of the sessions on YouTube, but so far I can only find the Opening Keynote. They promised that they would upload them all within a week, so expect more parts of my reviews of Google I/O as they become available. Continue reading “Google I/O – Part II – The Opening Keynote”

Google I/O – Part I – Google App Engine

This week I, as well as my Wife Barbara, and my co worker Dan, went to Google I/O. People who have read my blog for a while may remember that last year I attended Google Developer Day around this same time in San Jose. This year Google decided to expand from a single day to a whole two-day tech conference and move it to the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Continue reading “Google I/O – Part I – Google App Engine”

Google Developer Day 2007

The Main Stage

This thursday I went over to my second Tech Conference since moving to the San Francisco Bay area, the first being MacWorld back in January, this time, I went to the San Jose convention Center for the 2nd annual Google Developer Day. I must say I hope that Google’s CEO tells the Apple Board of Directors a thing or two about how to hold a Tech Conference.

Google Developer Day 2007 was fantastic fun, and Google made a lot of fantastic announcements just for developers, several of which I’m going to start implementing in my work at Justia.
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Life Changes

My last blog post before this one was in August and things have definitely changed in the lives of Barbara and I since then. The biggest change (really the only change but it has effected so much of my life it’s really a category rather then an item) is that I got a new job. I now work as a programmer for Justia Inc. Justia is a company that, among other things, provides websites for lawyers and law firms. The company is based in Palo Alto, California (in Silicon Valley).

As such this change of a new job also means that we no longer live with my parents in Texas but are now Californians. We have a small, one bedroom apartment in Mountain View, California a few minutes drive from the Googleplex.

Those of you who know us best most likely know this by now, but I felt it was important to update my blog and let people know about these changes. Yesterday (December 18th) marked the 2 month (October 18th) anniversary of the day we moved into our new home here in California.

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