Google Chrome – now they have a browser. World domination beckons.

I’ve just downloaded Google Chrome. This is Google’s new browser, released about an hour ago. Just playing right now but it’s looking pretty good. The pages load very quickly and I seem to be moving faster into applications. I’ve been using Internet Explorer. Flock didn’t do it for me and Firefox has problems at work so I just went with what was comfortable. Lately I’ve been having so many problems loading pages with IE I’ve just about been going crazy.  I’ll be interested to see how this works. the buzz on the net so far is that it’s pretty slick.

Google really are covering all bases to ensure that they become our brand of choice. I really heavily now on my Google Reader and Gmail.  At this early stage, looks like I might become reliant on their browser too.  They’ve relased a video explaining the story of Google Chrome. Check it out. 

Google Street View – now in Australia

Was watching World News on SBS when I saw a report about Google Street View. I’d never heard of it, but the reporter was saying that your house’s street view could be visible in a Google Maps search if you selected street view. Just had to check that out! Typed in my address, clicked on street view and next thing you know I’m looking at my front fence and driveway -the image you see above! Freaked me out a bit I have to admit. It seems a little intrusive somehow.

Andrew Ramadge, from News.com.au wrote an article about Street View explaining what it is and how the images are collected;

Google Street View is an online tool that lets users take a virtual tour of landscapes from their computer by perusing an interactive database of millions of 360-degree snapshots.

The snapshots are taken by a fleet of cars fitted with special cameras that drive across the country, capturing images on every street corner and along every highway.

   He goes on to address security concerns that have been expressed and how Google hopes to overcome them;

In response to security concerns raised in the US, Google said last year its Street View service would not identify faces or license plates in Australia.

The company has recently introduced an automatic face-blurring technology designed to obscure the identities of people caught in the lens of Street View. Mr Shilkin said that the low resolution of images would prevent vehicle number plates from being identifiable.

Users can also report any Street View images they believe to be inappropriate through a link on the website. Mr Foster said it would take anywhere between a few minutes to “a day or so” to remove to offending images once they were reported.

Google have created a video explaining Street View for Australian audiences. I have to admit that after viewing this I warmed to the Street View concept. Good marketing Google! I like the fact that I and my students are now going to be able to visit places of interest and ‘walk’ our way around them. Imagine a class where you’re explaining the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Opera House- you can take your students there to navigate your way around its surrounds.  If you have to find your way from one place to another you type in your start address and your finish address and the program will step out for you the course you need to take.  Geography classes just got a whole lot more interesting I think! Watch the video and make your own mind up about Street View.

(If you want to see how the camera works that took the street view pictures take a look at this popular mechanics article. Thanks to Simon Brown for tweeting about this)

Searchme a winner with students.

(I added the arrows in the above screenshot!)

Today I was teaching our Yr 7 students about researching effectively. We were exploring keywords for search and I showed them Searchme. I wanted them to see how they could use Searchme’s stacks to collect webpages and keep a record of the websites they find useful for their investigative research.

These students had seen Searchme and Viewzi when I introduced them to these new search engines a couple of weeks ago.  As I was moving around the room one of them told me she uses Searchme as her default search engine now. The real magic happened when I demonstrated how you save the pages to a stack that you have created. They were won over in that instant. They spent the rest of the lesson dragging relevant pages to stacks they had created. They all were drawn in by the fact that you have the page loaded and can see your search results as a page view. You can start to make assessment as to whether or not the resource might be relevant. They got the idea really quickly that stacks were a means of collating your research so that you could go back and peruse in depth when you were ready to tackle questions that needed addressing. A couple of them made mention that this would help in making sure that the bibliographic data you needed was accessible -they did note that they should be collecting this along the way and should not leave the construction of a bibliography until the last minute! All of them thought it was very cool that you could save videos and images to your stacks as well as standard webpages.

I was using Google last night to collate links for a wiki page I was putting together for our study of ‘Little Women’. I wanted my students to get some grasp of the period and was searching for Amercian Civil War links. Google wasn’t returning what I was looking for so I turned to Mahalo. Surprisingly the page for American Civil War has not been fully fleshed out -I was surprised anyway. I went to Searchme thinking the returns would be so so but was pleasantly surprised. I found myself loving the full page view and being able to flick through results so easily. Within minutes I’d found what I was looking for at appropriate levels of understanding for my students and my wiki links were completed.   

Have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results from Searchme. I keep expecting mediocre results but am finding relevant pages appearing. The speed at which I can assess a resource is a real winner for me and I’m guessing it’s going to be for my students as well. I’ll be very interested to watch their adoption of these new alternatives to traditional search.

The empire strikes back!

  

Google has responded to Microsoft’s bid to takeover Yahoo. David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer for Google has posted a response on the Official Google Blog, and they’re not happy.

According to David, Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It’s about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation. 

He goes on to to say;

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies — and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

Could it also be that Google sees the merging of these two companies as a threat to the dominance they now exert over the Web?

I don’t know if we’re seeing a Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader battle here, or if there are any bad guys at all. What will be interesting is what could possibly happen if Microsoft is successful. No doubt new tools to play with and a Google fightback. Interesting times we live in. Thanks to Download Squad and Phil Bradley for alerts to this post.   

*For those who read my previous post -pleased to report car keys found by kind citizen and returned to me today. To Lynne, who did the good deed and refused a reward for her kindness, my hope is that karma comes around and serves you well.

Cluster maps are cool!

 

 

I’m new to this blogging game and don’t know everything I think I need to know in order to write this blog effectively. I’ve been looking at other people’s blogs and am really impressed with the Cluster Maps appearing on pages indicating where visitors to their blog are from. A cluster map is not one of the available widgets that you can select for your sidebar on a wordpress blog, so I typed ‘Cluster map widget’ into Google and found the site ClustrMaps. You register for a map and the site provides you with HTML code that you can put into your blog to enable the Cluster Map to appear. That’s all well and good, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where to put the code! Back to the Google drawing board.

I did a natural language search through Google by typing in ‘How do I embed a cluster map into a wordpress blog?’ (Google is getting so much better at finding what you need through a natural language search – no wonder they’re blitzing all other search engines) One of the results was Dianne Clancy’s Art Blog which contained very specific instructions about how to set it up. Here’s what Dianne had to say;

If you use widgets, login to your admin panel. Then go to “Presentation” to “Widgets.” Widgets will be on the line underneath Presentations after you choose Presentations.

Look to see if you have a “text” widget under “Available Widgets.” If you do not see a text widget that is there, go further down the page to “Text Widgets” and choose one or more text widgets. Then click “save.”

Grab one of the “text” widgets under “Widgets Available.” Drag it to the “Sidebar.” Double click the little icon on the top right with a blue bar and a couple of black lines underneath it. It will open into a box that you can put the info into. If you want, there is a place for a title – like “Cluster Map” or “Stats.” Then in the larger box underneath the title, paste the code for you Cluster Map. Then close the box with a click onto the “X” on the upper right.

To the right of the “Sidebar,” across the work space, there is Save Changes” – click on that. Alternatively, underneath “Available Widgets”, on the the right, is “Save Changes” – click on that.

Then … ta da!!! Go the “View Site” (next to the name of your blog) and see how gorgeous your map looks.  It will be empty for now, but soon your little red dots will start to show up as we all coming visiting you!!

I followed Dianne’s instructions and now have a natty little cluster map on my blog. I just need lots of visitors now to fill it up with little red dots! Thanks Dianne. Another wonderful thing about the world of blogging – the sharing nature of the network.

Breaking news – Microsoft proposal to buy Yahoo!

Download Squad has just posted a report suggesting that Microsoft has proposed to purchase all Yahoo outstanding shares. Here’s what Microsoft have to say in their press release;

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) today announced that it has made a proposal to the Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) Board of Directors to acquire all the outstanding shares of Yahoo! common stock for per share consideration of $31 representing a total equity value of approximately $44.6 billion. Microsoft’s proposal would allow the Yahoo! shareholders to elect to receive cash or a fixed number of shares of Microsoft common stock, with the total consideration payable to Yahoo! shareholders consisting of one-half cash and one-half Microsoft common stock. The offer represents a 62 percent premium above the closing price of Yahoo! common stock on Jan. 31, 2008.

There’s been talk for a number of years now that Microsoft has been pumping millions into the development of a search engine that would tip Google off the top of the mount. Perhaps they’ve decided now to acquire the next best thing, Yahoo, and see what they can do with this platform that has the brand association they need.  If they are successful, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them infuse Yahoo with new tools they may have in development that would give Google a run for their money. Here’s what Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect at Microsoft has said;

 “The combination of these two great teams would enable us to jointly deliver a broad range of new experiences to our customers that neither of us would have achieved on our own.”

I think Google has Microsft running scared with the introduction of Google Docs and Spreadsheets etc. Interesting times we live in – can’t wait to see how things unfold.