One travel service to rule them all? If only.

I was working in London the past five weeks, and with that over, I’ve been travelling a bit across Europe. 

In this last six weeks, the realisation has dawned on me that 95% of the travel-related research and purchases I’ve made have been online. Local transport is one I just wasn’t comfortable purchasing online, and wanted the assurance of going to a station and buying that first ticket, getting any stupid questions out of the way with a person. Quickly. It’s fine buying a ticket, but essentially not knowing how to use it, and getting lost is not a prospect that’s fun.

Back to that 95%.

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Android UI unification in Ice Cream Sandwich

Well, this post by Min Ming on Android UI fragmentation has certainly been doing the rounds today, and while there is no doubt that UI fragmentation across Android, and even some of their Google-branded offerings exists, instead of looking at how it’s headed in a positive direction, the post chose to pick on some disparate cases. Hey, it wasn’t made up, and the point stands, but below are how the core Google apps in Ice Cream Sandwich are doing things right in terms of unification, and setting a standard developers and UI dudes and dudettes can certainly use as examples.

By the way, Google, you can do SO MUCH MORE to make things easy for developers in providing some rigid guidelines, and ultimately, for your end users, getting accustomed to a consistent experience across the OS and applications. I mean, really, how hard is it to set up some UI patterns like Android Patterns.

Click to embiggen images! This reduced size view does their gloriousness no justice.

Tabs

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The More icon AKA the new Menu

More

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Patents, trolls, Google, and the rest of this mess.

It’s been a fun day in the world of technology, and for all the wrong reasons. David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Google kicked things off with, what in hindsight I’d see as a good ol’ fashioned bitch.

But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.

I’m pretty sure “bogus” hasn’t been put in quotes as much in a day. Ever.

Now is as good a time as any to provide some background on the broken software patent system by pulling out some dialogue from a recent episode of the greatly insightful This American Life podcast, When Patents Attack!

Companies that make no products, but go around suing other companies that do make products, over supposed patent infringement are so common in Silicon Valley these days that there’s a derogatory term for it. Trolls. Or patent trolls.

Because patents are so broad…

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Google+ a week in. Sort out your symmetry! And other musings…

It’s been a week since my initial thoughts on Google+, and my uses for it have changed rather heavily!

The core 6 or 7 peeps I converse with on Wave everyday, yeh, we’re still using Wave for that. We gave it a go, and apart from us having perfected how we use Google Wave and feeling way too comfortable with it, the asymmetry of Circles as they currently stand, didn’t sit well with us. Ok, me anyway. Stand, sit, sheesh, I need to learn how to write…

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I noticed it a day in. I just explained it terribly. Today’s TechCrunch post crystallised things.

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Err, Google, can you bring back realtime search until it moves to Google+…?

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via @googlerealtime

That’s rather lame, and no wonder I haven’t been seeing realtime results tonight. And really, they needed to disable the whole thing to test out integration with Google+? 

Considering how pathetic the Twitter search is, Google Realtime, and its timeline view have saved me many a time in trying to find old tweets, and it’s been fantastic in trying to determine whether issues I currently have with a service or website are shared by others across the web, the most recent example being Tumblr’s genius idea to remove the importing of RSS feeds >.<

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Google+. Initial thoughts from a non-Facebooker.

I’m probably the one person you know [or don't know] that doesn’t use Facebook. I never saw a need to use it, and coupled with their terrible stance on privacy and general doucheness by Zuckerberg, wouldn’t be caught dead using it. Then Twitter came along and createdshortly filling thereaftera need to consume a constant stream of technology, movie, and cat-related information, amongst other things, and the ability to share all this easily.

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SXSW – The context layer

There was plenty talked about at SXSW Interactive, and for the most part, it was reaffirming my existing knowledge more than anything else. One thing that did stand out, and that I’ve found myself talking about since I’ve returned, is this whole concept of a Context Layer to sit on top of all the content that exists on the web, and specifically in relation to Location.

This is isn’t something new or revolutionary, but it makes sense in feeling like the logical next step.

We’ve already seen Web 2.0 push personalisation, and the Social Web push relevance via social graphs [no doubt this will continue *cough* +1 *cough*], but utilising location, especially through mobiles, is still in its infancy.

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You can test your streaming video speeds on YouTube now?!

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Since when did this get introduced?! Maybe it was part of the new video player that started showing up a month ago? I accidentally right-clicked the YouTube video [Gym Class Heroes – On My Own Time [great song, btw]] I was watching and one of the options was ‘Take speed test’. Who am I to refuse The Google? I took the test and was then directed to a page with some funky graphs and benchmarks of how my speed holds up against the average speed of my ISP, city, state, country and globally! Not sure how big the sample size is for the comparison data or anything, but nifty nonetheless.

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You can even click ‘Show Test Video’ and see your streaming information in real time. If that’s your thing, that is… /shrug

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Anyway, it was geeky and cool to see, and between this and the interactive Pac-Man Google logo, my love for Google continues to increase. Take the test and let me know what you get!

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Salmon Protocol – Unifying the Conversations

Salmon has come up quite a bit recently, and rightly so, with the talk around Google Buzz. I first heard about it on This Week in Google ep 29, which has some great discussion around Google Buzz from @jyri and @kevinmarks, and it came to mind again today with @scobleizer’s blog post; (Coming soon: the disruptive molecular age of information) so I thought I may as well embed this ridiculously simple slideshow that explains exactly what Salmon is.  
As updates and content flow in real time around the Web, conversations around the content are becoming increasingly fragmented into individual silos.  Salmon aims to define a standard protocol for comments and annotations to swim upstream to original update sources — and spawn more commentary in a virtuous cycle.  It’s open, decentralized, abuse resistant, and user centric.

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Listen and TWiT

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Listen is a Google Labs experiment and by far my new favourite Android app, and a must for anyone with an Android phone.

Listen is basically a web audio / podcast discovery app that allows you to search, subscribe, download and stream in such a simple way that I found my listen queue filling up pretty quickly. Downloading has been easy & quick enough through 3G; haven’t bothered with WiFi since it downloads speedily and I can actually make a dent into my normally wasted data plan.

You can tell that it’s a Labs experiment though, with a few strange things that stood out initially, but no doubt Google will be all over it soon enough, and I’m eagerly awaiting v1.0.4.

Gripes / Wants:

  • No support to play other audio / other media on your phone – It only played podcasts that are downloaded through Listen, and strangely, it removes the audio extension on anything it downloads, so the file becomes incompatible with other audio apps unless you add in the .mp3 or .m4a extension
  • I thought I’d had an “ah-ha!” moment the other day when I realised I could use the scroll wheel to seek with accuracy, but then found the seek bar to creep back to its original position, with the scroll wheel doing nada
  • Some kind of web / desktop interface tied to your Google account [you need one to use the app anyway] almost seems like a must

Download Listen via the QR code below

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Coincidentally, my love of Listen has a great deal to do with the gloriousness that is TWiT [This Week In Technology]. I humbly apologise to @renny510 and @pkattera for not heeding your advice earlier. I’ll probably have another mini rant about it sometime, but I’m already waiting for the next episode with as much anticipation as I would a JJ Abrams TV show. Luckily there’s a backlog of 200+ episodes that I can fall back on, not to mention the broader TWiT network, with podcasts like TWiG [This Week In Google] and others from Leo and the gang.

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