The Weekend

Well, the Ferret beat me to a sum-up of and did a far more detailed job of it than I would have done. I will, however, add that the vodka was an excellent Russian vodka called Stolichnaya, or to it’s friends. The weekend neither followed the original plan (beer festival) nor the backup plan (easy Friday night, pub crawl Saturday, hangover Sunday), but still very much enjoyable, perhaps partly due to the unplanned nature of it all. I still want to do a major pub crawl of Woking though, so people can expect to have me muttering about that at some point.

I’ve enjoyed watching the first Season of Doctor Who. It certainly had it’s weak episodes as well as it’s fun ones, so it’s worth continuing to watch, though not fanatically.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

As you can , I’ve been messing around with Google Docs recently, formerly Writely and Google Spreadsheet, now combined. The docs part works nicely, especially now that it supports Beta Blogger, though I still wish they’d have more link options, like supporting tagged links. Spreadsheet though, despite having a great many functions was always missing thinks like charts and retrieving information from web pages. And so I was tempted to move back to .

Imagine then my surprise when it was announced that . In other words, Google hired the developers rather than buying the solution. I can only hope that this means that some of IRows features will migrate to Google Spreadsheet as they’re sorely lacking. Current Irows users are basically being told to export their docs as Excel spreadsheets (including charts) and upload them to Google Docs (without charts). That’s going to put some noses out of joint…

: “WEB SEARCH outfit Google has added a new service to its online portfolio.
The service is called Google Calendar and is able to tell you what day it is. You can sign up
. “

This has been rumoured for an amazingly long time. I’ll give it a whirl and tell you what I think…
So far no joy on logging in. Everybody else in the world is probably trying the same thing….

Update: It works!
First impression: Very fast, slick, simple and no adverts
Import of Yahoo Calendar events: Failed! Maybe later.
Another gripe: No tagging? Gmail manages it and I want to categorise my events! I know the product is out for mere hours, but surely that was a consideration?
In general: I like it and I’ll use it in preference to Yahoo Calendar. Now all I want is Gmail contacts to be seperated from Gmail which I can’t access from behind a firewall.

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Google to get into social bookmarking?: “For anyone who hasn’t tried social bookmarking, it is most easily described as the bookmark capability built into your browser, cross-bred with social networking sites like MySpace or Friendster. A logical comparison could also be made to the user lists found on sites like Amazon, i.e. ‘my list of favorite Dr. Who DVDs,’ or ‘my list of quality Kitchen Aid blender accessories.'”

Personally, I’ve been playing with del.icio.us recently, the mosty well-known social-bookmarking site and been finding it very useful, especially as I’m now using three or four different devices to access the internet. Also, it allows me better tools for research than Google. Search terms in Google will bring up a lot of dross, ancient forum entries and a lot of SEO sites. Looking for other people’s tagged sites is a lot more reliable.

Basically, it’s Flickr for your links and it’s even owned by Yahoo as well. Yahoo would be wise to start merging some of it’s offerings.

So it makes sense for Google to get involved, but it’s hard to see how it can improve on existing models like it did for email.

One new rival on the social bookmarking scene is Ma.gnolia (are you spotting the naming trend?) It’s a newcomer and hence suffers from not many people using it, but it’s key selling point is that when you tag a site, the server stores a snapshot of the page, so you never have to worry about pages vanishing with your reference materials.

Personally, I’m happy to stick with del.icio.us for now. I’ve only just remembered the ridiculous URL…

: “The internet search engine Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for. “

Why does the DoJ want to peruse the Google databases? Do they want to track the illegal activities of a terrorist suspect? Crack a paedophile ring?

No, they’re just looking to justify some of their anti-porn legislation that has been blocked by the Supreme Court because of legal challenges over how it is enforced.

The DoJ will probably win, but it’s still encouraging that Google is less than willing to breach the civil liberties of it’s users. As opposed to Yahoo, who were so ready to allow pro-democracy protestors to be fed to the lions (or should that be dragons?) in China to protect their business interests. (That news article )

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A couple of interesting toys Ive found. The first one is the GMail Drive shell extension. GMail Drive is a Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual filesystem around your Google Gmail account, allowing you to use Gmail as a storage medium. [It] creates a virtual filesystem on top of your Google Gmail account and enables you to save and retrieve files stored on your Gmail account directly from inside Windows Explorer. GMail Drive literally adds a new drive to your computer under the My Computer folder, where you can create new folders, copy and drag’n’drop files to.

Definitely a unique idea, though utterly pointless unless you have quite a fast net connection. My ideal implementation of it would be to have the shell extension work from a USB drive, that way you could have direct file access to everything youve stored in your Gmail account.

Dont have a Gmail account? Let me know, and if I know you, you can have an invite!

As for the other thing, its more of a clever technique rather than a toy. The idea is to use Flickr to store files using steganography. According to this article, Flickr isnt doing any checking for embedded files. The upside is that you can use your Flickr account for excess storage or covertly passing files. Im sure it wont be long before Flickr inhibits this though. Firstly, image file sizes will shoot up and secondly steganographic methods are used by organised crime groups who encrypt files, embed them in images and then send the images. The image looks identical and its possible to embed in such a way that the information doesnt show in an images EXIF tag. Voila, the encrypted file is invisible.