With Caffeine, Google Reveals the Challenges of Real Time

Google recently launched a new search indexing system called Caffeine, which it says produces results that are 50 percent “fresher.” Why? Because Google needed to respond faster in a world that has become increasingly real-time. Not just because it wanted to, but because it had to.

Does Caffeine Really Affect Productivity?

Most of us web workers have a relationship with caffeine. Whether we use tea or coffee as creative fuel, or use coffee shops as our offices, caffeine has become an essential part of our professional lives. But how exactly does caffeine affect us?

WebOS on a Netbook Could be the NBT

LAPTOP Magazine knows netbooks. They see every single netbook that comes down the pike and quite a few that don’t even make it to the U.S. An article they’ve published looks at the possibility that we may see netbooks running Palm’s (s palm) WebOS and I have to agree with them.
Netbooks started with Linux and work quite well with that OS. It’s cheaper and generally runs better on less hardware than the Windows (s MSFT) OS and is a good fit for the little netbook. That’s why we’ve been hearing that netbooks running the Android (s GOOG) OS are going to happen Real Soon Now. Let’s face it, Android is Linux at its core and since it runs well on phones it will easily run well on low-end computers.
The same premise applies to the WebOS.  It, too, is Linux at its core and since it’s cleaner and has a very polished consumer interface it would likely be a great fit for netbooks. Palm has been careful to make sure that the upcoming Pre phone will not be the only target device for the WebOS, so netbooks may very well be in their plans.
LAPTOP Magazine gives some good reasons why WebOS would be a good fit for netbooks and the single best one in my view is how it will likely run very well on ARM processors. These processors are cheaper than Intel’s (s INTC) Atom and are powerful enough to make for good netbook processors. It is expected that a netbook with ARM inside could provide very long battery life, so if you could put a pretty face on a netbook with WebOS, Palm may be sitting on a gold mine.

Caffeine As Fuel For Web Workers

Photo by Reid Beels

Photo by Reid Beels

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is put a kettle of water on the stove to make tea. Unlike Captain Picard’s preference for Earl Grey, I stick mostly to green tea to keep me caffeinated. I suspect that most of you have a similar ritual whether you reach for your morning Mt. Dew, tea, coffee, espresso, or a tall, skinny, half-caf, no whip, caramel machiatto from the local coffee shop.

The western obsession with caffeine has some interesting roots. On the NPR Science Friday podcast this week, Steven Johnson talked about how Age of Enlightenment in England coincides with the arrival of caffeine and the growing popularity of coffee shops as places where people with different backgrounds, like Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Priestley, came together over coffee and tea to talk about issues and new ideas. The coffee houses also introduced caffeine as a daily habit in people’s lives. At the time, one of the only other safe beverages was alcohol, since the water quality was poor, so some people went from being drunk by mid-morning every day to being caffeinated and alert throughout the day. Read More about Caffeine As Fuel For Web Workers

A Meditation on the Pending Starbucks Closings

Starbucks logoHow is my life as a Web worker affected by the closing of 600 Starbucks nationwide? Let me count the ways. But seriously, I’m sure there are many a Web worker lamenting the possible closure of their corner Starbucks due to the company’s “re-organization” strategy (no store locations have been revealed at press time). Do they not know the important role each and every Starbucks plays in the day-to-day lives of Web workers all over?

I mean, having a Starbucks on practically every corner in some cities is the kind of convenience that we’re all used to getting online where if one Web site or Web app isn’t exactly what we need when we need it, another is only a few mouse clicks away. A few steps to the next street corner is only slightly more strenuous than those mouse clicks. And now, we’ll have to actually walk whole blocks to get to a Starbucks that hasn’t been ripped from our streets in the name of improved profit margins for the ubiquitous coffee haven. Well, what about our profit margins as Web workers? Without those 600 Starbucks, how will we survive? Read More about A Meditation on the Pending Starbucks Closings

Google the Next .Mac?

People are looking for a cheap, preferably free, way of getting universal access. Question is who will achieve it first, and who will get it right?

Cloud computing seems to be all the rage these days, from business collaboration tools, like Document & Spreadsheet apps, to the YouTube’s and Flickr’s of the web. Either way you look at it, it would appear that universal access is getting nearer and nearer. Eventually cloud computing will be the only computing, and the only OS you’ll need will be completely location independent. But for now, there are a few choices to get started with. Between Apple’s .Mac service and Google Apps, which is more likely for consumers to choose?

Let’s breakdown the basic features and compare the two:

Basic Features .Mac Google Apps
Online Storage 10 Gigs Shared Unknown
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Since the most recent update, .Mac has brought new and exciting features. The .Mac Web Gallery offers unparalleled ability to share photos and slideshows. Users now have 10 gigs at their disposal to share between Mail and storing files. One feature that has most intrigued me is “Back To My Mac.” Currently it lets .Mac users access any of their computers from outside their own network. If I’m at home, I can access my work computer and vice versa. What interests me most is my hope of one day seeing very similar features across the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms. Imagine throwing in a bit of Front Row access, and you’re streaming your favorite videos or music from wherever you are. .Mac also offers a complete Backup and Restore utility, the ability to Sync iCal and Address Book across multiple Macs, which can come in handy especially if you’re on the go. In total these features will cost you $99 a year.

Google Apps

Currently Google offers 5.6 gigs for Gmail and has announced GDrive, their answer to online storage. Currently the amount of online storage space is unknown but I imagine it to grow similar to Gmail. Knowing Google, this probably won’t be your average online storage. Perhaps online sharing and then some? Currently box.net is my choice for online storage. They offer the capability of sharing as well as document editing. With Google you know if they introduce something new, it’s going to go above and beyond what you expect.

Google also has Picasa and Blogger under their belt. With Picasa users can currently store and share one gig worth of photos online. Page Creator lets users create websites and upload them to Blogger. Google also features Google Docs & Spreadsheets for online editing. While you may not be able to cross sync computers, or access another computer, having your Calender and Documents stored online makes remote accessibility easy. Having everything edited and stored online means you never have to worry about syncing computers to get the most up to date information. Other features include Google Talk for online communicating, Google Reader, and your own personalized homepage. Naturally the most attractive feature offered by Google is having all these utilities completely mobile and completely free.

One Google to Rule Them All?

Gmail is the true gateway drug. As soon as you switch, you feel compelled to use all the other Google utilities and features available before you. Whether your poison is Google Reader or iGoogle, there’s a strong platform to expand on. With their rate of acquisitions, Google can only stand to gain more ground. So for this user, while .Mac may look pretty and be feature friendly, but I’m sticking with Google. You can’t beat free, and you can’t be mobile the way Google achieves it.

However, I think it’s interesting to note that the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, is also on the Board of Directors for Apple. So while they may be competing for universal access, maybe they really are just be building off of one another.

Another Exec Out at Babelgum

Internet television platform Babelgum has lost another top executive — its CTO, Mallku Caballero. (Thanks for the tip, commenter Rumpelstiltskin.) Caballero, who left the company about a month ago, told paidContent:UK: ”Let’s just say that I did not fully adhere to the vision and to the management style brought in by the new CEO.”

As we reported in October, Babelgum co-founder Erik Lumer, who was demoted from his CEO position when the company brought in new CEO Valerio Zingarelli this year, also left the company. Lumer, according to a press release he emailed to us, left to become CEO of RawFlow. But RawFlow has yet to update its web site to acknowledge this information.

Babelgum may outlast the turbulence of its executive departures simply by virtue of how much money it has. Silvio Scaglia, who was CEO of Omnitel when Zingarelli was there, co-founded Babelgum with Lumer. Scaglia funded the company with $13.2 million of his own money, and told BusinessWeek he plans to spend $130 million more over the next few years. Notably, however, competitors such as Joost and Veoh have massive war chests of their own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s that special time of the year for spending time with friends and family once again. Kevin and I wish all of our readers in the US a very Happy Thanksgiving!   For those of you outside the US have a great day too! 


Find that tune with GoFish

Silicon Valley.com: GoFish, started by the founder of the now-defunct Musiclocker service, allows people to simultaneously search for songs from Napster, Buy.com, iTunes and a host of other online music merchants. The site also looks for audiobooks, video, ring tones and games.