1-800-GOOG-411

This is about a year old, but just came my way. 411 service from Google. Dial 1-800-GOOG-411, tell them the state, city and business you are trying to reach and Google 411 will connect you. And it’s free. Nice!

Thanks, Google…

– Dave

Author’s Guild vs. Google, Deadline Approaching…

Are you a published author? If so, you may have received a notice regarding the landmark lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google (famous for adopting the Hippocratic Rule, “First, do no harm” as their motto – I’ve always liked that).

In a nutshell, Google contracted with a number of universities, including the University Library of the University of Michigan, to digitally scan and create a searchable index of a subset of the books in their collection. Sounds cool, right?

The problem is, suppose you are an author of books in that collection. If Google makes the entire collection available on-line, your ability to make money from those books is gone. Thus, the lawsuit.

If you are a published author and are affected by this, you should have received received a rightsholders notice describing the lawsuit and giving you a chance to opt out so you could pursue your own claim against the company. The original notices were mailed out on January 5th, 2009.

The deadline for opting out is coming up fast. The last opt-out day os September 4th, 2009.

Me, I’ve got a number of books in the settlement and I’m staying in. First, I am a fan of Google and I believe in what they are doing. I generally don’t write for the money, and the books in question are old books that I am more than happy to share with the universe.

That said, there are plenty of folks who feel differently. Plenty. If you are on the fence, or just plain interested, here are some things to look at.

Here’s a link to the Author’s Guild resource page, a collection of links relevant to this lawsuit.

Here’s a link to the settlement agreement.

And, finally, here’s a link to Roy Blount, Jr.’s message to the Author’s Guild membership. Roy is the president of the Author’s Guild.

Interesting, no?

– Dave

Analysis of Google’s Ban of Dot Notation…

Objective-C 2.0 introduced a convenient syntax to simplify the process of getting and setting object values. This syntax is known as dot notation.

Imagine you created an Employee class and defined an instance of Employee with the name myEmployee. To refer to an Employee property, you might use a statement like this:

employeeAge = [myEmployee age];

This code sends the age message to the myEmployee instance which returns the current value of myEmplyee’s age property and sets employeeAge to that value.

Objective-C’s dot notation allows you to rephrase the above statement like so:

employeeAge = myEmployee.age;

The dot notation tells Objective-C to call the getter function (accessor) to retrieve age and set employeeAge to that value.

Similarly, you can use dot notation to access the setter function (mutator):

myEmployee.age = employeeAge;

Dot notation is pretty straightforward, but it has caused a bit of controversy in the Objective-C community. Apple has embraced dot notation and uses it frequently in official Cocoa and Cocoa Touch sample code.

Google, meanwhile, has banned the use of dot notation in their official code. Here’s a link to Google’s official Objective-C Style Guide.

So what should you do? Use dot notation? Run away from it screaming? Shun those who do use it?

No.

Best thing to do is to read Jeff LaMarche’s cogent analysis of Google’s ban. Best take on dot notation you are likely to see, in my opinion. Jeff really knows his stuff. Take a read…

– Dave

Google Voice Voicemail…

OK, this is really cool. Here’s a voice mail I received on my Google Voice line. One of the choices is to embed the voice mail. I clicked on embed, copied the code that appeared, and pasted it in a blog entry. Here it is:

My only concern is that there’s no personal info embedded in the embed code. There’s nothing obvious to me. If anyone sees anything, let me know…

– Dave

Google Voice…

I just received my invite to activate my Google Voice account. Here’s what the email said:

If you haven’t already heard about it, Google Voice is a service that makes using your current phones much better!

Here’s what it offers:
- A personal phone number that rings all of your existing phones when people call
- All of your voicemail in one inbox with unlimited online storage and free voicemail transcripts sent to your phone and email
- Low-priced international calling to over 200 countries and free SMS
- Other powerful features like the first phone spam filter to protect you from unwanted callers, the ability to ListenIn™ on your voicemail messages while they are being left, conference calling and more

To learn more about Google Voice before registering, visit: http://www.google.com/voice/about

Please note that Google Voice is only available for sign up in the US.

The activation process was well designed. I started by logging in to my Google account. Next I chose a phone number, a 10-digit traditional phone number that folks can dial, a sort of master number under which I can place all my other phone numbers. There’s a nice little tool that let’s you choose a phone number based on area code or ZIP code. You can extend that by also providing a word or phrase, like iPhone or genome. If Google can make it work, they will. I was able to get a local number that had the word Mac in it. Nice!

Once your number is selected, Google asks you for a phone number to connect to your new Google Voice number. In other words, what phone do you want to ring when someone calls your Google Voice number? I chose my office number.

Once that’s done, Google gives you a short activation code. When you are ready, they call your new Google Voice number and you answer the phone, politely, and type in your activation code to the nice robot who called you.

That’s it for now, will let you know as I discover new features. Want to test this out? If you know me, give me a call and I’ll give you my new Google Voice number…

– Dave

What is Google Wave?

Have you heard about Google Wave? The tagline is, “What would email look like if it were invented today?”

Another way to think about Wave is as a cloud-based object designed to store a conversation or email thread. With email, each email is a standalone entity. Threads between emails tend to be artificial constructs created by a specific email client. You can’t send an email thread to someone. The best you can do is send an email to someone that contains other emails. But those embedded emails are not objects themselves.

With Wave, the conversation is the object. People enter the conversation, leave their contributions, read replies, the conversation grows. Since the conversation is stored on a central server, changes made to the conversation are reflected instantly to all members of the conversation. Imagine if you were in a chat window and your typing appeared as you were typing it? And then had the advantage of email, the idea that conversations that happen while you were off line are still there, waiting for you when you check in.

I love this concept. Worth your time to watch this intro video. The biggest question I have is, is there a link from traditional email to Wave. And, if not, how will Google convince folks to make the changeover? After all, If only half of my group uses Wave, then how do I communicate with them without having to live half in email and half in Wave…

– Dave

Douglas Bowman, Visual Design Lead at Google, Says Goodbye…

Douglas Bowman is a terrific designer. His company, stopdesign, had done some pretty impressive work when he put everything on hold to join Google in 2006. Here’s a look at some of his work.

Douglas is leaving Google for green pastures. Here’s his goodbye blog entry, in which he lays out his issues with Google’s approach to design. Worth a read…

– Dave

Charlie Rose interviews Marissa Mayer, Google Search VP…

I am a big fan of Marissa Mayer. I like the way she thinks. Her title is V.P. of Search Product and User Experience. Watch this interview with Charlie Rose. Want to compare Google with Microsoft? Compare this interview with any interview ever done with Steve Ballmer.

Marissa Mayer

To me, Marissa Mayer is a perfect example of the reason Google succeeds so brilliantly. Marissa knows what makes Google tick, she’s in touch with the keys to their kingdom: search data. Take the time to listen to this interview. Worth your time. Fascinating.

– Dave

SQLite front end…

From Jeff LaMarche: If you’re interested in using SQLite for your next app, you might want to check out SQLitePeristentObjects:

http://code.google.com/p/sqlitepersistentobjects/

it’s a front-end for SQLite that removes the need to write SQL for most operations. It makes development of SQLite-backed applications considerably faster.

Thanks, Jeff!

– Dave