Google Glass Brings Us One Step Closer to the Dystopia of Wall•E

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As you probably know, Google Glass was recently released to a select set of developers for testing. For those of you who don’t, however Google Glass is a pair of glasses that connects to the internet, has a build in webcam, and lets you talk to people and get directions.

This means a few things. First of all, you will soon be able to always have the internet readily available to you without even having to look away from what you’re doing. Secondly, the internet will become such an integral part of our daily lives that we will no longer remember what it was like without it.

Sound familiar? I don’t know if you’ve watched Wall-E, but here’s a basic synopsis: It’s way in the future, and earth was destroyed by the humans. The humans then made a giant space ship and lived on it. It was on this high tech spacecraft that everyone eventually got extremely fat by spending their lives in hover chairs. Every passenger also had a screen projected in front of them, and they were always so focused on what was on their screen that they completely neglected the outside world around them.

walle

In fact, when two people bumped into each other and were forced to interact in real life, it was a new experience for them both.

Here’s just a simple overview of what google glass looks like to a wearer. Notice any similarities?

With Google Glass you can also send and receive messages, get directions, find information from Google Now, and even record video and capture your view through a camera – all available in your eye. Soon people will be walking around completely oblivious to the existence of a real world, and augmented reality will become the only reality.

Compare this scene from Wall•E with this demo of Google Glass:

As you can tell, we aren’t quite to the point of complete social isolation. However, the widespread availability of a product like this will bring mankind one giant step closer to the Wall•e-an dystopia that we fear.

SelfControl: Goodbye Procrastination

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Selfcontrollogo

Okay, so you have a ton of stuff to do. Emails to respond to, presentations to finish, proposals to complete. Calls to make, appointments to schedule, packages to deliver, documents to sign. 

But that one tab… it’s flashing. It beckons you. 

“Bob sent you a message!”

Bob. He sent you a message. 

All of the sudden, your entire agenda turns to nothing as you get sucked in to this pointless conversation with Bob. 

But wait – you have a new notification. Someone commented on your cat photo. You need to respond. If you don’t, then your opinion wouldn’t be expressed to the world! Oh, that post, it must be liked. Oh, there’s Bob again – Gotta reply to that. Oh, new comment on that cat photo. What?! They don’t think cats are better than dogs? I need to google why cats are better than dogs. Oh, there’s that flashing tab again! It’s Bob. Oh, I have a new chat. I have to respond to it. Oh hey, there’s my old high school friend! I should say hi. Oh, that post is cool, I should like it. Oh, I need to respond to bob. Oh, someone liked my status. Oh, I have to respond to my chats. 

Three hours have passed. You’ve gotten absolutely nothing done. 

This, my readers, is a daily phenomenon that affects almost 100% of active Facebook users. The term for it is “unconscious procrastination, meaning that you procrastinate and you don’t even realize it until you actually take a look at the clock. And thanks to many sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more, unconscious procrastination is a problem that affects the productivity of the entire world. 

Well, thankfully, there is indeed a solution: SelfControl. 

SelfControl is very simple: Add the sites you don’t want to it’s blacklist, set a timer, hit start, and goodbye procrastination. Any of the sites that you added will no longer work for that amount of time! So no matter how much you might want to get to Facebook to see if Bob responded, you can’t – so I guess that gives you the opportunity to get something done!

One of the beautiful things about SelfControl is that once you set the timer, you can’t stop it. Even if you restart your mac, uninstall the application, whatever, you won’t be able to visit your blocked sites until the timer is up. 

Okay, now for the technical part (those who aren’t interested, skip to the next paragraph). On your Mac there is a file called the hosts file. Basically, it contains a local DNS registry, which usually only consists of localhost being 127.0.0.1. What SelfControl does is adds an entries to the hosts file that direct whatever sites you blacklisted to 0.0.0.0. This means that if you try to visit a site that you blacklisted, you will be redirected to the server at the address 0.0.0.0 – which doesn’t exist. Now for the spoiler: if you really want to get your Facebook and other social networks back before the timer is out, you can use the Terminal to edit /etc/hosts and delete the SelfControl entry.

So say goodbye to Bob, your friends, and your admirers alike; you have work to do. 

SelfControl Website

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Why Google+ Is Failing

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When I was at the Teens In Tech conference, a speaker told me this:

For your product to succeed, it either must be a new idea or be better than a previous one.

It makes sense – why would anyone switch to your product if there’s already one that does the same thing? Your product needs to have more to offer so people would actually have a reason to “convert.”

Unfortunately, there are few tech companies that succeed with new ideas – so a lot take old ideas and refresh them to make ‘em better. For example, every Apple product ever created; The iPhone wasn’t the first phone in the world – it was just better than the rest; The iPod wasn’t the first small music player ever created – it was just better because it could hold so many more songs and didn’t need CDs or Cassettes.

Okay, so lets take a look at Google+. It’s a great social network that has tons of new features that are definitely in demand. Who would wan’t multi-person video chat, along with a slew of easier to manage privacy features?

“Okay, so Google+ “better” than facebook – but why isn’t it succeeding?”. This is a question I’ve been asked many times.

Lets think about it in terms of a lamp (yes, the one on your desk). First, we have our facebook: A standard lamp with a normal switch that emits very bright light. Then, lets look at our Google+: A large, fancy lamp with pretty designs on it, a bendable neck, and voice activated controls – but we forgot to add in a socket for a lightbulb.

In this analogy, our Google+ Lamp is “better” than our facebook lamp – but it doesn’t do what people want to use it for (illumination).

Lets take that analogy back to Facebook and Google+. What is the real reason people ever go on facebook?

The real reason is their user base. There are very very few people who aren’t on facebook, and there are very very few people on Google+. Google+ has all the new doohickeys and thingamajigs, but it’s forgetting the light bulb (user base).

And because nobody is on Google+, nobody wants to join – they’re satisfied with Facebook and their 1500+ “friends.” What’s the use of having a ten person video chat if there’s not even ten people on Google+?

Google+ is a good idea, with a perfect execution – but the social networking field has been completely dominated by Facebook and Twitter. It’s unfortunately like this for many social internet startups: many of them rely on a user-base to be the least bit useful, and without a user base you won’t be able to expand your user base. You can get a user base by having a user base, because if you have a small user base people want to join to be part of that user base, which makes more people want to join etc.

Hence the reason most social startups fail. Gaining a user-base is a domino effect, with the first domino being a giant brick wall. You need to hope that something will come and knock it over, as getting the domino train started is definitely the hardest aspect of the whole process.

Google+ for iOS released, Welcome to Crash Central

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Google+ is Google’s stab at facebook that has some great new features that really puts it in the competition (read more here). The Android app was available immediately; the iOS app was supposed to come a few weeks after.

Well, it’s here. Unfortunately, it’s not worth getting.

You are greeted with a front page where you can view your stream, profile, huddles, circles, etc. Everything works until you hit stream; that’s where it crashes. It will give you a spinner saying that it’s loading… then it will keep spinning… and spinning… and spinning… and when you’re sick and tired of it, you just hit the grid to go back to the home screen. But it doesn’t go. So you hit it again. Same result. So you start frantically hitting buttons, but it’s not going to respond. Then, there’s the crash.

For now, this is all you’ll get. Jailbroken or not, iOS 5 or 4. The app is just a crasher.

Goodbye Blogger, Picasa

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Yes, google is retiring the Blogger and Picasa brands over the next 6 weeks, in a push to Google+.

Picasa is already integrated into Google+, and will probably end up as solely part of Google+ instead of a separate service.

But I don’t know what they plan to do with Blogger. It could possibly be integrated to Google Sites in some way, or it could just be called Google Blogs, or maybe they are going to also integrate it in some way with Google+.

Blogger was a wonderful name: founded a few years ago, then purchased by Google, then substantial growth since then. This very blog started on blogger until I moved to WordPress.

Not to be mean or anything, but I never liked Picasa. It was a clunky, badly integrated service that only made a little bit of sense. When I saw that Picasa was integrated into Google+ as the photo sharing service, I hit my head against the wall a few times. Although I love Google’s photo sharing efforts, I’m not too sad to see Picasa go.

As I said, the retirement will happen over the next 6 weeks. It will be interesting to see exactly how they plan on doing this.

Facebook announces video integration with Skype

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During a live facebook event that took place today, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook has partnered with skype to provide one click video chatting to users.

It is referred to as a “mini skype client” by the CEO of Skype, and installs with a simple download of a java applet.

Zuckerberg claimed that there are no financial agreements with Skype, which is interesting to try and figure out who is benefiting from this. Skype CEO Tony Bates said that “We are planning to add paid skype over time as well.” This means that if you have a skype premium plan, you might be able to group video chat – but that’s just an assumption.

Speaking of group video chat, Facebook doesn’t have it! With Google Hangouts, Google’s chat service that allows up to 10 person video calling, may have an advantage over facebook. However, facebook has 750+ Million users – that’s a lot of people that are one click away from a video chat.

Video chat is available now to the public, just click here to get started.

Where’s realtime search?!

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If you do a Google search for a topic that is fairly popular on twitter, you will usually see something that looks a bit like this:

And the list of tweets will update in realtime.

Also, you would find a “Realtime” in the left sidebar.

Oddly, that’s all gone! You will no longer see anything in real time, and the realtime search is gone from the left sidebar.

There’s a ocuple of theories that could be cause for this. First off, it could be that google is planning on integrating Google+ into their realtime search – but that wouldn’t mean they’d need to remove it.

The other possible reason is that google is trying to back off from twitter, considering that they now have a competition going – but until Google+ is fully available, they shouldn’t have any reason to want to hold grudges.

Realtime search may be back sometime in the future, but with Google now as a social service, Realtime Search may never be quite the same.

 

Google+ iPhone App Awaiting Approval

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Google+ is already available via the web and an Android app, and now Google has submitted their iPhone app to Apple for approval into the app store.

Everyone knew that Google was going to develop an iPhone app for Google+ eventually, but we weren’t aware that they had already created a full app and submitted it.

If all goes well, the app will be available to iOS users in about two weeks.

But…

Who was here for Google Voice?

You may remember that the Google Voice app sat waiting for approval for months, and was eventually rejected.

Then google resubmitted it, this time not so happy. Apple finally approved it, and I currently have Google Voice on my iPhone.

I hope that Google+ doesn’t end up going down this same disapproval tunnel…

Only time will tell if Apple wants to really battle Google in this way, which could be cause for some kind of lawsuit from Google.

(Personally, I just want to get Google+ on my iPhone, lawsuits not necessary)

(via Mashable)