27 July 2006
It’s been a while since I’ve done any digging around Google’s servers to try and find some new services, so I thought I’d have a quick go tonight.
I started by looking at one of the subdomains I found when I first ran my Google subdomains sniffing script last year:
Since Google Checkout was released earlier this year, that subdomain has been serving up what appears to be the Google Checkout pages. However, anyone who has tried to login would’ve noticed that they wouldn’t have been able to sign in using their usual Google Account. Furthermore, if anyone creates a new account from within these pages, it’s not a ‘real’ Google Account – it’s actually some kind of test account.
(Just try to sign in to the ‘sandbox’ pages using your normal account and it won’t work. Similarly, try signing in to the real Google Accounts pages with your ‘sandbox’ login and that won’t work either.)
It appears that the ‘sandbox’ subdomain and associated Google Accounts are used for the development and testing of new or experimental Google services. So, using the same methods I used to find new service code names before – e.g. Weaver / M Scrapbook, Google RS2, SSD, Mobile Download Console and Google LH2 – I managed to find and add the following services to my ‘sandbox’ Google Account – all of which aren’t currently available to add to your ‘real’ Google Account (even though you’ll have heard about some of them before):
Note: The links used above are the same as those linked to each service name in the ‘My Accounts’ page, of which you can also view the screenshot.
Update: 28 July 2006 (13:42)
Also now available, screenshots of the sandbox ‘My Account’ page in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh!
In addition to those services, the following were recognized as being valid services – i.e. the usual login screens were available – but it wasn’t possible to add them to my account:
|Service Name||Code Name|
Local (AKA Local Business Center)
Some of you will have come across this before. This appears to be related to Google Local (now known as Google Maps) where you can create, edit, or suspend your Google Local business listing.
Well, I’ve already posted about Google RS2 before, but this is the first possible hint at what it could be. The link in the ‘My Account’ page points to Google Translate, so could it be anything to do with the statistical machine translation system that we know Google’s working on?
We all know what this is, but why would you want to add it to your Google Accounts page?
Update: 29 September 2006 (08:59)
Aha... they were planning on releasing Google Talk to everyone instead of just Gmail users. This was released on 28 September 2006. Read the Official Google Blog post: Now anyone can Talk
I’ve posted about Weaver / M Scrapbook before too. Most suspect it’s going to be some kind of Medical Scrapbook. The links points to google.com/h9. Could that just be a typo or might it be a code for something – i.e. Health 9?
They’ve already told us that they were going to migrate Writely to use Google Accounts, so it’s no big surprise that they’re testing that.
Update: 29 September 2006 (08:59)
Oops... I forgot to say that this was made live on 21 September 2006. Read the official Writely blog post: Google Account Sign-in LIVE
According to the Google WiFi FAQ, “Google WiFi is a free wireless Internet service offered to the city of Mountain View as part of our ongoing community outreach efforts.”
So what’s new?
This has been hinted at before, but only in the context of Google Base and Google Calendar. Is it really likely that Google would release a service specifically for events when they already have two that handle them? The fact that the service links to google.com/events suggests maybe they will – or, at least, maybe they’ve thought about it before.
How many guesses do we get? This really could be anything! (Unless it’s a new Google service that simply guesses what you’re searching for... like the Mentalplex perhaps?)
Update: 14 September 2006 (10:14)
This service was actually released on 1 September 2006 as Google Image Labeler.
Google Online Assessment
This could be just something that Google uses internally for internal assessments of Googlers. Or it could be used for qualifying sales leads or prospects. Has anyone got any other ideas?
Google Real Estate Search
Again, this concept has been discussed before with reference to Google Base. Are they going to be taking this more seriously?
Maybe number 13 in John Battelle’s Predictions 2006 post will come true. Maybe Google will finally plug mobile “into the web in a way that makes sense for the average user” and maybe they’ll also be the ones to create “a major mobile innovation - the kind that makes us all say - Jeez that was obvious.” But we’ll see...
New Service (AKA Workplace)
Maybe this is the big one people have been waiting for; the one that will really kill Microsoft Office. At least, if it’s at all related to IBM Workplace it could be. I don’t know an awful lot about this, so if anyone else feels more qualified to talk about it, please go ahead. All I know is that it’s got something to do with OpenOffice.org – so that’s why it could be the killer...
With code names like
voice, does anyone want to speculate what any of these could be?
Update: 14 September 2006 (10:14)
gmt service has surfaced in the live Google Accounts pages in September as Google Marketing Tools.
So, after all that, do we think these are new Google services waiting to be unleashed on the Google-loving masses? Or are they just some experimental services that some Googlers at the Googleplex have been playing with for their 20% projects?
Update: 29 July 2006 (12:49)
Just a quick update...
I can confirm that Google have now deactivated all of the new services that I mentioned above. Creating a sandbox account and trying to add these now won’t work. Furthermore, Google have deactivated my sandbox account! When I tried to login earlier today, I got the following error:
Sorry, your account has been disabled. For more information about Google Accounts, please consult our Help Center at http://www.google.com/support/accounts/.
I guess that’s fair enough.
Also, thanks to Digg user merreborn for pointing out that the sandbox is actually intended for the testing of Google Checkout, and is mentioned in the Google Checkout API documentation. I guess Google just didn’t expect people to start trying to register new services on there too...
24 July 2006
Pick your mate up from the train station. Park your car whilst you grab some lunch at the Common Room on Devonshire Street. Forget about buying a parking ticket. Get a £30 parking fine. Pay your parking fine within 14 days to avoid having to pay £60 instead.
Cover your barbecue with a piece of wood. Give a couple of good friends a golfing umbrella and get them to stand in the rain, keeping it alight until the sun comes out:
Using the Guinness Surger that The Rileys gave you for your birthday, experiment with open vessels containing different liquids just to see what will happen. Here’s a good example of what happens when you ‘surge’ a bottle of Stella Artois:
(Warning: Don’t try this at home without a chemistry doctorate being present.)
Put your head down for a well deserved nap whilst the cleaning fairies come and tidy up after your party:
Wake up the next morning around 06:00 wondering where everyone’s gone and take a look at the photos to try and remind yourself what else you got up to...
Labels: personal, photos
Here we go again. Last time it was Walkers that got on my wick. This time it’s Cadbury. Why? Firstly because their Cadbury Boost bars are substandard and secondly because they didn’t even bother to read my complaint properly. Here’s what I sent them via their website last Wednesday:
Every single time I purchase one of your delicious Cadbury Boost bars, I carefully tear open the wrapper to discover that it’s stuck to my Boost because all the caramel goodness has leaked out of the base of the bar! I then have to spend a good few minutes trying to scrape the caramel off the wrapper with my teeth so that I don’t waste any. This always happens regardless of where I’ve purchased my Boost.
Is there something inherently wrong with the design of the Boost bar that makes it impossible for the bar to contain its caramel filling? Is this a known issue? Have you got anybody in your company working on a more sturdy Boost design?
I look forward to your comments.
On Friday morning, I received my reply by post:
Dear Mr Ruscoe,
I am very concerned that you had cause to contact us about Cadbury Boost, but would thank you for taking the time and trouble to bring this matter to our attention.
Great care is taken during the manufacturing and packing of Cadbury confectionery to ensure that our products leave us in perfect condition. It is quite clear that on this occasion you have purchased a product that is below the high quality you would associate with Cadbury.
We would like you always to enjoy Cadbury confectionery at its best. I hope you will use the attached refund for £1.50.
Thank you once again for taking the trouble to contact us. If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me on our freephone careline 0800 818181.
Consumer Relations Department
It would appear that they’re not that concerned about the Boost design being flawed then. Despite me saying that it happens “every single time ... regardless of where I’ve purchased my Boost” they still seem to think that “this occasion” is a one-off! (Still, at least they could be bothered to send me compensation, which is more than Gary Lineker did last time.)
Has anyone else experienced this problem with Cadbury Boost bars or is it just me?
Labels: food, personal, rant
13 July 2006
Philipp Lenssen’s post on Visualizing Coordinates With Google presents some interesting and unusual ways to help visualize how many results are returned when searching Google for certain keyword combinations. He’s plotted the number of results returned for various coordinates onto a grid and also the number of times a chess position was returned onto a chess board, including some variations based on chess pieces. He asks, “Which other structured numbers or words can be visualized with Google for interesting results?”
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
This image represents the number of results returned when searching Google for words and phrases corresponding to the letters, numbers or names of keys on a standard (UK English) computer keyboard; the brighter the key, the more search results were returned. I normalized the results so that the key with the most results returned has an opacity of 100% whilst the keys with the least results have an opacity of 10% (just so you can see them).
I guess the aim was to show which keys may be the most used, but there are obviously some whose results have been skewed because they share their name with another popular letter or word, particularly the “Home” and “@” keys. Nevertheless, I think it’s still a quite accurate and interesting representation.
- Where the key displays a phrase – e.g. “Caps Lock” or “Alt Gr” – I’ve searched for the words enclosed in double quotes.
- Where the key is for a symbol that Google doesn’t allow, I’ve searched for the symbol’s name – e.g. “tilde” or “question mark” – sometimes including several variations.
- Where there are multiple phrases or symbols on a key, I’ve searched for all variations separated by a vertical bar – except for the number keys because I forgot to include their shifted symbols... oops!
12 July 2006
Please read and digest this list of Common Errors in English compiled by Paul Brians, Professor of English at Washington State University.
Paul’s managed to include just about all the incorrect usages of words and phrases that really get on my nerves. (I disagree with him in some cases, but I'll forgive him for those since he’s done such a good job with the rest!)
In particular, please pay attention to the following errors:
alot – you wouldn’t write “alittle” so you shouldn’t write “alot”
apostrophes – no need to explain this one; see also the Apostrophe Protection Society
could of/should of/would of – you would never write “would’f” instead of “would’ve” and yet people still write “would of”
home page – when used to refer to an entire website when the phrase refers to a single page – i.e. the “home page” of a particular website
it’s/its – this one’s especially for Riley who’s having problems getting to grips with this at the moment!
logon – as used incorrectly by thick TV presenters who say, “Logon to our website at www...” when all they really want me to do is visit their website; if they really wanted me to “logon” they should also have provided me with a user name and password or something!
Another peeve of mine, similar to the “logon” example, is when those ridiculous T.V. adverts for insurance or loans tell me to “click on” their website. They say things like, for example, “Just click on www dot we can help you get into debt dot com for more information!” Why do I need to “click on” your website? Why can’t I just “visit” it like I do other websites?
And finally, taken from the Common Errors in English website (the emphasis being mine):
But isn’t one person’s mistake another’s standard usage?
Often enough, but if your standard usage causes other people to consider you stupid or ignorant, you may want to consider changing it.
Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more!
[Via Google Operating System Blog]
Labels: personal, rant
11 July 2006
Can any of you guess what we found in our garden on Sunday night? No, it wasn’t another new Google service (although they do seem to be popping up all over the place recently) – it was a hedgehog!
By coincidence, I’d seen a hedgehog house in B&Q over the weekend and suggested to Suzy that we should buy one in case we ever got a hedgehog in the garden. However, since we’ve never even seen one anywhere near our house we didn’t bother, only to find this little fella wondering around our back garden when we got home:
We were a little concerned for its well-being as hedgehogs usually only come out when it’s dark and it was still daylight. We already knew we shouldn’t feed it bread and milk, but didn’t know what else we could do to help it. After searching the Internet for a local rescue centre, we found the Voluntary Rescue Centre for Birds and Wildlife website and phoned them for some advice.
Although this hedgehog was quite small (4 to 5 inches long) it could still have been old enough to have offspring, for which it could have been foraging for food. As a result, Midge (who voluntarily runs the Rescue Centre with his wife) suggested that it would be a bad idea to rescue it in case it was going to find its own way back to its family. So, we bought some cat food (no fish varieties allowed for some reason) and put it outside on an ice-cream container lid along with some water.
The hedgehog quickly discovered the food and then ran pretty quickly around our fence into next door’s garden, then right across the middle of their garden into the corner next to their shed. We assumed it was going back to tell its family that it had finally found some food!
After waiting for a family of hedgehogs to return and chasing off a couple of cats, I decided to build a little hedgehog house out of a cardboard box and weigh it down with some bricks so that the cats couldn’t get to the food overnight...
When Monday morning came, the ice-cream container lid had moved towards one of the doorways I’d made and half the food had gone. We assumed some clever cat (or other animal) had managed to carefully put its paw inside the box and dragged the food nearer to the door so it could eat it. Our poor, hungry hedgehogs!
After setting it up again last night, it looks like our hedgehog might have been back, as this time the lid was licked clean!
And everyone lived happily ever after. The end.
Labels: personal, photos