Blog Archive

2 June 2008

Google Apps: The Missing Manual, and More

Following Philipp’s announcement last month about the release of Google Apps Hacks, written by him and published by O’Reilly, I’m pleased to say that another O’Reilly book recently hit the shelves. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been the technical reviewer for Google Apps: The Missing Manual, a book aimed at users who are either new to Google’s online applications, such as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Talk, Calendar, iGoogle, Page Creator, Google Apps and Google Sites, or who simply want to learn more about all the available features which can sometimes be difficult to find. Content previews are available for each section of the book on the O’Reilly website so that you can see the type of things being discussed.

As we all know, Google’s applications often have features added (and removed) on a daily basis, so being the technical reviewer for a book written about these applications was a difficult task. Even with excellent resources like Google Blogoscoped forum, it was impossible to ensure the book would be up-to-date and 100% accurate when it was published. For example, Google Sites was opened to standard Google Accounts users two weeks after the book had gone to print, so this section already has slightly incorrect information in places. However, I’d like to think that my knowledge and input helped to improve the overall accuracy of the book.

And we’re not the only Google Blogoscoped regulars that have been involved in books about Google recently either. Reto Meier – an excellent contributor to the forum who has also written guest posts for this blog in the past – is currently involved in a book titled Professional Android Application Development which is due to be released in later this year, published by Wiley. Android is the Google-initiated mobile operating system, and the publisher writes that this book “takes readers through a series of projects, each introducing a new Android platform feature and highlighting the techniques and best practices to get the most out of Android.”

More books about Google are available at Amazon, including the For Dummies series, The AdSense Code and others.

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1 June 2008

May Gigs

We went to see a few more bands in May. Here’s who we saw and what I thought about them...

The Wombats – Thursday 15th May 2008

The Wombats have been knocking around the charts for a while now but I only really started to notice them shortly after Chris Riley mentioned them when I kept hearing their re-release of Moving to New York being constantly played on the radio earlier this year.

For a three-piece band they have a really full sound, and that goes for their instruments and vocals. Anyone who’s listened to their album will have heard the first short a cappella track Tales Of Girls, Boys And Marsupials. They opened the gig with this and proved they really can sing – albeit like a barbershop triplet!

Full of energy, they continued to impress throughout the gig and proved they really knew how to get the crowd going. They belted out pretty much ever song from their album – occasionally taking it in turns to add some keyboard to the tunes – before leaving the stage prior to the encore, when a huge inflatable wombat appeared on the balcony.

The Wombats are a talented bunch of musicians who write some catchy tunes and certainly know how to put on a good show. I’d definitely recommend getting tickets if you ever get chance to see them.

As always, watch the video above or view the rest of the photos and videos on Flickr.

Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong – Saturday 17th May 2008

This is the emptiest I’ve ever seen the Leadmill. You know a gig isn’t very popular when there are no ticket touts hanging around outside. We turned up fairly late and I reckon there were only a couple of hundred people there. Given that Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong were nominated for Best New Band at this year’s NME Awards – along with winners The Enemy and Foals, The Pigeon Detectives (see below) and The Wombats (see above) – this should’ve set alarm bells ringing...

Perhaps word had got out that Joe Lean is an over-the-top drama queen who obviously wants to be seen as some kind of troubled artist. When you tell the already sparse audience they need to do ‘this clapping thing’ and they don’t bother, it’s probably advisable to not shout “Just clap for f*ck’s sake!” expecting them to suddenly join in. And when another twenty or so people have walked out, you probably shouldn’t tell the remaining audience to “shut up and dance to this” either. It’s a shame Joe Lean feels he needs to be like this because the rest of the band seemed fine and the music was pretty good.

By comparison, their support band – The Beggars – were pretty good. Unlike Joe Lean, the four young lads from Reading managed to ignore the lack of audience and just get on with the gig. Their front-man needs to get a bit more stage presence but their lead guitarist, who also took on lead vocals on a couple of the songs, was really full of life and seemed to love every minute that he was on stage. It would’t surprise me if he’s the real talent behind all their stuff.

The Pigeon Detectives – Wednesday 21st May 2008

There’s not much else I can say about The Pigeon Detectives that I didn’t say after we went to see them last November.

Like I said after the last gig, you just can’t beat a classic five-piece band – i.e. lead vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Despite having injured his leg a week or two before the gig, front-man Matt Bowman was possibly even more energetic that he was last time.

Unfortunately, since their new album was being released five days after the gig, the audience didn’t know all the new songs. That didn’t seem to make any difference though; the audience was still jumping around and singing along to all the new tunes. Having now heard the new album, I reckon it’s probably on a par with the last one. There are a couple of excellent, really catchy energetic numbers that stand out but the whole thing in general is really good.

The Pigeon Detectives didn’t bother with a pointless encore this time either. They just played all the songs they wanted to play and left the stage. I really wish more bands would do this instead of milking the audience for more clapping and cheering. And just like last time, the audience left the venue with another Phoenix-Nights-esque rendition of one of their tunes playing in the background. (This time it was their new single This Is An Emergency.)

Once again, this was a truly excellent gig by who I consider to be one of the UK’s best bands!

I guess it goes without saying now that you can watch the video above or view the rest of the photos and videos on Flickr.

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