Google Waves Goodbye To Old Messaging

If you look at the ways we communicate online, you’ll find they are nothing more than fresh paint on archaic methods…some of which date back to the days of six-shooters and stage coaches. All of the innovations thus far have been in the form of bolt-on extras. It’s kind of like duct taping an iPod to an 8-track player then splicing headphone cables to the speaker wires. You still have an 8-track player. Think about it, email is a mimic of snail mail and IM is just glorified telegraph communication.

But it looks like the guys and gals at Google have decided to step up and do something for online communication that nobody has successfully done thus far. They scrapped everything and designed a system from the ground up to leverage all the web and modern technology has to offer for communication into a single tool. This tool is Google Wave. If you visit the site you will be presented with a video of the tech demo that lasts nearly an hour and a half. It’s well worth the watch.

So what is Google Wave and what makes it so special? That’s not an easy thing to describe. It’s partly a framework, partly a protocol, partly an application, and all wrapped in yummy bacon. In the video, one of the designers of Google Wave mentions that email was actually invented over 40 years ago…long before the advent of the internet. So the driving force was if email were invented today, what would it be like? I have to say that in this regard it looks like they are succeeding amazingly. They touch on things far more in-depth than I will here, but I will hit the high points.

The gist of the application side of Wave is collaboration. Take email, IM, blogging, forums, Wikis, Twitter, Flickr/Picasa, YouTube, and basically any Web 2.0 site/application and stir. Bake in Google’s think-tank for two years and you get one heckuva slick piece of coding magic. You can write a Wave (which is the term used for any type of communication) and add people to it. We won’t call them recipients. They’re more like participants. They can then reply or add or edit or privately reply not just to the message, but to specific pieces of a message. In real-time. No more seeing Hoser is typing messages forcing you to wait eleventy hundred minutes for them to finish. You see what they are typing almost character for character which allows you to go ahead and start formulating or even typing in a response.

Then you can drag files (pictures, movies, whatever) directly into the Wave which shows up almost immediately in their Wave client if they are looking at the Wave at the time you do so. In the case of pictures, you get thumbnails pretty much instantaneously while the full pictures are still loading. This makes for some really interesting possibilities. Given that this is a Google project, you know that the search is really nice. No surprise there. The surprise is this: it runs completely in the browser. But this doesn’t scratch the surface of what it can do. Oh, did I mention this will be open-source?

Yes, Google has already announced this will be an open source system and they are encouraging developers to create their own Wave clients and even server implementations. There will be a series of APIs to allow anyone to create robots (snap-ins) to connect Wave to other services. They show a Twitter robot, a blog robot, and even a translator that does…get this…real-time language translation for conversations. They want to see what kinds of amazing things other people can come up with to extend Google Wave even further than they have imagined. Oh, did I mention that the real-time updates work even if you have your own Wave server implementation? Yep, you get the same sweetness between Wave servers so it could be as universal as email. That’s where the Wave protocol comes into play.

I really can’t go into much more about this or this post will take four years to read. Go watch the video. Seeing it work is far more impressive than any simple text post could hope to be. I’ve seen the future…and I’m wearing shades.

Home Media Makeover Part One: DVD Library

Technology abounds in every aspect of our lives. Computers are usually the center of a great many media types that we experience throughout the day. You can buy a computer pretty much anywhere these days for really reasonable prices. So the question on my mind has been, why are most people still using the old components of yore for their home theaters? Why not leverage some of this wonderful computer technology and versatility for the home theater experience?

Yes, I know there are HTPC options out there. Most of them run well over $1500 for the base model. I also know you can roll your own HTPC/DVR for about the same price. What I’m talking about is using a more distributed model, preferably leveraging systems you already have in place…just extending them to the HDTV in the living room. For my personal project, I have a 20″ iMac on my desk and a Vista laptop that usually sits on the coffee table. There’s a 50″ Samsung plasma TV in the living room that I really want to use to watch my media such as streaming video from the web with an XBox360 under it.

Ideally, I want to get rid of the DVD player and replace the set-top box from Comcast with my media system so I can drop the cable television service and thus save myself over $1000 a year. Now I realize that for my particular desires, I will not need a PVR/DVR setup and can thus skimp on some hardware. Actually, for step one of my media center makeover, I just want to stream ripped copies of my DVD library so my 360 will play the part of extender. For this setup, storage will be the biggest concern with network bandwidth running a close second. With today’s prices for hardware, neither of those should be a challenge to satisfy on a budget.

Continue reading “Home Media Makeover Part One: DVD Library”

Right here on Hippie TV!

I normally reserve my eco/green posts (read “hippie ideas”) for The Energy Farm site. The only problem is that I have to put more of a journalist-like feel to the article. Now I don’t consider myself a journalist. I’m more of a hobby blogger because I like to share my ideas with anyone that will listen. Yes, sometimes I talk a lot. Anyway, the point is I ran across a neat little article about a new cable channel launching next month and I wanted to share some thoughts. I just didn’t feel I could really express myself well in the more sanitized environment of the other site.

Let’s get to it. Apparently Discovery is launching Planet Green next month. It will be focused on eco-friendly lifestyle programming. The resurgance of the “hippie movement” seems to be in full swing. I’m okay with that. I’ve always thought people were, in general, far too wasteful. In the 80’s it seemed like the “in” thing to get as much as you could and do as little with it as possible. Heck, I remember a truck customizing magazine I used to read that had a special on a souped up Chevrolet 4×4 that got….1 mile to the gallon. You read that right…it had a 1:1 ratio of gas to distance. This was the centerfold truck of that issue. For years now that memory has stood out in my mind as the true representation of our wastefulness. Continue reading “Right here on Hippie TV!”

I Think We Should See Other Providers

It already appears that my new HD-DVR is a much more stable than Tom Cruise, unlike my last one. But I am still dealing with HD channels suffering from what I call “Max Headroom Syndrome”. This is where…oh if you don’t know who Max Headroom is, hit Google and Youtube for a little much needed education. Between that and the screen and sound just blanking out every minute or so during Poker After Dark, I’m less and less pleased with my new Comcast deal. Continue reading “I Think We Should See Other Providers”

Hulu – Internet Television

I happen to like some television shows. I also love my DVR. This makes for a wonderfully easy way for me to enjoy the shows I like at a time that is convenient to me. However my current Comcast DVR is less than reliable. I’ve had to delete and recreate my season recordings (that’s a Season Pass for you Tivo users) because they randomly just stop working. Which I of course do not discover until the latest episode of Chuck has already come and gone. Continue reading “Hulu – Internet Television”