Using Google Alerts for the inside scoop on Google I/O

23 January, 2011 § 1 Comment

Just a couple weeks ago I wrote a post on how to get the inside scoop on Google I/O. I listed a couple Twitter accounts to follow and also explained how to set up a Google Alert for details about conference registration.

Since setting up the Google Alert on January 1st, I gotten twenty-six alerts. Some have been interesting, most have been worthless, but one of them was great! It appears that Google indexed the preregistration page, and sent me an alert saying so.

While this alert didn’t allow me to register earlier than anybody else, I was able to know that registration was coming soon before I saw it on any other blogs.

First thoughts on the Google CR-48 laptop

16 January, 2011 § 2 Comments

Less than a month ago I was lucky enough to arrive home and find one of the Google CR-48 laptops on my doorstep. I had applied for the program when I saw a small link on the “new tab page” of Chrome, and didn’t receive any notification that I had been chosen.

This isn’t the first gift I’ve gotten from Google. While technically this isn’t a gift, the fact that it was free and that only select individuals snagged one puts me in the “gift” mindset. About a month earlier, one of the new Logitech Revues showed up on my doorstep, and at 2010’s Google IO I was given a Motorola Droid and an HTC Evo 4G.

I’ve been logging bugs while using the laptop, and am happy with how simple and well thought-out the laptop is. One of the first things that bothered me was the Mac-like mouse gestures. I worked on a Mac for a few weeks and enjoyed the mouse gestures, but the CR-48’s implementation is just a little off.

Mouse Gestures

There are two things that I’ve had to get relearn while using the laptop. First, there is no side scrolling using two fingers. Second, the two finger right-click often gets interpreted as a left-click. This makes opening a link in a new tab much more cumbersome. I have since become acquainted with Ctrl-clicking on links to open in a new window. While the keyboard shortcut is faster, having to be “retrained” is less than ideal.


The designers of the laptop made some large changes to the accepted keyboard layouts. They removed the traditional Caps Lock key (hiding it functionality behind a toggle in the Chrome OS settings) and replaced it with a Search button. This is different from the Logitech Revue keyboard, which used the system-dependent key location for the search button (for example, replacing the Windows key/Apple key with the Search key).

Internet connections

Another thing to notice is the lack of wired Ethernet connection. The laptop requires network connections to come through the air, whether using Verizon 3G or WiFi. The current release does not support certificate-based WiFi, so I am unable to test it on our main wireless network at work.

Also, it may just be the layout of my house, but when I’m in bed using the notebook the WiFi signal is very weak. To conserve battery, when the laptop goes to sleep it powers down the WiFi hardware. This means that even though the device is advertised of having a 10-second boot up time, there is another 10 seconds or more of waiting for the wireless access to be negotiated.

Battery Usage

The battery life on the laptop is great. I can charge it to 100% and use it over the course of two days without recharging. The downside comes in how aggressive the device is in conserving battery. For example, the device shuts off the screen if the mouse hasn’t been moved in around 10 minutes. This makes watching a movie online quite cumbersome, as I have to keep moving the mouse to preempt the screen from shutting off.

In conclusion

With those minor caveats aside, the laptop is really great. It is light and super portable, and I’m looking forward to getting more out of it and will update here later with more experiences.

Google I/O 2011: Get the info

5 January, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve been getting a lot of visits related to Google I/O since my previous post about the announcement of the registration date.

Registration for Google I/O 2011 will be announced very soon and even after the registration there are sure to be more announcements to come.

If you want to stay up to date with the Google I/O news, you should do the following:

  1. Follow @googleio and @vicgundotra on Twitter
  2. Check the official Google blog for any annoucements
  3. Visit
  4. Check out the Code Blog and
  5. Stay connected on Buzz.

Rumors on the internet state that last years conference sold out before the Early Bird registration ended. Attendees got access to Google developers, key announcements, Motorola Droid or Nexus One, Sprint Evo 4G (before they were released to the public), and many more perks.

This upcoming Google I/O is sure to be exciting. I attended my first one last year and can’t wait to attend another.

Anticipating the Google I/O 2011 announcement

2 January, 2011 § 3 Comments

Any day now there should be an announcement for the early bird registration of Google I/O 2011.  Last year I registered on January 17th, and from what I hear online the registration sold out very fast.

To be ready for the announcement, I have set up a Google Alert on the terms “google i/o 2011 registration”. Google Alerts is a system in which Google will email you when their crawler reaches a new item on the internet that matches the search terms you have supplied. This is pretty cool, but what if I’m away from my email when the release happens. How will I know then?

I know, I’ll have it send me a text message! I set up a special filter in Gmail that will forward these Google Alerts straight to my cell phone.

If your cell-phone provider is T-Mobile, you can send an email to <10-digit phone number> and the email will be forwarded to the phone with that phone number. This combination will allow me to know very quickly when the registration opens.

Here is a list of special email addresses to use if you would like to do the same thing but aren’t using T-Mobile:

  • Verizon:
  • AT&T:
  • Sprint:
  • Nextel:
  • Cingular:
  • Virgin Mobile:
  • Alltel: OR
  • CellularOne:
  • Omnipoint:
  • Qwest:


Contributing to Open Source Software

27 May, 2010 § 4 Comments

Last week I attended the Google I/O conference. I went to some great sessions and learned a ton about Chrome, App Engine, and Android.

One of my biggest takeaways wasn’t from the sessions that I attended. I happened to bump in to some other college-aged guys and after some talking learned that they were contributors and committers to the Chromium project (the open source version of Google Chrome).

Now last year (2009) at the beginning of the summer, I wanted to participate in Google Summer of Code, specifically in one of the Google Chrome projects. I followed the steps on their developer setup guide, and kicked off a build on my machine. Hours later I realized that my machine was no match for Chromium.

Too much had to be installed to build the project and the file size of the project was leaps and bounds more than my pesky laptop could handle. I ended up putting away Chromium and focusing on tackling some books I had been wanting to read.

This summer is a whole new ball game. I’ve upgraded my computer and the Chromium project has also shed a lot of dependencies since May 2009. I’m happy to say that I was able to install Visual Studio 2008 Premium, SP1, a few hotfixes, and was off to building. An hour of waiting and I had my own build of Chromium running.

Today I can now say that I am a contributor to Chromium. I am proud that my name now resides on the AUTHORS file of Chromium, and I want to take this opportunity to pass-on some motivation for contributing to open source software.

If you’ve got an open source program that you use daily and get a lot out of, return the favor to the authors and help them out. Most open source software is free, so they’re not making money off of you using the software. It’s just kind of the fair thing to do.

Not to mention that there are tons of benefits that you will gain by contributing to an open source project. Let’s run through a list:

  1. Experience working with different code (paradigms, styles, patterns, algorithms)
  2. Get to work with developers located all across the world
  3. A great opportunity to learn more about a programming language
  4. A feeling of ownership of the product that you enjoy
  5. and so many more…

So take a second right now and think of the programs that you use and love. Are any of them open source? Do they have a list of bugs that could use some help? You could even take this opportunity to fix anything that you don’t like about the application and make a special build for yourself 🙂

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