New Technologies

Google Voice Going Public

google_voice_logo

The Google Voice team announced a few minutes ago that they have begun sending invitations to people wanting to signup for the phone dispatching and voice mail service.

“Invites for Google Voice are going out, and our list is huge, so it will take a while to get though them all. Be patient. Thanks!”
@googlevoice on Twitter.

No mention (yet) of porting existing numbers to Google Voice or using Google Voice with Google Apps for Domains.

Update: Confirmed by Official Google Blog.

Google is sending emails to people who have requested the Google Voice service. As an added touch, the signup procedure includes and opportunity to selected a number based on what the number spells out (a la 1-800-hot-babe). Says Google:

“Once you receive your invitation, just click on the link and follow the instructions to setup your new Voice account. To help you find a Google number that is personalized to you, we’ve added a number picker that lets you search by area code and text. See if you can find a number that contains your name, a specific word or a number combination.

Google Voice signup lets you "personalize" your number

Google Voice signup lets you “personalize” your number

Typekit Brings the Web a Step Closer to Real Publishing

A Small Batch, Inc. has announced a new web service that resolves copyright restrictions on downloadable fonts and will deliver font packages directly to your web page the same way YouTube hosts videos and provides them to your web page on demand.

Typekit page

Typekit page

Typekit, the name of the new product, will solve a frustrating limitation inherent in web browsers: Only a very small subset of the thousands of type fonts available to desktop applications is available to designers of web pages.

Only 18 fonts can been assumed to be available in browsers running on Windows and the Mac — and half of those are so gnarly that no self-respecting designer would use them. In addition, even a font with the same name will display slightly more bold or larger on one platform versus the other.

If you every wondered why web pages look so similar, a large part of the answer is because of the font limitations.

Typekit hopes to remove that restriction:

“So here’s the situation: Every major browser is about to support the ability to link to a font. That means you can write a bit of CSS, include a URL to a font file, and have your page display with the typography you expect…

“But there’s a problem. While it’s technically quite easy to link to fonts, it’s legally more nuanced. Almost all fonts are protected by copyright — even those available for free — and very few of them allow for linking via CSS or redistribution on the web…

“That’s where Typekit comes in. We’ve been working with foundries to develop a consistent web-only font linking license. We’ve built a technology platform that lets us to host both free and commercial fonts in a way that is incredibly fast, smoothes out differences in how browsers handle type, and offers the level of protection that type designers need without resorting to annoying and ineffective DRM.”

The fonts are requested from Javascript code in the target web page. Small Batch said the service will be available “this summer” and offer both free and pay-to-use font licenses. You can sign up for a preview on the Typekit website.

Bing is the Natural Successor to Bob

Microsoft today announced its new search platform, called “Bing“. It was greeted by a mock (or perhaps not?) protest by long-time Fortune magazine columnist Stanley Bing, who in a press release “expressed ‘moderate outrage'” at what he termed “brand encroachment” by Microsoft.

“For nearly 25 years, I have jealously guarded the value of my brand,” Bing (the original) continued. “For several years, it was threatened by the enormous reputation of Rudolf Bing, the fictional presence of Chandler Bing and the high-profile persona of Stephen Bing. This, however, is the worst challenge the Bing Brand has faced to date, particularly in regards to my search engine optimization positioning.”

Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby

Not to question Mr. Bing (The Columnist) on his claim the “Bing” brand, but it would seem to me that “Bing” is forever owned by 1940s crooner Bing Crosby. Who else would come to mind when one hears “Bing” (at least if one is over 40 and has sat through countless holiday marathons of (That) Bing’sWhite Christmas” film and the endless Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Road movies?

Microsoft Bob

Microsoft Bob

And further more, what would be a more natural successor to Microsoft’s much maligned desktop interface “Bob” than a new product called “Bing“?

Google Wave Adds Communications and Collaboration to Google Product Mix

Today at Google I/O, Google announced Google Wave, a new web product the search giant is calling “a new platform built around hosted conversations called waves.”

Google Wave client

Google Wave client

Information is still coming out of the presentation, but it appears that Google Wave:

  • has a Gmail like browser interface and involves both Gmail contacts and Wave contacts
  • has a preliminary API to allow third parties access and Google is establishing a Google Wave Federation Project to formalize vendor interactions
  • allows real time collaboration between multiple users one a single document, with each user’s edits merged in real time

Over at Google Code Blog, they explain it this way:

“…anyone can build a wave server and interoperate, much like anyone can run their own SMTP server. The wave protocol is open to contributions by the broader community with the goal to continue to improve how we share information, together. If you’re interested in getting involved, here are a few things you should check out on www.waveprotocol.org.”

Here are some Google Wave links:

What’s unknown at the moment is whether Google Wave Federation Project and Google Wave APIs can federate something besides shared Google Doc — say Dave Winner’s Millions of (Twitter-like) Identi.ca servers.

Update

More reaction to Google Wave:

The Changing Landscape of Patents

The Atlantic website is presenting a fascinating interactive timeline of the rise and fall of US patent application per capita.

Covering the period 1975 to 2002, the Flash-based animation shows cities where the volume of patents moved up or down as the engines of innovation — universities, industry, high tech companies — waxed and waned.

blog_patent_map

Atlantic’s Patent Map

As I watched the animation progress towards 2002, I was struck by two things:

  • All locations experienced a “bloom” of patents during 1995-1998, the period when the Internet also expanded
  • Patent filings shifted westward as California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Colorado developed high technology centers

The animation also lets you display data for a single city and compare rates between two cities. I found it interesting that my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, a small town of 80,000, had more than three times the patents per capital as my current haunt, the Tampa metropolitan area which has 2.7 million inhabitants. I attribute the difference to the concerted effort by Lawrence’s University of Kansas to acquire patents for medical, biogenetic and engineering innovations.

The widget also is a great example of how a formerly all-print publication, using its website, can expand its content in ways not possible on paper.

Credits: Based on Google Maps, design by Charles Szymanski, imagery by TerraMetrics. And thanks to my wife, Judi Jetson, for sending me the link.

LayoffTracker Widget a Good, But Depressing Idea

Telonu.com, a company gossip site, has released a LayoffTracker Widget that lets you embed the latest job loss bad news on your blog, website or start page.

Telonu.com LayoffTracker Widget

Telonu.com LayoffTracker Widget

Telonu.com LayoffTracker Widget

Available at the universal widget site, Widgetbox, this JavaScript widget shows in reverse chronological order the damage to US employment. The 20-employee cuts are featured with the 20,000-employee layoffs.

Links in the widget take you to Telonu’s page for that company, which gives detailed information about the event and allows members to leave presumably disgruntled comments. Here’s the page detailing the latest round of layoffs at Jabil Circuits, a local company.

I could find no information at Telonu about an API to access their data. Hopefully in true Web 2.0 fashion, Telonu will create an interface to their layoff database. A Telonu-Google Maps-Yahoo Finance mashup with a county-level unemployment data overlay tile would be another cool, but depressing, idea.

Sridhar Vembu: “A Dangerous Man”

I’ve been a fan of the Zoho suite of online office 2.0 applications for some time. I pay to use a couple of their applications.

So I enjoyed this Economist.com interview with Sridhar Vembu, the founder and CEO of AdventNet, the publisher of the Zoho products.

Said the Economist:

“SRIDHAR VEMBU is a dangerous man. If he succeeds, a lot of people will lose a lot of money: software developers, consultants, shareholders and others. The chief executive of AdventNet does not have fraud in mind. Instead, he wants to remove what he calls the “value-pad” from corporate IT in general and business software in particular: all those millions of dollars he thinks are wasted on inefficient production structures, marketing and, not least, proprietary standards. ‘In the world of corporate IT’, he says, ‘the low-cost revolution is very much unfinished business.'”

Read the whole article – it’s good.