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Experiences with Google E-Books

I never thought I’d be a person that would read books on an electronic device (given that I don’t read that much fiction, though I do read quite a lot of non-fiction.) Just the thought of reading from a back lit screen made my eyes hurt. If I did, it would have to be on an e-ink screen. I also don’t like the idea of not really “owning” a book.

Well, I thought I’d give it a go and catch up on some books that I didn’t read in my childhood (which I should have.) I have to say, reading on my phone was no where near as bad as I expected. I read about 5 (short to medium length) books in about 4 week ends (a bit over a book per weekend,) and I didn’t get any headaches (which I expected.) The only thing I made sure to do was to turn the brightness all the way down and rely more on another light source.

As for the feeling of not owning the book, I figured, they were only $5 each, I’m happy to pay that to read it just once, and if I loose it after that, well, I can always buy a hard copy if I really want. That said, they are in my Google account, so I could always read them again. The one downside is you can’t give them away or sell them, especially if you know you aren’t likely to read them again… Maybe more libraries should try and get on the e-book wagon.

That said, I don’t feel I could have a textbook as only an e-book. There is just something about having a physical book that makes it a lot easier, because a textbook you’re likely to be jumping around a lot, flicking pages, wanting to put book marks everywhere, post sticky notes in, and if you’re so inclined, write in them (I try and avoid this though, and if I did it would definitely be in pencil.) That said, I wish more books would offer a service where you could get both the physical book and the e-book for a discounted price, because they both have advantages (the main one for an e-book is that you can search for phrases.)

What are your thoughts on e-books? Love them, hate them, or in between?

Google Developer Day 2011

Looks like heaps of fun! I’ve registered, hopefully I get in (not all registrations do.)

Google Developer Day Sydney Website

Edit (13/10/2011): Got in. Found out yesterday, less than 24 hours after submitting my registration.

Two things missing that Google Plus needs are…

…Events and Fan Pages.

Events are the one thing that keeps my Facebook account inactive active. Most of the time, if I want to not be forgotten about when it comes to been invited to an event, I need to be on Facebook. If I’m not, a lot of the time I will be forgotten about because I wasn’t on their friends list*. Event management in Facebook is probably one of the few things that Facebook has really nailed, and is the reason many people made accounts in the first place. Google desperately needs an event system that is at least on par with that of Facebook, and has really tight Google Calendar integration (and with over half a million Android phones been activated every day, Google Calendar may start to be used by those who have never thought of using it before if it’s convenient.)

Fan pages. This is almost the one thing that keeps MySpace in existence, and Facebook loves. Businesses, bands, and common interest groups can have their own page, public or private, and everyone loves it. Bands love the exposure it brings, and people love free stuff (in the case of bands, a few songs streaming.) This is something I have heard that Google is going to implement soon (beats me why they don’t have it from the start,) but I can’t find any source to back that up.

* Granted, if they’re only inviting me because I’m on their friends list, it’s probably not something I’m likely to go to. The things that I’m likely to go to are ones where, if I wasn’t on Facebook, the organised would go out of his or her way to let me know via email, though it does make it difficult, so I don’t really want to do that to people.


Edit (11th July, 2011): I meant keeps my Facebook account active, not inactive. Whoops.

Will Google Plus take down Facebook? Probably not.

With the amount of hype surrounding Google Plus just a few days after it’s been launched, it is one of the most talked about things in the blogosphere. Every second comment seems to say Google Plus will do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace. MySpace is a bit of a joke these days, barely anyone uses it. Will this be what Facebook will become because of Plus? I hope so, but I doubt it will happen.

Just about everyone who has commented on Plus would have to be a geek/nerd, at least a little bit (due to the fact that all the comments are on gadget and technology blogs,) and it’s true: nerds love Google. I think that most of them really want Plus to succeed, and overthrow Facebook as the social networking king (myself included,) but I think that wants are having too much of an impact when it comes to predicting what is going to happen to Plus.

Remember Buzz? It was pretty much a complete failure for the wider audience (though I still use it with a few friends*,) but it was marketed as the next big thing. It was going to displace Facebook and Twitter because it was that good. That said, Buzz didn’t offer anywhere near the feature set of Facebook (though it did Twitter,) so it would seem that Plus has more of a chance, but I doubt it’ll catch on.

It’s a shame though, because Google haven’t made any friends recently. It’s taking on Apple and Microsoft with both Android (which actually is successful,) and Chrome OS (still reserving judgement on that one,) and now a direct assault on Facebook with Plus. People are spending more time on Facebook than they do on Google, and that’s got to hurt. The dynamic of the way people use the Internet has changed, and for Google to continue to be king of the web, they need to be successful at social networking.

I hope Google does succeed, but I’m not going to let my hope colour the reality: Facebook has already cemented itself as social king, and Google is just too late to the game.

* The people I use Buzz with are probably the only people in my friend group who will end up using Plus, and when Google kills Buzz (which they need to do, it’s counter productive to have 2 social networks,) we’ll just use Plus in the same way we use Buzz. Nothing will change that much.

Why Google needs to buy Dropbox

With Apple making a fourth attempt to offer cloud services has generated a lot of buzz, and whilst many are predicting that it won’t work well (the same reasons that the others didn’t work: they are just too restrictive. See previous link,) they are bound to get it right one sooner or later. This means that pretty much every major computing company is offering some form of cloud computing service, and whether you like it or not, it looks as if cloud computing is the future of computing.

So, let me explain why I think Google should buy Dropbox, and why it would be the best cloud computing decision Google has made if they do. It’s going to be hard to keep cloud computing free. If it’s the future of computing, then people are going to start wanting to do everything in the cloud, and eventually a few gigabytes isn’t going to cut it. The other thing is, people don’t want to be paying for each service individually. If people are going to start paying (which, to be economically viable, is going to have to happen at one point or another,) then they want to pay one fee and get all the services. They (well, at least I) want services to be able to share their storage space.

This is where Dropbox comes in. Currently, if I was to pay for cloud storage, it would be with Dropbox, because it’s the most versatile (it is just a hard drive in the sky after all, but a very smart hard drive at that.) If I paid for storage, I would put my music collection in there for starters. Though Google has Music Beta (which is free… while in beta.) I already have a good collection of documents in my Dropbox, but wouldn’t it be nice that, if I were stuck on a computer without Word or Open/Libre Office, I could just log into Google Docs and edit a document quickly, and the changes be reflected in my Dropbox?

I’m already starting to get to the reason. The main reason, well, reasons, are:

  • People only want to pay once (so have it so that services use storage as needed from Dropbox)
  • Having multiple copies of data is annoying (for example, with Google Music, I’m not going to go and delete my music collection off my hard drive, or how about photos in Picasa web? It can apply to anything really)
  • It will help the transition. People are still using office suites (I know I am,) and some just can’t give that up for a limited feature set in Google Docs. Having Google Documents appear in Dropbox, and vice versa, will allow for a smooth transition.
  • Internet connections aren’t always reliable. Since Dropbox syncs with your PC, if an Internet connection isn’t available, then you’re out of luck.
Dropbox incorporates the best features of cloud computing and traditional computing into one product, and if Google had that, then they would have the best cloud computing service on offer. I would quite happily pay a small fee for that.