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Wolfram|Alpha API to be released later today – O’Reilly Radar October 16, 2009

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We’ve just been told that the public API for Wolfram Alpha will be made available later today. The API documentation will be available at http://products.wolframalpha.com/api . […]

It’s hard to write much about an API that hasn’t appeared yet, but let me tell you why I think it’s important. Lots of writers have compared Alpha to Google, but I think that’s a mistake. it’s a data source, not a search engine, and that’s a significant difference. What matters with a data source is the ability to ask a question, get an answer back, and use it as easily as possible. An API minimizes the impedance mismatch: you can do computing directly with Alpha’s curated data.

But there’s another comparison that’s even more relevant: Twitter. What has made Twitter success isn’t so much the web application that lives at twitter.com. What has made Twitter valuable is the huge ecosystem that has grown up around that application: alternate clients for all sorts of platforms, web sites for searching, slicing, dicing, and remixing. Those have all been enabled by a simple and well-thought-out API for dealing with Twitter programmatically. The web isn’t about web pages; it’s about interactions between data sources.

Wolfram|Alpha gets this. The web site is just the down-payment; the real value is in the APis that will let developers build an application ecosystem around Alpha. As they put it: “The end-game [is] to drive new and innovative applications of our technology that we literally never could have imagined, driving computational knowledge into new domains.” A huge cache of data is interesting, but not enough: an API that allows you to explore that data, to remix that data with other data sources is what’s needed to enable creativity and discovery. What will the results look like? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out. I’m excited.

via Wolfram|Alpha API to be released later today – O’Reilly Radar.


Google buys videotech firm On2, but YouTube costs aren’t as high as rumored August 5, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities, Multimedia.
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Google’s YouTube division is a victim of its own success. A source inside the company told TechCrunch that YouTube streams close to 1.5 billion video clips every day. That makes sense, if you think of it as everyone on the Internet watching one clip daily.

Google CFO Patrick Pichette told Fortune that the company now collects ad revenue on 13 percent of the clips it serves. Still, streaming videos to customers costs money. Video content on YouTube can run up to 100 megabytes per clip. YouTube has another bandwidth-eater: Its search engine, the company told Fortune, is now the second busiest on the Net after Google. (Customers upload 20 minutes’ worth of video to YouTube every minute, but that’s nowhere near the amount of outbound traffic.)

This is why Google has agreed to buy video bandwidth reducer On2 for about $106 million. On2’s main product is video compression technology for the Adobe Flash player YouTube uses to play videos. Compression technology analyzes a video stream and figures out how to reduce its size without losing video and audio quality.

For customers, On2’s tech may speed up the download time before a clip starts and reduce the total network traffic eaten up by watching lots of YouTube. For Google, On2’s big value add will be reducing the costs of serving a couple of billion clips a day by reducing the amount of network capacity required to transmit the video to customers.

On2’s technology could reduce network costs for YouTube enough to bring profitability in reach.

via Google buys videotech firm On2, but YouTube costs aren’t as high as rumored | VentureBeat.

abphone – “snacking the web” mobile July 11, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets.
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abphone is a mobile search engine that focuses on multimedia content that you might want on your phone including:


  • images – photos from a range of photo sources including flickr and social networks such as friendster
  • video – specially adapated mobile video from the likes of Daily Motion and Youtube
  • games – provided from a range of free and premium mobile games publishers such as Glu, Gameloft Twistbox, Hovr and Greystripe

The service is operated by a French company and was launched in 2005.  Abphone have a basic web-front end for the service but mainly operate through a mobile web front-end at m.abphone.com.

abphone has a great user-interface which is designed specifically for mobile – you can quickly access the content you are looking for.  The service has become especially popular with users looking for images, for example to use as free screensavers or wallpapers for their phone.[…]

With google increasingly focusing on offering a standard web search service to mobile users it’s really important that mobile-only search engines like abphone are developed to offer something more specific to mobile devices.  With traffic growing all the time abphone is in a great position to benefit from the growth in mobile search and mobile internet.

You can find abphone on mjelly which is a directory of the top mobile sites other stuff including mobile softwares and free message tones

via abphone – mjelly.com mobile 2.0 service of the week | mobile zeitgeist.

Microsoft Effort to Best Google Yields Results June 3, 2009

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Google is to search what Kleenex is to tissues. Even if you’re in the habit of using another search engine like Yahoo to look up something online, you probably say you “Googled” it because everyone knows what you mean. Microsoft Corp. is hoping you’ll change your habits and start “Binging” for that which you once Googled.

Last week, Microsoft announced Bing as the name of its new search engine. The company describes Bing as delivering more answers to your search queries directly on the search-results page, so you don’t have to keep hunting around for what you want to find. And, like Google, Bing can be used as a verb.

I’ve been using Bing for more than two weeks now, and this search engine really did retrieve on-target, useful information on the first try. But what I like best about it is that it does so in a user-friendly manner that looks and feels more inviting than Google.

via Microsoft Effort to Best Google Yields Results | Katherine Boehret | The Mossberg Solution | AllThingsD.

Wave: Google’s take on the future of communication » VentureBeat May 28, 2009

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Finally unveiled after years of development under the codename “Walkabout,” Google Wave combines popular features from across the web — feeds, shared documents, photo galleries, etc. — to redefine online communication. At least that’s the goal. Its creators, Lars and Jens Rasmussen (the braintrust behind Google Maps), even say they set out to break down traditional modes of communication — email and instant messaging — to find a system more in sync with how web users prefer to talk today. The result looks promising.

At a basic level, Wave is part chat room, part collaborative document. You and your friends belong to a page that any of you can add information to, and it will show up for everyone in real time. And this information comes in many different forms: images, videos, links, comments, event invitations, polls, blog entries, and the like. It’s an ongoing conversation — with rich content. […]

via Wave: Google’s take on the future of communication » VentureBeat.

Google Launches Maps Data API – O’Reilly Radar May 22, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities, Mobile & Gadgets.
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The crowd at Where 2.0 was expecting an API announcement and Google delivered one. Lior Ron and Steve Lee announced their Maps Data API, a service for hosting geodata. As they describe it on the site:

What is it?

The Google Maps Data API allows client applications to view, store and update map data in the form of Google Data API feeds using a data model of features (placemarks, lines and shapes) and maps (collections of features).

Why Use the Google Maps Data API?

  • Storage scales simply with usage. You shouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a data store to build a cool Google Maps mashup. Focus on building the client, and we’ll provide hosting and bandwidth for free.
  • Geodata is accessible across platforms and devices. With many client libraries and clients, accessing stored geodata is possible from anywhere, whether it’s on the web, a mobile phone, a 3D application, or even a command line.
  • Realtime geodata requires realtime indexing. For a lot of geographic content, freshness is important. Geodata from the Google Maps Data API can be instantly indexed and made searchable in Google Maps.
  • Rendering geodata is better and faster with the right tools. Through JavaScript, Flash, 3D, static images and more, we’ll continue to provide better ways to render your content to meet platform and latency demands.

Google is launching with some sample apps:

  • My Maps Editor for Android allows users to create and edit personalized maps from an Android mobile phone. Integration with the phone’s location and camera makes it easy to document a trip with photos and text on a map.
  • ConnectorLocal is a service that informs users about the places where they live, work and visit by gathering trusted hyperlocal information from many sources. Using the Google Maps Data API, ConnectorLocal makes it easy for users to import and export geodata in and out of Google Maps, and also improves their ability to have data indexed in Google Maps for searching.
  • My Tracksenables Android mobile phone users to record GPS tracks and view live statistics while jogging, biking, or participating in other outdoor activities. Stored with Google Maps Data API, these tracks can be accessed, edited and shared using the My Maps feature in Google Maps.
  • Platial, a social mapping service for people and places, uses the Google Maps API to host geodata for community maps on both Platial and Frappr.

Geo data can get very large very quickly. Serving it can get expensive. This Data API will help NGOs, non-profits and developers make their data available without breaking the bank. Google’s goals for doing this are obvious. If the data is on their servers they can index it easier and make it readily available to their users. There will be concern that Google will have too much of their data, but as long as Google does not block other search engines and allows developers to remove their data I think that this will be a non-issue.

The crowd was hoping for a formal Latitude API to be announced (knowing that they launched the hint of one at the beginning of May). When I asked Lior and Steve about it we got some smiles. I think we’ll see some more movement in this area, but not *just* yet.

via Google Launches Maps Data API – O’Reilly Radar.

Thanks for the public data, Google — Please, sir, can I have some more? April 29, 2009

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Google just launched an awesome new tool that allows you to chart public data, starting with unemployment and population numbers, making the information much more accessible.

The information that Google has charted, as well as the data it plans to add in the future, is already online, and usually available through, yes, a Google search. […]

Google is trying to make it easier to find data through a Google search, and to help users better understand the data with its charts.

via Thanks for the public data, Google — Please, sir, can I have some more? » VentureBeat.

Wolfram|Alpha: Our First Impressions April 28, 2009

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The hype around Wolfram|Alpha, the next “Google killer” from the makers of Mathematica, has been building over the last few weeks. Today, we were lucky enough to attend a one-hour web demo with Stephen Wolfram, and from what we’ve seen, it definitely looks like it can live up to the hype – though, because it is so different from traditional search engines, it will definitely not be a “Google killer.” According to Stephen Wolfram, the goal of Alpha is to give everyone access to expert knowledge and the data that a specialist would be able to compute from this information. […]

Alpha, which will go live within the next few weeks, is quite different from Google and really doesn’t directly compete with it at all. Instead of searching the web for info, Alpha is built around a vast repository of curated data from public and licensed sources. Alpha then organizes and computes this knowledge with the help of sophisticated Natural Language Processing algorithms. Users can ask Alpha any kind of question, which can be constructed just like a Google search (think: “hurricane bob” or “carbon steel strength”). […]

Will it Kill Google?

No. Wolfram|Alpha will be an amazing product, but it’s quite different from Google and other search engines. Indeed, maybe it is actually wrong to call it a search engine at all (and Wolfram prefers to call it a “computational knowledge engine”). If you wanted to know what sights to see on your next trip to New York City, for example, Alpha, from what we’ve seen so for, will not be able to help you.

Alpha, however, will probably be a worthy challenger for Wikipedia and many textbooks and reference works. Instead of looking up basic encyclopedic information there, users can just go to Alpha instead, where they will get a direct answer to their question, as well as a nicely presented set of graphs and other info.

via Wolfram|Alpha: Our First Impressions – ReadWriteWeb.

Have a look also to a Live Webcast, where Stephen Wolfram give a demo about Wolfram|Alpha: Wolfram|Alpha demo

Google’s Answer to Facebook: Profile Search April 22, 2009

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This afternoon Google posted about a new feature which enables users to search for “me” to find their own Google profiles. Google recently upgraded their profile features but the company is now investing heavily in making profiles a more integrated part of search. Want to find somebody on the web? If they’ve set up their Google profile properly, they will show up in a box that displays profile results (as pictured below).

via Google’s Answer to Facebook: Profile Search.

via Google-blog: Search for “me” on Google

Hard at play in Google Labs with Similar Images and Google News Timeline April 21, 2009

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At Google, we are constantly researching, designing, and brainstorming about the next big idea, and when we think we’ve found something compelling, we often use our “20-percent time” to build a working version. […]

In keeping with our long-standing tradition of bringing new ideas to our users early in the development process, we’re proud to welcome two new innovations to Google Labs: Similar Images and Google News Timeline. […]
Similar Images

Image Search is a tool you can use to find just about any kind of image, but it can sometimes be difficult to find the right image if you can’t describe it in words. The new Similar Images feature was developed with just this in mind. […]

via Official Google Blog: Hard at play in Google Labs with Similar Images and Google News Timeline.