Thursday, February 8, 2007

You can go home again (with Google Maps)

| More

Official Google Mac Blog: You can go home again (with Google Maps)

Posted by Mike Morton, Mac Team Technical Staff

My mother's parents lived on a farm in New Jersey, or at least it seemed like a farm to me. To a kid from the Boston 'burbs, parking the car in a barn and drinking water from a well seemed very exotic. Best of all, my grandparents rented the part of the property across the creek to their neighbors, who grazed cows there. Wading across the creek and feeling the mud squish under my bare feet as I approached huge, terrifying (to me) cows was unlike anything I'd experienced.

Today I live in Northern New England. As a telecommuter, I travel mostly to Cambridge and Mountain View for my work on products like the Picasa Web Albums Uploader for Mac. I haven't visited the farm in 30 years, but it stays in my mind. When I read a novel with a rural setting, I unconsciously place the characters on the porch, in the kitchen, behind the barn. Fresh corn and fresh strawberries today remind me of the garden then. Come summer where I live now, lightning bugs bring back memories of catching them on my grandparents' lawn.

Cousins tell me the farm stays with them too. The phrase "You can't go home again" comes to mind, and a Google search finds that it comes from the title of Thomas Wolfe's novel — published posthumously (when it's even harder to go home again). But in idle moments (they do happen at Google, just not often) I think about visiting the farm. Next week I'll fly out of Newark on my way to a vacation, and Google Maps tells me the farm is an hour from Newark airport…but I doubt I'll have time.

I recently asked my mom for help as I tried to find the house using Google Maps. The first problem was that she didn't know the address. It wasn't that she'd forgotten it — her parents received postal mail by Rural Free Delivery, and didn't have a street address. So we found the town, and just browsed, trying to spot landmarks from above. But decades of growth, especially new highways, made it difficult. Then we remembered the neighbors' last name. Google found a street address in seconds, and that took us back to Google Maps. Scrolling a few hundred yards southeast, we found the farm.

Here's a screen shot from Maps. The original house is in the lower right. The driveway and barn are the same. It looks like someone's added a second driveway and — where the garden was — a second house.

An amazing confluence of satellite and server technologies lets me sit on my couch and see the house. If I prefer, I can use Google Earth to "fly" there from anywhere else. I don't know yet if that diminishes or increases my urge to see it in person, but it makes me happy to see the creek as it is today. Satellite images aren't sharp enough to know for sure, but I expect there are still kids there squishing their toes in the mud.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Hello World

| More

Official Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog: Hello World

Dokumenty i Arkusze. That's Polish for Docs & Spreadsheets. I know that because D&S; has been pretty popular in Poland since we launched. We've actually been quite popular all around the world, but until now we've offered an English-only experience.

I'm happy to announce that we've just launched Docs & Spreadsheets in 12 new languages. The languages we've added are: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Turkish, Dutch, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian and - you guessed it - Polish. If your favorite language isn't listed here, we've got an additional 18 languages in our spell-checker. You can select your language by clicking "Settings" inside Docs & Spreadsheets.

And if you haven't checked out the Google Toolbar Beta 3 for Firefox with integrated support for Docs & Spreadsheets, you can now download it in all of the same languages.


Monday, February 5, 2007

[G] What's in the updated SDK

| More

Inside Google Desktop: What's in the updated SDK

When we published our updated developer doc, we also released a new version of the SDK. Here's why you should download the latest SDK:
New samples!
The SDK has lots more sample gadgets, some of which use new features and APIs such as audio, PNG images, new options methods, and new view methods. You'll also see examples of how to use the Query API and Event API. We've even released several production-worthy samples from which more experienced developers can benefit:

Themeable, LCD-Style Clock

Classic Memory Game

Wi-Fi Network Selector


Rebuilt Gadget Designer
The old Gadget Designer is incompatible with the new API. Get the new Gadget Designer so you can use new features and APIs.

Better organization
We've simplified the directory structure, added a readme file to help you find what you need, and removed some files that were either obsolete or could be easily obtained from the web.
We periodically update the SDK to add samples, improve the documentation, or fix bugs. To see whether you have the latest SDK, look at the date at the top of your SDK's api/readme.html file. (If your SDK has no api/readme.html file or the file has no date, then you definitely have an old copy!) As we write this, the latest SDK date is 24 January 2007. In the future, we'll put the latest SDK date in the News box at the upper right of the Google Desktop developer home page.