Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Googlife – The good life

I am a 24 year old Software Engineer working in the Silicon Valley. Lately, I have realized how my life has gradually started revolving around Google and how soon I have become a Google aficionado.

My day starts in the morning when I check my Gmail (even before trying to brush my teeth) to see all the emails that came in late night or from the other side of the world, overnight. I also get my daily agenda emailed to me by Google Calendar to remind me of the tasks for the day (not to mention the reminder SMSes I receive from Google off and on during the day for meetings or discussions at work).

Its now more of a habit to log onto my personalized Google News page to check whats happening around the world, everyday. (With ofcourse those puzzles I like to solve, delivered everyday on my desktop by Google feeds!)
As the day goes on, Google (well, the search engine itself) comes handy a lot of times whether it is something to do with my code or getting some general information about the technology that I am working on. Google Notebook is the all-time solution for writing down all those small things I need to remember (not to mention the anywhere-access which makes it as great as it is)

When I am back home, I am either busy reading technology blogs (through Google Reader) or sometimes busy finding my 10 year old friends on Google Orkut.

(No, I don’t use Google Wi-fi because I am in Sunnyvale and not Mountain View)

When it’s evening time, my cousins and friends are usually online on Google Talk. We have a good time text/voice chatting for sometime while I am listening to online music (keeping myself updated about the latest from Google Music Trends) before it’s time for dinner and for me to find a new recipe on Google again (trying to make it look as close as possible to the pic on the website :-))

Apart from that, I have recently tried out the new Google Groups (Beta) to start a group for all my old school mates to interact with each other more often and presto! I am surprised by the response.

If I am not reading white papers on Information Integration (after picking them up from Google Scholar) you can definitely find me enjoying the interesting documentaries on Google Videos. Moreover, if there is any place I need to go to on weekends, Google Maps is incontestably the first choice for finding routes.

While I am occupied doing all this, Google Desktop is keeping a track of everything on my machine, so that if I want to search the text for the chat I had 2 years back with my friend debating on the feasibility of semantic web, I can retrieve it on a click of a button.

No wonder, while searching for my car keys in the morning, I wish I could ‘google’ them.

Update : Google is now a dictionary word! Check it out

Some other ways to search..

Ms Dewey – A search engine that talks to you! Ms Dewey comments on every search you make on this website. Sometime she is funny and witty too (with a sarcastic tinge in some of her jokes). Not a very good search but try out a few keywords and listen to what she has to say.

Chacha – Chacha is a search engine where the results are given by humans. So for all your searches, you can use a guide who’ll find the best possible matches for your search and return them to you. But if somebody else has already searched the same keyword earlier, it will return you the matches instantaneously. In the bigger picture, the idea is to make every search a human-directed search (instead of a bot-directed one). Considering the increasing scale and dynamism of the web and ofcourse possibility of human errors, feasibility is definitely questionable.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ajax - asynchronous?

I have always been curious about the asynchronous behaviour of Ajax. Is it really asynchronous? If it is, is it really being used that way?

This post by Peter-Paul Koch clearly expresses my curiosity.

Basically, the idea of asynchronous model is that the user is freed from the client-server request-response cycle and can perform other tasks 'while' waiting for a server response. I could appreciate the idea earlier but then later realised how often will I have (or want) to do 'other things' while I am waiting for the server to respond.

Some of the comments to this post point me to some good examples like :

1. Google Maps - Maps for nearby regions are being downloaded when I am looking at it. (pointed by Dan Knapp)
2. Chat Applications - You can recieve other messages and type at the same time. (pointed by Day Barr)

Some other examples that I could think of:

1. Gmail Attachments - they start getting uploaded even before I send the email.
2. Google Groups - I tried out the beta version that was released recently. I can play with the option, tools on the top while the a new page is being fetched at the bottom.

But still one thing that keeps on tickling me. Why is the asynchronous part made so prominent in the name? Doesnt the real power of ajax lies in the making HTTP requests from within the page and being able to update small parts without reloading the entire page?