Posts Tagged ‘google’

Facebook Lexicon, the flu, and data mining

I recently found out about the Facebook Lexicon. There’s a FAQ, but in a nutshell, the Lexicon tracks and counts occurrences of words and phrases on Facebook Walls (profile, group, or even event Walls) over time. It doesn’t seem like status messages count, though maybe the new Lexicon might in due time.

Searched for “the flu“, only because I wanted to compare it with what you’d get over Google Flu Trends. Facebook doesn’t have the limitation that it has to be US only – its worldwide.

Then I thought about Twitter search, since lots of people post their updates on life, their feelings, et al – look at the results there, for the flu. Look at the mashup the New York Times built for the Superbowl on Twitter. Are there graphing tools, that track keywords? It might actually be cool.

Lots of new ways to data mine, it seems. Google shares some semblance of raw data. Facebook doesn’t. Twitter has whatever is available, that is limited by its API (what, some 3,200 entries?).

Imagine all this being used to predict flu clusters, or something more close to home, dengue clusters. Or voter turnout (status saying “voted”, even).

On fearing the continuity of online services

Today I read that co.mments bit the dust. Another web service (who remembers the I Want Sandy discussion a while back), ceasing to exist (though from what I see, a lot of folk are using Disqus more).

It got me a little worried. I rely quite a bit on online services.

  • Bookmarking, once previously living in my bookmark.htm file, now is shared on delicious. It has proven to be invaluable, storing 3,108 bookmarks. They are a Yahoo! run company.
  • Photo storage and sharing, once previously sitting in directories on my web server, are now kept on my Flickr account. Flickr is great, because I can share photos with just friends, family, or participate in a vibrant community of photo enthusiasts. I currently have 16,813 items stored there, with backups on various media sitting in my various homes. They are a Yahoo! run company, and I happily pay them for a Pro account.
  • I depend on Google Reader (read my shared items) to read RSS feeds. In fact, I have been sharing items as a form of bookmarking them. Ditto with adding stars to items. Don’t say Google doesn’t close services – they have.
  • I use Google Calendar, because it simply rocks. I also use Google Docs, and I also use GMail (hosted, and regular).
  • I use Twitter, who has no business model, as of yet. I like it over FriendFeed for one minor detail – I can update via SMS.

Most of these services have ways for you to get your data out of them, assuming they don’t exist in due time. But what will replace them?

Sure there are desktop applications. But with the variety of devices I utilise, I’m trying to cut down from using desktop applications and just focus on working online. In fact, all that is open now is Firefox, Adium, iTunes, TextMate (where I carve this text out), Terminal, Skype and twhirl. On my work laptop, its just Thunderbird, Firefox, Terminal, and Skype that’s open.

So maybe I need less desktop applications. It’s good, because that’s the hope of online services – live right in your browser.

But in tough(er) times, what do you do if the online service you use, disappears? Where’s the continuity (i.e. will my grandkids be able to browse my Flickr photo albums?)

I do wonder, if this will lead to more open source, peer-to-peer/federated run, online services. Like if Twitter folds up, who’s to say its excellent community won’t move to ? (till then though, the latter probably doesn’t stand a chance, besides the very geeky top-of-the-trend open source folk…)

Google Documents, Percipitate

I’ve been starting to use Google Documents more and more, lately. Its great for collaborating with people, that are not within your Intranet – i.e. gone are the days of using the internal wiki.

But the Wiki has a good feature – the history of a page. Tools -> Revision History seems to solve that for me, in Google Docs (apparently, File -> Revision History works too).

It would be nice if there were more fonts available… some truly libre fonts, like Liberation.

On the Mac, another tool that’s worth installing is precipitate. It allows indexing of your Google Documents in Spotlight, so you can use “unified search” to find your documents on your desktop, and “in the cloud”. Haven’t found the equivalent for Linux.

Where I used to live (or how I played with Google Street View)

Where I used to live - Google Street View

This is interesting. Google’s Street View. Yes, I’ve seen a lot about it on the blogosphere, but I decided to finally try it out. The photo is of the house, where I used to live. Zooming in, now I can tell you that to the left of that, is where my dodgy landlord still lives ;)

Actually, more to the point. These pictures were definitely taken this year. I know this because I had the room in front, upstairs, and there were things sticking out between the shutters and the window. This picture is too serene, so must’ve been after November 2007.

I see good potential in Street View. Think about mashups with a site that focuses on you finding rental properties. Now people can comment on the property, look at the surrounding neighbourhood, and basically help you make a better choice at renting.

The real estate industry has moved online (in Australia, I can think of Ray White, LJ Hooker, at the top of my head), but its not really been disrupted. No, isn’t disruption – look who owns it?

I was mildly surprised to find out about from the e27 unconference I attended a few weeks back. Its focus currently is only for homes that are for sale, but they focus on the important aspects – like is it near an MRT, what kind of shopping malls are nearby, if you’re buying a property and have kids in mind, what zone to head to and so on.

They’re mashing it up with Google Maps. Pity there isn’t Street View in Singapore, huh?

Street View does 360° views as well. Nifty, if you ask me. See the surrounds. Does anyone know of a real estate disruptor in Australia, yet? Otherwise, there’s definitely room to start coding one…

GSoC Updates: Start your engines

MySQL is featured on the Google Open Source Blog
Just after leaving JavaOne, Leslie pinged me on IRC to inform me that the MySQL project was featured on the Google Open Source blog. Go on, read Moments of Inspiration.

In other news from mentors, Colin Charles, former mentor and 2008 organization administrator for MySQL dropped a note to let us know that their Community Bonding period is moving along swimmingly. So well, in fact, that their students are already delivering weekly status reports. Colin mentioned that their student Filippo Bollini had crafted a particularly well written update; it’s worth checking out for mentors wondering what sorts of information to collect from students or for students wondering what kind of details are most useful to their mentors.

Congratulations Filippo. I expect great things from you (as does Brian.)

Start your engines!
Students, and mentors alike, this is the week that the Summer of Code starts! Well, coding anyway. Its very encouraging to see all the weekly reports flow in, and once I catch a breath, I’ll be summarising them for all to see and keep up with how the MySQL SoC students of 2008 are doing.