Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Stuff Backlog

(This is the combination of all Google-related news I found interesting in the past few weeks, but which I've failed to blog sooner because the distraction called "work" has been bugging me a lot lately. So sorry if this is a bit sloppier than usual.)

Google Docs now has Presentations! It's even got a fun "audience" system where the collaborators of a presentation can discuss the presentation live in a chat-like fashion while the "audience" (the current viewers) reads.

***

The new  redesign for Orkut makes this Google social networking service so much more exciting than the purplish spam-filled original. Orkut engineers even have their near-future plans all laid out in a blog. I'll go check out the new features later.

***

Google recently improved Google Books. One major new feature in Books is a virtual personal library, in which you can share, rate, and review the books that you've read. This is similar to one of the online services I discovered from a friend: the online library/social networking site Shelfari, except for the networking part. Both offer ISBN search (that's the number that uniquely identifies a book, usually found on the back cover). Unfortunately some of the great books from my Dad's collection are so old that entering their ISBN returns nothing. Shelfari has a friendlier interface, but I'm using Google Books for now because I like its familiar "Google look" and superior search capabilities...and it has a new uber-cool clip feature.

***

About Google Reader, well, what more can I say other than: It now has a Search box (for subscribed feeds),  making it finally worthy of the name Google. Oh, yeah, Reader has graduated from Google Labs, as well.

***

So I was doing my semi-monthly check for any Philippines-related update on Google Maps, when behold, we now have street maps! But then a few seconds later I discovered three things: First, the street maps are old. showing some roads that shouldn't be there anymore. Second, it shows only a few of the major roads in Metro Manila. Third, the roads on the street map aren't event aligned to the actual roads as seen in the satellite images. I'll be lenient and not complain about the still out-of-date satellite images; there's a few interesting constructions being done right now in Metro Manila, so I can wait until those get done before I demand a satellite flyby.

*Remembers the Google Death Ray*

Ah, well, not that kind of satellite flyby. Take all the time you need, engineers!

***

I gotta admit I kinda miss the Cheese Easter Egg in Google Moon. As they added info about the Apollo missions, including a panoramic view reminiscent of Street View in Google Maps, they've done away with the yellow cheese images that once covered the maximum zoom-in level. I wish they'd put it back for places in the moon that don't have high-resolution images yet. I mean, how else would people know that the moon is made of cheese? Other than that, with the ability to search for craters, maria, and other lunar features, including those on the far side of the moon, as well as the addition of cool views and charts, what more can you ask for? Ah, yes Moon as part of Sky in Google Earth (heck, throw in Mars as well if possible!). Good thing they're working on it.