Tag Archives: IT

Google Self-Driving Car Test

iPhone camera used to study traffic lights

By Tyler Lee

Don’t you just hate it when you’re headed towards a traffic light, brake, only to have the lights turn green 2 seconds later? If you didn’t already know, unnecessary or excessive braking will result in your car wasting energy and fuel due to the amount of fuel required to get your car moving again.

The good news is that a group of researchers from MIT and Princeton University are currently researching when is the best time to stop and restart your cars when at a traffic light. This is accomplished with an iPhone mounted on the dashboard of the car, and through the use of the iPhone’s camera and a GPS system called SignalGuru, it will be able to tell the driver when is the best time to slow the car down in order to help save fuel.

In the US it appears that the system works just fine, and when they tested it out in Cambridge, MA, it was reported that fuel consumption was cut down by 20%. However in other countries such as Singapore, it did not work as well as the researchers hope as the length of traffic lights in Singapore are determined by the amount of traffic in that particular area.

Given that fuel efficiency is the current buzzword, let’s hope that this system becomes more widespread and find its way to standalone devices or other smartphone platforms!

Click here to read the research report: SignalGuru: Leveraging Mobile Phones for Collaborative Traffic Signal Schedule Advisory

Google perhaps soon launches Google Drive

Word on the streets is that search giant Google is all set to rebrand Google Docs, its massively popular online document service, into a hard drive in the cloud.

The reports about the company planning on a renovation in the service surfaced after Johannes Wigand – a prominent blogger and social media consultant captured and posted a blurry screenshot of what seemed to be a new version of Google Docs, called Drive, on the Web.

According to Wigand, the screen had appeared only for a few seconds during “an event powered by Google”.

The screenshot captured and posted by Wigand, however, was almost identical to the existing layout of Google Docs. But on a closer look, it becomes vividly clear that Google changed the word “Docs” on the upper left-hand corner of the screen to “Drive”.

In addition to that, the folder menu has also undergone a bit of changes – the new menu was called “My Google Drive”, thus replacing the previous “My Collections”.

“Expect Google Drive to reside at drive.google.com (not live yet). It’s not clear how docs.google.com (the current home of Docs) will be used – perhaps as the home of the word processor app or maybe it will just redirect,” TechCrunch reports. Read more »

Give you a shock: the difference between Google+ and Facebook

Tongfei Kou's Website / 寇同飞的个人网站

From: TraceHotNews.com

Google+ is Google‘s new social network product. No doubt about that Google+ will bring discussions again in the social network industry. Furthermore, Google+ from the IT giant is inevitably taken for being compared with Facebook, the biggest social networking website at the moment.

There can be functional differences, but here is one biggest different.

Read more »

You’ve still got mail

From “Financial Times” by Chris Nuttall in San Francisco

I rediscovered my old AOL e-mail account this week and was taken down e-memory lane as the famous “You’ve Got Mail!” message boomed from the PC speaker as I signed in. After years of neglect and only spam in my inbox, it was like a voice from beyond the grave – and with the same old US accent they never localised for the UK with a British voice proclaiming: “Post Is Here!”

I had logged in because I was taking the pulse of e-mail in general. Its obituary has been written repeatedly by the media over the past 10 years – strangled by spam in 2003, smothered by social networks in 2007 and razed by real-time communication such as Google Wave in 2009, before predictions of being finished off by Facebook Messages this year.

Spam is still a problem but more contained. Social networks give us peripheral vision of what our friends are up to but there is still a need for the e-mail equivalent of direct eye-contact. Wave, now cast adrift by Google, showed it was cool to see someone live-typing to you character by character, but it was never going to be the best way to organise your life. Facebook Messages looks promising for communicating with friends in new ways, but not for business use.

E-mail services have fought back by absorbing all these new features. From my Gmail inbox page, I can reply to e-mail, check voicemail, send texts and ins­tant messages, call phones and videoconference through a Google Chat widget, tweet, update my Facebook page and catch up on Google’s own social network, Buzz.

The inbox has become the Grand Central Station for knowledge workers, we were told at a Silicon Valley conference I attended recently, called Inbox Love. E-mail was very much alive, the speakers concluded, but its users were in a parlous state thanks to information overload – “You’ve Got Mail!” now invokes feelings of dread.

For me, the e-mail offerings of internet service providers and the e-mail clients that many companies still rely on are the dead men walking. Such desktop programs – including Eudora, Lotus Notes, Outlook and Thunderbird – seem outmoded now that we want to check our e-mail all the time from all manner of devices.

It is webmail services – led by Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Gmail – that allow us quick access to e-mail, stored remotely in the internet “cloud”, from any computer’s browser as well as providing fast, richly featured versions for smartphones and tablets.

After moving over the years from AOL and Hotmail to Yahoo Mail and now Gmail, I keep things simple – settling on one service and inbox and setting it up to import mail from previous addresses automatically.

I abandoned my company’s Lotus Notes in 2008 by autoforwarding my FT.com e-mails to Gmail, quickly reducing an inbox with 10,000 messages to a few hundred by filtering and filing e-mails away under Gmail’s labels system. The fast search and un­limited storage meant I could confid­ently archive thousands of e-mails because I could find them again quickly.

Gmail is constantly being up­dated with features developed in Goog­le Labs, such as being able to undo sending an e-mail. Google says the service is growing rapidly and, certainly, its rivals have been prompted into more wholesale re­vamps – for instance, AOL has a Project Phoenix plan under way to improve its offering.

Hotmail has been transformed in the past year, with a much more attractive interface and deeper integration with other Microsoft products. Photos and Office documents can be uploaded to its SkyDrive “cloud” storage and linked to, shared and viewed in a pane in the inbox without cluttering it up with a big file attachment. Active Views e-mails, introduced in December, allows users to interact within an e-mail – for example, you can watch a video from Hulu or search for a hotel room within an e-mail from the travel service Orbitz.

Yahoo Mail released a beta version last October that it claims is twice as fast as the existing version. It has also opened its inbox for third parties to add services – for example, users can choose YouSendIt to send e-mails with attachments of up to 100Mb in size. I also like OtherInbox, a third-party service that automatically sorts low-priority e-mails into folders to reduce the size of your inbox.

OtherInbox also plugs into Gmail, which has a couple of other plug-ins that I especially like, including TaskForce, which converts and groups e-mails into tasks, and Rapportive, which is similar to Xobni in Outlook. Rapportive adds a panel to an e-mail to show a picture of the person who has e-mailed and includes some biographical details and the latest social networking activity, all helping to put a face and much more to a name.

Faces and people are what Facebook knows all about. Its Messages section became a more fully fledged e-mail service in November. The inbox is automatically confined to the people you know and communicate with. A list of names topped by the latest communication has no subject lines, just the top line of the message added. All interactions, from e-mails to texts and instant messaging, are included in one long thread with each person, and photos and videos can be attached.

It is a pleasant experience – viewing individual histories of pure conversations with just people you know.

That, if my spam-cluttered memory serves me right, is what we liked so much about e-mail before life became more complicated.

From “Financial Times” by Chris Nuttall in San Francisco

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