Your day will get better when you watch this: Google Street View Hyperlapse

Google Street View Hyperlapse stitches Street View images into fantastic mini movies. You can build your own hyperlapse here.

Be sure to check out this demo video as well (and try not to smile while you watch this thing — it’s impossible):

Via “Four short links: 10 April 2013” on O’Reilly Radar

Google’s lobbying investment: effective and surprisingly inexpensive

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Internet company [Google] spent years on lobbying and other efforts to build up goodwill in Washington, becoming the fifth-highest spender on lobbying in 2012, shelling out more than $14 million related to the antitrust probe and other issues, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and lobbying disclosure statements.

Given the glancing blow Google received from the Federal Trade Commission, that $14 million was money well spent.

Notable things: Google’s sneaky $1 billion; a visual story with no visuals = ridiculous; there’s a $50 limit on teacher gifts

Google is well known as an advertising company and/or a search company, but it’s also a full-fledged services company. It’s time we started thinking of it as such.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Over the past year Google generated around $1 billion from the sale of Google Apps and separate mapping software to businesses and governments, said people familiar with the matter. Google said more than five million businesses use Google Apps, though the vast majority have fewer than 10 users and thus use the free version. In total, Google has said more than 40 million people use the free and paid versions of Google Apps. [Emphasis added.]


Why would a story with the headline “The world’s deadliest road” only feature a single photo? There’s a semi-related slideshow, but that’s focused on a driving school rather than the road itself.

The highway story tries to paint a picture through colorful description — a lot of description — but that’s not good enough. Not these days when you can capture everything with high-res multimedia.

Example: This is a nice paragraph, but where’s the video that shows us how it feels to be on this road?

Passenger buses loaded with luggage overtake each other at high speed on blind corners, missing oncoming traffic by inches. The rusting skeletons of smashed-up vehicles litter the side of the road. Open-backed trucks filled with people – tonnes of thundering metal – career down the road at 90km an hour, shaking the windows of our car as they scream past. Amid this, streams of garment workers in brightly coloured saris, children walking home from school and men on wobbling bicycles share the road with these machines …

This is unacceptable on two levels:

  1. The visual opportunities in this story were apparent from the beginning. This isn’t an expose on actuarial tables. We’re talking about a deadly highway.
  2. The story is not objective. It’s an attempt to rally outrage and support. If you really want to inspire action, you must show and tell.

I didn’t know this:

[Massachusetts] State ethics law prevents public school teachers from accepting any gift, Christmas or otherwise, with a value of $50 or more. And, they must disclose the gifts they accept that are worth less than that.

Via Patch.

Notable things: Note taking and TV show recapping, a simple fix for Google’s antitrust problem, keep shooting

From 2004-2010 I spent an ungodly amount of my free time recapping and analyzing “Lost.” I watched each new episode intently and took lots of notes, while all the while thanking my ninth-grade typing instrutor for giving me the gift of touch-typing.

The weird thing is that I rarely referenced those pages-upon-pages of notes when it came time to write the recaps. The process of taking notes while watching organized my thoughts to the point where I didn’t require back-up. Yet, there’s no way I could have cranked out the same material at the same speed had I not engaged in this note-writing exercise.

I was reminded of this when I read through Andy Greenwald’s TV Mailbag on Grantland:

When I’m recapping, I tend to pause the show every five to 10 seconds to jot down a line or an observation. Obviously, this is hugely annoying to anyone else in the room, so I tend to watch “work” shows on my laptop with a Word document open … For an hour-long show, I tend to accumulate about 10 pages of notes, most of which I never look at again. But the act of writing it down tends to lodge the stuff more firmly in my brain. [Emphasis added.]

I guess that note-taking quirk isn’t quite as odd as I thought.

(Incidentally, I miss watching “Lost” and I miss the fantastic community that revolved around it, but I don’t miss the 3-5 hours it required to recap each episode. I still don’t understand how/why my wife put up with that “hobby.”)


Randal C. Picker proposes an elegant solution to Google’s antitrust problem: let people set their own defaults for maps, local reviews, etc.:

Google hard-wires its search results in favor of its own maps, so a restaurant search on Google will return results with maps from Google. Perhaps I prefer MapQuest to Google Maps. Regulators would be understandably concerned that the rise of Google Maps has been driven by how tightly linked it is to Google’s underlying search engine and not because it is a superior product on its own. If consumers could designate a default maps provider, antitrust regulators would have much greater confidence that Google Maps is winning on its own merits.

Like rebates and coupons and rain checks and anything else that requires a modicum of effort, we know few people will ever reset those defaults. And that’s not taking into account Google’s superiority in many of these services. I use MapQuest about as much as I use Lycos.

Nonetheless, providing the option to switch services could go a long way toward easing regulators’ concerns.


The title of this image: “I’m not going to lie. I took 174 photos to get this ONE.”

I had a photography teacher in college who implored us to “keep shooting.” And this was before digital was the default.

He was right. You’ve got to take a lot of shots to get a good one.

Notable things: Google Maps will reveal the state of Apple’s stubborn streak, me-too-itis, everyone was confused by Karl Rove

Google is in the late stages of developing a Maps app for iOS, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

I’m looking forward to having Google Maps back on my iOS devices, but I’m also intrigued by what’s to come.

Will Apple follow up its unusual apology with swift approval?

Or, will Apple’s disdain for Google keep the Maps app in approval purgatory?

Put another way: Is Tim Cook as stubborn as Steve Jobs?

I don’t think he is, but what happens next will go a long way toward answering that question.


The Google Maps / iOS story is notable for another reason: It shows the sad state of “me too!” that runs through the tech press. When a story like this hits Techmeme you know an onslaught of duplicate stories from other outlets will soon flood the Internet. Those second-wave pieces rarely offer anything substantial.


“What the? What is this?”

Roger Ailes had the same response as everyone else to Karl Rove’s election-night fit.

Facebook Connect and lock-in through ubiquity

Here’s an interesting piece from the New York Times that looks at Facebook Connect’s growing role as a sign-on / social graph utility. Twitter and Google have similar products. Why is this important? This excerpt sums it up: Since Facebook…

FacebookHere’s an interesting piece from the New York Times that looks at Facebook Connect’s growing role as a sign-on / social graph utility. Twitter and Google have similar products. Why is this important? This excerpt sums it up:

Since Facebook Connect was introduced in December 2008, more than 80,000 Web sites and services have put the log-in feature to use, said Ethan Beard, director of the Facebook developer network … “Facebook is evolving through Facebook Connect into much more than a Web site,” said Mr. Beard, who works closely with Facebook’s community of third-party developers. “It’s also a technology and a service to provide social plumbing and creating a social layer the whole Web can leverage.” [Emphasis added.]

These sign-on services, along with other APIs, attempt to achieve lock-in through ubiquity. That’s infinitely fascinating to me. Take Twitter, for example. It’s become the standard for micromessaging (or microblogging or whatever you want to call it) not by forcing people into a Twitter.com silo, but by allowing the Twitter service to seep into the web’s nooks and crannies. Put another way: “platform” is way more powerful than “website.”

Want to know what Google is up to? Here you go

I’ve seen lots of hand-wringing and sweaty prognosticating about Google. What will it do? What does it want? Is that don’t be evil mantra for real? Funny thing is, Google’s strategy has always been in plain sight. There’s no obfuscation….

GoogleI’ve seen lots of hand-wringing and sweaty prognosticating about Google. What will it do? What does it want? Is that don’t be evil mantra for real?

Funny thing is, Google’s strategy has always been in plain sight. There’s no obfuscation. There’s no misdirection. Heck, this New York Times piece spells it out:

Google has used a similar approach — immense computing power, heaps of data and statistics — to tackle other complex problems. In 2007, for example, it began offering 800-GOOG-411, a free directory assistance service that interprets spoken requests. It allowed Google to collect the voices of millions of people so it could get better at recognizing spoken English. A year later, Google released a search-by-voice system that was as good as those that took other companies years to build.

See what Google did there? It released a free service so it could gather huge amounts of data that could then be used in another product. That’s what Google does. Free leads to data, data leads to another product. Repeat over and over and over and over again.

An exclusive search engine deal for newspapers can’t be far off

Reports suggest Microsoft is courting European publishers for some sort of Bing-based news thing. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch continues to shake his fist at Google. Cory Doctorow connects the potential dots at Boing Boing: So here’s what I think it going…

Reports suggest Microsoft is courting European publishers for some sort of Bing-based news thing. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch continues to shake his fist at Google. Cory Doctorow connects the potential dots at Boing Boing:

So here’s what I think it going on. Murdoch has no intention of shutting down search-engine traffic to his sites, but he’s still having lurid fantasies inspired by the momentary insanity that caused Google to pay him for the exclusive right to index MySpace (thus momentarily rendering MySpace a visionary business-move instead of a ten-minutes-behind-the-curve cash-dump).

So what he’s hoping is that a second-tier search engine like Bing or Ask (or, better yet, some search tool you’ve never heard of that just got $50MM in venture capital) will give him half a year’s operating budget in exchange for a competitive advantage over Google.

Toss in the growing idea that Twitter, Facebook and other recommendation-based results are now more important than Google traffic and we’ve got a very interesting set of signals.