Category: Blogs

Adventures in Twitterland: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Today is Twitter’s Coming Out Party with what could be 2013’s Biggest IPO. By the closing bell today, the U.S. probably will have a couple new billionaires. As one commenter on USA Today’s site noted, “I can’t get into the IPO. I’m too busy tweeting.” Unfortunately, we’re not.

Having just returned from a quick visit to New York earlier this week, we were greeted by the following message when we logged into our Twitter account:

Why is my account suspended? Well, it could be that you’ve violated “The Twitter Rules” or maybe Twitter suspects that your account was hacked or compromised. I’m reminded of the old playground adage: It’s For Me To Know and You to Find Out. Urban Dictionary has an interesting take on what that really means.

Imagine if you will that you’re walking down the street in your favorite town minding your own business when a cop grabs you by the collar and says, “You’re under arrest.” The natural inclination would be to ask why. Rather than tell you, the police officer hands you a copy of the municipal code with the admonition that you can always appeal.

Welcome to The World According to Twitter. Here you are assumed to know what you did wrong. And, if you don’t like the consequences, you can file “an appeal” after reading “The Rules”. All of that, of course, is perfectly fine if you actually broke “The Rules” and know what you did. Joseph Heller couldn’t have made this up. If you’ve read Catch 22, you’ll recall that “the term was introduced by Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes ‘Catch 22′ to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity — hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions [during World War II] — demonstrates his own sanity in making the request and thus cannot be declared insane.”

We, of course, use Twitter for fun and to support our open source projects so there’s no financial hardship from Twitter’s antics while we endure “the appellate process.” But, put yourself in the position of a business person with thousands of followers and suppose you actually used Twitter to announce new products and merchandise sales. Don’t!

As you can see from the screenshot above, all of a sudden you have 0 Followers. So your entire business model is basically down the toilet at the sole discretion of Twitter. In case you’re curious, no, we haven’t violated any of Twitter’s rules. We still used to send a couple of tweets a day as we have since opening our account years ago. Has our account been hacked? Obviously not. We still can get into it, and there are no tweets from us offering you a million bucks for managing some African prince’s business affairs.

In becoming a public company today, one would hope this situation will be addressed. But then I’m reminded of our Comcast adventures and some of the horror stories you hear about Facebook, and it’s probably safe to conclude that the Borg was probably right: “Resistance is futile.” We’ve been patiently waiting 2 days for “our appeal” to be processed. We’ll let you know if we ever hear anything further. In the meantime, I’d hold off on that Twitter stock purchase.

If you happen to have a (working) Twitter account, do us and your friends a favor. Send a tweet to your followers about this article by clicking on the link below. Happy Tweeting!

1 p.m. Update. Surprise! Well, we’re back… kinda, sorta. Twitter let us out of jail but kept our pants and car keys. Following = 0, Followers = 0. No call. No email. Not even a tweet. Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Nice!

2:30 p.m. Update. Pants and car keys returned. Thanks a billion, Twitter. You’re the best.

Originally published: Thursday, November 7, 2013

11/11/11: To Celebrate Nerd New Year’s, Please Welcome…

Nerd Vittles Daily Dump

Just click on the image above to visit the site. Content is updated at least twice daily. As always, we welcome your content suggestions. Enjoy!

Originally published: Friday, November 11, 2011


Great News! Google Plus is available to everyone. Sign up here and circle us. Click these links to view the Asterisk feed or PBX in a Flash feed on Google+.




Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

The Googlifier: WordPress Widget Alternative for Google+

Nerd Vittles has been not only a fan but also a user of WordPress for the better part of this century. So it only made sense to contribute a little something back once the opportunity presented itself. Now that Google Plus has released the first iteration of an API, it became fairly easy to extract all of your Google+ content and import it into any current WordPress blog. Rather than offering a plugin or widget that requires constant maintenance, today we’re providing an open source toolkit that lets you automatically and regularly grab your public Google+ content and add it to your new or existing WordPress 3.2.1 blog. Here’s a screenshot of our sample blog using the WordPress twentyten template. We set this up in less than an hour on a hosted platform using cPanel with Fantastico, an application installer which is available on thousands of hosted platforms around the world. Our favorite for new bloggers is Lunarpages for as little as $4.95 a month.

The hidden beauty of this project is that others can take our open source code and transform the same Google+ content into other templates as well. For example, it would be pretty simple to turn your Google Plus feed into something that looked more like the new Facebook Timeline Layout:

Or you might prefer something more like Flipboard or Google’s new secret project that transforms Twitter content into a customized social news magazine:

But, for today, we want to concentrate on WordPress and show you how easy it is to assimilate your Google+ content into a new or existing blog. Down the road, it would be pretty easy to use The Googlifier to grab the public feeds of your Favorite Google+ Circle and assimilate all of that content into a Best of Google+ Blog. But let’s save that project for another day.

Prerequisites. There are some basic components of both Google+ and WordPress that you’ll need to have in place before using The Googlifier. On the Google front, for openers you’ll obviously need a Google+ account. You no longer need an invitation. Just sign up here. You’ll also need your Google+ account ID which is the long string of numbers displayed in the web link when you access your Google+ Profile:

Last, but not least, you’ll need a free Google+ API key. This lets you grab a JSON feed of your Google+ public posts up to 1,000 times per day. You do NOT need an OAuth Token to download your public Google+ content!

On the WordPress side, The Googlifier is expecting to find a working WordPress 3.2.1 blog. You also need command-line access to run The Googlifier scripts. This can also be done using cPanel. Be advised that we have not tested this application with prior releases of WordPress! We would caution you to be very careful doing so if you have a working live blog. As frequent readers of Nerd Vittles already know, we provide the same advice on introducing new software as we do for those contemplating a new marine aquarium. Always have two platforms: one for display and one to test whether your new fish have cooties. If you choose the all-in-one approach, sooner or later you’ll probably end up with a bunch of dead fish. You’ve been warned. :wink:

The good news is that, once you have obtained your Google+ credentials and have the proper WordPress platform in place, using The Googlifier requires zero technical skills. Set a few defaults once, run a couple scripts at regular intervals, and you’re done. If you’d like to add Categories to each of your blog posts, that is easily accomplished after you import your Google+ content by simply editing your posts while logged into WordPress with your admin credentials.

Getting Started. Now we’re ready to download the software. If you have SSH access to your WordPress blog, log in and change directories to the default directory for your blog. Then issue the following commands:

wget http://mundy.org/googleplus/googlifier.zip
unzip googlifier.zip
rm googlifier.zip

Next, you need to insert your Google+ credentials in wm-getfeed.sh. Edit the file using the command: nano -w wm-getfeed.sh. Near the top of the script, you’ll see the following two lines:

acctid=”12345″
apikey=”67890″

Replace 12345 with your Google+ Account ID. Replace 67890 with your Google+ API Key. Be careful to preserve the quotes on each side of the two entries. Once you’re finished, save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, and Enter.

Now make sure your credentials work by running the app and agreeing to the license: ./wm-getfeed.sh. If you see ERROR 400: Bad Request, then there’s an error in your credentials.

Next, you need to edit wm-readfeed.php using the same extended nano syntax shown above. On line #15, insert your blog URL in place of ours. Be sure to preserve the trailing /. Save the file and then run the script to populate your blog with your latest Google+ public postings: ./wm-readfeed.php.

Finally, access your blog using a web browser and make certain the content looks right. If the images are too large, you can adjust them in the settings section at the top of wm-readfeed.php. Make certain to preserve the correct proportions between the width and height entries. As installed, your Google+ posts will only be imported once into WordPress. If you’d prefer to overwrite your entries each time you run the PHP script, then set the variable $overwriteposts to true. Be aware that this may cause issues with search engines because the links to your posts will change each time you rerun the PHP script and delete the previously imported posts.

We also recommend you install the free (for non-business use) FancyZoom app for WordPress. This lets users click on images in your blog to enlarge them automatically. You can try it out here or in our Demo Google+ Blog. If you decide not to use FancyZoom, then you may wish to set $click2photoalbum to true. This will allow users to access the Google+ photo album associated with certain posts by clicking on the displayed image.

Automating The Googlifier Imports. Once you’re satisfied that the imports are working correctly, it’s simple to automate the process so that it runs regularly to gobble up your Google+ content. For those using cPanel, you’ll find a Cron Jobs option on the main screen. What we want to do is schedule the wm-getfeed.sh script to run every hour at one minute after the hour. And then schedule the wm-readfeed.php script to run every hour at three minutes after the hour. That way you’ll always have the latest content on your blog. Here’s the way a sample cron entry should look. Just substitute your account name on your cPanel host for ward, and you’re all set. Unless you want to be bombarded hourly with email confirmations, add > /dev/null to the end of the commands (not shown in the sample below).

And One More Thing… We saved the best for last. One of the drawbacks of Google+ has been the lack of support for in-line images such as you see in this blog posting. With The Googlifier, it’s now a thing of the past. You can embed as many images as you like in any posting at any place you like except in the first line of the posting. Just enclose image links in {curly braces} within your Google+ posting, and The Googlifier will handle the rest. Here’s a quick sample:

A Word About Open Source Development. The real beauty of open source code is that you have an opportunity to improve what’s been provided. We hope you not only will do so but also will share your improvements with the rest of us. Just post a comment below using your real email address which won’t be published. We will contact you to obtain your code which we’ll be happy to host on Nerd Vittles for everyone to enjoy.

A Word About Versions. This is version 1.0 software so don’t assume it’s finished or error-free. Check this post regularly to download new updates as they are finished. The comments below or update notices appearing just below here will attempt to explain what has been added, changed, or improved. Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, October 24, 2011




Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Donate Now To Claim Your $299 Web Appointment System

hitAppoint Demo

It's back-to-school time in the United States, and we want to lessen the pain of the transition with a deal you simply cannot refuse. Here's how it works. Every fall we solicit contributions to Nerd Vittles so that we can keep the lights on for another year. We try to reward our readers with great deals whenever we find them but especially during donation season. So this one is especially for you, our loyal readers! You'll find a PayPal Donate button just to the right. It works with every major credit card whether you have a PayPal account or not. For everyone that makes a contribution to Nerd Vittles this month, we'll forward a portion of your contribution to Ward Mundy & Associates, an organization we know and love, to purchase on your behalf a fully licensed copy of hitAppoint to run on a server of your choice. Ward Mundy & Associates already has purchased an unlimited distribution license to hitAppoint. We hope you'll consider running hitAppoint with PBX in a Flash or the Incredible PBX because, over the next few months, we'll be writing a new module for hitAppoint that lets you add Telephone Reminders and Client/Patient Confirmations when the software is run on PBX in a Flash systems. Who knows? We may even get energetic and write a module to let folks schedule appointments using their Plain Old Telephone.

What's the Catch? Sorry. There isn't one other than our assumption that you're a loyal Nerd Vittles reader. We obviously have no way to check. Just make a donation to Nerd Vittles this month and patiently await an email from us telling you how to download your software. If you're a long time reader of Nerd Vittles, you already know about our previous contributions to the open source and shareware communities. And today is no different even though this is commercial software. Yes, the Little Mrs. is not going to be happy. So there goes the new house... again.

Can I Pass the Software On? No. Your copy of hitAppoint will be licensed just to you or the entity making a donation to Nerd Vittles. And it's for use on a single server. This is the identical commercial software product that can be purchased from the hitAppoint web site for $299.

What Are Typical Uses for hitAppoint? The hitAppoint web site lists a number of real-world examples of how hitAppoint is being used. These include scheduling of medical appointments, fitness and wellness appointment scheduling, piano or guitar lessons, tutoring appointments, photographic services scheduling, workout class appointments, hair salon scheduling, carpet cleaning services, and almost any other trade or profession that involves scheduling of people's time or facilities.

Is it Full-Featured? You bet. It's one of the best in the business. That's why we chose it! Here's an overview of hitAppoint functionality in the latest release:

    Appointments

  • Appointment packs
  • Multiple seats at a time if needed
  • Customer can request/cancel appointment
  • Provider can create/accept/reject appointment
  • Manage past appointments
  • View appointments during any time period
  • Color for appointment status
  • Customizable automatic confirmation emails
  • Export to Outlook, iCal apps, Google Calendar
  • Export to Excel or any CSV-capable software
  • View apptmt by customer, provider, location
  • Day appointments visual view
  • One screen print view
  • Review appointments before scheduling
  • Configure service, location, provider, time
  • Move appointment to another location
  • Reassign appointment to another provider
  • Reschedule appointment to different time
  • Custom additional fields for appointments
  • Recurring Appointments
    Payments

  • Paypal integration
  • Authorize.Net integration
  • SagePage integration
  • Accept offline payments at your office
    Customers

  • Configure to allow registered users only
  • Require customer email validation
  • Require admin approval for new customer
  • Additional information fields for customer data
  • Search for customers by any field
  • View customer appointment history
  • Use of customer database from other apps
  • Temporarily suspend users
    Providers

  • Assign provider to any service and location
  • Flexible availability schedule for providers
  • Specify individual time off
    Services

  • Variable duration and pricing for sessions
  • Lead-in and lead-out times
  • Flexible availability for every service
  • Configure providers and locations for service
  • Define when advance booking is possible
  • Define when appointment cancellation is possible
    Locations

  • Flexible availability scheduling by location
  • Configure services and providers by location
    System

  • Tailor look and feel with themes
  • Integrate with WordPress
  • Integrate with Joomla
  • Multi-language support

Prerequisites. Here's what you'll need on your host machine which could be either Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X:

* Apache web server
* PHP (version 4.1 or greater or PHP 5)
* MySQL 3.23 or greater
* phpMyAdmin (strongly recommended)

In the Windows world, the easiest way to get everything you need is to install WampServer 2. With Mac OS X, we'd recommend XAMPP. For Linux, all you need is PBX in a Flash. If you plan to run hitAppoint in a hosted environment (e.g. WestNIC, LunarPages, BlueHost), we'd recommend you choose a provider that includes cPanel. This makes it easy to set up your MySQL database and credentials. The three providers we've listed all provide the necessary software to run hitAppoint, and we've used all three of them with good results. The three are ranked in our order of preference.

Downloading & Installing hitAppoint. If you're installing this on a PBX in a Flash server, it's incredibly simple and takes less than a minute. Log into your server as root and issue the following commands. Then skip down to the Running Setup section below:

cd /root
wget http://pbxinaflash.com/hitappoint.tgz
tar zxvf hitappoint.tgz
./hitappoint.sh

For those not installing hitAppoint on a PBX in a Flash server, download the hitAppoint software from the link that was provided in the email from us. The link changes regularly so download it as soon as you receive your email confirmation. Unzip the file in the root directory of your web server so that hitAppoint can be accessed using a web browser pointed to:

http://your-server-ipaddress-or-FQDN/hitappoint/

Step #2 is to create a MySQL database and user with permissions to manage hitAppoint.

On cPanel hosted systems, there will be a MySQL Databases option. Choose it and create a new database called hitappoint. This will actually create a database called nerd_hitappoint where nerd is your cPanel account name. Now add a new username and call it hitappoint as well. Then choose a very secure password for this username. Then click the Create User button. Finally, move to the Add User to Database option and specify nerd_hitappoint as the database and nerd_hitappoint as the user (using your own cPanel account name obviously). Then click the Add button.

On systems with phpMyAdmin, use a browser to open the application. Click on the Privileges option in the center column. Then click Add a New User. For Username, choose Use Text Field and enter hitappoint. For Host, choose Local and it will default to Localhost. For Password, choose Use Text Field and enter a very secure password twice. In the Database for User section of the form, choose the radio button marked "Create database with same name and grant all privileges." Now move to the bottom of the form and click the Go button.

Now you're ready to configure hitAppoint to use your newly created MySQL database. Use your favorite editor to open db.rename_it.php in the new hitappoint directory on your web server. Change the default entries so that they look like the following but use your actual password instead of yourpassword for the MySQL user account you created:

define( 'NTS_DB_HOST', 'localhost');
define( 'NTS_DB_USER', 'hitappoint');
define( 'NTS_DB_PASS', 'yourpassword');
define( 'NTS_DB_NAME', 'hitappoint');

If you're on a hosted platform, don't forget to add your prefix (e.g. nerd_) to both the DB_USER and DB_NAME entries. Then save your changes and rename db.rename_it.php to db.php.

Running Setup. You're almost finished with the installation. Using your favorite browser, call up the following page and follow the prompts:

http://your-server-ipaddress-or-FQDN/hitappoint/setup.php

When you finish running the setup procedure, delete setup.php in the /hitappoint directory.

Language Support. hitAppoint has been designed to support multiple languages. Unfortunately, it has not yet been translated into German, French, and Spanish. The entire translation process takes only an hour or so. If you are fluent in both Spanish and English, please drop us a note, and we'll walk you through the translation procedure. In addition, we'll share your handiwork with the rest of the hitAppoint community.

Getting Started. After you've downloaded and installed the software, review the hitAppoint Getting Started Guide for instructions on configuring the software to meet your needs. Here's an example of what you can create in less than 10 minutes. And, as you can see, integrating the live application into existing web sites, forums, or blogs takes only a couple minutes. Feel free to make some sample entries. We won't bill you. :wink: Enjoy!


 




Need help with Asterisk?® Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


whos.amung.us If you're wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what's happening. It's a terrific resource both for us and for you.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you're seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity's DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here's a deal you can't (and shouldn't) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won't get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity's rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest...

Is It Time to Get Your Buzz On?

If you’ve been on vacation for the past week without your computer and cellphone, welcome back. Here’s what you missed: Everything! Yes, in seven little days, we’ve watched in amazement as Google the Giant Internet Gorilla with unlimited financial resources jumped off the 1,000 foot cliff without a parachute and then set about discovering how to land safely. Google jumped head first into social networking with a new product, Google Buzz, and decided to kick start the project using the age-old business trick of tying the new product to an old one, in this case their 175 million existing Gmail customers.

In the process of introducing Google Buzz, Google got almost everything wrong. Ironically, it’s the only new Google product that’s ever been introduced without the beta label. We’ll let you be the judge of whether Buzz is ready for prime time. Consider the following. There was the exposure of people’s most cherished Little Black Books to complete strangers. And cross-scripting security issues have been reported with the potential of exposing users’ Google credentials which in turn provides the key to the Google Checkout castle not to mention all of your most confidential emails. Then there were complaints that customer’s geolocation data was being compromised without user authorization. If that wasn’t enough on your plate for one week, Google now has to contend with a class action lawsuit and several government investigations into its Buzz business practices. Aside from that, did we mention Google Buzz is a huge hit!

If social networking is your thing, then you’re going to love Google Buzz. Think of it as FriendFeed on Steroids. Rich multimedia and location-based services on top of everything you always loved about IRC. And, if you have an Android 2.0+ phone, it gets even better with complete integration into Google Maps 2.0.

Unfortunately, everyone has been so busy with damage control and Google bashing that there’s been precious little time to actually explore the potential for Google Buzz in the social networking community. Our brief look at the product and its potential suggests that Google has another winner on its hands. It’s just too bad it wasn’t introduced in a manner similar to Google Wave so that users (and Google) could walk before attempting to fly. Here’s our first crack at how Google Buzz could actually be integrated into the blogging community, in our case making Google Buzz an integral part of a WordPress blog. And there’s also the widget approach from MoreTechTips.net which we’ve tweaked in the right margin below our Google maps. We’ll have more to say about these methodologies in coming weeks. In the meantime, come join the fun and Get Your Buzz On.

Nerd Uno’s Latest Buzz



Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…

Surfing the Google Wave

Original image courtesy of Squidoo.com... with apologies We’ve spent a week getting to know Google Wave using Chrome along with 100,000 of our closest friends. We wanted to give you a status report. Hype aside, Google Wave is an incredible tool when used for the right purpose. If you’ve been asleep or hiding under a rock for the past two weeks and missed the party, here’s a quick summary of Google’s latest invention. It’s a bird, it’s a plane… actually it’s a collaboration and communications platform that brings the full richness of Web 2.0 to your desktop. Some have suggested that it’s what email would look like if it were invented today. Our discussion focuses on the web-based Wave client, but Google Wave also is an open source development toolkit, and we’ll get to that one day soon.

Much has been written about Google Wave’s capabilities, and we won’t repeat that here. Instead, we want to address Google Wave’s potential and what we see as some of the present shortcomings of the product. We fully appreciate that this is a preview, and many of our concerns may yet be addressed before Google Wave becomes available to the general public. We can’t help chuckling at the realization that, in less than 30 years, we’ve now come full circle in data processing. What began as mainframe computing evolved into personal computing. And now Google Wave brings us much closer to being back where we started except for a state-of-the-art user interface and a new name: Cloud Computing. If IBM had addressed the user interface issues with mainframe computing, they probably never would have lost their market in the first place.

The screenshot above really can’t do justice to the richness of the client interface because you truly need a monitor as wide as your desk to get the most out of Google Wave. No, you won’t be using this on your cellphone or PDA… at least not well. For openers, Google Wave provides real-time collaboration so you actually see folks typing into various message threads (called waves) in the Land of Google. When you create a new wave, you “invite” other people in your Contacts to the wave. This puts the wave at the top of their Inbox in bold-faced type, akin to what Gmail would do with an incoming email.

There’s another frame to the right of your Inbox which actually displays the complete wave that you have selected so you’re never really jumping back and forth between selecting waves and reading them. What takes a bit of getting used to is the fact that both your Inbox and the wave you are currently reading may be changing every second with input from literally dozens of your associates or strangers if the wave you’re reading happened to be designated as public.

There’s one other dramatic difference in waves and threads of email messages. Other folks can change your stuff. As a collaboration tool with close associates, this might be desirable. With public waves, it would be a nightmare in the real world. And we don’t consider the 100,000 Google Wave previewers the real world. They are for the most part well-behaved probably out of fear that they’d be booted out if they behaved badly. That isn’t the real world as we all know. And the current Google Wave design would let a single creep destroy virtually every public wave in minutes using bots and malicious changes to documents. As presently designed, there would be little recourse other than replaying what your wave used to look like. You really can’t put Humpty back together again as some have already discovered.

Richard Nixon learned the hard way that tape recorders can be a blessing and a curse. Much has been made of the capability Google Wave offers to replay a wave so that you can playback the development of a thread of messages and see who added or deleted what and when. Google has touted the fact that everything is preserved. Well, not quite. First, there’s no capability at least presently to scroll back to a certain place in the timeline and recreate a new wave up to there. The most you can retrieve is a single posting. Second, anybody with access to the wave can use this timeline feature so wave restoration wouldn’t necessarily be desirable unless it were restricted to the original author of the wave. And, third, at least at Google someone knows how to cheat the system and delete stuff from the timeline. We only discovered this in reviewing the first public porn wave which started out prim and proper enough but quickly gathered steam when someone posted a collection of NSFW (or anywhere else) photos from their favorite collection. Within a few minutes, the postings quietly disappeared. Being the careful reviewer that we are, we immediately reached for the Playback button to check the history of the wave. Sure enough, the raunchy photos were still there. But, by the next morning, they had completely vanished from the chronology. So much for the official stance that nothing ever disappears. The real disappointment with the replay function is the lack of any capability to restore an entire wave. Because only individual messages (known as blips) can be recovered, this would prove to be next to worthless in a complex wave with hundreds of postings.

That brings us to the issue of whether public waves really make sense given the world in which we live. The good news is it works much better than IRC because of the richness of the content with attachments and hyperlinks. But, at least for public waves, the ability to edit someone else’s stuff would have to go. We try not to focus on legal nightmares in reviewing new software, but one can’t help wondering what would happen if one were to post something complimentary about a neighbor in a public wave and then another neighbor altered your posting by falsely accusing the individual of sleeping around with half of the neighborhood. Obviously, there’s still a good bit of work to do on the security front and in deciding whether allowing others to amend someone else’s postings is a good idea. Whether Google gets the security piece right will ultimately determine the success of Google Wave.

For public waves, it’s a no-brainer. You just can’t! And, to be honest, in reviewing hundreds of public waves in the preview, we can’t recall a single instance where this functionality would have been necessary. In a true (private) collaborative project, it would be wonderful but color-coding of text or some other method of identifying who wrote what would be absolutely essential from both a practical and legal standpoint. Both Microsoft Word and WordPerfect have had this capability forever. The simple way in Google Wave would be to add user’s pictures with a colored border and matching colored text whenever they make changes to someone else’s posting. With this addition, Google Wave could become a wonderful collaborative tool in both legal and technical environments.

And, speaking of word processing, Google Wave falls a bit short on the word processing scale. Despite the richness of Google’s knol platform, some of that functionality still is not available in Google Wave. The text editing and formatting is much akin to what’s available in a typical email client. You can change fonts, adjust color, indent, add hyperlinks and images, but that’s about as far as it goes. There are no headers, footers, footnotes, etc. So you can’t easily transform a wave into a formatted document for printing at this juncture. But that may come as development continues.

There are a few other things still on our Wish List. First, we’d love for Google Wave to evolve into a tool that can replace today’s forums which are not much more functional than BBS software was two decades ago. Once there is administrator control of rollback and protection of waves by granular access rights to functions, bots, and gadgets as well as the ability to block users and ranges of IP addresses, this should happen. Second, we obviously want the ability to include either read-only or read-write access to waves in a blog or web site. We already have the web site functionality working (see below for a sample), but you currently need a Google Wave account to access it. Third, we really want to assimilate all of the tools we use into the Google Wave Desktop so that everything is accessible in one place. That’s what Cloud Computing is all about, and Google Wave comes closer than anything else in meeting that need. You already can access Gmail on your Google Wave desktop and any web site that can be framed can be included in a wave as an iFrame. That doesn’t leave much once the security feature set is in place to protect all the components.

Finally, we’ll close with a brief mention of the coolest feature of Google Wave. That is its expandability which is enabled by incorporating bots and gadgets into any wave. As you might imagine, these extensions can do almost anything… good or bad. Here’s a short list of what has been developed and what’s already on the radar in just a few short weeks:

Chatbots
Eliza – ogenex@appspot.com – An implementation of the Eliza chatbot borrowed from the NLTK.
Elize – elizarobot@appspot.com – Is one of the first robots that was created by non Googler and is very useful if you are feeling alone in your Google Wave client.
Rude chatbot – notatory@appspot.com – An obnoxious chatbot borrowed from the Natural Language Processing Toolkit.
TooAngel Wave – In Progress – tooangel-wave@appspot.com – A self learning robot, that will respond to a reply in a more humanoid way

Conversion
BotURL – boturl@appspot.com – A URL Linker that replaces full URLs with hyperlinks.
Calcbot – calcbot@appspot.com – This bot will do in place calculations for simple mathematical expressions and allow you to use user defined variables.
Cartoony – cartoonybot@appspot.com – Replaces the text of every submitted blip with a cartoon balloon that contains the text instead. Colors the balloons based on username.
Dice Bot – dice-bot@appspot.com – Dice-rolling bot. Dice Bot will replace XdY (X is the number of dice; Y is the number of sides) with the results of those rolls.
Flippy – flippy-wave@appspot.com – Turns text upside-down.
Fnordlinky – fnordlinks@appspot.com – Replaces “PMID <number>” with article information from PubMed.
Hearty Emobot – hearty-emobot@appspot.com – Replaces ASCII art with wingding characters.
i-cron – i-cron@appspot.com – Evaluates Python expressions. Looks at blips in event, searches for CALC() macros and executes Python code using exec().
Insulty – megabytemb123@appspot.com – Information Needed
IPA Bot – ipa-bot@appspot.com – Changes normal letters into special characters used for phonetics.
Piratify
– piratify@appspot.com – Turns whatever you type into “Pirate Speak” .. Arrrr.
Plotzie – plotzie@appspot.com – Plots sparklines from your data.
Shortee – Wish – Change “c u l8r” to “see you later” etc.
Swedish Chef – borkforceone@appspot.com – Changes english into Swedish-Chef Speak. Bork! Bork!
Syntaxy – kasyntaxy@appspot.com – Syntaxy does blip-by-blip syntax highlighting for a variety of languages including Python, Java, C, C++, html, css and javascript.
Watexy – watexy@appspot.com – Use LaTeX mathematical language in your Waves!
Wikify – wikifier@appspot.com – Replaces specific marked up text with a link to Wikipedia or a description relevant to the marked text.

Games
Hangman – wavehangman@appspot.com – Play Hangman.
Roshambo – roshambowave@appspot.com – Play Roshambo (Rock / Paper / Scissors).
Speedy – Wish – Track the words per minute of all participants, competitive typing!

Groups
Groupy – groupy-robot@appspot.com – Robot to manage groups.

Integration
drop.io – mikeswaverobot@appspot.com – Creates a drop and puts the info into the wave whenever the robot is added as a participant.
OpenAustralia – In Progress – A robot to allow interaction with the OpenAustralia web site.
PlonieBot – In Progress – ploniebot@appspot.com – Brings wave document editing capabilities to the Plone CMS
Poppy – In Progress – poppywave@appspot.com – Helps bridge Google Wave conversations to email users outside the Wave.
Rssybot – rssybot@appspot.com – Turn google wave into an RSS reader!
Starify – starifybot@appspot.com – Lets you star waves, in sort of bookmarking style.
Tweety the Twitbot – tweety-wave@appspot.com – You can access your Twitter account.
Twiliobot – twiliobot@appspot.com – Transforms phone numbers into click-to-call links. If user clicks a link, a call is placed to his phone and to the number in the link. The call can be transcribed and inserted into the wave as text with a link to the audio.
Wave-Email – In Progress – wave-email@appspot.com – Provide an extension to Google Wave which will allow the integration of both sending and receiving emails.
Wave Live Messenger – wavelivemessenger@appspot.com – Allows you to chat to your windows live messenger contacts from inside a wave.

Language
PhilBot – Wish – A suggested solution to the problem of waves with languages you can’t read.
Rosy Etta – rosy@wavesandbox.com – Translator (40 Languages).

Polling
Polly the Pollster – polly-wave@appspot.com – Poll Bot.

Search / Aggregation
Dr Maps – dr-maps@appspot.com – Updates a wave by inserting a map associated to an address.
Dr Weather – shiny-sky@appspot.com – Gives the weather for a City
Embedded Search Results – wave-sandbox@appspot.com – Web and Image searches inline.
FML Blipper – fmlblipper@appspot.com – displays random FML story from www.fmylife.com
Grauniady – grauniady@appspot.com – Searches the latest items from The Guardian for a given phrase.
Stocky – stocky-wave@appspot.com – Detects stock symbols from a wave and updates it with the live stock price.
Wavethingy – wavethingy@appspot.com – Searches Amazon for DVDs and books, and gives the author a cut of any purchases made off the links.
Yelpy – yelpful@appspot.com – Searches Yelp with a user defined location and category.

Utilities
AmazonBot – amazon-withwaves-com@appspot.com – Enables social product research and shopping on Amazon.com. Wave participants can share products & reviews with contacts in real-time thanks to automatic queries by the AmazonBot against conversation keywords. The AmazonBot gadget can detect products and return inline product links or a custom full product browser.
Bloggy
– blog-wave@appspot.com – Information Needed
Bit.ly Bot – bitly-bot@appspot.com – Shortens the url using bitly.
Botty – Wish – Will automatically add a set of useful bots to a wave according to a collection of bots (so they don’t have to individually be added when you use them all the time.
CountColon – countcolon@appspot.com – Adds text statistics to your blips (words, lines, etc.)
Companion Sphere – companionsphere@appspot.com – Collection of geek utils, first working verb is “lookup” for wikipedia/wiktionary one-line descriptions.
Databot – Wish – Will start as soon as the GData interface is published.
Emoticony – emoticonbot@appspot.com – Replaces text representations of emoticons with the relevant image.
JBREAKOUT – jbreakout@appspot.com – Debug utility that reports event triggers.
Maison – maison@appspot.com – Makes blips public at http://maison.appspot.com.
Multi – multi-wave@appspot.com – A quote collector. Reply a blip you want to quote with ‘quote this’ and randomly display a quote with ‘quote <wave @account.com>’. The bot is still being under development but you can try playing with it.
Natural Language Processing – knowledge-books@appspot.com – Adds blips with NLP analysis.
Nokar – lab2market@appspot.com – Has many features such as translations, image insertion, insert last tweets etc.
Posterous – posterous-robot@appspot.com – A robot for posterous.com user to post blog in Google Wave. Here is how to write a blog using Google Wave Robot for Posterous.
Publisher – wave-publisher@appspot.com – Information Needed
Skimmy – wave-skimmy@appspot.com – Converts text emoticons, from : ) to img. Has a bookmarklet which creates a popup menu to insert emoticons for which the code is unknown.
Smiley – smiley-bot@appspot.com – Changes the smiley symbols to smiley images.
Smiley – In Progress – smiley-robot@appspot.com – Changes the smiley symbols to smiley images.
Style Chart – stylechart@appspot.com – Inserts a chart into a wave.

Wave Management
Bouncy – bouncy-wave@appspot.com – Allows you to remove robots from a wave. Doesn’t seem to work on real people though, and laughs if you try to ask it to kick itself out. To get it to kick a bot out, type “bounce:name@domain.com”
Linear – Wish – Enforce all replies to be to the main wave. If a user replies to a reply, remove it and place it as a reply to the main wavelet.
Read Onlie – readonliebot@appspot.com – Records the original wave content. Whenever it’s edited, the content is replaced with the original. Simple as that.
Seekdroid – seekdroid@appspot.com – You can list Robots, add them and find them out, easy to use. In continuous development. Website with all the information seekdroid.appspot.com.
Sweepy – sweepy-wave@appspot.com – Remove empty, whitespace-only blips.
Taggy – taggy-wave@appspot.com – Recognize #hashtags and add them as tags to the wave.
Tocgen – tocgen@appspot.com – Table of Contents auto-generated and updated based on the h1,h2,h3,h4 in a wave.
Twitusernames – twitusernames@appspot.com – Replaces all Twitter @username with links to the Twitter accounts.

Gadget Utilities
Ajax Animator – In Progress – http://antimatter15.com/ajaxanimator/wave/manifest.xml – A fully integrated multi-user web based vector graphic animation authoring environment.
AmazonBot Gadgett – http://amazon-withwaves-com.appspot.com/gadgets/AmazonProductList.xml – The AmazonBot gadget can detect products and return inline product links or a custom full product browser.
Bidder – http://wave-api.appspot.com/public/gadgets/bidder.xml – Simple Auction.
Checky – http://wave-gadgets.appspot.com/checky.xml – Basecamp-like checklists with drag-and-drop.
Click me – http://wave-api.appspot.com/public/gadgets/hellowave.xml – Shows a button with a counter. Each time the button gets clicked, the counter is incremented by one. Shows off how the state interaction works.
HTML – http://wave-ide.appspot.com/html.xml – Embed any HTML into a wave.
iFrame – http://wave-ide.appspot.com/iframe.xml – Embed any web page into a wave.
iWave – http://gadget.wave.to/iWave/iWave.xml – Allows you to create a profile on wave to make wave just a little more personal. Uses facebook connect to retrieve your details if you sign in.
Licensing – In Progress – http://wave-license.appspot.com/license_gadget.xml – Creative Commons RDF Embedding – Planning Stage.
Maps – http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/101415471413908368316/mappy.xml -Embed Google Map.
Napkin – http://my-wave-gadgets.appspot.com/wave/NapkinGadget.xml – Example of Flash/Flex Wave Gadget, similar to Whiteboard gadget above – source on Google Code.
QuakeBot – In Progress – Server information on the Quake 3 protocol.
Raffly – http://raffly.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/sandbox/raffly-xml1/raffly.xml – Insert this gadget to select a random participant from your wave to be the winner. The winner of what? Well that’s up to you :-)
Ratings – http://google-wave-resources.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/samples/extensions/gadgets/ratings/ratings.xml – Lets participants rate and review a topic (movie, restaurant, etc) in a wave and shows a tally of the result.
Slashdot Gadget – http://www.m1cr0sux0r.com/slashdot.xml – Loads latest Headlines from Slashdot.
Troco – An experimental peer-to-peer currency – http://troco.ourproject.org/gadget/org.ourproject.troco.client.TrocoWaveGadget.gadget.xml – Aims to provide a decentralized complementary community currency system, that is, a peer-to-peer currency system. Also you can see it as an IOU or promissory note based system. More info click here.
Vector Editor – http://jsvectoreditor.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/wave/vectoreditor.xml – A cross platform collaborative real time vector graphics editor.
Whiteboard – http://vps.michaelrose.id.au/canvas.xml – Draw on a virtual whiteboard.
Who is Coming? – http://wave-api.appspot.com/public/gadgets/areyouin/gadget.xml -Show a list of all people that have said whether they will come or not.

Gadget Games
Backgammon – Wish – Remove all of one’s own checkers from the board before one’s opponent can do the same. [Wikipedia]
Battleship – Wish – Displays different board based on user.
Boxes – In Progress – Connect lines to make boxes and win.
Connect 4/Four-in-a-row – In Progress – sdunster@wavesandbox.com – http://www.sdunster.com/wave/four.xml – 2 users + observers, turn locking, just waiting to write win-detection code.
Floodit – http://gadget.wave.to/floodit/game.xml – 2 player race to fill a board with colors.
Magnetic Poetry – http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/107558585548952247431/fridge-11.xml – Re-arrange random words to form poetry.
Match them colors! – In Progress – Match 3 / gem matching game.
Othello – Wish – Play Reversi.
Sudoku – http://blah.appspot.com/wave/sudoku/sudoku.xml – Play Sudoku.
The Button – http://hyperthese.net/wave-gadgets/the-button.xml – A useless (I mean USELESS) game.

Hooks
CVS integration – Wish – CVS history can be converted into a wave with playback.
GIT integration – Wish – GIT history can be imported and played back (dffs).
SVN integration – Wish – SVN History can be converted into a wave with playback.

Appearance
Google Wave Scrollbars – http://www.uniformedopinion.com/google-wave-native-scrollbars-extension/google-wave.crx – Changes the wave scrollbars to the default system scrollbars.


Enhanced Google Maps. In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve added yet another Google Map to Nerd Vittles. Now, in addition to showing our location with Google Latitude, we also are displaying your location based upon your IP address. We’ll show you how to add something similar to any LAMP-based Linux system in coming weeks. It’s a powerful technology that has enormous potential. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Maps, click on the Hybrid and Satellite buttons and then check out the scaling and navigation options. Double-click to zoom. Incredible!


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.



Need help with Asterisk®? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


 
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Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…


For those of you that already have Google Wave accounts, here’s a sample of how a wave will look in a WordPress posting. You can even add content to the wave! This works in Safari and Chrome most of the time, Firefox some of the time (if you turn on Accept 3d Party Cookies), and IE almost never. For those of you that are not part of the Google Wave preview, you’ll just have to wait patiently until Google turns on at least read-only access to this functionality:

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