Tag Archives: google+

New goodie on the way.

My wife has been expressing some discontent with the fact that although we share Google calendars, we still have a standard paper calendar hanging on the kitchen wall. She dutifully replaces it every year, usually with an art nouveau themed version. But she’s been so happy with her new Droid X, her first smartphone which she got in the fall (a twin of mine), that she wants our kitchen calendar to share data with our cloud presence. You won’t find that in the 2012 art nouveau collection you pick up at the bookstore!

So today, a coworker at Red Hat pointed me at a $50 coupon for any tablet at Staples. I had been considering an Android tablet, with the intention of putting it on a removable mount in the kitchen right where our paper version lives today. Having seen the new Asus Eee Transformer, I felt like the price point was starting to get to the right point to try a tablet. So tonight I went over to Staples to pick one up.

So why not the Cadillac of tablets, the iPad? I know the iPad is a gorgeous interface and user experience; I had an iPhone for a couple years so I do respect that polish. However, with the amount of information I share with my wife via our Google accounts, my priority is the integration of services with the tablet platform, and I think the Android tablets really deliver in that respect. And of course it’s a huge benefit that Android tends to play extremely well with my Linux boxes, and we don’t run anything else in my house. Add to that the frustration and later contempt for Apple’s inability to do the same, and there’s no way I was going for an iPad.

At my local Staples store, unfortunately, you can only order the Asus, and it’s not carried on the floor of the store. It was imperative for me to be to put hands on this thing if I was going to pay hundreds of dollars for it, so I stopped by the local Best Buy store to see if they had it in stock. They did, and I really liked what I saw, so after giving Best Buy the chance to match the price, which they declined (surprise!), I went back over to Staples and ordered the Transformer for $349 for the 16GB version.

I also had an Amazon gift certificate hanging around, so I ordered the keyboard unit to go with it — which essentially turns the tablet into a really slick Android laptop with longer battery life, a ~1.2kg weight, and extra expansion capabilities with USB and SD slots. That works really well for my wife, because she can take the tablet off the wall and mount it in the keyboard, not far from the cooking portion of the kitchen where she can refer to recipes. She currently has an old Eee PC 701SD filling that role and the 10.1″ screen of the new tablet seems pretty luxurious by comparison!

I’m still considering replacing the display unit in my Dell XPS 1330M because the computer itself is in fine shape. I think I can get several more years of duty out of it, given the still-formidable CPU and memory in it. But the tablet seems so convenient and fun that I’m really looking forward to trying it. I’m hopeful that Google will also have ways to leverage the front and rear facing cameras for Hangouts on Google+ in the future, which should be great fun.

Double plus GOOG.

Last night I was able to get into the Google+ trial and one of the pieces of the setup was a Talk plugin that includes audio and video chat support. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it works great on Fedora 15. The PackageKit browser integration pulls in other support you may need. After installation you’re able to join the “Hangout” feature which lets you chat live with multiple other users using your webcam and audio. It also plays well with PulseAudio so I was able to easily use my USB headset with no tinkering.

So far it looks like Google may have figured out a way to take the interesting parts of Wave, and build them into a framework that’s more friendly and less like an out of control email client. Within 24 hours I had a lot of people I know hooked up via the “Circles” feature for sharing. What this means for Facebook I don’t know — I sincerely hope G+ doesn’t become a cul-de-sac for geeks only.

My other hope is that there are GNOME folks out there looking into the Google+ API project, to see if there will be interesting and user-friendly ways to have the future desktop OS interact with this service.