why we need the semantic web: or how google can do a better job

google provides me with email alerts whenever the word “pengas” pops up on the news/blogsphere. we are a small family and i am interested in learning if there are members of us out there in the world (like greece, israel, US, canada and australia).

today i got an email from this service which, supposedly, had found a mentioning of “pengas” in it. when i opened the link (Lucky in Love: A Flower for My Hair), i did not find any pengas. what i did find is penga. more specifically: “…I basically followed the tutorial Penga from Convention of a…”.

so what is going on here? my alert is for “pengas”, and here i am with a result of “penga”…
my guess is google is using a rule engine to better understand a word. gramatically, pengas can also be penga’s. for example, think of the game “pengas’s peril” which is everywhere. i get notifications about it as well.

so for google’s engine penga and penga’s are related, hence, i get both results if i omit the apostrophe. but what google doesn’t get, is that i am not making any abbreviations. pengas is my fully qualified last name.

here is where i believe the semantic web will make a difference. by using metadata to describe the essence of the word (or context) i will be able to instruct google that pengas is NOT penga’s. it CAN be pengas’ (for singular or plural), but please don’t waist my time with redundant results.

unfortunately google is lagging behind it’s services in other areas as well…
take a look at this page

this is has 54 map locations that i have created on a google docs spreadsheet. using the map gadget, i’ve put them all on a map and published it as a web page and then embedded it into the site.

this page take over a minute to load on certain browsers. on chrome (mac version) it does not load at all.

absolutely ridiculous. i actually published this issue in the google docs help forum

as u can probably see i got not answer since november of last year.

long-short. google needs to stay on it’s tows and get things together. it is these little things that will separate them from their competition. search sites like wolfram alpha.

Microsoft: Google’s Nexus One will hurt Android

really? hmmm… interesting view from Microsoft…
Microsoft: Google’s Nexus One will hurt Android. the last time balmer expressed himself about the smart phone market was the iphone.. check it out for yourself: this can also mean that microsoft is brewing something up in redmond… maybe a new smart phone with natal built in, that can interface the xbox360 online games? interesting times ahead of us for 2010 where slate/tablets are the hottest things since cinnamon rolls with sprinkles on top… it was just good enough for the entire market to hear rumors about apple entering the market with a device that we see a boom of products launching over at CES from DELL and HP/M$.

iphone killer…qu’est-ce que c’est…

since jobs introduced the iphone the world has gone crazy, hasn’t it?

"iphone killer"

people are now connected to the cloud 24/7, with push access to their emails, calendar, sharing locations with the GPS data, streaming music and videos, playing fantastic games where ever they are, and overall living a better world, while having a copy of their digital life and a serious access point to the world in their pocket.

what can i say?

for the 6 years i have been in the US, i used the same shitty phone i got as a part of the deal from t-mobile when joined. it never really made sense to switch because nothing made sense to me. i remember playing with a palm pilot back in the day. my college roommate showed it off, pulling the stylus out, managing his calendar and notes. i thought it was boring. what a clunky big device that i need to carry on top of my desktop (did not have a laptop back then, they were too expensive) and cell phone… i need to sync my note with that cradle thing only when connected, and the worst of it all, i had to pull out that silly stylus and practice the letters which corresponded to the alphabet.

yes, hard to believe, a hard core techie such as my self, using an old nokia for so many years… i did not jump on the blackberry wagon when it came out. did not understand why i needed to pay so much and use such a huge device. i was waiting patiantly until a device came along that could do more, that would make sense, that will be existent in the cloud as possible and will be a true companion.

the iphone did and still does all of that for me. and then some.

first, i read 90% of all my feeds through the iphone, it is quick and efficient. i sync my calendar over the air (over 11 different ones) which i share with people all over the world, i do voice recording, follow my stock portfolio, weather, get instant directions based on my location, find the magnetic north, measure short distances with a sonar, measure BPM, play strategy games, stream my personalized radio stations from pandora, tether my data plan, study musical chords, connect with the vark community, listen to police radio, follow global financial trends, retouch my images, shop and eat healthy and “locavorilly”, tune my guitar, search for metals, play the ocarina, wire money, search for flights, tweet, skype, tether my nikon DSLR, learn about the universe, search for sexual offenders, post to my blog and more.

yes, there are over 100K apps in the app store, and a big challenge is interfacing the good ones. Lots of people got rich, lots of people are about to get rich, and us, the consumers are the biggest winners here.

the iphone did what no other phone could (yet many had tried, and still trying), revolutionize the way we interact with technology on daily basis. finally, we found ourselves connected to each other 24/7, and all is within a couple of finger swipes away. thank you apple.

many companies have been looking at apple take the lead. many had seen apple’s stock more than double itself. when jobs previewed the iphone i bought apple stock for the first time. they were less than $80 back then. easy bet wasn’t it?

the question that troubles CEOs around the world is, what is next? what can match up the success of the iphone?

at the moment there is only one answer i can think of: android.

i am a linux user and fan from the slackware days. you know, those days when installing linux meant using 7 floppy discs to boot the kernel. the days when u were able to install linux u were a guru.

android is one of the best thing, in my eyes, that could happen to this industry and google’s support in created an affordable device is spot on: give us something affordable that works. well, android does more than just that, and google’s tailored in services make it a great operating system. the real questions is: can the hardware manufacturers step up to the plate and provide quality phones?

in a recent post i had discussed google’s need to produce hardware lest it ends up where microsoft is: lagging behind, too big a ship to turn and respond (that article is here). there is something to be said about software licensing as opposed to full vertical integration (in the case of apple some horizontal as well). i said much in that article so give it a read if you find that topic interesting.

sooooooooo…. what is an iphone killer… is the droid an iphone killer?

sadly no in my eyes. sadly, because i am a firm believer in competition and capitalism. the free market creates such competition that we, the buyers, benefit from the most. but no, the droid is not an iphone killer because the hardware just doesn’t just cut it. first (and the debate can actually stop there), the battery cover keeps falling off. that my friends can be so annoying that the droid may find itself smashed on a wall.

but let’s ask this question from a different angle. what is missing on the iphone?

good questions, u answer… what is missing in the iphone indeed?
well, one thing is affordable (i.e. free) turn by turn voice commanded navigation system.

droid has that, and google made a bald move there, which came highly appreciated by consumers. clearly an app that is worth getting the phone for.

well… yes and no.

yes, it is a great app and i would love to have it available on my iphone, and certainly it is worth considering.. but no, because the iphone does so much more, and so elegantly, with gesture man, with multi touch gestures..

okay.. back to the last question: what does the iphone DOESN’T have?

it doesn’t have flash. yeah man. it doesn’t have flash…


so many posts out there try to understand what is going on.. seems that adobe got pissed lately with apple and produced this message just to let us know that apple is holding all the cards…

in this post i am not going to dive into the details of how good the iphone processor is and what are the demands from flash are etc. what i do want to discuss (after quite an intro) is adobe flash 10.1 and air v2 that were released november 11th.

an iphone killer will have flash available to it, that can scale down to the needs of the phone, and will allow diligent development of creative apps, and especially especially games. think about it. the core developers for flash is much much bigger than the core developers for the iphone. while more developers out there are taking the cocoa framework challenge, there is still many of them out there who did wonders with the iphone. a quick mention would be “N the way of the ninja“, one of my old time favorite games build with action scripts.

now that air supports multi touch i can vision a rapid development of apps for an enabled phone. check out this video right here.

there are actually a ton of features that you can look into right here.

the iphone will have decent competition when a serious hardware will be developed AND an already available development platform is used (i.e. webOS or FLASH). i for one would love to see some serious competition for the iphone, and i hope the google phone will deliver it, so we can start enjoying better and smarter phones, and hopefully a much much reduced rate for our plans (white space unlimited data plan anyone?).

heck, maybe we WILL have an xPhone one of these days: check it out.

Nexus One Hardware Running List

this is just great. a serious hardware list for a worthy iphone competitive. i do hope google will make it CDMA and 3G compatible, so the real competition can begin. hopefully we will start seeing carriers offering data plans only. coupled with google voice we really do not need to use any minutes if the VoIP capability is good enough.

Nexus One Hardware Running List | These are the Droids.

Motorola DROID first (right) hands-on

yeah, this is great news for everyone. the competition between google and apple is just warming up, android 2.0 is out with the world’s thinest slider full qwerty, gps turn by turn navigation, slick facebook integration and more. check out the link to egadget for videos and photos.

here is the thing that popped up very quickly. this phone is designed for right handed people almost exclusively. bummer. no big surprise, but a bummer. as you will see, the keyboard has a navigation pad at the right side of it, for you to use with your right thumb.

this is a normal situation for all left handed people out there (yours truly included). from the door handle and direction it opens to cameras, scissors, pens and cell phones.

while this phone is very impressive and it definitely seems that it is worth checking out and maybe it will be able to bite into the iphone’s market share, i cannot help but think about the 10% of us who are left handed. not only our life expectancy is ~8 years less than right handed poeple, we are also singled out when it comes to consumer electronics. we are just not an important enough a market, sorry, let me rephrase that: we are not a profitable enough a market to create a whole new manufacturing chain for.

so what we have done for years is learn how to use equipment as right handed people do. is it a big deal? i think it is. as an amateur photographer i need to hold and snap with my right hand. only some guitars are made for lefties, and internal designers rarely ask their client if they are left handed, and then go about adjusting all the nitty gritty details to accommodate that.

how can this problem be solved?

i understand the manufacturing cost, and the fact that the left handed market is not big enough to produce phones for. one option is to create a neutral phone, one that caters to neither camps. another, is to make the differences software adjustable. for example: the iphone. i can re-arrange the apps as i see fit, so they are within the comfortable reach of my left hand thumb.

so far i have not seen a worthy left handed smart device besides the ihpone, which still does not really cater for us lefties. the address book scroling, the maps button layout etc.

here is a crazy idea: why not create two separate layout for each application (developers pay attention pls), where i define the left/right setting from the preferences menu. each application checks for the value there (0 for right and 1 for left) and uses a different layout to match my preference.

can that work?

in any event, enjoy the new phone’s preview in the link below and expect greater things from this market in the very near future.

Motorola DROID first hands-on! update: video, impressions, more pics.