The long awaited Google Street View feature within Google Maps is finally available in Hong Kong. This feature had been available in USA, Canada, UK, Japan, Taiwan and many other countries for years. Taiwan only received this capability last year (September 2009). Over a year ago others in Hong Kong and myself reported seeing the Google Street View vehicle (Toyota Prius) capturing images all around Hong Kong. With the Street View feature enabled, users of Google Maps can check out their desire spots in Hong Kong before they actually visit the locations. This is particularly useful for tourist and other visitors who are not familiar with places in Hong Kong. This feature will also be useful to Hong Kong natives, as many locals rarely visit areas outside of their homes and work districts.

Below you will see the one instance where I was following the Google Street View Prius East bound down Wanchai Road on my way to work one morning; I'm the one in my dark Audi A3 in Lane 2. Cool eh? I guess I will at least retain this Google Street View fame for the next 3 years.

It is rumored that 3 years is how long Google takes to refresh the Street View images in Google Maps. I suppose that's pretty quick, given it was just over a year ago that Google began taking images of Hong Kong streets.

BTW: I my dark metallic grey 2006 Audi A3 Sportback 3.2 with only 28,000km on the odometer is for sale. Please contact me directly if interested.

If you are into technology or if you use Gmail you will have noticed Google launched Buzz several weeks ago. Google this time took a different approach of launching its products/features. Buzz was not released with an "Alpha" or "Beta" badge, instead it was released as a "finished" product. Normally Google releases a product with many features and slaps a "Beta" label on it, like they did with Gmail. Then slowly releases new features or refines existing ones. Ineffect recuiting its users as testers pubilcally.

This time Google released a product that does very little but what features it has are very solid. Although, some of the initial decisions Google made regarding Buzz are questionable. Abnormally Google reacts very quickly on complains and refines the product based on these feedbacks almost over night. I believe Google's ability to accomplish such agile development methodology is the result of hiring seasoned individuals from the social network community (people like Chris Messina and others) specifically for the development of Buzz and social features in other products within Google's suite of applications/services.

On initial look you may notice similarities to FriendFreed (now a Facebook property), with abilities to connect to external web sites and aggregate contents from these sites. You may ask why will I want to aggregate content into one site? That will depend on the type of sites one connects to Buzz.

In most cases, Google expects users to connect sites with original content that users generate themselves, like personal blogs or other sites that the user belongs to with original content relating to the user. Google assists with this process by providing a list of "linked" sites from the user's Google Profile; Yes, all users of Buzz must first have a Google Profile in addition to Gmail. If the user does not already have a Google Profile, the user will have the opportunity to create one during the activation process for Buzz.

Now Alberto Garcia Hierro has made an iOS application, Buzzie [iTunes Link] that he wants USD1.99 for it in the iTunes App Store. I personally do not see a need for a dedicate app for Google Buzz on any of the iOS devices. Google has a fairly usable version of their site customized for the iOS devices.

Stores in Hong Kong are starting to sell the Google Nexus One. This store in Wanchai Computer City is asking for HKD5880.00 (cash price), which give it a mark up of HKD1554.47 when compared to buying the phone directly from Google

Nexus One = USD529.00 Shipping to Hong Kong = USD28.32 Total purchase price = USD557.32 (approximately HKD4325.53).

Given the high mark up, I don't see why anyone would purchase the Nexus One from these stores in Hong Kong, unless they do not have a credit card (Google uses Google Checkout which accepts credit cards only). Plus all Nexus One purchased from Google has the option of adding up to two lines of engraving to the back of the phone.

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AuthorVinko

Google Wave LogoIf you have not heard of Google Wave you will want to go to Google's About Google Wave web page to learn all about it. Please be aware that Google Wave is still in "public preview" (aka. alpha) product status, so the features are still evolving and infrastructure being improved. Ever since I received my second batch of Google Wave "invites" and announced it on Twitter, I had been bombarded by spammers asking for invites. The last thing I want is to become part of the reason these spammers gain access to Google Wave.

What I have decided to do is take note of what one of my online friend, @Daynah, had done, mimicing her techniques in trying to screen out these spammers. I encourage anyone who have Google Wave invites to give out to do something similar.

It is very unfortunate that we have to ask potential Wave users to go through these troubles, but I hope everyone understand that we're just trying to keep Google Wave spammer free.

So, if you like a Google Invite, please take a few minutes and do all of the following:

  1. Follow me on Twitter.
  2. Leave a comment to this post, describing something you know about me. Hint: aside from having met me in person there are much you can learn about me from the sites I own and participate in.
  3. In your comment please also explains briefly how you will use Google Wave.
  4. Send me a PM or DM (via Twitter) with your GMail account (Google Wave requires GMail accounts).

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Please do understand that this is a first come first serve offer. I cannot guarantee that everyone who do all of the above steps will receive a Google Wave nomination from me. I can only promise to try to send out more nominations from future batch of invites I receive.

I hope to know and meet you online soon.

Note: what users like myself have are "nominations" for Google Invites. After submitting your GMail account to Google for a Google Wave account, it usually takes Google some time to fulfill the nomination and send you a Google Wave invite. Previously this had taken several weeks but recently they had speed up the process to days and even hours.

Google Wave nominations are given to existing Google Wave users for free by Google, please do not pay for any Google accounts or nominations.

One last note, Google may not like that a person receive multiple nominations. So please do not request Google Wave "invites" from multiple parties.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesGoogle

YouTube logoYesterday I received a message in my YouTube account Inbox claiming that my account was flagged. On initial skimming of the email I was shocked, but then looking at the message closer I quickly recognize it as another Phishing email. The email states

The Youtube Team YouTube Broadcast Yourself™ Hi (account), According to our records, you have been flagged for the following: Hate Speech/Bullying Spam/Flooding of other YouTube channels Massive Advertising Explicit Copyright Infringement Your ac... The Youtube Team YouTube Broadcast Yourself™

Hi (account),

According to our records, you have been flagged for the following:

Hate Speech/Bullying Spam/Flooding of other YouTube channels Massive Advertising Explicit Copyright Infringement

Your account also appears to be phished and/or flagged by other users with the following IP addresses:

72.55.191.6:3128 80.227.1.100:8080 119.70.40.101:8080 216.194.70.3:8118 61.166.68.69:80 194.44.170.81:3128

We have reviewed your account and notice that your account seems to be in good standing. Therefore, we will not penalize you for any actions. However, we have reviewed the reports made to your account, and notice that your account has been flagged and/or reported multiple times. We ask for your current password in order to ensure that you are the owner of this account and to verify your current account status. Please provide us with the information below...

On initial thought, I was wondering about the scammers' goal for taking over a YouTube account. Then I remember that many YouTube accounts are now linked to user's Google Account, which provides access to GMail among others.

So, everyone needs to be diligent and be careful when receiving instructions via email or through proprietary messaging system, asking you to provide username and password or means of authenticating your identity. In most cases, legitimate web sites will never ask for a user's password. Remember bad guys are everywhere, especially on the Interweb.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesGoogle

taiwan-streets-viewToday Google Map's Street View arrives in Taiwan.

This is great news, since the beginning of the year, Google had been taking photos for Street View content in Hong Kong and Macau, as reported in my post, Google Street View in Hong Kong .

Picture 1To use Street View is quite simple. When you visit a Google Map page, if the Street View feature is available, the little man icon above the zoom in/out navigation control will light up orange. You then drag the man icon to any where you like to activate the Street View feature. As soon as you begin dragging the map will show areas of the map that is currently covered by Street View as indicated by the blue lines along either sides of the roads.

Looking forward to finally see the version for Hong Kong, hopefully very soon.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesGoogle

HTC has finally made details of their first Android phone available to the public. It bares the moniker "HTC G1", may be it implies there will be subsequent versions. It will launch in the USA through the carrier, T-Mobile on October 22, 2009 for USD179.00 and a 2-years contract.

One thing that is interesting, as reported by Engadet, is T-Mobile view on unlocking the phone. They will allow the unlocking of the HTC G1 after the initial 90 days into the 2-years contract, giving the HTC G1 an unlocked price of USD399.00 price.

There are two videos in Engadet's Hands-on review comparing the HTC G1 to the Apple iPhone and showing off some of the 3rd party add-ons to existing built-in application. The latter is something that the OpenSource nature of Android has over the Apple iPhone.

HTC did not implement any multi-touch technology into the HTC G1. The use of on screen controls and hardware buttons makes the phone feel 1st generation. Also, in my opinion the look is also fairly ugly, but looking at the other HTC models in the past, one cannot expect the elegance of Jonathan Ive (arguably the best industrial designer in the world).

So far no news as to how the HTC G1 will be launched in other geographic locations.

[Update: September 24, 2008] It is reported that T-Mobile will give away all applications on their Android Market Place free to the early adaptors to the HTC G1.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesAndroid, Google

Google softwareThere are now significant information to point to a first and new Android phone on Monday, September 22 on the VerizonT-Mobile network in the US. The reported Android based phone will be manufactured by HTC, and implies that it will support both GSM and CDMA network. But 3G communication will only supports the CDMA network (EV-DO).

So stay tune.

[Updated: September 19, 2008] Thanks to the reader, Travis, for pointing out my mistake. I stand corrected that it is T-Mobile in the US who will be releasing the first Google Android phone by HTC in early October to the general public.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesAndroid, Google

Actually, technically it is GeoEye who launched a mapping satellite on September 8, 11:00 (PST). It has a capability to collect 0.41 meter ground resolution black and white images and 1.65 meter color images simultaneously. Although, there is no mention of Goolge in GeoEye's press release, but the satellite has a Google logo on its side and the Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page attended the launch.

As US licensing restrictions limit commercial images to a half-meter so will this addition improve the qualities of Google Map and Google Earth? Do we really need more accurate images?

May be with Google having private access to a satellite there will be more up-to-date imageries in future Google products.

Will this be the first of many satellites exclusive for Google's Android phones?

Posted
AuthorVinko

On the weekend Google released its Gears technology to the Safari browser on Mac OS X. You may still have to click on the "Mac" platform link if the Gears' platform test script still claims that your Safari browser is not supported. Alternatively you can go directly to the Gears Macintosh platform .dmg download.

For those who does not know what Gears is you can check out Gears' FAQ page. In short it enables web developers to create offline versions/components of their web applications.

Like with most things that Google does, Gears is opensource. Although this is true I am still trying to figure out why one would code to Gears rather than the more Standards compliant HTML5? If anyone like to share their thoughts, please submit a comment below.