An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

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July 30, 2014

Google Drive's Quota Page

The new Google Drive interface has a cool feature: it shows all the files you've uploaded, sorted by file size. Mouse over the storage stats at the bottom of the page ("X GB of Y GB used"), click "Drive" and you'll get to this page that shows the quota used by your files, so you can quickly delete some of the files you no longer need. Interestingly, the URL: https://drive.google.com/#quota also works in the old Google Drive interface.



The page doesn't include the documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, drawings created with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings or converted to the Google formats.

The old Google Drive interface also had this feature. You had to click an arrow icon next to "owner", pick "quota used" and sort by quota. Google Drive only displayed the files from the current folder, so you had to use this URL: https://drive.google.com/#all to see all your files. The new quota page is more convenient, but the new Google Drive interface no longer lets you sort folders by quota used.

64-Bit Chrome for Windows, Now in Beta

2 months after the Dev/Canary channels, the 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows is now available in the beta channel. It's still limited to Windows 7 and Windows 8+ and you obviously need a 64-bit operating system.

"To try it out, download the 64-bit installer from our Beta download pages. The new version replaces the existing version while preserving all your settings and bookmarks, so there's no need to uninstall a current installation of Chrome," informs Google.


The 64-bit Chrome brings some actual improvements: better performance and fewer crashes. 5 years after releasing the 64-bit Chrome for Linux, it's time for Windows users to upgrade to a 64-bit browser.

Paul Buchheit on Startups

Paul Buchheit, the ex-Googler who created Gmail, gave a talk at Startup School. There are a lot of interesting ideas and many of them have something to do with Google.

Paul talks about the danger of experience and dogma: "Just because it didn't work in the past doesn't mean it won't work in the future. Likewise, what worked before may not work again. The best opportunities live in our collective blind spots. To most, they appear to be bad ideas, or simply unimportant." For example, many people thought that writing the Gmail interface in JavaScript was a bad idea, but Gmail worked well, browsers improved and now web apps are commonplace.

The man who came up with Gmail says that "to be innovative, we need to evade the limitations of established thinking. Creating an innovative new product often means spending years working on something that most people doubt the value of." To be able to do this, you really need to love what you are doing and ignore the voices that tell you that what you are trying to achieve is impossible. As Larry Page says, maintain a healthy disregard for the impossible.

Trying to solve interesting problems also helps. "Interestingness is a sign of unexplored or under-explored territory. If I already know what the outcome is going to be, that's not very interesting. (...) But I find that great startups exist in a space of productive uncertainty. Regardless whether they succeed or fail, I'm likely to learn something interesting," says Paul Buchheit. That's one of the reasons why he picked Google back in 1999: he believed that Google couldn't compete with Alta Vista, but at least he'll learn something from the smart people at Google.

Google as a startup was different from the way people perceived it. Even if Google was mostly a search engine, Google founders had bigger ambitions. "Larry wanted to store and search the whole web in memory, even though our machines only had 1/4 GB of RAM. It was unrealistic at the time, but Moore's law moves fast and very soon we were doing it, but only because everyone's thinking was already oriented in that direction. He also wanted self-driving cars that would deliver hamburgers. That hasn't happened yet, but I bet it will."

For Paul Buchheit, money are only the "fuel" that helps you achieve a mission, not the main goal of a business. "For me, startups are more than just a clever way to make money. They are machines for harnessing the fire of human self-interest, creating a self-sustaining reaction capable of rapidly transforming the world."

July 27, 2014

New URL for Google Docs

If you go to docs.google.com, you might see this message: "Soon, docs.google.com will start taking you to the Google Docs application, not Google Drive. You can always get to Google Drive by using drive.google.com." Until now, docs.google.com redirected to drive.google.com without displaying this message.


"You may be using docs.google.com to access Google Drive. With the launch of the new Google Docs editors home screens, docs.google.com will redirect to the Docs home screen, where you'll find all of your Google Docs and Word files," explains Google.

Some useful URLs:

* docs.google.com, google.com/docs - Google Docs (the first URL still redirects to Drive for now)
* sheets.google.com, google.com/sheets - Google Sheets
* slides.google.com, google.com/slides - Google Slides

Google Tests Timeline View for Knowledge Graph

Google tests a timeline view for Knowledge Graph cards. For a query like [World War I], Google's experimental interface displays a chronological list of important events obtained from Wikipedia articles.


Mouse over an event and Google shows more information, including images, relevant dates and snippets from Wikipedia articles. Click the event to perform a Google search.


By default, Google only highlights some of the most important events, but you can zoom in to explore to see even more events. Google uses colors and parallel axis to distinguish between different types of information.

Here's a video that shows this feature in action. Right now, the timeline view looks like a tool for power users and Google will have to create a simplified interface when this feature is publicly released.

Back in 2007, Google Labs added a timeline view for Google Search. Google News Archive also had a timeline view. These features displayed relevant search results about important events related to your query.


{ via Florian Kiersch - translation }

Animated YouTube Channel Art

YouTube now lets you upload animated GIFs for channel art. The maximum file size is 2MB and the minimum dimension is 2048 x 1152. "For optimal results on all devices we recommend uploading a single 2560 X 1440 px image," informs YouTube.


Here's an example of channel that uses animated GIFs and a video that explains how to create animated channel art using Photoshop:


{ Thanks, Sterling. }

Gmail Setup Widget

When you create a new Gmail account, Google now shows a widget that helps you learn how to use Gmail, choose a theme, import contacts and mail, change profile image and more.


"Gmail now has a setup gadget to help people new to Gmail get started. This gadget helps people set up their Gmail account with actions like adding a profile picture and creating an email signature, and teaches them to use features like undo send and creating an auto-responder. The setup gadget is hidden once the person completes all actions, dismisses the gadget or after two weeks. It can be relaunched from Settings," informs Google.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

July 25, 2014

Extended Google Play Music Trial for Chromecast Users

To celebrate Chromecast's first birthday, Google extended the Play Music All Access free trial from 30 days to 90 days, but only in the US. You can redeem Chromecast offers from this page. "In order to check for available offers, we require you to share your device's serial number with Google. We use the serial number to provide your device with offers that may be relevant to you," informs Google.


The extended trial is only available if you haven't subscribed to All Access and you haven't used the 30-days free trial. There's more information in the help center:

"Promotion only open to users in United States who have purchased and set up a Chromecast on or before September 30, 2014. Users must set up their All Access account and redeem their code by September 30, 2014 to be eligible for the offer."

What happens when the free trial ends? You'll pay $9.99 per month until you cancel the subscription.

"Once your trial period has ended, you'll be automatically billed each month for your All Access subscription. As an active subscriber, you'll have access to unlimited streaming music from All Access. During your free trial, you can cancel at any time. Unless you cancel, you will not be charged until the start of the first paid billing period."

{ via +Google Play }

Google Shows Images Next to Search Answers

I mentioned in a previous post that Google answers complicated questions using information from web pages. Now Google also shows images next to the relevant snippets. Here's an example for [galaxy s5 focal length].


Here's another example for [iphone 5s focal length]. This time, Google highlights the wrong answer:


A search for [iphone focal length] returns a row from a table that compares focal length for the latest 4 iPhones.

July 21, 2014

More Secure Gmail Authentication

Google has a new settings page that lets you enable or disable access to less secure apps.

"Some devices and apps use insecure sign-in technology to access your data. Choosing Disable prevents these less secure devices and apps from accessing your Google Account. Choosing Enable increases your chances of unauthorized account access but allows you to continue using these less secure devices and apps."



Many mail apps use insecure sign-in standards:

* the Mail app for iOS 6 or below
* the Mail app from Windows Phone 8.0 or earlier
* some built-in Android mail apps not developed by Google
* desktop mail clients like Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird.

If the access to less secure apps is disabled, you'll see a "Password incorrect" error when signing in and you can't set up a Google account on your device. "Google may block sign in attempts from some apps or devices that do not use modern security standards. Since these apps and devices are easier to break into, blocking them helps keep your account safer."

A Microsoft article explains that "Google has increased its security measures to block access to Google accounts after July 15, 2014 if those accounts are being set up or synced in apps and on devices that use Basic Authentication." Another article informs that "Windows Phone builds earlier than 8.10.12359.845 [Windows Phone 8.1] use Basic Authentication and therefore may be impacted. Windows Phone builds later than 8.10.12359.845 use Open Authentication (or OAuth) and therefore will not be impacted".

All Google products use OAuth 2.0, so if you use the desktop Gmail site, the mobile Gmail site or the mobile Gmail apps, you're not affected by this change. 90% of Apple devices are using iOS 7, so most iOS users are not affected. If you use Android mail apps built by OEMs like Samsung, the built-in mail app for Windows Phone or a desktop app like Outlook or Thunderbird, it's a good idea to make sure that the "enable" setting is checked on this page.

An article from April provides more information:
Beginning in the second half of 2014, we'll start gradually increasing the security checks performed when users log in to Google. These additional checks will ensure that only the intended user has access to their account, whether through a browser, device or application. These changes will affect any application that sends a username and/or password to Google.

To better protect your users, we recommend you upgrade all of your applications to OAuth 2.0. If you choose not to do so, your users will be required to take extra steps in order to keep accessing your applications.The standard Internet protocols we support all work with OAuth 2.0, as do most of our APIs. We leverage the work done by the IETF on OAuth 2.0 integration with IMAP, SMTP, POP, XMPP, CalDAV, and CardDAV.

In summary, if your application currently uses plain passwords to authenticate to Google, we strongly encourage you to minimize user disruption by switching to OAuth 2.0.

{ Thanks, Herin. }