Google has recently started offering a new service called Helpouts for connecting consultants for various disciplines with people wanting help via video conferencing / IM in a sort of app-like marketplace online. This is a great use of their Hangouts platform to connect everyday people with other small business providers to provide a variety of consultation services. I received an early access invite to set up my own Helpouts listing, and thought I’d share my thoughts on it from a provider’s viewpoint. Continue reading
Yesterday Google announced their new cloud notekeeping service, Keep. While it’s nice to have this sort of thing integrated into one’s Google stack if one’s already part of of the ecosystem, I’d be very reluctant to rely on it. The timing is certainly poor, as Google has retired a lot of products that it feels don’t fit in with it’s overall strategy or haven’t seen wide enough adoption and axed Google Reader just last week – which was both useful and has quite a devoted following. It certainly raises long term reliability spectres in my mind.
It would really suck to have all one’s notes on there and have it be a part of one’s regular workflow, and then get a three month notice that it’s shutting down and have no good migration path… which is pretty much Google’s modus operandi. I’d want some kind of assurance that this product was something Google had a long term commitment to before using it. One way would be to integrate it into Google Apps, but that doesn’t seem to be in the offing although it’s encouraging that it seems to use Google Drive for it’s back end and has it’s own Android app.
Given the enormous popularity of Android for smart phones these days, it’s not surprising that it’s become a target for malware. And it’s a big target, too – the Android operating system has become an extremely popular choice for phones, given that it’s open source, easy to modify and quite sophisticated right out of the box. And I’m sure many people don’t realize exactly how big a target Android really is – most think it’s just for cell phones, but it’s actually a complete OS and we’re starting to see it on notebooks, netbooks and of course the exploding tablet market. This makes it very attractive to malware authors! Fortunately it’s also a lot more secure than your average operating system (*cough* Microsoft Windows *cough*), making attacks difficult. That being said, the first major attack has finally arrived two years after Android debuted*.
Thankfully, Google’s response has been both extremely swift and effective: from notification of the problem apps by Redditor lompolo to their being yanked from the Market and remotedly deleted from users’ phones was… five minutes. Now THAT’s a response time!
UPDATE: As of December 2011, this hack no longer works. Google no longer allows 403 area code numbers.
So, I admit that I have been completely absorbed by the Googleplex. And… I kind of enjoy having a Google-centric life, actually. So when I moved to Canada and faced giving up my Google Voice, I cringed and cried and wept piteously.
And I did NOT leave denial and move into acceptance! Instead, I plotted and schemed and conspired to bend Google .. itself! … to my will! Muhahahaha! They called me mad at the Sorbonne… mad, I tell you – MAD!
So! After a few hours of research, I had some good leads. After a couple of false starts and some experimentation, I found what seems to be the optimal (and cheapest!) solution.
While you can definitely adapt this method to your own needs, bear in mind it was originated for my own situation: having a US cell phone with a Canada/US calling package and an unlimited Canada/US data plan ($147/mo from Verizon on my DROID). That being said, onward to the good stuff! Continue reading