Tech Notes: Google Gears, Google Reader Trends, Mahalo, Apple TV

May 31, 2007

Alright. I’m offloading all the technology stuff into a “Tech Notes” moniker because there’s just too much stuff going on and I can’t flesh everything out into a full post.

Google Gears

Holy frak. I was excited about Adobe’s Apollo and Microsoft’s Silverlight but here we go: Google is starting to make their web applications workable on the desktop, without an Internet connection. The simplest way to demonstrate how this can be practical is through the most obvious, useful example: Google Reader can now be used offline.

I’m really excited about this as I have downtime on the train during my commute where (shudder) I don’t have Internet access for about an hour each day. Google, you identified my need and filled it.

Additional Reading: Good Morning Silicon Valley

Google Reader Trends

I also noticed in Google Reader that there is a Trends option. It offers up juicy info-addicted stats on your feed reading habits.

Now I know my blog reading peaks on Wednesday (my day off) and tapers off heavily during the weekend. Also, the top blogs I’ve been reading (in no particular order) are ParisLemon, The Blog Herald, Robert Scoble, Valleywag, Elaine Vigneault, FranticIndustries, WinExtra, and GigaOM. Interesting.

The design work was done by Jeffrey Veen who wrote a bit about the experience.


Jason Calacanis took the wraps off his Web 2.0 startup: Mahalo. It’s a search engine serving up hand-crafted results. A rather retro idea (this is how Yahoo! began). Sites like Digg obviously pointed out that people do a much better job of finding the really amusing, relevant stuff. The question is, can these paid editors keep up with the masses? What ultimately produces results of quality? And there’s no question Mahalo could never scale as well as an algorithm. Right now, although results for common subjects do look more targeted than what comes from Yahoo! or Google, I’d sooner choose Wikipedia.

Still, I wouldn’t bet against Calacanis with his experience, connections, and VC money – he reportedly has enough cash to last five years. That’s enough time for Mahalo to prove itself and even change strategy several times if this initial approach isn’t working.

But I must mention that the use of the word “Mahalo” is a bit odd to me. I grew up in Hawaii, and although it’s a friendly phrase, I’m not sure if the cultural / ethnic reference is a smart move. I think they should lose the Hawaiian design elements of the plumeria and shaka signs. I fully expected tikis, Don Ho, and a Brady Bunch cursed idol cameo as I browsed the site. If you want to understand this odd feeling, imagine being a native of Minnesota or Wisconsin wandering through a cheese curd selling site called “You Betcha Yooper” based in California (don’t ask).

Meanwhile, Guy Kawasaki with his Web 2.0 startup Truemors is from Hawaii. Maybe these two entrepreneurs should switch domain names?

Additional Reading: A VC, Scoreboard Media Group, WinExtra

Apple TV

Lastly I have to admit the Apple TV is looking less and less like a product I will purchase. I think the biggest problem is that although it has only component outs, it delivers less than HD quality content. Maybe they are preparing for a future of HD content downloaded from the iTunes Store, but that day is not today.

Second it seems the future is HD and one obvious purchase I’m considering is an HD-DVD player. Enter the XBOX 360 which with an add-on can do this, plus it plays games. A little more digging and the XBOX has Internet access, you can hook up an HD DVD player, and even download HD content right to its big hard drive.

With the Apple TV, Apple is trying to get a wedge into the living room. However, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have already been there for quite some time now.

So the move to put YouTube content on Apple TV is strange to me. Low quality YouTube content on a big television? That stuff should be kept on the computer or pushed to the iPod Video.

I’m thinking again that the only way for Apple to compete is to beef up the Apple TV by combining it with a Mac Mini. Meaning, HD outputs, a DVD or HD DVD player, and bringing all of Mac OS X to the entertainment center. And get the HD content on there.

Additional Reading: ParisLemon, Chris Lanier’s Blog


  1. One of the more maddening phenomenons in American television currently is the use of YouTube and other like sites on the evening/daily news. You know it’s a slow news day when as July 4th approaches, they have to pull the video of some dude lighting a firecracker between his cheeks and the subsequent not-so-hilarity that ensures.

    Ahh, isn’t technology uplifting? :0

  2. webomatica says:

    That brings a new angle to the phrase “must be a slow news day” when they air youtube videos :) Maybe it’s a public service to all those folks without internet access?