Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can Google Wave be spelled as Future of Communication?

Finally unveiled after years of development under the codename “Walkabout,” Google Wave combines popular features from across the web — feeds, shared documents, photo galleries, etc. — to redefine online communication. At least that’s the goal. Its creators, Lars and Jens Rasmussen (the Google Maps creators), even say they set out to break down traditional modes of communication — email and instant messaging — to find a system more in sync with how web users prefer to talk today. The result looks promising.

Interest and high expectations from the new service caused the string Google Wave to lead the today Google Trends listing.

At a basic level, Wave is part chat room, part collaborative document. You and your friends belong to a page that any of you can add information to, and it will show up for everyone in real time. And this information comes in many different forms: images, videos, links, comments, event invitations, polls, blog entries, and the like. It’s an ongoing conversation — with rich content.

Here is a quick wrap-up of the product’s features, announced on the Google I/O Conference earlier today:
- You can add any number of users to a wave, just like inviting friends to your Gchat list.
- You can post richly-formatted text, photos, links and videos, just like on your Facebook feed.
- You can simply drag and drop files (photos, docs, etc.) to add them to your Wave
- You can stream in your feeds, including Twitter and FriendFeed (a company that’s probably not having the best day).
- You can reply to or comment on anything another member has posted to the Wave.
- You can type at the same time as anyone else on your Wave, and it your messages will show up in real time almost character by character (though you can toggle it to show messages only after you press done, like an IM).
- You can rewind and play back your Wave conversation to see how it evolved at any point.
- Wave is open source, allowing third-party developers to play with and extend the product (something Google is encouraging before its public launch).
- You can export an edited wave as a new wave and start over if it gets too confusing.
- You can make some parts of a conversation viewable by a select group, or entirely private.
- You can embed your Waves in other places — your blog, your web site, etc.
- The open API allows developers to easily build new features into Wave — one example is Polly, a tool that lets you add polls to a wave. This also functions as an RSVP feature, negating the need for sites like eVite.
- Another extension, Bloggy, lets you start a Wave with a blog post, that readers can then respond to in a variety of ways.
- You can play interactive games in the sidebar of your Wave, like chess (an incarnation of Scrabble is sure to follow if it hasn’t already).
- Wave has workable versions for Android and the iPhone.

This list already seems impressive, but at the moment, the functionality is somewhat limited. Google is introducing Google Wave at its developer conference for a reason: "a lot of this depends on developer uptake," Rasmussen said. The company will release APIs (application programming interfaces) at the conference so that developers can start testing how to build Wave into their own sites, or how to integrate their services with Google's.

Google envisions three types of developer projects using Wave. The first is the most obvious; using Wave as a gateway for conversations that you're already having elsewhere on Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, blogs, and other social media sites.

There are plenty of reasons for Google to try to tap into the "stickiness" of various social networks, where users spend obscene amounts of time. And the company thinks that services such as Twitter recognize the value of letting others build a front end into their services: there are dozens of Twitter apps for PCs and smartphones that grant such access without having to use Twitter's own front end, and those apps don't seem to have put much of a dent in Twitter's overall traffic. For starters, Google Wave will allow users to post new items to blogs created with Blogger from within a wave, and see comments and replies within a wave.

The second category involves creating applications that run within a wave, similar to how developers have used Facebook as a platform to create all sorts of applications. Collaborative games are expected to be among the first applications to appear within Google Wave.

Lastly, Google wants developers to think of Wave as a possible enhancement to an existing workflow within an enterprise. The example Rasmussen used was a bug tracker used by software developers to identify and assign bugs. Bugs could be organized in waves; participants post the new bug to a global wave, then the team leader can assign bugs to individual team members within the wave, and developers can comment on their fix for a particular bug as they are tackled and cleared, all within the same thread.

Here’s an explanation of the concept behind Wave via the Google YouTube channel:

Additional Information:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Postal Rates Rise to 44 Cents

New postage rates searched made the top in Google, because as it lately does each May, the U.S. Postal Service reviews and adjusts prices for its mailing services. On Monday, May 11, 2009, the price of a first-class stamp is rising from 42 cents to 44 cents.
The postage increase was limited to 2 cents on first-class mail because, under the law, the change in rates cannot exceed the amount of inflation that occurred the year before.
According to a story by The Associated Press, the U.S. Postal Service lost $1.9 billion during the second quarter and faces the possibility of running out of cash before the end of the year. The price increase, the AP said, is a way to increase its cash flow.
The second quarter loss brings the total loss for the fiscal year which began Oct. 1 to $2.3 billion.
E-mail, the recession and other mail delivery competitors also were cited as factors in the U.S. Postal Service's revenue decline.
USPS recently considered eliminating one day of mail service each week nationwide in response to the sluggish economy. No known decision has been made on that issue.
Rising operational costs make the price adjustments necessary, postal officials say, and the increase tracks the 2008 rate of inflation.
"The U.S. Postal Service is not immune to rising costs which are affecting homes and businesses across America today," Postmaster General John Potter said in a press release.
People can still send mail using what is called a "Forever Stamp." The stamps, developed to help people ease the transition during price changes, do not have a denomination and will continue to be honored whenever they are used, regardless of when they were purchased. But the price of the Forever Stamp will also rise to 44 cents today.
The stamp features an image of the Liberty Bell with "2009" in the upper left corner and "USA First-Class Forever" along the right side.
The Web site,, says that there will be no price change in the first-class mail additional ounce price, which will remain at 17 cents.
Other price changes include:
* A postcard stamp will increase to 28 cents, up from the previous 27 cents.
* The first ounce of a large, flat envelope will increase to 88 cents, from the previous 83 cents.
* The first ounce of a parcel will increase an addition five cents to $1.22.
* New first-class mail international postcard and letter prices (first ounce) prices will be 75 cents to Canada, 79 cents to Mexico and 98 cents to other foreign destinations.
Most postal service shipping service prices were adjusted in January and will not change in May, the release said.
To see a list of the new prices, visit
Note that Post Office usually gives a 7 day "grace" period where items with the correct "old" postage on them will still be accepted, however, there is no official grace period at all, and you cannot demand it from USPS.
If you are curious what the trend of the postage price increase is over the years, take a look on the table below.
Effective date
Per ½ Ounce
March 3, 1863
March 3, 1883
Per Ounce
July 1, 1885
November 3, 1917
Higher rate during the war
July 1, 1919
Sometime in 1898
July 6, 1932
January 1, 1952
August 1, 1958
January 7, 1963
ZIP Code begins
January 7, 1968
May 16, 1971
March 2, 1974
September 14, 1975
December 31, 1975
May 29, 1978
"A"  stamps
March 22, 1981
"B"  stamps
November 1, 1981
"C"  stamps
October 1, 1983
ZIP+4  is 
February 17, 1985
"D"  stamps
April 3, 1988
"E"  stamps
February 3, 1991
"F"  stamps
January 1, 1995
"G"  stamps
January 10, 1999
"H"  stamps
January 7, 2001
denominated stamps
July 1, 2001
June 30, 2002
Flag and Antique Toy stamps
January 8, 2006
May 14, 2007
May 12, 2008
May 11, 2009
Sources and Additional Information: