Google in the Limelight with Chrome and Android [Best of August '08 #3-4]

This week's compilation of interesting posts actually covers the past two weeks, due to lack of blogging time for me last week. Unfortunately, this might happen more times this fall, which seems to be busy for me, with near full-time of consulting. However, you may always check out my Google Reader Shared Items, which contain a few more items not making it to my weekly list. The shared items also appear on my FriendFeed account.

  • The greatest news this week (and perhaps this year) is of course Google's launch of the browser Chrome. The news broke while I was finishing the list below, and it puts some of the items in a different perspective, particularly the one about the launch of IE8 beta 2 below.
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  • Last month, I wrote about some troubles for Google's Android mobile platform. These problems seem now to be history, with the release of a new 0.9 version of the SDK, which is expected to be quite similar to the 1.0 version running on the first phones. Google is now also improving on the communication side, with the release of a developer roadmap, which promises a 1.0 SDK release and retail phones by Q4 this year. Actually, there are already rumors floating about an Android phone by HTC, the "Dream", slated for November 10th.
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  • Marshall Kirkpatrick writes about feed.informer, formerly known as Feed Digest, a web service for mashing, filtering and publishing RSS feeds. As mentioned by Marshall, the site has some faults. For example, I found that the link to the Docs & FAQs page is broken. Another provider of similar services is Yahoo Pipes. For self hosting, the PHP RSS library SimplePie provides detailed functionality for parsing feeds, though there seems to be no built-in functionality for keyword filtering. SimplePie on this page compare themselves to a few competing libraries.
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  • From the JavaScript/Firefox department there were reports on progress in improving the JavaScript execution speed in Firefox, leveraging a technique known as tracing optimization, hence the project code name Tracemonkey. Ars explains the basic idea behind tracing:

    The tracing mechanism records the path of execution at runtime and generates compiled code that can be used next time that a particular path is reached. This makes it possible to flatten out loops and nested method calls into a linear stream of instructions that is more conducive to conventional optimization techniques.

    The goal is to achieve execution speed comparable to native code, taking JavaScript performance into "the next tier", and "redefining the boundaries of client-side performance." Wonder how this improvement compares to Google Chrome's new V8 JavaScript Engine?
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  • Internet Explorer 8 is getting closer to official, with a Beta 2 release just being announced. It's a massive makeover according to Ed Bott, with improvements in usability, privacy, standards compliance and new features like Accelerators, which are kind of smart shortcuts that perform a task, e.g. search, on selected text, and Web Slices, which provide a kind of subscription to a part of a web page that updates frequently. It's up to the developer to slice-enable particular web pages, by adding appropriate markup. The standards compliance is of course exciting, and it will eventually make the life easier for developers. Though it will take several years, with about one third of web surfers still using IE6.
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  • BackType is a new comment aggregation service, liked a lot by Michael Arrington. Comments are automatically collected around the web, and can be searched for based on people or subject. You claim your comments by creating a profile and indicating which url you use when commenting. This is my profile. I think it's a nice idea, with an open approach. Blogs can keep their comment system of choice, and still being included. No need for JavaScript solutions à la Disqus (my profile), for example.
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  • Fred Wilson suggests that social sites start using the concept of neighbors, which are automatically discovered people with similar interests like you, instead of relying on so-called friends or followers and the habit of befriending or follow people. Seems like a practical idea to me, not having to manually look for friends, but have them automatically suggested.
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  • Marshall Kirkpatrick explains the concept of embargoes in blogging and why it generally is a better idea than exclusives. An embargo works as an agreement between bloggers and a company not to write about a new product or service until a specific time. This has several advantages, such as a broader and deeper coverage from multiple perspectives.
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