Archive for ‘Mobile devices’

December 1, 2012

Gmail and mobile service related news

There has been an accumulation of minor activity about Gmail recently.

Email art

Gmail Outage

On 11 December 2012, many Google accounts experienced Gmail unavailability. I did not have experience any problems in Arizona. Gmail was definitely offline for at least 45 minutes, when I checked the official Google Apps Status page.

According to GigaOm, continuous deployment was the problem, and Gmail went down during a routine load balancing update. The GigaOm article is good. It includes a two-page PDF document later released by Google, with a detailed explanation of the incident.

For future reference, I suggest bookmarking the Google Apps Status Dashboard. Despite the “Google Apps” page name, the information is relevant to consumers as well as Google Apps business customers. It lists time and cause for disruptions in Gmail and many other Google services.

Verdict of the Herd

There is an unofficial Is Gmail down? service which culls data from multiple sources. It reminds me of an informal version of Herdict, the “verdict of the herd”. Herdict collects and publicly reports on global incidents of filtering, denial of service attacks, availability, and overall internet infrastructure reliability. Input data is crowd-sourced.

Herdict reports on website inaccessibility regardless of cause. After aggregation and trend analysis, it can be useful for gauging regional blockages of websites known for activism and possibly subject to politically motivated internet censorship. “Is Gmail down” is not intended for anything beyond the convenience of the public, though that is always appreciated! It is not crowd-sourced, nor does it give a comprehensive real-­time map of global Internet health. In contrast, Herdict does exactly that. The collected information can even be broken down on a more granular level.

Herdict access service I like the Herdict badge. You can put it on your website to support Herdict activities. Just click on the sheep-shaped image to get one. The Herdict real time interactive map is fun to watch, and its RSS feed is available for free to anyone who wants to use the data. Herdict is run by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society of Harvard University. 

December 16, 2011

Google Cloud Print one year later

A few days ago, Google Cloud Print was rolled out to more users, with new features. One of the more interesting is the ability to embed a cloud print button on one’s website. Read on to learn the reason this cloud print button is important.

Reverse colors in 2011

Google Cloud Print's new logo

The Google Cloud Print landing page now offers complete instructions for registering a printer that is not connected to a PC or other computer. There is also a detailed user tutorial, which wasn’t available a year ago.

The full list of operating systems, device types and browsers from which one can access Cloud Print is extensive.  This seems to be the easiest way to decide whether Cloud Print will work with a user’s current “configuration”:

On any web page, if you see a “Print” button with the Google Cloud Print logo, you can print without leaving your browser.

As I wrote this article, I found a few user tips. Profiles and Cloud Print for Any Page has good instructions for embedding the Cloud Print button, and for using it with multiple Google profiles in Chrome 16.

Variety of services

Google Cloud Print offers versatility

Implementation and strategy thoughts

The level of detail required to specify device (mobile/ tablet/ PC/ Mac/ Chromebook), operating system (Android/ iOS/ Windows/ Mac/ Chrome OS) and print app makes one think about the project management complexity. I can only imagine the hardware and data integration challenges!

It is worth noting that Google chose to expend this effort on printing, which is one of the least interesting computing services, for marketing and developers alike. This is a reality, despite the importance of print functionality to those who need it.

In Beta

A certain problem URL, described in my  Cloud Print post last year, still returns the same 400 error. I don’t fault Google for that. Google Cloud Print remains is in beta. It is more prudent to keep the beta designation until a product is ready. Avoid the sort of headaches Google recently had with the still-buggy Gmail for Apple iPhone mess a few weeks ago.

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