Google Developer Day 2008 Israel (yes, it’s in Israel)

About a year and a half ago I’ve written about Google Israel’s position in the Israeli development community (actually, there lack of) and that a company like Google should be more involved.

This was written around the time the 2007 Google Developer Day happened in more than 10 places around the world but not in Israel.

I opened my Email this morning and to my surprise I found an invitation to the Google Developer Day 2008 in Israel.

It seems there is a good schedule and a very interesting cast of lecturers. Some of the lecturers are Israeli Googlers while others are Googlers from Europe and the USA.

While most of it revolves around Google technologies (GData and the APIs, AppEngine, V8 JavaScript engine) or Google sponsored initiatives (OpenSocial) it’s a good start for a conversation between the Israeli development community and Google Israel (or Google in general for that matter).

I hope this is a first step in Google’s involvment in the Israeli development community, one that will lead to a more diverse and engaged community.

The event will take place on November 2nd at the Avenue convention center (near Airprot city). Currently registration requires an invitation.

I’ve already registered and if nothing else will change my schedule I will be there. If you also registered and know me (or don’t know me yet) feel free to drop by and say hi.

Plaxo OpenID support lacks OpenID Delegation support

UPDATE: Plaxo DO support delegation, just not XRDS. It seems a WP database problem caused some of my OpenID delegation plug-in to mess up settings the wrong openid.server and openid.delegate values.

It should have been http://www.myopenid.com/server for openid.server and http://eran.myopenid.com for openid.delegate. The problem was due to the fact that XRDS is yet to be supported in Plaxo. I didn’t notice the problem with the configuration of openid.server and openid.delegate due to the fact that the XRDS settings was correctly configured and all of the sites that I use OpenID with do support XRDS.

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Plaxo is a real cool tool to synchronize your calendar and address book. Their new v3.0 (still in preview/beta mode) is really really cool and can sync from everything to everything.

They just announced that they now support OpenID as a relaying party so you can sign up for Plaxo using an existing OpenID or attach OpenID identities (yes, in plural) to your Plaxo account.

I already had a Plaxo account so I wanted to attach my existing OpenID to it. My OpenID is actually delegated from this blog to MyOpenID (my OpenID provider) using the OpenID Delegation plugin. It seems as though the Plaxo implementation lacks support for delegation.

Too bad, delegation is one of the stronger features OpenID has.

Plaxo, please support OpenID delegation. Without delegation it’s not a complete OpenID solution (at least I think so).

Twitter and OpenID

Dave Winer says:

“[…] we could make Twitter the open identity system we’ve been looking for. Make your Twitter ID the one that you use to log on to other service […]”

I say let Twitter support OpenID with all of the good Relaying Party Best Practices including (but not limited to):

  • Ability to associate an existing account with an OpenID
  • Ability to switch to another OpenID (sort of a password recovery for OpenID)
  • Ability to create a new account directly with an external (non Twitter) OpenID (be a standard relaying party)

If they want to, they can also be an OpenID provider (which should be good for them, of course ;-) ).

Recursive Definitions

If you have a cool new startup that is going to launch and all you have to say about it to better describe it is “It’s Flickr+YouTube+Riya+[Enter a cool new startup with cool technology or hype here]” something is wrong with your pitch.

If you can’t describe your startup in layman’s terms without using the name of your competitors (or, in this case, the war casualties after you kill them all and win the internet web 2.0 war) you should really start to think twice about what you are actually doing.

I keep on seeing a lot of pitches on the web in the form of cover stories on high profile blogs that companies CEOs and founders keep on using some kind of a recursive definition – defining their own company by using the name of another company (or companies).

This recursiveness needs to stop otherwise there will be only one true definition for a company and everyone else will build their pitch on that definition and the definitions that are built upon it.

I know it is sometimes very hard to describe a cool new idea, especially if it is technically oriented and you need to explain it to a non-techie person.

Being able to actually do that will give you a couple of interesting things.
First, it will allow you to better articulate yourself for non-techies, potentially (depending on your idea) drawing them closer to the understanding you have of your ideas. This is good for startups that are web based and needs non-techie crowds to succeed.

Second, it will give you a better understanding of how you need to your idea. Every question or misunderstand a non-techie will have with your description is a potential for better understanding your audience and, therefore, improving your idea/company/product.

What do you think? Is it really that important or I just got pissed on seeing yet another pitch that is recursively described?

An idea to better promote Google Talk in a corporate envrionment

I just read this post about the deal that eBay and Google signed which will also allow Google Talk and Skype to interoperate and possibly be able to communicate even via chats.

It them folloed by an enlightened moment (Ka ching!) where I thought of an idea that Google can use to deepen Google Talk`s penetration in the corporate environment.

Google Talk is based on the solid and open standards of XMPP (Jabber).
One of the advantages of the Jabber protocol is its locality. All chats performed in the same server stays on that server and will not take the long walk to some company`s chat server somewhere on the Internet (which is what happens with MSN Messenger, for example).

The main advantage of this for corporates is that all corporate talks all remain in the corporate`s network and servers and will never go out of the it (an IT manager`s dream ;-) ).
What some corporates do is deploy yet another IM service inside their corporate and what the users end up are a couple of IM software instances, one for corporate and one for the rest of the user`s chats (which is suppose to be only private chats, but usually end up with some business and work relates chats).

There are two major ideas I had that can be easily implemented in Google Talk to achieve this:

  1. Have Google Talk support an additional Jabber account. That account will be connected to a local corporate Jabber server (there are a lot of them). The Google Talk client will handle these two account separately and will send messages to contacts of the local corporate through the corporate account and not through Google Talk`s servers.
  2. Have Google release their Google Talk server as a corporate product. Certain Google Talk users will be marked as corporate users and all communication with them will be sent through the locally installed Google Talk server.

There are pros and cons for both approaches.

Approach #1 is easier to implement and will not require a lot of work on Google`s part to release their server as a product. The disadvantages are that the voice features of Google Talk might not be available and that people will still have 2 different contacts, corporate and non corporate.

Approach #2 is harder for Google to implement but brings a couple of interesting advantages, the first being that Google Talk voice abilities will probably work just fine. Corporate will not need to configure anything, it will all come in a box from Google (like their search appliance).

Both approaches are based on a Jabber server which can have gateways installed to all the different other protocols (including Yahoo, ICQ and MSN) which can make things a lot easier for corporate users. They will have one client that gives most of the features to all other clients and still be able to securely communicate with their corporate peers.

What do you think? Is Google going to do such a thing?

Own your authentication!

After Passport Windows Live ID and the Liberty Alliance Project now comes Google Account Authentication, which opens up the ability to use anyone’s Google Account to perform authentication to a system.

What surprises me in this whole deal is that it seems we are going backwards, back to a “one authentication to rule them all” idea that Microsoft tried to introduce with Passport (errr) Windows Live ID which, as you know, didn’t go quite where they wanted it to be.

After the whole Web 2.0 buzz and “User Generated Content”, A.K.A the forbidden word, where users are now the masters of their own content, why can’t they be the masters of their own identity/authentication?

OpenID

I’ve lately been tracking the OpenID initiative which tries to create a REAL distributed identity system which actually fits into the Web 2.0 world.
While OpenID’s spec is still a bit rough on the edges (the loop for verifying which authentication servers are authorized, live and not spoofed is not closed) it does seem to provide the right think in the right direction.

The benefits of owning your own identity

Owning your own identity has a number of interesting affects.

The first and foremost is that it is yours and you can store it wherever YOU think is save and good for you. This can be a server you own/rent. This can be a general repository, but one that you want to use and not one being forced down your throat (the centralized authorities that are usually controlled by large software corporations).

The second effect is that your identity is persistent. Since you control where it is stored and how it looks (according to the OpenID specs, of course) it is persistent across services (providing they support OpenID) and across identity providers (remember, you choose where to store your identity).

Hoping for a better authentication future

I would really like to see (perhaps I can even contribute) OpenID’s spec closing the loop on authenticating OpenID servers (or at least preparing a procedure for that) and starting to get adopted more rapidly across sites cause I’m really tired of having multiple identities just because various sites don’t talk to each other.

Even if the big player – Windows Live ID, Liberty Alliance Project and Google Account Authentication would support the OpenID specification, the wold of authentication would get a step closer to actually becoming useful.

The feed reader of my dreams

I’m what you may call a medium to heavy feed junkie. I read most of the information today using my favorite feed reader RSS Bandit.

While RSS Bandit is a great feed reader it does have its limitations. The biggest one being that its a client side application and it doesn’t sync to one of the server side readers.

I sometimes want to read my feeds at home, sometimes at work or sometimes when I don’t have a computer with me and I just want to login in some Internet cafe and be able to continue reading where I left off.

I don’t know if RSS Bandit does support such a feature, AFAIK it doesn’t. What it does support is the ability to save its feed list and state to some remote location and be able to upload it to some remote storage location (i.e. some accessible FTP site) and download it back again. I found some posts about people saying that they found some ways of doing that and keep the state of the read/unread items, which is a partial solution, but it’s not what I’m looking for. It doesn’t answer my need of being able to continue reading my favorite feeds even when I don’t have one of my machines near me.

So what do I really need?

I want a server-side service with a good API for:

  • Managing Feeds – Adding, removing, grouping them into groups
  • Managing the state of feed posts – Marking what I read as read and what I’ve marked an unread as unread
  • Syncing up – If I install a rich client on a new machine, it should sync up with the server with all of the feeds and its state.
  • Handling a LARGE amount of feeds – well, as I’ve said I’m a medium to heavy feed junkie :-)

Ever since I’ve read Niall Kennedy’s post about the Google Reader API I’ve been meaning to try and cook something up, even though it doesn’t really answer all of my needs (at least as far as the API functions Niall talked about). I wonder if that will piss them off too much :-)

There are a few web application based feed readers, but then I’ll always need access to my home machine (or office machine) which I usually have, but I don’t really want to rely on it. I prefer using one of the big guys’ feed service.

Oh well, time to start getting dirty (unless someone already did that, if so, drop me a comment!)

ajaxWrite and Open Office / Open Document Format

I just read on Om Malik on Boardband that Michael Robertson of MP3.com, Linspire and SIPphone fame just annonced a new project called ajaxWrite.

This is a pure web application word processor without any storage behind it like Writely (when you open a document you upload it and when you save it you download it) but it seems very well written.

The only thing that bothers me is that they claim they support all major file formats but what they actually support is MS Word, RTF, Text and PDF.

What about the Open Office and/or the Open Document Format? Why isn’t it supported?
If you are going to make such an application available why not use an OPEN format that will be accessible for all?

It’s annoying. Really.

Anyhow, while this is very cool, I think it could be a good addition to Bubbles.