Saturday, August 28, 2010

How many full moons does it take to fill the sky?

Go outside and take a look at how big the moon is. If you don't, you'll probably overestimate how big the moon is. How many moons do you think it takes to fill the sky?

For the answer, skip ahead to page 203 of this article. How close was your guess?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello, Gmail calling...

Yesterday, the Google Voice team announced a cool integration with Gmail: the ability to place and receive phone calls in your web browser. Just install the latest voice and video plugin, and viola! Free (for now?) phone calls from your browser.

But why Gmail? Wouldn't it be logical to have put the ability to do voice calls inside the Google Voice webapp, not the Gmail webapp?

I suspect they did it for a couple reasons. First, the plugin was already built into Gmail, which could do voice and video chat. So perhaps it was less work to do the integration this way than to build a chat plugin into Google Voice.

Second, Gmail has a much larger user base than Google Voice. Tease all the Gmail users with free phone calls from your computer, and maybe you can build up the GV user base too. Especially if you can get people who make paid international calls on board, you can use that revenue to fund free calls in the contiguous USA.

Third, this gives Google the flexibility to completely fold Google Voice into Gmail. Rather than maintain two separate interfaces, Google could in time merge them into a single interface. I mean, they're already doing realtime chat, text messaging, AOL instant messenger, voice chat, video chat and email in one place. If they can keep it easy to use, why not add phone calls too?

Will this attract enough users to keep GV viable? I hope so. Google seems to be betting a lot on it, giving the GV team access to a pretty prominent spot in one of their most widely-used services.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Office plant

I think this may be the first time in my career that I've had a plant in my office at work.