Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Google Technology User Group Sydney second meeting

Greetings from the Sydney Google Technology User Group (Sydney-GTUG) meeting in the Google building at Google Sydney. This is only the second ever meeting, with about 30 people (half were at the first meeting).

Pamela Fox gave a quick demonstration of the Chrome Frame plugin for Internet Explorer (for people who are required to use the IE browser). She mentioned iUI provides a code library for creating applications which look like native iPhone applications.

October 14, from 6pm to 9pm Google will host a mashing session for people interested in putting in an entry in the Government Web 2.0 "MashupAustralia Competition".

There was then a demonstration of "Tracklet" created for the ADC2 Android Developer Challenge. Some comments provided on Android phone application development:
  • Easy to start, but hard to get working well.
  • Memory limitations on manipulating images.
  • Treads cause problems with the user interface.
  • They used a graphing library called Flot.
There was then a demonstration, using the Android emulator. The UI looks like a set of posit notes with photos of the good on them. The notes can be moved around the screen. There is a Google map interface with purchases marked.

At question time I asked if they were redoing the application they would just use the Android for the user interface and run the application and store the data in the cloud. The developers commented that they looked at offloading processing of image data, but wanted data stored and processed locally to speed up the application. They said they would add an upload/data synchronisation facility.

This is a discussion I have been having with developers for decades, but I suggest if they instead used ordinary web pages for the interface and ran the application elsewhere, it would be reasonably fast. This would have the bonus of providing access from any desktop browner and not requiring synchronisation. There would be a cost in terms of data transfer, but if the interface was carefullydesign the communications overhead need not be large.

The next talk was about "The Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project" Patrick O'brien mapping project with Google maps and AdSense.

Google Earth plugin added to Google Maps. One point was that having static pages for the maps allows the search engines to find the data, whereas if it is hidden in a database it will not be found. This made the site well ranking. AdSense helps cover the hosting cost.

Another project was the "Timeline Project" with a WWII timeline project. This used a timeline updating a map of Europe in World War 2. As you move along the timeline, significant locations at that time are marked on the map. This could be applied to many historical battlefield material.To help enter data a request to the community was made. He is now working on a smart phone version with Google Maps.

Military organisations traditionally document battles in the battalion dairy. This timeline mapping technique could be used for an electronic diary. This week ABC Media Watch criticised the Australian Department of Defence for providing minimal information for the public about what is happening in Afghanistan. Perhaps as well as a war artist, there could be a war blogger, providng a timeline map of what is happening. I might mention this at the War 2.0 symposium in Canberra this week (the head of Defence PR will be there).

The last talk was about the Google Docs API Version 3.0. This now allows images to be OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to text. Documents can be translated into other languages. Documents can be converted between formats (such as MS-Word to PDF).

Google Sites was then demonstrated. This provides an alternative to SharePoint and Lotus Notes. This allows a web site to be edited live by a group of people, with the changes tracked.

The talks went until after 8pm. I think this is a bit too long. There were some yawns from the audience, despite the interesting content.

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