Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tour Indian cultural treasures with Google

Using photography + technology to bring people together with cultural richness; man, I love stuff like this. Gautam Gandhi writes,

Starting today, anyone with an Internet connection can explore the Taj Mahal and 29 of India’s most iconic national monuments through Street View on Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute

Using the Street View Trekker, we’ve brought you images that let you virtually stroll through the vast grounds of Humayun’s Tomb, admire the red sandstone walls of Red Fort, and explore the ancient temples at Muvar Koil

[YouTube]

Help shape the future of Google products

I continue to drink from the proverbial firehose, learning users’ likes, dislikes, and desires around photo backup, editing, and sharing. I’m looking forward to working with Google Usability, and they’d like to meet you:

During a study we may present you with and gather your feedback on an existing product, a new feature, or even prototypes. We may also interview you about particular daily habits or ask you to keep a log of certain activity types over a given period of time. Study sessions can happen at a Google office, in your home or business, or online through your computer or mobile device. Afterwards, you’ll receive a token of our appreciation for your cooperation.

If that sounds interesting, please sign up via their site.

This GoPro footage cannot be real… can it?

You tell me. DesignTaxi writes,

In this video, a group of skydivers’ GoPro camera accidentally slips out of a member of the group’s hand. It drops from the plane, spinning tremendously and eventually lands in a pig pen.

All this while, the GoPro camera continues to record footage. It lands with the camera facing upwards, it quickly gets discovered by a pig, who is curious about the gadget’s existence in its pen.

Be advised: The ending did induce Margot to coin the phrase, “Operation Pig Tonsils.”

Photoshop vets doing interesting work

It’s nice to see my former teammates continuing to rock out: 

  • Storehouse was built by UI designer Mark Kawano. It’s a photo-centric iPad app billed as “the easiest way to create, share, and discover beautiful stories.”
  • Pictual comes to us from engineer Chintan Intwala, who engineered work like Puppet Warp & various GPU-enabled features. It’s “a beautiful, intelligent and simple picture-messaging app that uses design-magic to transform your words into pictures that encapsulate your mood, personality and emotion.”

OT: The plug-in car we picked

A surprising number of people expressed interest in our research into plug-in cars that qualify for HOV-lane access in California, so I thought I’d post a quick follow-up in case it’s useful to others.

Fusion_sm

I really hemmed & hawed about buying a Tesla Model S, but my frugal Midwestern self came out and we opted to lease a plug-in Ford Fusion. The sticker price was a full $40,000 cheaper than the Tesla, and while it won’t be blowing anyone off the line, I’ve found it smooth & polished—plenty of comfort & tech (voice-driven Bluetooth, nav, etc.) for a commuter car. It felt like a lot more car than a plug-in Prius (same price) and a lot more value than a plug-in Accord ($45k!). And you know what’s faster than a now-traded 350hp Audi? Anything in the carpool lane.

Thanks to our home solar panels (and Google’s), I should be able to make it to work (16 miles away in Mountain View) and back all on electric power, and in theory without burning fossil fuels. If you’re now asking, “Why not ride the Google bus and take a car entirely off the road?,” you’re right, and I plan to do so as much as possible. For the days when that’s not an option, saving 10+ minutes each way will be a godsend.

As for downsides, I’d list only the Ford’s small trunk space, but that’s not a big deal in what’s intended to be a pure commuter car. (We have the 44-mpg Jetta TDI wagon for hauling bikes, etc.) For the pure commuting case we could also have considered the Nissan Leaf*, but the 80-mile range couldn’t get me to SF and back without planning my trip around finding a socket & having enough time to charge up.

Lastly, this is the first time we’ve leased a car, and we figured it made sense given the (hoped for) rate of innovation in electric vehicles. Who knows, in three years Tesla may have delivered a non-eye-wateringly priced car (maybe we should get in line now), and if California has stopped issuing HOV lane stickers by then, we can buy out the lease and keep the car & sticker through 2019.

* One sees many of these at Google, and when I visited Facebook a few weeks ago, a guy told me, “Oh yeah, you can totally tell when people started [pre- or post-IPO]—all the Teslas up front & all the Leafs in the back.”