Local Information – Microsoft: 1 Google: 0

Background: Google runs a mapping service that’s available for mobile devices, as well as in the form of an application for the iPhone. Microsoft’s subsidiary TELLME Networks runs a similar service, only with more features available on their free 411 service.

So, last week, I was in downtown Washington DC for business, and decided to get a hotel room for the night. Someone suggested the ‘Renaissance’. I quickly keyed in the hotel name and location on my iPhone and Google presented me with the address and the phone number. Only problem was that the phone number appeared to have been changed since the last time Google updated their directory. I figured that calling Google’s free 411 service would have the same results, and so decided to call 1-800-555-TELL, which is a Microsoft subsidiary company. The process was something like this:

TELLME: Welcome to TELLME
ME: Business
TELLME: What city and State
ME: Washington DC
TELLME: Business name
ME: Renaissance Washington DC
TELLME: Street or Intersection, or say I am not sure
ME: 9th Street
TELLME: (Address and phone number). Say ‘Text me the info’ to have it sent to your phone.
ME: Text me the info.

As simple as that! The speech recognition was impeccable, even though I was standing on a busy downtown street with a lot of hoo-ha as expected. I was very impressed.

It’s a great time to be a software engineer

Google just released the Android SDK. Android is the open source platform for mobile devices, mainly cellphones, that is destined to take on the so pervasive Windows Mobile devices out there. Along with the SDK, Google announced a 2 part ‘developer challenge’ open to all, and for anyone interested in developing applications for the platform. It’s ‘crowd-sourcing’ at its best, although, Google can afford to pay the best, what with $10 million up for grabs.

While I was watching the video, it struck me how the platform was trying to mimic the iPhone. Everything from the navigation to the notifications reminded me of the iPhone. With the iPhone’s own SDK due in February ’08, it’s a win-win situation for the consumer. I, for one, am glad that I don’t have to use slow Sony Ericsson handsets any more. Thanks are also due to increasingly powerful hardware. A short time ago, no one had even imagined that we would be able to run an entire 32 bit *NIX operating system on something as small as a cellphone. It’s now possible.

As always, I have downloaded and installed the Android SDK, and look forward to scheduling some time to get my hands dirty with it.

Wish me luck!

Cocoa Programming resources

I am learning Cocoa programming these days, and am actually picking it up very quickly. As I have mentioned in the past, it reminds me a lot of SmallTalk programming. Below are some sites/resources that I am finding really helpful. I’ll update the list from time to time.

COCOABUILDER.COM – A perfect interface to both Cocoa mailinglists
MACDEVCENTER – O’Reilly’s Mac Developer page
COCOADEV.COM – WikiWikiWeb site for the developer community
COCOADEVCENTRAL – A site with great tutorials
COCOA FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
STEPWISE – A classic site on Objective-C
HYPERJEFF – Cocoa Literature
REFERENCE LIBRARY – The official Cocoa Reference Library
MACRESEARCH.ORG – Macs for Scientists

Time to roll out a new layout

So, I upgraded the WordPress software to version 2.3.1 last night, and due to some changes in my database tables, couple of functions in my PHP code got broken. It would probably take me more time to fix these than to implement a new theme, besides, it was time to change it anyway.

Hence, be on the lookout for a new blog layout soon! I plan to redesign my site, too.