Interview with Mohamed Mansour – Creator of “Facebook Friend Exporter” & “My Hangouts for Google Plus”, and Google Chromium committer

Tuesday, 23 August, 2011

Mohamed Mansour Technical Software interview

Mohamed Mansour is a Canadian Software Engineer and the creator of the cool Google+ extensions “Facebook Friend Exporter“, “My Hangouts for Google Plus“, “Hangout Auto Retry Try Again” and “Extended Share for Google Plus“. Mohamed is also a contributor (actually a committer) of Google Chrome‘s open source project Chromium.

Few days ago, I had the pleasure of conducting a technical interview with Mohamed to talk about his various software work and a little bit about himself. Have a watch of the following video clips. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I was in conducting the interview.

Mohamed Mansour Technical Interview (Chromium, Chrome vs. Firefox …) 01/03

– How did Mohamed get start working on Chromium (Google Chrome’s open source project)?

– Why did Mohamed choose to work on Chrome instead of Firefox?

– Mohamed talked about his experiences of putting in his first patch on the Chromium.

– At university, how did Mohamed switch from chemical engineering to electrical engineering, and finally settling on software engineering?

– Why did Mohamed decide to take the path of putting in so much time in open-source software work, instead of like other talented software engineers spending time to make the next new new product and make a ton of money?

– And other discussions.

Mohamed Mansour Technical Interview (Facebook Friend Exporter…) 02/03

– “Facebook Friend Exporter“, Mohamed talks about the development history and the road blocks Facebook put up.

– “Extended Share for Google Plus” (a tool that share things to Facebook, Twitter, etc)

– “Hangout Auto Retry Try Again

– And other discussions.

Mohamed Mansour Technical Interview (Google+ Hangout, My Hangouts for G+…) 03/03

– Technical discussion about Google+ Hangout. Video data usage, etc.

– Talk about the useful extension, “My Hangouts for Google Plus

– Mohamed’s path to become a committer of Chromium (Google Chrome‘s open source project).

– Lines of code Mohamed authored for project Chromium. Here are some stats of Mohamed’s Chromium (Google Chrome) contribution and Chromium Tools (Google Chrome) contribution.

– And other discussions.


Google+ Hangout Technical Insights and Ideas to Reshape Newsrooms

Friday, 29 July, 2011

Background

KOMU G-Plus Hangouts - pix 00a - Sarah Hill and Nina Moini

It has been my pleasure to attend a number of KOMU anchor Sarah Hill‘s interesting Google+ newsroom Hangouts since July 19, 2011. In this article, I will try to share some of my technical observations and insights. (note: For my general and business insights, you can read my previous article.)

Using G+ Hangout as a control room of 9 Electronic News Gathering (ENG) team

Setup:

1) News anchor running G+ Hangout connecting to maximum of nine Electronic News Gathering (ENG) teams in the field.

2) Each of the nine reporters will have a notebook computer connecting to the internet via a 3G/4G data stick. And each reporter has a handheld SD/HD camera hooking up to the notebook as its camera. (note: SD or HD probably doesn’t matter here because the data will be compressed and you are transporting over 3G/4G network anyway.) (Aug 11 update: Currently, G+ Hangout doesn’t support external video cameras. I have reflect this request to G+ engineers.)

3) Any “newsroom” can probably set this up easily.

In fact, any team of volunteer citizen journalists may even be able create such a reporting setup with less trouble. All it takes is each individual citizen journalist to have a notebook computer, a fast 3G/4G data stick, and a camera. And these citizen journalists can work together depending on needs and events, etc.

4) Feed the G+ Hangout video stream out to the wider world using tools like Livestream for mass distribution.

5) Use cases: Will be quite cool to report on elections, street festivals, concerts, and live events.

Non-ideal use cases: Any major crisis, earthquakes, etc where the mobile 3G/4G networks are expected be extremely congested and overloaded. In these rare cases, old school dedicated microwave or satellite transmission will likely provide more stable transmission than overloaded mobile data networks.

KOMU Sarah Hill G-Plus Hangouts - pix 07 - Norway https link

Fixing the insecurity of G+ Hangout

At the moment, Google+ Hangouts is known to be insecure, in the sense that each hangout participant has the clear text “https://talkgadget.google.com/hangouts/…” link (see the top of the above photo) and can copy and then share with Read the rest of this entry »


KOMU Sarah Hill Google+ Hangouts – General insights

Friday, 29 July, 2011

KOMU Sarah Hill G-Plus Hangouts - pix 00 - Sarah

Background

It has been my pleasure to attend a number of KOMU anchor Sarah Hill‘s interesting Google+ newsroom Hangouts since July 19, 2011. In this detailed article, I will try to share some of my general experiences, observations, and insights. To help this article flow better and less bogged down by highly technical ideas/solutions, I am gathering my technical-orientated observations and suggestions in a separate article.

Since Google+ (and its Hangouts) is a new tool that is only one month old, these notes only reflect my initial thoughts/impressions. I expect my views will be changed later when I learn more. I’ve tried to reference ideas I read elsewhere as best as I can by providing crediting them and provide links to them.

Location, what Location? – Think Global, Act Local

KOMU Sarah Hill G-Plus Hangouts - pix 01 - Sarah, Location

I first heard of KOMU and Sarah likely from “5 Ways Journalists Are Using Google+” (July 17th, 2011 Mashable article). On the internet, the location really doesn’t matter. I live in Calgary, Canada and I participated in KOMU-TV newsroom Hangouts in Columbia, MO. And through Sarah, I’ve got to know and Hangout with Angie Bailey, KOMU AnchorStephen Clark (Detroit, WXYZ TV), Amy Wood, (South Carolina, WSPA TV), and KOMU Interactive Director Jen Reeves. Where they are “physically located” have no impact on our interactions at all.

By attending these newsrooms Hangouts, I have now hungout with people from around the world. People who joined from different parts of US, Canada, and Europe. So far, no Asian countries because of time zone differences, I suppose.

Will evening news stay as “appointment television”?

KOMU Sarah Hill G-Plus Hangouts - pix 02 - appointment TV

I heard the use of “appointment television” from one of the television executives attending Banff World TV Festival a few years ago. Here is an useful definition,

“appointment television: the decision of tv viewers to schedule their time so that they watch a specific program at a specific time

With the advent of around the clock news websites (often with videos) updates from major national and international news outlets (BBC, CNN, Guardian, etc), plus the local newspapers getting into the same game (with video), the evening news, especially for the younger people, are no longerappointment television“.

The viewers won’t want to be locked into watching news at a fixed time, from one news source when they can and are getting news from many different reliable sources online, whenever they want.

I believe the “commodification of news” is close to done. Many news programs are working hard to differentiate their news programs by supplementing “regular” news that they must report (even most people have heard/read elsewhere) by adding special unique segments, panel discussions, etc. For example, in Canada, CBC National “At Issue” panel (a political panel of 2-3) or “Rex Murphy” segment (like 60 Minutes’ Andy Rooney).

I should emphasize, I write this section with an optimistic mindset as I don’t believe not “appointment television” is entirely bad. I believe there are new ways to make money in this new time. Stories may need to be packaged differently. Ads need to be sold differently. In the next section, I will talk about two ways to make money.

How to make money? – Revenue Generation

One thing I enjoy a lot from Sarah‘s Hangouts is the brain storming sessions. When the environment is open and the participants are engaging, the sessions can be very illuminating and productive.

Some people suggested the following ways to generate revenue (make money) online, Read the rest of this entry »


Happy One Month Birthday G+ aka Google+ !!!

Thursday, 28 July, 2011

Google+ logo

Happy One Month Birthday my dear little G+ (Google+)!

Here is a sexy Happy Birthday song for you! :)

My dear G+ (aka Google+),

I hope you will forgive me in not liking you when you were only 2 days old! Silly old me thought you were just like your time wasting siblings Google Wave and Buzz. But, at one month, you turned out cuter than I thought initially and I am willing to wait a little before declaring you “the best thing since slice bread”, “you suck” or “somewhere in betwen”! :)

(note: After my personal greetings, you will see some excerpts of Birthday Wishes and Birthday Minuses from around the web.)

I’ve read one of your many parents Andy Hertzfeld‘s G+ contribution and even his clarification. And will soon find some time to watch your beautiful birthing video ala Steven Levy‘s “Inside Google+ — How the Search Giant Plans to Go Social“.

You see, I have also started calling you my Lovemark which is much cooler than the boring old school brand. Being called a Lovemark comes with great responsibility. I know you are too young to remember the 1985 Coca-Cola‘s (an indisputable Lovemark) crazy New Coke debacle but it is one lesson in brand management that you have to learn in pre-school. We, the millions of users, are now in control and will be actively shaping your destinyYOU better listen to our complains and our wishes very carefully.

Please tell your parents (i.e. Goolge), if they mess you up or worst “cancel” you, then their credibility in providing “tools” in general, will be damaged seriously, possibly beyond repair. Three strikes in rapid succession, why should anyone trust Google any more? I may be naive, but I am not that stupid!

Anyway, on your one month birthday, I hope to publish two articles to share my general & technical insights of G+ Hangouts with KOMU anchor Sarah Hill and others.

My dear G+, you are only one month old, I am willing to give you time to grow, learn and to be helpful to people. I can’t help but want to use this particular Marshall McLuhan quote when I think of you today.

We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” – Marshall McLuhan

With Love and here is a sexy Happy Birthday,

Kempton (G+)

*******

P.S. Interesting to include this Mashable article, “Google+ Hangouts: 4 Creative Ways People Are Using Group Video Chat

*******

Again, allow me to use two of my favourite forecast-related quotes by Edgar R. Fiedler from my quotes I love collection,

The herd instinct among forecasters makes sheep look like independent thinkers.” and;

If you have to forecast, forecast often.

Here are some excerpts of Birthday Wishes and Birthday Minuses from around the web.

TechCrunch, “Sophomore Slump? One Month In, Google+ Sees A Traffic Minus

“While it’s totally circumstantial, my own observations and usage seem to support this data as well. Read the rest of this entry »


Google+ Impressions, Predictions, and Forecasts

Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

Google+ logo

Initial Google+ Impressions

On June 30, 2011, only 2 days after the launch of Google+, my friend Garry and I were chatting about his 3D TV (I mentioned I would wait for glasses-free 3D TVs after chatting with Tom, NFB Chair). I answered yes when Garry asked me if I had heard of Google+. I told him I was wasn’t that excited about Google+ after wasting my time and was disappointed by Google Wave and Buzz. At the same time, I wasn’t totally dismissive and asked my friend to play with Google+ some more and tell me how he thinks about the tool.

Eight days later on July 8th, after reading some more positive press and my friend’s Eva’s positive experiences with it, I turned around and ask Garry and Eva for an Google+ invite. And I officially joined on July 9th cautiously. You see, Buzz gave me such a bad taste, that I told it to buzz off!

Current Google+ Impressions

I have now been using Google+ about over two weeks. I can now say I’ve been really impressed with what I see and what it can do for me as a **tool**. To me, Google+ is a powerful tool to learn and to use to achieve things. (more on the “things” in future postings)

Sure, there are still many different problems or enhancements to be made but it is a tool that I have confidently included in my toolbox.

As an aside, I never quite see Facebook as a “tool” to me, not like Google+ is a tool to me.

Predictions & Forecasts

There are people/technologists/journalists who can’t help themselves but give lots of Google+ predictions or forecasts. I can’t and won’t give you predictions or forecasts. If you can or are willing to predict & forecast how a one month old baby will grow up to be like a few years down the road, you are much “smarter” and “braver” than I am.

To end this article, let me use two of my favourite forecast-related quotes by Edgar R. Fiedler from my quotes I love collection,

The herd instinct among forecasters makes sheep look like independent thinkers.” and;

If you have to forecast, forecast often.


How Google “Randomly” Pick Thumbnails for your YouTube Videos

Sunday, 17 July, 2011

Have you wondered about how Google pick thumbnails for YouTube videos you uploaded? Well, I have. it seems like pretty random and people online had different theories posted. So I spent a few minutes to finally tracked down some current info. Have a read of Google talking about “Smart Thumbnails on YouTube” to understand how Google’s algorithm seems to randomly picked thumbnails for your YouTube videos, but it actually tries to do it smartly to avoid problems its previous method lead to.

Also check out Google’s blog entries tagged with YouTube and Video.


Is Apple iAd another strategic blunder?

Thursday, 7 July, 2011

Along with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X mess, I wonder if iAd is another strategic blunder from the Apple’s C-Suite. Here is a brief excerpt from Bloomberg “Apple’s IAd Mobile Business Is Said to Trim Prices as Advertisers Defect” (emphasis added),

“Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iAd mobile-advertising business has cut rates by as much as 70 percent as some marquee clients are using rival services, two people with knowledge of the matter said, signaling the company is struggling to parlay its technology leadership into success in the ad industry.

When Apple rolled out iAd a year ago, companies such as Citigroup Inc. (C) and J.C. Penney Co. were being charged $1 million or more to run ad campaigns. Today those brands aren’t using iAd, and Apple is offering packages for as little as $300,000, said the people, who asked not to be named because the rates are private.

Even with lower prices, some advertising agencies are balking at iAd’s cost, especially because the promotions only reach Apple users. They’re turning instead to Google Inc. (GOOG)’s AdMob, Millennial Media and Greystripe, which serve a range of devices. That means Apple risks losing ground in a market that will generate $2.5 billion by 2014, according to EMarketer Inc.

“Apple’s closed ecosystem may have been interesting in the short run for advertisers, but in the long run they priced themselves out,” said Thom Kennon, senior vice president of strategy for the Young & Rubicam ad agency in New York.”


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