22 November 2014

Who Tweeted It First on Twitter?



Twitter has recently opened up their archives making it possible for anyone to search the entire Twitter database ever since the first tweet was published in 2006. This time-sorted archive of billions to tweets will be extremely helpful for research and more so when you are trying to find out who broke the news first on Twitter or who the original source of a quote is.


First Tweets


To give you an example, if you want to know who said something first on Twitter, say the iPhone, you can head to Twitter’s advanced search, choose a range of dates and dig through the old tweets. If a match is found, you further narrow down the date range and repeat until you find the oldest matching tweet.


There’s a little problem though.


It takes lot of trial-and-error to find the first tweet for any topic. You have to first guess a range of dates when that tweet was probably sent and keep narrowing down that range. The Twitter API does let you search tweets within a date range but, as you have noticed in the Twitter archiver, the API doesn’t return tweets older than a few weeks and thus you’ve to perform searches for old tweets manually.


Who Said It First is my new web-app that seeks to solve this very problem. It helps you find old tweets for any topic automatically. Here are some examples.


Internally, the web app performs binary search against the archives. It takes your search query and executes Twitter’s advanced search for the entire range of dates. It then shrinks the range by half and discards the other half. The process continues till that elusive tweet is discovered. This also explains why the app is slow as it has to perform a couple of JSON requests before getting the result.


[*] Do note that the app only works on the desktop at this time.


The story, Who Tweeted It First on Twitter? , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 22/11/2014 under Twitter, Internet.

Using YouTube Music Key



Thanks to my Google Play Music All Access subscription, I've been able to try YouTube Music Key, the new feature that transforms YouTube into the music streaming service with the largest collection of music videos.



If you use All Access and you have the latest version of the Play Music app for Android, you should see this message in Play Music:






Open the YouTube app and the most obvious new feature is the download button that lets you save almost any music video.






The "add video to Offline" dialog lets you pick the video quality: normal (360p), HD (720p). You can click "remember my settings" to no longer see this dialog.









The Offline section shows all your offline videos and playlists.






You can download entire playlists. The music tab from the "what to watch" section features a lot of music playlists, including Songza playlists.









The "background & offline" section from the settings lets you customize background listening, video quality, offline storage and lets you disable downloading videos when you're not using Wi-Fi.







By default, YouTube continues to play music videos in the background, but you can disable this feature or only enable it when using headphones or external speakers.







21 November 2014

New UI in Google Maps for Mobile Browsers



The new interface from the Google Maps mobile apps is now also available in the mobile browser. Just go to maps.google.com in your favorite mobile browser for Android and iOS and you should see an interface that closely resembles the UI from the native mobile apps.






"Bold colors and textures are in — and Google Maps is on trend, with a slick new style to make traveling with Maps even easier. Over the next few days, when you open up Google Maps on your Android or iPhone, you'll be greeted by bright colors and a fresh new design. This new look is all about creating surfaces and shadows that echo the real world; with Google Maps' new material feel, layers and buttons come to life so you know just where to touch to get directions, recommendations and imagery," explained Google a few weeks ago, when the new versions of the mobile apps were launched.









The mobile web app even has a "hamburger" menu that lets you enable layers like traffic, transit, bicycling and satellite.





Google, No Longer the Default Search Engine in Firefox



"Choosing Firefox isn't just choosing a browser. It's a vote for personal freedom online." This is one of the messages from Firefox's start page. Here's another one: "Firefox is celebrating 10 years! Help us keep the passion for a free and open Internet burning forever bright."






10 years ago, Firefox was the main alternative to Internet Explorer, which was the dominant browser at that time. "Before July 2004, according to WebSideStory, Internet Explorer was used by about 95% of web surfers. That figure had remained static for years," reported BBC.



Ever since its launch, Google was the main source of revenue for Mozilla, thanks to a lucrative partnership that made Google the default search engine in Firefox. Now Mozilla partnered with Yahoo, which will be the default search engine in the US for the next 5 years.



"Google has been the Firefox global search default since 2004. Our agreement came up for renewal this year, and we took this as an opportunity to review our competitive strategy and explore our options. Today we are announcing a change to our strategy for Firefox search partnerships. We are ending our practice of having a single global default search provider. We are adopting a more local and flexible approach to increase choice and innovation on the Web, with new and expanded search partnerships by country," informs Mozilla. "Starting in December, Firefox users will be introduced to a new enhanced Yahoo Search experience that features a clean, modern interface that brings the best of the Web front and center. Under this partnership, Yahoo will also support Do Not Track (DNT) in Firefox."



Firefox will use different default search engines, depending on the country: Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China. Google will continue to be one of the preinstalled search engines and the Safe Browsing and Geolocation features will still use Google.



Why switch to a different search provider? Firefox's main competitor is no longer Internet Explorer, it's now Chrome. Mozilla wants to show how it differs from Google: it'a a non-profit organization, it focuses more on privacy and it has a different mission. "This is why our independence matters. Being non-profit lets us make different choices. Choices that keep the Web open, everywhere and independent. We think today is a big step in that direction," says Chris Beard, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.

Google Advanced Search Brings Back the Black Bar



I checked Google's advanced search page and noticed something strange: after clicking the "advanced search" button at the bottom of the page, Google sent me to a search results page that included the old black bar navigation menu.



One of the culprits is the "as_qdr" parameter that somehow triggers the old interface. This URL sends you to the old Google interface: http://ift.tt/1x5QAAq. You can bookmark it if you miss the black bar.






Another way to bring back the black bar is to use the "noj" parameter like this: http://ift.tt/1x5QxVi.





20 November 2014

Embed Street View and Photosphere Images



You can now embed Street View imagery and photospheres in the new Google Maps. Find the Google Maps imagery you want to embed, click the gear button at the bottom of the page, pick "share and embed image" and copy the code generated by Google. Google lets you change the size of the embedded image and preview it.









Here's an example from Googleplex:







Google also added support for Street View and photospheres to the Google Maps Embed API. "These embeds use the new imagery viewer technology that powers Street View in the new Google Maps. Embedding a Street View or Photo Sphere works similarly to the Street View Service in Google Maps JavaScript API v3 - specify a lat/lng or panorama ID to pick your location, plus heading and pitch to determine direction of the scene and angle of the camera," informs Google.



{ via +Google Maps }

19 November 2014

Chrome Web Store Adds Support Tab



Chrome Web Store has a slightly different interface for apps and extensions. The overview and details tabs have been merged and there's a new support tab that lets you share your feedback without writing a review. You can ask questions, send suggestions and report bugs. The support feature already existed, but it didn't have its own tab.









If the support feature is not enabled, you'll see this message: "If you are experiencing any problems with this extension or have questions or suggestions for the developer, please check out the developer's support site."






OMG Chrome found some other changes. "The horizontal strip of ‘Related Apps‘ and ‘More from this developer‘ no longer appear beneath listings. In the Reviews section the entry form has been shunted from left of the page to the right."



{ Thanks, Stefan. }

New Footer in Mobile Google Search



Google's mobile search results pages have a new footer. Pagination elements are now centered and there's a Google logo at the bottom of the page.






Here's how it looked before:






When I first noticed the big logo at the bottom of the page, I assumed it was a bug. The logo doesn't link to the homepage and that's strange. What do you think: is it a bug or a feature?



{ Thanks, Sterling. }

Google Highlights Mobile-Friendly Results



Google announced that it will roll out the new mobile-friendly label in the coming weeks, but I've already noticed the new feature. The label is placed somewhere between the search result URL and the snippet.






Search results from the first pages of results are usually optimized for mobile devices, but there are also pages better suited for desktop. After the first 2-3 pages of results, you'll find more and more results that don't have the mobile-friendly label.






Google's footer links to a page that offers more information about mobile-friendly pages. "This message shows under search results when Google thinks the site works well on a phone (mobile-friendly). The site works well because it doesn't make you zoom to see parts of the page, or it doesn't use features like Flash that you don't usually have on your device," informs Google.





How to Tell if Google Considers your Website as Mobile Friendly



google mobile search


You can no longer afford to not have a mobile-friendly website that isn’t readable or usable on a mobile phone. That’s because Google is now clearly marking websites (screenshot) in mobile search results that it considers mobile friendly and if that tag isn’t getting displayed around your content, your website may see a drop in mobile traffic.


Responsive design is definitely the way to go but will that be enough. How do you confirm if your web pages are considered mobile friendly by Google? There are quite a few options.


One, you can do a site:domain.com search in Google on any mobile phone to check if that tag is displayed around the most popular web pages of your website. This is the quickest way to check mobile-friendliness of multiple pages without using any of the tools.


Google also offers an online tool to help you understand if it considers your website as mobile friendly. You’ll have to run it against all the pages of your site.


Sometimes a website may be responsive and readable on a mobile device but it may not be usable. For instance, the links may have been placed too close to each other making it difficult to tap (like on this page) or the videos may have been embedded using Flash that doesn’t play on mobile devices. These factors may also prevent Google from marking your website as mobile friendly.


You can use your Google webmaster account to know if your site suffers from any of these usability issues. Open Webmaster Tools, choose Search Traffic and select Mobile Usability. Here you’ll see all the pages on your site that are indexed by Google and need your attention.


Alternatively, you can use the PageSpeed tool to detect usability issues as well without logging into Webmaster Central. Put the URL in the input box and check the User Experience report under Mobile. If you see anything in Red, it needs to be fixed. You can also explore other online tools to test your website on a much wider range of mobile phones.


mobile usability




The story, How to Tell if Google Considers your Website as Mobile Friendly , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/11/2014 under SEO, Web Design, Internet.

Google Maps Smart Search



One of the coolest Google Maps features is the integration with Google's Knowledge Graph. Besides providing useful information about different places, Knowledge Graph makes the search feature smarter.



You can search for [Canada capital], [Tom Cruise birthplace], [Amazon river where does it start], [largest city in India] and many other queries that return a location in Google Search.









It's much easier than using Google Search to find a place and then switching to Google Maps and searching for it.

Get Daily Email Reports of your Google Drive Activity



The Google Drive website includes an Activity Stream to help you monitor changes to the various files and folders contained in your Drive. Whether you upload a file, move a file from one folder to another or change the sharing permissions, your actions will get logged. This is especially useful for users who have shared files in their Drive that can be edited by external users.


Google Drive Activity


The Activity Stream is however not available inside mobile apps and you’d have to log into the Google Drive website website daily to see what files and folders have changed recently.


Know What’s Changed in your Google Drive


There’s however a simple workaround. Instead of checking the activity stream manually, you can configure a Google Sheet and it’ll send you a daily email report (screenshot) of all the files in your Drive that have been created or modified in the past 24 hours. And it just takes 30 seconds to set up the monitoring.



  1. Click here to make a copy of the Drive Monitor in your Google Drive.

  2. Put your email address in the cell E1 highlighted in Yellow. This is where the daily email reports will arrive.

  3. From the file menu, choose Spreadsheet settings and choose your default Time zone. The modification time in the report will use this time zone.

  4. Go to the Google Drive Report menu in the sheet (see screenshot below) and choose Authorize. Allow the script access to your Drive – it needs to do this to know what has changed.

  5. Go to the Report menu again and choose Schedule reports. The script is now running in the background and it will email you the Drive report every 24 hours. You’ll get the first report immediately.


Related: Who can see my Google Drive files?


That’s it. Close the Google Sheet and it will monitor the file changes in the background, running once every 24 hours. If you would like to stop the daily email notifications, open the same sheet and choose Uninstall from the menu. Internally, a little Google Script is doing all the magic!


Google Drive Monitor




The story, Get Daily Email Reports of your Google Drive Activity , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/11/2014 under Google Drive, Internet.

Weather in Google Maps



Google Maps used to have a cool weather layer that displayed temperatures and weather conditions around the globe. This feature is no longer available, but Google Maps now shows weather information and local time when searching for cities, just like in Google's Knowledge Graph cards. For example: London, Mountain View.









To switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit degrees, click the icon that illustrates weather condition and click °C or °F in the weather card from Google Search. You can always click the icon to find temperatures, wind and rainfall forecasts for the next 7 days.