Cool Tech Reviews

Just Cool Tech

June 27, 2008

Google releases Media Server


Google Media ServerYesterday, Google released the Google Media Server:

In the old days, we used to watch a simple device called a television. Nowadays, all the stuff worth watching and listening to tends to be stored on or accessed through a computer. To help remedy this, we are pleased to release the Google Media Server.

Google Media Server is a Windows application that aims to bridge the gap between Google and your TV. It uses Google Desktop technology such as Desktop gadgets for the administration tool and Google Desktop Search to locate media files. All you need is a PC running Google Desktop and a UPnP-enabled device (e.g. a PlayStation 3).

And then you can play all your PC media files (videos, music, and photos) on your TV as well as the unique features of displaying Picasa Web Albums and playing YouTube videos through your TV.

If you are having a hard time breaking the code, UPnP is the acronym for Universal Plug and Play and Google Media Server running on your PC is technically a UPnP AV MediaServer which can send audio-visual data to "UPnP media render hardware" (the UPnP-enabled device above) which also includes the Xbox 360, HP MediaSmart LCD televisions and various networked media players.

If you have one of the right gadgets you probably already know it, but this all seems rather needlessly complex:

Imagine a world where your computer, cellphone, games console, storage devices, media streamers and other hardware all play nicely together, so that, for example, music, photos and video can reach the television or Hi-Fi no matter where in the home it originates.

That world is one which the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), an industry consortium backed by big name consumer electronics, computer and mobile device manufacturers such as HP, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung, is aiming to create through support for the UPnP (Universal Plug ‘n’ Play) AV standard. For end consumers this means that any ‘DLNA certified’ device should, in theory, be able to share or access media on the same home network — a message that DLNA members have largely failed to communicate, which is especially sad considering that many people already own a number of compliant devices …

Someday, I suppose it will all work, but unless you have a Xbox 360 or a PS3 you’ll have to do your homework to get it all working.


Posted at 6:00 pm. Filed under Companies, Google, Internet, LCD TV, Music downloads, PS3, Television, UPnP, Video Downloads, Video Games, Xbox 360

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November 21, 2006

Google Checkout offers Cyber Monday rebates


Ed Oswald at BetaNews:

With the holiday shopping season as a backdrop, Google is aiming to increase the visibility of its Google Checkout service by offering promotions to consumers who use it. Beginning on “Cyber Monday,” November 27, discounts would be provided by participating merchants.

Reusable discounts of $10 off purchases of $30 or more, or $20 off purchases of $50 or more would be provided. The rebates would be instant, and no registration would be required, Google said.

Merchants who accept Google Checkout include Buy.com, Starbucks Store, The Sports Authority, Ace Hardware, and Timberland, among others. The complete list of promotions and merchants will be listed on a special page to premiere at the Checkout site on Cyber Monday.

The Google Checkout site is here.


Posted at 11:41 pm. Filed under Bargains, Companies, Cyber Monday, Google

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October 3, 2006

Google offers website Gadgets


Google has always had a number of Gadgets available to spiff up your Google HomePage or Desktop, but they are now making them available to website owners to dress up their pages:

Google Gadgets are miniature-sized objects that offer cool and dynamic content that can be placed on any page on the web. A directory of “Google Gadgets for your webpage” is now available for webpage owners everywhere to browse and select gadgets for their own pages, at http://www.google.com/ig/directory?synd=open.

“Now anyone can have a great-looking website with automatically updating content,” said Adam Sah, Google Gadgets Architect. “By making Google Gadgets available for you to add to your webpage, we’re working to connect developers with enthusiastic consumers and to make information universally accessible and useful to the individual user.”

With almost no effort and at no cost, webpage owners can add complex, dynamically updating content to their own websites using Google Gadgets. Because there is such an enormous variety of Google Gadgets to choose from, webmasters also have a great deal of freedom to select only the gadgets that will best complement their own page. There are games, news clips, weather reports, maps, and more.

There are over 1200 of the Gadgets (most provided by 3rd parties) and I suspect the biggest problem is figuring out which ones to choose.  Below are a few that amused me, but I do have to note that loading speed will vary since they are hosted on the 3rd party websites. You may have to refresh the page a couple of times to see all three Gadgets that I have embedded. Also, they seemed to interact oddly with my stylesheet and I wasn’t able to control the heights of the windows as you can see. (Update: that problem now seems to be fixed.)


Posted at 9:23 pm. Filed under Companies, Google, Internet, Software, Web Applications, Web Design, Web site, Web software, Widgets

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