Google Maps adds arterial traffic monitoring

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Traffic monitoring has been available on Google Maps for some time, but has been limited to highways and major roads. According to the Google LatLong blog, traffic tracking support is now available for smaller surface roads in select cities. The data is gathered through mobile phones running My Location. Anybody wishing to help out can sign up their phone and opt into My Location to participate in the anonymous data collection. Now you won’t have to gamble on whether or not your back road alternative route is congested when there’s construction on the freeway. Dash tried something similar with their two-way traffic reporting, but we’re guessing that Google’s version will have even better performance thanks to a rapidly increasing install base.

Android Developer Challenge 2 open for submissions

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Google has opened up a new Android Developer Challenge for submissions. About $2,000,000 in prize money is available, with $250,000 going to the best overall app. Submissions are due by August 31, leaving about a week to get apps in for judging. Time is short, but the prizes are big. Hopefully we’ll see some exciting things come from the contestants now that the community has grown since the previous ADC in 2008.

[via Phandroid]

Radish – eco friendly google calendar

[Aaron] a google employee came up with an idea that would be good for the environment, as well as fun. The Radish is a solar powered display, updated from a google calendar, with extremely low power consumption. They are building this to be an indicator of the conference room schedule. When we first read this, we wondered just how much greener it could possibly be than printing a few sheets of paper. Then we read that they were going through six reams per day. wow. The Radish gets its power through a solar panel, and preserves it through some creative power saving modes and the fact that it has an LCD that only requires power to update. Would this be a good place for some E paper? Data is transferred using IEEE 802.15.4, which is slow, but also more efficient in terms of power than normal WiFi. The system is so efficient, it can run for 3-4 days in low light conditions after a charge . Another cool fact is that [Aaron] got to design and build this on company time. Google allows people to spend 20% of their time on innovative new projects of their choice.

correction: the LCD goes into an extremely low power “sleep mode” when not being updated, and retains the last image loaded.

Googles servers revealed

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We’ve often wondered what kind of hardware the giant of the internet, Google, used to handle it’s data. They’ve recently revealed what their main workhorses are. It’s a custom motherboard made by Gigabyte with two processors, and eight RAM slots. The main point of interest on these is the fact that each server and piece of network equipment has it’s own battery backup. This may add a little money in the initial cost of the unit, but apparently it is a much more efficient way of handling power. Be sure to click over to the site and check out the shipping container setup that they use. Each container has 1,160 servers. They aren’t the only ones using this method. Microsoft has adopted it for their newer facilities and Sun has done some extensive testing on how these portable facilities handle earthquakes. You can see the quake test after the break.

[Read more...]

Android app scans barcodes, downloads torrents

AndroidAndMe is running a bounty program for Android applications. Users can request a specific application and pledge money to be awarded to the developer who delivers the functional app. [Alec Holmes] just fulfilled the first request by creating Torrent Droid. You can use the app to scan media barcodes and then download the related torrent. It uses the phone’s camera to capture the product’s UPC barcode (similar to Compare Everywhere‘s price lookup) and then searches major torrent sites like The Pirate Bay to find a copy that can be downloaded. After getting the .torrent file, the app can submit it to uTorrent‘s web interface for remote downloading. The app will be released later this month and you can see a screenshot tour of it on Alec’s blog. It’s doubtful that an application like this would ever clear Apple’s App Store approval process.

[via TorrentFreak]

Distributed computing in JavaScript

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We’ve heard about the idea of using browsers as distributed computing nodes for a couple years now. It’s only recently, with the race towards faster JavaScript engines in browsers like Chrome that this idea seems useful. [Antimatter15] did a proof of concept JavaScript implementation for reversing hashes. Plura Processing uses a Java applet to do distributed processing. Today, [Ilya Grigorik] posted an example using MapReduce in JavaScript. Google’s MapReduce is designed to support large dataset processing across computing clusters. It’s well suited for situations where computing nodes could go offline randomly (i.e. a browser navigates away from your site). He included a JavaScript snippet and a job server in Ruby. It will be interesting to see if someone comes up with a good use for this; you still need to convince people to keep your page open in the browser though. We’re just saying: try to act surprised when you realize Hack a Day is inexplicably making your processor spike…

[via Slashdot]

WiFi and Bluetooth tethering on Android

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Many G1/ADP1 owners have been using the app Tetherbot to get internet access on their laptop via USB to the phone’s data connection. The app relied on the Android Debug Bridge to forward ports. It worked, but people wanted a solution better than a SOCKS proxy. The community figured out a way to create a properly NAT’d connection using iptables and then [moussam] rolled them up into easy to use applications. There’s one for setting up a PAN device on Bluetooth and another for adhoc WiFi networking. It requires you to have root on your phone, but hopefully you’ve achieved that and are already running the latest community firmware.

[photo: tnkgrl]