How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago Today

It’s really been ten years? I’m not sure how I’d manage my inbox without Gmail’s tools.

Time’s Harry McCracken wrote about the service’s origins for its 10th Anniversary in “How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago.”

iPhone Coming to Verizon on June 26?

A few weeks ago, I stopped by my local Verizon Wireless store. In the course of conversation, the subject of the iPhone inevitably came up. Rather than the standard “I don’t know” response, the gentleman helping me gave a somewhat cryptic but clear response: “Someone, somewhere, is making an announcement on June 26.” Playing along (albeit a bit taken aback by his forthrightness), I mused that the person making this announcement might be wearing a turtleneck and tight jeans while standing on a starkly-black stage. The Verizon employee nodded affirmatively.

While I understand that rumors appear and disappear regularly on this subject, never before has an employee of Verizon Wireless provided such direct responses when I’ve brought up the iPhone’s availability on the carrier’s network. Some may respond with skepticism founded on doubts that store employees not at a managerial level would have such knowledge, but if the announcement does come on June 26, I can only suspect that Verizon’s preparations for the melee that will ensue include informing its entire staff of its plan for handling the throngs that will turn out for the device. The staff alone needed to process all of those individuals looking to transfer their service from AT&T will likely require a carefully coordinated effort on Verizon’s part.

Come the end of June, I can only hope that this rumor is confirmed as my upgrade eligibility date follows soon thereafter.

Foursquare’s Fail Whale

Foursquare, the location-based service where users check in and earn badges1, is becoming a victim of its own success. Recently surpassing one million checkins per week, the service has experienced very short, intermittent interruptions.

Twice in the last two weeks, I’ve encountered Foursquare’s version of Twitter’s now-infamous “Fail Whale.” In Foursquare’s case, the outage notice depicts a a mayor2 adorned with a cracked crown accompanied by the message, “Looks like we’ve got some problems on our end. We’re on it though – stay tuned!”

Granted, a short outage once a week is nothing to complain about, but it further confirms the service’s growing popularity.

Foursquare: Looks like we've got some problems on our end. We're on it though - stay tuned!

  1. Badges are awarded based on various accomplishments, such as checking in at 50 different venues or check in to one location with 50 or more people.
  2. Any Foursquare user who checks in to one location the most number of times in a two-month period is labeled the mayor of that location.

Sirius|XM Premium Online Service Comes to BlackBerry

This past Thursday, Sirius|XM released its Premium Online streaming application for the BlackBerry Curve (8500 & 8900), Bold (9000 & 9700), Storm, Storm2 and Tour. As a longtime subscriber to Sirius (and, in the interest of full disclosure, a shareholder), I must admit I got overly excited about the announcement. My excitement waned, however, when I realized that a separate subscription is needed after the seven-day free trial.

Continue reading Sirius|XM Premium Online Service Comes to BlackBerry

No CAPTCHAs for Intense Debate

Since switching this site to the Intense Debate (ID) commenting system, one function I missed was the ability to integrate reCAPTCHA1 into my comment forms. While I understand some are not fans of the system that adds nearly inscrutable text to a form that then must be typed in to the accompanying box to continue, the mechanism does significantly reduce the volume of comment spam.

reCAPTCHA
reCAPTCHA challenge - the obscured text must be entered into the box below it before a form is submitted

Continue reading No CAPTCHAs for Intense Debate

  1. reCAPTCHA is one form of a challenge system, known as CAPTCHA or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, developed at Carnegie Mellon University. More information is available on Wikipedia.

Plugins Move to ethitter.com/plugins

To better showcase my web development work, I’ve relocated the pages related to my WordPress plugins to http://www.ethitter.com/plugins/. Any future announcements concerning plugin updates and new offerings will be hosted at ethitter.com.

As part of the move, my plugin development feed is now http://feeds.ldmh.us/ETHPluginDev. FeedBurner does not automatically redirect renamed feeds, so please update your reader accordingly. Anyone subscribed by email, however, should continue to receive updates.

Twitter’s Creative Error Messages

The now-infamous Fail Whale isn’t Twitter’s only creative way of responding to problems with its service. As I discovered last week while creating a Twitter list of everyone involved with WordCamp Boston, the folks behind the service have some other, equally creative, graphics to inform users that something has gone wrong.

Twitter: "Something is technically wrong. Thanks for noticing—we're going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon."
Twitter's error indicating something has substantially gone awry.

WordCamp Boston 2010

For the past few months, I’ve helped organize the inaugural WordCamp Boston, happening this weekend in Cambridge. For the uninitiated, WordCamps are community-organized events for users of the WordPress platform of all experience levels (WordPress just so happens to power this site).

Having never organized a conference before, the experience has been enlightening, to say the least. Luckily for our attendees, my fellow organizers have much more experience with these types of things, ensuring this weekend’s event will be one of the coolest, most unique WordCamps thus far.

If you can’t make it or couldn’t get a ticket, be sure to keep an eye on wordcampboston.com throughout the day Saturday for a glimpse into what the camp holds. In the weeks following the event, videos of the sessions will be available online, likely at WordPress.tv.

Twitter Copyright Missed The Ball Drop

Browsing Twitter today, I noticed that the copyright notice in the footer still displays the year as 2009.

It’s not a big deal, but it may show that the folks running the site are busy with more important things, like preventing updates regarding the earthquake in Haiti from overloading its servers.

On the other hand, why not automatically render the year and present the copyright notice as © Twitter 2006 – XXXX?

Twitter footer showing 2009 copyright

Google Voice Invite Contest Redux

In the spirit of having new toys to play with over the weekend, I’m giving away three (3) Google Voice invites.

And because Google Wave nominations are apparently as popular as fruitcake, each winner of a Google Voice invite will receive be nominated for Google Wave. What can I say, I’m feeling generous.

To participate, simply leave a comment on this post describing how you will benefit from Google Voice. I will select three entrants who provide particularly compelling responses.

Google VoiceComments must be posted by 8:30pm EST (20:30 EST) today. I will announce the winners and send along the invitations shortly thereafter.

When commenting, be aware that all comments are moderated, so your entry will not appear immediately.

BONUS: If you would like to be separately considered for a Google Wave nomination, check out my Google Wave Invite Contest Redux.