From Pigeon Rank to GMail Paper, you gotta love Google

Open GMail today and you’ll see a different front page. Google regularly posts updates to the GMail service, including the current storage space offered, on the front page. Today, the front page introduces what is purported to be a new product: GMail Paper.

GMail Paper, according to their April Fool’s joke page, is a free service that gives you a physical copy of your messages, delivered to your doorstep.

gmail paper GMAIL PAPER. The page is the latest of Google’s great April fool’s jokes. Click to view very large version.

The site says “the cost of postage is offset with the help of relevant, targeted, unobtrusive advertisements, which will appear on the back of your Gmail Paper prints in red, bold, 36 pt Helvetica. No pop-ups, no flashy animations—these are physically impossible in the paper medium.”

The page even has made up testimonials of beta users. Google really has funny April Fool’s jokes. Remember the Pigeon Rank several years back? But for sheer daring, I have to give it to the BBC Panorama staff who reported good spaghetti harvest because of a mild winter in 1957. The report even came with footage of a Swiss family harvesting pasta from spaghetti trees. After the broadcast, the BBC was swamped with calls inquiring on how they can grow their own spaghetti trees.

Watching The Codebreakers on my phone

I never got to watch the BBC documentary on free and open source software that first aired in May. I missed the first few airings because these were broadcast at crunch time in the newsroom, when I’m off chasing page deadlines.

While browsing Google Videos for clips to watch in my phone during times when I’m off the PC and waiting for an appointment with nothing else to do, I found The Codebreakers clip.

I immediately downloaded a .avi version of the clip and converted the video to play in my phone using instructions I wrote about earlier. While searching for articles about the documentary, I found this page in the Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme. It turns out that the documentary is available for free download on a Creative Commons license. If you’re interested in a 3GP version of the documentary, let me know and I’ll upload the file.

The beautiful game, online

The World Cup opened last week and many football fans are losing sleep keeping up with the games. I know I am. Live matches aren’t available on my cable TV provider but another company is offering live World Cup matches for a one-time fee. What I watch at home are replays of the games broadcast the next day.

Online, the tools of dissent are helping football fans access the BBCs streaming video coverage of the games, erstwhile limited to UK residents. Public and anonymous proxies used to help dissidents in repressive countries access censored content allow you to view the coverage of the British broadcaster, which is also blogging the event. Here’s a great tip from GHacks.net. In another post, GHacks suggests using TUVPlayer and connecting to ESPN2. I might try it out later tonight.

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BBC releases blogging guidelines for employees

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has released a guideline for its employees who maintain weblogs or websites. The guidelines, which can be downloaded as a Word document here but I’ve also reprinted it below, are noteworthy in that the BBC accepts that employees who blog “discuss their BBC work in ways that benefit the BBC.”

Employee blogs, for the most part, benefit the organization they work for and companies would do well to embrace blogging as one way to communicate with the public they are serving.

The BBC went as far as stating in the guidelines: “You are allowed to update your personal blog from a BBC computer at work, under the BBC’s Acceptable Use Policy.”

I’ve never encountered problems at work with my blogging. I sought my editors’ permission before I started this blog and consult with them when I’m unsure of the propriety of a blog post. Blogging helps me work on my writing skills and Sun.Star benefits (I hope) from the improvement in my skills. I also get to experiment with scripts, programs and even firmware and get feedback from readers. What I learn from my experiments I write about in the special section that I edit and the weekly column that I write.

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