Mozilla Labs: Ubiquity

31 08 2008

Ubiquity is a Firefox extension that aims to empower users and allow them to tell the browser what they want to do. It allows everyone, from common users to developers, to create their own mashups depending on the need at hand.

Ubiquity isn’t just a fantasy or a concept idea, it is already in the early stages of being developed. The current version is 0.1 and it can already email your GMail contacts, look up things on Wikipedia, show you the weather, define terms, get maps, and so much more.
You can download Ubiquity from the announcement page. This will be an XPI file, which you just open with Firefox. Once installed, you will be taken to the about:ubiquity page. I would suggest from here, taking a look at the User Tutorial. This will help you get to know a few of the commands, but there are so many more things that you can do. To see everything that Ubiquity can currently do, you can visit the command page, which lists and describes all current commands. (This can only be viewed in Firefox.)
Ubiquity is kind of restricted right now. It’s not completely functional using Linux (but Mac and Windows users are good to go.) The email commands only work with GMail right now. And of course there are probably bugs that need to be worked out in some of the commands. But if you are developer, you can write commands for Ubiquity. Read the author tutorial here.
Of course, there is tons of information and links for support and discussion on the announcement page. I may be a nerd, but I think this is really exciting! I’m happy to be part of the early stages and to have the opportunity to shape the future of Ubiquity and see the evolution of it.

Update – 09/13/08: 
Here is “The Ultimate List of Custom Ubiquity Verbs” from ReadWriteWeb


Blog Action Day

15 08 2008

Yesterday, the topic for this year’s Blog Action Day was announced – Poverty.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, because maybe a lot of people don’t know what Blog Action Day is. The goal of the event is to get bloggers and pod and video casters to post about the same topic to spur both discussion and change. Once the year’s topic is announced, you can sign up to commit your blog to the event, meaning that you “promise” to blog about that topic on the chosen date. This year’s date is October 15th.
B.A.D. has posted a video, both on their website and on Vimeo, announcing this year’s topic. I put it up here just to make it easier for you all. I think it does an excellent job to excite the viewer to get involved.

Are you excited yet? Me too! But what do you write about? Advice that is given on the B.A.D.’s website suggests that you stick with the overall topic of your blog. For example, if your blog’s topic is Politics, then you could write about what the candidates are doing, or plan to do, about this issue.
If you want more information and to register your blog, visit Blog Action Day’s website or follow them on Twitter. Also, be sure to go Digg them, they deserve it!

Aurora Browser Concept

6 08 2008

Adaptive Path has joined forces with Mozilla Labs to create Aurora. This is actually part of Mozilla’s browser concept series which allows designers to showcase their visions of the future of the web.

Right now, Adaptive Path has two videos showing some of Aurora’s features. They are kind of cheesy, and I don’t understand why the people in the videos aren’t actually shown talking (watch them and you’ll see what I mean.) But they do a good job of showing the browser and the multiple different things that it can do, both at home and on a mobile device. There are several more videos that are “coming soon”. I subscribed the RSS Feed so I can see them once they come out.
If you want to watch these videos for yourself, you can visit Adaptive Path’s Aurora page. The videos are also in HD on Vimeo. I would suggest watching at Vimeo, just because it is HD and you can go into Full Screen so that you can actually see what’s going on.
This is really exciting new technology, and I would love to see it available to consumers. I know that will probably be a while, but I’ll still look forward to it!

Update – 5/7/08
The third concept video was posted today. Follow the same links as above to watch!

Update – 5/8/08
The fourth, and final, concept video was posted today. Again, you can watch it from Adaptive Path’s website or from Vimeo (which I recommend.)

Having watched all of the concept videos now, I have a semi-better idea of the Aurora browser. However, I think that there are many more fine details that should be explained. At least two of the videos touch on the use of RFID. In order for a user to get this data, the object/product/etc. in question would have to have already been tagged, making the technology useless on any product that has been produced previously (without RFID.)
When a user wants to share data, invite others to an event, or contact others, does that person need to be using the Aurora Browser as well? It seems like in order for the proposed collaboration to take place, each user would need to be using this, otherwise there would be no way to accomplish whatever it is that you were trying to do.
Does this take the place of an operating system, or is it a browser like we know today? Does it just deal with your chats, internet, online shopping, and email? I guess that’s what was so confusing to me, because in the “screen shots” it seemed like it was either a full screen application, Aurora was independent of your computer, or it was all that you would ever need. If it was independent, what would be the way that data is shared between the two devices? If it is just an application, does the way that data is organized in Aurora affect how it is organized on your computer?
I know that this all ties in with the semantic web, and I’ve been really interested in the semantic web for a while now. However, it is all kind of confusing in how it would actually work. I think that the ideas and the potential are fascinating, but it’s the specifics behind it all that need to be worked on.