Walking the Talk

Did you know that some airlines still issue paper tickets? Well, they do, and I received some in the mail about two months ago after I planned a trip to Fiji. Now, fast-forward to this morning, one day before departing, when I realized my ticket was nowhere to be found...

Thinking this was no big deal, I dialed the airline and smiled to myself when the operator answered the phone with a cheerful "Bula!" I politely explained my situation, and was horrified to hear that, because my flight was set to depart less than three days from today, the minimum fee to replace the ticket would be over $1000 USD. Wait, I thought the man said, 'Bula,' not 'Moola'!

I then called the booking agency since I have (or had!) a multi-carrier ticket, and was given more bad news:

Travel Agent: "Ms. Lane, we're sorry, but you'll have to buy a whole new ticket."
Me: not worth repeating :o)
Travel Agent: "Yes, we understand that you have a confirmation number and itinerary, but..."

Try telling someone that works for a tech company that a new ticket is necessary, when the whole transaction took place online! How could this be? And then the tears came. Lots of them. Spending an additional $1K+ is a big price to pay for such a little mistake.

I held the phone line, blotting mascara from my eyes with a Kleenex, and waiting for the travel agent to return so we could book another ticket. I signed in to Google Talk to see if anyone was online to help me curse the travel gods! And then my other line began to ring. I wasn't able to answer since I was still on hold. Then it rang again. Finally, my computer started ringing – it was my mom on Google Talk. My mom! She'd found my tickets, and couldn't get through on the phone to tell me!!! Thank goodness for Google Talk – without it, I might have had two seats to Fiji!

Heather Lane

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Libjingle 0.3.0

If you're a developer interested in making voice calls compatible with Google Talk, you depend on two separate code components. First, you need an implementation of Google Talk's signaling and peer-to-peer protocol, which is currently being standardized as Jingle through the Jabber Software Foundation's JEP process. In December, we launched libjingle: the very code Google Talk uses to implement this protocol, distributed as a library for third-party developers. Since this release, we've witnessed a lot of amazing work being done based on this library, and we're very pleased with how it's been received.

The second requirement for third-party developers is a set of media componentry. For this task, the Google Talk client chose the high-quality GIPS Voice Engine from Global IP Sound (GIPS). This Tuesday, GIPS announced the formation of the GIPS Developer Community, which provides a "light" version of GIPS Voice Engine, called Voice Engine Lite. The libjingle 0.3.0 release, which we've just released today, includes optional support for GIPS Voice Engine Lite, so now developers have the choice to combine the high-quality peer-to-peer connections of libjingle with the powerful audio capabilities of GIPS Voice Engine Lite.

Sean Egan
Software Engineer

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Google Talk for BlackBerry devices

Back in January, we mentioned that RIM was working on a downloadable Google Talk client for the BlackBerry. Now it's here! Download Google Talk for BlackBerry devices (most commonly accessed via your BlackBerry). You can still access email and other BlackBerry applications while you chat or manage your Google Talk Friends list. This is available today for U.S. and Canada-based service providers, but stay tuned for updates on additional releases.

Hats off to the RIM team for enabling more people to chat on the go. It's great to see these useful developments on Google Talk's open platform and I can't wait to see what's next!

Mary Himinkool
New Business Development

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Lego Logos

There's only so much silly putty you can play with before you start finding globs of red goo under your fingernails, in your keyboard and caked into the carpet. You realize, then, that's it's time to find new toys.

Of all toys, are there any more Googley than Legos? Not only does the color scheme for lego bricks match Google's own red, yellow, green and blue, but legos were also used in the initial Google computers. Even the Google booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in January sported a lego theme.

So, software engineers Bob Day, Sean Egan and I set off for the Lego Store in Bellevue, WA. Yes, that's right - an entire store dedicated to legos - and it's every bit as good as it sounds.

Naturally, we head straight for the moving parts: wheels, axles, hinges, and doors. We emerge one hour later, armed with a large pre-packaged set of assorted legos (for the basics), and two hand-picked cups (for the moving parts and specialty items).

Back in our office, Sean and I debate what to build and decide on a Google logo constructed entirely out of legos. The tricky part here is creating the curvature of uppercase and lowercase G's. I get to work on the two G's while Sean focuses on the two O's, the L and the E. A few clicks and snaps later, we're almost there:
One minor detail: for a proper Google logo, the lower case 'G' needs to hang below the rest of the characters. There's just one way to solve this: elevate the rest of the letters (and put a lego man beneath it, just for fun).What was next on our list? Google Talk! You see, a Googler's work is never done...
Gayle Laakmann
Software Engineer

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Third Party Client Use of the Google Talk Service

One of the things that's been a lot of fun is seeing so many people use third party chat clients to log into the Google Talk Service. When we picked XMPP as our chat protocol we expected this to happen, but it's one thing to expect something and another thing entirely to get it.

And it's also fun when new clients get launched. For example, when Meebo started supporting Google Talk they immediately appeared on our internal stats page. We don't have to guess which clients are getting real users, we can just see it.

But it got me thinking. Wouldn't the people who worked on these products like to know how they're doing "out in the wild"? Download stats can only tell you so much, and they're hard to compare (or even get). It's exciting to be able to see your hard work pay off.

And how about people who want to use third party clients? Wouldn't they want to know which ones other people are using? Choosing a client that lots of other people are also using can give you confidence in your choice. And it never hurts to be aware of the alternatives.

So starting today we're going to publish the connection statistics for all the third party clients that people are using to connect to us. We plan on updating these numbers regularly at some point, but for now we're sharing the current numbers.

  1. Gaim - 48%
  2. iChat - 14%
  3. Trillian - 11%
  4. Adium - 8%
  5. Meebo - 6%
  6. Miranda - 6%
  7. Psi - 2%
  8. Festoon - 2%
  9. Gush - 1%
  10. fire - 1%

The first thing you'll notice is that the Google Talk and Gmail clients have been removed from this list. This is because this post is about "third party" clients. So the percentages listed are that client's percentage of the third party connections only.

And for you geeks out there (and those of you involved with the development of any of these clients), a quick note about the accuracy of these numbers. When possible, we use JEP 115 (Entity Capabilities) to positively identify clients. The problem with this approach is that at this point not all clients support it. For example, neither Miranda IM nor Trillian Pro support it.

When JEP 115 data isn't available we fall back to looking at the resource part of the JID. We look for a string like "Adium" or "Miranda" and if we see just that string, capitalized just that way, we count it as a use of that client. The problem with this method is that some third party clients allow the user to customize this string to say "Home" or "Work" or "My Big-Ass Computer". And if they do that we have no way to identify them. So they get lumped into a catch-all bucket titled "Other". Since JEP 115 is so easy to support, it'd be great if all the clients could take a quick moment to add support for it. Then we could make sure that all the votes are counted properly ;).

Rod Chavez
Software Engineer

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