The Sydney PC User Group is 30 years old and this month we had a birthday party to celebrate.
Our President Roger Foulds welcomed every one and acknowledging our past President Warren Wylie and other former committee members.
He then gave us a brief overview of the Club’s history, which began in 1984 - well before the world wide web before welcoming Nan Bosler OAM, President of ASCCA, to the stage to open the night.
Nan spoke about her first experiences with the Club. She showed us a calendar from May 2001 and spoke about the number and diversity of the interest groups meeting then and how she stood amazed at the level of expertise within the membership.
The club has been privileged over its thirty years to secure many renowned computer companies. Hardware manufacturers like Toshiba, Dell and Asus, Communications firms such as Telstra and Vodafone, and Software giants like Microsoft, Symantec, and Nuance have presented their leading-edge technology to us.
Tonight was no exception, at the end of her opening address Nan joined Roger in welcoming Shane Treeves, Senior Communications Associate,
Google Australia and New Zealand, to the stage.
Shane took the stage to give us a comprehensive look at Google. He started the night with a Google search on the most popular themes being mentioned in books.
The Seven Deadly sins appears to be dropping off,
While technology has increased
Shane used these and other examples to illustrate how Google can be used to watch search trends. Google trends allows us to find out the most popular topics currently interesting people.
During school term this year, Romeo and Juliet has been more popular than Hamlet.
Trends will show what is of interest in almost every field. In politics, Clive Palmer and Joe Hockey have been trading the top place for most of this year.
There are seasonal trends. Vodka and Hangovers are popular on New Year’s Eve.
but on New Year’s Day it’s just hangover!
The way we search is also changing. With the growth in tablets and smartphones has come new ways to interact with technology - such as voice activation software. On smartphones and Tablets the traditional keyword search is rapidly giving way to a more natural way of asking questions.
Google have responded to this. Their goal is to create a search engine that ‘knows exactly what you mean and will give you back exactly what you need”. In the beginning search engines relied on keywords to create a search response and they would just generate a simple list of sites containing those words.
Today Google will generate a raft of different information
15% of all searches on Google are new and it has responded to this by redeveloping the way its presents the information available. Google now gives us much more than just a simple list
Shane did a search for Cate Blanchett. Now Google generates not just the list on the left, it also generates what Shane called “a knowledge card”, giving the main details about M/s Blanchett, including a potted biography and images.
With the advent of speech tools, Google was looking for a more natural way to search, so It developed a natural question format. In the same way as you would have a conversation, Google has developed its speech search.
In a normal conversation someone might ask you “Who is the Prime Minister of Australia?” You answer “Tony Abbott“. They then ask “How tall is he?” You know the question is still about Tony Abbott.
In his demonstration Shane showed how Google has developed a natural conversation search format for speech activated phones and tablets. “OK Google, who is prime minister of Australia?” Answer “The prime minister of Australia is Tony Abbott” “OK Google, How tall is he?” “He is 1.8 meters tall” “OK Google, who is he married to?” “His is married to Margaret Atkin” He asked were was she born; “Lower Hut New Zealand’
He then showed how you can easily divert the conversational search.
He asked “OK Google What is the temperature there?” It was 9 degrees. He then asked “What about London?” it was 12 degrees.
It was a good demonstration of how Google will understand context and you how can take the conversation along different routes.
Google goes even further. With advance search, a simple search either on a tablet or desktop can be enhanced to give even more information.
Using the cog icon you can scroll down to advance search
Then you can really dive down into a search. With Advance search, you can fine tune a search using key words or set phrases, for example, “Who used the phrase ’team Australia’, or ask Google to look for sites in a particular region.
We looked at images. Shane used the example of Jaguar. Are we looking for the animal or the car?
You can search images in an advance mode also
What if we want to see only red Jaguar cars?
YouTube was started as a place to share your personal videos with others. It was acquired by Google in 2005 and it has seen a phenomenal growth. There are up to 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. YouTube has gone from a simple video share site to becoming almost a defacto TV broadcaster.
It has become a huge business for some of the uploaders, with presenters becoming overnight celebrities, forming their own video channels on every topic from Cooking to Harvard Lectures. Australians are doing well in this media. There are upwards of 50 Australian YouTube channels with upwards of 200000 subscribers. It is a huge revenue stream for Google and with the Partner Program these presenters share in the advertising revenue Google generates around their channels.
One example Shane mentioned was Rob Nixon from Perth. Rob runs a cooking channel called
He was a baggage handler and now has around seven hundred thousand subscribers worldwide.
Another was “Community Channel”
This one is run by Natalie.
“Hi! I'm Natalie and I've been making videos online for far too long. They're (hopefully) fun videos that are a combination of monologue and sketches that focus on the humorous aspects of everyday life.”
The Community Channel has over a million subscribers.
And many others
Here is a list of the 100 most popular Australian YouTube-rs.
Shane then took us on a journey to show how people used Google resources.
In Taiwan we saw Google maps in use on a bus
and in India a resourceful cab driver offering Wi-Fi in his cab.
He spoke about the Google search app for phones and gave examples of traffic updates, flight arrivals, and spoken language translation.
Our main meetings normally include a raffle with a prize donated by the presenter.
Tonight Shane took a different approach and we had a game of Heads or Tails.
Using Google, Shane asked a series of questions on food and nutrition.
Last person standing won.
Michele receives her prize for being the last person standing after Shane’s knowledge test.
We still had more to talk about. We can now have collaborative documents. Using Google drive with Google Docs we can have a number of people editing an open document together.
Shane looked at staying safe on line.
He spoke briefly on the need to have separate passwords and pin numbers. A good password has letters, numbers and symbols. He suggested one way to remember them was to simply vary the pattern or the letters.
We then looked at a few examples of how we can catch scams. The main one was to check the URL of the site. The scammer’s site will have subtle differences in spelling.
There will usually be spelling errors throughout the site.
Google has continued to be a company of innovation. Shane finished the night with a look at two major innovations - Google Watch and Google Glass.
Google Watch is like a mobile phone on your wrist. It’s an Android device connected to your phone. The concept is to have all the vital or immediate information you want available without the need to be constantly grabbing for your phone. Shane was wearing one and demonstrated some of the features.
Just like your phone or tablet you can talk to your watch and there are interconnected apps.
There are three available: a Samsung Gear Live, Moto 360 and G watch.
Learn more at Android Wear.
You can wear your computer on your wrist and now you can wear it on head.
Google Glass is a heads up display projected onto a small screen attached to the end of glasses.
Shane had a set of Google Glasses to show us.
Just like the tablet, the phone and the watch, the glasses are an interactive computer. You can take photos, get directions, and run apps.
The potential uses of this device are growing every day. Many of them are still in a development stage but the potential will be amazing.
Shane showed us a video of how Telstra is developing innovative uses of the device for those with sight or hearing disabilities.
Find out more from Google.
Techradar has a great article, but I wouldn’t run out and buy just yet. They cost around $2200 to $2500.
It is a custom at the main meetings to have a question and answer session hosted by our resident guru Alex. He is usually assisted by Google search. Tonight to finish off, Shane joined Alex and we had questions from the floor mainly on Google products.
We then partied on into the night.