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Everyone already knows what happened yesterday on the East Coast so I will not give many details. An earthquake, centered somewhere in Virginia, was felt all over the north-east coast of the US. The Capitol Building and the White House were evacuated in DC, people felt the tremor as far up as in Toronto and many people got quite scared in New York, especially the ones that work in a very tall building.

Related to that, this morning I was watching the “news” (if you can call the Good Morning NY shows a news show…) and one of the reporters explained something that was very interesting. His family lives in Virginia and his mom called him about the earthquake before it even hit New York. In a similar way, the tsunami of tweets and Facebook posts scattered across the East Coast way faster than the actual tremor.

A friend of mine posted an old XKCD comic that describes this interesting effect:

I have been thinking about two things:

  • Could we somehow use Twitter and other social media to alert citizens of upcoming disasters? Even better, could we use the combination (social network data + location data) to predict the trajectory of a disaster, its intensity gradient and other characteristics of the event to improve alert systems?
  • If there is ever a major disaster, what will people do? Run and then tweet? Tweet and then run? Tweet while running?

As a final comment I’d like to add that feeling an earthquake on a 25th floor of a tall New York building was very scary. It might have not been felt that much on the street level, but up there…

Google presented on Tuesday its new attempt to compete with Facebook. After the failures achieved with Orkut, Buzz and Wave, this time it seems they are in the game for real. I am unaware of the details other than what I could see in their tour at Google+ website, but it seems a very interesting proposal. Mainly because it will allow you to organize your contacts in circles, so you share things with your buddies independently from your relatives and work colleagues – in my case, I have very cool work colleagues that would go straight into the buddies circle, though -.

Other than that, other fancy stuff that, despite being good ideas, is not that impressive. An app or something in your Google phone that automatically uploads all the pictures and videos you take to your Google+ account and then you just choose whether to share them or not – so, it looks to me it is another photo/video cloud solution similar to the iCloud presented by Apple recently -. An application that allows to chat with users – like the BlackBerry chat -, a quite useless hang out application where I log in and claim to my contacts that I am hanging out by my webcam and then they join and you have a multi-point video-chat – I would much rather announce to my circle or on Facebook that I am down for summer evening beers and meet my friends in person rather than on a video-chat… -. And a couple more things…

All in all, this time it seems Google is in the battle for social networking for real. As my childhood beloved Super Nintendo’s Street Fighter II would say “Round 1, Fight!”.

I feel a bit bad when I use a catchy title for a post that will not be what people expect… Anyhow, yesterday I got the June issue of IEEE Spectrum magazine. I wanted to go for a run in Central Park but, given that it was 94F – it was still 88F by midnight -, I flaked and stayed home. Before, during the commercial breaks and after the movie Taken – such a good action movie produced by Luc Besson – I read almost the entire magazine. It is a special issue with very interesting articles about Google, Facebook and the future of the social web.

Anyhow, one of the articles was so interesting that I decided to share it here. It is not really about technology, but almost. IEEE sent the famous food critic Sheila Himmel to try the food at Google’s and Facebook’s campus.

And the food is pretty remarkable, too. Both Google and Facebook go way beyond simple sustenance with menu items like venison, boar, and Kobe beef, and wheatgrass shots and variously infused spa waters. Without a doubt, these workplace cafeterias have better food than most cruise ships.

Google food is synonymous with its former chef Charlie Ayers. He once cooked for the Grateful Dead, wrote Food 2.0: Secrets of the Chef Who Fed Google (2008), and now runs a trendy café and a to-go market near Stanford University. At Google, Ayers redefined corporate cuisine by bringing it into the multicultural, locally sourced organic age. Facebook head chef Josef Desimone is proud to have taken lots of staff from Google, and his approach evolved out of the Google tradition.

I strongly recommend that you read the entire article. Apparently Facebook makes sure that “middle-American palates” are happy by serving pizza, roast turkey and other similar things. However, Google’s menu is exceptional. Facebook’s is too, but Google’s chefs would never serve pizza.

Everything seems delicious, but the author has special words for Google’s desserts:

The desserts are amazing. Even those who can resist the popular bread pudding and the oatmeal cherry chocolate chip cookies I encountered at Charlie’s one day still have to make it past a freezer case of Google-labeled It’s-It ice cream sandwiches, a local brand beloved by generations of San Franciscans.

Read the entire article here.

About me:

Born in Barcelona, moved to Los Angeles at age 24, ended in NYC, where I enjoy life, tweet about music and work as a geek in security for wireless networks.
All the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and are not related to my employer.
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