100,000 Disconnect’ers

On December 20, 2010

DisconnectSometime today, Disconnect and Facebook Disconnect combined got their 100,000th active user on Chrome. Disconnect was released exactly one week ago and had 25,170 users as of yesterday. Facebook Disconnect was released exactly two months ago and had 74,417 users.

That the extensions, with no viral features, marketing, or PR (I just gave TechCrunch an exclusive preview of Disconnect), are now being run by 100,000 people each week is a clear message to Facebook, Google, and every other Internet company that they can’t take our data without our permission anymore.

My 2,686th, and Last, Day at Google

On December 12, 2010

I left Google a month back (and have been doing a little hacking since). I’m told posting your farewell email is all the rage, so here goes:

From: Brian Kennish <bkennish@google.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 12:15 PM
Subject: My 2,686th, and Last, Day at Google


(Some of those were Saturdays, Sundays, and days I was pretending to be sick.)

Seven years, six jobs, four teams, three offices, and two coasts later, I’m turning in my Google badge. I’ve been getting asked for three-and-a-half years, “Why are you still here?” The answer was simple: devrel.

I’m certain the developer-relations job and team are the best things about Google. I can finally admit: I can’t believe you can get paid to help startups and independent developers build cool stuff — I’d do so for free. The people on this team and those we work closely with are amazingly talented and dedicated and I’m feeling lucky I got to learn from many of you. Most of all, I want to thank Mike for turning this ragtag bunch of misfits into an important and respected part of Google. We’ve come a long way and I don’t know another manager who would’ve gotten us so far.

I wish I could say goodbye to everyone and have hardly had a chance to to anyone. But if I linger, I might end up changing my mind. Please stay in touch. You can get a hold of me by replying-all to this message (my personal address is in the “To:” field). And I’m pretty easy to find on the web now — a year and a half of developer advocacy and I’ve totally pwned the other three Brian Kennishes in Google search results.

Boo! Facebook Disconnect’s Scary Install Dialog

On October 31, 2010

It’s Halloween, a good time to answer a frequently asked question about this scary confirmation box that pops up when you install Facebook Disconnect:

This extension can access: Your data on all websites

Google Chrome Extensions, like all installable software, can potentially do bad things and the extension gallery displays accordingly dire warning messages. Unlike compiled programs, though, extensions let you easily view their (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) source code to make sure they don’t actually do anything malicious.

Facebook Disconnect triggers a warning because the extension has to inject JavaScript into every page you browse to disable the component Facebook links. There are three ways to get a packaged extension’s code (a topic worthy of its own post), but you can just look in my repository since I’ve open-sourced Facebook Disconnect.

Update (December 3, 2010): If you’d rather take my word for it than read my code — Facebook Disconnect doesn’t store your personal data and never will, unless you opt in to anonymously provide data for diagnostic purposes in the future.

Facebook Disconnect Logo

On October 21, 2010

I’ll have more to say about the making of and response to the Facebook Disconnect extension later. For now, I’m dumping all different sizes of the logo I made for you to post. These images are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (the same license Creative Commons marks their own work with).

Spread the word!

140 x 140:

Facebook Disconnect Logo (140 x 140)

128 x 128:

Facebook Disconnect Logo (128 x 128)

64 x 64:

Facebook Disconnect Logo (64 x 64)

48 x 48:

Facebook Disconnect Logo (48 x 48)

32 x 32:

Facebook Disconnect Logo (32 x 32)

16 x 16:

Facebook Disconnect Logo (16 x 16)

HTML5 Game Jam in 20 Pictures

On October 15, 2010

Last weekend, we ran Google’s first-ever game jam in the Netherlands (with Spil Games) and San Francisco. We put food, beer, and developers in and fun games came out. Here’s a look at the sausage being made in San Francisco:

Mobile Lawsuit T-Shirt

On October 6, 2010

George Kokkinidis made an awesome infographic yesterday, which shows who’s suing who for infringing their mobile patents. Since I’m speaking on a panel at the CTIA wireless conference tomorrow, I turned George’s chart into a shirt to wear there:

Mobile Lawsuit T-Shirt

P.S. You can pretty much calculate how screwed (or not) a company is using the chart. Here’s an equation to do so:

screwed%=\frac{arrows_{out}}{arrows_{in}%2Barrows_{out}}\cdot100

E.g., Kodak is:

\frac{5}{0%2B5}\cdot100

100% screwed.

Almost Resignation Letters on TechCrunch

On October 3, 2010

I thought TechCrunch’s acquisition by AOL was a Bad Thing, for pretty much everybody involved — the readers, the writers, the startups, AOL. Paul Carr voices what must be the prevailing feeling among his peers: “Like most serious writers, I’ve always dreamed of working for AOL.”

So I can’t say I’m surprised by the ha-ha-only-serious letters of resignation that have been popping up on the site since. Already, three of TechCrunch’s dozen staff writers have posted all-but-goodbyes:

Of Fail Whales and Other Fine Feathered Friends

On September 24, 2010

(OK, so whales don’t have feathers. What are you a fucking marine biologist?)

Facebook introduced their error page to the world yesterday and they certainly set a new standard among social networks for animal-themed whimsy.

First, Twitter threw down the gauntlet:

Twitter’s Error Page

Then, Digg:

Digg’s Error Page

And now, Facebook:

Facebook’s Error Page

Bad News for God

On September 9, 2010

According to Google News, 2,000-plus reactions have appeared since last week when the new book Stephen Hawking co-authored was previewed. I’ve at least glanced at quite a few of them now and the large majority amount to calling Hawking, in not so many words, an idiot.

Such sentiment is probably to be expected given the thousands of years that have gone into propping up the God complex, but even the more secular articles of the lot are, ahem, holey. Here’s a comment I left in response to the most common attack I came across — this particular blow struck by Robert Barron, a theology professor (lest you think I’m picking on theologians, mathematician John Lennox makes the same case).

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

Well, first of all, which is it: nothing or the law of gravity?

Isolating a one-sentence excerpt from a 200-page book is rather unfair. I imagine Hawking and Mlodinow saw fit to amplify this seemingly important point and I’m looking forward to reading their full explanation.

In the meantime, let me offer a counterargument.

To be sure, this sort of claim has a long pedigree, stretching back at least to the pre-Socratics, but it remains highly problematic. The question “why is there something rather than nothing?” is not searching after a thing within the universe, but rather the being of the universe. It is wondering why (to use the technical term) contingent things exist, that is to say, things that do not contain within themselves the reason for their own being.

The contingency argument itself has a contingency: time. The requirement that a thing has a moment of creation disappears when there’s no timeline. If time is a chance quirk of our universe — in A Brief History of Time, Hawking hypothesizes time is a measure of the universe’s entropy — while gravity is a fundamental law of a greater multiverse wherein time doesn’t exist, then nothing need have preceded gravity: gravity will have always been and will always be.

Hence, universes could spontaneously spring into existence as an expression of gravity — including the random one we happen to find ourselves in.

P.S. Assuming the authors are correct, you could still speak of God — only now, you’d be talking about gravity and the other fundamental laws.

P.P.S. This whole business about many universes is a theory. We have no evidence of a multiverse (nor are we likely to get any in the very near future).

Shouldn’t Hulu Be Saying “Congratulations”?

On September 6, 2010

As in, “Congratulations, we’re unable to load a message from our sponsors!”

Sorry, we’re unable to load a message from our sponsors.

Upcoming Speaking Gigs

On March 10, 2010

I'm giving a few talks in the next couple weeks. Here are my session titles and abstracts, the where and when, and my speaker bio:

  • Extensions5: Advanced Google Chrome Extensions with HTML5
    Google DevFest Japan
    March 11th

    A deep dive into advanced techniques for developing extensions — like communicating within and between extensions, effectively injecting content, and integrating HTML5 features.

    More Info

  • HTML5 101
    South by Southwest Interactive
    March 14th and 15th

    An overview of the latest HTML, CSS, and JavaScript features being built into modern browsers — including audio, video, typography, animation, notifications, and more.

    More Info

  • Advanced Google Chrome Extensions
    South by Southwest Interactive
    March 14th

    [See above.]

    More Info

  • Brian Kennish was the first support engineer at Google back when the AdWords API was launched. Since then, he's helped launch four more Google developer products — gadget ads, the Analytics API, Wave, and Chrome Extensions. Brian is currently a developer advocate for Google Chrome.