android, social media | 01.06.10 | posted by Todd Randolph

why I love web 2.0 - google places edition

yes, it’s another sappy love letter to my droid and its simply fabulous, dahling, coterie of plugins. This weekend, the droid turned what could have been a depressing experience into a gourmet triumph.

no tickets? well, yeah, that’s a problem.

saturday night, and the girlfriend and I are headed out to see the lovely sarah borges and her smoking hot band at my favorite venue, the lizard lounge. we’ve been warned that the show, a recording session for an upcoming live cd, will sell out. indeed, there are no more tickets online. however, the website soothes us with the statement, “the club holds additional tickets for sale at the door.” we arrive at the crack of 8:30. the line is comfortingly short, particularly since it holds both ticket holders and ticket seekers. no more than ten or fifteen people have trickled in the door when the word comes back. if you ain’t holding, you’re out of luck. well, crap.

we’re really going places

we retreat back to the car and shed a bitter tear or two. we had been planning on grabbing a few of the lounge’s tasty burgers, so I knew alice was feeling peckish. I also knew that she was tiring of my ‘all mexican, all the time’ gastronomic predilection. being a caring guy, I inquired what she wanted for dinner and, after  checking to see if it was really me asking, she replied italian. normally, I would wrack my brain for nearby places. but not tonight. I had tested out a new google app called places directory and been pretty impressed, but was it up to this challenge? I typed in ‘italian’ and hit the search button.

at first, hopes were not high. pizza. lots and lots of pizza. italian? yes. the kind of italian that was going to bring a smile to my borges-less sweetie? no. I skimmed down the list, and my eyes stopped at a highly rated spot over in the huron village neighborhood. clicking through to a map confirmed that the restaurant was just a few minutes away. the app also offered the option to call the restaurant. the in-line user recommendations completely sold the place.

we entered the empty restaurant tentatively – it was a little on the late side (for cambridge – in italy, the dinner rush would have in full stream!). not to worry. the waiter told us to take a seat anywhere and brought menus with olive oil and delicious crusty bread. the prices were higher than the places I generally frequent, but the reviews had forewarned us and provided reassurance that it was well worth it.

and indeed it was. we elected to split a pasta ‘primi,’ as well as the rack of lamb special. the spaghetti carbonara arrived in a fragrant cloud and was absolutely superb. every bite better than the one before. and the lambies, sizzling hot and bursting with flavor. we had coffee after (note to self: decaf expresso!) but declined dessert. nonetheless, the waiter brought out a complimentary tira misu – a perfect ending. I wish I had taken pictures – everything looked as good as it tasted.

when gina trapani blogged last month that google had the best android apps, she didn’t mention the places directory. while places is related to google maps, it is definitely its own animal. some of the integration is already there, as with the call option mentioned above. it’s not complete, however, reflecting the apps’s status as a google labs project. this has its drawbacks. for example, one cannot access google’s amazing turn by turn directions service through the map. it’s also not clear how to add one’s own review to the ones that appear on the screen (they seem to come from opentable.com). but these are pretty minor compared to the sparkle in my sweetie’s eyes when we clinked our glasses to celebrate our new discovery.