Meebo, Picasa, Wave, Google Plus . . . All of these useful apps were killed by Google. Google has a fickle reputation. More often than not, they quickly kill struggling projects, rather than refine them.
Compare this to Microsoft. Excel, Word, Access, Internet Explorer, Windows Server, Windows itself — all were weak also-ran competitors to much stronger market leaders. Yet in each case Microsoft worked hard for years at improving its initially weak product until finally it kicked the king off its perch.
Google doesn’t seem to have Microsoft’s tenacity. Why? Maybe success came too quickly to Google. Pagerank and AdWords were instant succeses.
Which model will succeed? Don’t assume that Google will always be the search leader. Microsoft continues to refine Bing, and there’s a long trail of onetime market leaders — Novell, WordPerfect, Lotus, Netscape — lying dead in Microsoft’s wake.
Until recently, I’ve regarded websites that are mobile responsive as desirable, but not essential. Around last November, Google began adding the phrase “mobile-friendly” to search results for websites that are mobile responsive.
Last month Google announced that on April 21, they’ll update their search algorithm. It’s expected to reward mobile responsive websites with higher search result rankings.
I’ve been busy updating clients’ websites to make them mobile responsive. This has meant moving them to new platforms. I’ve moved small websites to Squarespace without too much pain, but I’ve learned that Squarespace doesn’t allow navigation menu nesting deeper than two levels, which disqualifies it for websites of more than a couple dozen pages. I’m working with a few mobile responsive themes on WordPress; it’s probably the route I’ll follow for my own website.
As usual, I’ve learned (again) that there is no single perfect answer. We just have to work around flaws and hide the blemishes.
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Google’s ambitious book-scanning project doesn’t violate the copyrights of the books’ authors or publishers. Judge Denny Chin of the Southern New York US District Court ruled in favor of Google and against the Authors Guild. His ruling states that Google’s project conforms to “fair use” copyright exemption. Wired published a full report on the ruling. The Authors Guild had demanded $750 from Google for each scanned book, which could have resulted in a cost of over $3 billion if Google had lost.
This ruling ensures that long-forgotten books will be searchable. Google scans the books, but makes only snippets available for reading on-line. Apparently this restriction convinced the judge that Google’s project did not violate copyright.
The Authors Guild, which first filed their lawsuit in 2005, is expected to appeal the decision.
The plaintiffs are “THE AUTHORS GUILD INC., and BETTY MILES, JOSEPH GOULDEN, and JIM BOUTON, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated”. Jim Bouton?! His insider’s look at baseball, Ball Four, was hilarious. It was first published in 1971. I have no idea why he was named as a plaintiff.
Web services that are based outside the U.S. are touting their immunity from NSA searches. Startpage is a Dutch search engine that boasts of its concern for user privacy. It defaults to communicating via Secure Sockets Layer (https), so there’s a prayer that even a US-based user will be able to search the web without the NSA looking over his or her shoulder. The European Union has much better computer user privacy laws than America.
This is the start of an exodus from U.S.-based web services of all kinds. Governments and corporations around the world are beginning to reduce their exposure to overzealous U.S. federal government snooping.
I don’t blame them.
Traffic via TOR (The Onion Router — a service that anonymizes users) has increased 500 percent since Mr. Snowden’s NSA snooping revelations.
Before Microsoft bought Skype, Skype conversations were private. Microsoft caved in to federal government demands for a Skype back door. Now that the extent of the NSA’s snooping has been revealed, US corporations that caved, such as Microsoft, will pay a price as they lose business to non-US competitors.
How about iPhone sales or Windows sales?
How will the NSA’s snooping and acquiescence by American corporations affect international sales of American products such as Apple iPhones, Cisco routers, etc.? How about Microsoft Windows? Microsoft is known to have cooperated with the NSA. What guarantees that its products — both software and hardware — don’t contain back doors?
Here’s a simple tip: when searching for Jeff Albertson, enclose his whole name in quotation marks — “Jeff Albertson”. Google’s results will exclude all other Jeffs and all other Albertsons. This works with most search engines.
On May 22, Google began using its new Penguin 2.0 search “algorithm adjustment”. According to Google, it closely examines a site’s links’ quality and emphasizes its social links. One result is that Google now lists only one article by a single author, regardless of how many articles he’s written, on a WordPress site.
Google continues to change the rules as the game progresses. On a few occasions over the years my website has suddenly fallen from number 1 for a given search phrase to oblivion for many weeks, and only slowly recovered. In the meantime, I lost business. There was no explanation from Google.
Google giveth and Google taketh away.
The occasional wild swings in Google search results makes me suspect that the algorithm may have gotten away from them: too many cooks.
Google is a powerful search engine, as are Bing, Yandex, et al, but they’re all proprietary: their spiders crawl the web and vacuum-up information which they store within their own walls. (Google calls its web index BigTable.) Yes, we can use their search engine user interfaces, but exactly what algorithms they use remains proprietary and for the most part, secret.
Common Crawl Foundation (Commoncrawl.org) was created in 2007 with the goal of crawling the web and making the discovered information available to the public, to do with as it pleases. Common Crawl claims to have stored about six billion web pages in their index and they publish a free library of program code to access it.
Applications that use the Common Crawl index are beginning to appear. Lucky Oyster uses the Common Crawl index to reveal previously hidden social networking relationships to users.
MIT’s Technology Review published an article recently that speculates that, thanks to Common Crawl, now Google-scale start-ups can get underway without having to crawl the web themselves, dramatically reducing their need for capital. Walled gardens such as Facebook and LinkedIn block spiders from crawling their sites — they’re all about locking up information. It’ll be fun to watch the tug of war between the proprietary and the open model in the web search arena, My money is on the open model.
In the early 1990s, the Internet was compared to a library whose books had been removed from the shelves and thrown into a large pile.
Altavista and similar search engines indexed and brought some order to the chaos. Google ran with this idea and today provides a flexible general purpose user interface to its awesome Internet index (called BigTable). This month, the Digital Public Library of America website has arrived online. According to its About page, it will attempt to provide a single index for many existing libraries. They’re professional librarians who have the cooperation of some prestigious libraries, such as Smithsonian, Harvard, and New York Public libraries, so http://dp.la/ should become a valuable resource. The DPLA index points to more than just books: documents include works of art, multimedia, historical letters, etc. The Wikipedia entry for DPLA contains comments on DPLA’s history and controversies.
Their user interface includes the fascinating ability to browse its index by place or time, and they provide an open-source application program interface (API) for use by anyone. The nonprofit DPLA is funded for two years by private grants.
You’re probably aware that Google is building fiber to the home in Kansas City. Wired broadband access is preferable to wireless, and in response to this need, even when subscribers are away from home and office, Google now offers an answer. Google, on April 1, is touting its new gigabit Fiber to the Pole service.
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City
They gone about as fer as they can go
They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high
About as high as a buildin’ orta grow.
– Everything’s up to date in Kansas City song from stage show “Oklahoma” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This delightful production number was performed by Gene Nelson in the 1955 movie “Oklahoma!”. It’s a magical performance. If performed today, I’m sure that the lyrics would include,
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City
They’ve even rolled out fiber to the pole
Larry Page, Google’s CEO, announced today that Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android mobile device operating system, is being replaced by Google’s Chrome chief, Sundar Pichai. Mr. Page stated,
Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android -— and with a really strong leadership team in place — Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!
Rumors are flying regarding Andy Rubin’s trajectory. My guess is that Google will use him to drive some sort of robotic venture. I’ve read that he’s a huge fan of robotics and automation: he named his operating system “Android”, after all; his first job was as a robot engineer, and reportedly his home is loaded with automation toys. Android has been a huge success for Google; maybe for an entrepreneur such as Mr. Rubin, the thrill of a start-up is gone and he welcomes the chance to launch something new.
When I told a client at a Fort Lauderdale body shop that he wouldn’t see the results of my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for weeks or months, he replied, “I understand. You’re planting seeds, which need time to grow.” He’s right: optimizing meta tags, placing links, etc is just like planting seeds. Then we wait.
Google Inc. (GOOG) avoided about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company, almost double the total from three years before, filings show.
. . .
The Internet search giant has avoided billions of dollars in income taxes around the world using a pair of tax shelter strategies known as the Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich, Bloomberg News reported in 2010. The tactics, permitted under tax law in the U.S. and elsewhere, move royalty payments from subsidiaries in Ireland and the Netherlands to a Bermuda unit headquartered in a local law firm.
Last year, Google reported a tax rate of just 3.2 percent on the profit it said was earned overseas, even as most of its foreign sales were in European countries with corporate income tax rates ranging from 26 percent to 34 percent.
Maybe Google’s motto should be, “Don’t be evil unprofitable”.
I’ve been a happy user of the Meebo Me IM (instant messaging) widget and Meebo chat service since 2008. Both are easy to use and reliable. This blog uses them to allow you, dear reader, to chat with me when I’m on line. Google acquired Meebo last week and announced that on July 11 they will close the Meebo chat service on PC and smartphone platforms. They will keep Meebo’s worst product, the hideous Meebo Bar. (it’s a persistent horizontal bar that superimposes itself atop participating websites in order to display ads and trash news headlines. Yuck.)
The Meebo chat client widget is/was very clean and simple to use. I don’t know if the fact that it requires Flash led to its downfall. Their “console” allowed a user to aggregate multiple IM accounts in one chat client. Apparently Meebo couldn’t find a way to make money with their IM products. And neither can Google, I guess.
If Google truly wanted to not be evil, it would release Meebo’s IM software as open source. Fat chance.
Now I need to find a simple IM chat widget to stick on this blog, and elsewhere. Any suggestions?