Browsing "internet news"
In an article I read some time ago, and has been debated, recycled, and somewhat scoffed over, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz uttered the memorable words :
Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search…It is only half our business; it’s 99.9% of their business. They’ve got to find other things to do..
It’s a rather bold statement made from one of the most unlikely sources, but it’s been said.
Every user has their own style and use for the internet. Some where along the way, you will need to look for information. Now, whether or not you use Yahoo, Bing, or Google to perform your search, you will try and find the answers which suit you best. Google just happens to be the best at search. It’s what their business was started on, and as per Google’s President of Global Sales Operations Nikesh Arora retort to the comments:
If we are a one trick pony, we have a pretty good trick.
But just because they built their house on search, that by no means has been their only business venture. Youtube, Gmail, Adwords, cloud computing, cell technology, fibre optic technologies, are just a handful of the offerings which Google brings to the world table in terms of ventures.
It was put into perspective best perhaps, by a chart constructed by Nick Bolton of the New York Times. Looks like Google actually has more pies in the oven than Yahoo does, and who is it that needs to diversify?
On the web, there’s a fairly basic rule of survival; adapt, or disappear. It would stand to reason then, that one of the biggest names on the net, Google, could be viewed as the kings of change, as well as search. And, well.. they’re doing it again.
With more feathers in their cap than most birds have on them, Google is adding a few more tricks up it’s sleeve. Some of the bigger ideas being brought forward are their contributions and innovations into web video and television. The business model idea which Google uses, provide the a paid service, for free, has fed them well since their birth. It stands to reason that their new toys would allow the same.
The jewel making the most buzz during their conference, would have to be their own offering of a video playing software, as an alternative to the sometimes sketchy performance of Flash. The Google variant, dubbed VP8, is being provided as an open source alternative, with royalty free use, all rolled up with an open source audio platform to boot. Currently, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera support the format, but IE and Safari, do not. Flash however, can still play the content generated, a new WebM standard, so the browsers aren’t totally in the dark. Only iPhone and iPad users who won’t have the option of having Flash on their devices, will be left in the lurch.
And just because you don’t think of them enough, there’s Google TV in the works. A new set top type box from Sony HDTV’s and Blu-ray players, and Logitech set top boxes, will let you search cable, internet or satellite than a normal program guide can. It uses the Chrome web browser (Flash enabled), so it can play pretty much all video content currently available on the web, Hulu included; provided Hulu doesn’t block out the browser. Tie into that it’s powered by the Android software, and you can incorporate the apps, current and future, into your use. Is this the Google way to shake things up in the television market like they did webmail? Time will tell.
Google video, Google TV, Google cell phones, Google Google Google.. Interesting thought; Google plus WalMart teaming up to provide consumer goods..
Been a rough week for Google and their Street View app they’ve been working on pushing out in Germany. After being found of having collected wi-fi data from unsecured networks (keyword being unsecured), and been given the proverbial swat on the nose with a newspaper, things are heating up back home in the USA.
Only this past Wednesday did the US government start to show signs that they’ve noticed what Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, and Ireland have been calling out about Googles data collection.
Germany wants an untouched hard drive, data intact, just to see what, and how much Google collected from the networks scanned. Big G has until May 26th to comply. France and Italy have both started their own investigations into the matter, France is reviewing the matter before proceeding and Italy wants to know the when and the why of the matter, and if any of it has been sold. Ireland has passed on the matter, being content in the fact that Google has deleted the data, destroyed the hard drives, all while under the watch of a third party, as has the U.K.’s Information Commissioner.
So now that the FTC is involved in the case back in the States, what is their stance? As from Reuters :
Both the FTC and the Justice Department are reportedly “interested in looking into the data collection”
Not exactly knock the doors down and seize what’s going on in hand. Maybe it’s more of a “let’s see if maybe this isn’t such a bad thing..” move?
Was it a mistake to collect the data? Was it on purpose and Google got caught with their hand in the cookie jar? Only they really know. I do have to admit, the most interesting point of the article to me, was how with all of the countries mentioned : Italy, Ireland, France, UK, Germany, and the US, it sure looks like home.
Coding websites, debugging pages, with thousands upon thousands of lines of code is a pain staking process and it’s rather easy to miss things from time to time. In the biggest example to date of this, is Googles most recent roadblock to Street View.
Google’s Street View cars were collecting more than images and coordinates for its sophisticated GPS site. As much as 600GB of data from Wi-Fi networks — in more than 30 countries — has been snagged in Google’s fishnet.
It was picked up by the Data Protection Authority in Germany, when they asked for a sample of the wi-fi data collected by their Street View cars. Upon closer inspection of the data collected, it was found that the information collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks did contain fragments of payload data.
Why mention debugging code? Google’s response to how this happened:
In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data.
And long story short, it was never removed. Part of an idea, never fully finished, and never removed, was a huge cause for privacy concerns as of late for the big G.
The Street View cars were programmed to scan up to 5 different channels per second on Wi-Fi, and in order for them to actually nab data of any kind, you had to be on an open, unsecured network and actively using it. Their fix they’ve implemented now is all the Street View cars are grounded until debugged, and the data collected has been segregated and they’re working with privacy agencies on how best to handle it.
What’s next for Google? Well, Gmail was encrypted for protection earlier this year, and now next week; they’re going to try out encrypted Google searches. Time for another roller coaster ride on the SERPs!
So Google has gone and changed the game a bit again. This time, they’ve changed the look and feel of the results page. In the last couple of days there’s been a blog here, a comment there, how Google “must have been scared” or “taking a page from Bing”. To see and read such comments, actually made me shake my head.
Jon Wiley, Senior User Experience Designer
“We’ve been creating mocks of left-hand panels since the earliest days of Google and have tested these designs with users as far back as 2006.”
In 2006, Google threw a number of changes in the user experience at Googlers, such as search within search (refine your search), left hand nav bar that has been part of the search site since May ’09 (just closed by default), and by trying an option to remove a result from your (personal) results.
No just in relation to the left hand nav bar, it changed a fair amount from design to implementation. Greatly cleaned up to make it easier to use, and persistently open on your results page to help you sort and find what’s relevant to you as a user. It’s just been about helping you find, what you want. As quickly, efficiently, and painlessly as possible.
There have been other changes as well, although they’re more on the aesthetic side of the spectrum. The logo has been flattened, and lightened in color, and the footer has followed suit. The internet is in a constant state of change, and when you try and remain motionless, changeless, and don’t adapt to it, you’ll be lost in the hundreds of millions of pages available. Google, has always tried to bring something new, useful, or sometimes just pleasantly looking to it’s users. For your viewing/nostalgic enjoyment, you’ll find a couple of examples below.
Blue Homepage Self explanatory
Universal bars “This design emphasizes different types of results with labeled blocks in the main results pane, such as books, news and shopping.”
Social media, it’s everywhere. Facebook, Myspace, Winnipeggers, all of them the most convenient way to keep up to date with your friends and community. It can be an incredibly powerful tool to use, but like anything, it’s a service which when you don’t understand it fully, can lead to some problems.
Going forward with the mindset of an average user, here’s a short little list of “Do Not’s“ when it comes to social media.
Your Password : This is a time where the KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) rule has absolutely no bearing. A difficult to break password is most often your first line of defense in someone trying to access your account. Avoid often used words or phrases, and avoid known associates. Using a password with capitals, as well as numbers mixed in is highly recommended.
Your Birthday : Surprisingly, this information is found rather easily on social networks, choosing to completely hide, or only show your age is ideal. Your birthdate can reveal a lot more about you than you may initially think.
Privacy Controls : After setting up your profile, it’s a good idea to nosey around to get a feel for how much control you have over your accounts privacy. A lot of information is left open to the public by default, and often needs to be hidden. Your phone numbers, and email addresses aren’t neceissarily information you’d like to hand out to web crawlers I’m sure.
Your Kids : If you have kids, chances are you don’t want to have random strangers seeing who they are and their name. It’s a scary thought as a parent, but it could very well lead to protecting your child in a very direct way.
Status Updates : Posting on your status update that you’re going to be away from home on vacation for a couple of weeks is an open invitation to would be thieves. Check your privacy settings, and mail those individuals you’d like to make aware of that amazing family trip to Spain. It’s better than broadcasting it to 400+ million users and coming home to a ransacked house.
Parental Supervision : After all is said and done, most EULA (End User Licens Agreements) to social media sites usually have an age requirement to join their site. Unfortunately security is somewhat dependant on trust at this level, so it’s a simple check box to circumvent this measure. Younger users, while very Net friendly, are often not so savvy as to think of privacy, and security features. If your children use any of the bigger social media sites out there, you’d do well to go over their settings with them, to be sure that they have their information, and your families, secure.
Tuesday Twitter announces their new business model of Promoted Tweets to help the company generate revenue to help with the costs of running their equipment.
On Wednesday, Google announces the arrival of the ability of searching past Tweets, in an index of sorts of the history of Twitter.
Twitter, is taking a page from the Google playbook with ad generating tweets (AdWords anyone?), and Google is working it’s way into the real time search areana by including the newest Tweets, and now indexing all of the past ones up to the companies beginning.
In the strictest sense of the word, they’re not true competitors, as they provide different services to users. Google, returns relevant search results to users who search for specific strings. Twitter, is a real time account of the world. It’s a play by play of the world, as it happens.
A thought which has surfaced, and gained some momentum in discussion, is the idea of Google and Twitter joining forces, as opposed to outright confronting each other. In a sense, it would combine the best of real time accounts, with the worlds most powerful search engine; a very potent mix.
But, now that Twitter has developed it’s own revenue model, which it’s still working on, is it enough to keep its solidarity? Or will Google find a way to gobble it up, time will tell. If that happens, what’s the new term to be?
At just under 3 hours per day online, Canadians are now spending more time on the web than they are watching TV. The previous trend of television being the dominant source of entertainment has been replaced by the always on, always recent digital world.
With the possibilities ranging from finding news literally as it happens via a service like Twitter, to finding archived and stored information from publications back decades, the Internet is bringing more of the world, to more Canadians every day. The continual climb of Canadians spending their time online is no real surprise, as print publications are slowly coming around to the idea that more of their readers are coming online, than through their subscription services. Television networks as well, with offering some primetime programming on their websites has helped to attract visitors to their websites.
Surveys from Neilsen and comScore, have shown that online video-viewing and time spent Web browsing have increased over the years. And previous research has shown that there is an emergence of multitasking: watching TV while also using a laptop. A commercial or a news story which once caught your attention, can now be examined more closely with the ease of use of wireless networking and high speed internet in almost all Canadian homes.
This doesn’t mean that the “death” is nigh for old media such as newspapers, television or radio. But the data is there, the numbers have been added up. Canadians are moving online more and more each day, the longer you dwell on the past information distribution and marketing schemes, the faster you’ll fall behind.
In an ever developing technology world, Twitter has been working on implementing a feature into it’s service involving the most popular tweets turning up in it’s search service.
“The Search team is working on a beta project that returns the most popular tweets for a query, rather than only the most recent tweets. This is a beta project, but an important first step to surface the most popular tweets for users searching Twitter..
Until the popular tweet feature all search results have been sorted chronologically, most recent results at the top. If a search query has any popular results, those will be returned at the top, even if they are older than the other results.”
The methodology to implement the service is outlined in detail for developers, but just how the ranking scheme for the tweets is handled, is unknown. The Thought of making the popular results available at search.twitter.com and not just via it’s API was also inferred in the post. But as for an implementation date or time, Singletary was noncommittal.
It’s an interesting idea that is, in a way, a shift in movement for Twitter in it’s core. Twitter, touted as a real time search results source, changing things to bring a user popular/relevant results over it’s real time results?
Facebook, if you live in a cave then there’s a chance you might not have heard of it (a small chance however). If it were a physical community, it would be the worlds fourth largest country at more than 400 million active users, 50% of which are logging in on any given day.
Why is Facebook so popular? Why was it picked up by everyone, and yes in some cases their dog too! It doesn’t make you money, it doesn’t put food on your table, it doesn’t fulfill some of the very basic necessities to live. But, it does fulfill some basics of life. Two different points, both with different needs.
You need food. You need water, shelter, some form of clothing on your back to protect you from the elements. Facebook provides none of these for it’s 400 million users, and yet people flock to it in droves, daily, in the millions.
People are pack animals, you don’t need to look further than the idea of towns and cities to see that. We like to be connected, we like to feel like we’re part of something, we like to know that someone, somewhere, cares to know who we are. It’s added bonus of being able to be in communication with your long lost friends and family is just icing on the cake as far as communication goes. You can send out a letter telling everyone in your life about your new clogs, or your dogs operation, or the newest addition to your family. How many have gotten a friend request, from someone they haven’t spoken to in 10+ years, because they were a friend of a friend of a friend.
Some in the press touted Googles foray (Buzz) into social media a Facebook killer, when in fact Buzz is just the same as all the rest. One of the bigger differences being in this case, your friends list was initially automatically populated for you. Because of the sheer size of it’s client base, somewhere in the neighborhood of 146 million users, if I read correctly, Buzz experienced some very sharp growing pains at it’s indiscretions of privacy and the way it launched itself into the public spotlight.
There was a time when MySpace was the social media phenomenon, and then Facebook arrived and MySpace was left in the dust. Is there a Facebook killer in the weeds, just waiting for it’s chance? Maybe, but the idea that it will happen anytime soon is as probable as the dark horse coming that’s going to topple Googles search dominance.