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Browsing "internet news"

Choosing a side in Bing vs Google

Feb 9, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, Google, internet news  //  Comments Off

The drama between Bing and Google is dieing down, it seems that both sides have thrown the punches at each other and the name calling is dieing down. There’s been shots fired across each others respective bows, the evidence however is still rather difficult to deny.

Google setup some search results in order to determine if their hunch was correct about Bing skimming reseults. It can be construed as underhanded to setup a competitor, realisitcally though it proved their point. What Google found was that when a user searched using the Google engine, in the IE8 browser those results are (allegedly) being used as data to build the Bing search results. Bing fired back with the examples of the image search, search results layout and a few other technological upgrades that Google has incorporated into their search.

You can find more than enough information about the row between the two search giants anywhere online with a quick search ironically. Everyone has an opinion on the matter of course, but I think the white elephant in the room has to be mentioned. Tech companies always borrow, beg and steal ideas and methods from each other, especially if those methods work and draw an audience. Google realized from a visual perspective, that the elements Bing had incorporated into their results pages were popular to users. On the other side of the fence, Bing used user data and click throughs from the IE8 browser and use of the Bing bar to help build their results pages.

One company borrows visual elements to a search page, the other company borrows the actual contents of the search results pages. Apples and oranges in my opinion, but as I said earlier we all have one.

The End of IPv4

Feb 5, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, facebook, Google, internet, internet news, search, search engine, Winnipeg  //  Comments Off

The internet is running out of IP addresses, Bing is copying Google, Facebook can’t handle your data and locally we’re resisitant to change. The loss of IPs online has been broached in the last few days, and the as the last block allocations are doled out I’m certain that the naysayers will be heralding the end of the world (wide web). At least on some level of course.

Bing copied Google’s search results on a really obscure search term, as Bing cries foul over Google copying some of their display methods. It’s one thing to copy a snippet tool to display where on a page information was located and a change in how images are displayed. It’s an entirely new bag of snakes when you literally build your results based upon the users actions on another search engine. Bing has cried foul as well over being setup in Google’s honeypot action and well, that was the point. Google noticed a trend of Bings top 10 searches bearing much the same results as Googles. A hypothesis was formulated as to why and how this could happen, and a test was executed. It just so happens that the test came back positive, and Bing has been caught red handed sneaking results. Deal with it, learn from it, for Gods sakes admit it and carry on.

Facebook is no stranger to drama, what with randomly changing privacy permissions and alalowing app developers to scrape user information. But the newest slip up from the social networking giant is perhaps not so much their fault directly, but indirectly. In a showcase as perhaps the biggest reason to maintain control over your information on the web, 250,000 Facebook profiles were scraped to build a dating website. While the act of scraping data is malicious, and Facebook has promptly leapt to legal action to have the site blocked and removed, it bears mentioning that identity thieves don’t care about terms of use on websites. Is it Facebook’s fault directly? Not exactly, but a campaign of information, clearly outlining how to control your information and keep it under lock and key should you so desire is long overdue. As well as refining again the security features and controls, and make them more obvious; perhaps even going so far as to include a big button that says: I want my information to be private!!

And just to switch things to a local, Winnipeg front for a moment. A downtown restaurant, long heralded as an icon in it’s uniqueness, the Paddlewheel Restaurant is to be closed and renovated. In the story I’ve most recently read about the eatery, the vast majority of the comments and content were unhappy with the coming closure, citing their memories of past visits with friends and family as evidence of enduring success. “It doesn’t need to change” and “It shouldn’t change” were the over lording tones of the piece. There was a video accompanying the story, and while it was somewhat saddening to hear about how a visit to the restaurant with their mother and grandmother for a plate of fries and a coke would be gone with the change, change needs to happen. By the way, the aforementioned visit with family, the fries and coke cost 15 cents to purchase. The video was filled entirely with elderly visitors, no doubt the frequenters of the establishment with the exception of one gentleman interviewed whose thoughts were simply “I understand it’s popular among those with a history of coming here”. The idea that change is bad needs to leave the collective thought process of this town, change is anything but bad. Scary, exciting, turbulent and it can even be smooth, safe and uneventful. But it’s never a bad thing. Change is inevitable, it’s when people, places and the environment they exist in cease to change that they wither and die. Take a clue from one of the oldest businesses still in operation today, in order to survive, they need to change.

Brave New World of Search

Feb 4, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, Google, internet, internet news  //  Comments Off

In the midst of the unrest in Egypt, the name calling and hand slapping that’s been going on between Google and Bing. There’s only one other interesting point of note that’s about to occur within the online tech industry.

The world wide web, is about to run out of IP addresses. Just like back when the toll free system ran out of 800 numbers, it won’t be the end of absolutely everything, or anything for that matter, it’s only an eventuality that was expected. The speed at which it’s happened however was a surprise to the web watchers out there. IPv4 has been touted for a long time as being an outdated system, and a backup has long been in the works, there’s only one small catch. At it’s present state, the new standard of IPv6, isn’t compatible with IPv4. One of the biggest issues with compatiblity however is simply an issue of age. A lot of the older software and hardware isn’t quite ready to be compatible with the 64bit addressing system due to come into play. The world of business and productivity has long been overdue for an overhaul in technology, and as the newer IPv6 comes more and more to the forefront as the addressing system of the web, the change will become mandatory.

Only a quick note on the he said/he said drama between Bing and Google, this time it’s Microsoft firing back at the search giant. While the Bing team hasn’t come right out and said “no we don’t swipe Google’s searches” they’ve said that they do use 1,000 different search variables in building their results pages. Additionally, they’ve made it a point to mention that Google has copied some of the search display features which were implemented in the Bing engine. While Google did indeed copy the display of the results, they did not however, scrape results from Bing searches as it’s becoming more and more apparent that this was the tactic used by Bing.

Both of these factors in tandem are set to change the internet and the world of search. It may be time to hang on as it has the potential to be a wild ride.

Bings lack of Privacy

Feb 3, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, Google, internet news  //  Comments Off

In the midst of all of the brouhaha with Microsoft and Google pointing fingers at each other, there’s a few key points that need to be brought to bear.

Yes, this is the online world where an original idea is like a spark from a fire in the night, brilliantly bright and hot and burning out in seconds. That doesn’t mean however that in working in an additional business model, plagiarism is the best route forward. The “sting operation” as it’s been called, which Google used to confirm their suspicions that Bing was directly copying their search results were based around gibberish searches. Around a search term of “mbzrxpgjys” for example. Google ensured from the get go that the term returned no search results in either engine, and when a few weeks later after setting up the trap the same results appeared, the evidence was, well, evident.

The other main argument that’s being circulated in the news and blogs around the web is similar to the first, that all Bing did was keep up the pace with the big dog in the (search) game. It’s easy to concede the point that when you see a successful business model, with room for more in the same field, that it should be somewhat free game to copy a step here and there. Take Groupon and the plethora of clones which have been springing up using the same business model. Bing however, went over the line in copying a step or two. The point which is being left out in the stories as of late, the Bing results were populated via click through data pulled from users of Internet Explorer searching via Google. Users of Internet Explorer, used Google to search for the term “mbzrxpgjys”, and that click through data was used to populate Bing results.

Microsoft Internet Explorer tracks your search query, your click through data and then uses that data from a competing search engine to build their own (Bing) search results page.

Gee, and people worry about Google keeping things private.

Bing Cheating Google!

Feb 2, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, Google, internet news  //  Comments Off

The internet was born out of the idea of collaboration. That you could work on an idea and have your coworker be from the other side of the globe and it would make everything seem that much closer to home and cozy. It’s not a huge surprise that technologies are borrowed and repackaged and used as companies own, but it’s rare that one gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. And yet Bing, has just been caught.

Google has come out and said pointedly that Microsoft Bing has been cheating in their search results, and stealing Googles results pages and displaying them as their own. Normally this kind of finger pointing can be downplayed as a type of borrowing, as it’s mainly the idea that’s been used, but in this case Microsoft actually admitted it.

Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft’s Bing

As you might imagine, we use multiple signals and approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in this industry, we’re not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it. Clearly, the overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search, so we can guess at the best and most relevant answer to a given query.

Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This “Google experiment” seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals.

How did Google work out what was going on? Aside from doing individual searches and directly comparing results, Google started noticing a rapidly rising overlap in top 10 results pages with Bing. So in order to verify their suspicions, Google rigged some searches. They created a bunch of fake searches which returned little to no results in Google and in Bing, and then placed a page at the top of those results in order to catch them with their hand in the jar. Because the pages were artificially placed in the results, it would be easy to confirm or deny their suspicions. The full fledged experiment began in mid December, and in just a couple of weeks the results began showing up in the Bing results.

In the end, Bing isn’t really really doing anything illegal, if anything it’s like they’re cheating on their math test. Google does all of the work, Bing reaps the same reward as their search opposition. Because no action could realistically be taken, the decision is in the hands of the users, and it puts a taint on all searches performed in Bing. Are they genuine search returns? Or are they just what they’ve managed to snag from the Google results pages.

2011 State of the Union

Jan 26, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet, internet news, New Media, new year, obama, online  //  Comments Off

Since last nights state of the union address, it’s been disected, analyzed, torn apart and chewed up by hundreds of thousands of people. As everyone has an opinion, we’ll all take away something a little different from the speech, but there were some points within which caused me to listen a little closer.

The main point I believe Obama tried to get across, is that for the US to become a world leader again, investments need to be made in the areas of innovation, education and infrastructure. A rather surprising statistic which was related, is that among the worlds nations, the US is 9th on the list with it’s current population having post secondary degrees. Obama is looking to reform the system, and hopefully by 2020 to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Innovation and inspiration remaining within the US was a strong point in the speech. Obama a number of times referred to the fact that while the rest of the world embraced the changes in the world and the way it does business, the States lagged behind, and is now paying the price. Illegal immigrants who had children in the US, who are going to University and excelling in their studies are being deported to compete with the industries within the US. He proposes a change to have that ingenuity, innovation and intelligence to remain in the country instead of being pushed out. A plan which is planned to be revealed within the coming weeks.

And moving ahead into the 21st century of business, Obama nearly pledged that in the next 5 years that high speed wireless internet would be available to 98% of all Americans. No small feat to be certain, but an incredibly worthy aspiration, as it’s an investment into the countries businesses. The world is online, Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging and researching. Collaborations are made every day across the globe between businesses that fuel their local economies. As Obama addressed in his speech, any business can setup shop anywhere and be profitable with an internet connnection. With the co-operation of the entire government, the hope is to double the US business exports by 2014. Obama knows the power of the internet, it was leveraged to fuel his political machine that drove him to the White House. The power is online, in the hands of the users and the US President knows it. It’s long time for business to get their heads out of the sand and move with the rest of the world, or get left further and further behind.

Shaking the Google Tree

Jan 21, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, internet news  //  Comments Off

In a shift from the norm, with Google’s fourth quarter posted, near at the top of the list was a shake up of management structure. Eric is moving, Larry is in and Sergey will be coming up with new ideas.

Starting from April 4, Larry Page, Google Co-Founder, will take charge of Google’s day-to-day operations as Chief Executive Officer.Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder, will devote his energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products.

Eric Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman, focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership–all of which are increasingly important given Google’s global reach. Internally, he will continue to act as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

It’s not a reflection on the news that’s been made in the last year in the privacy debate according to the trio, but it’s about streamlining the decision making process.

Eric said: “We’ve been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time. By clarifying our individual roles we’ll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company. In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come.”

Larry and Sergey of course have nothing to say poorly about Schmidt, as fulfilling the role of CEO for the last 10 years he’s piloted Google to the top of the internet and made the company profitable hand over fist. The proof of such can be seen in the earnings report, in the fourth quarter of 2010 revenue was up 26% from 2009 to $8.4 billion. You can read the full disclosure on the Google news release.

The Greatest Guessing Game

What is the greatest guessing game you ask? It’s the game which has made Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as other search engine start ups and even failures, piles of money just by mention of the word. Search, is the greatest guessing game.

What happened when Google took the game and applied it’s own rules, was dominate the online community as it propelled itself forward, clawing and fighting for all of the infomation it could find. There are various illustrations of the web which come to mind when it’s pictured. Firstly as a web of course, of interconnecting websites and pages, all of which the search bots, spiders naturally, navigate their way around and build up this interconnectability between them. I’ve seen pictures of the internet visualized as planets in galaxies and solar systems, as continents on a map and even as a DNA strand at one point. The best visualization I can come up with is that of an ocean, and all of the websites and pages of the internet are just kind of floating around. People are like little fish, darting around from point to point, sometimes finding what they want, sometimes not. But it’s a fluid environment, never the same from day to day and always on the move.

An article written about which search engine is better at delivering relevant results was the inspiration for today. It tried to demonstrate that by using identical results in different search engines, that one could clearly deliver better and more relevant results than the other. The reality is I believe, much murkier than that. Google is absolutely a brand name, and used extensively in all walks of life. Bing is working hard on branding itself as a decision engine and not a search engine, but in the end both algorithms do primarily the same thing. They guess at what you’re looking for, they guess that they’re delivering you what you want to see and they guess mostly correct only because you’ve already told them what you want to see. Whether it’s via your search history, cookies saved on your computer or even your directly typed search query. Search is still just a game, and for now Google still plays it best. The internet and online technology being what it is, we’ll revisit the topic in a year and everything may be upside down.

Microsoft vs Apple – Round 1

Jan 13, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   apps, internet, internet news, microsoft  //  Comments Off

In what could shape up to be a somewhat expensive fight for both parties, Microsoft filed a motion against Apple, blocking the company from trademarking the term “App Store”.

The brief outlines basically that the terms app and store both have generic definitions in society, and the combined app store also has meaning to the masses. Because of the widespread use of the term in the mobile industry, Microsoft also demonstrated that even Steve Jobs has used the phrase as a definition of services offered by it’s competitors in the same space. And indeed if you search on Google for app store, you’ll receive a results page with some 110 million results, with related search terms comprising of android app store, blackberry app store and nokia app store just to name a couple.

There is no doubt that Apple paired the terms and began using the phrase app store in conjuction with it’s offerings for it’s iPhone and other hardware, but it hardly warrants exclusive trademark rights. If Apple were granted the trademark rights to the term, no doubt we’d start to see many other applications submitted for other generic pairings. Microsoft in their motion listed quite a few examples of similar circumstances where trademark applications were denied as the terms applied for were too generic. The ball is in Apple’s court now and how will they reply? Only time will tell.

Online Privacy will Change

Jan 12, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   facebook, internet, internet news, online  //  Comments Off

One of the largest issues online and one that especially plagues Facebook and other networks like it, is the privacy issue. Facebook likes to use the argument, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt caught fire for the same sentiment, that if you’re online and don’t want the world to know something of you, don’t share it.

At present the general demographic of internet users range from the 12 year olds doing book reports and discovering social networking, to 80+ grandparents keeping in touch with family with email, Facebook and so on. When you through an idea as complicated as ‘privacy’ into the mix of a demographic so large, problems are created. Looking at the definition of privacy:

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes.

The ‘basic common themes’ would be the language pertaining too ‘the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively’. The idea that you control what others know about you isn’t a strange ideal to uphold, and Facebook et al would escape a lot of criticism if they made one simple change to their policies; instead of having users opt out, allow them instead to opt in to new features and services. Where a lot of the concerns and issues come from is the second part of the definition which says ‘boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals’.

Privacy at it’s root, is a value shared by every person innately, but just like everyone has an opinion, everyone has a different take on privacy as a whole. What the privacy commissioners of the world deem as protection of privacy today, will be different for my childrens generation. Each generation as well, is becoming more and more comfortable with controlling their information online which will also contribute to changes in outlook. So before you click ‘Allow’ on that next Facebook application that your cousin sent you, take a minute instead to actively read what information it will be collecting and sharing about you. Privacy online has always been in the users control, the majority just fail to seize it.

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