An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to gostips@gmail.com .

February 28, 2006

GMail for Domains Screenshot

From RyderRoss.com we have a nice screenshot for the new GMail for Domains program:

Encyclopodia Brings Wikipedia On Your iPod

Encyclopodia is an open-source project that wants to brings Wikipedia, which is one of the largest encyclopedias on the world, on the Apple iPod MP3-Player.

The English version has about 753MB and it should work if you have an iPod generation 1 to 4.

A related project is iPodLinux, a port of the Linux kernel and tools to the iPod, which is in alpha. They have successfully ported a customized uClinux kernel to the iPod and built a simple user interface. The problem is that iPods have only 32MB DRAM + 96 or 128kB SRAM (aka IRAM, fast RAM) and a CPU of 75 Mhz, so they don't have too much processing power.

Also view: What if Microsoft designed the iPod package box? (video)

February 27, 2006

Smiley business

You've seen these horrible creatures everywhere. Every site has this ad for 10,000 free smilies. But who is behind this business and why is that a business?

Smiley Central is a part of Fun Web Projects (http://www.funwebproducts.com/), that also includes: Cursor Mania, Fun Buddy Icons, History Swatter, My Mail Notifier, My Mail Signature, My Mail Stamp, My Mail Stationery, PopSwatter, Popular Screensavers. Fun Web Projects is a brand of IAC Search & Media (NASDAQ: IACI), that also has Ask.com.

Your Smiley Central download also includes a free search box for your Web browser. My Web Search gives you instant search results from the Internet's best search engines and relevant search results from address bar queries. Oh, really?

The download is 3022 KB, it's a toolbar for Internet Explorer (My Web Search toolbar) that looks like this:


My Web Search lets you search using Google, Yahoo, Ask and LookSmart (by default, Google), which seems pretty fair. But what about the smileys?


Who cares about the smileys? The idea is to search for [credit car debt], [life insurance], [mortgage], and other high-revenue keywords. The smileys are just small images available online and that can be inserted in your IM messages or in your mails to make you look cool. The integration between the smiley third-party and the instant messengers is almost non-existant. You can also get cursors, fun cards, themed screensavers.

"Why do some people mistake the My Web Search toolbar for spyware?

We feel compelled to respond to the fact that our product is sometimes erroneously referred to as spyware. Such statements are completely false and in many cases subject to legal challenge as a form of libel. However, the reality is that there is a substantial amount of confusion and misinformation on the Web about how programs work and what "spyware" means.
This problem has been compounded by the evolution of so-called "spyware" detection programs that are being operated in many cases without attention to the facts or details. In many cases, these programs may label programs as "adware," "spyware," "malware," "dataminer" or another classification simply because the program is a plug-in.
We have engaged in a productive dialog with many providers of spyware detection software that have acknowledged that our product is not spyware and removed it or properly classified the software. " (from MyWebSearch.com)

"MyWebSearch Toolbar is NOT a Trojan, virus or spyware. MyWebSearch is a toolbar that is distributed from a variety of IAC Search & Media properties, including: www.SmileyCentral.com, mymailstationary.com, popularscreensavers.com, www.mymailsignatures.com and www.cursormania.com and others.


During testing conducted 11/22/2005, MyWebSearch came bundled from FunWebProduct.com. Users land on this page by clicking on 'smileys' from a variety of websites like www.dictionary.com or kids sites like AIMFace.com. On dictionary.com, for example, the banner ads are both on the top and side of the page. The banner ads make no mention of MyWebSeach toobar bundled with the smileys. Once the user decides they want smileys and clicks the banner ad, they are taken to a smiley landing page.


This page is dominated by dancing, singing, and other animated smileys with a very big download button flashing 'Click here!...Get FREE Smileys!'. Also, there is passing reference to the toolbar, listed number 3 in a series of 4 bullet points, indicating 'comes with FREE MyWebSearch accessible...' In short, most users will install smileys without understanding they are getting a toolbar and browser setting changes." (from eTrust Spyware Encyclopedia)

Anyway, even if this product is not spyware, it's just a tricky marketing bundle that makes you think it's all about cute smileys, when it's all about cash, driving traffic to search engines and getting money from advertising. Who are the target? Kids, teenagers, computer-illiterates, and other people that think it's cool to have original smileys.

Great reading: Sunbelt analysis about Ask Jeeves' toolbars

DOJ doesn't give up on Google's data

Google's concerns that millions of its users' Internet search requests would violate privacy rights are unwarranted, the Justice Department said in a court filing.

The DoJ has now submitted an eighteen page brief to the court challenging Google's refusal to hand over the information. In it the DoJ points out that it has specifically asked for any information, such as IP address, which could identify an individual to be removed. Therefore the subpoena does not violate a citizen's right to privacy.

The department believes the information will help revive an online child protection law that has been blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. By showing the wide variety of Web sites that people find through search engines, the government hopes to prove Internet filters are not strong enough to prevent children from viewing pornography and other inappropriate material online.

New Ask.com Homepage

Then
...and now

"The perception we want to achieve is that we are a serious search contender," said Daniel Read, Ask's vice president of product management.

Ask.com, sports a clean, crisp interface, which seeks to find the "sweet spot between the Google home page and the Yahoo home page," said Read.

February 26, 2006

Google Links and Google Calendar Coming Soon

Google is testing a new feature that mimics something Yahoo already partially has: Google Links, i.e. links to your favourite Google services, that will follow you everywhere you go on Google.com.



While looking at these services, you will see something weird: what is Google CL2? The famous Google Calendar, announced since more than a year? If you click on the link, you get "The page you requested is invalid".

Update: Google Calendar screenshots

Video Adsense Experiment


Google Rumors noticed a new kind of Adsense ad: after images, animated ads, we now have video ads. It just feels like an embeded YouTube video: you first get a still image, a "Play Video" button and a link to the site. You can also change the volume. I wonder if there is a reward for playing the video.

And what if you visit the site without playing the video?

Standpoint - what do you believe?

Standpoint is a Web 2.0 startup that lets you express your point of view, give reasons that support it and influence the community.

What people think about Google?

13 people Google Maps is the best
10 people Google has done more good than evil
3 people Google is evil.
5 people Analysts are pushing up Google stock
1 person Google stock a good buy under $350.
5 people Google is overvalued
2 people Google maps is better than Mapquest, but local.live.com is far cooler than both.
5 people Google is in the tech sector
1 person google is merely preparing for the future; not being evil
4 people Google has a really good service
2 people Google is innovative, fun, and a good model for modern business
3 people Google has done a lot for promoting corporate responsibility
3 people There are important reasons for Google complying with China's demands
3 people Google Maps is simple and straitforward, providing clean and accurate directions
3 people google rocks
3 people Google influnced how ethically Microsoft acts
3 people google give more linux support than microsoft
1 person Google video fun
1 person Use Google Local to find a good coffee shop in Salt Lake City!
1 person Google isn't good, just because both words start with the same letters

February 25, 2006

Flash Mute

If you don't want to disable Flash content, but just to make a disturbing Flash ad shut up, you can install FlashMute, a small program that supports IE, Firefox, Opera.

When executed, FlashMute will put a new icon in your system tray. When clicking this icon, it will alternate between its normal state: "F", and the muted state: "F" with a red X across it. When in the normal state, Flash movies will be allowed to use sound output, but when the red X is displayed, Flash will be denied access to your audio hardware.

You can also use a shortcut instead of clicking the icon: Ctrl-Alt-M.

Disable Flash Advertising

Flash applets can be fun, but most often they distract you from the real content. That's the case with most Flash ads that include sound and animations.

The Macromedia Flash Player is implemented as an ActiveX control for some browsers, and as a plug-in for other browsers. If you don't want to see Flash applets anymore, uninstall Flash Player (macromedia.com).

If you don't want to uninstall Flash, but you want to be disabled as default, you can try Flashblock, an extension for Firefox that blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves placeholders on the webpage that allow you to click to download and then view the Flash content.

If you want to block just some Flash applets, you can install Adblock, another Firefox extension that filters unwanted content based on the source-address using regular expressions. You can disable, for example, anything that contains "/ads/" in its address.

In Opera, if you want to temporarily disable Flash, it's an easy workaround: just disable plugins (press F12, and uncheck "Enable plugins").

Otherwise, to simulate AdBlock, you should create a file user.css that contains this code (credit - http://my.opera.com/Rijk/blog/show.dml/8382):

embed[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"] {
content: url(http://img467.imageshack.us/img467/9899/flashblock2tp.gif);
}
embed[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"].zichtbaar {content: normal; outline: none}

body:before {
position: absolute; visibility: hidden;
background-image: url("javascript:window.addEventListener('click', function(){var srcElem=window.event.srcElement;var tag=srcElem.tagName;if(tag=='EMBED') srcElem.className='zichtbaar';}, false)");
content:""}

The file should be copied in the same location that appears in Preferences/Advanced/Content/ Style options / My style sheet.

Disable animated GIFs

Firefox:
go to about:config
set image.animation_mode to none

Opera:
press F12
unselect Enable GIF animation

Internet Explorer:
go to Internet Options < Advanced < Multimedia
unselect Play animations in web pages

Safari Compatibility Test

How does your website look in Apple Safari ? Visit the Safari Test page, enter your url and you'll get a real-time screenshot of your page viewed with Safari. You can choose the resolution and the quality of the image.

February 24, 2006

Google Wallet: Make Payments With Google

"Over the past four years, Google has billed advertisers in 65 countries more than $11.2 billion in 48 currencies, and made payments to advertising partners of more than $3.9 billion.

As the number of Google services has increased, we've continued to build on our core payment features and migrate to a standard process for people to buy our services with a Google Account. Examples of this migration include enabling users to buy Google Video content, Google Earth licenses, and Google Store items with their Google Accounts. We also just began offering similar functionality on Google Base.

Looking ahead, we want to continue building payment services that meet the needs of Google users and advertisers. We expect to add payment functionality to Google services where our users need a way to buy online. " (Google Blog)

Google will provide a centralized place where you can make your payments, check your payment history. They might change AdWords philosophy: instead of visiting the website of the producer, you will directly buy the product through Froogle.

Related: Google to compete with Pay Pal

February 22, 2006

Google Page Creator


Google developed a simple WYSISYG editor for web pages. You can find it and play with it at pages.google.com. You can use up to 100MB of space for your pages and uploaded files. Your site will have an address like http:// yourgmailusername.googlepages.com/myferret.

Update: "Google Page Creator has experienced extremely strong demand, and, as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity. " Like Google Analytics and Web Accelerator, Google Page Creator stopped creating new accounts due to heavy demand.

February 21, 2006

Lazy Sunday Viral Video

Lazy Sunday is a music video starring Saturday Night Live cast members Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg that aired on the December 17, 2005, episode of the show.

The film shows Parnell and Samberg performing a rap about buying cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery and going to see the movie The Chronicles of Narnia. It quickly became popular among Internet communities for its memorable lyrics:

Lazy Sunday,
Wake up in the late afternoon
Call Parnell just to see how he's doin'
Hello?
What up, Parn!
Yo Samberg, what's crackin'?
You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?
Narnia!
Man it's happ'nin'!
But first, my hunger pangs are stickin' like duct tape.
Let's hit up Magnolia and mack on some cupcakes.
No doubt, that bakery's got all the bomb frostings.
I love those cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling.

Two! No, Six! No, Twelve! Baker's Dozen!
I told'ja that I'm crazy for these cupcakes, cousin!
Yo, where's the movie playin'?
Upper West Side, dude!
Let's hit up Yahoo Maps to find the dopest route.
I prefer Mapquest!
That's a good one too.
Google Maps is the best!
True that! Double true!
68th and Broadway.
Step on it, sucka!
What you wanna do Chris?
snack attack, mutha----!

Hit the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Yes, the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
We love that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Pass that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!

Yo, stop at the deli.
The theatre is overpriced!
You got that backpack
I'm going to pack it up nice.
We don't want security to get suspicious!
Mr. Pibbs and Red Vines equals crazy delicious.
Yo, reach in my pocket and pull out some dough,
Girl acted like she never seen a $10 before!
It's all about the Hamiltons baby
Throw the snacks in a bag and I'm Ghost like Swayze.

Roll up to the theatre
Ticket buying what we're handling,
You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons
Parked in our seats movie trivia's the illest!
"What Friends alum starred in films with Bruce Willis?"
We answered so fast, it was scary:
Everyone stared in awe when we screamed "Matthew Perry!"
Then quiet in the theatre or it's gonna get tragic
We're about to be taken to a dream world of magic

In the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Yes, the Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
We love that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!
Pass that Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!


One of the sites that distributed the video was YouTube.com, but because of the copyright infringement, it had to remove the video. YouTube's blog states, "We know how popular that video is but YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders. "

If you check the Google cache, you will see that Lazy Sunday had 4,568,973 views on 10 Feb 2006.

You can still find the video here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4245337360492479670&q=lazy+sunday (Google Video)

http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/ (Saturday Night Live not-so-great site)

Related post:
Baidu vs Google (viral video)

Life in the Googleplex

Time features a photo essay about the life in the Googleplex. What googlers do when they don't code great applications? They swim, create graffiti, play volleyball, eat three free gourmet meals a day that can be eaten in a cafeteria adorned by artwork created by Google employees and unwind with a professional massage.

February 19, 2006

What's the best image search engine?

How To Create An Image Search Engine?

While crawling the web and following links, you should track the img tag and the links that point to images. Most images on the web are jpegs, gifs and pngs so you can detect them based on extension.

Now what metadata can you find about a picture? You can find information about a picture in the name, in the alt attribute, in the link description, in the text near the image and in the context of the page. Although the text that surrounds the image is sometimes relevant, nobody guarantees that the image doesn't illustrate a very small detail or something related to the topic on the page.

To see what's the best image search engine, I tested 5 big search engines (ok, Flickr is not a search engine, but it has great photos) against 20 searches.

Test searches


The first result for Larry Page on Yahoo. They sort of mock the Google guys.


personalities
John Battelle
Larry Page

Vladimir Putin
Andy Roddick
Tori Amos

feelings
fear
shallow
unrequited love
laughing child
tough argument

screenshots
gnuplot
paint shop pro
openoffice
freebsd
solaris [the book, the film, the operating system]

events
New York attacks
India tsunami
gnomedex
Robbie Williams concert
Oscars 2005

I looked mainly at the first result, but I took in the considerations the others if they were great.

The results:



The first result for fear on Picsearch.


picsearch.com : 17/20
Probably the best image search. It doesn't have many results, but the sources are carefully selected.
(bad results for: new york attacks, shallow, tough argument )

images.search.yahoo.com: 15/20
Hillarious results, not safe-for-work results, logos usually come first.
(bad results for: fear, tough argument, freebsd, new york attacks, gnomedex)

images.google.com: 14/20
Not as good as the web search.
(bad results for: fear, shallow, unrequited love, paint shop pro, freebsd, new york attacks)

pictures.ask.com: 14/20
Ask has really good related searches.
(bad results for: fear, shallow, unrequited love, tough argument, paint shop pro, freebsd)

flickr.com: 8/20
Where is the search button? The tags are great, but they restrict the search queries.
(bad results or no results for: shallow, unrequited love, laughing child, tough argument, gnuplot
paint shop pro, openoffice, new york attacks. india tsunami, gnomedex, robbie williams concert, oscars 2005)

Pandora - free music discovery service

Can you help me discover more music that I'll like?

Pandora is a great website that creates a streaming audio playlist of music based on any artist or track you suggest. Every artist, every song, every genre has some attributes that build interesting connections.

"On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever. Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. "

Similar services are: Yahoo! Launchcast (you can find it in Yahoo! Messenger) and Last.fm.

Google PageRank Update


It seems that a Google PageRank update is imminent.

To check what the Google Data Centers are saying about your PageRank use Future Pagerank, a tool that will query Google's various data centers to check for any changes in PageRank values for a given URL.

Some data centers, like 216.239.53.99 and 216.239.53.104, will show different values if your PageRank has changed. You will basically see two values: one is the current PageRank and the second one the new PageRank.

You can see in this screenshot that Xooglers, the blog created by two former Google employees (ex-googlers), increased their PageRank from zero to 7 in just 3 months. Xooglers has more than 1,570 links and many are from high-ranked sites like Digg.

Say Goodbye to FrontPage and Jeeves

Goodbye, FrontPage

Microsoft will close the book on its FrontPage Web-design program with the release of Office 2007, formerly known as Office 12, late this year.

Microsoft acquired FrontPage in the mid-1990s, and it soon outdistanced Adobe's PageMill and other popular low-cost WSIWYG Web-creation tools.

FrontPage does serve as the foundation for two different Web-design programs: SharePoint Designer 2007, which is intended for organizations using the SharePoint server-based Web-development platform; and Expression Web Designer, which appears to be outside of the Office application family.

Goodbye, Jeeves

As expected, the butler Jeeves will not be the logo for Ask.com anymore. By the end of February the iconic valet will disappear from the site he has graced since it debuted in 1996.

The decision to axe Jeeves was taken in September 2005 but he stayed in place while the company investigated how users felt about the change. The removal of Jeeves has been driven by a broader effort to re-brand the Ask search site.

Jeeves wanted to be a friendly and trustworthy wizard that will answer all your questions. It turned out that Ask Jeeves is just a search engine that knows about NLP (Natural Language Processing) and semantic web as much as Google does.

A former Ask employee started a blog that wants to save Jeeves: "I want to save Jeeves, and I want YOUR help.", but the decision has already been made.

February 18, 2006

Google responds to the U.S. Justice Department's subpoena

Google formally rejected the U.S. Justice Department's subpoena of data from the Web search leader, arguing the demand violated the privacy of users' Web searches and its own trade secrets.

"Google users trust that when they enter a search query into a Google search box, not only will they receive back the most relevant results, but that Google will keep private whatever information users communicate absent a compelling reason. The Government's demand for disclosure of untold millions of search queries submitted by Google users and for production of a million Web page addresses or "URLs" randomly selected from Google's proprietary index would undermine that trust, unnecessarily burden Google, and do nothing to further the Government's case in the underlying action."

Download the PDF (253 KB)

More at Google Blog.

Web as an Alter Ego


The mirror
Use the web to find people that share your ideas, or that have other ideas. Think what do you like, and google your statement in quotes.
“I love Bjork”
“SSL is a great idea”
“Hardware firewalls are better than software firewalls”
You will find mostly blogs, comments and forums that extend the idea and that may give you related concepts, arguments that support your idea.


The oracle
The web can answer your questions simply because other people have answered it once and the web has cached the answer. Some answers may be great, others may be subjective or plain wrong. It depends on your question. If it's a simple question and has a precise answer, like “Where was Alexander the Great born?” you should put it in the affirmative form: “Alexander the Great was born in *”. Think this way. Let's assume you know the answer. How would you formulate it?
The questions can be open, like: “What's the best firewall?”. These questions are more difficult to reformulate. You should try: “My favorite firewall is *”, “My favourite firewall is *”, “* is the best firewall”.


The categorizer
Categories are a great way to organize data . They work like some drawers that have a different label and some attributes powerful enough to create a class.
Sometimes you know some items that belong to a category and want to know others. You know Tucows, Simtel and Download.com are important download centers and you want to find similar sites. Just google: [tucows simtel download.com] unquoted this time and the results will contain enumerations of other software download sites, like Winsite, Softonic or FreewareHome.


The interviewer
Sometimes you just have to ask good questions about a topic and, as you know, great questions value more than a thousand answers. Let's say you meet a BMW representative. Google some question fillers:
“Why * * * BMW?”
“Why BMW cars * * *”
“How many BMW * * *”
“How * * BMW X5 * *”
“BMW sales * * drop * *”

February 16, 2006

Office Live Doesn't Live Up To Its Name


Microsoft's web-based office product, Office Live, was released in beta yesterday.

Microsoft Office Live provides companies with its own free domain name, Web site, and e-mail accounts.

Additionally, Office Live offers
* business management applications, such as customer, project, and document management tools,
* Web site managed and maintained by Microsoft where you can work together and share information with employees, customers, suppliers, and contractors.

Microsoft Office Live isn't a replacement for Microsoft Office, and it's not a hosted version of Microsoft Office.

These services are offered at three different levels:
Office Live Basics,
Office Live Collaboration,
and Office Live Essentials.


Basics (Free)

Create an effective Web site and more:
Your own domain name
Five e-mail accounts
Web site traffic reports

Collaboration (Starting at $29.95/month)

Organize, manage and share information in a single online workspace with:
Simple online programs to manage customers, employees, and projects
Online workspace to share information and work with others more efficiently

Essentials (Starting at $29.95/month)

Manage and grow your business online using:
Your own domain name and Web site
50 e-mail accounts
Site traffic reports and search engine (keyword) reports

Greg Linden thinks it's more "branding foolishness from Microsoft", because Office Live doesn't live up to the 'Live' hype.

February 14, 2006

Top 10 - Google Blogoscoped in 2005

Google Blogoscoped, by Philipp Lenssen, is probably the best Google Blog on the web. I highly recommend this great source of news, geeky humour and brilliant ideas.

Here is my Top 10 - Google Blogoscoped in 2005:

1.Copyright?

Copyright is complicated. Too many shades of gray. Especially in the digital world. I'll give this post to the public domain, so share it all you like. But it's not always that easy.

Take images you put on your web page, for example. Maybe you made the photo with your digital camera. Maybe it's a photo of a group of people. Are you allowed to publish it without asking anyone? Would it matter if you start charging for it? Would you need to ask all persons on the photo for a permission?

2.Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb

I realized that, paradoxically enough, good programmers need to be both lazy and dumb.

Lazy, because only lazy programmers will want to write the kind of tools that might replace them in the end. Lazy, because only a lazy programmer will avoid writing monotonous, repetitive code -- thus avoiding redundancy, the enemy of software maintenance and flexible refactoring. Mostly, the tools and processes that come out of this endeavor fired by laziness will speed up the production.

3.Instead of Words

Some years ago, I met a linguist in Sarawak, Malaysia. Originally he was from Australia, but later as adult he was adopted by a Malaysian tribe (it might have been the Penan tribe, though I don't know for sure). He introduced me to one linguist theory which breaks up everything we say or write into experiential, textual, and interpersonal communication. For example, when I say "Thank you", then this is purely interpersonal -- it doesn't carry any specific information but a reassurance of a relationship between two persons (just as the question "How are you doing?").

4.Windows Media Player, or: Usability Going Down the Hill

Maybe I'm getting old: I got a feeling good usability standards for desktop software are going downhill. Probably, all good interface designers of today have left the desktop to take over the web.

5.Problems of Personalization

Stranger 1: "What time is it?"
Stranger 2: "It's 7 in New York."
Stranger 1: "No, I mean here in London."
Stranger 2: "It's 4 in some hours."
Stranger 1: "No, I mean now."
Stranger 2: "It's 2."
Stranger 1: "AM or PM?"
Stranger 2: "Where, here or in New York?"

6.Creating a Good Blog Archive

Making screenshots
Not hot-linking to images
Not hosting elsewhere
Clean code
Choosing a top level domain, and sticking with it
Explain more than necessary
Prominently writing the date on the page
Separating content from layout
Putting the right amount on a page

7.Geek Usability

Here's a shining example of "Geek Usability": the website for GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It's a nice photo retouching software in the spirit of Photoshop, but distributed freely.

8.Creative Spam

Most spam you get is rather boring, I assume, making it look like spammers are evil and verbose, but not creative. Yet sometimes, you might also receive an email telling you about a dead link on your site, or a reply to your post in a newsgroup. Of course these bulk emails are fully automated as well, but in a more clever way -- they're personalized to you and thus make you more inclined to read them or click on their links. I wonder why spammers aren't creative like this more often. I could imagine several ways to automate this.

9.Google Search Tips 2005

You can find synonyms of words. E.g. when you search for [house] but you want to find "home" too, search for [~house]. To get to know which synonyms the Google database stores for individual words, simply use the minus operator to exclude synonym after synonym (they will always show as bold in the SERPs, the search engine result pages). Like this: [~house -house -home -housing -floor].

10.How To Find...

Here are some approaches you can use to find different things with Google. Add your own tips in the comments.
Find Song lyrics

Try to enter a line of the song which you already know (as a phrase, using quotes), plus the word "lyrics".

Example: "you're still young" lyrics

You can also use a wildcard inside the phrase if you don't know enough words to construct a meaningful phrase; this helps create a smaller result set.

Example: "you're * young, that's your" lyrics

February 13, 2006

New Antitrust Case For Microsoft?

State and federal prosecutors have been in talks with several companies over Microsoft’s next operating system Vista. The U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general are gathering information on the complaints but they have not yet decided if they have enough material to bring into action an antitrust case against Microsoft. This is all according to a report filed Wednesday with the judge overseeing Microsoft's U.S. antitrust compliance.

One of the complaints rests with Vista's "Welcome Center" feature, which greets users after they start a new PC. The feature also advertises other products. Since the feature will be shown to hundreds of millions of computer users, companies will intensely negotiate with Microsoft in order to get their product shown.

According to the status report, Vista's Welcome Center also will present users "with various setup options." These complaints, although somewhat quiet, might have an effect on the release of the anticipated and many time postponed OS.

The company discussed Welcome Center's design with the top 20 PC makers "and nearly all of them are satisfied" with the design approach, spokesman Jack Evans said. "We've worked closely with our partners throughout the development process to ensure Vista provide unprecedented flexibility and opportunity to them," Evans said.

Google Triumvirate on Time Cover

Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt and Larry Page are on the cover of Time, that has an interesting title: "Can we trust Google with our secrets?".

Some excerpts from the interview:

"IS THERE A GRAND STRATEGY FOR GOOGLE? IT SEEMS AS IF YOU'RE DIVING INTO ALMOST EVERYTHING.

SCHMIDT: We try very hard to look like we're out of control. But in fact the company is very measured. And that's part of our secret.

PAGE: We don't generally talk about our strategy ... because it's strategic. I would rather have people think we're confused than let our competitors know what we're going to do. That's an easy trade-off.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SUDDENLY BE SO WEALTHY?

BRIN: It takes a lot of getting used to. You always hear the phrase, money doesn't buy you happiness. But I always in the back of my mind figured a lot of money will buy you a little bit of happiness.

PAGE: If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach."

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1158956,00.html

February 12, 2006

Steve Gibson on Internet Privacy

Internet security expert Steve Gibson says that "the use of the internet is not as anonymous in fact as it appears to be in practice." In a web conversation with Larry Magid, Gibson explains how internet anonymity is generally a myth, but that it takes a lot of effort and usually a court order to get real life personal information about people based on their surfing history.

This podcast from IT Conversations focuses particularly on Google and the information about individual users that Google collects. Gibson does point out, however, that modern life is full of opportunities for governments and others to collect and aggregate personal information without even looking at the internet.

Download MP3

Orangoo Spell Check

Do you like GMail-style spell checking? Would you like to check the spelling of a text and can't install Google Toolbar or other software?

You can try Orangoo Spell Check, an Ajax site that uses Google spell checker. The site was created by Amir Salihefendic and the code is available online.

New Error in Internet Explorer


This error is from IE 7 Beta 2 and happened while watching a Flash video-stream. It's funny that even if you press Continue, the browser still crashes.

February 11, 2006

5 fast ways to check your GMail account

1. [Only for Internet Explorer] Download the Google Toolbar 4. Add the Gmail custom button from the Toolbar Gallery.


2. [Browser] Create a personalized homepage at http://google.com/ig and add a Gmail module.


3. [Only for Windows. Requires download.] Get Google Talk and you'll be notified in the system tray if you have new mails from Gmail. You will also see a snippet from the messages.

4. [Only for Windows. Requires download.] Get Google Desktop, enter your username and password in the settings and enable the sidebar view. You can also filter your mail and create alerts. Desktop can also index your mail to search it offline.


5. [Very fast] Visit m.gmail.com, the Gmail for mobile page. You will see a simple page, without Javascript, that lets check your mail really fast.

Other ways:
[Firefox] Gmail Manager is a nice Firefox extension that allows you to manage multiple Gmail accounts.

[Mac, Windows] Google Notifier displays an icon in your system tray to let you know if you have unread Gmail messages, and shows you their subjects, senders and snippets. It's similar to Google Talk's functionality.

Also read:
Check Multiple Gmail Accounts

Free proxy list

If you are looking to see a gambling site at work or any site where you do not want to be tracked or you can't access, try a free proxy. Anonymous proxy servers hide your IP address and thereby prevent your from unauthorized access to your computer through the Internet. They do not provide anyone with your IP address and effectively hide any information about you and your reading interests. Besides that, they don't even let someone know you are surfing through a proxy server.

http://www.hidemyass.com

http://www.letsproxy.com

http://www.browseatwork.com

http://www.cgi-proxy.net

You can also find a great list of public proxy servers here.

February 10, 2006

Corporate GMail

Garett Rogers wrote two days ago:

"Their next big move will likely be GMail for domains — a powerful way for anybody who owns a domain to utilize GMail as a mail server, not just a client. Yahoo has their own small business mail product which does precisely this, and now evidence suggests Google is planning the same.

This is the line from the source that really makes me think this might be in the works:


function vJ(){if(uy){;return'< a class=lc target=_blank href="'+ry+'">'+"Manage this domain"+"< /a> | "}else{return""}}"


It seems he was right. Google has just launched GMail for your Domain - a beta test that lets you give Gmail, Google's webmail service, to every user at your domain.

Google Blog writes that San Jose City College will be a part of this program, by giving mail accounts to its 10000 students.

Google will provide corporate mail for organizations, that will include admin tools for efficient account management.

February 9, 2006

Google Search As A Criminal Evidence

Robert Petrick searched for the words "neck," "snap," "break" and "hold" on an Internet search engine before his wife died.

More than two years after Janine Sutphen's body was discovered floating in a Raleigh lake, investigators continue to find new evidence on computers seized from Robert Petrick's home that prosecutors say support their arguments that Petrick killed his wife.

The Google search was the latest in recently discovered evidence found on nearly a dozen computers seized from Petrick's home.

Last week, a forensic investigator discovered that Petrick allegedly researched lake levels, water currents, boat ramps and access about Falls Lake just four days before he reported Sutphen missing on Jan. 22, 2003.

---------------------(WRAL.com, November 9, 2005)--------------------------------

EFF: Don't use Google Desktop 3

Electric Frontier Foundation asks user not to use the new version of Google Desktop that searches across computers.

"Coming on the heels of serious consumer concern about government snooping into Google's search logs, it's shocking that Google expects its users to now trust it with the contents of their personal computers," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Unless you configure Google Desktop very carefully, and few people will, Google will have copies of your tax returns, love letters, business records, financial and medical files, and whatever other text-based documents the Desktop software can index. The government could then demand these personal files with only a subpoena rather than the search warrant it would need to seize the same things from your home or business, and in many cases you wouldn't even be notified in time to challenge it. Other litigants - your spouse, your business partners or rivals, whoever - could also try to cut out the middleman (you) and subpoena Google for your files."

"This Google product highlights a key privacy problem in the digital age," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "Many Internet innovations involve storing personal files on a service provider's computer, but under outdated laws, consumers who want to use these new technologies have to surrender their privacy rights. If Google wants consumers to trust it to store copies of personal computer files, emails, search histories and chat logs, and still 'not be evil,' it should stand with EFF and demand that Congress update the privacy laws to better reflect life in the wired world."

The privacy issue will become more visible in the next months, as Google tries to index more from your personal files and important information and ties that to your Google account (and that account links to your name, email and your online activity). If that small immortal cookie was enough to create a big debate a couple of years ago, the new features launched by Google that are linked to your account will leave place for many speculations. Google Toolbar 4, GMail, Google Desktop, Personalized Search record information about you: the sites you visit, how often you visit them, the keywords you search for, the domains you like most. Most of thiinformationon was also recorded before, but it was tied only to a cookie easy to delete. But know you have an account (or maybe more accounts) and Google will try to find many ways to keep you logged in.

Google Desktop And Privacy


If you choose to enable Search Across Computers, Google will securely transmit copies of your indexed files to Google Desktop servers, in order to provide the feature. Google treats the contents of your indexed files as personal information, in accordance with the Google Privacy Policy.


Your copy of Google Desktop includes a unique application number. When you install Google Desktop, this number and a message indicating whether the installation succeeded are sent back to Google. Also, when Google Desktop automatically checks to see if a new version is available, the current version number and the unique application number are sent to Google. The unique application number is required for Google Desktop to work and cannot be disabled.

Extras from Desktop Privacy Policy.

If you choose to send non-personal information about your use of Google Desktop Search, the unique application number with this non-personal information also helps us understand how you use Google Desktop Search so that we can make it work better.

Google Desktop Search uses the same cookie as Google.com and other Google services. If you send us non-personal information about your Google Desktop Search use, we may be able to make Google services work better by associating this information with other Google services you use and vice versa. You can opt out of sending such non-personal information to Google during the installation process or from the application preferences at any time.

Google Desktop Is Back

Google Desktop 3 brings new features:

* customize and view personalized information anywhere on the the desktop by clicking and dragging your favorite panels wherever you like

* share information from your Sidebar panels with your contacts by sending it to them through email or directly to their Sidebar

* search across computers enables you to search your documents and viewed web pages across all your computers. For example, you could find files you edited on your desktop from your laptop. You can search only Web history, Office documents, PDF and text file using the remote search.

"When you search, the Desktop uses Google servers to create a conduit between the computers, but then delete any information retrieved from Google servers. Results are text-only, somewhat of a limitation, and you can't transfer files in a native format between computers using this service. But it's a great way to find documents on other computers without having to run a search on multiple machines." (Chris Sherman)

* lock search with a password to prevent anyone from doing a Desktop Search on your computer

Read more from Desktop Blog.

Google Desktop Is Google Operating System Kernel

Well, if you haven't realized this yet, Google Desktop is the prototype of Google Operating System. Google Desktop is a complex application that combines a somehow weak search engine with personalized information: news, weather, mails, feeds, system information - displayed in simple containers called panels (or widgets). The idea is to have every single useful information at your finger tip.

Google Desktop aims to replace Windows Search feature (press Windows+F3), rss viewers, mail applications and even Outlook for its basic features. Google Desktop is always on top and may be your information control panel. Most of its functions need an internet connection, but it can be used offline as well.

Google Desktop wants to create a bridge between your PC and the internet: you get what information you want in the same interface, even if it resides on your computer, on Google servers or elsewhere.

So you see Google Desktop is a great concept, but unfortunately it's also a memory hog and it also doesn't remove deleted files. Google couldn't find a way to build a good algorithm for relevancy, so the results are displayed by date. Google wanted to use the browser as a shell for their engine, but couldn't find a way to display the results in a natural way, like in Windows Explorer or Total Commander or other file manager. Maybe you want to delete some files, or just to copy them to a folder, or concatenate them. You can't do that in Google Desktop (maybe you could develop a plugin for that).

In the next post you will see how Google updated Google Desktop and how can you search your desktop PC from your laptop.

February 8, 2006

Road to Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2

First go to Microsoft page and download IE 7. Download size: 11.2 MB. Pretty big, if you consider that Opera has only 3.6 MB and it's a great browser.

The validation was really fast and the installation took only 3-4 minutes. Unfortunately, you have to restart your computer before using IE7.



This is the welcome page you will see in IE 7: you can set up a phishing filter, choose region and language.
Then you can visit two nice pages: Developer Checklist and IT Pro Checklist, that let you know about different changes in IE 7 rendering engine like: alpha transparent PNGs are supportes, some CSS hacks may break your pages. You can also download a developer-targeted toolbar that lets you explore the DOM, validate pages and outline different tags.

The first bug I noticed: you can't use Compose tab in Blogger. Other issues: if you have Google Toolbar 4 and click New Tab, the toolbar disappears. The phishing filter doesn't seem to work.



There is no "Open in new tab" option when you right-click a link, so the tabs won't be used too much. The new tab button is counter-intuitive. Compare in the screenshot below the way "New tab" was implemented in IE (first) and Opera (the second).



All in all, the new version of IE has some strong points: the new RSS reader, the print preview, the new zoom and the clean design. It crashed only once in several hours of use (when trying to print preview a page) and, unfortunately, didn't show any error message or recovery features (like session saving).

(Yahoo Mail login in IE 7)

Google looks forward to Internet Explorer 7

Google wants to be the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7 (beta 2), so everytime you visit Google.com they take advantage of it to prompt you to make Google your search engine. Yahoo used to do that in Firefox.

New Yahoo Homepage

The new Yahoo homepage:
The current Yahoo homepage:

As Google Blogoscoped reports, Yahoo makes some experiments with its homepage. The new one looks clearer, focuses on search, but still isn't perfect. As most of its users have accounts, Yahoo homepage should be My Yahoo.

February 7, 2006

Opera Widgets: easy to create small applications

Opera 9 now features Widgets: Small web applications that run outside the browser, directly on the user’s desktop. These widgets, unlike a regular browser, has cross-domain features, so it’s an ideal platform for delivering Web applications that interact with multiple online services at once. Opera Widgets are cross-platform, and run both on Windows, Linux and OS X.

A widget is a small Web application, and making a widget is just like making a web page, except it functions like an application and lives directly on your desktop.

Opera can install and open these widgets, and show them directly on the user’s desktop. Widgets are so-called chromeless applications and will display them without regular user interface elements such as the normal browser controls, like the back button or address bar.

When run, a widget may appear like the clock widget below:



An Opera Widget is a regular zip file, renamed to use the extension .wdgt. All the files related to your widget should be stored inside the widget file. A typical widget contains the following elements:
* A widget configuration file. This file holds information about your widget, including its size, name, author, and security information.
* HTML document. This document is the skeleton of the widget. Widgets can also be created using content that Opera handles natively, such as SVG or XML files.Images.
* JavaScript files.
* Stylesheets.

Innovative Opera To Mimic Firefox


Opera 9, the soon-to-be-launched version of the fastest browser in the world, will try to catch up with Firefox. Opera, well-known for its innovative features, released a technology preview of Opera 9, codenamed Merlin, that includes:

* Opera widgets: small JavaScript applications that try to mimic Firefox extensions
* BitTorrent: download torrent files, search torrent files
* Customize your search engines: just like Firefox, Internet Explorer 7
* Improved content blocker: Just right click on a page and select “block content”. Any content not greyed out can be blocked with a click. Select “done” and see the page the way you want. A combination of AdBlock and GreaseMonkey extensions
* Site specific preferences: accept or reject cookies, select specific CSS pages
* Thumbnail preview: hover your mouse on the tab title and preview the page
* Source viewer with syntax highlighting
* opera:config, well like Firefox's about:config

Opera Technology Preview 2

February 6, 2006

GBuy - Google to compete with PayPal

When Jeff Jordan learned last May that Web-search leader Google Inc. was building its own Internet-payment service, he reacted swiftly.

Mr. Jordan, who is president of eBay Inc.'s PayPal online-payments unit, immediately asked employees to unearth information about the Google service. Soon, PayPal employees were monitoring blogs, news reports and other data for information about Google's progress in payments. PayPal staffers even gleaned details about Google's plans during regular calls to customers who were eager to dish about how Google had reached out to them.

"It's a very legitimate competitive threat," says Mr. Jordan, 47 years old. "It's hard not to pay attention to what Google is doing."

While Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt confirmed in press accounts that the company was building a payment service, Mr. Schmidt also denied it would directly compete with PayPal. Mr. Schmidt said Google didn't intend to offer a "person-to-person, stored-value payments system," which many people consider a description of PayPal's service.

Mr. Jordan says he and his team immediately "dissected the wording" of Google's statements. He says he doesn't believe Mr. Schmidt. In the past, Mr. Jordan says, Mr. Schmidt had denied Google would roll out a payments service, only to take it back later. "We took [the comments Mr. Schmidt made] as 'Thou doth protest too much,' " says Mr. Jordan.

Long the Internet's leading online-payments service, PayPal has a 24% market share of U.S. online payments, according to financial-institution consulting firm Celent LLC. PayPal, founded in 1998, boasts 96 million accounts with consumers who want to send payments online without revealing their credit-card or banking information to vendors. To use the service, customers simply set up an account with their credit-card or bank-account details, fill out a payment amount and the email address of the recipient, and send the payment via the Internet to PayPal. If the recipient doesn't have an account, he simply opens one in order to collect the payment. The service gained traction on eBay and proved to be more popular than an in-house payment system it had been using.

For eBay, which acquired the online-payment business in October 2002, PayPal has been a big asset. The unit has helped accelerate trading on eBay's auction sites in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom. Most recently, PayPal generated 23% of eBay's total $1.3 billion quarterly revenue. And PayPal's revenue is growing steadily: It was up 48% to $304.4 million in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier.

But PayPal must now contend with Google. The Mountain View, Calif., Web-search giant, which has terrified Silicon Valley with its ability to quickly create new consumer products and services, is developing a rival service called GBuy. For the last nine months, Google has recruited online retailers to test GBuy, according to one person briefed on the service. GBuy will feature an icon posted alongside the paid-search ads of merchants, which Google hopes will tempt consumers to click on the ads, says this person. GBuy will also let consumers store their credit-card information on Google.

From Wall Street Journal.

February 5, 2006

Winamp: now with 5% more Google


The latest beta (Winamp 5.2 Beta - build 393) from Winamp shows a funny message in the credits dialog: Winamp - now with 5 percent more Google. It's a joke about the purchase by google of a 5% stake in AOL.

What's new in Winamp 5.2?
* Synchronization the Media Library with your portable media player Compatible with iPod, Creative, and Microsoft Plays For Sure devices
* aacPlus (HE-AAC) in MP4 container
* Using Coding Technologies encoder for LC-AAC
* gapless MP3 playback
* multi-user profile options
and many fixes.

Related:
Google Music Box
Find music / mp3 on Google

February 3, 2006

New Bigdaddy data center

Bigdaddy continues to roll out and is now available at three data centers. In addition to 66.249.93.104 and 64.233.179.104, Bigdaddy is now up at 216.239.51.104. Remember that Bigdaddy involves new infrastructure and is not just a data push or algorithm update. Don’t take it as a promise, but I’d expect a new data center to be converted to Bigdaddy roughly every 10 days or so. Again, take that as a rule of thumb.
says Matt Cutts on his blog.

Love is in the air at Google





Marissa Mayer used to date Larry Page. Google is famously consuming of its employees' lives, so it's not a surprise that people should develop relationships at the workplace.
Both Google execs have traded up, according to insider tips and some Google holiday party pics. Larry's dating a lovely young lady named Lucy, while Marissa hooked up with Google employee Dave Jeske. From ValleyWag.

February 1, 2006

Google Futuristic Scenarios

Scenario 1 (Circa 2025): Google Is The Media

Google TV, Google Mobile and the rise of e-paper create the perfect storm.
Some say it began with the launch of Google News, the company's first media aggregation site, in 2002. Others point to Google Book Search, completed in 2007 despite cries of foul play from the publishing industry. But those were just trial runs. Google took its first real step toward media dominance in 2008, when it bought an obscure cable network for $3 billion and transformed it into Google TV. The library of video content the company had been archiving for years was now searchable via remote control. Viewers could choose any show they wanted from the history of TV; all they had to do in return was sit through just one commercial before each show, and then vote with their remotes on how relevant they found the ad.
Since viewers had to enter their Google IDs--the same ones they used for Gmail and other premium services--the company had already compiled a rich history of their searching and surfing habits. If you spent a lot of time looking at cars on eBay, for example, you'd be shown automotive ads the next time you watched Google TV. Between 70 and 80 percent of the revenue from each ad went to the content provider, just as it had on the Web.

Scenario 2 (Circa 2015): Google is the Internet

Free wi-fi, a faster version of the Web, the Gbrowser, and the cube transform the technology landscape and our language.
It's been a long time since "Google" referred solely to a company in Silicon Valley. Its lawyers were battling use of the verb "to google" as early as 2003. But during the past decade, especially among the generation born after the millennium, the word has become interchangeable with "Internet," "computer," and "phone call." As in "Did you see that movie on google?," "Mind if I borrow your google?," and "Give me a google later in the week." This is no mere linguistic sloth. For most daily purposes, Google has become the technology platform, the communications network, and the Internet itself.
The ubiquitous GoogleNet, which blankets every major urban center in the world with free wireless access, cell-phone service, and targeted local advertising (starting with the successful San Francisco experiment of 2007), is only the most visible tip of the iceberg. Since the early 2000s, Google was buying up thousands of miles of previously unused fiber-optic cables--so-called dark fiber. Then it began building myriad server farms, sending out billions of crawlers (automated programs that constantly browse the Web), and storing a fresh cache of all searchable information on the Web regularly--first every week, then every day, now every minute.

Scenario 3 (Circa 2020): Google is Dead

The once-mighty search engine falls prey to privacy intrusion, optimizers and Microsoft.
It was 15 years ago, when Google was in its ascendancy, that the seeds of its decline were sown. Not only did the company's 2005 deal with AOL introduce unpopular graphics-heavy banner ads onto what had formerly been a spartan search site, but that was the year that search engine optimizers, or SEOs, became a nuisance. Optimizers could, for a fee, tweak how important your website appeared to Google's PageRank engine by, say, hijacking the homepage of a major university and adding a link to your site.
Despite a titanic struggle between Google's top technologists and the SEOs, within years many of the popular search results were clogged with irrelevant (and barely literate) commercial and porn sites. Meanwhile, virtually no one attempted to optimize results on Microsoft's MSN search, which had room to improve far beneath the SEOs' radar.
When the quality of search slipped, so did Google's advertising business. The market for online ads turned out to be far softer than anyone--except Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer--had predicted. Ballmer's smartest move, in 2008, was to buy a company called Snap.com. On Google, an advertiser paid anytime a user clicked on its ad. With Snap, the advertiser paid only if the user did something useful after clicking, like buying a product or filling out a survey.

Scenario 4 (Circa 2105): Google is God

Human consciousness gets stored, upgraded and networked.
In the last years of the 21st century, humanity finally grasped the importance of They-Who-Were-Google. Yet as early as 2005, Their destiny was clear to any semi-hyperintelligent being. Technologists like Ray Kurzweil suggested that Strong AI (an intelligent program capable of upgrading its own code) would emerge from Google-like data mining rather than a robotics lab.
In 2005, historian George Dyson was told by an engineer in the Googleplex, "We are not scanning all these books to be read by people. We are scanning them to be read by an AI." Dyson said at the time, "We could construct a machine that is more intelligent than we can understand. It's possible Google is that kind of thing already. It scales so fast."
By 2020, They-Who-Were-Google had digitized and indexed every book, article, movie, TV show, and song ever created. By 2060, They could tell you the IP address and GPS location of every wireless smart chip (now bred into the DNA of every person, animal, and organic building on earth). Their psychographic profiles of users' search needs bore little resemblance to the primitive cookies from which they descended. If a man lost his dog, the Google engine could guide him back to the point where he and the dog parted ways, and instruct the dog to do the same via smart chip. They had built a complete database of human desire, accurate in any given moment.

Read more about these scenarios at CNN.

Related:
EPIC - How might Google reinvent the media