An evening with Googles Marissa Mayer
From a lecture given by Google's Marissa Mayer on the user experience at Google Alan Williamson sums up some of the key trivia gleaned. See the threadlink above for his full post, in the meantime, here's a summary:
The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface.
Initially people didn't know that the page had finished loading due to it's sparseness - the copyright was bought up the page to indicate that that was all that you got!
The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
Orkut is very popular in Brazil.
Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet
Google has the largest network of translators in the world
They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base.
The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'
Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public.
They listen to feedback actively. Emailing Google isn't emailing a blackhole.
There's a fair bit more on the linked page above. Some of that is old news to most of us but a few interesting bits to eh?
The Mac Generation
Jupiter Analyst Joe Wilcox posts some thoughts on marketing to todays younger audience. He argues that young adults in their teens and early twenties, often refered to as the NetGen or GenY, are less interested in features and functionality than they are image, coolness and simplicity of use.
He goes as far, in the context of recent masterful marketing moves from Apple with the iPod Shuffle launched alongside the Mac Mini to label them as The Mac Generation.
This younger, growing buying force appears to be more buzz oriented, more influenced by peer choices, more community-decision oriented. Apple has long positioned the Mac as a lifestyle choice, and its loyal customer base has created community. I believe belonging will be powerful marketing for the new boom, estimated at something like 80 million kids, and so far Apple is masterfully selling community and using community buzz to promote its products.
So, my points are two: That the new generation's sociological orientation and technology experience will greatly impact their buying habits. So far, Apple has courted both well with iPod, iTunes and the iTunes Music Store, by belonging and buzz marketing and providing functional products, which, by the way, tend to do what they're supposed to very well.
I would encourage other vendors to take a long hard look at who is buying iPods and Macs and why. Time is now to get a strong handle on the new boomers, many of which are old enough (early teens to early twenties) to have tremendous spending power. Then there are issues about what products that vendors should offer. Using computers as example, I'm convinced that consumers don't so much care about fastest as most useful, and that holds more true for younger buyers. JupiterResearch has lots of data and qualified analysts to help clients. Please, use the resources.
Hyperlinking the World
There's a facinating interview with Hartmut Neven, the head of the Laboratory for Human-Machine Interfaces at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute who is working on a system involving bringing biometrics to the mobile landscape and hyperlinking the world. The interview, threadlinked above is a killer friday (er.. my wife tells me it's only thursday!) read, here's a few snippets:
On explaining "visual Google":
You take a picture of something, send it to our servers, and we either provide you with more information or link you to the place that will. Let's say you're standing in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. You take a snapshot with your cameraphone and instantly receive an audio-visual narrative about the painting. Then you step out of the Louvre and see a cafe. Should you go in? Take a shot from the other side of the street and a restaurant guide will appear on your phone. You sit down inside, but perhaps your French is a little rusty. You take a picture of the menu and a dictionary comes up to translate. There is a huge variety of people in these kinds of situations, from stamp collectors, to people who want to check their skin melanoma, to police officers who need to identify the person in front of them.
and on seeding such a database project:
The key is to start with well-defined segments where the cost and effort of building the database is not that large. A nice rollout example would be a movie guide. If you see a billboard of a movie on a bus, you take a shot of it and then are routed to a relevant site where you can download a trailer or get show times. All we would need are images of a couple hundred billboards. The same is true with the Louvre example, where a collection of images already exists. With our technology, it doesn't take an expert to train the system to recognize an object.
Hot on the heals of the recent Google unsecured Webcams search news comes in via firstname.lastname@example.org of an even more serious security breach made available by search engine queries.
The latest discovery is that you can search for export processes language changelog phpmyadmin at Yahoo and return a list of open, vulnerable MySQL database servers.
In the wrong hands, and with a little advanced search knowledge that query can be tweaked to find ecom sites and all manner of havoc wreaked.
Yahoo! have been alerted, but at the moment the vulnerability is still easily found. This is not Yahoo's fault of course, this is a problem with the hugely poplular Open Source MySQL database and the way in which it has been deployed on some websites. The search just hightlights those servers able to be manipulated.
You can do the same search on Google, but it's less accessible as you have to add filter=0 to the end of the url string.
ADDED: Testing 1,2,3....
I've just tested this on a staged install by a friend and can assert that it works well. I was able to delete tables and access data very simply.
Essentially it is about using proper English in adverts and dropping slang.
IN the haphazard world of instant messaging and dashed-off e-mail messages, where "kk" isn't a typographical mistake but just the latest bit of Internet slang (it stands for kays, or O.K.), does anyone really care about style and grammar anymore?
Google does. Taking the stance that unorthodox usage and punctuation and slang create a less straightforward searching experience, Google's AdWords division, which is responsible for the contextual ads that appear alongside search results, insists on standard English and punctilious punctuation. Cater to teenagers hooked on text messaging? This is a world with no "dealz 4 u." To those who say, "Grammar schmammar, this is advertising, after all," Google might suggest: "Schmammar is not a word. Try 'Forget about grammar' instead."
Full details from HBX Networks but picked up from Web Pro News
We do realize that GMail is an invitation-only service, in a beta-test state of development. Nevertheless, many people rely upon GMail heavily, and many more people are forced to communicate with GMail users, because of this reliance. These people should expect their communications to be vulnerable to interception, at least until GMail corrects the issue. And the appearance of this issue, at the user level, probably indicates a failure in GMail's code review and/or quality assurance standards, which may result in other, similar errors. We did not explore GMail for additional such errors, but based upon the nature of this one, we are confident that such exploration would bear interesting fruit. (Note to GMail's development teams: we are available for hire! Cheaply! ;-P)
I'm sure this will be fixed very quickly but will things like this knock the share price?
Google unveils search product for small businesses
Google have unveiled the Google Mini, a $5000 Google in a box solution for small/med companies that comprises of a hardware and software bundle for searching corporate intranets. It also has some enhanced features to limit access and montitor usage - not much is available on this yet so drop any links in the comments when and if you find them :)
late on Wednesday unveiled the "Mini," a new hardware product aimed at helping small businesses add search to their public Web sites and giving employees more tools to find information quickly on internal networks.
Google gets a small percentage of its revenue from its Google Search Appliance, which is priced from $32,000 to more than $500,000 and is sold mainly to big companies looking to search company Web sites and intranets.
The Web search leader aims to extend its reach with the Mini, which has fewer bells and whistles and sells for just under $5,000. For example, it can search 50,000 documents compared with the 15 million that can be handled by Google's top-end Search Appliance.
From this L A Times story
Google may have more to worry about. Peter Sealey, co- director of UC Berkeley's Center for Marketing & Technology, said small-business owners might not appreciate the diminutive name when they ponder making a $5,000 purchase.
"I'd much rather give it a little more dignity," he said. "The only worse name would have been Google Lite."
Universities get free ticket to Opera
Opera who recently launched a new version of their browser with voice capabilities have always, imo, had a great browser technology. There are just so many nice things one can say about Opera, i gave up using it when the UI changed in 7.0 (i think) because i just couldnt get my head around the new layout and way it worked, but, it's still a top grade bit of kit.
However, they have also had, probably the stupidest basic biz plan for a browser know to geek. To want to charge me $50 to get rid of the ads is, again IMO, bloody outrageous. I wouldnt pay for it on general principle, but then when Firefox started getting just a bit dangerous i switched and have never looked back.
The University Play
So, now we have Opera giving their browser away free to universities (they used to charge $1 a license) in a bid to keep up with the awesome growth of Firefox seen in recent months following their now infamous open source ad in NYT.
Is it too little too late?
Maybe not. MIT, Harvard and Oxford have, according to the press release, opened their arms to the norwegian underdog. With tech savvy soap dodgers using Opera they may yet having something significant to say in the ongoing browser wars.
Hello, anybody home....?
Now all Opera have to do is to look at the success (and im sure it'll be a smash) of this little move and work out a way to drop the stupid ads and give their lovely tool away for free. - There has to be another, if not several dozen ways to make Opera profitable without resorting to embedded ads surely...
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is probing possible links between Montreal-based Internet company Mamma.com Inc. and Irving Kott, a legendary Canadian stock promoter with a long history of run-ins with the law.
A Mamma.com executive confirmed yesterday that the SEC requested information last year on any connections to Mr. Kott -- past or present -- and the company has complied.
Worker sacked over blog comments
..think before you blog
The BBC reports an Edinburgh man (who worked for Waterstones, a large UK chain of booksellers) has lost his job over comments made about his employer in a blog.
Mr Gordon went on to say that he would occasionally mention his work life online, coining phrases such as "Bastardstone's" and referring to his manager as "Evil Boss".
if I had wished to do that then I would have been running less satirical and far more biting comments on a rather more regular basis, rather than commenting from time to time about a bad day at work, a grumpy manager or the like.
He is apparently currently appealing his dismissal
Your employer could be reading your blog now. Happily, apart from the wife, I do not have an employer.
Busythumbs Opens Community Forum
The boys at BusyThumbs.com have been busy, not only have the launched a moblogging blog recently but yesterday launched a full on forum for mobile discussion - including a whole bunch of categories for mobile hardware support, moblogging questions and general discussion of mobile.
If you're into that stuff, it's a neat site and well looked after by it's small team of admins - i'm helping them a little bit with their community efforts so if you moblog, or wanna talk mobile tech, you'll find me over at the forum hanging out with the devs :-)
How does MS leapfrog Google and dominate search and Phase 2?
Bill Gates had the vision to see every PC would need an operating system and elected to get a piece of every pc sold w/ DOS/windows. Let the Hardware guys decide what else to put on the pc and how to market it. Find out how Microsoft could beat Google by following the title link for the full post.
The future of web technologies in the mobile revolution First of all, I want
Pay attention at the back! If you aren't reading all you can on mobile, at some point in the next couple of years you're going to be seriously on the back foot with this stuff - Anita Wilhelm at MG says it's ok, that our skills will be in high demand, but bugger that, i dont want to do the W word for someone else, i want to build neat applications for phones...
If I were a web dev, I wouldn't worry too much about being out of work. In the next few years there is going to be so much going on to make all the different platforms talk, sync, and share data... (and who knows how that will happen)... that your skills will probably be in higher demand than ever. This revolution is not going to do away with web technologies. It's just going to change how they work. It's going to change what they are used for, and who is using them... meaning more work for you to do.
Revolution and change doesn't mean destruction of something old. It usually just means reshifting it, refurbishing, rebuilding... and making it more appropriate.
Im still trying to work out the essential skill set for mobile, any thoughts?
Is Ask Jeeves Behind Browser HiJackers?
The Little Engine that Could - Infect your Computer!
My mate Roger points out on his blog, threadlinked above, that Ask Jeeves is behind some particularly nasty spyware - namely:
Smiley Central, and
Ask Jeeves last year acquired a company called myway and mywebsearch. Their toolbar products are referred to by many as spyware. In fact, if you search on Google for MywebSearch, most of the results are websites telling you how to remove the mywebsearch toolbar.
Does Ask Jeeves Profit from Annoying Pest Products?
Well, the answer depends on how you define the word pest. In addition to the MyWay and MyWebSearch products, Ask Jeeves is also profiting from the Smiley Central and Cursor Mania products. According to the PC Hell website, these products are identified as pests by the AdAware and SpyBot Search & Destroy anti-spyware products and are reported to be removed, along with browser hijackers and known spyware programs. If you read the removal instructions on the PC Hell website it will become very clear that they are extremely difficult to get rid of.
So Jeeves, how come? - wanna let us all know why you're promoting, and for all appearances profiting from nasty spyware programs?
News comes in via threadwatch member ThomasB that Google may be filtering out subdomains - like myspammykeyword.mydomain.com
Go ahead and check, we dont need to do the specifics, you all know which SERPS we're talking about here - in the US results but NOT the .de results, the subdomains that have been dominating those serps have gone - finsihed.