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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

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