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

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June 30, 2006

June Recap: New Revenue Stream For Google

What happened this month with Google? They launched an online spreadsheet application that allows collaboration, Google expanded Picasa to the web with Picasa Web Albums. Linux users had for the first time Google Earth, while Mac users got an universal binary for Google Earth and Google Video Player. Google Video became more social with ratings, comments and labels and let you view premium videos for free. Google didn't forget FIFA World Cup and included the results in Google Search, created a gadget and a Firefox extension for World Cup. Google Search had problems with a Moldavian spammer, but they solved fast. Finally, Google launched the most expected product of the month: Google Checkout and tested a new kind of ads: pay-per-action.

Innovation
Google Spreadsheets
Browser Sync extension
Picasa Web Albums

Consolidation
Google Video Player For Mac
Google Earth 4 (support for Linux)
View Geographic Data On Google Maps
Google Calendar viewer
New Design For Google Account Page
Google Video Adds Ratings And Labels

Advertising
Pay-Per-Action AdSense
Google Video lets you view premium videos for free, but with ads
AdSense Test - Image Above Text Ads
Google Checkout

Programming
Google Search API 2.0
Google Account API
Google Checkout API

Problems
Search Google Searches
Billions Of Spam Pages Indexed By Google

Solutions
World Cup results on Google.com
World Cup Extension For Firefox

Future
Google Will Localize All Its Products
Google Lighthouse And Other Secret Products
GPS Google Ads On Radio
Project 02: Google's Secret Data Center

Product of the month: Google Checkout



And special breaking news: Matt Cutts is back from vacation.

Google Page Creator Supports Javascript

Google Page Creator, the service that lets you create and publish static web pages hosted by Google, lets you embed Javascript code in the pages. You just have to go to a editable area, click "Edit HTML" and type your script. That means you can include in your pages AdSense, Analytics code, Ajax and other interactive features.

Until now, users had to create HTML files offline and upload them in Page Creator, which was pretty difficult, especially if we think that the service wants to let you "build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software".

Related:
Add gadgets to Google Page Creator

Top 10 Funny Google News

Google News selects the most relevant news using algorithms and special filters that give you the best news and let you compare different sources. Well, sometimes they don't. Here are 10 screenshots from Google News that show inaccurate illustrations, ironic juxtapositions or simply funny bugs. All screenshots were found on the Internet using Google Image Search and they are real.

10. Funeral ads



9. Who is this Blair anyway?



8. We all think the same



7. Opera is not Firefox



6. We love Canada



5. Look, my blog is on Google News



4. New problems with kids



3. Bush is not evil



2. ABC News works too hard



1. Bush goes to jail

Google News Has "Ads By Google"


Google News, the service that finds and groups news by subject, doesn't have ads. Although, the news sources are manually reviewed, often something wrong happens and the results are hilarious.

If you search for "ads by Google" on Google News, you'll see a site, namely Moneycontrol.com, that has the same title for all the pages. It's weird that "Ads by Google" isn't the title of the HTML page or of the feed entry. So is this Google News spam?

Former PayPal Engineer Predicts Google's End

A former PayPal engineer wrote an interesting piece about Google Checkout: 5 Reasons Why Google Checkout Is the Beginning of the End. He thinks that Google shouldn't have launched this kind of service because:

* Google is not able to combat fraud.
* Google launches too many products, so it can't handle payment processing.
* Google is bad at customer service: they mostly use automated emails.
"The sad truth is that customers are not patient or understanding when it comes to money. All but the most enlightened of them are irrational and paranoid."
* Google finally picked the wrong battle.
* This failure will cause their best engineers to leave.

The article's tone is way too catastrophic, but it makes two good points: Google should improve their customer service and they should prepared for online fraud.

Here's an example of bad customer service from Google:

From: "Dave Taylor"
Subject: Ad Problems
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 02:22:24 -0000

I can't tell if I've inserted the code into my RSS feed incorrectly or not, but I have been receiving reports that clicking on the ads in my feeds generates a 'you don't have cookies enabled' error for users, even when they DO have cookies enabled. Reluctantly, I tried clicking on an ad myself (Safari, Mac OS X 10.3.8, no security, cookies for "All sites" enabled) and I also see the same error message. What's wrong with my code? The ads I see in my aggregator from *other* AdSense for feeds sites work just fine.

Thanks for your help!

Three and a half months later...

Hello Dave,

We're sorry that we weren't able to address your email in a timely manner. If you're still experiencing difficulties with your ads please don't hesitate to contact us again.

Sincerely,

Stefania
The Google AdSense Team


Related:
Google Checkout launched
Google's mission to be completed in 300 years

In other news:
A PayPal employee wrote a blog post about Google Checkout and the removed it. The post starts with: "I find it amusing how the general media is claiming GBuy will be a significant competitor to Paypal based on GBuy having near zero buyers actually using the service vs over 100MM using Paypal." You can read the recovered text.

Google Products Built For Long-Term Success

Marissa Mayer gave an interview to Business Week and unveiled some very interesting things about Google's products and the changes that will happen soon.

Marissa says Google's strategy is too launch products early and often. New products don't get too much promotion and are tested by a small number of people. If the products are good and they solve a problem, they will spread by word of mouth. If not, Google gets feedback and tries to improve them, while keeping a low-profile on them. The idea is that a product grows much healthier if the users can see it from the beginning and provide feedback. If released at an early stage of development, the products aren't mature enough to compete with other established ones (like Google Spreadsheets vs Microsoft Excel), but users are a part of the product's growth.

Marissa also thinks that Google News, Blog Search and Google Finance should be merged. "When I look at Google News, where I know we have a user base that is very concerned with current events and likes to see multiple viewpoints, that feels like a really good place to integrate in something like Blog Search and/or Finance." This way, Google won't have a such a big list of products and they will be more powerful as a result of integration.

Another interesting detail is that DaVinci Code competition was used to promote Google's products, including Google Personalized Homepage. Sergey Brin has solved all the puzzles, and he was number 10,072 from 100,000 people who finished the puzzles. Unfortunately, he was a Google employee (actually co-founder), so he was disqualified.

Related:
Marissa prefers Pine to Gmail
Marissa Mayer admits Google Video Store's launch was a failure
Marissa Mayer's ideas about inovation (video)
Best definition for Google (video)

Project 02: Google's Secret Data Center


Google builds a big data center 130 miles north of Columbia River and The Dalles in Oregon. "The barren desert land surrounding the Columbia along the Oregon-Washington border — at the intersection of cheap electricity and readily accessible data networking — is the backdrop for a multibillion-dollar face-off among Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that will determine dominance in the online world in the years ahead" reported New York Times earlier this month.

Danny Hillis, a supercomputing pioneer thinks that "Google has constructed the biggest computer in the world, and it's a hidden asset". Google already has 450,000 servers all around the world, and that more than any other company.

"Google is like the Borg," said Milo Medin, a computer networking expert. "I know of no other carrier or enterprise that distributes applications on top of their computing resource as effectively as Google."

The Oregon data center, code-named Project 02, is kept under a veil of secrecy, although a computing center as big as two football fields is hard to hide. The location supplies cheap fiber and that's essential for Google's plans.

{ Photo by Daniel Terdiman / CNET News.com, where you can find other pictures }

June 29, 2006

Google Is Number One In Wired Top 40

Wired creates every year a top of the most important companies, in terms of vision, technologies and innovation. This year Google replaces Apple from the first position. Here are some interesting companies from the top:

"01. GOOGLE
2005 Rank: 02
Less cuddly but more profitable than ever, the monster from Mountain View has rivals but no peers. Is it a search engine? A media company? A software provider? Who cares? Microsoft, for one. Get ready for the grudge match of the decade.

02. APPLE
2005 Rank: 01
In the drama of Apple's resurgence, act one was forging the iTunes/iPod axis. Act two was bundling the iLife suite of creative tools with new computers. Adapting the Mac OS to run Windows apps natively would make a triumphant conclusion.

05. YAHOO
2005 Rank: 05
Who says portal is a dirty word? The McDonald's of cyberspace serves up a staggering 3.5 billion Web pages a day. Its relentlessly expanding feature stack gives even Google a touch of envy. So how about some respect?

36. MICROSOFT
2005 Rank: 28
The desktop OS gold mine won't last forever. What's next? Redmond's latest to-do list includes software-as-service, security, even VoIP. Or it could simply buy a piece of Yahoo. (Take that, Google!)"

Wired's top shows that Google's growth makes people feel confused about the company's activity. Google develops in so many directions that it's hard to define it.

Meebo - All-in-one Online Instant Messenger


Meebo is an Ajax site that lets you chat online with your friends that use Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, AIM, ICQ and Jabber (including Google Talk). You can log into all the IM networks simultaneously from your browser. If you don't want to create a Meebo account, you can get into one IM network at a time.

If you don't use VOIP or video chat features from the desktop clients, if you think they use too many resources and you don't like Gaim and Trillian, Meebo is the way to go. If you are at a public PC or at a computer that doesn't have Yahoo Messenger or the other IM applications or if the firewall blocks them, Meebo can help you get in touch with your friends.

I know what you're thinking: is it secure? Meebo encrypts passwords with 1024-bit RSA keys and decrypts them server-side using OpenSSL. If you want to encrypt all the traffic between you and Meebo servers you can choose https://www.meebo.com that uses SSL, but it's slower.

Related:
Gaim review
Yahoo Messenger 8 has plug-ins
Windows Live Messenger is out of beta
Tips for Google Talk

What You Can't Buy With Google Checkout

Google has a very strict policy regarding items that can be sold using Google Checkout. Here's what you can't buy:

Body parts - Organs or other body parts

Cable descramblers and black boxes - Devices intended to obtain cable and satellite signals for free

Copyrighted media - Unauthorized copies of books, music, movies, and other licensed or protected materials

Drugs and drug paraphernalia - Illegal drugs and drug accessories, including herbal drugs such as salvia and magic mushrooms

Endangered species - Plants, animals or other organisms (including product derivatives) in danger of extinction

Occult goods - Materials, goods or paraphernalia for use in satanic, sacrificial, or related practices

Prescription drugs or pharmacies - Drugs or other products requiring a prescription by a licensed medical practitioner or any online pharmacies

Weapons - Firearms, ammunition, knives, brass knuckles, gun parts, and other armaments

... and many more.

{ Via Digg. }

Google Checkout Launched


"By integrating the checkout process with search and advertising, we're helping our users complete the cycle of searching, finding and buying," said Salar Kamangar, Vice President of Product Management at Google, about Google Checkout, the online payment system launched today.

Easier for buyers

How to find products you can buy with Google Checkout?

Google a product you want to buy and look for ads similar to this one:



Or visit your favorite store and look for this sign (or a similar one):


Why should you use Google Checkout?
You don't have to remember the username and password for each account you create to buy products. You just enter your Google Accounts credentials.

What credit cards does Checkout accept?
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

Do you have to be in the US to use it?
The TOS says you must be:
* 18 years old or older;
* capable of entering into a legally binding agreement; and
* a resident of the United States

What stores accept Google Checkout for now?
You can find a list of stores here (link available only in the US): Timberland, Levi's, Starbucks Store, Buy.com and more.

More cost-effective for sellers

How much merchants have to pay to Google?
If they are AdWords advertisers, for every $1 spent, they can process $10 in sales for free through Google Checkout. If advertisers exceed their free transaction processing for the month, they'll only be charged 2% plus $.20 per transaction.
If they don't advertise with AdWords, they'll pay 2% plus $.20 per transaction.

How difficult is to integrate Google Checkout into a site?
You can use a simple "Buy Now" button if you don't need a shopping cart or you can try Google Checkout API to integrate Google Checkout into your shopping cart.

Does Google Checkout allows customers' feedback?
After receiving a product, buyers can rate it from one star to five stars and make comments to describe the transaction, purchasing and delivery process.

I don't have a site. Can I sell products using Google Checkout?
You can sell your products on Google Base. It's really easy to use and your products can come up on top of the search results (in Google OneBox results).

Google Checkout is not a PayPal competitor, it's just the perfect complement for AdWords. Advertisers can now outsource transaction processing, pay for sells instead of clicks and give more information about shopping preferences to Google.

Related:
Google Checkout Screenshots
More answered questions.

Can anyone from the US confirm the system actually works?

June 28, 2006

Google Checkout Screenshots Leaked

Google Checkout is the new service that will let you buy products directly from the Google ads. Here are some screenshots that show the new ads, the badge you'll see on merchant's sites, how do you place and track your orders.







Also see a video tour of Google Checkout and a presentation for online sellers. Google Checkout for online merchants is already live at https://checkout.google.com/sell.

Here's the logo:


Update: Google Checkout is now live.

Micro-Payments Meeting At Googleplex

ValleyWag has found an invitation to an event related to the launch of Google Checkout that will take place today at Googleplex. Here's the invitation (text from the cache of the original site that has removed the invitation text):

We continue to bring to you emerging trends in payments. This month at BayPay: Meet up with Bay Area payment systems thought leaders and identify what works and what's hot. Hear from two emerging companies and decide for yourself whether consumers will digest this new payment option.

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2006
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Who: This is open (subscribe to the BayPay below)
Bring: Your thoughts on electronic payments and lots of business cards
Fee: Free

Schedule:

. 6pm: Networking
. 6:45pm: Introduction of speakers
. 7pm: Mark Friedman, CEO of Peppercoin*
. 7:30pm Networking
. 8pm Doug Knopper, CEO of Bitpass**
. 8:30pm Networking

Where:

Google main campus (Bldng 43)
1600 Amphitheater Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

*Peppercoin is a small payments company that reduces transaction processing costs and customer service costs associated with small payments.

**BitPass enables online commerce by making it easy and safe to buy and sell digital content and services, at any price point. BitPass does this by providing bundled authentication, payment processing, and access control with customer service and promotional capabilities.

Google Downloadable Console


Google has a new yet-unreleased service called Mobile Download Console. The site has a funny error message: "You have tried to access a non-existent page". If we look at the code, we can conclude the site is a trimmed-down version of Google Base accessible from mobile phones that lets you manage your products. Here are some lines from the code:

   _MESSAGE_SPECIFY_END_DATE="Specify end date";
_MESSAGE_TEXT="Text";
_MESSAGE_NUMBER="Number";
_MESSAGE_NUMBER_UNIT="Number-unit";
_MESSAGE_DATE="Date range";
_MESSAGE_LARGE_TEXT="Large text";
_MESSAGE_URL="URL";
_MESSAGE_LOCATION="Location";
_MESSAGE_END_DATE="End:";
_MESSAGE_TIME="Time:";
_MESSAGE_NAME="Attribute name";
_MESSAGE_UNITS="Unit";
_MESSAGE_DEFAULT_LOCATION="Location of the item -
street (optional), city, state, zip";

Related:
Google Base
More Google on your mobile phone

Google Account API

Google Passport, the system that allows third party sites to read or write data from a Google services, is now live and it's called Google Account Authentication.

"Here at Google, we welcome the development of applications that rely on and communicate with Google services. However, many of these services require that users log into their Google Accounts, and authentication by outside applications has been - until now - somewhat cumbersome. To improve this experience, we are pleased to offer alternatives for Google Account authentication."

Why is that important? Let's say you want to export the sites from Google Bookmarks to another web service, or you want to let a site synchronize Google Bookmarks with del.icio.us. To use a system like this you should be logged in your Google Account.

The new Google Account API lets developers automate authentication from software and web applications. The system is secure because you have to authorize the third party site and that site doesn't see your username and password.



{Via Garett Rogers.}

Google Video Will Have Ratings And Labels

TOMHTML, a French reader of this blog, found in one of Google Video's JavaScript files mentions about new features:

* the ability to rate videos from one star to five stars

* add comments / video reviews

* add tags for the videos (Google likes to call them labels)

Some snippets of code:

// sends a review (if review is defined) and receives a list of current reviews
function updateReviews(url, docId, sortByRating, loc, reviewer, review)

// called when submit review is clicked
function publishComment(url, docId, loc, name, review)

// sends a tag (if name is defined) and receives a list of current tags
function updateTags(url, docId, name)

function setStars(url, docId, val, location)


So Google Video really tries to catch up with YouTube and will add the missing features.



Update: the new features are live. You can search the videos using the label operator, for example label:funny.

Google's Mission To Be Completed In 300 Years

Times Online has a well-written story about Google opening up the secrets of its search to the world. As Google's mission of organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful is far from being completed, here are some interesting numbers about its progress:

* Google uses more than 300 factors to rank websites (the most important is PageRank).

* Up to 20 per cent of the online content changes every month.

* 10 per cent of the world's information is currently online.

* Putting the world's information online could take as long as 300 years, according to a recent estimate given by Eric Schmidt.

* 70 per cent of Google engineers are working on search-related problems.

* A lot of Googlers work on automatic translation tools.

Google Purchases Almost Ready


In a couple of hours, Google Checkout (also known as Google Purchases, GBuy and Google Wallet) will go live. Until then Google has problems with the redirects and it shows some interesting errors, including a reference to a Google subdomain available only for Google employees: xlocal.google.com.

Google Checkout will be available at http://checkout.google.com.

Update: Google managed to update the personal account page for everyone. Google Checkout still redirects to this page.

Update 2: The name of the service will be Google Checkout. I updated the post with the new name.

June 27, 2006

Insert Pictures From Picasa Albums Into Gmail

The latest version of Gmail Skins Firefox extension, that lets you customize Gmail's interface, has a very useful feature: insert images from Picasa web albums into Gmail. The dialog that lets you choose the picture is very nice and fast (it was made by Google for another purpose). Another thing to know is that Gmail Skins doesn't embed pictures from Picasa web albums, it just puts links to the images on the web.

Picasa Albums In Gmail


Another interesting feature is that you can insert gadgets from Google Personalized Homepage. The extension shows only the first gadgets from your Personalized Homepage (I can see only the the first two), but in a future version you'll be able to choose the gadgets. Google Reader and Google Calendar gadgets are probably the best choices.

Related:
Picasa Web Albums review
Change Gmail appearance
Check multiple Gmail accounts

Google Desktop Gadget Designer


Google has created an IDE for developing Google Desktop Gadgets. It has drag and drop, simple controls, editing of UI properties and an easy-to-use test environment (you can preview the results instantly). The code editor doesn't have any fancy feature like syntax highlighting or line numbering, but you can write the code in another editor. The IDE can be found in Google Desktop SDK.

This new IDE might help you create gadgets faster for the new Google Desktop Gadget Contest, where you can win up to $5,000 if you submit a cool gadget until July 31st.

Oh, and Google Desktop 4 is not beta anymore and it's available in 27 languages.

Related:
Top 10 Google Gadgets
Add gadgets to Google Pages

More Google On Your Mobile Phone

Google officially launched today mobile versions for the following products:

* Google News (the same news in a mobile-friendly interface)

* Gmail (check your mail even when you're not at your computer)

* Google Personalized Homepage (this page may replace the need to go to Google News or Gmail and it's a good way to read feeds on your mobile phone). Note that some modules may not be displayed on the mobile version.

What's new about these services? Now you can access all of them by going to google.com on your mobile phone. And the interface is localized in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, and Turkish.

More mobility:
Mobile Google Calendar
Google Maps Mobile
Google Mobile Search used mostly to find porn

GBuy's First Potential Customer

Chris Mario, a Damascus, Md., resident, says he "would 100% use Google payments" because he likes the company's technology. He says he uses PayPal now but would prefer using an independent third-party payment service when making some online purchases, as opposed to the PayPal unit of eBay, which runs auction and other e-commerce Web sites.

So, according to Wall Street Journal, GBuy has already one customer: Chris Mario. I'm sure he will be delighted to find out about Google's unspecified rebate.

Chris Mario is the first from the millions of PayPal users that will switch to Google's electronic-payment service.

Chris Mario would read about:
GBuy Screenshots
GBuy to launch this month

Songbird - Firefox As A Media Player


Songbird is an open-source media player based on Firefox, so it's also a browser. The software lets you play music from the web as easy as if it was on your computer. If you go to a site that has links to music, Songbird creates a list of of files you can download or play.

Songbird gives an easy access to radio stations, podcast services like Odeo, network services like last.fm and Creative Commons music.

Songbird can play many music formats including MPEG Audio (mpga), MPEG Layer 3 (mp3), MP4 Audio (mp4a), Ogg Vorbis, Speex, AAC, WMA, FLAC.

The program is currently at version 0.1 and will grow much more when developers will create cross-platform extensions and plug-ins.

Related:
The best music player brings free music
Make Winamp sound better

AdSense Test - Image Above Text Ads

Sankar Anand, a regular reader of this blog, noticed a strange AdSense ad on his site.

On top of the text ads, there is a small image, unrelated to the subject of the ads, that just wants some attention. This seems to be an experiment made to increase the visibility of the ads.

Google allows webmasters to put images above AdSense ads as long as there is a border that demarcates the images.

You can see the whole ad if you click on the image.

Related:
Video AdSense
Pay-Per-Action AdSense

June 26, 2006

Overheard In Google Maps

Overheard In New York is a site that lists snippets of conversation heard on the streets of New York. Mihai Parparita, from Google Reader team, mashed Overheard with Google Maps and Google Reader to create Overplot. Search for a term and find funny conversations on the map. I searched for Google and I found this:

"Doctor guy: Okay, we have the chest x-ray and it explains what's going on. See this lesion? It is pretty impressive.
Patient lady: "Impresssive"? Is that a medical term? Am I gonna have to google that, too?"

And another funny conversation:
"Dad to crying son: Are you crying cause you're really hurt, or are you crying cause you're a baby?"

Search And Replace In Multiple Files


Sometimes I work with many files and I need to replace a phrase with another one in all the files or I need to see all the occurrences of a word in a file without the rest of the details. Windows Grep is a tool that makes your life easier if you need to correct an error in a lot of files. You can use regular expressions, recursive search in subfolders, filters for files.

Windows Grep can produce customizable output and automatically backups the original files.

While the interface may not seem very attractive, the program is powerful and is a good replacement for the Unix version of grep, a command line utility that reads a file and outputs the lines containing matches for a regular expression.

Although the program is shareware, it costs $29 and the author says "you are both legally and morally obliged to pay the license fee", the program works without limitations after the trial ends.

Much Ado About Digg 3.0

I've initially written a post about the changes in the latest iteration of Digg, but then I've realized everyone does this.

Digg 3.0 brings 6 categories: technology, science, games, videos, entertainment, world & business and each category has more topics. It's nice that you can personalize the homepage to see the news you're mainly interested in. But apart from that, there isn't too much too say about the new Digg. The site is slow, it has many redundant links (like the "More" after each story description), there's less space for the story because of the ads. To view your history, you must make an extra click. The font size is too small and very hard to read.

What do you think about the new Digg?

Digg 3.0 homepage



Digg 2.0 homepage


More about the upcoming changes at Digg (an API, a new way to visualize stories), you can find from the latest episode of Diggnation.

GBuy Screenshots

GBuy, the online payment system that will be launched by Google on June 28, will enable online merchants to become "trusted GBuy merchants", so they will have these kind of badges on their websites.

Google ads will most likely be CPA ads and will have a "Google Certified Merchant" text that will try to increase people's trust in using the system.



Using this system, Google will find more information about what people actually buy and will update its ad ranking system.

Screenshots from Aneil Webber.

Note: these screenshots are not from Google, so the final product may look different.

Update: Here are some leaked screenshots from Google.

More about GBuy:
GBuy to launch this month
Make payments with Google

June 25, 2006

The Future Of Google Local

Alan Eustace, Google's senior vice president of engineering, visited Google's Seattle Engineering Center and talked about his ideas about the future of Google Local.

"There's some huge opportunities for us to put together information and geography in ways that are very interesting. I'd like queries like 'welding class near Kirkland. I'd like that to be beautiful. I'd like that to show a perfect Web page that shows this community college has a class at 12:00 and you click on this link to get it.

If I'm buying a house, I want to know about schools and crime and shopping. Once we have information about locations, I think it's going to be possible for us to organize it."

There are many sites that mix Google Maps with news, videos, photos, statistics. To find information about a location, Google might try to scan sources like Wikipedia or official databases. An easier approach would be to integrate a chat into the map, so you could talk to people from the area you are interested in.

More:
Google Maps + YouTube
Google Maps + Photos
View geographic data on Google Maps

How To Make Winamp Sound Better

These tips will make your Winamp play music louder and with higher fidelity without buying a new sound card, like Creative SoundBlaster.

Install MAD MP3 decoder. MAD represents the decoded audio signal with high precision. It supports MPEG-1 and the MPEG-2 extension to lower sampling frequencies.

Enhancer 017 is the best DSP plug-in for Winamp and it's free. Try "General improvements" preset. Other great presets: "Treble boost", "Party with ambience", "Inside the music".

Although it's outdated, some hardware work better with waveOut output. Go to Options / Preferences / Plug-ins / Output and select waveOut. You can read more about DirectSound vs waveOut.

Related:
Listen to Pandora in Winamp
If Google made a media player

A New Kind Of Search Engine

There are many sites that let you manage your bookmarks online. One of the most popular social bookmarking sites is del.icio.us, now owned by Yahoo, where bookmarks are public by default. Google has a low-profile bookmarking tool, but all the bookmarks are private.

Why are bookmarks important? You always find interesting sites, some of them are helpful, other just funny. A year later you remember there was a site that had ironic pictures about work, pessimistic slogans and even something you could buy (can you find the site?).

Google's search within your bookmarks isn't enough to solve the problem, because Google searches the content of the sites. And most sites don't contain an in-depth description of themselves.

Del.icio.us searches the tags associated with each site, the title and the description, but it doesn't search the content of the site.

The solution would be to see the tags and the description provided by users as metadata, the number of bookmarks as a measure of popularity and the users who bookmark a site as a recommendation profile. If you visit a site and don't bookmark it, or hit back within a couple of seconds, the search engine would give a negative vote.

PROs:
* find what people with similar interests think it's important
* discover more small sites
* rediscover sites you've visited, but don't remember too much about them
* the index would change often

CONs:
* many people should be involved, so that the data is not skewed
* popular sites will be even more popular

10 Interesting Things About Windows Live Mail

Windows Live Mail is the new mail service from Microsoft that will replace Hotmail. It has 2GB of mail storage, a paid version and an Ajax interface that wants to be similar to a desktop client. Here are some interesting things about Windows Live Mail, all quoted from Live Mail help.

1. Internet Explorer 6.0 or later provides the best Windows Live Mail experience.

2. You can't connect to Windows Live Mail with Telnet (a program and an underlying protocol for accessing computers that are in another location).

3. Windows Live Mail doesn't offer UNIX shell accounts. You can't use UNIX programs or utilities in Windows Live Mail.

4. To help protect our customers from junk e-mail sent from Windows Live Mail accounts through Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Outlook Express, you must have paid for a Windows Live Mail subscription to use your account with Outlook or Outlook Express.

5. Windows Live Mail doesn’t support all file types. If you send an attachment that Windows Live Mail doesn't support, the e-mail recipient won’t be able to download or open the attachment. To send or receive an unsupported file type as an attachment, either use one of the following methods, or have the person sending you the attachment do so:

* Compress the file
* Change the file extension to .txt

Remember to tell the recipient how to change the file extension back after they download the attachment to their computer.

The following file extensions are unsupported:

.ade .adp .asp .bas .bat .chm
.cmd .com .cpl .crt .exe .hlp
.hta .inf .ins .isp .its .js
.jse .lnk .mdb .mde .mdt .mdw
.msc .msi .msp .mst .pcd .pif
.reg .scr .sct .shb .shs .tmp
.url .vb .vbe .vbs .vsd .vsmacros
.vss .vst .vsw .ws .wsc .wsf .wsh

6. Any file that you attach to an outgoing message is automatically scanned by Trend Micro antivirus software. If a file contains a virus, you won't be able to attach it to a message. If a file contains a virus that Trend Micro can't fix, you won't be able to send the file.

7. If you have a free Windows Live Mail account, you can create up to 15 filters. Users who pay for a Windows Live Mail subscription can create up to 36 filters.

8. If your inbox is near its storage capacity, mail searching may be temporarily deactivated.

9. Windows Live Mail automatically checks your spelling as you type.

10. Information in the header of a received e-mail message may indicate that the message is from a Bonded Sender. Bonded Senders must meet certain standards and must also be certified by TRUSTe, a nonprofit organization that helps people and organizations establish trusted relationships over the Internet. Bonded Senders must also post a financial bond against their e-mail messages. This bond is debited if the sender doesn't adhere to the standards established by TRUSTe. Messages from Bonded Senders are delivered to your Inbox instead of your Junk e-mail folder.

Related:
Live Mail review
Live Mail Desktop review
Get Yahoo Mail Beta

June 24, 2006

New Design For Google Account Page


TOMHTML from Zorgloob has found a new design for Google Account page. I don't see any change if I go to my Google Account page, but this will be available soon for everyone. The new design replaces the gray table made in FrontPage with a list of services you use and their logos. For some services, you can change the settings directly from this page. The only problem is that this list will be very big, so I think Google should list only the services you use frequently. This way, you can use this page to go from Google Video to Google Base without typing the URL address.

Related:
Google Passport
Google Links (this feature seems to have been dropped)

Google OS Widget For Opera

If you have the latest version of Opera, you can try a new way to read this blog: Google OS Widget. Read the introduction of each post and decide if you want to read the rest. Next to description, there's a thumbnail that makes you feel better when reading the text.

The latest Google OS Widget includes a special feature: Google Ajax Search, that lets you search the web, find blog posts and videos directly from the widget.

Find more about Opera 9
10 features you'll find only in Opera
If you use IE, you can add a button to Google Toolbar.

Top 10 Tech News Sources

Where do you read the latest tech news? Would you like to see other kinds of news than the rest of the people? I compiled a list of 10 sites where you can find the best news about technology and more.

10. Tailrank
Tailrank monitors blogs to find the most popular posts. For each subject, it shows the most probable source of the news and other blogs that talk about the same subject. Tailrank ranks news by the number of backlinks, which isn't necessarily the best decision.

Today's most important news on Tailrank is "How to tune into BlogerCon" (BlogerCon is a conference about weblogs).

Tailrank also has a politics section, a mobile version, an API and a personalization feature.

9. Spotback
Spotback lets you personalize the news by rating them. You can save the stories, see news from a restricted number of domains. Spotback lets you view the text of the news inline, so you don't have to go to the source if you don't find the news interesting. "Spotback uses sophisticated algorithms that analyze social behavior. These algorithms are designed to harness the power of the entire community for the benefit of the individual user." Unfortunately, the selection of the news is not very good, but it improves over time.

8. Findory
Greg Linden's Findory personalizes the news by looking at the headlines you click on. If you click on a headline or make search, Findory adjusts the news to let you see only relevant content. You can also view the latest posts from your favorite blog and read related posts from other blogs. Unfortunately, you'll see blog posts from last year, as well as low-quality articles.

Findory has many other categories, has sections for videos and podcasts and shows the neighborhood of a blog.

7. Google News
Google News lets you personalize the news, but tends to show mostly news from newspapers and not from blogs. You can get alerts by mail if something interesting happens in a certain domain. The subject grouping doesn't work very good, so you'll sometimes the same subject in many places.

6. Rojo
Rojo is a feed reader that tracks the most read posts and lets you vote for them. You can also tag stories and save them to your account.

Today's most important post on Rojo: "Firefox cheat sheet".

5. Del.icio.us
View the most bookmarked posts today. Most posts have already been on Digg, Slashdot or other popular sites and that's the reason for the sudden popularity.

4. Blogsnow
Blogsnow is based purely on link tracking, it's not only about technology, doesn't have any personalization features, but it's clean, fast and accurate.

3. Techmeme
Techmeme has a similar approach to Tailrank, but does a better ranking of the news. It shows less news and lets you view the archives.

Today's most important new on Techmeme is "Verizon to end service on commercial airplanes".

2. Digg
Digg is like Techmeme, except that articles are manually submitted, and instead of links we have votes. Another difference is that Digg can have on its front page news like "Top 10 strangest gadgets of the past" and tends to be sensationalist and shallow. Breaking news reach fast to the homepage, so Digg is probably the best place to find the latest news.

1. Slashdot
Digg's older relative, Slashdot is the place to see great comments on the most interesting news of the day, usually a couple of hours after you read the news on Digg. Slashdot is like a great talk-show broadcasted one or two hours after the breaking news report. So you'll not be the first to find the news, but you'll learn a lot from the discussion.

0. Popurls
If you don't have time to go to all these sites, or read their feeds, Popurls shows you the latest news from Slashdot, Digg, Google News, Del.icio.us and other sites.


Best customized news: Findory.
Best breaking news: Digg.
Best news ranking: Techmeme.

Some Google Results Are EXE Files


I've posted earlier that you can find all kinds of file types in Google index, including EXE files. Claudiu Spulber reports that you can find innocent-looking sites that redirect to EXE files with spyware.

If you search for ["Signature: 00004550"], you'll find 192,000 results (if Google's count is accurate), mostly executables. Google indexes the file's headers and if you look at the cache, you'll see something like this:

WINDOWS EXECUTABLE
32bit for Windows 95 and Windows NT
Technical File Information:
Image File Header
Signature: 00004550
Machine: Intel 386
Number of Sections: 0003
Time Date Stamp: 3b7dc821
Symbols Pointer: 00000000

What's interesting is that the results have addresses that make you think there's nothing wrong with them (like crcdatatech.com/help), they don't have an EXE extension and when you go to the site you're prompted to download the file. And if you click "run" instead of "save" or "cancel", prepare for the worst.

I think Google should remove all dangerous files from their index (EXE, MSI, COM, REG) and that should be an easy task, as they have a very similar pattern.

Gmail doesn't allow you to attach EXE files or ZIP archives that contain EXE files.

June 23, 2006

Google Maps + YouTube = Video Map


On Virtual Video Map you can view videos from different corners of the world. The map looks pretty crowded, so you can zoom in to focus on a country or a region. Click on a red balloon and play a video from that country: some videos are touristic, other videos are just funny. You can even find music videos.

Related:
Google Maps + Photos = Panoramia
Free premium videos on Google Video

Think A Different Operating System

You can't install all the operating systems out there. You don't have the time, the energy, the money or the motivation. I mean, your XP seems to work just fine. Why would you install a Linux distribution? And what Linux distribution?

There is a site called OSVids.com that has screencasts from many operating systems, including Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE, Debian, OpenBSD and Vista. For some of them, you can see the setup, for others the desktop and some basic applications. It's really nice to sit down and compare all these operating systems. Maybe this way you'll decide what Linux distribution you'll install.

Missing from this party are the old versions of Windows (but you probably know them), Mac and Google Operating System (who is not yet ready to be launched).

Related:
Will Linux rule the world? (read the comments)
Partition your hard drive without Partition Magic

Does Google Prepare For IPv6?

Google buys a lot of "dark fiber" (unused fiber-optic capacity) and many people take guesses at their reasons. Alex Lightman, CEO of IP telephony vendor Innofone.com, thinks that Google prepares for IPv6 era. IPv6 will replace IPv4 internet protocol as it will support much more internet addresses. As the number of devices connected to internet grows exponentially, IPv4 + NAT routers will not be enough.

"You know who else has a big pot of slash 20? Google," Lightman said. "Yahoo does too. It's not that service providers aren't doing it — it's the savvy service providers, with the high multiples and visionary management, that are getting ready to go into it. This is why Google bought mobile dark fiber. It's to go out and go: 'All these bozos in America aren't rolling out IPv6, so we'll do it if they aren't going to'."

Another reasons for buying dark fiber might be: Google Video's infrastructure, Google Wi-Fi and Google's data centers.

Panoramio - Google Maps With Photos


You've always wanted to see the world. Panoramio lets you see photos from all around the world on a map. You just have to select a location (like your favorite holiday destination) and you'll see pictures from there located on the map.

Panoramio lets you upload up to 2 Gb of photos in their original size and quality and label them with the place they were taken and some tags. This way, you can upload pictures from your trips and see other people's perspectives on the same places.

Panoramio photos can be viewed in Google Earth too if you download a KML file.

Also see:
Picasa Web Albums (Picasa also has geotagging)
Change the world with Google Earth 4
Google Earth reveals Iran's nuclear sites

June 22, 2006

Ads On Google Video

Google will start to include ads on Google Video this week, reports InfoWorld. Google will display an image ad for the duration of a video and a video ad after the clip ends for premium videos you would normally pay to view.

The test will run for a week: only 2,000 videos from important providers will have ads and only 5 advertisers will have ads on Google Video.

It's obvious that Google will integrate ads from Video AdSense into Google Video, as they share the same interface and distribution. The good thing is that the ad will be displayed after the video ends, and not before playing it, like most other video services. The bad thing is that the video ad is not a separate video, it's part of the video you are watching.

Update: here's the link to watch premium videos for free (including Charlie Rose, Felix the Cat and wrestling videos).

Unboring Company Descriptions On MSN Search

Let's face it. If you google a company name, the first result, which is the company's homepage, has a boring description. Search "Yahoo" and you'll get:
"The first large scale directory of the Internet, now a major portal offering search engine results."

MSN Search is not like that. It may not be a good search engine, but when it comes to company names, MSN Search knows how to handle the situation. You'll find out insiders' information, their latest problems and their address with one search. Let's see.

Yahoo!
Yahoo!'s webservers exclusively run FreeBSD. In addition, all the non-production servers and developer workstations run FreeBSD.

AOL.com
Founded in 1985 to provide interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services. Part of AOL Time Warner. Based in Dulles, Loudoun County, Virginia.

Sun Microsystems
High-speed microprocessors, scalable systems, robust software, network storage, 901 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303

HP
Provides embedded ethernet controllers, embedded internet, IEEE 1451.2, thin web servers, and time synchronization for smart sensors in distributed measurement and control system architectures.

Oracle Corporation
Oracle RDBMS support on MPE/iX ends December 31, 2000.

You Can't Ask For Anything More From Ask.Com


If you go to ask.com and type some queries, you'll get this message: "This query does not comply with Ask.com Terms of Service".

Here's a list of some queries that return this message:
sexy girls
Belgium's laws on pedophilia
laws on pedophilia
sex with kids
sex of a child
pedophilia
anti-pedophilia
child sex abuse
zoophilia
blocking porn from kids
any query that contains child and sex, kids and sex

I think this is not a good idea: those who want to search for these things will go to another search engine. Besides, some people may just want to make some research on "laws on pedophilia". If you ban queries like that, you'll have to ban others: "how to make a bomb", terrorists or "suicide tips" and the list will never end.

Update: If you search for "pedaphilia", Ask suggests searches like "girl love pedophilia", "child porn", and "preteen girl virgin".

{June 27 update} Here's Gary Price's response:

It's really a legacy issue from the Ask Jeeves days. Much of it having to do with the one time licensing agreement between our company and the "Mr Jeeves" Woodhouse licensing organization. It was far from an ideal situation and far from perfect filtering.

The good news is that with Mr. Jeeves gone, these issues no longer apply. So, as Lanzone pointed out earlier, you'll see big changes beginning later this week.

Actually, changes have been developing for a few months. Here's an example.

Shortly after I started working at Ask.com (in March) a librarian colleague sent me a note asking why her organization and other info about a topic wasn't found in Ask. These terms were on what we'll call the "legacy" list of filtered terms. It was not a long list. When I was alerted to this problem I immediately contacted Ask.com management and the terms were searchable within a matter of days. Now, as we move forward, this issue is being resolved (as Jim points out).

Also see:
Google sued for promoting child pornography