part of the Blog News Channel

Gmail Related Links Reveal More Than Some May Like

Steve Rubel posts on how the “Related Pages” links Gmail puts below its ads can contain more information than the sender might want. For example, in an email Steve got from Apple advertising its new Intel Macs, the links were to news stories explaining how Apple gave $200 price drops to its G5 iMacs.

Imagine if you got an email from a company that was in the news for doing something horrible?


Subject: job?

Hey, dude, we got a great job for you! Come and get it!

Related Pages
Widget Corp Accused Of Sex Crimes - February 2, 2006
The FBI is accusing Widget Corp of kidnapping
young women and very cruelly…

Yeah, that could go very poorly. For the end user, Google’s doing a great job helping you out, letting you know stuff that might be important about whatever your email is in regards to. But if your company is doing bad in the news, you might want to leave the company name out of emails to Gmail users until the situation blows over.

It certainly makes it more worth it to look at the ads.

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Services, Advertising, Gmail, Email, General | no comments

Gossip Blog Has A Mad On For Google

There’s a new gossip blog in town from Gawker called Valleywag which focuses on Silicon Valley gossip, and it seems to have developed an unhealthy obsession with all things Google (just like myself). They’ve been posting a lot of Google stuff:

The blog seems a little obsessed with Marissa Mayer, even more so than it is Google-obsessed (and its VERY Google-obsessed). Still, it’s more funny than rude and insulting.

Its crass. Its stupid. Subscribed.
(via Andy Beal)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Culture, Blogs, General | no comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

links for 2006-02-03

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Yahoo, Controversy, Microsoft, Search, Humor, General | no comments

Net Companies Go To Capitol Hill To Fight For Network Neutrality

Besides heading up in two weeks to defend censorship in China, major internet companies will be arguing before the Senate in favor of network neutrality. Lead by Google VP and net luminary Vint Cerf will lead a group arguing against telcos, who plan to try and force companies like Google to pay for priority access to their bandwidth, while at the same time choking the band with their first party services like IPTV, which will be given network priority.

BusinessWeek reports:

Now, Cerf and his Net compatriots have new ammunition to back up their fears. Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission show that Verizon Communications (VZ) is setting aside a wide lane on its fiber-optic network for delivering its own television service. According to Marvin Sirbu, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who examined the documents, more than 80% of Verizon’s current capacity is earmarked for carrying its service, while all other traffic jostles in the remainder.

… On Feb. 7 the Net companies plan to take their complaints about Verizon’s plans to the Senate during a hearing on telecom reform.

… The Net companies are trying to persuade Congress to pass a law ensuring that broadband providers, such as the Bells, don’t discriminate against rivals when they charge tolls or prioritize traffic, an idea called “network neutrality.”

… Meanwhile, Net neutrality faces more debate in both the Senate and the House. Cerf & Co. certainly have a difficult task. After all, the phone companies employ armies of lobbyists and donate millions to Congress. Google hired its first lobbyist just last year.

What a week to be in D.C.. I wish I could see this in person. Maybe I’ll DVR C-SPAN (I’ll bet that isn’t common).

If Verizon doesn’t have the capacity to provide the internet and TV, then it had better choose one and stick with it until it can. We already have slower download speeds than other countries, and limiting internet traffic to 20% of the fiber optic network will make growth even slower.

Considering Verizon already offers perfectly fine crappy DSL, why not give up on offering the internet over FIOS until they have the capacity for it, and just stick to TV? I’d pay for a DSL net/FIOS TV package, and upgrade to full FIOS when the network could handle it.

Verizon is opening a bad can of worms. If Congress rules internet access a public utility (a high probability since it subsidized the damn fiber optic network anyway), Verizon will have less flexibility than they currently have. Don’t offer substandard internet and TV on one line; do a better job with two.


Let’s go off on a different track.

Some have considered that Verizon’s plan is to choke the internet down to basic text and date, give it too little bandwidth to handle on demand video. The idea is that, since Verizon’s TV service has 80% of the bandwidth, if Google wants to do a similar service, it could never find another 80% to use (after all, there is no 160%).

If Google wanted to compete with Verizon, it would have only one option: rent the same 80% of the band Verizon is using. In that case, it makes sense for Google to have to pay a fee, since Verizon is giving away resources it reserved for its own service. If that is what Verizon wants to do, it makes sense, even if I don’t like it.

That sort of scenario is the kind you can argue successfully before a congressional committee, that internet histeria over Google paying for Gmail access is unfounded, that Verizon simply wants Google to pay for the same things Verizon would be dedicating resources to. I never said it was honest, but its the sort of thing Congress could go along with.

The consumer wouldn’t affected in normal net use, except possibly in slow growth in net browsing speeds. You would have to pay extra to Google for their high-band service, as they’d pass along the Verizon fee to the end user.

Of course, Verizon isn’t hoping that Google will pay. In this scenario, Verizon doesn’t want anyone to pay them. They just want to shut out anyone who isn’t a telco from rolling out massive bandwidth services, like IPTV. They’d just be anticompetitve, and they’d succeed. Except…

Perhaps this is where dark fiber comes in.

Google has bought a large quantity of “dark fiber”, that is fiber optic cable abandoned mostly by companies that fell apart when the net bubble burst. With this resource, if Google has enough, it can do an end-run around Verizon and provide services over its own backbone, killing the anticompetitive practice and opening back up the internet for more service providers, or providing a monopoly consisting of just Google and the telcos.

Either Sergey Brin, Larry Page or John Hennessy said in October (the transcript is not clear):

All right, I think that’s people connecting the dots kind of and sometimes incorrectly. We have lots of dark fiber and we need it. It connects our data centers, which are large and spread throughout the world.

Yeah, actually, yes, we get it initially as dark fiber. We light it pretty quickly and we’re often under capacity…

Eric Schmidt said:

… and we try very hard to link them together. For example, we use the same hardware infrastructure for all of this; we get cost levers as a business. We have all this dark fiber lying around which we link everything together with.

So yes, Google’s current services require a lot of capacity. But what if Google hasn’t just been buying fiber for uptime, but as a wild card if telcos try to build monopoly on the delivery of high-bandwidth services? Google can either use the fiber to provide their own services, or sell it to others so Verizon doesn’t own the whole market.

Better yet, since Google always caters to the long tail, Google could provide network capacity for the companies too small to buy their way into the telcos networks, selling tiny increments of their network via auction, just like AdWords. Google would be helping open up massive fiber optic networks to small businesses, just like its trying to open up magazine advertising to small businesses, and diversify its revenue streams (which would make Wall Street happy).

Now keep in mind, this is all theory. But even if this isn’t the goal, Google’s already prepared, because they already bought the dark fiber. This is one case where Verizon may have been outthought, that someone has been playing chess with them for a long time before they came up with their anti-competitive practices.

Is Google playing a very smart game of chess with Verizon, BellSouth and others? Does it have all its pieces in place already? We’ll have to wait and see, but I sure hope so.
(via Slashdot)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Froogle Gets Personalized Search

Google has added Personalized Search / Search History to Froogle, making it the fourth Google service (after web search, News and Images) to get it. Just be signed in to get it. Personalized Search is the future of Google Search, you’ll see.

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | History, iGoogle, Froogle, Services, Search, General | one comment

CBS To Sell TV Shows, Cutting Out Google Video Store

Looks like CBS is cutting out the middleman in the Google Video Store, announcing it plans to sell TV shows for $1.99 from its website. CBS hasn’t said it will pull out of Google Video, but I can’t imagine it taking less money just to use Google’s currently unpopular distribution channel.

Considering that, at this point anything is better than Google’s go-nowhere DRM, why would anyone buy the same videos for the same price with less options from Google? No word yet on what the DRM scheme will be. Videos will still be handicapped by the 24-hour day pass that makes them so unappealing on Google.

From Reuters:

New episodes of the popular “Survivor” reality television series will be made available for download directly from CBS Corp.’s Web site for $1.99 per episode, a first in network TV, the company said on Wednesday.

Its latest plans gives the television network an option to use its own online properties to distribute shows rather than relying on other companies such as Internet company Google or Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iTunes service.

New episodes will be available shortly after midnight following the airing of new episodes on TV. Customers will be able to watch the episode for a 24-hour period after paying.

UPDATE: According to MarketWatch, CBS is talking to iTunes. Now that is a vote of no confidence in Google.
(via Dvorak > Findory)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Store, Google Video, Search, General | 4 comments

Wilt’s 100 On Google Video

Google Video now has Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point performance. Or rather, they have the audio of the fourth quarter. For $3.95. Uh, a bit much? I know its a rare audio recording, and a really classic game, but paying twice as much for less than half an hour of audio than you would for a full game of video?
(via The Google Video Blog)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Store, Google Video, Search, General | no comments

Google Redesign

Andy Rutledge does a superb job redesigning the homepage, managing to keep what works in the clean white-space interface, while bringing true structure to the page and giving it a more modern sheen.

Considering Google’s homepage is largely the same as it was when the company started, it can almost be considered dated, and Andy makes good points as to how the extra links are cluttering the page and placed haphazardly. I wouldn’t mind if Google switched on that page immediately. Anyone want to create a working version?

There are good arguements that Google’s homepage is iconic, and it is, but it has gotten more complex, slowly, and it is beginning to suffer under the strain. The blue sheen Rutledge adds provides a nice division that keeps extraneous links away from the search box, and keeps the illusion of massive white space.

Check out Google Redux. His eBay Redux is even better.
(via Phillip > Digg)

UPDATE: Jason Schramm posts that someone created Rutledge’s design. It ain’t perfect, but it works.

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Doodles, Culture, Search, General | 3 comments

Memeorandum Likes Me

Clearly, Memeorandum must like me, since I have six links on the front page at a single time. That, or I’m gaming the system or something.

But seriously, who has the time to game Memeorandum? I never understood that sort of stuff. If you are spending your time gaming systems to increase links/traffic, you are wasting time that could be spent writing stuff. Hell, I wrote this post so my counting of links wouldn’t be a total waste!

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | no comments

Google AdWords Professional Available For Non-U.S. Companies

The Google AdWords Professionals program is now available for non-U.S. companies. GAP is a system whereby companies can sign up with accredited AdWords companies that manage their accounts. GAPs can manage multiple AdWords accounts from a single Client Center. Google has now expanded the program into Africa and Europe.

ThreadWatch is not entirely satisfied:

Now Google has extended the Company scheme to allow orgnaisations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to become Adwords Qualified Companies - but for some reason has still excluded companies from Asia, South America and Australia (and Antartica) from participating. Which frankly, leaves me feeling a little bemused.

Why does Google see fit to offer this accreditation to companies based in Nigeria, Romania and the Palestinian Territory while denying it to firms in, say, Japan, Australia or French Polynesia? If you work at Google, please enlighten us.

(via Search Engine Journal)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Search Marketing, AdWords, Advertising, General | one comment

Google Reader Updated

The Google Reader team have issued an update. The main new feature is a drop-down that gives you quick access to all of your labels, but the keyboard access to the same feature is a cooler: a dark gray overlay that appears when you hit g, then l.

Other features:

  • Hover over cropped titles to read the whole thing in a tooltip
  • “Keep Unread” checkbox fixed in IE
  • Don’t reset the window scroll position for some keyboard shortcuts (like scan down/up).
  • Improved sorting and filtering in the subscriptions drawer.
  • Better error messages for empty and not found feeds.

(via Download Squad)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Reader, Products, General | no comments

Fiat & Google Earth

Adverblog once again spots a very cool marketing game:

To properly celebrate (and of course take promotional advantage) of the upcoming Olympic games, Fiat has partnered with Google Earth to launch an extremely cool online competition. Under the snows of Turin and the Olympic valleys Fiat has hidden an exclusive Ferrari 360 Experience pass and four Fiat Sedici cars. The game (Sedici contest) challenges users finding on a Google Earth map the places where suche prizes have been hidden. The competition is also in English.

It’s quite popular, so it seems, because I had to try 7 times before I could enter the site. Hope it stays up !

Fiat & Google Earth

Credits : [testaweb edv]

Try out the Sedici contest - via [Adverblog]

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Coolz0r | Google Earth, Advertising, General | no comments

If Google Made Cola…

Okay, ladies and gents, time to put on your thinking caps. Andy Beal asks, “What if Google made cola?” and asks for opinions on it. Submit it to the Search Engine Roundtable forum or comment below.

If Google Made Cola…

  • Every ingredient would be renamed away from industry standards (e.g. sugar would be called Drink Clips)
  • The can design would be completely white, with just a logo, the word beta, and a search box. Yeah, a search box.
  • It would be free, but display ads on the side based on where you were. Which relies on:
  • The can will track where you go, for ad delivery purchases.
  • It would be personalized, but in very subtle ways, to reflect your tastes. This would be strictly opt-in, and most users would never realize it existed.
  • There would be an API for building other drinks (cherry, diet, lemon-lime, energy drink) on top of Google Cola, but it would be limited to 80 ounces a day.
  • Microsoft would release a cola that came in a more colorful can, had slightly less soda, but integrated with Windows. Somehow. They always find a way.
  • Yahoo would release a soda just as good, but barely get any attention.
  • It will integrate with Blogger, Gmail and the Google Toolbar, but not with anyone else’s soda.
  • The can will secretly have near unlimited space, forcing everyone else to step up. However, you will only be able to put soda in 1/250th of that space at a time.
  • The can will be delivered by a competing standard similar to the industry standard, but slightly different (and supposedly superior), but different enough to make compatibility unnecessarilly harder. Dave Winer will like Microsoft’s cola better, since it uses the standard better.

And finally, the most important feature of Google Cola?


  • Google Cola will be unveiled as an aggregator of everyone else’s cola. Google will, of course, not ask for permission.

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Humor, General | 5 comments

Google Crawls Dell’s FTP

From C|Net:

Apparent specifications for Dell’s future notebooks were briefly exposed by Google’s search engine Tuesday, before the spreadsheet was removed from a Dell FTP site and from Google’s cache.

The basic configurations for the Dell Inspiron e1405, Inspiron e1505, Inspiron 640m and Inspiron 6400 were available, along with several other unannounced Dell products, via a Dell FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site. A poster at technology review site noticed the spreadsheet and posted the link in one of the site’s discussion forums.

C|Net talks about the content of those sheets…

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Coolz0r | General | no comments

Free Ride For Google Is Over

AT&T’s CEO Ed Whitacre is once again crowing about his company’s plans to extort money from Google and other Web sites who want to be able to reach AT&T customers.

The NetworkingPipeline has a short roundup of an article on the Financial Times.

Ed Whitacre:

“We have to figure out who pays for this bigger and bigger IP network,” said Mr Whitacre, who was in New York ahead of AT&T’s annual presentation to investors and analysts on Tuesday. “We have to show a return on our investments.”

“I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network – obviously not the piece from the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in Internet access fees – but for accessing the so-called Internet cloud.”

“If someone wants to transmit a high quality service with no interruptions and ‘guaranteed this, guaranteed that’, they should be willing to pay for that,” the AT&T chief said.

“Now they might pass it on to their customers who are looking at a movie, for example. But that ought to be a cost of doing business for them. They shouldn’t get on [the network] and expect a free ride.”

Read more on the Financial Times.

UPDATE: Nathan here. BusinessWeek reports that Verizon is holding back as much as 80% of its fiber optic bandwidth (a network you paid for through government concessions) for its TV service. I wonder how many of these companies that are suggesting Google pay a “premium” are hogging most of the bandwidth for themselves, screwing over regular net users.
(via Techdirt)

UPDATE 2: Apparently there’s a book, $200 Billion Broadband Scandal, that explains the whole thing. Shouldn’t this be a crime?
(via MetaFilter)

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Coolz0r | Controversy, Culture, Search, General | no comments

Google Redux

Andy Rutledge of Design View as reviewed the Google Homepage:

It seems that now and perhaps into the future, all your base are belong to Google. The company has done a good job becoming the search tool of choice for the vast majority of internet users and it’s quickly becoming the name behind many useful and popular online applications and marketing tools.

What Google does not do well is apply design appropriately to its search engine interface. Other online application interfaces from Google are often done rather well, or at least not too badly. The search engine page, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Mind you, we’re talking about the most successful search tool on the Web. But it is no stretch to observe that the design of this page is pretty bad. […]

In design, if you don’t know why you’re putting something somewhere you’re
likely making a mistake.

Check out the new result right here (scroll down a bit if you just want to see how it looks like.

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Coolz0r | iGoogle, Culture, General | no comments

Google Phone

There’s a service in The Netherlands that has a phonenumber available that people can call, then someone who answers the phone will google the info you requested. Not affiliated with The GOOG.

Someone tried it out and called the 0900-1234664 (country code The Netherlands is +31), a person asked him what he could search for and this caller requested ‘The best Chinese restaurant around’, to which the remote searcher replied that this sort of information isn’t available in Google.

So you can’t ask any questions you’d ask a YellowPages service or something alike.

Since the service is not affiliated with Google, one might wonder when the cease and desist notice is going to arrive there. Also who would ever phone a service to just Google something? Hmmm… interesting question.

via [SearchCowboys]

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Coolz0r | General | 3 comments

Google, Yahoo Join IBM’s Open AJAX Project

IBM has created the Open AJAX project, designed to make AJAX and its technologies (JavaScript, XML) available on all hardware and platforms. Joining this group will be Google and Yahoo, among others.

In addition to Big Blue, other initial supporting members of Open Ajax include Google, Yahoo, BEA, Borland, the Eclipse Foundation, Mozilla Corporation, Novell, Oracle and Red Hat.

Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM, said it plans to contribute software to the Eclipse Foundation and Mozilla Corporation that will allow one to develop and debug an AJAX application.

February 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Yahoo, General | no comments