Something I overlooked in all the Google Apps / Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office comparisons, but didn’t go unnoticed by Tony Ruscoe: Microsoft Office Home & Student works on up to three computers. That means that a single copy of Office H&S, which contains Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote, costs $50 a person split three ways, the same as a year of Google Apps, and so cheap that Google Docs has a hard time justifying itself.
Google is working real hard developing office applications, but no one is really going to claim that they are better than the most recent version of Microsoft Office (Tony says of Docs, “it’s basically just a glorified WYSIWYG HTML editor”). If Office is better, has local storage, works with everything, and has a really cool new user interface, isn’t it worth fifty bucks? Being honest with yourself, wouldn’t you say Office is so cheap that Google’s free apps aren’t significantly cheaper, and thus have few advantages?
Google is releasing a presentations app this summer, but Docs and Spreadsheets aren’t fully baked yet. Maybe they need to get serious about competing with Office on features and usability. Otherwise, the PR FUD that Google Docs isn’t competing with Microsoft Office will be very sadly fulfilled.
Google announced today it has partnered with the governments of California, Arizona, Utah and Virginia to help make it easier for search engines, its own and its competitors, to crawl their websites and get important public info into the major search engines.
“California state government provides tremendous resources online for the public to learn about our great state,” said California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Our partnership with Google will empower Californians to know more about our government and provide better access to services and helpful information.”
Many government websites are poorly designed, poorly indexed, or poorly formatted, making it hard for crawlers to find all the pages inside, and Google’s efforts will make that data easier to find, as well as assist governments in bringing new data that was never available on the internet onto publicly accessible websites.
This means job seekers in Utah can now search on Google for employment in the state and find job postings provided by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. In Virginia, search engine users interested in the region’s colonial history can now find a greater variety of online resources provided by the Commonwealth’s archive, the Library of Virginia.
By providing free consulting and some software, Google Inc. is helping state governments make reams of public records that are now unavailable or hard to find online easily accessible to Web surfers.
The Internet search company hopes to eventually persuade federal agencies to employ the same tools; an effort that excites advocates of open government but worries some consumer privacy experts.
Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of more than 65 watchdog groups that advocate greater government openness and accountability, lauded Google’s efforts. Since the Sept. 11 attack on the United States, many public agencies have tried to restrict certain data from the Internet due to concerns about national security.
Despite the obvious benefits of this Google initiative for those conducting Web searches, privacy advocates said they are worried about unintended consequences, cautioning that some records may contain personal and confidential information that should not be widely available.
Bloomberg writes that the stock market is responding favorably to the idea that General Electric should spin off it NBC unit. That’s okay, and makes sense, as companies are trying to unload low performing units to focus on higher performing ones. What’s silly is this:
This is the second time this week analysts have suggested GE take such steps. Nicholas Heymann of Prudential Equity Group Inc. in New York said a company such as Google Inc. may be interested in buying NBC Universal as part of its effort to add to its mix of media offerings including YouTube.
Really? Google? The worst thing you can do is pick up a company that has nothing to do with your core business and requires careful and close oversight in order to remain competitive. Google has no experience with content, and its forays into video are having a hard enough time already; they don’t need a big distraction like a bunch of self-owned TV networks.
Still, if Google were looking from a purely YouTube perspective, and bought NBC to bolster YouTube’s legal mainstream content, as well as planning to bolster NBC with prominent promotion on YouTube (like Fox’s success with promotion on MySpace) it could work. It’d be a crazy idea, but it could happen as part of a single-minded approach to succeeding in online video.
(via John Battelle > ThreadWatch)
The Google Store has added a 3D navigation mouse ideal for use flying around Google Earth, and moving around the interface in Google SketchUp. It looks extremely useful for working in 3D (something regular mice are not great for).
The Google Store is selling it for $73.70. Amazon has two editions of it, the Personal Edition and Standard Edition, one of which is cheaper, one more expensive, and Google isn’t clear which one they are selling. Here are the two at Amazon:
YouTube’s head of advertising, Suzie Rieder, announced last week at AdTech that they will be adding advertising to videos on YouTube. The ads will be of the pre-roll and post-roll variety, that is ads that play before or after a clip.
“We’re looking at executions like a very quick little intro preceding a video, then the video, then a commercial execution on the backside of the content,” Ms. Reider said.
They didn’t say if these ads would be for major companies who put content on the site, like CBS, or for user-generated content to generate some revenue. This is going to be a tricky thing for Google, which doesn’t want to unbalance the “community” building at YouTube, but needs to make some money to justify the giant purchase price.
They need to look at it this way: If I watch an hour of TV, commercials come up about six times in the hour, for three minutes at a time. Some of those commercials are really good, most of them suck, and they aren’t the same commercial, aired 36 times an hour (many video sites suffer from having one commercial airing all the time). I can go through ten minutes of content before seeing an ad. Google needs to ensure users won’t see ads on every video, just maybe once every three minutes, otherwise YouTube will have more advertising than television, and we all know that TV is bad enough.
Maybe this is the way to go:
A long television-style commercial or “pre-roll” that appears before a user can watch a selected video “doesn’t work,” but users can react favorably to an ad placed between a first and second video, said Jason Hirschhorn, president of Sling Media Entertainment Group, the maker of Slingbox.
Seeking Alpha shows off this Compete.com chart showing how Google Checkout usage has fallen dramatically since December:
What happened after December? Well, Google stopped giving almost every Google Checkout user twenty dollars just for shopping. Like I said before, if you have to pay users to use your service, then it doesn’t deserve to succeed, and shoppers are agreeing. I don’t understand why Google Checkout needs to exist on websites like Buy.com, that have no problem processing credit card orders normally, and Google needs to find an excuse for their system. At least PayPal has a bank account.
Ask.com is planning on launching a contextual advertising program (in the AdSense mold) late next month. Initially, the service will only run on IAC-owned websites (of which there are a ton), but it will be opened to independent publishers most likely in the fall, according to Barry, who also says:
The publishers will have two unique features that are not currently available in the Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network. Publishers will be able to set “page yield thresholds” and set “relevancy thresholds.” There will be levers to allow publisher to determine if they want higher paying ads or if they want more relevant ads with these levers. In addition, the ads will be unique from that of Google and Yahoo ads. Ask told me that they will allow “very customized” interfaces for the contextual ads; such as customized backgrounds and graphics.
Expect to see it the week of May 21. As you can see from the sample ads running alongside this post, they differ from AdSense in one huge way: Rounded corners. Just kidding, but they do feature stock photos, a hybrid text/image ad, in order to draw users attention (which Google says is a bad thing). Ask says publishers will have a lot more control than they got with the competition. If anybody at Ask would be interested in beta testing it here, you just have to Ask
Randy Morin announced last week that he sold his R|Mail service to NBC. R|Mail, a two year-old service which sends RSS updates via email (and features InsideMicrosoft as its 14th most popular feed) and has over 50,000 users, obviously caught the fancy of NBC Universal, and that means another blogger is getting a great payday. Congratulations, Randy! Lets hope R|Mail’s new home respects it and puts some money into growing it.
Interestingly, two months ago, Randy ran an expirement aggregating all NBC RSS feeds as an OPML file, and recommending them in Rmail emails. Crazy speculation time, but maybe NBC saw some real good returns from that experiment, and saw an opportunity to gain new readers. If Rmail users are good marketing other feeds to as recommended feeds, NBC’s got a great base to promote its content, and maybe to sell ad space to others as well.
No matter what their motivations, big congrats to Randy, who definitely deserves it.
R|Mail easter egg: On R|Mail’s Join page, there’s a checkbox for “Allow spammers to email me”. Its a good joke on similar, less obviously worded checkboxes on many web forms, and don’t worry, you won’t get spammed, just berated for not being careful enough.
Google announced more 3D goodness for Google Earth, adding two new 3D layers from the American Institute of Architects. Check out the new American Institute of Architects layer in this video:
Just turn on the American Institute of Architects layer (under Featured Content) and you ‘ll see red boxes with the letter A dotting the globe, each linked to a 3D building you will see in Google Earth, designed as a project by a local AIA chapter. Washington D.C. has some pretty cool stuff, and it looks great. There are two different layers, one of America’s Favorite Architects, the other Blueprint for America, but you might as well just turn both on for the best experience.
Yes, a completely accurate representation of Google. Okay, maybe not (especially not Google Maps), but at least they got most of Google.com right, even a link to the personalized homepage and to sign in to a Google Account.
I’m shocked its still on YouTube, with all the attention its gotten.
Google search has support for a number of formats, like PDF and some Microsoft Office documents, letting you view the documents converted into HTML instead of launching a seperate program (especially useful if you don’t or can’t have that program on your computer). Now, Google has added support for the OpenDocument format, most prominently used by OpenOffice, as well as Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets, Star Office, and KOffice.
Ionut Alex has screenshots of the implementation, and a chart showing that, at current, Microsoft Office documents on Google outnumber OpenOffice documents by 477 to 1, or 71,700,000 Office docs to 150,200 OpenOffice docs.
Interestingly, Microsoft’s new Office 2007 file formats are barely represented in Google, with 96 Word docs, 27 Excel spreadsheets, and 18 Powerpoint presentations. The software is only three months old, but Google may be a good way to track adoption of the new applications.
For some fun, here’s one church’s attempt to attract web surfers looking for something more:
Yeah, Dell Home has an amazing coupon for the next week, or until it sells out. It’s such a good deal, it has me salivating. I was thinking of going to B&H this Sunday to but the Rebel XT for $530 used or $600 new, but now I’m re-evaluating that. I mean, the XTi has ten megapixels, but more importantly, a very useful dust protection system that keeps the camera in good condition for a long time.
I’m being ridiculous, right? I got lucky that people were so helpful in getting me enough money for the Rebel XT. The XTi is so tempting, but I need to ignore it… Ignore… Ignore…
Damnit! Maybe I should ask my grandmother for some birthday money.
Anybody got the XTi or XT? Is the difference worth killing my wallet, or my pride?
Either way, if you can, take this deal. I’ll be jealous, but I had to pass it along.
Here are these cameras on Amazon, with and without lenses:
Google ran a Doodle logo yesterday for ANZAC Day in Australia:
ANZAC Day, celebrated every April 25 in Australia and New Zealand, commemorates the anniversary of the first military action of Australian and New Zealand forces in World War I (ANZAC = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps).
[Karl Ribas:] Ok… first things first… what’s the story behind “The Lisa” alias? I’m seeing it referenced just about everywhere, including on t-shirts, and I’m curious as to how it came to life.
[Lisa Barone:] It’s somewhat embarrassing and I blame the whole thing on Nathan Weinberg! As most are aware, the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog opened up comments back in January after much reader insistence. This made a lot of people very happy, including Nathan Weinberg. Nathan wrote a blog post called Bruce Clay Adds Comments, Other Stuff and in his high level of excitement (heh) made a small typo and included an erroneous “the” in front of my name. Being an obnoxious blogger, I ran with it and in that week’s Friday Recap I joked that from here on out I was “The Lisa”!
Naturally, I was kidding and just trying to razz Nathan a bit (I’m a big Inside Google fan!). I had no idea people would latch onto it or that Michael Gray would start a clothing line with the moniker. The whole thing has been flattering, and just a little bit mortifying.
Craziness. For some weird reason, I type wildly, and sometimes the word “the” will appear for no reason. And now, it’s a thing. Really, I should get a cut of the t-shirt revenues
Had a little problem today with my wireless network, thought it was a problem with AdSense, and wound up learning some interesting things from my AdSense rep. Turns out that at some point in the near future, Google will be forcing all AdSense accounts to migrate to a Google Account login, and it is warning publishers now so they have time to plan. For the most part, the transition should be easy for most AdSense users, except me.
See, my AdSense login email address is the same as my Google Account login, because I got it before there ever was a Google Account (before I got my Gmail invite, remember those?). That’s not a problem either, and if you have both as the same email address you should be able to migrate just fine by visiting https://www.google.com/adsense/migrate-login-1 after you’ve logged into your AdSenseaccount.
If you’ve got an AdWords account, there is a problem. For some reason, AdSense and AdWords cannot be used on the same account, at least at the moment, and that means that if you have an AdWords account linked to your Google Account, you can’t migrate over your AdSense account to that Google Account.
And don’t bother waiting them out. Yes, Google does plan on fixing the problem that doesn’t allow AdSense and AdWords accounts on the same Google Account, but it almost definitely will not be fixed before the forced migration happens. So, one way or another, you will be moving your AdSeense account to a new Google Account if you have AdWords, and you’d better prepare for it now.
I sent my AdSense rep two questions:
I was wondering, is it possible to transfer control of a Google Account to another Google Account? Like, down the road, after I migrate this AdSense account to a new Google Account, and then eventually you guys make it possible to have AdWords and AdSense on the same account, would I be able to transfer control of my AdSense account from that Google Account to my regular one?
Also, I don’t really use my AdWords account, just very occasionally, and for testing purposes. Can I delete my AdWords account (or transfer it to a new Google Account) and then move my AdSense account to my regular Google Account, or is that not possible because the account used to have an AdWords account?
As soon as I have an answer, I’ll let you guys know.
The original email explaining the transition:
Our team would like to inform you of an upcoming change to your AdSense account.
Over the coming months, publishers will be required to update their existing logins to the Google Accounts system. Using Google Accounts will allow you to access your AdSense account along with the rest of your Google products using a single login and password. It will also enable us to offer new features and functionality that were not previously possible.
We’d like to give you an early opportunity to update your account, so we can offer you additional support before we ask all our publishers to make the transition. In order to update your account, first sign in to AdSense as usual, then visit the link at the bottom of this email and follow the simple instructions.
At this time we’re still unable to link AdSense and AdWords accounts, which means that the email address you update to must not have been associated with another Google ads account (AdWords or AdSense) at any point in the past. You’re welcome to use your current AdSense login, as long as it’s not used as an AdWords login.
If you have any trouble transitioning your account, please reply directly to this email.
Picasa got an update on Tuesday, improving performance significantly, according to Amit Agarwal. New version 2.7 (from 2.6) is no long a memory hog, integrates better with blogger, and allows you to upload videos to Google Video direct from the interface. It also no longer comes with a screensaver, since the Google Pack has one, presumably lightening the size of the download.
This link is a referral link, from which you can download the Google Pack, which contains Picasa and other software:
Google has apparently lost the personalized homepage preferences of hundreds of users, if not more. Ari commented on this at 8:53 this morning, and over 150 people have posted as having the problem on Google Groups since 6:45 am. Users are coming into their accounts and seeing them rolled back several months, losing the last few months of customizations, and any attempt to edit their pages and fix it gets rolled backwards.
Speculating would be a waste of time, but it is possible Google had to roll back to a old backup due to some sort of failure, or that it is related to the rollout of the new search results design. Regardless of what happened, it is a serious problem, and many users are worried that their careful personalizations are shot to hell.
Google Guide Jaime showed up at Groups to offer the first words from Google, about six hours later, two hours ago:
Yikes! So sorry about this everyone… but thanks so much for coming here to report it. We’re now in frantic-chase-down-this-bug mode here at the Googleplex, and I hope to have more info for you soon.
For now, we’re not entirely sure of this, but it’s possible that changing your homepage theme might cause the problem. SO, if you still have your homepage intact, please avoid changing your theme until
The big question I know you’ll all want answered is whether you’ll get your homepage back once we sort things out… and the really honest answer is that I hope so, but I just don’t know yet.
Thanks for all your patience and helpful details. I will update this thread as soon as I can.
p.s. no need to report this via the contact form that Fun n Frolic Ltd linked to — we are definitely aware of the problem, and I’ll post to this thread if there’s more info I have or need from all of you.
You hear that? Do not change your homepage theme until the problem has been resolved. In fact, it might be a good idea to not even visit your homepage until you hear its over, as I’ve heard a lot of people say theirs broke while they were using it.
Google Guide Cameron said a 90 minutes ago, after many users said they didn’t change their theme:
Thanks for letting us know that this problem isn’t related to your theme - it’s really helpful to get this info. Another piece of information that could help us sort this out is your approximate location; if you feel like sharing, that would be great!
I’ll update as soon as there is more info.
UPDATE 2:48 pm - No news, but user beuwolf said at Google Groups:
I will be moving to netvibes as well if they can’t restore my home page.
There is a limit to what people can tolerate in terms of reliability.
So as much as I love Google (and I really do like every web product they produce), this is just inexcusable.
That’s what Google has to worry about with stuff like this. No matter how good your software is, if it crashes, loses data, is unavailable, or just has weird bugs, people will desert you and all your hard work will be for nothing. Google: Don’t make this the day Netvibes or Live.com turns the corner.
UPDATE 5:19 pm: Still no fix, more users reporting this problem. No more talk on Google’s end. Here’s what forum poster silus just said:
I use it as practically a replacement desktop - and use google docs as replacement office. Now I may have to reconsider - can’t afford to have all my docs erased. Maybe time to rethink the whole web-app thing…
UPDATE 2:21 am on Friday: Jaime showed up at 9 pm and said:
Quick update. We’re in the process of fixing the problem — we’re making good progress, but please continue to be patient. In the meantime, I’d recommend holding off on re-personalizing your homepage
as we work through this.
Cameron or I will update you when we have more info.
Not saying if preferences are lost forever, although perhaps they are not, unless you try to change anything. Thus far, the problem is still affecting users, some twenty hours after it first appeared.
UPDATE 10:50 am: As of 3:15 am, people are reporting their homepages are back to normal. Not everyone has been restored, as some people are still complaining their pages are lost, mostly people outside the U.S.. I’m sure Google will let us know if they can’t restore all of them, although there’s no way to know if they plan on explaining what went wrong.
Users are asking Google to create a backup feature for the page, so they can save their customizations in the event this happens again. Good idea. Think they’ll do it?