Do You Have AdSense Fever?

By Nathan Weinberg

Slashdot reports that a trojan is, for users with infected computers, turning regular Google AdSense ads into ads for penis pills and porn sites.

The Register reports that nogoodniks have developed a Trojan horse program that produces fake Google ads posing as the real thing. The as-yet unnamed Trojan replaces legitimate ads served via Google AdSense with promos for penis pills, porn sites and the like. Techshout says the Google AdSense team confirms ‘that these are fake Google ads, formatted to look like legitimate ads. We agree that this phenomenon is likely the result of malicious software installed on your computer.’

And, at TechShout:

“There is a bug in the Trojan Horse which converts Google and Firefox referral graphic buttons into text links. Contrary to the normal Google ads, which have some correlation to the content on the web page, these malicious ads had no content that was remotely similar to the pages to which they had been attached, ” said Raoul Bangera. “Most of the ads were about gambling or adult content, which are banned categories in Google AdSense, clearly indicating a suspicious origin.”

The best way to determine if you have caught the bug? Look very closely at the AdSense ads on every page you visit. Very closely. And I am only talking about bug prevention, not my own ads. No siree.

Posted:
December 31, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Gmail: Failure?

By Nathan Weinberg

ExtremeTech has an artice about ten failed tech trends of 2005. One of them: Gmail. Reasons given: Its beta, few use it as their primary, no radical new features, and that Yahoo is getting a lot better. I wouldn’t call that a failure, just a slow moving product. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google is holding back a major feature (like an enterprise version that supports multiple email accounts with incoming POP3) for when one of their competitors goes live.

Hat-tip: Coolz0r

Posted: December 30, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Facts? Irrelevant

By Nathan Weinberg

I’m so sick of seeing the 40% click fraud number repeated like its actually accurate. Wired’s Charles Mann writes about click fraud, passing the accuracy buck by quoting supposed victims of click fraud and “marketing research firms” which claim numbers of 40 and 50 percent based on zero demonstrable evidence. I remember people claiming on 9/11 that they’d heard there were eight hijacked planes, but reporting claims is not fact-checking.

Randy Morin puts it well:

I believe, but you can correct me if I’m wrong, that everybody is experiencing between 0 and 100% clickfraud. Everybody who claims to be a victim of clickfraud says pretty much the same stupid thing. Cry me a river. The reporter and his sources are the real fraud.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Hat-tip: Coolz0r

Why Does Anyone Think This’ll Catch On?

By Nathan Weinberg

I was listening to Opie and Anthony today, and they were discussing “vlogs”, or video weblogs, and while I’m sure I’ve brought this up before, who in the world thinks vlog will take off as a word? Video blogs, or more accurately, video posts (since its still a regular text blog!) will be big next year, but the term vlog is so awful and unwieldly, no one is going to be saying it without using finger quotes or having to define it .

Why must we insist on creating a singular, short, supposedly catchy word for everything? I’m pretty sure this is a phenomena exclusive to high technology. We didn’t call high school a “hool” or vacuum cleaners “vacleaners”. Only geeks would think some sort of Orwellian doublespeak could make everything a cool brand.

Could we just once stick to names that are friendly, easy to say and, most of all, descriptive? Can’t we just say “video post”, “video blog”, and not “vlog”, “vidcast”, “vlogcast”, or some other useless term?

Its hard enough to teach the public about RSS.

Posted: December 29, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

OPML Renderer

By Nathan Weinberg

Thank Dave Winer for linking to the OPML renderer for Wordpress. The renderer takes an OPML file and creates a collapse/expand blogroll. Smartly, it caches the blogroll, so if you link to something like Bloglines, you aren’t running a script every freakin time the page loads (and you specify how long it takes).

To add it to your blog, download it from author Dan MacTough’s site, and dump the entire directory into your wp-content/plugins/ folder. Add this code to your blog:

< ? OPMLRender('url', 'updatetime', 'page|sidebar'); ? >

Replace url (leaving the single quotes in all cases) with the OPML url. In the case of a public Bloglines OPML, it’d be “http://www.bloglines.com/export?id=USERID”, entering your ID at the end. Replace updatetime with the number of seconds between caching. Unless you change your subscriptions every ten minutes, set it to a very high number. I chose 360000, or every 100 hours. Replace page|sidebar with page or sidebar, choosing the correct stylesheet for where you are placing the blogroll.

Now, activate the plugin in your control panel.

You can download images so there are proper buttons for the thing, including proper +/- buttons and an OPML logo, or create your own. Dump them in your plugin/wp-content/opmlRenderer directory. Then go to the plugins panel, and look for:

Click here to edit XSL transform used for pages and posts and here to edit the XSL Transform used for the sidebar.

Click on the appropriate “here” for the XSL stylesheet you chose. Line 13 is:

< xsl :variable name="imgPath" >/wp/wp-images< /xsl >

Edit it to /wp-images/plugins/opmlRenderer, or whatever directory you used. Be aware that if your blog is in a subdirectory, you need to append that to the beginning (like /blog/wp-images/plugins/opmlRenderer).

Now open your site in Opera or Firefox. Try to click on the + symbol. If it doesn’t work (because the browser renders the text layer over several pixels of the sidebar), you can fix that by making the + symbol larger. To do so, scroll down to:

< img name="img-{$uniqueID}" src="{$imgPath}/{$imgCollapsed}" alt="[+/-]" title="[+/-]"/ >

Add width=”30″, or whatever number you are satisfied with that looks good and is clickable. Also, you can add align=”Left” to get it to act like mine, which I think is more asthetically pleasing, especially in thin sidebars.

Fiddle around with the code to get it to act the way you want it. The main thing is that it works very well, and can let you have a massive blogroll without taking up space.

Posted:
by Nathan Weinberg in:

Bloglines Is Great!

By Nathan Weinberg

Okay, Bloglines has been having major issues with a select number of feeds, showing double posts (most notably anything from Gawker and the MSDN blog feed), but they are indexing posts at blinding speeds. My last post was indexed within five minutes of my hitting publish. Nice!

Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Who Made The Best Aquisitions In 2005?

By Nathan Weinberg

SEO by the Sea has put together a list of the aquisitions by Google and Yahoo, and Richard MacManus has done the same for Microsoft. So, who picked up the best in 2005?

Google:

  • Android
  • Akwan Information Technologies
  • Dodgeball
  • Urchin Software

Yahoo:

  • Ludicorp Research & Development Ltd (Flickr)
  • TeRespondo
  • Dialpad
  • blo.gs
  • Pixoria (Konfabulator)
  • Alibaba
  • upcoming.org
  • WhereOnEarth Unlimited
  • Del.icio.us
  • Verdisoft
  • Stadeon, Inc.

Microsoft:

  • FolderShare
  • media-streams.com AG
  • Teleo Inc.
  • FrontBridge Technologies
  • Groove Networks Inc.
  • Sybari Software Inc.

Well, the winner certainly isn’t Google, which didn’t have anything as cool as Keyhole this year. I think Yahoo made the best aquisitions by picking up a huge number of quality companies, while Microsoft improved its business the most with its aquisitions. How does that make sense? Ray Ozzie, baby.
(via Download Squad)

Google Guys Invest In Film

By Nathan Weinberg

SFGate reports that Google founders Page and Brin have invested in an independent film, “Broken Arrows“.

The pair are executive producers of a low-budget, independent film to be released next year, “Broken Arrows,” written and directed by a friend of theirs, Reid Gershbein.

Google’s founders tapped into their vast personal fortunes, estimated at $16 billion each, to fund about half the film’s budget. Production cost just under $1 million, according to Gershbein.

The movie follows the journey of Reese, who loses his pregnant wife in a terrorist explosion. From then on, the story enters a more magical realm.

Distraught, Reese takes a job as a hit man. But it doesn’t relieve his pain as was promised. Ultimately, the audience discovers that Reese’s violence isn’t what it appears at all. Prepare for a major plot twist.

To hear Gershbein describe it, the movie is about love, faith and destiny. A short trailer, at www.brokenarrowsthemovie.com, suggests a moody art film with scenes of a couple embracing on a beach, a woman lying on the ground threatening someone with a pistol, and a priest offering advice.

The trailer makes it look like a decent indie flick with a few production mistakes (that could have been fixed with a little more Google money), particularly bad sound in some scenes. I might just see it when it comes out, sometime in 2006.

By the way, if I had a bit of money to throw around, I’d be willing to put some of it just to get a page of my own on IMDB :-) . Also worth noting: the movie’s website runs off Blogger. And I thought it was funny that the music was by “Jon Eric Williams“.

I’ve uploaded the trailer to YouTube, and you should be able to watch it in the space right above this sentence.
(via Google Blogoscoped)

Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Makes Opera Deal, But Not What You Were Expecting

By Nathan Weinberg

Considering all the rumors lately that Google was buying Opera (or that Microsoft was junking Internet Explorer and buying Opera), they reality is almost tame. Opera has announced that Google will be the preferred search engine for its mobile browser.

“Google will be the default search partner for the mobile browsers: Opera Mobile and Opera Mini,” Opera Software ASA said in a statement. “Under the one-year contract, Opera will make Google Search a major part of the browsers home screen.”

Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Guess I Was Onto Something

By Nathan Weinberg

My gut told me YouTube had overtaken Google Video, based on simple observation of the internet and the popularity the service was enjoying. Turns out I was onto something. Hitwise has crunched the traffic data, and YouTube indeed overtook Google Video in market share, shooting up 83% in one week thanks partially to the mega-popularity of the “Lazy Sunday” Saturday Night Live sketch.

YouTube, assuming it continues its meteor growth, and major competitors Google Video Search and Yahoo Video Search continue their steady but slow growth of the last two months, could challenge Yahoo Video by February.

That is, unless Flickr starts allowing video uploads.

The interface is there, Yahoo. Time to flip the switch, before someone takes your spot.

And Danny doubted me :-) I’ve got my finger on the pulse. The pulse of bored web surfers, that is.

Posted:
by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Base Adds Jump Page

By Nathan Weinberg

One issue with Google Base, one that some loved while others hates, was that if the item had a URL you pretty much never saw the Base item page, going straight to the URL when you clicked on the listing. Now, you go to what is being called the “jump page”, the item listing page on Google Base, before you can click the link to go to the item URL. Here’s an example of a jump page.

Oodle and Andy Beal discuss whether or not this is cheating feed providers who want to get links to their content in the database. I think it isn’t, as without the jump pages Base is little more than another type of regular Google Search. However, Google might want to consider letting individual content providers specify they don’t want jump pages. One thing Google should definitely do is make the link listed in the search results, the one that shows the item URL in green below the listing regardless of the landing page, a live URL, so users can choose which one to click.

UPDATE: The Google Base blog acknowledges the change, with this tidbit:

By the way, search results that display Google Base items on Froogle, Google Local and Google will continue to point directly to item URL.

Posted: December 28, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Yahoo’s CBS Comedy Bowl

By Nathan Weinberg

Bringing some TV for those dissapointed by the awful December schedule, Yahoo has four episodes, two each from CBS hit comedies “Two and a Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother”, calling it the CBS Comedy Bowl. Whether you like the shows or not (and I hate the stupid “men, men, men” theme), this is a good thing, as long as more networks do this more often.

This via the Yahoo Search Blog, which notes Yahoo Video Search has a new front page.

Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Sued Over VOIP Patent

By Nathan Weinberg

Google has been sued for patent infringement over Google Talk by a company which claims to own a patent over the very concept of voice calls over the internet. Gary Price reports:

Rates Technology says that two patents they hold (awarded in 1995, 2001) for minimizing the cost of long distance calls using the Internet are being infringed upon by Google Talk. Copies of these two patents along with one more mentioned in the filing are included in the complaint.

He also links to Rich Tehrnai, who did some research and discovered that Rates Technology (RTI) does little more than threaten companies that develop products that use “least cost routing” and demand payoffs while threatening legal action. They ask for one-time payments, not royalties, and tell smaller companies they’d best pay up as the price increases as the companies do.

RTI claims that smaller companies give them more trouble than bigger ones, because:

The larger companies are easier to deal with, because they have many in house patent attorneys, and they do not feel that they are being roughed- they are making an informed business decision. Smaller companies tend to not respect the intellectual property of others.

Perhaps larger companies just pay them off because they can afford to, and to avoid litigation, while the smaller ones are just trying to prove what an egregious misuse of the law this is?!

It appears that RTI may have never been challenged to a verdict. Considering that Google has the power to take this court, and little financial loss if they lose (Google Talk isn’t a money producer), I encourage them to push this case as far as the legal system will allow. Companies owning patents that produce nothing but lawsuits are a pox upon innovation, and what they do should be a crime. They only get away with it because they are allowed to by frightened companies.

Let Google stand up and fight. Take them down for the rest of us!

What Does $400 A Share Buy?

By Nathan Weinberg

C|Net has a really nice quick chart breakdown off Google’s major services, answering the question, “What do you get for $400 a share?“. I think it assumes too much about revenue generation (c’mon, ads in Google Talk or Picasa?), but is a handy quick resource.
(via All Your Web Are Blog To Us > Findory)

S&P 500 Adds Three Companies, But Not Google

By Nathan Weinberg

The S&P 500 index has announced it will add CBS Corp., Viacom Inc. and Whole Foods on Friday, but not Google. Better luck next year.

The selections leave out Google Inc., one of the companies with the highest market capitalizations not included in the index. Many analysts expect S&P to add the Mountain View, Calif.-based search-engine giant — with a market cap of more than $125 billion — at some point. Google went public in August 2004, and has seen its shares soar above $400 from an IPO price of $85.

The firm requires companies in its 500-index to meet certain criteria: The company must be based in the United States, post positive earnings for four consecutive quarters, trade with adequate liquidity and have a market capitalization of $4 billion, among other characteristics.

In a seperate story, TheStreet.com’s Jonathan Berr reports that JMP Securities raised its 12-month target on Google to an absurd $575. Absurd only if you ignore the fact that Google, based on history, will likely reach $575 in a year, but still, a very ballsy target price.

Morrison based his price target on 2007 forecasts of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and free cash flow. He values Google at 50 times his $11.50 free cash flow per share estimate and 25 times his $6.6 billion EBITDA projection. Previously, Morrison based his target assuming 27.5 times his $4.3 billion 2006 EBITDA and 50 times his $7.85 free cash flow per share forecasts.

Posted:
December 27, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

And It Was Never The Same Again

By Nathan Weinberg

The Google Blog tells the story of what happens when a band of Googlers meets a bulk order of 250 pounds of Silly Putty. Kids: Do this at home. And bring a video camera.

links for 2005-12-28

By Nathan Weinberg
Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Greasing Up Gmail

By Nathan Weinberg

Download Squad links to two new Greasemonkey scripts for Gmail, the most interesting of which gives your labels unique colors so they are easy to pick out of a crowd. The other adds new keyboard shortcuts.

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Oh, You Dirty, Dirty Search

By Nathan Weinberg

A Welsh View links to the “Slut-O-Meter” a website that uses Google to determine how much of a bad boy (or girl) you’ve been on the internet. It works by simply calclulating the difference between the number of pages given for your name (or any search term) and the number of pages displayed when Google’s SafeSearch is used.

I get a slut rating of 9.51% with 45000 out of 473000 dirty pages. Britney Spears is 26.71% slut, Christina Aguilera is 28.44%, Lindsay Lohan is 36.31%, Colin Farrell is 20.44% and Brad Pitt is 14.74% slut. Oh, and Conan O’Brien is -26.51% slut, if you can believe it!
(via Findory)

Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google.org Doing More Good

By Nathan Weinberg

Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, has added another organization to the list of those it helps, in order to help others: PlanetRead. From the home page:

PlanetRead: an organization seeking to improve literacy in India using same-language subtitling. By adding subtitles to Bollywood films and videos of popular folk songs, PlanetRead gives people who have low literacy skills regular reading practice. As it expands, this approach has the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people.

(via Search Engine Watch)

Posted:
by Nathan Weinberg in:

Gmail Celebrates The Holidays

By Nathan Weinberg

Philipp notes that Google has created a “Yule Log” for Gmail, saying, “This holiday season,
we hope yule log-in to Gmail.” Corny, but sweet. Below the Flash animation, it says:

Here’s to making our world a little smaller, a little warmer,
and to bringing all our friends and family a little closer.

Happy Holidays from the Gmail Team!

Assuming it stays up, you should see the Yule Log in this post. Otherwise, Philipp has a screenshot.

UPDATE: Worth adding that my favorite Windows Media Player visualization is the Yule Log / Fireplace visualization that comes with the Windows Media Bonus Pack.

Blogger Spam

By Nathan Weinberg

I just got an email that was addressed to a bunch of big name bloggers, and myself. I think I should be honored! The list:

Aaron Swartz; Charlene Li; Henk de Hooge; Paul Aelen; Nancy Blachman; Philipp Lenssen; Robert Scoble; David Carpe; Per and Susanne Koch; Tara Calishain; Gary Price; Peter Da Vanzo; Garrett French; Barry Schwartz; Benjamin Pfeiffer; Jeremy Zawodny; John Battelle; Nathan Weinberg; Rael Dornfest; Ric van Westhreenen; Javier Casares; Loren Baker; Mark Berns; BrettTabke

Now I have everyone’s email address, too :-)

I’m supposed to remind you all to give to your favorite charities, to help out for the holidays, especially those affected by the natural disasters that hurt so many this year. So, go!

Posted: December 26, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in:

links for 2005-12-27

By Nathan Weinberg
Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Wow, I Missed Some Stuff!

By Nathan Weinberg

So, yay me, I’m on the edge of an imminent hard drive failure.

I’m getting a new drive in a few days from Dell, and I’ve spent part of Christmas day backing up my system, so at this point I’m just running a seriously deteriorating system until it blows itself up. If you don’t see any new posts for a day or two, you’ll know why.

And it seems I’ve missed something interesting: Santa Tracking. Google Earth had a KML file that let you track Santa Claus as he made his way across the globe, handing out presents. I’m not sure what the file does now, and I’m really interested in seeing how the implemented it (like how fast he went).
(via Slashdot)

Posted: by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Doodle 10.5 = Huh?

By Nathan Weinberg

This year’s holiday Doodle series wraps up with more questions than answers.

What exactly happened? Did the mouse and cat reverse the polarity of the Google logo? I’m confused…

You can view the whole series on this page.

Previous posts:
10.1
10.2
10.3
10.4

Posted: December 25, 2005 by Nathan Weinberg in: