New Google Video Page Layout

By Nathan Weinberg

Google is testing out a new page layout on Google Video, and a simple bit of text lets you try it out, too. Just navigate to any video, like this one, and once the page has loaded, paste this text:

javascript:setCookie(’np’,'old’);window.location.reload();

Into your address bar and hit enter. When the page reloads, hit the yellow link in the upper right hand corner, and enjoy!

The new layout, pictured below, clearly is designed to simplify the page and make sure users get to use all of their options on the page, especially the comments. Click to enlarge it.

The layout is a great upgrade, and I can’t wait to see it become the default. You can still hit the drop-down arrow to view it full screen, so you don’t lose the ability to view videos in larger sizes, but you have a lot more to do, and more ways to enjoy your video. Granted, it takes so many cues from YouTube that people will probably call it a copy, but the changes are logical, and good ones, so just let them improve the service and be happy.
(via DoobyBrain)

UPDATE: Google Video is now on the Google frontpage, added to the core tabs above the Google search box. Also, for the first time, Google has added some actual active functionality to google.com, with a very nifty AJAX pop-in for the “More” link at the end of the line of tabs. See, in adding Video, they dropped Groups and Froogle, but so as to appease users of those services, the “More” link now reveals links to them, as well as Google Book Search.

How about Blog Search, fellers?

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August 9, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Yes, Your Search History Identifies You

By Nathan Weinberg

The New York Times writes about Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old Georgia widow who was identified, despite a random anonymizing number, within AOL’s accidentally released search history research records. AOL had been running a three month study of random user’s search histories, without their consent or knowledge, and assigning each user a random identifier, but the queries of user No. 4417749 made it obvious that it was Ms. Arnold’s AOL search history.

Ms. Arnold says she loves online research, but the disclosure of her searches has left her disillusioned. In response, she plans to drop her AOL subscription. “We all have a right to privacy,” she said. “Nobody should have found this all out.”

Several bloggers claimed yesterday to have identified other AOL users by examining data, while others hunted for particularly entertaining or shocking search histories. Some programmers made this easier by setting up Web sites that let people search the database of searches.

This raises so many questions about search history, which is a hot topic these days. You could easily identify most people through their search history. For example, the sheer number of times I run a vanity search or search on my own websites would identify me. From there, you could publicize the fact that I may have ran a lot of “dirty” queries, including searches on unsecured MP3 servers, porn on Google Base, security exploits, and not realize those were all searches conducted while writing for this blog.

And, hell, maybe I just wanted to see some naughty bits…

Anyway, the point is that grouping searches by user, even dropping the user’s real name guarantees the user can be identified from their search data, provided there is a large enough number of searches. You can safely state that it will never be possible to release search data, either to the public or the government, and claim that the data is private, anonymous, and not harmful.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Ask and other need to realize that it will never be okay to release our data, even without our names. If this paragraph from the article is true:

AOL removed the search data from its site over the weekend and apologized for its release, saying it was an unauthorized move by a team that had hoped it would benefit academic researchers.

Then a good move might be to publicly fire the person who made that decision. User privacy needs to be respected more, and if someone needs to lose their job and be made an example, in order to send a message to workers throughout the industry, then do it. Beyond that, research and data collection methods need to change in light of this situation. If anyone is ever going to release search history data again, how’s this for a rule: No more than one query released per user. With one query per user, you’ll never know whose private life you’re reading.
(via Biz)

Washington Post Letter The Real Deal?

By Nathan Weinberg

The Washington Post says it got a letter from Google complaining about its article about “Google” entering the dictionary. What makes it suspicious, besides the fact that Google would have little use sending out such a communiqué, is that the letter was hand addressed and sent by snail mail.

This characterization of Google, the letter warned, is “genericide” and should be avoided. Such letters are cranked out every day by companies keen on protecting their trademarks. Wham-O Inc. wants writers to eschew “Frisbee” for “plastic flying disc,” for instance. I’ll note that in my Palm. Excuse me — my “personal digital assistant.”

Google, however, goes the extra mile and provides a helpful list of appropriate and inappropriate uses of its name. To show how hip and down with the kids Google is, the company gets a little wacky with its examples. Here’s one:

” Appropriate: He ego-surfs on the Google search engine to see if he’s listed in the results.

Inappropriate: He googles himself.”

But this one’s our favorite:

” Appr opriate: I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party.

Inappropriate: I googled that hottie.”

Yeah, I think this was just some idiot sending a letter. Who honestly thinks this was from Google itself? Well, if you look at the Xooglers blog, Doug Edwards recounts that Google did indeed send out exactly these letters, back in 2003, in an attempt to ward off inclusion in major dictionaries. Those efforts were occasionally disparaged. Looks like someone read Doug’s article and mailed it off to the Post.

That, or Google is dusting off the old letters. Weird.
(via Digg)

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Yahoo: “Uh, We Do Search, Too”

By Nathan Weinberg

Do a search on Yahoo for “google.com” and you know what you’ll see? A Yahoo shortcut above the search results with a second search box, reminding you to search the web with Yahoo. The reason? A common action many surfers take is to type a URL into the search box, then click the first result to get to it. Yahoo must have seen a bunch of people, Yahoo users all, typing in Google.com and then doing their real search on Google, so they added this shortcut to remind users that yes, there is a Yahoo search engine.

You can’t blame them for doing this. I wonder if this will become a more widespread practice. Lots of Google users probably type in Yahoo.com, but Google doesn’t currently stop people by suggesting a Google property. I could see a search for ebay.com pointing to Google Base or Yahoo Auctions, or blogger.com pointing to Yahoo 360.

Check out Search Engine Roundtable for a screenshot.

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Sony mylo To Feature Google Talk

By Nathan Weinberg

Sony has announced its upcoming wifi communicator, the mylo, will feature Google Talk. From the Google Talk blog:

The mylo comes with built-in Google Talk IM support so you can see who’s online and available, manage your contacts, and hold multiple chat conversations at once. It also features quick access to Gmail.

The one thing I don’t read in there? Support for voice calls. The mylo appears to use Skype exclusively, which is better, but I hate limiting my choices.

I don’t really see the mylo succeeding. I just got a new cell phone, the T-Mobile MDA (an HTC Wizard variant, also branded as the Cingular 8125/QTEK 9100/i-mate K-JAM) and my wife got the T-Mobile SDA. Both have wifi, play music and video, and run tons of Windows Mobile applications. I paid $25 each, and another $24 adds a gig of Mini SD memory. While the processor is underpowered, it still makes the mylo’s $350 price point look like some kind of sick joke.

Plus, it looks better.

Needless to say, future phones with wifi make the idea of a mylo obsolete before it launches. Google’s just one of several IM providers on this device, and it’s nice to see them getting Google Talk in more places, but maybe putting out a Windows Mobile version could be a better idea?

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