Gmail Spam Filter Bug

By Nathan Weinberg

Gmail’s spam filter has got quite the oversight, as discovered by a LifeHacker reader. Basically, if a spammer sends you a spam with your email address as the sending address, it can wind up in your sent items folder instead of your spam folder, even if it is really obvious, catchable spam. If spammers take advantage of this hole and start sending Gmail users a ton of this stuff, it could ruin people’s inboxes, filing them with useless, everlasting spemails.

August 31, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Helps Release Open Source OCR

By Nathan Weinberg

Google has teamed up with UNLV to release Hewlett Packard’s Tesseract OCR engine as an open source project. You can read the story at the Google Code blog, but the gist is that HP built this incredibly powerful engine and then sat on it for the last 11 years. Now, it is finally being released to the community at large, and hopefully destined to be greatly improved upon by OSS coders. Google says that it is “far more accurate than any open source OCR package out there”, so this is quite a gift to the coding community.

Google’s even looking to hire people to work on it.
(via The Scoop > Findory)

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links for 2006-08-31

By Nathan Weinberg
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Blogger Gets An Old Feature Back

By Nathan Weinberg

Turns out that when Blogger started getting better recently, along with all those cool new features dissapeared one really important old feature: Hacking the HTML of your template. Sure, the All-New All-Different X-Blogger features a much improved template system, but those of us who want to be truly original and aren’t moron coders (yeah, I’m looking in the mirror this very instant) want to put our own super-cool code in there. Plus, there are plenty of widgets you’ll need to get at the HTML to install.

Thankfully, the Blogger team has built this important capability back in. If you’re lucky enough to be using the new Blogger, check it out. Be warned, there’s a completely new template language to learn. Lets hope it’s better than the old one.

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Google Enabling Free Downloads Of Old Books

By Nathan Weinberg

Google Book Search is now making available PDF versions of out-of-print books in its system. As Philipp points out, the PDF files come with a mostly unobtrusive “Hosted by Google” logo in the bottom right hand corner of every page, as well as a message at the beginning:

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the world’s books discoverable online.

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that’s often difficult to discover.

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book’s long journey from the publisher to a library and finally to you.

Usage guidelines

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google’s system: If you are conducting research on machine translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Maintain attribution The Google “watermark” you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it.

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can’t offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book’s appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About Google Book Search

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers discover the world’s books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web at

The PDF quality looks pretty good, even if there is writing in some of the books. Students could probably print out books needed for classes, rather than having to pay for a three hundred year old book. Philipp asks the all-important question: “Does Google have the legal right to restrict usage of public domain works?” I’d have to read up on my copyright law, but Google may own the images even if they don’t own the content.

What I don’t like: Google clearly ran Optical Character Recognition on all their books, since the text is searchable in Google Book Search. So why isn’t the text of the PDF searchable? If Google had allowed you to select the text in the PDF, you could copy and paste it into Microsoft Word; as is, they are little more than pictures of text.

More coverage by Danny Sullivan, the Associated Press and a list of some books at the Google Blog.

August 30, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google CEO Joins Apple Board

By Nathan Weinberg

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt is now on the board of another tech powerhouse: Apple. Schmidt joins Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former Vice President Al Gore on the board, and builds a bridge between two of Microsoft’s biggest competitors. Schmidt sure is racking up cool places on his resume: He also sits on the Princeton board, and used to work at Novell, Sun, Xerox PARC and Bell Labs.

Okay, so why did this happen? Nobody knows, but everybody’s speculating:

AXcess News:

Could it be that Schmidt is considering moving to Apple, replacing Steve Jobs, whose stock option antics brought SEC probes into the computer maker’s accounting practice? Or maybe Google, that’s flush with cash, is considering an investment in the computer maker?

Garret Rogers speculates on a future joining of the two companies, and the awful name that would result: Gapple.

Om Malik:

Microsoft’s ZUNE effort is coming soon, and this could mean a long drawn out, and costly skirmish for King Jobs. Bill’s boys are going to spend their enormous hoard of cash to buy into the digital media - music, movies and whatever - space. No one can outspend Microsoft, but one can outsmart them. An Apple-Google informal alliance is one way of taking on Microsoft and its coterie.


The CEO of Google (the company trying to move your desktop to the Internet) was just elected to the board of Apple (the company trying to move the Internet to your desktop).

Niall Kennedy:

Google CEO Eric Schmidt is now an Apple Computer board member. He joins Fred Anderson of Elevation Partners, Bill Campbell of Intuit, Millard Drexler of J. Crew, Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson, politician Al Gore, and Jerry York of Harwinton Capital.

The group was already interconnected outside of the Apple boardroom. Al Gore is a Google advisor and Google invested in Current TV, Gore’s television station. Bill Campbell was an early management advisor to Larry Page and Sergey Brin and helped hire Eric Schmidt. Arthur Levinson is on Google’s Board of Directors.

If I could give my two cents: While the rest of us focus on the business aspects, this does represent a closer relationship between two of the most secretive, stuck-up, insular companies in the industry. I hope they don’t start trying to one-up each other to see who can piss off the press more and treat their customers with the largest amount of disdain. On the plus side, if one company actually gets a clue, maybe it’ll infect the other as well.

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Snarky Anti-Google Apps Press Release Pokes Fun

By Nathan Weinberg

Intermedia managed to get a well-linked press release out, thanks to Google’s new Apps For Your Domain. The release pokes fun at the similarities and limitations of GAFYD compared to Intermedia’s own hosted Exchange services. They tout Google’s 24/0 support for customers, among other things. A selection:

24×0 support. This is important because companies for whom email and schedules are mission-critical will want to know they can pick up a phone and get support 24 hours a day, 0 days per week. Google also gives the option of filling out a support form and receiving an automated response.

No wireless access. Where Intermedia.NET hosted Exchange gives users access to information via BlackBerry, Treo, Q or any other device, Google has bucked this trend, perhaps suggesting that wireless email is in fact a productivity-sapping distraction for employees.

Ads inside applications. Clearly, employees are more productive when their business applications stream ads for online poker sites and pills to combat ED.

No uptime guarantee. Rather than a predictable 99.9% uptime guarantee, such as the one offered by Intermedia.NET, Google does not provide a set percentage of the time when email will be up and running. This keeps corporate collaboration more exciting, by allowing staff to guess whether the system will be working or not.

Intermedia.NET, which offers 24×7 telephone and email support, concedes that there is an upside to Google’s 24×0 solution, in that it allows a company’s staff to take a much-needed break from work while waiting for a response to their technical problem. However, the company believes that continuous telephone support is still preferred by most businesses.

I love it when a company shows some balls, and takes an opportunity to explain what their company does in a non-spammy way. I like it so much, I’m going to have to take a look at Intermedia’s offerings. Are these prices pretty typical?

Posted: August 29, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Danny Sullivan Leaving Search Engine Watch /Strategies

By Nathan Weinberg

Danny Sullivan has announced that he is leaving the Search Engine Watch Blog and the Search Engine Strategies Conference as of December 1. Citing an inability to come to a new contract with new owners Incisive Media, Danny will no longer be writing the blog and chairing the conference, although he will continue to produce the Daily SearchCast podcast, and maybe even write a book on the search industry. Given that Danny started Search Engine Watch ten years ago, it is sad to see an era like this end. Hopefully he’ll be hugely successful in whatever comes next.

Kinda makes me wonder now about his USA Today profile a few weeks ago. Those things tend to pop up during contract negotiations…

Danny announces at Search Engine Watch
Danny announces at his own blog
Google Blogoscoped, which points out that Gary Price also left SEW early this year, although that was for a really good job
Barry Schwartz, who says the dispute was over an equity stake in the future of SEW and SES, that Chris Sherman may not want to take over Danny’s job, and that Incisive should still try to find a way to keep the man.

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Yet Again, No Correction From Boing Boing

By Nathan Weinberg

It is considered a standard journalistic practice to issue corrections when a mistake is made, even when it is an honest one, even one that affects no one. This practice is established enough that when a news organization does not release a standard correction and apology, they can be ridiculed by others, including top blogs like Boing Boing. Boing Boing, in fact, is particularly good at calling out traditional media when it has screwed up, and chastising it for trying to sweep something under the rug.

And yet, Boing Boing is just as guilty. In fact, they’re worse sometimes, because apparently, they have no standards.

As I have point out before, Boing Boing only admits they were wrong when they absolutely must. Otherwise, they either delete the post or pretend it never happened. At least once, they even left up a false post, issuing a second copy of the post with a correction, but leaving up the completely inaccurate article.

(click to enlarge)

Yesterday, there was a brief story about a New York Time photo that looked completely doctored. With other stories of that sort getting a whole bunch of press, I’m sure the fellas at Boing Boing thought they had a real scoop on their hands. In fact the photo had a really innocent explanation: A microphone cable in the photo was swinging and blurry, and had to be Photoshopped out for the picture to be suitable for print.

Now, any reasonable news organization, and any open and honest blogger, would simply issue an update, something like:

Uh, crap. Turns out there’s a really good reason for this: the photo was crap before the Photoshopping. Our bad. No conspiracy here, move along…

But Boing Boing can’t do the reasonable thing, apparently. The entry was deleted, removed from the front page, archives, and its own post page. Bloglines still has it in its archive (and if anyone can show me how to permalink a Bloglines post, I’d appreciate it. They didn’t delete their own images for the story, making the final sentence even more ironic:

NYT: Strippers dazzle Iraq troops with disappearing mic cables

Xeni Jardin: An anonymous BoingBoing reader points us to what’s either a technological breakthrough, a trompe l’oeil miracle, or some really crappy Photoshoppery:

OK, so after the whole Adnan Hajj debacle (where the photojournalist used Photoshop (badly) to add extra smoke to images of bombed neighborhoods in Lebanon), you’d think that the NYT would be slightly more concerned about running obviously doctored photos. But apparently not. Hint : where does that microphone cable go to in that picture? I guess the bigger issue here is that things like this will continue to slip by a single NYT photo editor … but will be caught by the millions-of-eyeballs available on the ‘net. Chalk up another point for distributed editing?

Link. Image credited to Jim Wilson. Here’s a copy, in case the live original goes dark.

Posted on: Mon, Aug 28 2006 4:41 PM

“Goes dark”, huh? And I’m sure you’d document the whole experience, accusing the Times of not being honest with its readers. Well, here’s right back at ya.

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Mazel Tov, Philipp!

By Nathan Weinberg

Huge congratulations are in order for Philipp Lenssen, proprietor of Google Blogoscoped, who is a newly married man! he made the announcement, surprisingly enough, by adding the words “just married” to the header image of his blog, which is probably why I just noticed it two days later. The lucky lady is a Chinese immigrant to Philipp’s home of Germany, prompting the Flickr caption of his wedding photo to read:

Philipp Lenssen breaks China Firewall

Take that any way you wish :-)

Anyway, the unofficial congratulations forum thread is here, so drop your best wishes. Barry Schwartz points out the trend of search bloggers getting married or engaged this summer: Me, Barry, Gary Price, now Philipp (and yesterday was Garett Rogers one year anniversary). Who could be next? Whoever it is, good luck! Marriage is so worth it.

August 28, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Nabs eBay Ad Deal

By Nathan Weinberg

Google has picked up another big ad partner: eBay. The deal will have Google run advertising on eBay’s non-U.S. sites, as well as introduce Google-powered click-to-call on all eBay sites. Yahoo will continue to provide ads in the U.S.. eBay will also start distributing the Google Toolbar with downloads of Skype, the Toolbar will add a Skype button, and the two companies will consider enabling Google Talk to Skype instant messaging.

Google Releases Corporate Pack

By Nathan Weinberg

Google has released a free one-stop interface for hosted web-based services for businesses. To simplify: Businesses can sign up to get Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Google Page Creator, hosted on their domains and controlled by a single administrative interface. In the future, ready-for-primetime applications would be added to “Google Apps For Your Domain” (easily the worst Google product name for a service that is supposed to be hugely important), and Google would charge for expanded services.

The buzz seems to be that Google wants to create the ever-elusive internet operating system / office suite that Microsoft has long feared. Adding other Google products like Writely, Spreadsheet and god knows what else, could create a certain amount of reliance and lock-in to Google products, and wean companies off of Microsft Office and Windows. For now, it is mostly an extension of Gmail For Your Domain (which explains where it inherited the awful name).

Gmail, Calendar and Talk make for some useful tools for companies, but the inclusion of Page Creator is a strange one. Until now, Page Creator appeared to be little more than a side project, but if Google is including it in such an important package, they must be planning to continue to support and expand it. In its current form, I can’t imagine many companies relying on Page Creator for their websites, especially since you only get to create a single, Google-hosted start page.

While GAFYD (got a better acronym? GAYD?) may be hyped to take on Microsoft Office, its real competition is Microsoft Office Live, which offers Windows Live Mail (up to 50 accounts), an incredibly advanced web-based page creator, free domain names, web analytics, 50 megabytes of web space and 25 gigabytes of transfer bandwidth, calendaring, asset tracking, To Do lists, document storage, employee management applications, customer management applications, project management, sales and marketing tools, shared collaborative workspaces, and other features. So while Google’s release will no doubt get more press today, it has a long way to go to catch up with Microsoft’s, which is also free.

A few other things: While GAFYD is free in beta, it may cost money in the future. If so, those who signed up in beta would continue to get it for free, although for how long is not clear. There’s also Google Apps for Education, which is basically the exact same thing, minus Page Creator. All personalized start pages are located at ““; you can’t change that and you can’t have more than one.

Some coverage:

Mary Jo Foley of Microsoft Watch calls it “more fluff”, and agrees that it competes more with Office Live or Windows Live Essentials than Microsoft Office.

Dvorak says “I hope they give Microsoft a run for their money” and “The question is, will Google become the new monopolists?”

John Battelle says Google is emailing Search Appliance customers to invite them to try the new package.

links for 2006-08-28

By Nathan Weinberg
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List Of All Active Google Domains, Subdomains And Subdirectories

By Nathan Weinberg

ResourceShelf has compiles an exhaustive list of the directories, subdirectories and domain URLs being actively used by Google. While Google owns a huge number of domain names, these are only the ones that are active, with pages, data or live redirects. The list is long and interesting, and if you take your time, you’ll probably find some stuff you’ve never heard of before in there.

Some good ones:

Posted: August 27, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Google Trends Ranks Bloggers

By Nathan Weinberg

TDavid, who seems to be discovering months-old Google Trends for the very first time, notes that several top bloggers have apparently garnered enough search volume to get their Trends ranked. Google Trends only lists those who have earned enough search volume to be considered worth tracking, and you can see where some bloggers were listed high enough, then dropped later, like Chris Pirillo. Thus far, these are the tech bloggers/blogs that I have found ranked:


dave winer   

chris pirillo   



search engine watch   

google blogoscoped   

gary price   

matt cutts   



boing boing   





ze frank   

Boing Boing is far and away number one. Find any others?

by Nathan Weinberg in:

links for 2006-08-26

By Nathan Weinberg
Posted: August 26, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

Valleyschwag 4

By Jason Schramm

Nathan opens the latest shipment from Silicon Valley free stuff guys Valleyschwag.

Get this video and more at

uploaded by Jason

Posted: August 25, 2006 by Jason Schramm in:

links for 2006-08-25

By Nathan Weinberg
  • Quote: “Now that YouTube accepts payment for promoting videos to the homepage and creating custom channels and profiles, can they be trusted? How long will it be until they decide to accept payment for top placement in search results? And once that happen
    (tags: youtube)
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