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InsideGoogle Blog Reader Survey

Tech Dispenser, a blog portal run by ComputerWorld that I’m a part of, is asking their blogs to invite their readers to complete a survey so they can understand what kind of people read these blogs. It’s only three questions, and you can win $100 for filling it out, so please do me a favor and take the minute to do it.

There’s a seperate survey for this blog and for InsideMicrosoft, so if you read both blogs, I’d appreciate if you filled out both surveys. At the very least, you’ll get two chances to win.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | 3 comments

Google Sued Over Guge Name

GuGe - Google logo in ChineseLast year, Google revealed the name of its Chinese subsidiary would be “Guge” (meaning “Valley Song”), an attempt for the company to fit in better with Chinese culture. Well, besides the guy who thought Google should be “Dog Dog”, there’s another party unhappy with the name, and they’re known as Beijing Guge Science and Technology Ltd. Co.. Yeah, Google named themselves the same thing as another company.

Naturally, having a multi-billion dollar company take your name is going to cause problems. Beijing Guge says they were getting calls from everyone trying to reach Google on the phone, causing annoyance and confusion, and interfering with Beijing Guge’s commercially registered name. Guge wants Google to change it, and unless the courts side with Google for political/money reasons (and they certainly could), Google may need to rename itself.

A suggestion: How about 大数, the Chinese translation of the word “googol”?

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Controversy, General | 4 comments

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Yahoo Has Another Bad Quarter

Yahoo issued its quarterly earnings report, and the results continue to dissapoint. While Yahoo is growing, albeit much slower than Google, Yahoo’s profits dropped from the previous year, with operating income falling from $230 million in the same quarter in 2006 to $185 million this quarter. That 19% decrease meant that an 8% increase in revenue (to $1.7 billion) wasn’t enough to offset rising expenses. A big part of the problem was that while advertising from Yahoo-owned sites rose 18%, ad revenue from affiliates fell 5%.

Yahoo’s cash on hand is $44 million less than it was a year ago. Yahoo’s assets are $106 million less than a year ago. If Yahoo is shrinking in some areas, eventually there won’t be a company left to save. Hopefully, the opinions that CEO Jerry Yang was waiting until after this bad quarter to announce his plan to save the company were accurate.

Yahoo stock is down 4.46% in after-hours trading. Google releases on Thursday.

UPDATE: Valleywag analyzes Yahoo’s earnings conference call. It looks like Yahoo plans to monetize user data, and go on a spending spree to grow new businesses. Sue Decker seems to want to use Yahoo Mail as a social network of sorts, an area Yahoo has failed ot innovate and failed to buy into.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Yahoo, General | no comments

Latest YouTube Craze: Obama Girl

There’s another video going viral on YouTube, this one called “I Got A Crush On Obama” starring “Obama Girl”. The video was actually created by Ben Relles of, with Rick Friedrich producing the music, Leah Kauffman on vocals (yes, Obama Girl is lipsyncing) and direction by Larry Strong and Kevin Arbouet.

The original video already has 2.4 million views, and there are six following videos by the team, including outtakes, and appearance on the Wallstrip vlog, Headline News getting funny with “McCain Mama“, Obama Girl taking on Joy Behar for calling her a whore, and the sequel, Giuliani Girl vs. Obama Girl:

Obama Girl is Amber Lee Ettinger, pictured here from her website:


July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | YouTube, Services, General | one comment

Google Beta Testing AdSense For Mobile

Google has started a beta test of its AdSense contextual ad network for mobile devices. AdSense for mobile will be designed to allow publishers to place AdSense ads on sites designed for mobile phones, getting around the technical limitations that currently prevent publishers from monetizing their mobile sites. Right now, there are many obstacles, including phones that don’t support JavaScript and small screen sizes, and Google is testing out solutions for those problems.
(via Download Squad)

Here’s the FAQ for the program. It says that the ads can be contextually targeted but not site targeted. The ads are two lines of text, with 12-18 characters per line (depending on language), with an optional destination URL and optional link to call the advertiser. Smart pricing does not apply to mobile ads.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | AdSense, Advertising, General | 2 comments

Facebook Now Has A Google Digg, Google Doesn’t

Google has a ton of blog reader data via Google Reader, knowing what stories users click on, which RSS feeds get the most usage, what items users share, and whatnot. In addition, they have access to linking patterns in Google Blog Search, and now, thanks to Feedburner, they have complete RSS clickstream data for many of the most popular blogs in the world. Sadly, they make no public usage of this data, don’t take advantage of it to create a popular blog news site like Digg.

Now, there’s a Facebook application that uses Google Reader and has a list of the most popular shared items on Google Reader. With 4,000 users and little means of gaming the system (you need a Reader account, subscribe to the feed, and share the item, then add a Facebook account, add the application, and subscribe to your own shared items, just to add 1 to the popularity count), the list of top stories gives a great idea of what is popular among Reader users.

Current popular items, along with tags:

Google Reader has a great Trends feature, but it doesn’t have a service-wide public Trends site. Considering that Reader now has more users than basically anyone else, maybe it’s time someone did this? At this point, Facebook has Google’s Digg, not Google.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Reader, Products, General | 2 comments

Google Cookies Now Expire In 2009, Not 2038

Google has changed the expiration dates on its browser cookies, setting them to expire after a two-year period instead of the previous thirty-one years. Google is doing this to quiet some privacy concerns that Google plans on identifying users forever, though the idea that a cookie wouldn’t get flushed out within a few years by operating system reinstalls and new computer purchases makes the point rather moot. Still, this should mildy please major Google critics who have pointed at the cookie for years as a sign of Google’s “evil”.

Speaking of which, I wonder what Daniel Brandt thinks of the change?

Oh, that’s right, he’s updated his Google Watch site to address it. He says that Google’s change is unimportant, because the two-year expiration gets renewed every time you access any Google service. As a result, the cookie only expires two years after you stop using Google, making it an everlasting cookie no matter what.

This new technique is not a two-year expiration date by any rational description. Instead, it is practically a guarantee that your cookie will expire two years after your hard disk fails and you toss it into the dumpster.

He’s right. Google’s old cookie gave the appearance of evil. The new cookie no longer appears evil, but if the old one was being used for evil, there is absolutely nothing preventing the new one from enabling the very same evil.

UPDATE: Techdirt points out something important: There is no law in the United States that requires Google to hold onto cookies or user search history. Data retention laws don’t apply here, but Google does make attempts to spin their recent privacy policy changes as though they are protecting users from government requests for information. They aren’t. Currently, only Google uses the data, and any implication that Google is protecting users from anyone but Google is disingenuous.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Controversy, Search, General | no comments

Floyd Landis Speaks At Google

Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France and a highly controversial figure due to allegations he won thanks to the use of performance enhancements, spoke at Google last Friday about his book “Positively False“.

Landis answers questions from the audience for most of the session, and the answers are very interesting. You get a really good idea of how painful cycling is and how hard the sport can be. Landis mentions how Lance Armstrong is very “obsessive” and as a result, doesn’t have a whole lot of friends.

One Googler asks him how, after you have a really bad stage, like he did on Stage 16 (before a huge performance on 17 that won him the race), how do you motivate yourself and get back on the bike, and he answers, “They have this thing called alcohol”.

Another asked how the amount of research being put by cycling teams into the effects of all this heavy stress on the human body will benefit normal people, and Landis said he didn’t think the people at Google had such a hard life.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Culture, General | no comments

links for 2007-07-17

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Bookmarks | 2 comments

Ultimate Search For Bourne - Day Two

The next Bourne mission is up. This time, you have to find the handle and passphrase used by Godot in his Dater Notes profile to contact him and bring back his communication to win the mission. It’s relatively easy. Stop reading if you don’t want help.

Anyway, the handle is obvious, it’s his Dater Notes profile name (it ends in a “50″, come on!). The passphrase is actually more obvious, it’s the phrase he says he’s seeking, as in “Someone who knows what this means…”. Put that in the Instant Message box, and copy what he says back to you, and you’ve solved the mission.

Then, select your cameras and be off. I’ve selected the Champs-Elysees camera and the Centre Pompidou camera. Anyone have any suggestions for cameras so far?

Head to Day One for links and information on every day of the competition.

July 17th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | iGoogle, Products, General | 14 comments