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Google Maps Adds Collaborative MyMaps, Mobile Tracking

Google Maps added some new stuff: You can now edit maps collaboratively, letting a whole bunch of people combine wiki-style to create custome MyMaps about any subject.

Theyve also junked the Hybrid button, which probably made no sense to new users, and replaced it with Terrain, which shows colored maps and elevated terrain, a unique* and visually striking view that combines roadmaps with a simulation of land types. The hybrid view isnt gone, its just available as a Labels check box when you click the satellite view.

Image by atanas under CC license

You can also now import KML files from the Google Earth community into Google Maps.

Now, when you click on a search result in Google Maps, it will occasionally show a picture of the business. This is not a Street View image, as Barry identifies it, but an image from the Google Local Business Referrals program, where anyone can take a picture of a store, enter the details of the place, and have it added to Google Maps (and get paid $2-10).

Google Maps Mobile has a new feature: My Location. It uses the cell phone towers around your phone to determine your location whenever you press the 0 (zero) key on your keypad or select it in the menu. Its available now in beta at for Windows Mobile, Java, Blackberry and Symbian, but not for Palm (though the webpage will eroneously invite you to download it anyway).

Heres a video explaining it:

I tried it out on my Windows Mobile phone, and it gave me my location within 1700 meters (1.05 miles - Google, dont use the Metric system!). It was only off by about six small blocks, but more importantly it was more than close enough for driving directions or finding local businesses, and thats the real point. Wonderful feature, even works over wifi if you dont have a data plan, and completely one-ups Microsoft**.

* - I say unique, but theyre not necessarilly the first with this idea. Microsofts Live Maps has a similar shaded 3D terrain look in its regular maps, too, and theyve had it since August.

** - Microsoft doesnt have anything like this feature, but they do have voice recognition for any location. So, Google has made it dead easy to find out where you are, but Microsoft has made it easy to find any place at all. Both are great features, and whoever has both first will make me a happy boy.

November 28th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Google Prioritizes Sales Over Content

Google has removed the Video link on its search results pages with one to Google Product Search, relegating the very useful Video link to the “More” menu. The Video link is fourteen items down the More menu, making it a lot of work to reach. Previously, on any Google search, you could hit Video to get results from dozens of popular and unpopular video sites, making it the easiest way to find video on the internet. Now? Not so much.

Google seems to be prioritizing Product Search, with its huge links to Google Checkout, over Video, which is actually a very popular and fast growing segment of the internet. It’s a decision that, unless backed up by traffic number saying no one used the Video link, makes no sense and implies Google ignored the needs of its users over its need to sell stuff. That’s dissapointing.

I’ve been trying to find a video card for my wife’s computer all week, and Google has been no help. Every search on a product name reveals site after site that is selling that product. Why Google can’t do powerful integration with Product Search, and then remove the product results from the web results, I have no idea. I could not find forums discussing my various technical issues, because Google listed site after site with the same useless sales information.

Google needs to do a non-commercial search engine. They’d be able to sell more ads, since the results would contain no stores, and users would finally have a way to get answers to their questions. I posted my questions to my two blogs because Google was a waste of my time. Three years ago, when I started doing this, Google was the place that indexed blogs and forums and ranked them high, now it’s the place that ranks every outdated deal and online store above actual information.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information. When it comes to searching for anything anyone is selling, there isn’t any information to be found.

November 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Search | 5 comments

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Being Five On Thanksgiving

Being Five is one of my favorite webcomics that I subscribe to (Least I Could Do is another*), and I was emailing with series creator George Sfarnas this morning, so I thought I’d share the Thanksgiving comic strip:

Hope you are enjoying the day and spending it with your loved ones. I’m off to dinner!

* and they couldn’t be more different

November 22nd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Humor | no comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey all, enjoy Thanksgiving Day (even if your country doesn’t) and eat lots of turkey with no regard for your health. Or tofurkey, or whatever floats your boat. Just have fun today.

I’m watching the parade on NBC with the wife, and I’m shocked at how much Al Roker keeps mispronouncing everything. He was talking with Christopher Meloni, and asked him about his show, Law and Order: SUV. Oy.

Anyway, here’s Google’s Thanksgiving logo for 2007:

I think it’s a lot more festive than last year’s:

Yahoo’s doing an animated Flash logo again:

If you don’t have Flash, they show this image version:

Yahoo’s logo is the same one they ran last year, as far as I can tell.’s doing a full page image again, showing off this giant tasty turkey:

image courtesy Danny at SEL

Here’s the full size high resolution image Ask uses, if you want to download it:

Dogpile’s running this:

Search Engine Roundtable has this logo:

Plus, the Cre9asite Forums did this:

Last two images courtesy Barry at SER

Even Gmail has a Thanksgiving logo:

For some reason, Microsoft’s Live Search still has not run a single holiday logo, ever. They should get with the program.

Anyway, enjoy your Tryptophan!

November 22nd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Ask, Doodles, Culture, Yahoo, General | 5 comments

Get Google Gears in Wikipedia With Greasemonkey

GearsMonkey is a project on Google Code that uses the Greasemonkey scripting plugin to add Google Gears support to any website. The current code will let you take Wikipedia offline, letting you read the web encyclopedia offline, but with some coding skills you can modify the code to take practically any website offline.
(via Lifehacker)

Google seems content to continue leaving the job of adapting sites for Gears to others, which makes sense given the incredible amount of work it would take to do everything itself. Still, the strategy isn’t working, with very few sites supporting Gears, so maybe Google needs to get a little more aggressive.

November 22nd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Google Code, Gears, Products | no comments

Google Approved To Open New Day Care Center

kinderplex.jpgThe Palo Alto review board has approved Google’s plans to create a child care center next to the Baylands Nature Preserve, an 18,500-square-foot kid’s complex. Now, don’t get ahead of yourself and start thinking Google is going to be taking care of your kids; no, this place is designed to take care of some Googler’s kids. The facility will accomodate 80 children of Google employess, plus 25 staff members, making it a truly luxurious youngster center.

Currently, Google has the Kinderplex, a Googleplex for Google tots, which will see its lease expire at the end of this school year. Presumably, the new facility will replace teh Kinderplex, though it is feasible Google could need two of them (it is a fast-growing company, after all).

All I know is that Google should take its expertise with day care centers and start a national chain of Google day care centers. Google has a friendly, colorful brand, and a lot of parents would probably trust them. Not that it’ll ever happen, but the company’s gotta diversify somehow, right?

November 21st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Culture | 3 comments

KFC Does Giant Google Earth Colonel Sanders

KFC, a popular fast food chicken joint, decided to do a giant version of their iconic Colonel Sanders logo, built exactly where they knew Google Earth’s satellites would be going overhead. As you can see in the video above, they assembled the 325-foot tall banner in the Nevada desert last year, and you can view it now with this KMZ link in Google Earth.
(via SELand)

November 21st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Google Earth, Products, Humor | no comments

Google Picks Up GTaxes, Other Domains

Gary has a long list of domain names transferred to Google name servers in the last week, and there are some interesting ones. The most thought-provoking domains:

  • - Google doing some sort of financial management/tax preparation service?
  • - Foogle? FirefoxGoogle?
  • - I’m thinking Google lingerie :-)
  • - What could Google possibly need that for? Are we seeing a big hint to a future service?
  •, and many others - Google finally putting the sites for its secret Android project in its own name, now that the news is out.

November 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | 3 comments

Doodle 4 Google 2007 Ends

Doodle 4 Google, the competition where schoolchildren create Google logos and voters determine which goes on the homepage of Google in that country, just wrapped up the British edition for this year. The winning Doodle, by Claire Rammelkamp, 14:

(via Zorgloob)

November 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Doodles, Culture, General | no comments

Fox News Determined Too Sexy For Young YouTubers

Fox News Porn, a website that makes fun of the high amount of sexual content on Fox News Channel by pretending the channel is a porn network, had their trailer flagged by YouTube as inappropriate for younger viewers. Trying to view the video on YouTube, by clicking this link, will get you a landing page that asks you to confirm your age before you can view the video, due to strong sexual content.

The punchline? 100% of the footage is from the most popular news channel in the country.

Take a look (it’s not exactly safe for work, but there is no nudity):

I really am amazed at this stuff. What’s the connection between Republican-biased TV news and third-rate “ACTION NEWS!” crap with T&A and car chases? Maybe we need Fox News to split into the Fox Conservative News Network and the Fox X-Treme News Network? This stuff must be turning off a good amount of Fox’s base. I know I watch it a lot less than I used to, because I used to be interested in a news network with a different point of view, but I’m not interested in hours of Anna Nicole Smith coverage.

November 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | YouTube, Services | one comment

Way On Top, Google Claims More Market Share For Itself

You’d think that at some point, Google would have so much market share that it couldn’t possibly grow any further, but despite having a lock on the top spot, Google continues to claim a larger slice of the pie month after month. This time, Hitwise is reporting that Google now has 64% of the search engine market, up from 61% market share a year ago and up a point from last month. Live Search and Yahoo declined both from last month and last year, while was up slightly.

Percentage of U.S. Searches Among Leading Search Engine Providers
















Note: Data is based on four week rolling periods (ending Oct. 27, 2007, Sept. 29, 2007, Oct. 28, 2006) from the Hitwise sample of 10 million US Internet users.

* - includes executed searches on and MSN Search.

Source: Hitwise

November 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Ask, Yahoo, Microsoft, Search | no comments

links for 2007-11-20

November 20th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Bookmarks | no comments

Post-Weekend Update

Here’s everything that’s built up over the weekend, so we aren’t still talking old news on Wednesday:

The Google Android developer blog is up, where Google will talk about application development for its Android mobile phone platform. The Android SDK is on Google Code, along with API demos and other code samples.

You can see the Android UI as it currently exists (or rather, barely exists). It’s plain, but seems comfortable and stable with room to grow into something nice, support for touchscreens, smartphones, larger VGA screens, a Webkit-based browser, Java virtual machine, threaded (conversational) text messaging, playback of MPEG-4, h.264, MP3, and AAC file formats.

Here’s a video showing Android in action, featuring Sergey Brin’s new “hung over” look and some idea of how the UI isn’t fully realized or much in competition with the iPhone. The Google Maps app has some good ideas, the web browser looks like it can’t do anything, the history app is a nice addition, the spinning globe shows that Android can do 3D pretty cool, and Google Maps Street View is nice.

Scoble isn’t impressed. I’ll say that it has a lot of potential, but they aren’t showing enough to make me believe that any of that potential includes significant success.

Gizmodo has an interesting look at the fonts created by Ascender for Android, the Droid family of fonts (fitting name). They seem pretty clean and well thought out. You’d be surprised how important fonts are in operating system design, but if you think about it, you do spend a huge amount of time staring more at the letters than the pretty boxes, so it makes sense that Microsoft and Apple put a lot of work into getting the best fonts and font rendering techniques.

Russell Beattie did a screencast of the Android emulator in action. Take a look:

Looks like there are over 1,000 Google millionaires. Even the ex-masseuse has a million dollars in Google stock. The average employee who joined a year ago is already worth $276,000 and counting.

Larry Page, Google founder and one of the ten richest people in the country, is getting married December 8 to Lucy Southworth, his girlfriend. Richard Branson and SF mayor Gavin Newsom are expected to attend, as well as many former and current Googlers, and, via videoconference, Al Gore.

Google and GoDaddy have teamed up on Google Webmaster Tools. GoDaddy customers will automatically have their sites submitted to Google Sitemaps (and thus rank better and fresher, without any effort) and a customized version of Google’s Webmaster Tools in their control panel.

Google Notebook now has a mobile version.

Google changed the area in AdSense ads that can be clicked by the user, from pretty much the whole ad space to just the title and URL. Publishers are worried that the move, which is really supposed to just decrease accidental clicks, will cost them regular clicks, too. Early feedback is that the effect on earnings is minimal. My clickthrough rate is pretty consistent, though still kind of low.

Google Transit, which lets you get public transportation directions in Google Maps, now shows some European cities. They’ve got southeast of the UK, SBB, Switzerland, VBZ, Zurich, Switzerland, Turin, Italy, and Florence, Italy, but still no New York.

Google has a new widget you can add to your site which users can click on to automatically translate your website into the language of their choice. Microsoft added a similar widget at almost exactly the same time.

YouTube is looking into the possibility of doing higher quality, perhaps even HD video.

Looks like Google is slamming PayPerPost users, dropping their PageRank like crazy.

You can edit addresses in Google Maps now if they’re inaccurate. Check out the video:

Gmail added permalinks, so you can bookmark stuff and even send links to Gmail search results. Gmail’s also now up to 5 gigabytes of email storage.

November 19th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Culture, YouTube, Google Maps, Services, Gmail, General | no comments

Someone Want To Figure This Out?

Over the last six months, I’ve been slowly building my wife a computer on the cheap. In total, I’ve spent maybe $100, plus various collected junk parts, and built a very nice Media Center PC without hurting the old bank account. Problem is, the goal is to connect the PC to the HDTV, and the video card outputs VGA and S-Video, neither of which I can connect to the TV for an HD signal.

I picked up a VGA to component video cable, and summarilly discovered I know nothing about video equipment. As I understand, and please correct me if I’m still wrong, the VGA outputs RGB signals and my TV only accepts over component YPbPr signals, so a cable isn’t enough. I either need an RGA to component converter (not cheap) or a video card that can output a compatible signal.

Now, here’s what I think I’ve gathered: Some video cards can be set to output YPbPr component over VGA, and then my VGA-to-component cable will work. Others output DVI and I can get a converter to plug it into my TV’s single HDMI slot (which I’d rather not do, I’m saving that for the Xbox 360). Also, there are other ways to get component out of my computer, including video cards that take component cables.

I’d prefer to be able to use my VGA-to-component cable. HDMI (or rather, DVI to HDMI) is a last resort. If you understand this better than I do, please explain what I’m wrong about. I have some Amazon referral money I can use to pay for it, but I’d like to spend under $100 for the card and accessories (like cables), and hopefully I can sell the current (unused) video card to make some of that back.

Besides some advice, I’d like to give something back, so if you recommend a video card (AGP, or worst case regular PCI), list it below in the comments with an Amazon referral code, so when I buy it you can get some money back. Consider that the PC has a weak power supply, so if the card requires me to buy a new power supply, it better be cheap enough that both the card and the power supply are under $100.

So, if you know a little about video cards and formats, help me out (earn a little referral cash) so I can finish this thing and my wife can stop borrowing my laptop. I’d really appreciate the advice.

November 19th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | 4 comments

How To Report Abusing Emails From A Gmail User

I’ve mentioned this before with regards to phishing, but it bears repeating that the same method applies when faced with threatening or abusing email coming from a Gmail email address.

E*, who is a member of our country’s armed forces, and his wife L*, contacted me that they were receiving some awful messages from a Gmail user, making sexual messages toward L and threatening to kill E when he comes home for Thanksgiving. Even though most internet crazies are just harmless idiots, you should always take the proper steps to protect yourself, as you never know when you are dealing with the genuine sociopath.

Just like last time, the proper way of dealing with this is to contact Google. Go to this page and select “I have received a harassing message from a Gmail account.” Paste the full contents of the harassing email. Google should get back to you and hopefully help you fix the problem. If that doesn’t work, and even if it does, you should your local police department so they can look into it and protect you if it seems like a legitimate threat.

Last night my husband and I both got crazy emails from someone using gmail. The email basically said that they was going to kill my husband when he comes home for thanksgiving and that they have do crazy things with me. I really need to find out who {redacted} is. Please help me with this problem.

There are some scary people you meet on the internet, but the first thing to remember is that they are mostly just idiots with an email address. They usually rely on anonimity to harass, but won’t actual get up and threaten you. In most cases, you have more of a chance of making their life hell than they do of hurting you, and taking the proper steps to protect yourself should make it go away very quickly.

Hope I could help. It’s always worth remembering that I am not Google’s support department. I don’t work for Google, and I can’t fix the problem all the time. I can usually dispense advice, but your best bet is to contact Google directly and hope they can help you. If you contacted Google already and their notoriously lax support didn’t get back to you, then you should contact me and I’ll try to help.

* - obviously, I’m trying to protect their privacy by leaving out their real names

November 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Privacy, Services, Gmail, Email | 4 comments

DoubleClick Deal Falling Apart

The European Commission, the same out-of-touch government agency that has been wasting Microsoft’s time and money for years, refused Tuesday to approve Google’s mega-billion dollar deal to buy DoubleClick, putting the entire deal on hold, possibly till March. The Commission is ordering a further review of the deal’s impact on the online advertising business, which will delay the $3.1 billion deal entirely until it is done, at the least.

It’s shocking how much of a disaster this deal has been for Google so far. Google announced the acquisition in April, and it’s now looking like it could take over a year before DoubleClick is part of Google. Meanwhile, Microsoft spent twice as much on aQuantive, announced the deal in May and completed it in under 90 days. Clearly, some very important people are looking at Google as the next big problem company, and they are only going to cause more trouble for the company in the future.
(via Blogoscoped)

Meanwhile, I keep getting PR emails from Performics, the SEO arm of DoubleClick that would be part of Google if this deal ever completed. They send me one press release about buying trends they’ve identified around the holiday shopping season, showing that the “Cyber Monday” crap we hear every year about the Monday after Thanksgiving is just inaccurate, with successive Mondays having far more shopping activity than “Cyber Monday”.

Apparently, the Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas are important, but successive Mondays are bigger than the first one. This year is a perfect storm, with an early Thanksgiving and Tuesday Christmas translating to five Mondays between the two holidays, more than we ever usually see, which could mean increased activity for online retailers above what is normally expected.

Performics also announced 52 new affiliate advertising clients in the third quarter, showing that Performics is growing strongly. I doubt Google would want to unload Performics once the deal is done, seeing how well it’s doing.

November 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | DoubleClick, Search Optimization, Controversy, Advertising | 2 comments

links for 2007-11-16

November 16th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Bookmarks | no comments

Republican CNN/YouTube Debates Two Weeks Away

The Republican edition of the CNN/YouTube presidential debates is just two weeks away, and only ten days remain to submit your videos. All the questions asked of the candidates will be YouTube videos played on CNN, so the debate presents a more American, human face and gives YouTubers and opportunity to get on TV.

Participating in this debate are these eight candidates:

  • Rudolph Giuliani
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Duncan Hunter
  • John McCain
  • Ron Paul
  • Mitt Romney
  • Tom Tancredo
  • Fred Thompson

The debates will be Wednesday night, November 28 at 8 pm Eastern, live on CNN from St. Petersburg, Florida. The deadline for submitting videos, which you can do over here, is November 25.

If all goes well, I’ll liveblog the debates, unless a non-partisan reader would like to (I’ve got a bit of a conflict of interest). If you’d like to liveblog them, use the contact form or comment below and let me know.

November 15th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | 2 comments