Supposedly, the algorithm powering Ask’s current search was built in New Jersey, and Ask’s message is that the algorithm is so good it killed Jeeves. If it’s a pro-Ask campaign, it’s damn confusing. Hopefully this sorts itself out over the weekend.
The fourth version of Google Earth is now out in beta for Windows, Mac and Linux. Super! The interface is even cleaner, with navigation controls integrated into the main windows, elminating the need for that navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. Also included are textured buildings (not just3D, but textured) in the software, via SketchUp.
Craigslist Poster Hot For Googler Via Valleywag, we find a Craigslist poster who really wants to have a lunch date with a woman of Google. He says he works near Google and sees “lot’s of you hotties walking or riding those sketchy little scooters”. Methinks he’s a liar, and just wants to get into the Google cafeteria, possibly to get a better job. Smart dude, if that is the case.
Ask Banning Some Searches
Definitely don’t like this: Ask.com had been reportedly outright banning searches on some terms, like “sexy girls“, “pedophilia” and “sex with kids“. Searches on those and other similar terms returned no results and a “This query does not comply with Ask.com Terms of Service”. Such a total filtering system is far from ideal for a search engine, and makes research with it difficult.
Thankfully, this was not a new filter, but an old one being slowly phased out. As Gary Price explains, the filter was a holdover from the Ask Jeeves days. Jeeves was considered far too similar to the P. J. Woodhouse character, necessitating a licensing agreement, and it looks like the Woodhouse people wanted a filter that kept their character from being associated with anything “naughty”. With Jeeves gone, the filter is going away, as you can already see on those searches listed above.
Cooler Place To Work: Google or Yahoo?
Valleywag is asking the tough questions: Which company, Google or Yahoo, is the cooler workplace? While Google certainly has the better accomodations, with all the free food and other fun stuff at the Googleplex, there are good arguments that Yahoo is still tops. Two good reasons: “All the millionaires are long gone” and “Googlers are so damn uppity”. I still prefer the Goog.
YouTube Gets NBC Deal
YouTube, needing to get legitimate before a lawsuit crushes them, has signed a deal with NBC to promote much of the peacock’s fall lineup. While YouTube will be airing promos and interviews, and NBC will be encouraging viewers to send videos to YouTube of their office (for a “The Office” contest), the real key to the deal is this: NBC will have closer access to YouTube’s database, and can troll through it and remove almost immediately any videos that infringe on NBC properties.
I can’t wait for the first time NBC removes a video that doesn’t violate their copyrights, but does hurt one of their interests in one way or another. No one thinks they’ll be erring on the side of caution, so some mistakes are guaranteed, and when they do, YouTube will just be sitting with egg on their faces. Enjoy!
Yet Another Other Other Other Other (repeat fourty times) Google Design Experiment Google Blogoscoped has screenshots of a Google design experiment. This one has a vertical list of services on the left side of the search box on Google.com and at Google Images. I think it is becoming quite clear that the design guys at Google are pushing hardcore for vertical tabs, and will keep tweaking until they can get the cofounders to sign off on it. Expect this change to happen eventually.
He works on Google Calculator, which does calculations when you run Google searches
“Google’s mostly C++, Java, and Python, or so I’m told”
Google keeps a lot of logs of searches, but is really paranoid about them being abused. Good to hear.
Don’t bother with the Mexican food or hot dog/burger bar in the Google cafeteria, unless you can’t find anything you like.
Google is concerned with click fraud “like you wouldn’t believe”
Getting hired by Google can take months. A referral from an employee can push you past a huge queue, and the employee gets a bonus if you get hired.
Getting satellite maps into Google Maps was a dare, as in “I bet you can’t integrate the Google Earth data into Maps in a week!” Wow.
“If your main project constantly has looming deadlines, it’s time to talk to your manager or your tech lead and tell them that they’re pushing too hard. The Google management respects this complaint, and knows that you can’t expect a programmer to push as hard as possible for more than a week at a time.”
Googlers get one-terabyte Gmail accounts
Lots of people bring their dogs to Google
Googlers are quite liberal and anti-smoking
Googlers get to choose between a Powerbook or a Thinkpad
Currency conversion rates for Google Calculator come from the ad departments, since they need to do constantly accurate currency conversions anyway. Way to leverage resources!
Previously, if you typed in “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego” it would say she was in Cairo, but they removed it. Shame.
I like the idea that Gary Price has replaced Jeeves as the go-to guy for information from Ask.com. Library Journal has an interview with Gary, where he explains that basically, he thought there should be someone at search engine companies to interact with the library/research communities, so Ask said, “Why don’t you do it?” Gary’s new job is to do outreach/inreach, help Ask learn from libraries their skills in organizing information, and work on product development.
If Search Engine Strategies New York had been kicked off with a parade, that parade would most certainly have started with the mayor (in a bowler hat) giving Barry Diller the key to city and declaring today “Ask.com Day”. Today is the day of the new Ask.com, with Jeeves dissapearing, and tonight gives us the big Jeeves retirement party.
I missed most of Barry Diller’s keynote (damn subway) but I did get to shake hands with him in an almost empty hallway as I waited for the post-keynote press conference, so I felt quite cool. you can see him in the picture, chatting away on stage with (I think) Danny Sullivan.
The post-keynote press session was not really a press conference, but just an opportunity for about eight members of the media to chat with about 15 people from Ask.com. In the room was new Ask’r, Gary Price, who I always enjoy speaking to, even if I haven’t seen him since the last SES NY. Gary divulged to me the top-secret details of Ask’s new satellite mind control network…
No, I got to hear about Gary’s new job. Gary seems to have really lucked out, working at a place that sees his skills as bringing something seriously valuable, which is why they’re giving him freedom. Gary’s employment contract pretty much lets him do whatever the hell he wants outside of his job, so his ResourceShelf and other various sites remain nice and independent. Hell, they don’t even want him running around “evangelizing” and speaking at conferences for Ask. I’m jealous.
After Gary went off to hobnob with the large pile of minions sporting Ask.com badges (yes, it was a pile, and they were wrestling), I walked over to where Ask GM Jim Lanzone was fielding questions from vultures. I convinced Jim to speak to the reporters instead of the angry birds, and we were off.
But seriously, Jim was basically holding the post-keynote Q&A for whoever was there (since, as an Ask staffer told me, Barry Diller agreed to give only a single interview, which was where he was heading when he shook my hand).
Jim explained there are a lot of big plans for Bloglines, which makes sense, since it is a hugely popular service that can drive people to use the rest of the Ask products. He said they were looking to bring Bloglines information to the front page, like a sidebar on the left side, for those who wanted to use that. He said that they were in middle of building a new blog search product, “all based on Bloglines”.
Jim was asked about mobile search, and said that they are developing mobile search. He explained that one of the major problems with mobile search right now is that “Mobile search is very slow” right now, and that one of Ask’s biggest focuses in developing their mobile search product is ensuring that it renders very quickly on mobile devices.
He also discussed Ask’s advertising. They used to show as many as ten stacked ads above the fold, and now they show a maximum of three. In addition, he claimed that they were they only search engine to show editorial results above the ads (as in when they show Instant Answers above the ads, something Google certainly doesn’t do). A large portion of their ads are served by Google, although they sell their own ads.
Moving onto the Ask.com redesign, I asked why the new homepage and branding still looks very similar to the old one. Since the purpose of the rebranding is to make people note how much Ask has changed since the bubble days, I figured they would at least change the look, not just the name, but the new homepage has the same red, the same curves (although they’ve moved), and is instantly recognizable as the same website.
Jim explained that they didn’t want to abandon the whole branding. He said Ask’s homepage is more branded than other search engines. They don’t want to overdesign and put too many things in there, and he said, “Red is in our legacy”. Not exactly what I asked, I wanted to know about why the colors and look hadn’t changed, but, whatever.
I also noted that Bloglines looked very different from the rest of Ask’s properties, and wondered whether they would change it to match. Jim said that would not happen, that Bloglines would remain its own service. However, he volunteered that it is possible there “might be a third product that uses Bloglines” as its backbone, running as an Ask service. I found that very interesting.
His last question was where Jeeves wound up going, after the poll on his vacation website. He noted that while Jeeves was going to be at tonight’s party, the voters chose to send Captain Jeeves off on his boat.
With the farewell to Jeeves festivities taking place today at Search Engine Strategies, Ask.com has gone live today with its new name and look. Gone is the familiar butler, although the color scheme is the same and most of the page elements remain. The one major difference: On the right side, there is a collapsible box with links to multiple services, including:
Maps and Directions
According to the AP, the makeover will be accompanied by an ad blitz in March, as well as several new features, like the new mapping service which provides both driving and walking directions.
Despite its recent progress, Ask.com still lags a distant fifth in the battle for search engine supremacy. Through December, Google led the pack with a 40% U.S. market share, followed by Yahoo at 29.5%, MSN at 24.3%, AOL at 8.5% and then Ask.com, Media Metrix said.
Berkowitz believes Ask.com’s latest changes will help boost its market share above 10% to surpass AOL before setting its sights on MSN and Yahoo. While catching Google probably isn’t realistic, Berkowitz and Lanzone hope people begin to realize Ask.com is the only other large website besides Google primarily focused on search.
The AskJeeves blog posts, confirming what has been coming for months, that in a short time butler Jeeves will be no more. As you can see above, their running five random logos, each showing places Jeeves might retire to. You can go to Jeeves desk and vote on which place you’d think would be best (I particularly like the “jumping the shark” references for daredevil Jeeves.
As the Ask blog points out, this is a good idea. Ask’s search technology has improved significantly, yet so many people have no clue that it is one of the faster, if not fastest growing search engines. A rebranding will give people a chance to try it out again, and they might just like what they see.
I’ll miss the old feller, but nothing lasts forever.
… Some even think of Jeeves as representative of the dot-com hype, like the Sock Puppet.
… Heck, now we even have the fewest ads above the fold of the major engines. Per Keynote, this paid off with the most significant gains in search quality and brand perception between 2004 and 2005 among the major search engines. Per comScore, we’ve also had the largest percentage gains in market share year on year.
… And no matter what you thought of him, 10 years is a respectable run. That sock puppet didn’t even last two.
So, I just posted on Kamambe, Jason Schramm’s site that lets you customize Google’s tabs in Firefox. Well, Kamambe now does its magic on Opera, and it lets you add other company’s search engines to Google pages.
How cool is this:
Yeah, you can now choose to display:
Hide Entire Menu
You can choose between Opera and Firefox/Greasemonkey user scripts, or hit both buttons to customize both browsers at once. Can it get any better?
Well, yeah, if IE could do this. I’ve heard some things about Greasemonkey translations for IE. And even more buttons, although you can go in and edit the script syntax to add anything, like, say, Technorati, since its more flexible than it was a few days ago. I’m not the type of guy who customizes his browser with 800 extensions, but I’ll definitely go for a simple script that makes my most visited page a little more useful.
Oh, and Jason’s lying when he says there are 50% more features. Simple math says that when you have ten options, add four more and then double the platform, that’s a 180% increase.
I should also mention Matt Walters has been working on a new AJAX chat app. I like it because its AJAX, which means it doesn’t use a number of crap technologies that power chat apps I’ve used in the past. I’m hoping its standard enough for anybody to run without much effort when its done, assuming Matt releases it to gen pop. It doesn’t hurt that it runs the same in Opera as it does in any other browser.
Ask, formerly know with the extension ‘Jeeves’ today introduced the beta version of Ask Deutschland, the company’s most recent expansion in Europe. The beta search Web site is available now at www.ask.de.
Following the launch of Ask Espana in 2005, Ask Deutschland is the first in a number of European launches Ask Jeeves, Inc. plans for 2006. The Company plans to leverage the strength of its popular brand, its advanced technology, and partnerships with leading consumer media companies to grow share in emerging markets. […]
“As the German search market grows, we believe that Ask Deutschland will be among the top players in the industry,” said Malte Krueger, business development director, Ask Deutschland. “Backed by Ask Jeeves search technology, the new site will offer more of what Internet users are looking for, from finding information on news, weather and entertainment to browsing the best shopping and travel sites.”
Looks like Microsoft has snubbed Google in the “Windows Search Guide” that will recommend search engines to install in Vista, listing several competitors, but not the market leader. Search Engine Roundtable has a screenshot of the Guide, which shows links to AOL Search, Ask Jeeves, MSN Search and Yahoo (in that order), but none others. Of course, the Guide will be drastically different in the final release, and may include Google, but for now, the snub is in.
(via Big John Battelle)
Yahoo sites received 48.5 percent of toolbar searches, edging out Google’s 46.4 percent, ComScore Networks said. Toolbars are offered free by portals and search engines as a way to lure consumers directly to their sites, without having to type a URL in the browser.
While Yahoo’s win is worth noting, toolbars only account for 12 percent of all searches, ComScore said. Google in November remained the market leader in the United States, accounting for 38.9 percent of all searches. Yahoo was second with 29.5 percent, followed by Microsoft’s MSN, 14.2 percent. Rounding out the top five were fourth-place Time Warner Network and Ask Jeeves.
The basic prediction is that Google will begin selling a super-low cost PC. The article says that they have sources that say Google has been negotiating with Wal-Mart, among other retailers, to sell a PC that would cost only “a couple of hundred dollars” and run an operating system made by Google.
Another thing we might see are “Google Cubes”, a small device which would allow you to move media, like songs and video, between your computer and TV set. Rumor is that the reason Larry Page is keynoting at CES this week is precisely so he can unveil Google’s big “It”, whatever it is.
Microsoft will consider buying a multi-billion dollar company, in order to beat Google. Possibly: IAC.
Carl Icahn and Bill Gates are working on an alliance, one that would either result in a hostile takeover of the Time Warner board in order to split the company and unravel the Google/AOL deal, or see Icahn dump his Time Warner shares.
Lloyd Braun, failing at turning Yahoo into a virtual original content network, will leave Yahoo and return to his Hollywood roots.
I can’t wait to see if any of these have any basis in fact. And if Google actually releases hardware, whatever it is, I’ll be first in line.
(via Richard MacManus, subscribed > Findory)