Posts Tagged ‘Google’

People! Be Nice! (Or At Least Be Professional)

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

I know I’m not the first one to say it, but I really wish people were a little bit nicer online.  Or more considerate.  This “story” on Mashable kind of got my goat today:

Google: Gmail Outage Was Our Bad

So, yeah.  If you hadn’t heard it from 20 different places, GMail’s servers were down yesterday.  There was a massive unanticipated routing problem when they tried to do a routine server upgrade.  These things happen.  It was not a big deal.  It was not the end of the world.  The entire outage lasted less than 100 minutes (I’ve had power outages last 3 days.  Stop whining, internet.)

So fine.  It happened.  And it sucked for about as long as it takes you to go to lunch and come back.  And Google explained the whole thing.   And issued a huge apology. Seems like that should be it, right?

So why does Jennifer Van Grove have to be so snotty?

That’s one big oops Google. But it’s nice to see that you’re publicly apologizing for the outage and attesting to the fact that you will do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again. Here’s hoping you stick to that.

Google owes you nothing my dear. They’re a free service. They’ve been free since they started.  And they’re nice.  And they’re incredibly transparent (compare an apology like this to Apple’s App Store Rejection Process).

There needs to be a little professionalism in blogging.  That, to me, would be the great loss inherent in the death of traditional news media.  At least The New York Times can just report a story and not be complete dicks about it in the process.

I think this is part of a bigger discussion going on right now in blogging — especially in terms of anonymity and criticism (I’m, at the moment, trying to understand Time Out New York Theater editor David Cote’s  beef with George Hunka).

But in the end it comes down to — do you really need to populate the internet with a re-blog of a dead story just so you can bitch about it?  Try Facebook.  Or Twitter.

Or is it that you really don’t have anything to say?  In which case, maybe keep quiet?

UPDATE: Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch seems to be a bit crabby about it too. Seriously. Was it just a slow news day?  The only thing you have to talk about it to re-post a blog post from the Official GMail Blog and then bitch about them?  That’s some great journalism.  Hey, New York Times! you can close up shop!  We have a replacement for you!

Why not write an article about how a lot of big companies have growing pains (Facebook goes down all the time.  Or Twitter!  Jesus!) or a discussion of how Google’s massive, elegant server architecture system is still prone to human error?  Or a suggestion of how to improve it?

Questionable Behavior

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this too, but every time I’ve seen a blog post over the last week that mentioned the upcoming release of IE8, it was paired with an ad for Google Chrome:


Now of course, this makes sense.  Google owns AdSense, the ad-trafficking network on all of these pages.  And they certainly have a right to send their own ads wherever they’d like.


Doesn’t this verge a little bit on an anti-trust issue?  Google can control the flow of ads to pages that mention the text ‘IE8’ — so that they basically own all ad space next to talk of Microsoft’s product.  Within their network, of course.  But since they bought DoubleClick, their network is huge.  And while they might not be able to put their ads on commercially sold properties (AOL, NYT, etc), I’m sure they’ll send some of their bulk AdSense ads to those pages.  And I’ll bet that if there’s a mention of IE8, there’ll be an ad for Chrome in that AdSense spot.

I’m sure it’s nothing.  Google only recently started advertising for their own products, so I’m sure they’re testing the waters a bit.  And there’s no way the Justice Department will ever figure something like this out until years after the fact.

But it does show a huge potential for abuse of power in Google’s ad network, no?

Only time will tell.

Some Cheese With Your Whine?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Oh AOL.  You’re so pathetic.  You don’t even have to say anything.  You just ARE pathetic.  Sad.  Completely backwards.  Technologically retarded.

When I hear you saying things like this:

An Open Letter to Gmail: Happy Halloween! We love your costume!

you should know it does not make me want to sympathize with you. It really just makes me pity how you’ve managed to squander such potential.

You had the entire freaking population eating our of your hand with those dial up CDs.  For years, people thought AOL was the internet.  But maybe you got a little too comfortable.  Maybe you kept pushing dial-up long past the point when it was still useful.  And there was backlash.  And now your image stinks. (along with your attitude, apparently).

So there’s your first problem.  Your image.  You could figure cold fusion and people would think they’d have to use your crappy dial up service to get to it.  Or deal with your abysmal customer service when the reaction didn’t yield as much energy as they’d like.  You’ll notice that even in the comments to your post, most people confuse the online mail product with the old AOL Client (now in, for some inexplicable reason, in version 1.5b6 for Mac!).  Tough break there.

Your second problem is, and has always been, your interface.  It is pretty much unusable.  You could have all the features in the world, and if people can’t find them you might as well not have them in the first place.  I used your webmail client back when I worked for you it was very difficult to navigate.  Having used GMail for years now and AOL Mail a few years ago with the old interface, I’m not afraid to say: the new interface is a BLATANT RIP-OFF of GMail’s (just like 2 years ago when you ‘redesigned’ your homepage and it ended up looking exactly like Yahoo!).

That last note is easily solved.  Hire some good UI and graphic designers.  (Oh wait.  You just fired them all. Crapola!)

But the core problem is more insidious.  In every product of yours that I’ve seen (product, mind you — your AIM service API is actually quite nice) you suffer from feature overload.  You throw in the kitchen sink on every product, and enable everything by default.  And nobody can find anything.  Google’s strategy, by comparison, has always been simplicity: get users used to a new, easily assimilated paradigm with a few twists, then introduce optional complexity.

So yes.  You could’ve done everything that GMail does way before they did.  But I’m a pretty advanced user and I couldn’t find half of the features you’re talking about.  I quickly got frustrated and left.

In the end, though, what does it matter?  You’ve lost.  It’s not even a contest.  I can’t think of a single one of my friends who still has an account.  Most of them are

You lost this war years ago when a) Google offered its users a truckload of free disk space, b) they started with an invite-only Beta program that made them sound exclusive and c) spent a huge amount of time QAing their code before they released it (another little something you’ve never been very good at).

Give us all a call when you want to play with the big kids.  After you’ve had some time and think about what it is you think you actually want to be good at, how you can distinguish yourself from your competitors, and why you think we should pay attention to you.

Until then, I think you need a time out.  Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

GPhone is No iPhone Slayer… Yet

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Google announced its first foray into the smartphone market yesterday with T-Mobile’s HTC Dream, which uses the Android Mobile OS.

I honestly have to say I’m not particularly impressed with what I’ve seen so far.  If the iPhone is the sexy MacBook Air of the mobile world, the Dream feels like the equivalent of the One Laptop Per Child laptops: interesting enough to play with for awhile, but not enticing enough to buy.



Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

I’m sure you’ve heard by now.  Google released a new web browser.  Chrome.

My first reaction to this is one of dismay.  Another freaking web browser?  What do I need that for?  I’m still having to check for bugs in IE6 — a browser that should’ve died years ago.

My second is one of anger at Google.  I like Firefox.  I think Mozilla has a good heart in addition to having a great browser.  If Chrome is going to steal market share, it’s most likely going to steal from Firefox — not IE.  Most of the people who use IE are either enterprise (and can’t download another browser) or not tech-savvy (don’t know how to download another browser).  If they haven’t downloaded a browser besides IE6 (like Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc — they have plenty of choices and they’ve had plenty of time), it’s unlikely they’d download Chrome.

So great.  Google steals from FF’s market share.  And Google paid up on their Mozilla contract till 2011 to keep their bases covered, but if Chrome catches on, I bet you Google will kill that contract.  Leaving Mozilla broke with about half of it’s market share poached.


What’s even better is Google’s terms of service with Chrome.  Check this out:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services.

What?  I know I’m no lawyer, but what that says to me is if ANYONE displays a website in Chrome (ANY website), then Google then has the right to distribute that website, in part or in whole, worldwide.  What?  How can they claim to have that right?  If you’re looking at this site in Chrome now, does that mean Google thinks it’s their right to adapt, modify, publish, display, ‘publicly perform’, etc?

My favorite little logical twist is that technically, if you ‘submit’ your credit card # via Chrome, since you’ve agreed to their terms of service, they then have a right to ‘distribute’ it.  Now that’s a business model.  Stealing credit card numbers on a massive scale and then moving to Switzerland.

AND the real kicker is this: Chrome is distributed under the BSD license — which is a particularly open open-source contract.  You could logically say that if you submit your credit card number via Chrome that then EVERYONE owns it.  Resulting in something less like Switzerland and more like the end of Fight Club.

But really, what the BSD license means is that, if you don’t like Google’s terms for Chrome you can download the code in its entirety, take out their logo, recompile it under your own terms and use it however you want.

So, kids.  It’s time to get those compilers chugging.  Who wants to to follow Google’s rules when they can so easily walk right around them.

Google looks more and more like Microsoft every day.  Throw a few class actions lawsuits at them and the two would be virtually indistinguishable.

Google Patents Invalidated??

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I really wish I understood patent law better, I must say.  But I just read this article and it seems unbelievable to me.  If I gleaned this correctly, a shifting of the Patent Office’s position on what technically qualifies for patents basically invalidates software patents.

Now that I look around, it seems like this has actually been up for debate for quite some time.  Even Wikipedia seems pretty opinionated about the matter.  And I guess there is definitely some debate as to whether software should be protected by patents or by copyright.

Still.  Seems pretty aggressive on the part of the patent office to go after Google.

And this after the nonsense yesterday where one guy (he’s got a company called Anascape, but it’s basically one guy working out of Carson City, Nevada — the sketchiest place on earth) is suing Nintendo over patent infringement on his highly specific patents such as

  • Patent 6,208,271 “Remote Controller with Analog Button”
  • Patent 6,344,791 “Variable Sensor with Tactile Feedback”

… which seem like they could be applied to pretty much anything!  I mean, a mouse is a remote controller with an analog button! And the guy already won $21 million from Nintendo in ‘damages’.

Long ago I should’ve patented ‘Flat Surface with Texture’ and sued the entire world.

All of that said, I’m all for open source culture.  I think it’s a step in the right direction.  But when it’s the patent office and the courts that are making the decisions, I find they are generally completely ignorant about most things technical.

I’m all for making Google fight harder for their bread.  But only if the Patent Office actually knows what they’re doing.

Radiohead: House of Cards

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Apparently Radiohead teamed up with Google to do some pretty nifty 3D modeling in the new House of Cards video.

I’d embed it, but doesn’t look like you can.  Click below if you want to watch:

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