Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Google Video and YouTube Mutual Separation Marriage

Few people were surprised when Google bought YouTube in November of last year, though the sticker price raised quite a few eyebrows, made instant billionaires out of its founders and gave rise to a YouTube backlash on par with musicians "selling out."

So it is of little surprise that Google would take to its "blog" to try and bring some clarity to the Google Video vs YouTube acquisition challenge.

The two aren't exactly going to be married in the same may many people assumed: one would over take the other. Instead, it seems as if they agree to a mutual separation marriage. YouTube will continue to operate independently from Google and Google Video, but be given access to Google technology and support. Sounds more like a child from a poor family being adopted by a rich, have-anything family.

Clearly there are changes in store for Google Video, which begs one to wonder if Google has decided to surrender to YouTube and just make Google Video a video search engine powerhouse. At least, that's what this paragraph seems to be suggesting:
Google search results already include links to content that's hosted on YouTube. Starting today, YouTube video results will appear in the Google Video search index: when you click on YouTube thumbnails, you will be taken to to experience the videos. Over time, Google Video will become even more comprehensive as it evolves into a service where you can search for the world's online video content, irrespective of where it may be hosted.

YouTube results show up in Google Video, and clicking on the thumbnail takes you to the video on YouTube. So if you search YouTube, does that mean Google Video clips will appear? Or will there be the same video clip on Google Video and YouTube? What do you suppose to be used to determine if the YouTube video or the Google Video should appear first?

Hmm...things to ponder....and it still remains to be seen if the legal troubles with YouTube start to diminish. YouTube is reaching out to the TV and film industries, trying to ink deals to distribute content and negate the mounting copyright lawsuits. Keeping YouTube as a separate entity, an "independent subsidiary," has its legal justifications and pitfalls, but makes sense.

We shall the sage continues....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Funny "Apple's New Product" Contest

From the Poguemyster at NYT, a blurb about a contest at that is asking for designs for Apple products that don't exist.

Take a look at it here.

Some of them are really funny and quite clever, with a good play on words or phrases. Some are overdone and get rather redundant.

My favorites include the "iSuck" vacuum and the "iRol."

And yes David, the "iRon" is also good. And so is the "iGlu" but enough. See for yourself. Entertaining stuff!

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Time for Me to U-Turn"

Found this on Digg.

Depending on what you read from the comments, it's either quite accurate for driving around Jersey or one of a few amusing flaws in Google Maps.

Google Maps is fun to look at, but not very helpful in terms of giving accurate directions. I still think Yahoo! Maps is better, even more so than MapQuest. I have yet to get lost following Yahoo! Maps directions, which is more than can be said for Google Maps or MapQuest. I've used them all, and Yahoo! Maps just gets me there. Granted, none of them always choose the best route nor do they take into account road construction, which is the season that follows winter around here, but at least I know I won't be lead astray.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Google Earth for Something Good

Google Earth is a rather nifty product, and Google continues to update it with new features, no doubt more is coming with its NASA deal.

Certainly it has come under fire, like Google Maps, for providing a means by which terrorists and other angry people can locate government installations in an effort to destroy them. Or even find the dwellings of celebrities in order to better stalk and harass them. There are probably plenty of articles and blogs on the Internet related to that particular topic.

But Google Earth also gets used in the corporate world. I've seen it used on the Weather Channel and on CNN, providing a more enhanced image of areas I would not otherwise see.

And then there is this, which I originally found on Digg and found absolutely fascinating. We've heard year in and year out about the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. I can remember sitting in science classes in grade school and hearing about the destruction and looming danger because the Amazon produces a fair amount of oxygen for the planet.

The destructiveness never quite registered in my brain until I saw those images.

So Google Earth can, in fact, be used for something good and bring a more concrete understanding to something we have more than likely tuned out by now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pogue Humor

From David Pogue's Blog, Pogue's Posts, on the New York Times website:

Ode to the R.I.A.A.

Worth sharing, and just in case you haven't seen it yet, or don't read his blog to begin with, in which case you should start!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Terrorists Using Google Earth? Shocking

John Battelle has a post on his blog about a NY Post article and a more detailed one at the Telegraph about how terrorists are using Google Earth to locate British bases.

This part of the Telegraph article I find rather amusing:
A Google spokesman said the information could be used for "good and bad" and was available to the public in many forms. "Of course we are always ready to listen to governments' requests," he said.

"We have opened channels with the military in Iraq but we are not prepared to discuss what we have discussed with them. But we do listen and we are sensitive to requests."

"Always ready to listen to governments' requests." Interesting phrasing, wouldn't you say? Sure. They'll listen. Hell, anyone will listen. But would they do anything? I mean, c'mon, they listened and more than likely read subpoenas for search queries from the US government, but didn't fork anything over. They listened, quite well clearly, to the demands of the Chinese government and complied in order to launch Google in China and listened but didn't pay much attention to the backlash they received for giving into China.

Also, if a product like Google Maps can be used for "good and bad," doesn't that violate the Google policy of "Do no evil"? Or are they going to hide behind the thinking that once the produce is out there, they are not responsible for how people use it?

Seems as if technology, especially at a company like Google, will push ahead and deal with legal ramifications later and in the process set a rather dangerous precedent.

So would the lack of net neutrality limit the ability of terrorists to use Google Earth?

CAN-Spam Act Conviction

From the New York Times: Man Convicted Under Antispam Law.

It is possible to get a conviction under the 2003 CAN-Spam Act, something most people probably didn't think was possible. After all, spam is so prevalent these days, clearly violating the CAN Spam Act but all you ever hear is that spammers are getting more intelligent so better defenses like filters and firewalls are needed. I think people are starting to tune it out, and have gotten used to deleting the hundreds of SPAM emails every day.

Even Gmail isn't perfect. I still get SPAM in the Inbox, even when I have clicked the "Report Spam" button. Spammers always seem to be a step ahead, tweaking just enough to get into Inboxes around the world, and even tricking people into money scams. I'd argue that such a profession is akin to fake pharmaceuticals: low risk and high pay.

So maybe this conviction will give pause to some, and inject some much needed energy into the tracking, finding and prosecuting spammers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Email vs Letter Writing

The Lede, a blog on the New York Times website, has a curious entry from yesterday called "Whither the Historians of Science in the Age of E-Mail?", has me arguing with myself over the pros and cons of email vs. the seemingly lost art of letter writing. I have written a few letters in my time, and rarely think to make a copy (who needs more paper, after all) so when I get a response, I can't quite remember what was in the original letter. Reading the response becomes sort of a treasure hunt, pouring of the words for clues as to what I had written about and most of the time there is enough evidence to piece it all together.

That is not a problem with email, especially with email clients like Gmail that create threads for each message you send, assuming you don't always create a new message when responding to an email. I often which text messaging was the same. It is rather frustrating to get the txt msg shrt hnd and not know to what the message is referring.

However, as has happened to me, once you delete an email, from the Inbox or Sent Message box, it is gone. There is no getting it back. And such actions must be done in order to create space, which was an issue before Gmail existed. So who knows what emails I have deleted from my other email account that might prove useful in crafting a story say, or researching a topic of interest.

Then again, paper is not immune to disaster either. It is quite combustible, after all, but you can decide on whether or not you want to keep it simply by scanning the contents instead of guessing by the subject line whether or not you want to go through the trouble to read it and see if it is worth keeping.

On the other hand, email doesn't quite disintegrate over time like paper. Email doesn't yellow at the edges or require gloves to handle it. But there also isn't the same feel you get from reading email that you get from holding and reading a letter.

So is one really better than the other? Will future historians lose out on something by having to read through email more so than letters? And won't future historians be so used to technology anyway that the idea of letter writing will seem, how to put it, archaic?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Life for Net Neutrality? Wait and See

There is an article in the New York Times today called "Congress to Take Up Net's Future." Seems as if the concessions made by AT&T in order to complete its purchase of SBC has lit a fire underneath the new Democratic Congress. They see an opportunity to bring the issues of net neutrality to the forefront again.

Naturally, the Internet portals and content providers of the world are happy, and the telecommunications and cable companies are not. But since there are so few telecommunications and cable companies remaining, the idea of net neutrality takes on new meaning. AT&T is slowly putting itself back together into the behemoth it was under the Bell name, along with additions like Cingular so it keeps a foothold in the cellular arena. When you put it all together AT&T offers cable, telephone, Internet and wireless service, all avenues for content delivery. No doubt they would prefer to have control over the content delivered through their various channels, and be able to charge more for it.

Which, of course, is the source of much debate that swirls around net neutrality. There still seems to be something missing, however, on both sides. The debate is more philosophical than one based on hard evidence, in support of or against net neutrality.

So maybe the "two-year moratorium on offering any service that 'privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet' transmitted over its broadband service" will provide some hard evidence, a means by which to see if AT&T can still improve itself network while people like you and me can still publish content on the Internet without incurring an extra cost.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A Very Exciting Day for Web Technology

Everyone has picked the AP article on the new Apple iPhone. Someone by the name of TheX even posted images on Flickr, from the MacWorld Expo, complete with a slide show. The post has raced to the top of Digg today, along with a post from Engadget about the wide screen video iPod and Apple's iTV.

All this news on the same day that Yahoo! has announced its own mobile search, called oneSearch. A rather useful post about oneSearch, and that keyword is in there: "vertical integration."

A very exciting day for Web technology indeed.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Of Botnets and Security

There is an article in the New York Times today called "Attack of the Zombie Computers is Growing Threat which sheds more light on the issue of botnets and bot attacks and how far more advanced they are becoming. It is frightening how advanced these networks have become, and how quickly they have adapted to changes and used email as a means to build larger and larger networks.

There have been quite a few instances of stolen data, from government agencies to universities, which has brought information security to the forefront of everyone's mind. Many people try to downplay the idea of identity theft, until it happens and they discover first hand just how difficult it is to prove you are you and that your identity was in fact stolen.

This brings to the light the fact that everyone, from consumers to SPAM protection companies to ISPs seems to have been caught off guard, or simply stopped paying attention. Course, why would you pay attention when people so willing purchase your protection software even though the protection software doesn't seem to be doing any good.

And you know, spammers have gotten even smarted than just building better bots that create better (undetected) networks. They've started to use the brand identity, what people associate with protection and security, so that it is even more difficult for the consumer to figure out which is real and which isn't.

They've got the best of both worlds: almost absolute anonymity, low risk and a large income no doubt tax free.

I wonder if it would be cheaper for corporations and all of the security software firms to hire these people to create security software that will actually protect. And what sort of offer could corporations and security software firms offer that is better than what the hackers are getting?

Would such a move cut down on operating costs and turn the tide of this battle? Are there even hackers out there who would switch sides?

What, really, is the best way to deal with this problem?

Friday, January 5, 2007

A Blog More Useless than the Google Blog

There has been a fair amount of debate over the Official Google Blog about whether or not it is a blog. I think Wednesday's post on jobs in Kirkland, Washington, tips the balance in favor of the "company bulletin board" camp, but I actually found a corporate blog that is far worse than anything I have seen so far.

There is an argument to be made that it is not a blog at all, but rather an attempt to generate revenue since the first 3/4 of the blog, as it were, are nothing but AdSense ads. Aside from its title, "iz zizzle blog," you wouldn't even know it was a blog in terms of what we have all come to expect from a blog. CORRECTION: It is a SPAM BLOG.

Once you get the past list of AdSense ads, if it were an actual corporate blog, you'd expect a post on something interesting, but instead you get snipets, snipets of old news stories about something call Iz. A Google search (yes, I really did use Google) for "iz" turns out not to be helpful, but a Google search for the "iz zizzle" turns up a toy company, of all things. Judging from the licensing agreements they have with companies such as Disney and Marvel, the company seems reputable. And "Iz," it turns out, is an animatronic DJ, which makes you wonder if the toy company employs former Disney Imagineers. Still, you wouldn't know that from looking at the "blog."

Wonder if the SPAM blog generates much revenue from all of the AdSense ads. Or do people just see all the ads and leave? And a fine example of Google not really weeding out the junk on the Web, which makes me wonder how many people actually find this SPAM blog.

And you know, it doesn't allow comments either. So does that make it more of a SPAM "billboard" than a SPAM blog?

Jan. 5, 2007 6:18pm UPDATE: A comment from someone named J:
Are you sure it is the corporate blog? With a web address of it doesn't appear to be a company's webspace. (Alsp see

Which only illustrates that Google profits from automated blog farms.

Check here for the real website.

No, J, I'm not sure it is the corporate blog, but that's the point, right? It's not a blog, corporate or otherwise, but merely a web page stuffed with links, as you have already observed.

Which raises the following question: does the company know that Google and someone else is making money off of its company name and product? Or have they sanctioned it? And if so, then it sounds like there is a goldmine of opportunity that would be difficult for Google, and everyone else, to ignore. And it doesn't seem like people mind too much. Not Google. Not the Zizzle company. Win-win for all, assuming the thing gets any traffic.

Jan. 8, 2007; 10:39pm UPDATE: A comment from Elliot:
Thanks for that comment, j. That's really good insight. creativeliberty, I disagree that's the point you were making. The new information actually changes the idea significantly. In your post, you directly labeled that spam blog as "a corporate blog," which is extremely misleading. In my opinion, it's totally useless to compare the Google Blog (which is official) with a spam blog which represents a sample of the huge amounts of crap on the web. It may not have been what you meant, but your post is easily misunderstood. In fact, I misunderstood it, thinking that you were actually saying that *corporate* blog is far worse. No, you're wrong. That's a spam blog. It's trash.

I stand corrected. I did refer to it as a "corporate blog" and have hence made a correction. I wonder if there are SPAM Google blogs, blogs that aren't exactly "official Google blogs" but very much look the part to the unsuspecting visitor.

I completely agree, Elliot, that the SPAM blog is indeed a sample of the junk that is found on the Web, and junk Google continues to index, no doubt because they get something from it. Sort of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

In the big scheme of things, isn't a SPAM blog far worse than even the most meaningless corporate blog?

Thanks for the comments!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Net Neutrality Making a Come Back?

There is an op/ed piece in the New York Times today called "Protecting Internet Democracy" that argues for net neutrality, and rightly so. With the Democratic Congress, odds are good net neutrality will make more than a passing appearance. AT&T has already made concessions on the issue in order to will approval of its acquisition of BellSouth. No doubt there are some loop holes, which AT&T will try to exploit in the name of profit, though it will say it is necessary in order to maintain its vast network of cables.

The news of the AT&T concessions and the possibility of net neutrality law made rounds on Digg as well, which fans the flames of curiosity and determination on both sides of the issue. Seems net neutrality is starting to move to the forefront again, making a little more noise along the way.

Time will tell at this point if it will be heard long and clear by all instead of the politically and technologically savvy groups. Wonder if it will become an issue in the next presidential election...

Google's Comment Aversion

It seems as if the Google Blog post about "A Year in Google Blogging" has attracted some detractors, people who think the Google Blog isn't a blog at all, not very helpful and almost a complete waste of time.

It seems to have started with the Apogee Blog, whose author raises the question about why Google doesn't allow comments on its blog, which raises the question of whether or not you can consider the Google Blog an actual blog. Dominic Jones from IR Web Report makes a valid argument that the Google Blog is really a company bulletin board while the blog Adding Understanding argues it is up to the market to decide what is and isn't a blog. Then there is the blog Marketing Nirvana, who pretty much declares the Google Blog lacking in relevant information.

Curious about the comment debate, and whether other corporate blogs are more or less company bulletins and not actual ways to engage consumers, I checked a couple I have browsed a few times, and some I have heard of but not really read. Already know the Yahoo! Blog provides useful information, and allows comments, though some argue it lacks the personality of the Google Blog. And it occurs to me that the Google Blog itself isn't very helpful in providing useful information, but its AdWords Blog is, sometimes. And that makes sense when you consider that AdWords is the only consistent revenue stream for Google. Really, if you want to find out any information, you have to look at the particular product blogs. Well, the product blogs that have been around for awhile. Which makes me wonder if it is Google policy to have a blog for each product line...

Anyway, back to the comments issue. So Yahoo! allows comments. GE allows comments on its blog. The New York Times and Chicago Tribune allow comments for its blogs.

So why is it that Google doesn't allow comments on any of its blogs?

Someone will no doubt argue that when they want feedback, they post an email link, which suggests they would rather get emails than comments, making them seem more like a passive corporation than the active one they often claim to be.

01/03/07, 10:30pm UPDATE: The link to the Disney Blog was incorrect. Thanks to Mr. John Frost for pointing out my oversight and setting me straight. Thanks, too, Mr. Frost, for creating such an awesome spot to find Disney information. It's so much easier to navigate than the Disney website itself, though I hear that is changing. Keep it up dude! And for those of you who are curious, check it out. It is worth a look.