Dec 13, 2010
Comments Off on YouTube – Lazyscope mixes RSS and Twitter together for a unique social media client

YouTube – Lazyscope mixes RSS and Twitter together for a unique social media client

YouTube – Lazyscope mixes RSS and Twitter together for a unique social media client.

Dec 1, 2010
Comments Off on Official Google Blog: Being bad to your customers is bad for business

Official Google Blog: Being bad to your customers is bad for business

A recent article by the New York Times related a disturbing story. By treating your customers badly, one merchant told the paper, you can generate complaints and negative reviews that translate to more links to your site; which, in turn, make it more prominent in search engines. The main premise of the article was that being bad on the web can be good for business.

We were horrified to read about Ms. Rodriguez’s dreadful experience. Even though our initial analysis pointed to this being an edge case and not a widespread problem in our search results, we immediately convened a team that looked carefully at the issue. That team developed an initial algorithmic solution, implemented it, and the solution is already live. I am here to tell you that being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results.

As always, we learned a lot from this experience, and we wanted to share some of that with you. Consider the obvious responses we could have tried to fix the problem:

  • Block the particular offender. That would be easy and might solve the immediate problem for that specific business, but it wouldn’t solve the larger issue in a general way. Our first reaction in search quality is to look for ways to solve problems algorithmically.
  • Use sentiment analysis to identify negative remarks and turn negative comments into negative votes. While this proposal initially sounds promising, it turns out to be based on a misconception. First off, the terrible merchant in the story wasn’t really ranking because of links from customer complaint websites. In fact, many consumer community sites such as Get Satisfaction added a simple attribute called rel=nofollow to their links. The rel=nofollow attribute is a general mechanism that allows websites to tell search engines not to give weight to specific links, and it’s perfect for the situation when you want to link to a site without endorsing it. Ironically, some of the most reputable links to Decor My Eyes came from mainstream news websites such as the New York Times and Bloomberg. The Bloomberg article was about someone suing the company behind Decor My Eyes, but the language of the article was neutral, so sentiment analysis wouldn’t have helped here either.

    As it turns out, Google has a world-class sentiment analysis system (Large-Scale Sentiment Analysis for News and Blogs). But if we demoted web pages that have negative comments against them, you might not be able to find information about many elected officials, not to mention a lot of important but controversial concepts. So far we have not found an effective way to significantly improve search using sentiment analysis. Of course, we will continue trying.

  • Yet another option is to expose user reviews and ratings for various merchants alongside their results. Though still on the table, this would not demote poor quality merchants in our results and could still lead users to their websites.

Instead, in the last few days we developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result.

We can’t say for sure that no one will ever find a loophole in our ranking algorithms in the future. We know that people will keep trying: attempts to game Google’s ranking, like the ones mentioned in the article, go on 24 hours a day, every single day. That’s why we cannot reveal the details of our solution—the underlying signals, data sources, and how we combined them to improve our rankings—beyond what we’ve already said. We can say with reasonable confidence that being bad to customers is bad for business on Google. And we will continue to work hard towards a better search.

Nov 30, 2010
Comments Off on Consumers Under 35 Ditching Browser for Apps, Study Shows

Consumers Under 35 Ditching Browser for Apps, Study Shows

onsumers under 35 – that is, those in Generations X and Y, the latter also referred to as “millennials” – tend to prefer using mobile applications over Web browsers on smartphones, as compared with older mobile users, a new study shows. Data collected by market research and consulting firm Parks Associates, found that this young demographic is starting to ditch the Web browser in favor of apps, and are especially put off by mobile websites not designed for the small screen.

The preference for native mobile applications is growing among this under-35 group, said Harry Wang, director of mobile product research, Parks Associates, because apps don’t require users to enter in Web addresses or force them to deal with slow browser speeds, he explained.

“The mobile experience is all about convenience and instantaneous access,” Wang said. “The advantages of mobile apps could lead to a new content distribution environment for paid and ad-supported media services.”


Although Wang contended that mobile apps will not completely replace Web browsers, distributors that rely too much on the mobile Web may lose audience and revenues.

While that statement may have developers running to download native SDKs (software development kits) for iPhone, Android and other platforms, a word of caution from us: this research was based on a survey, where apparently the question asked was: “I prefer apps over a Web browser when accessing mobile content. Agree? Disagree?”

As you know, surveys that ask users to identify their own behavioral patterns aren’t as viable as those that actually measure the behavior itself.

It’s also worth pointing out that these findings contradict two other reports we’ve seen this year. One report was from a mobile search company (and app maker) Taptu, which said that the future of the mobile Web is likely to be dominated by cross-platform browser-based mobile websites, not native apps. Adobe, too, released a report in October saying people prefer the mobile Web to apps.

In other words, take this latest with a grain of salt until more research arrives. But do consider that there is likely an obvious truth here: native mobile apps will always be preferred when the mobile Web experience (slow loading times, no mobile site) remains poor.

Consumers Under 35 Ditching Browser for Apps, Study Shows.

Nov 25, 2010
Comments Off on Google Wave Comes Back From the Dead

Google Wave Comes Back From the Dead

Google Wave, which was though to be all but extinct after Google ended development on the project, has been given new life, thanks to Apache.

Once considered the e-mail killer, Google Wave was one of the most-hyped launches of 2009. I’ll be the first to admit that I got swept up by the excitement.

At the time of launch though, I said that Google Wave would either succeed spectacularly or completely bomb. Unfortunately, my latter prediction came true: Google’s realtime communication tool was a failure. Thus, Google shut the project down, open-sourced the code and released Wave as Wave in a Box.

Continue reading »

Nov 24, 2010
Comments Off on Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

Nov 24, 2010
Comments Off on Patent Office Agrees To Facebook’s “Face” Trademark

Patent Office Agrees To Facebook’s “Face” Trademark

Facebook is just a payment away from trademarking the word “Face.” As of today the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office has sent the social networking site a Notice of Allowance, which means they have agreed to grant the “Face” trademark to Facebook.

All Facebook needs to do is pay the issue fee within three months of today and the “Face” trademark will be issued and be published in the official USPTO gazette and everything.

For all intents and purposes today’s status updatebodes well for Facebook’s hold over “Face” usages in“Telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars.” Continue reading »

Nov 23, 2010
Comments Off on Lamar High’s Library Ousts Books, Re-Opens as Coffee Shop – Houston News

Lamar High’s Library Ousts Books, Re-Opens as Coffee Shop – Houston News

Just adding a coffee shop to a neighborhood library so people can feel like they’re in Starbucks and ultra hip was apparently too passe a trend for Principal James McSwain of Lamar High School.

Finishing up a week ago, McSwain has thrown out nearly all the books and filled the space they were unnecessarily taking up with couches and coffee and food and told his students that they can access the exciting world of reading through e-books! And if they don’t have a laptop of their own and Internet access to do so, they can use one of the laptop computers in the library coffeeshop!

He’s even expanded the library coffeeshop hours to 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. which works great if you’re one of those kids with your own transportation and not one who is too young, too poor or with rotten parents who won’t let you drive to school yourself rather than riding the bus.

And he’s bought 35 new laptops! For a Houston ISD flagship school with more than 3,000 students in it.

Continue reading »

Nov 23, 2010
Comments Off on Facebook Alternative Diaspora Launches Their Private Alpha With Some Bet Hedging

Facebook Alternative Diaspora Launches Their Private Alpha With Some Bet Hedging

We’ve been tracking the progress of Diaspora, the open-source Facebook alternative, since before the project even started. That’s because the idea got so much buzz on the crowdsourced micro-funding site Kickstarter, that they were able to turn a goal of raising $10,000 in 39 days into $200,000 from 6,500 backers in the same timeframe. But with such high expectations, you have to deliver. And many expressed doubts that the small team of college students could do that.

After the money came in, the team sequestered themselves for the Summer to work on the project. Despite some hiccups, they were able to unveil the source of the project in September to mixed reviews. Meanwhile, a user-facing alpha launch was promised for October. That came and went, and they pushed the launch to Thanksgiving. Well, we’re two days away from turkey day, and Diaspora has delivered this time.

As the company notes on their blog, the first batch of private alpha invites are going out today. They note that each week they’ll be adding more people to the test, starting with those who contributed to the service’s funding.

Continue reading »

Nov 23, 2010
Comments Off on All Kids Want for Christmas Is an iPad [STATS]

All Kids Want for Christmas Is an iPad [STATS]

Like many of our readers (we suspect), the device American kids want most this holiday is an iPad.

According to a recent survey from Nielsen, 31% of U.S. children ages 6 to 12 want an iPad over any other electronic device in the next six months, followed by a computer (29%) and iPod touch(29%).

The study, which was conducted in October, includes 17 different kinds of popular electronic devices currently on the market, including TVs, game consoles and various kinds of mobile phones.

Only 11% said they most wanted an e-reader, which renders thisrecent commercial from Amazon a little less compelling.

Continue reading »

Nov 23, 2010
Comments Off on Create a Web Application Website Design in Photoshop

Create a Web Application Website Design in Photoshop

In this web design tutorial, I will show you how to create a layout for a web app’s website using Photoshop. We will create all the popular components of a web application website, like a “featured” area for a short description of the app, call-to-action buttons, screenshots/videos presentation areas to show the users how the app looks like and what it can do, a “features” area to present product features, and more.

via Create a Web Application Website Design in Photoshop.