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Saturday, July 17, 2010

What would Google never do

During the last TWIG they spent about 10 minutes discussing misinformation presented by Tom Foremski on ZDNet about Google allegedly manually tweaking search results.
I had a better opinion about ZDNet before. The allowed Mr. Foremski to publish misinformation and either didn't bother to proof it or did it intentionally. They did not apologize after Matt Cutts, a software engineer and the head of the web spam team at Google, explained in a comment that accusations against Google are false.
Anyway, G-d forgives it to ZDNet. But This Week In Google podcast is supposed to be well informed about Google, isn't it? Instead they spent time trying to defend Google and explain that the alleged wrong-doing is not a wrong doing at all! Mr. Foremski accused Google in an almost criminal activity (think about millions of dollars depending on companies page ranks). If it would be true, no one should have any deal with Google. But a programmer Gina Trapani went to long discourses about algorithms being human-made too, which was supposed to approve manual tweaking of page ranks! Jeff Jarvis wrote a book called "What Would Google Do". In a comment under TWIG buzz I suggested they should name the last podcast What Would Google Never Do.

Matt Cutts said,

"Hi, my name is Matt Cutts and I'm a software engineer and the head of the webspam team at Google. Tom, I believe you're reaching an incorrect conclusion from the sentence "Google uses human raters to assess the quality of individual sites in order to counter this effect" if you believe evaluation raters can change Google's search rankings. Our evaluation team only rates search quality changes; those raters don't have the ability to change Google's search results. Google has actually been remarkably open about how our evaluation team works. See a very detailed piece here, for example: http:// techbeat/archives/2009/10/ googles_scott_huffman_ many_more_search_features_coming.html My team (webspam) does take action on spam in Google's web index, but we've disclosed that quite clearly for the last 7-8 years in our quality guidelines."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Style vs. Design or what Joshua Topolsky does not understand

I was listening a latest TWIT podcast with Leo Laporte, Joshua Topolsky from Engadget, and others. It was very interesting, but I totally disagree with Joshua Topolsky in what he said there. I think he's mixing together a good design and stylish appearance.

When he's saying that Google is so bad on design and Android is so ugly and unfinished as compared to iOS and Zune (i.e. Win Phone 7 ?) he is reflecting on how things appear initially and externally. Yes, Zune HD is really stylish, I was impressed at first when bought it for my mother in law. Its screen appears so beautiful too. Then I started to learn how to use it and started to explain it to my mother in law. As I immediately found, its interface is quite inconsistent. You are never sure what to try to perform an action you want. For such a simple thing as MP3 player it's a pity.
I've heard that Windows Phone 7 OS is a radical departure from a bad boring Windows Mobile 6.5, is revolutionary, and similar to Zune HD OS. So I thought: how great, we're going to get new good mobile platform. Now I really doubt it. It's kind of too revolutionary, it's a revolution for the sake of being different and stylish and not for a purpose of being functional and consistent.

Windows 7 OS is great – here I agree with Joshua and Leo. But that’s because Windows 7 is intuitive and stable, which is a big improvement over Windows XP, not because Windows 7 is stylish. That’s quite different from Zune HD OS.

Android OS, contrary to what Joshua Topolsky and many other people said, is very consistent and intuitive. It's usage of Back button is genial. You always know how to return. To go ahead you always do one of a very few things. Maybe there are less visual effects there then in iOS, Zune HD, or WebOS – that’s I don't know. But I really like as little as possible of visual effects and candy-box beauty on my cell phone. Functionality, convenience, consistency - that what is really important.

Regarding Google Buzz.
I tend to agree that it would be better to package it as a separate product, provided that a voluntary integration with other Google services is absolutely easy. Separate products, modular design with well-defined standard communication protocols is always a best choice. It's like Lego parts... On the other side, Google Buzz is not only not a failure, as Joshua thinks, it's an outstanding product and a great success. To me, Google Buzz became a main tool for expression of my opinion, for looking at what other people say and think, for discussing, and getting a targeted information. It's significantly better than Twitter too, because it allows conversations, not just shouting out into a void.

Regarding cheap Chinese labor and a better, more fair pay for it: Joshua, do you think that if Americans paid more, Chinese workers would get more and live better? Don't be naive! That's Chinese corporations and Semi-Communist government - who would get more money.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bookmark management in Google Chrome vs other browsers

An update: look at the next To converge Chrome Bookmarks with Google Bookmarks? post too.

As you might remember, initially some extremists from Google Chrome team were suggesting that bookmarks are not necessary in a modern browser, because their function is replaced by wonderful search algorithm. (Or do I exaggerate?)

While Google Search and its interface in Google Chrome and Firefox are indeed wonderful, they cannot replace bookmarks. Personally, I’m a bookmark-addict. I have thousands of bookmarks, organized into a rich three structure. Wonderful Xmarks extension allows to backup and sync bookmarks across machines and browsers.

However, among three major browsers – Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome, only Firefox presents acceptable bookmark management. In both IE and Chrome bookmark managers are dismal.
First of all, when you add a new bookmark, both Chrome and IE present all the branches of bookmark tree expanded by default. If you have 10,000 bookmarks in hundreds of folders, finding right spot for a new bookmark becomes a nightmare.
Internet Explorer is unique in that it presents no visual clue of whether currently displayed page is already saved in bookmarks (favorites) or not. Also, thanks to it's tight integration to Windows OS, IE does not allow to put various characters into bookmark / folder names.  It’s a mere disaster.
I’m mostly using Google Chrome these days, but often launch Firefox just to conveniently add a new page bookmark. Firefox remembers a position of  previously added bookmark (IE does not) and only expands that branch in a bookmarks tree by default. It allows to add tags to bookmarks and to put separator lines between bookmarks. Its “Organize Bookmarks…” tool is also far superior to practically unusable IE “Organize  Favorites…” and to HTML-based Chrome “Bookmark Manager”.

But I’ve just got an idea of how to make adding bookmarks to Chrome much easier. What if we add a simple “Bookmark current page” mouse right-click option to Chrome’s “Other Bookmarks” menu?
You’re on a page which you want to bookmark to your “Developer/Google Android/Android Devices/Zii EGG” folder? Just expand it in “Other Bookmarks”, right-click mouse and choose “Bookmark current page”!

What do you think?