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  • dtoub 11:16 pm on Friday, August 13, 2010, 11:16 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: google, microsoft   

    google is evil 


    Like much of the planet, I was an avid user of Google for many years. Mostly for search, but I also used Google Maps, Google Earth, Gmail (just as an automatic backup for my .mac account, however) and at times, Google Groups. I tried Google Wave, but like most folks, never really figured out what to do with it. I don’t use Chrome-Safari’s UI and overall design just seems better. Indeed, Google’s design isn’t that great. It tends to be very bare-bones and lacks the elegance of many OS X apps.

    But for search and a few other things, it clearly functioned well. But I have become very disappointed by Google’s misguided stance on privacy and more recently, net neutrality. They’re on the wrong side of both, and as much as I’m not a fan of Microsoft, I’ve switched to Bing as my search engine of choice on both my MacBook Pro and iPhone.

    Again, I’m not enamored with Microsoft. Their designs are generally also pretty poor, and functionality-well, let’s just say that I know a lot of PC users who despise how often Word and other Office apps crash or just don’t work correctly. And on the OS X side, it’s no better. If I didn’t have to use Office for work, I would ditch it in a heartbeat. But iWork still has issues in a cross-platform environment. I use Keynote for my own personal presentations, but at most professional meetings it’s de rigeur to use the PC provided rather than one’s own Mac, so all presentations have to be in PowerPoint format anyway. Sigh.

    But back to Google. Yes, Microsoft is bad, but Google, I think, is even worse. Like most corporations, they’ve gotten so big that they’ve become all about profits. But worse than that, they don’t seem to care about privacy or net neutrality. At least Microsoft makes some attempt to safeguard their users’ privacy.

    Google is not about search anyway, but about advertising. AdSense is still the main source of Google’s revenues, and by a great amount. Android, for all its prevalence, contributes very little to Google’s bottom line, and probably never will generate a ton of revenue. Same for pretty much everything else Google does. It’s all about search-generated advertising revenue.

    That’s not new, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it. But when Google places its own profits above its users, I have to think about other alternatives. Bing, while not perfect, is actually pretty good. While both Bing and Google show flight statistics, Bing provides a bit more information. In other words, while Bing isn’t necessarily better than Google, it’s good enough and in some cases, does have more functionality. The competition is actually good for users, in that Google is now playing catch-up to achieve parity with Bing’s progress. And part of me admires Sergey and Larry for having been nerds who made good while in grad school. But the company is going against its own core principles, and I have no need to keep using Google’s search engine anymore. So I won’t. And when MS or some other company achieves parity with Google Maps (Apple, perhaps, at least on the iPhone?) I’ll switch in a heartbeat. I never thought I’d favor anything by Microsoft over Google, but we live in strange times, and I do admit I’m not regretting leaving Google’s minimalist (read: boring but functional) search page for other horizons.

     
    • Tristan Thomas 4:51 am on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 4:51 am Permalink

      You know everyone is painting an evil picture on Google when most of us don’t understand whats really going on. All Google is saying is that the internet is young and that the government should not place any restrictions on it as of yet.

      Google truly does no evil. Or do they? There is this one article I read at http://tech-senses.com/ called called “How doing Business With Google Almost Killed A Company”. That is probably the most evil thing Google has ever done.

    • dtoub 9:16 am on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 9:16 am Permalink

      Uh. no. What Google and Verizon is saying is that they should have control over mobile Internet bandwidth, with those who pay more receiving priority. That’s not an unrestricted Internet-it’s capitalism gone awry. Phone communications are unfettered-that’s an implication of net neutrality. All bandwidth is the same. If the government doesn’t maintain the same status for Internet data transmission, then this is the opposite of what you are stating in terms of being unrestricted. This blog, for example, would receive a much lower priority than a Web site from, say, Comcast.

  • dtoub 9:45 am on Thursday, September 18, 2008, 9:45 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: google,   

    earthscape: google earth-like app for the iPhone 


    I have an RSS feed I follow for new and updated iPhone apps, and I just noticed a new app called Earthscape that is free for a limited time and does much of the same stuff that Google Earth does. Obviously it doesn’t have the wealth of features that Google Earth does, but for a quick satellite view that can also be angled very easily, it works great (at least on a WiFi connection; on EDGE YMMV). Above is a screenshot. That’s our home in Wyncote, PA in the middle, just across from the nursing home and the Presbyterian Church. One interesting Wyncote tidbit: the poet Ezra Pound used to live on the street in the upper right.

    Some other nice iPhone apps ‘ve found recently, in addition to the large number I’ve already accumulated (all free so far—I have yet to buy anything):

    • Medical Calculator
    • Air Sharing (sets up your iPhone as a shared volume over WiFi, so you can transfer documents to the iPhone, including Office and iWork formats; no editing, though)
    • WhiteNoise (I use this on the red eye back from the West Coast, since it’s nice to drown out the airplane noise with sounds from the beach)
    • Constitution and Declaration (I keep the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence on my iPhone so that I’ll know the instant the right wing further erodes my civil liberties)
    • Space Invaders
    • Cube Runner
    • Hangman
    • Tris
    • Cross Light
     
  • dtoub 9:51 pm on Thursday, July 31, 2008, 9:51 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cuil, google, search engines   

    culling through “cuil” 


    I read some buzz about cuil, the new search engine that does things differently than Google. For starters, it doesn’t rank pages based on popularity (incoming links). Rather, it claims to do it based on content and relevance. How they do this is not clear to me, but then, the algorithms Google uses are proprietary as well, I believe (assuming they weren’t in Larry Page’s thesis at Stanford). Anyhow, cuil generated some negative publicity for itself because of server issues, but it worked fine for me just now. The search results aren’t organized in one column that scroll down the page, but in 2-3 columns with graphics pulled from each search result. The end product is somewhat more appealing, but I’m not sure it’s more useful. For starters, the results still require a bit of scrolling (though not as much as Google), but since results are placed in columns, you have to still go back and forth to some degree unless you took it all in before you scrolled down. The placement of the links for downstream pages are on the lower left side, which I found a bit cumbersome, although perhaps with more use it will be second nature. One nice touch—the search field has dropdowns that can populate it:

    But in terms of search results, there are some limitations compared with Google. While cuil claims to have more Web pages than Google at its fingertips, just try typing “restaurant near 19446” or any other zip code and you get an error page with zero results, because unlike Google, cuil’s logic doesn’t understand how to parse this and get a result. There is also no tie-in with a map function, again unlike Google. 

    And while “cuil” means knowledge in Old Irish, I can’t understand why they didn’t just call it “cull” since that’s what a search engine does anyway, no? At first I thought their site was down, since I kept trying to find http://www.cull.com.

    I’ve seen many good search engines come and go (remember AltaVista?—I used to love that one. And Northern Light?). While Google is far from perfect, and I’m glad that unlike Google, cuil does not collect any personal information as best I can tell, in terms of real utility and value, I still find Google much more attractive. I’ll keep trying both to decide which works best for me, but as of today, I wouldn’t be too worried about the folks working in Mountain View at Google.

     
    • J.C. Combs 1:59 pm on Friday, August 1, 2008, 1:59 pm Permalink

      Hi David, thanks for the heads up.

    • Alex Shapiro 9:44 pm on Friday, August 1, 2008, 9:44 pm Permalink

      Hi David,

      I dunno about Cuil. Not yet, at least. I read that the name is actually pronounced “COO-il,” by the way (as in surfer dude speak, “kewl”).

      My Narcissistic test is this: I am rather ubiquitous on the web, for better or worse. Plus, there are many other people with my name, almost all of whom are men. When I type in the most likely search keywords that would ONLY come up with my adorable musical self ["Alex Shapiro" composer], I am greeted with a page that uses far too much real estate to show me far too few results, the majority of which pair accurate links to my various web presences with jpegs of quite a number of these stunt double male Alex Shapiro’s (!). If I ever wanted to change gender and look better in a button-down conservative style of clothing, (why are all these other Alex Shapiro’s so utterly geeky??), Cuil has given me a golden opportunity. Or maybe I can just use it to help me enter the Federal witness protection program.

      Instead of sniffling about this cyber indignity to my female visage, perhaps I should feel more sorry for all the other Alex Shapiro guys out there. After all, if you click on any of their photos on Cuil, you end up on one of MY web pages.

      I suppose I could turn this into some sort of profitable business to exploit all the Alex Shapiro’s of the world… heh heh heh!! [Cue: sinister music]. Now THAT would be kewl. Or at least, Cuil.

    • david 11:11 am on Saturday, August 2, 2008, 11:11 am Permalink

      Thanks Alex—great points! I hadn’t tried clicking on any of the images that came up when cuilling (?kewling) myself—wonder what scary reaches of the Web that would take me to?

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