Tag Archives: google

Google’s Monopoly

google desperateWe’ve discussed this before and will likely discuss it again. Google. Google is again being scrutinized concerning their business practices. Anyone who has worked hard to generate significant search engine optimization for a client will know that Google keeps it a moving target. Their motto is “Don’t be evil.” However that hardly qualifies as verifiable transparency and accountability. The idea is nice, but what happens when their income streams thin out? About 8 or so years ago well financed marketing managers were falling all over themselves to give Google money. A click for Mesothelioma was worth $75 or more. That’s just one click!

It sounds absurd and that’s what it was. It took a while for the executives to realize that their ROI was going to make them look quite silly. In fact, many remained in denial for years. They dreamed that they could just pay Google and get all the sales they wanted. They assumed that the lack of conversions (or actual sales) was a mistake of their staff and just tried again with a different “guy”. Like someone who paid too much for their car (or a Mac owner) they bragged to their friends about how great their hot rod is. Their friends jumped in too. However, when pay-per-click did not deliver much beyond bills, as the now proverbial “ad blindness” set in and clicks only kept getting more expensive the “fancy car” failed to deliver for many of the markets that patronized it. The inexperienced still rush to buy up their “keywords” in hopes of a marketing miracle. However, the only marketing miracle is that Google made a killing in a market that had the lifespan of a Great Dane.

Great danes have a short life span at about 8 years.
Great Dane’s life span is about 8 years

So the game is over, the hay day is exhausted, and Google is handing out vouchers for $75, $80, and $100 worth of free ad space. Sparky, our beloved but old Great Dane is spending most of his days sleeping on his mat and the vouchers amount to putting vitamins in his food. All they will do is allow the uninformed to discover for free how little value there is left in PPC advertising. After they’ve spent their $75 voucher and generated a few hundred clicks and maybe 2 or 3 conversions into something whose return amounts to ten or twenty bucks, then only fuzzy math will convince them to spend more. It’s an act of desperation that will mostly net folks that cannot use a calculator. There are some niches that this works in, but it is but a shadow of what it once was.

So where does that leave corporate Google and their motto “Don’t be evil?” It’s easy to do the right thing when the wind is blowing your way, but true character is only demonstrated when things get tough. It’s obvious there aren’t any Mac fans here, but one thing Steve did manage to do is create a sustainable fantasy. Google’s PPC fantasy was not sustainable. So what is Google doing to remain profitable? After all, “organic” search results don’t pay them, or at least they shouldn’t. The funny money valuations of “audience potential” are the stuff bubbles and bankruptcies are made of. Enter the FTC.

The Federal government, along with a lot of the more paranoid of us techie types, have our suspicions that Google’s “organic” results aren’t really as “organic” as they appear. You can believe what you’d like, but a company that built its business on scraping other people’s sites for content only to turn around and ban other sites that do the same thing citing “copyright” violations as their grounds sure doesn’t seem capable of not “being evil.” Press releases can say all kinds of things, but the cash cow was adWords and that dog just ain’t hunting. Android is great, and nobody really knows for sure, but on the face it seems to be open-source and royalty free. In fact there are rumors that Google has been paying manufacturers to use it. Yes, maybe 5 years ago Google could afford to have high standards, maybe they can for another 5 years. But, try to knock Wikipedia out of the top spot on a key term for your niche market, try to get about.com out of your way. About.com just so happens to run Google ads, Wikipedia, well while their is no obvious connection they are Google’s example of a “content is king” site. So it may well eat up so many SERPS simply as evidence in Google’s “don’t be evil” favor. If corps are paying for “organic” SERPS positions the connection will not be obvious. If Google is purposely burying their competition on top searches you can bet they will have some more obscure examples to show the Feds, and if they don’t now they will when the time comes.

What will the FTC find? It just depends on how deeply they dig, but Google is a corporation and they will do what they need to to keep the revenue coming. What will the FTC do if they do find impropriety? Well, here’s our guess, they will find a young man named Saddam Hussein and make him an honorary citizen of Detroit, then wink at him and tell him to “do the right thing.” In other words, it’s not likely any good will come of it. Sure Google is gaming the system. At least they have demonstrated a realization that there are limits to how much we will tolerate before giving Bing another chance. The government on the other hand seems to see no limit at all to how far they can manipulate. I say if Google wants to sell search engine positions let them. Just let the public know what they’re doing and let us decide how we deal with them. What we don’t need is “ObamaSearch 2011”.

Corporate Pitfalls for IT Staff

We noticed this little zinger on Twitter’s help pages while trying to help out a client:

Due to resource constraints, not every Tweet can be indexed in Twitter Search.
Our engineers are always working to index more updates, but we can’t force individual, missing Tweets into search.

In other words, what you see in Twitter feeds are a supposedly random subset of actual posts and for some reason their “engineers” think this is reasonable?

We began investigating for a user that was Tweeting about an upcoming conference but searching every combination of keywords and hash-tags resulted in NOTHING. The conference is only a few days out and our mashup is streaming the related feeds to the client’s home page, only their own posts were not showing! Not randomly, but none of them. Registrants talking about the conference were showing up fine, but the actual conference information is missing. Contacting Twitter resulted in no joy either. They just referred us to the randomness of their search. So what next? Well, we had to manually parse the search feed and inject the missing posts.

Somehow it seems very unlikely that Charlie Sheen’s tweets are getting “missed” at random by their search, so hiding behind “resource limitations” is a pretty shallow excuse. So Twitter becomes yet another internet company that is assigning values to individuals and widening the gap between the “popular” and the “obscure”  under their control.

Richard Stallman might seem a bit in left field, but there are some bad moons rising in the world of technology, and if the Free Speech people don’t take control of the internet via legislation Google, Twitter, and Facebook will with “resource limitations”. We saw Wikipedia president Jimmy Wales cave in to porn peddler pressure about a year ago when he attempted to “clean up” the graphic images, and to this day, there are still blatantly pornographic images on Wikipedia while Wikipedia remains the top result on most Google searches, despite the site being pornographic.

This is a fascinating time to witness, but also as a tech company we need to be sly and aware. If you want to get publicity without shooting anyone you’ll need these guys’ help and to get it you’ll need to play by their rules, no matter what they are. It doesn’t mean we can’t be clever and work around them. Just be careful not to make them angry.

A final newsworthy quote on “corpcorrupt” culture: “Engineers who simply staked out one component in the codebase, and rejected patches so they could maintain complete control over design and implementation details had much greater rewards.” Caught my attention on Dhanji R. Prasanna’s blog about why he left Google.

We have warned often both directly and indirectly about poor management decisions especially among the “big guys” and this is further evidence. Underneath Twitter’s absurdly implemented search and “resource limitations” undoubtedly lies more excuses, territorialism, and bureaucracy.  In fact, Dhanji is precisely the kind of developer we mentioned that we’d like to know, because big pay checks and cushy couches aren’t enough to keep them happy. He wants to do good work. He is precisely that guy we mentioned that would have left Sony long before their poor standards became public knowledge. I strongly suggest you read his blog as he mentions a few hints about Google’s poor standards. Many of these developers are not as talented as they might seem. Sure they have “Google” on their resume, but they were in the right place at the right time. Talent is what Dhanji had: “working on Search, APIs, UI, performance, scalability and getting each one of those pieces across the line by any means necessary” but he also went on to point out that it “is actually bad for your career.” He goes on to say that he is a “hacker at heart”, the guy that makes things happen after all of the talk. That’s something to be proud of.

The Real Web 2.0

“nofollow” is the new internet. What does this mean? Well it means that instead of the internet being organic and free it becomes controlled and limited to a small group. The big get bigger and the small, well they disappear into obscurity. If you don’t understand what “nofollow” refers to you may have landed at the wrong blog. This is a technical blog. If you do know then perhaps you have turned it on automatically assuming it would help you fight spam? Well, let me contend that this was a mistake. If your loyal site contributors refer to a link then slapping them with a “nofollow” is just discourteous. If you honestly think that the “nofollow” tag will discourage spambots then think again. Has it really? There are much better anti-spam mechanisms available. This site for instance only lets through a bare minimum amount of spam without need for moderation. The spambots don’t even know that your site is adding “nofollow” to their posts. They just keep coming back and posting, over and over. A human being who is taking the time to participate in your community deserves the internet right to link to relevant content. It’s the basis of the internet.

So think twice. Unless you want Facebook and Google to dictate all that is the future internet you may need to draw a line here.

Firefox 4 vs. Internet Explorer 9 vs. Chrome 11

ie vs ff vs chromeI hope you will welcome my contributions to the V-Tek blog, this is my first post.

As a project manager here at VeraciTek I am always trying to polish my fluency with the latest technologies. The browser war being one of the most relevant to my job.

Microsoft recognized very early that building the browser meant owning the traffic. At least to some degree. The internet landscape is changing very quickly and has advanced light-years beyond the early days when Netscape and Internet Explorer fought for dominance. The same early days that Microsoft lost the court battle to force IE on Windows users.

Today IE is still the top, at 55% market share. A gouge out of it is Firefox’s and Chrome is still the “little guy”. However, recently Chrome has been taking market share from them both.  The summary review of Chrome is: it’s super fast, and buggy. Many sites don’t work correctly with it and it has the habit of announcing: “He’s dead Jim” on sites that work fine in the other browsers. However, it is VERY quick compared to the others.

Firefox 4 claims to be faster, by a factor of 5, it claims. However, in our office the consensus is that is just not true. One developer said: “It might be the same speed as FF3, but that’s just might be.” Another complains that he stares at a full screen white out for about 10-20 seconds before it does anything at all. He once opened and closed Chrome and visited Google twice in the time it took for FF4 to leave the white screen. Another says: “It’s ugly.”

IE 9 is the one we open just to test. At 55% market share we have to be compatible, but that doesn’t mean we have to use it. I have been in IT for years and I remember when it was IE vs. Netscape. There were some others, but those were the big players. Beginning at around IE4 there was a long period where developers would complain about trying to support all of the versions of Netscape. That flipped at the end of IE5’s reign.

Today, Chrome has done something a bit counter-intuitive. Instead of asking if you’d like to update Chrome, it just does it. Perhaps taking a lesson from Apple, Google seems to have realized that most users just get stressed out by questions like: “Would you like to upgrade?” Whatever the reason, Firefox and even IE fails to keep their users at the current point release. Both of those ask users, and Microsoft does so so inconspicuously that it seems like unless someone is an expert typist (in other words, have reasonable computer skills) there will be an explanation mark in their task area. So easy to just ignore, which the stats say is being ignored.

So the verdict is, Chrome is crashing the party. Not today, or tomorrow, but IE had better come up with something more exciting than another integer number to hold on to its market share. Firefox remains the developer’s choice. Even at FF4 the Firebug plugin is ultra functional in FF with limited support in Chrome (firebug lite). What our senior developer let me know though is that Chrome has something called Dev Tools and many Firebug holdouts don’t even know it exists. He uses both depending on which browser he is in.

I’m sure that means something. However, if you’re like me you leave the deep end for those guys. I installed Chrome just a few months ago, I highly suggest it. Even if you’re like me, and relegated to the kiddie end. Then maybe you’ll notice when your web developers leave your site non-functional in Chrome. You can let them know that you know what’s up.

Court Cases and IT

Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC v. Softlayer Technologies, Inc. et al
(Source Article)

Please someone intervene here! Old lawyers in long robes, requiring corporations that use Open Source software to prove themselves innocent of infringing on patents that should have never been allowed to be issued. As we’ve mentioned before, software programs are built on top of prior inventions that are built on prior inventions. Carving out one’s piece of the pie by convincing a government official to issue a patent is corrupt and dangerous to everyone.  This is despicable! What’s worse, is that the big corporations are playing the same games. The fact remains, there is no ethical way a person can “invent” a tiny thing that uses hundreds of other “inventions” and then charge people to use it without paying every other inventor in the line. In short, patents + IT = train wreck.

I sure hope Google doesn’t end up paying these patent poachers. At the same time, maybe Google will stop playing their claim games also. It still bugs me that they scrape every website on the internet and earn their money off of our content. Even redisplaying it in their own format. Then they establish rules about our sites that they don’t even apply to their own! Virtual morals suck.