Aiding And Abetting

The latest salvo in the Google vs Microsoft battle is the accusation that Bing is copying Google search results to improve their own algorithm. MS does not exactly deny the charge, but says that it is just one of many “signals” they use to improve their product.

Is what Bing did illegal? Not sure. Is “cheating” illegal or just immoral? That’s what they did – they looked over the shoulder of the smart kid in school and copied their test answers. Does anyone (other than Google, of course) care? This is mostly just something for the two companies to hash out in private. The rest of the world will scarcely notice, and I doubt the DoJ is mounting an investigation. At best, it’s probably a “mountain out of a molehill” in the SEO community.

But what irks me is that MS conscripted us into their questionable plan. They didn’t fill a room full of paid researchers to try and reverse engineer the Google algorithm. No. They took advantage of the ubiquity of Internet Explorer and used my data, your data, your neighbor’s data, to do their dirty work for them.

Whenever a piece of software asked “would you like to send us anonymous data to help us improve the product experience?”, I’d always figure “what harm could it do?”. But now, I will always say NO.


Chrome Is Calling

That’s it. I’ve had it. I use Firefox religiously, anything to avoid Internet Explorer. (Before FF it was Netscape Navigator.) I always have it running with multiple windows, each with multiple tabs open. Crashes were occasional, and I noticed (without much concern at the time) that the Crash Reporter would always say “there was an error submitting your report”.

But lately, FF has started crashing on a multiple-times-a-day basis. Hoping that Mozilla was aware of the problem, I was looking into why the Crash Reporter was failing. According to at least one post on the support blogs, that feature has been disabled for quite some time. Someone made the comment that the development team turned off the feature because they were tired of hearing about crashes. Now I’m sure that’s not true, but the fact that no one would officially deny it, coupled with my frustration and the inability to report the error, has signified the end of my FF loyalty.

I had tried to avoid Chrome because I was wary of the idea that Google would track even more of my activities than just using Google Search. But oh well. The price I will pay for a stable app. That’s why Chrome usage is growing at the expense of FF. I’m going to give it a try.

WordPress App Recant

Earlier this year, WordPress released v2.6 of their iOS app. You could tell from the announcement that the developers were very excited about many new features that had been added. Unfortunately, it seems that few outside of the development team were able to experience all these great features, because the released product did not seem to work well. The primary problem was that it would complain about login/password problems and not let you into your own site. It was slammed in the iTunes app reviews.

Shortly thereafter, a new 2.6.1 version was released to fix the login problems. The developers were profusely apologetic for the authentication errors. My 2nd install certainly got past the password, but it would just hang forever. I figured it was another bust. I went to the iTunes feedback ready to blast then with a low rating. But I happened to notice that at least one other reviewer had the same difficulties as I, and they resolved the problem by wiping the app and doing a complete re-install. Hmmm, worth a shot.

And what a difference it made! When I installed a fresh new copy, I was able to configure for my site and finally see what the developers were initially so excited about. WYSIWYG editor, photo uploads, video support, location-based posting. Bravo! I hurriedly went back to iTunes to post a 5-star rating.

I should have been more thorough in my testing. Yes, it offers all that and more. But when time comes to actually save the blog entry, no dice. It looks like it works, but there’s nothing there on the site – not even in Draft form. Darn. Pretty useless.

Now how do I retract my iTunes positive rating?

Mobile Optimization Gone Wrong

Are you reading this blog on a PC/Mac? If so, the following 3-page article will not seem out of the ordinary:


But if you are reading this on an iPhone, something is decidedly lacking in the InfoWorld piece. On a positive note, most of the ads & banners are gone, but that’s not what I am referring to…

(continue reading…)

Internet Speed

In 2004, the average time for an unprotected computer to get infected with malware was 20 minutes. In 2006, that dropped to 12. These days, it can be measured in seconds. But that metric is typically focused on Windows PCs exploited by virii and bot-nets. What about other platforms like Linux? Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is truly a scary world out there for everyone.

(continue reading…)

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