Archive for the ‘Google’ category

Are you ready for the Internet to shut down tomorrow?

January 17th, 2012

As a protest against SOPA and PIPA, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and a number of other big sites on the Internet are planning to stop services for 24 hours. Instead of a normal Google search, a page describing why they’re protesting.

The text of the Stop Online Piracy Act is here. The Protect IP Act is here. Essentially, the bills say that if a site is found to have material on it that breaks copyright, Internet service providers are required to deny access to those sites.

Are you ready to get some sunshine tomorrow? What are we going to do with ourselves? Use Bing?

Google Maps is a fan of Tolkien

December 20th, 2011

In Google Maps, type “The Shire” as destination A and “Mordor” as destination B. Choose the walking directions.
Do you see the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings joke in there?

Google vs. Bing vs. my review of The Unwanteds

September 8th, 2011

I’m always intrigued by how information is sorted. You might say I make a living out of it.

So when I did a Google search for ‘unwanteds’ today (the results will probably change in the future), I was excited to see that I am the fourth result. I beat out the publisher’s site, the L.A. Times, and even the author’s own site.

Always wanting to learn more, I did a Bing search. I’m not even in the top ten. I shouldn’t feel bad. The author’s page is not even on the first page of results. The publisher barely made it as the last entry on the first page.

So what’s the magic algorithm Google uses compared to Bing’s? Since those are considered trade secrets, we’ll just have to experiment and look at the results.

Me on the Web

June 16th, 2011

Admit it. You’ve Googled yourself.

If I were to say that to my grandparents when they were alive, they would have called me crazy. Google used to mean a ‘1’ followed by a hundred zeroes. (It also was a book in 1913 about crazy creatures.)

But now people Google themselves to see what others are saying about them on the Internet. When I search ‘brian griggs’, this site is the first result, which is cool. The first YouTube video, though, is about a double homicide. Yeah, that’s not me. Hopefully people don’t assume it’s connected to me.

And that’s what Me on the Web, released today by Google, is all about. It’s a new feature for your Google dashboard that tracks all of your different online presences (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever other social networks you belong to (a cupcake ning, perhaps?)) You can now see when people are looking at your online posts and even get notified when people mention you. Check out more here.

Now, Google doesn’t run the Internet, contrary to some students’ beliefs. When I ask them to cite their sources, they put down “Google”. Google is the search engine. It points you towards information. (Complicating this is all the stuff that Google does own, like Google Pages and YouTube.) If you find bad stuff about you online, Google can’t just go into someone’s site and remove the content. There is a URL removal request form that you can use to have Google take results out of a Google search, but if other sites have grabbed the unwanted stuff, it’s already too late.

At the start of the year, Google was ordered by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) to take down outdated information from search results. The AEPD is calling it the Right to Forget. A man had been charged with a crime and was then acquitted, yet only the articles about him being accused of the crime came up in results. Google argued that their product only points to stuff and that it’s the responsibility of the content publishers to take down the unwanted data.

I write book reviews. Usually I stay pretty polite, since I understand that book enjoyment has a subjective element to it (and the whole “if you don’t have something nice to say” thing my mom always lectured me on). Also, books that I pick up to read will generally be worth a review. I’ve been in the business long enough to spot a completely blah book before I get too far in the book.

Let’s say that I have a huge criticism of a book in a review.

J. K. Rowling is going to make a huge announcement here. Let’s say it’s a book I don’t like and I wrote a review about how there are too many owls in the story and the whole thing is old hat. Rowling gets mad and asks Google to take away my search results. No matter what, I’m the one that put the information on the Internet and since I didn’t break any laws, it stays online. It just gets a little tougher to find if someone Googles it.

Me on the Web is a good tool to keep yourself informed about what other people are saying about you, if only to automate Googling yourself, but, like always, the key concept is to be careful because whatever goes online usually stays online in one form or another.


October 8th, 2010

I hadn’t really used Google’s alternative to 411, but I did appreciate that it was free. Check it out before it’s gone on November 12.
The ability for it to recognize speech always amazed me, although it wasn’t too unbelievable that it came from Google. I used 46653, the texting service. You text Google your query, it sends back results. Many times I was able to find directions or help a sports fanatic find out what the score for a game was. I’m glad Google’s continuing that service. They say that 411 was a jumping off point for speed recognition. I use Google’s voice search on my Android phone and get decent results. (The Goggles app still baffles me with its elven magic.)
The text-to-speech app for typing is pretty cool, but I still find myself adjusting what I say to try and fool it into writing what I actually said and not what the computer wishes I said. I shall test it out by reciting the first line from A Tale of Two Cities. Maybe my words just aren’t poetic enough.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Not half bad! That’ll do, app. That’ll do.

Google Instant

September 9th, 2010

Autocomplete is a tricky thing.

In Word, I get frustrated when the computer automatically capitalizes new lines. I know that I can turn this off in the Preferences, but I’m usually working on a project when I sit down to Word and don’t want to take time to search the settings.

I think Google Instant will work better because it doesn’t change your text, it just tries to predict it. As long as the typing is not slowed down, I don’t think users will be annoyed.

When you do a Google search on, it now will pull up results as you type, changing as the search words change – even before you press Enter.

How does it work? My guess is elven magic. But my second guess is that it uses the data for which searches are most popular and uses that probability to suggest the terms and results. On the main page for Google Instant, it mentions that it is only on certain browsers. I wonder if it uses cookies to remember searches or if the browsers were just a requirement for which version of HTML the site uses.

Either way, it will be interesting to see if this speeds up people’s searches, thus making people 2-5 seconds happier, or if it will go the way of The Wave.