Categories
ethics Google

Google Alters Search Queries

Because of the recent antitrust case against Google, this story about the search giant altering search queries in order to make more money has come to light. It’s almost too much to believe:

Megan Gray writing for Wired:

There have long been suspicions that the search giant manipulates ad prices, and now it’s clear that Google treats consumers with the same disdain. The “10 blue links,” or organic results, which Google has always claimed to be sacrosanct, are just another vector for Google greediness, camouflaged in the company’s kindergarten colors.

Google likely alters queries billions of times a day in trillions of different variations. Here’s how it works. Say you search for “children’s clothing.” Google converts it, without your knowledge, to a search for “NIKOLAI-brand kidswear,” making a behind-the-scenes substitution of your actual query with a different query that just happens to generate more money for the company, and will generate results you weren’t searching for at all. It’s not possible for you to opt out of the substitution. If you don’t get the results you want, and you try to refine your query, you are wasting your time. This is a twisted shopping mall you can’t escape.

Google dropped the “Don’t be evil” motto when it changed its name to Alphabet but apparently hasn’t been living up to their new motto, “Do the right thing”.

Update: It has been noted that this is an opinion piece and the sources haven’t necessarily been vetted. Google’s statement via platformer:

Google does not delete queries and replace them with ones that monetize better as the opinion piece suggests, and the organic results you see in Search are not affected by our ads systems.

Categories
Google

Two Ways to Improve Gmail

Dave Winer posted to ask if anyone had a suggestion on how to quickly create new email addresses that can be forwarded to his main address. I wrote him with a suggestion and at the same time realized I’ve never posted the techniques1 here.

Gmail has a feature where you can add a + to the end of your email address and create a new address that goes to your original address. For example, jeff.milner+newaddress@gmail.com will appear to the service you are signing up for as a different address than jeffmilner@gmail.com but they both go to my inbox.

The only downside is that some services see the + as being not a valid email address.

The other feature I want to highlight is that gmail ignores periods. Mail sent to jeffmilner@gmail.com or jeff.milner@gmail.com will both arrive in my inbox. Same with j.e.f.f.m.i.l.n.e.r@gmail.com. Gmail doesn’t care about the periods but each iteration is a different email address to the service you are signing up for.

  1. I first learned about these features in a Gmail Blog post from 2008.[]
Categories
Google

How Google Reader was Killed

After 10 years, the question is still being asked: Who killed Google Reader? by The Verge’s David Pierce:

Of course, Google did kill it. (Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story.) Reader’s impending shutdown was announced in March of 2013, and the app went officially offline on July 1st of that year. “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined,” Google SVP Urs Hölzle wrote in a blog post announcing the shutdown.

Google tried its best to bury the announcement: it made it the fifth bullet in a series of otherwise mundane updates and published the blog post on the same day Pope Francis was elected to head the Catholic Church. Internally, says Mihai Parparita, who was one of Reader’s last engineers and caretakers, “they were like, ‘Okay, the Pope will be the big story of the day. It’ll be fine.’ But as it turns out, the people who care about Reader don’t really care about the Pope.” That loyal following Hölzle spoke of was irate over losing their favorite web consumption tool.

I’m still mad but at this point I’m not sure I would even want them to revive it. Netnewswire is my reader of choice.

Categories
Google

Killed by Google

Every now and again I just think to myself how mad I am about Google shutting down Google Reader. I love my new feed reader, Net News Wire, but I will never get over it.

Here’s a list of software that Google has unceremoniously cancelled (or is about to cancel — the list still grows): https://killedbygoogle.com.

Categories
Google

RSS is Dead. Long Live RSS!

Google Reader’s uncermonious dismantling has long been the beginning of my loss of faith in Google as a “do no evil” company. This TechCrunch article, “Google revives RSS” is disturbing on many levels. For one thing, RSS is not dead despite Google’s multiple attempts to kill it. For another, Google has shown over and over again, it can’t be trusted not to ditch any product that isn’t bringing in boatloads of cash.

Dave Winer:

Google did so much damage to RSS, the thought of them “reviving” it is analogous to Exxon reviving the site of some huge oil spill, one that they didn’t contribute to cleaning up. Even worse, browser vendors have no place trying to provide the user interface for RSS. Another toxic dump site. If Google wants to help RSS, great — here’s how. Do the subscribe button, that’s a good thing. But the result should be a dynamic OPML subscription list, that the user can provide to any reader app they want. It’s dynamic in that the contents can change, and the readers should periodically check to see if feeds have been added or removed. This way, if someday Google abandons RSS, again, everything can keep on ticking, more or less. Inviting users to rely on them shows that they have no sense of responsibility for the trust they betrayed in the past.

Hurray for supporting RSS but it’s not dead and it certainly won’t be after Google decides to drop it once again.

Categories
business Google technology

Google Buys YouTube

You’ve probably already heard the big tech news this week that Google is going to pay $1.65 billion for YouTube (the creators are happy). What you may not have seen is this anthology video of YouTubers in action, which goes to show that there is a lot more happening on YouTube than just copyright violations.

(via Waxy)

Categories
Google

Google and Firefox

Google adsense users can now get $1 everytime someone uses a link from their site to download the google toolbar for Firefox. Can you see what I’m saying? It’s time to upgrade to a better browser with the worlds best toolbar! See the side-bar for details.

Categories
Google

Google Reader

Google has launched their new web based RSS feed reader: Google Reader. This will be handy for when I want to show someone something from my RSS feed list but I’m not at home.

Categories
Google

The 1000GB Email Service

If Gmail’s 2+GB of storage isn’t enough for you, check out mailnation’s 1000 GB email service. Wow, 1000 GB! I wonder how hard it would be to back up your hard drive on their servers… but anyway, honestly for me right now, 2GB is plenty.

Categories
Google

One Hundred Gmail Invitations

Google’s Gmail has increased the number of invitations I can give away to 100. It’s not very often that I even gave away any of the 50 I had available before. Do you want a Gmail account? Comment here.