Tag Archives: Fail

Thoughts on Plus – Revisited

plusTwo weeks ago, Google decided to decouple Google+ from the rest of the Google products, and to not require a G+ login when using those other products (e.g. YouTube), in effect starting to gradually relieve it from its misery. Mashable published excellent analysis on the entire history of the project, and of the hubris demonstrated by Vic Gundotra, the Google exec who led it.

Bradley Horowitz, who conceived Google+ along with Gundotra and is now the one to oversee the transition, laid out the official Google story in a G+ blog post. He talked of the double mission Google assigned to the project – become a unifying platform, as well as a product on its own. A heavy burden to carry, as in many cases these two missions will surely conflict each other and mess up the user experience, as they did. Horowitz also explains what G+ should have focused on, and now will: “…helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love…”

Well, unfortunately Horowitz seems to not be a regular reader of Alteregozi 🙂 Had he read this post, exactly 4 years ago right here, perhaps G+ would have had more of a differentiation, and a chance.

The secret to Facebook’s growth?

Alteregozi.com has recently also been attacked by the wonderous Facebook profile spam comments (I kept two specimens here and here, but deleted many dozens more in the past weeks). At first, I was amused at this new type of spam comments, but after running a few searches I felt more of disgrace for being so late to the party, seeing mentions of these more than a year ago

So what’s the deal with these comments? they usually don’t include any links, not selling anything, and some are really good comments. If you’d look at the above two you’ll have a very hard time figuring out they are not real comments. Looks like some spammers harvest comments from legit blogs, and then classify your post to find the most similar comment to stick. What is the motivation?

I don’t have the answers myself, but two thoughts:


  1. One spam fighting blog claims that the motivation is to establish the credibility of these accounts, so that they can later be used to sell likes on Facebook itself. The plot thickens…
  2. I’ve never seen an account repeating. The amount of fake FB accounts being created is probably huge. How much of Facebook’s recent continued growth is attributed to such fake accounts? nothing you would hear about in Facebook’s earnings calls.



Bart Simpson working at Google??

“Phone call for Al…Al Coholic…is there an Al Coholic here?”
“Wait a minute… Listen, you little yellow-bellied rat jackass, if I ever find out who you are, I’m gonna kill you!”

Sweet little Bart Simpson must have hacked his way into the training data the guys at Google Scholar are using. I was running a simple Google query for user manuals that Googlebot indexed at sears.com, and got these goodies in the results:

Google Scholar Bart SimpsonFor the perplexed readers, the image on the right is what the Google Scholar parser saw for the DVD result (click to enlarge), then assumed it’s an academic paper and desperately tried to find an author name. As Google freely admits, “…Automated extraction of information from articles in diverse fields can be tricky”. Yep.


It gets even better: since there are many such “academic papers” with the same author name, Google clusters them together, even when the manuals are for different products. Try one of those “All xxx versions” links, e.g. this one, all by our good friend O. Instructions. Interested students are encouraged to proceed and find out the etymology of other fascinating author names such as R. Parts and NO. Model.

And what about our old friend Al Coholic, you ask? well, Google Scholar tells us he did actually publish something! but wait – 1877? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences? young Simpson, have you no shame boy!?

Apparently, Amazon invented the WWW

Tim Berners Lee – behind you!

Amazon has been selling stuff online since as far back as 1973, at least if you believe this:


In fact, Google lists over 51,000 pages with this date on Amazon. And mind you – it is the exact date September 4 1973, not a day less, nor a day more.

Of course, some geeks may claim this has to do with some Amazon programmers’ default value, but the POSIX time for this date is just a boring 115945200, not some fun number like 1234567890. I prefer to attribute this to some evil Bezosish conspiracy theory, now I just need to figure out what it was.


Google Labs is now Google

Quick, name this search engine!


No, not Kumo. That’s Google’s recent launch, trying to compete with Twitter search (“Recent results”), to preempt Microsoft (clustering result types), to show a different, though quite ugly UI metaphor (“wonder wheel”), and generally to roll out a whole bunch of features that should have been Google Labs features before making (or not) their way into a public product. So what’s next? buttons next to search results moving them up or down with no opt-out?? Ah, wait, that waste of real estate is already there.

Flash Gordon Gets the Drop on Arch-Enemy Ming the Mericiless - Flickr/pupleslog

Someone is panicking. OPEN FIRE! ALL WEAPONS!!! DISPATCH WAR ROCKET AJAX!!! The same spirit that brought us the failure of knols, is bringing us yet further unnecessary novelty, but this time it’s a cacophony of features, each deserving a long Google Labs quarantine by itself.

I noticed that much of my recent blog posts have to do with Google criticism :-). I wrestle with that, there really ought to be more interesting stuff to blog about in the IR world, and there is also great stuff coming from Google (can you imagine the fantastic similar images feature is still in labs? can Google please apply this to the ridiculously useless “similar pages” link in main web search results??), but I truly think we see a trend. Google is dropping the ball, losing the clear and spotless logic we have seen in the past, and the sensible slow graduation of disruptive features from Google Labs. Sadly, though, it’s not clear if anyone is there, ready to pick that ball…

Google converts the converted

I love Google Chrome. It’s super fast, its default home page (showing most visited websites) and searching from the url box are  great, and the javascript experiments really knocked me out.

So Google must know this, as  Chrome does talk to the mothership quite often. Then why-oh-why, whenever Google embarks on a “Get Chrome” campaign and I happen to use IE (say for one of those sites that renders well only in IE), do they not spare us the converted? is it really that hard to put a flag on the Google uber-cookie that Chrome is already installed here?…



BTW – all you Firefox users are considered too sophisticated to buy it – this  promotion is not shown to FF users, only IE! 🙂

We’re sorry… but we ran out of CAPTCHAs

Sometimes I want to check the exact number of pages indexed in Google for some query. You know how it goes – you enter a query, it says “Results 1 – 10 of about 2468 gazillions“, then when you page forward enough, the number goes slightly down to, say, 37 results. Trouble is, very quickly Google thinks I’m a bot and blocks me:


Now, it’s quite clear Google has to fight tons of spammers and SEO people who bomb them with automatic queries. But that’s what CAPTCHAs are for, isn’t it? well, for some reason Google often saves on them, and instead provides you with the excellent service of referral to CNET to get some antivirus software. Dumb.

The amazing part is that you can get this from a single, well-defined, world-peace-disrupting query, for allintitle:”design”. Booh!