Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Google tracks you. Here's an alternative search engine.

First, check out this website: http://donttrack.us/
And this: http://dontbubble.us/

Then learn about online "filter bubble" concept introduced in this TED Talk:

An opportunity for Yahoo!

You guys have probably heard about Yahoo! hiring its new CEO, Marissa Mayer, who was employee #20 at Google, and mom-to-be. It was a big surprise move for Yahoo!, but there was quite a warm reception towards the hire. Mayer is the 5th CEO of Yahoo! in the last 5 years. With Mayer on the helm, people are now more hopeful about the fate of Yahoo! which just hasn't grown as much as the 8-foot behemoth that its younger distant cousin (Google) has.

I am a little bit sentimental about Yahoo!, as it was my first picture of the internet. I remember advertised on an old ISP's brochure back in 1995 a photo of the old Netscape browser loaded with the Yahoo! homepage with that old red Yahoo! logo, a search bar, and a directory of websites. The brochure said something like "all the information in the world right at your fingertips." Something like that.

Oh how small was the world wide web back then. That was around the same time we first had a legit brand new PC. We have had second-hand XTs with green on black monochrome screens and a DOS-based OS before that. Our new PC had a color screen, a CD-ROM drive, and Windows 3.1. And we bought it with a modem and immediately applied for an internet connection. The PC had Netscape pre-installed, which was pre-configured to have www.yahoo.com as the homepage. Yahoo! was the first website I ever visited. It was also my default homepage for a very long time.

Now, until just a few weeks back, I had iGoogle as my browser homepage. Yahoo! to me has just become a mess with all that clutter of news that I'm not interested in and so forth. Yahoo! Messenger's video chat is just not fast enough anymore. Skype is just the king of video chat. And Gmail Video Chat is just so much more accessible. Yahoo! Mail - oh, again, all that clutter. Gmail is just so much better with the cleaner design and all its (spam) filters. Yahoo! Groups - how ugly is that site nowadays. There's Facebook now for that.

But iGoogle is going away soon. So now I've had to live with over a dozen extensions on my web browsers just to access the same info from the "gadgets" I had on iGoogle, but it's nowhere near the iGoogle experience. I want a mission control view of all things important to me when I launch my web browser. E-mail. Chat. Weather. Time zone clocks. A list of links to my favorite websites. My calendar. Notes. Tasks.

Of course, Microsoft's Metro "live tiles" UI could fill that gap, but still, I want all that when I launch my browser - on a desktop PC or on a Mac or a mobile device. Also, I probably won't be using a device that runs Windows 8 or Windows Phone within the next two years at least.

I see this being the homepage of the internet (again) as one opportunity and a key strategy for Yahoo! Bring the old widgets and "My Yahoo!" back, but in a form fit for the internet today, of course. If they can become everybody's homepage - that's a lot of eyeballs and visibility and brand recall again. Be ever present at the starting point for many on the internet: the browser. They could strike deals with companies to become the default homepage on web browsers (with Apple, for example, on Safari on both OS X and iOS). Be useful again. Don't have clutter. They just need people using their products again.

Of course, simply capitalizing on Flickr's popularity, and just simply drastically improving it, should also be a no-brainer. Flickr could be their ticket to the social networking party, to compete at least with Google+, which is said to be frequented by photographers. Facebook is already the undisputed king of social.

And maybe YM, too. But cloud storage and services are seemingly the new thing now. They should probably dip their toes in that, too. Think iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive. And even Amazon's S3 service. All the players are playing that game. How about acquiring Tumblr? Well, I don't know if Tumblr is open to an acquisition, but that would be great for Yahoo!. Twitter is definitely out of the question, as it itself is a king in social micro-blogging (and in a sense, a competitor of Tumblr). But Yahoo! definitely needs to get into the content creation space like blogging. Bring back Geocities, but a whole new Geocities. Well, it's not that simple.

The key is, by being that "homepage" of the internet again, by bringing back to life something like the "My Yahoo!" service, they will be creating a platform. It's all about creating platforms. Facebook, Twitter, not to mention Windows, Xbox Live, OS X, iOS, Android, Chrome. Developers can develop widgets (i.e. mini apps) for the Yahoo! homepage. Everything can live there. Games included, and so on. There's of course the Chrome Web Store, but it just doesn't cut it for me. It's one thing to play Angry Birds, and another thing to play Angry Birds while looking at my e-mails and the weather and a few other widgets.

Hmmm. I just looked at My Yahoo! right now, and I guess the problem is just it's really ugly. The columns are just so wide on my current screen resolution. It was still made for 640x480 screens. I guess that's all the problem with all of Yahoo!. They haven't been updated (properly). Of course, functionality first before form, but functionality is not something that they own. That said, yes, new products are necessary, too. But that said, it's easier to build on what they have right now. The new products will just come for as long as they stay alive and they attract talent.

Friday, July 27, 2012

When will we have ultra-reliable, sufficiently fast, but not significantly expensive/elitistic* internet in the Philippines?

By elitistic I meant "generally inaccessible to most people," or too expensive to the point that only the 1% can really benefit.

Anyways, any predictions as to when 1000Mbps internet will arrive in da Pilipinz?

This webpage shows a short video clip of the public launch of Google Fiber in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Google introduces scientific calculator interface

You can actually already do many calculations using Google Search. For example, google "sqrt(pi)" and you will be given the square root of 3.14.... But now, Google introduces a full scientific calculator interface once you do google a calculation, to continue with further calculations. Check out the example at this link.