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Google Poland has a blog

Didn’t even notice, and it’s already a few weeks old: Google Polska blog.

I was looking for info when they are going to introduce search for Google Maps in Poland, but so far no clue.

Google Reader got an update

I use Google Reader, which was recently upgraded. After couple of days I can say I like the update a lot. Supports selective reading much better and that’s what I needed, in order not to drown in all these feeds. But now it is probably little different to bloglines and others.. well maybe at least it’s more reliable, thanks to Google’s infrastructure.

Anyway, for those who don’t know what the RSS reader is… who yet don’t know what it is… you might want to try it.

Journalism after Google

NYT article by Steve Lohr pictures journalism trying to cope with new search engine driven reality:

This Boring Headline Is Written for Google

Not that it’s only today that the profession is shaped by technology and marketing: headlines were always meant to attract attention, and telegraph invented the pyramid.

But now comes the Google and the rules change again. After the editor and the reader, the spider becomes third stakeholder that needs to be satisfied.

Google to build research lab in Poland

Gazeta Wyborcza reports that Google Poland is looking for a manager of the research and development center it allegedly plans to open. Worldwide Google has 12 such centers, including 3 in Europe, located in London, Dublin and Zurich.

Most likely locations include Warsaw and Cracow, due to their academic potential.

Bad Google

What happens when people Google you? Samantha Grice has an interesting article in National Post:

Despite the search engine’s near-miraculous powers of information retrieval, it has a dark side. The Internet’s helpful librarian can become an embarrassing mom who insists on hanging your dorkiest kid photos above the mantle and incessantly gushing about your less-than-stellar achievements.

I hurried to do a Google lookup for myself, but luckily, no embarrassing photos showed up. However, I found one amusing item – an old advert from the time when I was a board member at student consulting association and I had an idea to promote ourselves on international online business boards. It seemed to make sense, since our core competence was to provide assistance to foreign companies interested in the Polish market.

The end result of the whole initiative was a significant number of inquiries, one small project for a Chinese exporter (who in the end didn’t pay the bill), and a ton of spam. I think it can be classified as a less-than-stellar achievement.

Gdrive + Writely

Last week Google acquired Writely, an online wordprocessor created by company named Upstartle, triggering, as usual, wave of ?Google goes after Microsoft? noise. Almost immediately it was followed by the voices of skeptics, including Andrew Orlowski’s analysis in the Register and Nicholas Carr comment, scoring points for obvious, namely, that Writely is nowhere near replacing Word anytime soon.

I didn?t have a chance to play with Writely, but despite that, I am pretty much sure that it will not be replacing Word anytime soon.

Nevertheless, it would be disappointing if it ended up, as Register suggests following Jupiter Research, just as a beefed up text input box for Google?s email and blogging platform. Like Gmail is able to be preferred over Outlook despite lacking many of its features, the online wordprocessor could find a more prominent place by taking advantage of its inherent advantages: simplicity, collaboration facilities, and unrestricted accessibility from any place, just to name a few.

Although Writely would have a difficult time to gain traction as a standalone service, it would be a different story if it was introduced to wide range of users as a ?one click? alternative to offline editing. Google did a similar exercise with its chat, when it integrated it with Gmail, allowing any user to try it immediately, with no installations required. From my personal point of view it was a killer idea ? previously, when it was a standalone application, I found little incentive to bother with the chat, even if I installed it initially just to take a look; now, when it is one click away in the already open Gmail browser tab, I use it almost every day.

Gdrive could serve as a similar driver for Writely.

Gdrive would deliver immediate value to the users with little barriers for wide adoption, since free storage for user?s files, if security and privacy issues are left aside, is an easier sell than a entirely new way of document editing. Gdrive users will be able, of course, to download their documents from Gdrive, edit them locally and then upload again; but what if an option existed to avoid this hassle and make simple amendments directly online? A click on ?edit? and the user would find himself in the word of Writely.

Even if online wordprocessor would initially suffice only for a limited range of scenarios, from there, Writely could safely keep evolving, till one day, who knows, someone will discover that for his simple text editing needs, he doesn?t need a desktop application anymore.

Update: I just read article on Squash in which Writely role is being considered in a way close to this thinking; it paints a larger picture of Google’s vision of online/offline coexistence, and mentions also OpenOffice element, which I left out.

Google way vs. Microsoft way

Sanaz Ahari is a program manager at Microsoft, working on live.com portal; originally it started as start.com but then was included in “Windows Live” branding push. Nowadays, as far as I can understand, start.com is supposed to be a testing groud for components to be included in live.com, which is, however, still called “beta”.

Anyway, I just read an entry on her blog, with some comments comparing her today’s work to the start.com days:

one thing i would say is:
during start.com it was all about: experiment, iterate and improve a concept and make customers happy by listening to them. and who did everything: a few ppl, end-to-end for design, pm, dev, test, planning, marketing – everyone basically wore all the hats.

live.com: it’s different. there are many more stakeholders, some justifiably so and some maybe not. so many stakeholders that it’s hard to keep track. some are stakeholders and some think they are. the biggest challenge is making sure the right ppl are involved – the more ppl the longer it takes to just get shit done. and that is hard – very hard, but absolutely crucial. it’s the balance of how do i keep the project going, while keeping everyone happy. and keeping everyone, or at least most folks :) , happy is crucial if you actually want to succeed in the corporate world…

it’s almost like start.com had one set of customers: our users, live.com has two, the internal teams/stakeholders and our users :) so my rule of thumb is, if the teams/stakeholders can help us build a better prodcut for our customers then that’s great! if not, let’s not waste eachother’s time.

It reminded me an interview with Marissa Mayer of Google, in which she elaborated on how it works in her camp. I read the article half a year ago, but one or two search queries located it in Businessweek: (read more…)

Google short on capacity?

Google errorCracks are beginning to emerge on Google’s myth of unlimited processing capacity.

Some highlights including my recent experience:

  • Search query containing lots of “inurls” and other modifiers returned an 403 error and suggested that my computer has been taken over (I don’t think it has)
  • Blog search returned an error as well
  • Sitemaps verification didn’t work due to “server is busy” issue, try again later
  • Google Analytics is closed for new users due to capacity issues, as everyone knows.

I hope it’s only me. Otherwise it would be a pity – after all infrastructure strength used to be considered as one of Google’s key competitive advantages.

Personalized Google revisited

Google's personalized homepageFinally I found something that google/ig can be useful for. I used to get by just by manually browsing Google News on my favorite subjects, but now, when I try to keep track of many individual blogs, it just doesn’t scale.

So I took another look at this personalized homepage of Google’s. I added some Google News searches, a couple of online newspapers and some blogs that I regularly read. Now it’s all there and it is automatically updating as news feeds arrive (or so I hope). In the process I found Google Reader in the Labs, which may be even better and I plan to give a try (but not today). I’m sure there are some even more refined power-reading solutions, but for a while I should be fine.

Btw, it is really a shame that there is no Warsaw in the weather widget. Come on Google… even Windows Live has Warsaw in it.

Google adds fuel to Firefox flames

PKiN and bleak skyThe sky is depressingly white and it’s becoming dark so fast. The Warsaw is not a very energizing place right now.

I am working on a case study for students and it takes more time that I expected, or perhaps I am not particularly productive for all this adverse conditions described above. Anyway, since I’ve never done this before, I would like the stuff to be as good as possible. How it will look in practice, I will see the coming week. And the next week – Russia, Ukraine, or something else – you never know.

Elsewhere in the world, interesting things are taking place. “Battle of giants” kind of things.

Let’s take my favorite app, Firefox browser. This open source (i.e. principally non-commercial) program has managed to gain ca. 10% market share (estimations vary and there is also significant geographical distribution) within a year. It generated a lot of noise in the process, for all its gains were mostly at the expense of the dominant Microsoft’s IE.

Firefox is fast, has some innovative features appreciated by power users (like tabbed browsing) and a clean interface. These virtues proved to be enough to allow it spread fast by a word of mouth, but there have been also certain grass-roots, gorilla marketing initiatives, like Spread Firefox. Firefox has always had a friendly relation with Google, to which it defaults its search box and a starting page. Google in return made sure its web properties were Firefox friendly and provided some hosting assistance. It refrained though from a more decisive support, even as people speculated about a possibility of some kind of “branded” Google browser based on Firefox code.

It changed now as Google offers bounty for every Firefox download through its “referral” program. Web publishers will place referral buttons on their sites and for each downloaded copy they will pocket 1$.

Kill Bill's BrowserIt will take some time to judge the outcomes. More innovative promotional activity can be expected now, when there is a tangible reward in place. Some examples are already there.
I like especially this battle cry (open letter on “Explorer Destroyer”):

Mozilla built us a wonderful tool. Google gave us a carrot. Now take the stick and beat IE’s a**.

Since I am happy to recommend Firefox anyway and so far didn’t have any contacts with Google’s ad program (hell, this site is not even indexed, still) I was curious to try how this new thing works. Referral program requires to join Google’s AdSense first, so I filled a form and got through verification process in something like 6 hours. So far so good.

It seems, however, that the Firefox initiative is limited to the US only. So my original reason for all of this is gone, but maybe I can make that up by having some fun with AdSense program. At least I can make referral to this one:


…Only it doesn’t work now. Ok, enough for one day.

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