Google Analytics Very Slow!

Post ImageI’m not exactly sure when Google released their new Analytics service, but it was recently. Apart from being the cleanest looking of all the various Google offerings, it looks like one of the most useful services too. Who doesn’t want to know more information on their website traffic? Here’s what Analytics is all about:

Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. You’ll be able to focus your marketing resources on campaigns and initiatives that deliver ROI, and improve your site to convert more visitors.

Unfortunately, I haven’t really been able to evaluate the service! I added their tracking code two days ago, and my account still says waiting for data. A quick blog search reveals that lots of people have encountered the same problem. How long is it supposed to take?

After you first install the tracking code, it generally takes 24 hours for report data to appear in your account. Google Analytics generally updates your reports every 24 hours.

Well I’m clearly past that 24 hours, and I’m still waiting. I just hope the data is up to date once it starts showing up. More later.

Read: Google Analytics

Microsoft Live – all about services

Post ImageTo truly understand what the new Windows Live and Office Live services are all about, you need not look any further than Microsoft itself. Thanks to the magic that is Robert Scoble, we get a very honest description:

Yesterday will be remembered not because of what we announced. But because of the direction we’re now headed in.

Microsoft is no longer an applications company. It is a services company.

Don’t get caught up in the badly-pulled-off demos yesterday. There is something a lot deeper happening inside Microsoft than that.

That’s important to understand. People do not remember the famous Bill Gates Internet Memo as the day Microsoft decided to integrate Internet Explorer into Windows (though that was certainly a result). Instead, that infamous memo is remembered as the day Gates and Co “got” the Internet. I expect yesterday’s announcement will be remembered in much the same way.

That said, they still launched a product yesterday, and at first glance, it sucked. How could they release a web-based service that doesn’t work in anything other than IE? Scoble has an answer for that too:

So, when you see Microsoft not supporting Firefox out of the gate, you are seeing that we don’t get the role of influentials in gathering audiences.

Just imagine if Microsoft both understood “the role of influentials” and had Robert Scoble on the payroll!

Microsoft Live

Post ImageMicrosoft made a fairly big announcement today in San Francisco. Some will say this is Microsoft playing catchup or follow the leader, others will say this is Microsoft innovating, and still others will say this is simply Microsoft making make a smart business move. I think I fall into the latter camp. Here are the details:

Kicking off what he called the “live era” of software, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said on Tuesday that the company plans to launch new Internet-based complements to its core products.

Gates said Microsoft is working on two products, “Windows Live” and “Office Live,” that create opportunities for the company to sell online subscriptions and advertising. Both are targeted at smaller businesses and consumers.

Services like Windows Live and Office Live have been expected for a very long time, so I can’t say the announcement is earth shattering. It will have very far reaching effects though. Joe Wilcox has a couple of good posts where he explains what “Live” is, and what “Live” is not. Here’s my favorite “not”:

While Google might be a catalyst in Microsoft’s services strategy, the reasons for launching Live are much broader than the search rival. Microsoft is looking to accomplish a couple things: For MSN, the new services are a way to drive additional revenue–whether from advertising or paid services–off clearly identified market segments, small businesses for Office Live and active online consumers for Windows Live. For Windows and Office, Microsoft hopes to generate greater customer value and make new-version Office and Windows upgrades more appealing. MSN has done a tremendous job cranking out new products and services, well ahead of the long Office and Windows development cycles. The point: If Google didn’t exist, Microsoft probably still would have embarked on a services strategy.

I expect that “copying Google” or “defensive move against Google” will be the most commonly assumed reasons for the new Live services, but I agree with Joe. There’s a lot more to Live than Google, and let’s face it, Windows and Office services over the Internet were pretty much inevitable.

A few people have asked me what “Live” means. While I see Microsoft’s reasoning for tying into Office and Windows brands, I’m skeptical of Live’s appeal. Live certainly doesn’t grab me, and, yes, there is uncertainty about what it means. Is it supposed to mean the living Web? Maybe community or safety? I’ll let Microsoft answer that question.

Did “Windows” grab anyone when it was released? How about “Office”? (Though I suppose both of them described intuitively their respective functions.) I’ll admit that Microsoft has some absolutely terrible product names, but I think the simplicity of Windows Live and Office Live will work well for the company.

Not much word on the developer side of things yet, if there is such a side. As a platforms company, you would expect Microsoft to offer access to the new “Live” platform. Certainly Gadgets and some of the other Vista-era technologies will be important, but details are yet to emerge.

I’ll probably have more to say on “Microsoft Live” later – it’s a lot to digest, even if it was expected.

Dare on Google

Post ImageLots of stuff out there on Google again lately, as is usual now I guess. John introduced us this morning to Google Base, and the Google Print debate has been roaring for weeks now. My favorite comments on the subject come from Dare Obasanjo though:

By any measure, Google is multi-billion dollar, multinational corporation. However whenever its executives speak, they do an excellent job of portraying the company as if it is the altruistic side project of a bunch of geeky college kids. I don’t just mean their corporate slogan of “Do No Evil” although it is one manifestation of this strategy.

More and more the opinion pieces compare Google to the Microsoft of old – the company that everyone in Silicon Valley (and elsewhere) loves to hate.

Read: Dare Obasanjo

The New Splog

Post ImageBack in April of 2004 I was posting about something I called “splogging“. Basically it was the repeated and never-ending activity of leaving comments on someone’s blog post, essentially, spam comments. At the time, it was funny, because I was using this against friends! Eventually spam comments became a real problem, and it was no longer funny. I first experienced huge amounts of spam on my blog in October of 2004, which forced me to introduce a Human Interaction Proof control, commonplace on the web now.

The term splog is changing though. No longer does it mean spam comments (which, fortunately have declined in numbers). Instead, it refers to fake blogs setup for the sole purpose of creating link farms. Here’s what the sploggers do:

The splogger executed a script that ran searches on blog search engines for specific keywords, said [PubSub’s Bob] Wyman, notably names of some of the A-list bloggers, like Dave Winer and Chris Pirillo. Then the splogger took the results, went to Blogger-BlogSpot and, using the service’s application programming interface, or API, automatically created tens of thousands of blogs that contained text from the bloggers’ real Web sites, Wyman said, along with links to the mortgage and other sites.

People querying the well-known bloggers’ names in blog search engines, and people who track these bloggers and their write-ups via services like PubSub, Technorati and Feedster, then received feeds to the fake blogs, jamming RSS readers with useless links, Wyman said.

I am by no means an A-list blogger, but I have noticed it happening to me too. If you search Google for mastermaq, the results are littered with results for fake blogs. Most of the ones that affect searches for me are not hosted at Blogspot, but some are. And that’s where most of the problem has originated from.

The problem has gotten really bad lately, as described in the CNET News.com article I quoted above. Who knows what will happen, but we need a resolution! To get things started, Chris Pirillo has posted Ten Suggestions for Google’s Blogspot. I particularly like suggestions two and six – no brainers in my opinion.

Read: CNET News.com

Google Reader

Post ImageGoogle has released another long awaited and much talked about product into beta – Google Reader. I am not a big fan of online news readers, mostly because I like to be able to take posts offline to read in class, or other places that I don’t have Internet access. That being said, Google Reader is actually quite nice. From the website:

Reader automatically gets the latest news and updates for your favorite sites. You can sort your reading list by relevance, which will guess what’s most relevant to you based on how you use Google Reader (such as which items you decide to actually read).

The amount of information on the web is rapidly increasing. Use Reader to discover new content you don’t want to miss. When you come across something worth sharing, quickly email or blog it from within Reader. Star or labels items you want to save for yourself.

I don’t think it’s as obvious as it should be to add a subscription, but once you have that figured out, the interface is very friendly. I especially like how Reader cycles up and down through the items in a subscription – very cool.

Read: Google Reader

More on Google Wifi

Post ImageI am sure we’ll continue to see lots of news emerge about Google and the plan to offer free wireless access to all of San Francisco, but this Reuters story already caught my eye:

San Francisco has received more than 24 separate proposals to provide free, wireless Internet services citywide from vendors including Web search company Google Inc., the city’s mayor said on Monday.

Chris Vein, director of telecommunication and information services for the City of San Francisco, said the proposals involved a range of different free or low-cost business models. Only one company Vein declined to name had proposed an advertising supported plan for free wireless access, he said.

That company appeared to be Google. A Google spokesman on Friday had confirmed that its Wi-Fi access proposal could be funded through online advertising.

That would certainly make sense wouldn’t it? Not rocket science or anything. I am not sure what I’d think of ad-supported wireless. I am sure if I had to choose between paying a monthly fee or putting up with some advertising, I’d take the advertising, though I wonder how they would implement it.

Read: Reuters

Google Wifi in San Francisco

Post ImageIt seems that Google has officially submitted a bid to the city of San Francisco to build a city-wide free wireless Internet service. Om Malik broke the story late yesterday, noting:

Google officials say San Francisco residents (and visitors) will enjoy a free 300 kilobits per second, always on connection anywhere in the city. As part of its proposal, the company says it will be offering wholesale access to other service providers, who will offer higher throughput connections to their customers. Google says it plans to use its own authentication services. (That explains the Google WiFi VPN client to some extent). The company is going to use San Diego-based WFI, a cellular network builder company to build out the WiFi network.

There have been rumblings about this for weeks, and people claim to have discovered test networks in other cities too. So upon hearing the news, the first thing I thought was that Google is going to fulfill my vision of wireless everywhere by building free wifi networks in cities around the world! Not so, according to a New York Times article on the story published earlier today:

“Offering a free service like this is a great way to support the Bay Area,” said Chris Sacca, a new-business development executive at Google. “We don’t have any plans outside of the Bay Area.”

While that kind of sucks, I am not holding my breath. I am sure if they see any value in providing the service at all, they’d reconsider opening it to other cities too. And even if that doesn’t turn out to be the case, perhaps other companies will take a cue from Google and build their own networks.

Read: CNET News.com

Google and NASA

Post ImageWhen I first came across this story a couple days ago, I didn’t give it much thought. As soon as I saw NASA and Google in a story about them supposedly collaborating on various technology projects, I figured it was a joke. Turns out, it’s not. From the September 28th NASA press release:

NASA Ames Research Center, located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, and Mountain View-based Google Inc. today announced plans to collaborate on a number of technology-focused research-and-development activities that will couple some of Earth’s most powerful technology resources.

NASA and Google have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines plans for cooperation on a variety of areas, including large-scale data management, massively distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, and encouragement of the entrepreneurial space industry. The MOU also highlights plans for Google to develop up to 1 million square feet within the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me wonder how Google scored such a deal. And it makes me wonder why. What the heck does search have to do with space travel?

Read: NASA

Google turns 7, hides index

Post ImageDid you know that Google is now seven years old? Yep, their birthday was yesterday I believe, and the front page is still sporting the birthday logo. Here’s what the official Google blog has to say:

Google opened its doors in September 1998, and we’ve been pursuing one mission ever since: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. For our seventh birthday, we are giving you a newly expanded web search index that is 1,000 times the size of our original index.

Google also no longer displays the number of documents in their index on the front page. John Battelle explains:

I asked Marissa [Mayer at Google] that since Yahoo claims 20+ billion documents, and Google claims to be three times larger, might not folks simply presume that Google has 60 billion documents in its index? The answer goes to the heart of the index debate in the first place: Google does not count the way Yahoo seems to, so the comparison is apples to oranges. Google is counting one way, Yahoo another. So the numbers don’t add up.

…Google is forcing the debate back to relevance, where, honestly, it really belongs.

Well said. We need more relevant search results! Who cares if there are 22 million matching documents. What matters is showing me the ten or twenty most relevant right away.

Read: tech.memeorandum