Good Deals. Good Ideas. Good Designs. Good Health.

Anything that is worth reading… and learning from. Just my opinions.

Archive for the ‘News Only’ Category

Google Ranking Explained…

with 2 comments

Technorati Tags: ,

There’s many sites I love to read daily and one of them is this one, Google’s own blog! Being the digital industry it is vital to have a good understanding of what’s going on, particular relating to Google. Stuff like page rank, search engine optimisation, page title, meta tag… sitemap, web spider… and it gets very useful when I sit in front of a client and simply explain how simple and yet powerful little things can make a difference to a site.

I found this post on Google’s blog today titled Introduction to Google Ranking and here’s some excerpt of it:

Google ranking is a collection of algorithms used to find the most relevant documents for a user query. We do this for hundreds of millions of queries a day, from a collection of billions and billions of pages. These algorithms are run for every query entered into most of Google’s search services. While our web search is the most used Google search service and the most widely known, the same ranking algorithms are also used – with some modifications – for other Google search services, including Images, News, YouTube, Maps, Product Search, Book Search, and more.

The most common question I get asked about Google’s ranking is "how do you do it?" Of course, there is a lot that goes into building a state-of-the-art ranking system like ours, and I will delve deeper into the technology behind it in a later post. Today, I would like to briefly share the philosophies behind Google ranking:

1) Best locally relevant results served globally.

2) Keep it simple.

3) No manual intervention.

The first one is obvious. Given our passion for search, we absolutely want to make sure that every user query gets the most relevant results. We often call this the "no query left behind" principle. Whenever we return less than ideal results for any query in any language in any country – and we do (search is by no means a solved problem) – we use that as an inspiration for future improvements.

The second principle seems obvious. Isn’t it the desire of all system architects to keep their systems simple? Well, as search systems go, given the wide variety of user queries we have to respond to in multiple languages, it is easy to go down the path where more and more complexity creeps into the system to serve the next incremental fraction of the queries. We work very hard to keep our system simple without compromising on the quality of results. This is an ongoing effort, and a worthy one. We make about ten ranking changes every week and simplicity is a big consideration in launching every change. Our engineers understand exactly why a page was ranked the way it was for a given query. This simple understandable system has allowed us innovate quickly, and it shows. The "keep it simple" philosophy has served us well.

No discussion of Google’s ranking would be complete without asking the common – but misguided! 🙂 – question: "Does Google manually edit its results?" Let me just answer that with our third philosophy: no manual intervention. In our view, the web is built by people. You are the ones creating pages and linking to pages. We are using all this human contribution through our algorithms. The final ordering of the results is decided by our algorithms using the contributions of the greater Internet community, not manually by us. We believe that the subjective judgment of any individual is, well … subjective, and information distilled by our algorithms from the vast amount of human knowledge encoded in the web pages and their links is better than individual subjectivity.

The second reason we have a principle against manually adjusting our results is that often a broken query is just a symptom of a potential improvement to be made to our ranking algorithm. Improving the underlying algorithm not only improves that one query, it improves an entire class of queries, and often for all languages. I should add, however, that there are clear written policies for websites recommended by Google, and we do take action on sites that are in violation of our policies or for a small number of other reasons (e.g. legal requirements, child porn, viruses/malware, etc).

I always emphasis to client, SEO does not need to be expensive… and you don’t necessary have to use pay Google or Yahoo to attain high relevance… What’s need is three simple thing that I have used and tested and found it to work really well:

1) Page title page title page title. Get a proper Content Management System or do some hard coding if you still on simple html page and add relevant keywords to your page title, every single one of them!!! Whatever keywords you placed on that page title should reflect the actual contents on that page to some extent else it will not be effective.

2) Meta tag data! Most modern Content Management System like Drupal or Joomla allows you to specify what meta tag description are to be included whenever you create a new page / content. Make use of that area as well as those description / keywords will come in handy for the web spider.

3) Contents contents contents! The simplest of all and yet the most trying of all… is to regularly post and update your site with new contents. That’s why I would always suggest to clients to have a Latest News / Press Release section on their site. Not only will the new contents help the relevance / opinion leadership of the company but also it allows your visitors to regularly know what is going on with the company… thus establishing a good feeling in your visitors that, the business is still around or at least, there’s a focus on keeping customers informed. Whatever real motive it may be… it helps with your website SEO and that’s worth it.

There are more elements that may help your website relevance and some are tricky like the inbound links (if you paid for some SEO work, most of the time, they would use link farms to help you… be careful as it might be penalised by Google) and keyword density… explore them out and monitor it using tools like Web CEO and you will stand to gain a lot from it.

One of the great plugins I used on Firefox is SeoQuake which adds some very useful information extracted from all over the place, about a website. Important stuff like webarchive age, whois, keyword density… and Google Page Rank!!!

Google will constantly tweak their algorithm again to increase the actual relevance of the search result and until the community discover another way to grow your page rank or whatever it may be called… page title, meta tag, contents, inbound links, age of the site… and other factors will help you with the page rank. 

So install SeoQuake into your Firefox / Internet Explorer and start exploring into the world of SEO… remember though that it can be very addictive.

Written by gooddealz

July 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Posted in News Only, Opinions

Starhub blocking BitTorrent…

leave a comment »

Interesting news that I picked up recently, despite it being old news and that is Starhub, my Internet provider is blocking bittorrent sharing across it’s network.

According to this AsiaOne article, Starhub is not denying it and mentioned that other ISP do just the same. I know that in the USA, this is a major debate that is going on right now among the different ISP and people who are legitimately sharing programs, particularly open source program are facing a roadblock… and are looking elsewhere for the connectivity.

Well, I am happy so far with my Starhub broadband speed and overall performance and rarely uses bittorrent so I am not too pissed by this… Anyway I have one more year to go on my contract. Will evaluate the situation then on other ISP if they have instituted the same blocking mechanism.

Written by gooddealz

July 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

Posted in News Only, Opinions

Microsoft: Silverlight content is searchable…

leave a comment »

Technorati Tags:

According to this article from Mary-Jo Foley, Microsoft Silverlight content is apparent designed with searchable content in mind from the beginning… but the only question left is if Google or Yahoo will even bother to add the indexing capability to their search engine or just simply… ignored it whenever it comes across sites built with Silverlight. Either way, as I wrote in my previous post on Flash being indexable, the battle for controlling online standard has just gotten tougher for Microsoft.

Written by gooddealz

July 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Posted in News Only

It’s in the people…

with one comment

Technorati Tags: ,,

Powerset talented engineers and computational linguists… is now at Microsoft… hammering away at how to win a single digit market share from Google…

I salute Microsoft for trying… even though the search game is already very one sided…

The good thing is that there is always the element of time… depending on how long one wish to measure the catch up… It’s a marathon race for Microsoft, a very long race…

In 2 years time, not a dent… (Google Search on mobile phones / devices will rule)

In 5 years time… maybe…

In 10 years time… who knows…

In 20 years time…  the once forgotten Altavista will rise again and buy over Google and Microsoft by then. 🙂

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Posted in News Only

Mark Anders on a new approach to searching Flash

with 2 comments

Big news this week for RIA developers and ActionScript programmers… Flash is indexable by Google and Yahoo (soon to be) and Microsoft Live Search!!! Wait a minute… Microsoft is being LEFT OUT of the equation!!!

Hmmm… how would Microsoft retaliate? My thought would be to open up Silverlight such that Google, Yahoo and all other search engine can index its content (if it is even possible) so that IT CAN AT LEAST GAIN SOME MARKET SHARE!!! (provided that Google and Yahoo are even bother to include that… Joke man!) Good move by Adobe! Very good move!!! Nip Silverlight when it is still so little… else the Microsoft tenacity may come sooner in waves against Flash and Adobe… This way, it will be even harder…

Here’s one of the big brains behind Adobe success / advancement with Flex and Flash in recent years, Mark Anders:

One of the projects I worked on a while ago that I can now talk about is a new approach to more effectively search Flash based applications and content. We developed it in collaboration with Google and Yahoo. Google is in the process of rolling it out and Yahoo is committed to doing so in the near future.

To understand why a new approach is needed, let’s take a step back and examine how search engines work with basic web content today. During the indexing process, HTML and other well defined file formats are retrieved, parsed, and analyzed for content such as text, graphics, metadata, and most importantly links to other content. By traversing the set of links, the indexer can crawl the site and discover all of its content.

This works because HTML is a simple, declarative format that is easy to parse and understand. Or at least, that’s how HTML used to be! The declarative nature of HTML is important, because it means that you can look at a tag such as a link or heading and the format "declares" what it is. You don’t have to run any code to understand it – you can tell just by looking at it.

The fact that SWF files are binary has led some people to conclude that this is why Flash is hard to index. However, this isn’t really the reason. Search engines can and index SWF files today.

So what we’ve done is to enable the search engines to actually run the app just as an end user would. They can not only run it and see the information that’s displayed, including data dynamically loaded from the network, but can interact with it as well, pressing on buttons and links to interact with the app and explore all of is content.

To enable this we have created a special version of the Flash player that is designed to run on the server as part of the indexing process. As the code executes, there are special API that notify the search engine when something changes and that allow inspection of the textual and other data that would be displayed to the user.

There are other API that enumerate links and allow the indexer to instruct the player to simulate a “click” on various objects that are displayed. In this way, the indexer can navigate the running app.

What’s especially cool about this is that it doesn’t require any changes to the application code to enable it to be searched. It just works.

Of course, adding things such as deep-linking – exposing URL for distinct parts of a running app, will make searching content more effective, but it’s not required. This and other techniques will undoubtedly become important tools for optimizing how to most effectively expose Flash-based information to search engines.

Thermo wave is coming next…

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Google, Microsoft… or somewhere else. It’s common!

leave a comment »

Technorati Tags: ,

It’s been a challenging 2 months… ever since a call to do more in my full time role, from being just an Accounts Manager in a 360 digital agency here in Singapore, to more like a General Manager where not only am I involved in business development and client servicing, but more involved in planning, organizing, directing, controlling…

We have a great solid team of people working together and I am really proud of where we are at right now as a team. The chemistry mostly are very good (can improve…)… no politics among us…

It’s been challenging… because I felt personally I have swung to the extreme of being so consumed with work rather than taking care of my personal / spiritual life which has dwindled. Took me a while to face up to the fact that I need help and my wife has been super supportive and encouraging towards me and I thank God for that. A man has to lead and if a man needs help, he’s gotta face up to the issue, get humble and get help. That’s what I am going to do and that’s what I am going to change.

Came across some articles about staff leaving Google and pursuing their career elsewhere… and some even returned to Microsoft!!! Kidding right? No.

Between the lines from Danny Thorpe – the guy that was involved with Piclens and then now back to Microsoft.

Dare Obasanjo

Sergey Solyanik – Dev Manager at Microsoft

Svetlin Nakov – A guy who rejected Microsoft offer but provided some insights into the interview process at Microsoft. This is a must read!!!

Where does Google go next – from CNN

Dion Almaer – Google engineer and his thoughts on some of the post above.

It’s a good read and I am sure there are Microsofties that left for Google or elsewhere… and it is common. But what I see in the pattern is that we all leave for different reasons, not necessary all the time over salary or politics… but growth in our capabilities, taking up new challenges… Which reminded me of a few meet ups I had with some colleagues who thought of pursuing their career somewhere else… and I have always expressed myself very candidly on that matter when it was made known to me and that is to always be clear WHY we leave our existing role / job and not ‘react’ to the situation.

If there are issues, try to resolve it first…

If it is a salary issue, evaluate if you have given your best and take up ownership and then talk to the management about it… negotiation is a lot easier after you have done your part.

If it is job scope issue, bring it up to management and express what you would like to try…

If it is a politics issue, avoid getting involved further and make a stand, unless management / boss is the one flaming it… then probably it’s best to get away…

If it is simply a much better offer, go for it!!!

Sometimes we may feel like we have brought it up to management but they don’t listen and that’s fair… at least you have done the most important part and that is TALK TO THEM!!! Decision comes a lot easier after that…

But always leave because you have a clear objective WHY you leave and not because of some unresolved issues or some reaction to something unpleasant…

Learn to see from a Boss / Management mindset and ask WHY… before asking WHY from an employee mindset… Many times I have learnt that it put things in better perspective and allow one to get out of the ‘WHY NOT ME’ mindset…

WHY boss is like that…

WHY boss did not do that…

WHY boss did not appreciate me as much…

(I know it’s over simplifying the process… and issues of pursuing a greener pasture… but you get the point, right? :))

Sharing and hearing some of the colleagues and expressing our view candidly has in turn helped them us to see the growing opportunities the agency has before us (my personal opinions)… Through some analysis, they too became clearly on what was clouding their thoughts and eventually decided to hang on for a while to see the opportunities and the growth that we can gain from it. No workplace is perfect and in our agency too, we are getting feedbacks and implementing changes to grow staff capabilities and job scope and hopefully every one get some rewards… Surprisingly, some stayed on while others whom did not open up to anyone in the company / management… has left somewhat with some unresolved issue… (nothing wrong with that… just felt it was a lost to the company, and perhaps a lost to the ex colleagues as they lost an opportunity to learn something about themselves if it was something that could have been resolved, and then they can still decide to leave…)

Anyway… just some random rants / thoughts on employment stuff…

Time to make some change to my spiritual life.  

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Very Geeky vs. Main Stream journalism

leave a comment »

Technorati Tags:

Since Randall Stross (the guy who wrote many best seller books like Steve Jobs and the NeXT big thing and The Microsoft Way: The real story of how the company outsmart its competition) wrote the article entitled, ‘Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air ‘ on The New York Times… It has been referred to by many other blog sites on the need for Microsoft to ‘redo’ their OS in order to compete in the modern operating system war with both Apple OSX and the rising of Linux and its variation like Ubuntu and many others…

When I first read it, it make some sense but as I did some other reading from the two following sites, I am tempted to agree with Paul and the guy behind Shipping Seven on some of the ‘not-so-well-research’ part of the article written by Randall Stross.

Have a read yourself and draw your own conclusion, if you need to… (but take all article with some salts unless you really dive into the core stuff of each topic mentioned, like kernel history and all that stuff…)

Here’s the extra from Paul Thurrott’s site, entitled ‘Randall Stross jumps the shark’:

So before I rip into this one–and honestly, how could I do otherwise, given how wrongheaded this is?–I would like at least take a moment to note that I generally enjoy Randall Stross. This one, however, took me by surprise and I had to resist the urge to toss aside the Kindle (from which I read it this morning) and jump online (“someone’s wrong on the Internet!”). But seriously. This is just idiotic. I’m sorry, but it is.

Beginning as a thin veneer for older software code, [Windows] has become an obese monolith built on an ancient frame. Adding features, plugging security holes, fixing bugs, fixing the fixes that never worked properly, all while maintaining compatibility with older software and hardware — is there anything Windows doesn’t try to do?

The best solution to the multiple woes of Windows is starting over. Completely. Now.

Vista is the equivalent, at a minimum, of Windows version 12 — preceded by 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 2000, ME, XP.

Except, of course, that it isn’t.

Windows Vista is the latest in a line of NT-based OSes that includes just Windows NT (versions 3.1, 3.5, 3.51, 4.0), Windows 2000 (5.0), and Windows XP (5.1). (There are server derivates as well, but whatever.) The Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, and Me release he mentions are completely different products with different code bases.

But the assumption here, of course, is that OS X and Linux, both based on UNIX systems that actually pre-date the original version of NT are somehow “newer” or “fresher” and, equally illogically are somehow “better.” UNIX is older than NT. And NT is a descendant of VMS, which was an attempt by DEC to make a better UNIX. Let’s leave the architectural discussions to the experts and at least just agree that all three–Vista/Server 2008 (i.e. “Windows”), UNIX/Linux, and UNIX/OS X–are all modern, scalable, and capable OSes. Because they are.

After six years of development, the longest interval between versions in the previous 22-year history of Windows, and long enough to permit Apple to bring out three new versions of Mac OS X, Vista was introduced to consumers in January 2007.

And here we have the second bit of iCabal BS that Stross passes off as “fact.” Actually, Microsoft shipped a wide number of OSes between XP (2001) and Vista (2006). In fact, they shipped more OS releases than Apple did during this same time period. These OSes include Windows XP Table PC Edition (two versions), Windows XP Media Center Edition (four versions), Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2, a free gimmee to users to make up for security issues), and two versions of Windows Server, among many others. If you’re going to make Panther and Tiger seem lke “new versions” of Mac OS X, then you need to include Table PC and Media Center Editions on the Windows side too. Certainly, the Windows OSes were more impressive from a functional improvement standpoint. Geesh.

And this is the article from the blog site Shipping Seven whom no one knows for sure whether this guy knows his stuff or that he is really a Microsoft employee or how far deep is he involved in the development if any… Here’s a different post that talks about the validity of this guy…

Written by gooddealz

June 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Great Stuff, News Only

More details on iPhone subsidy… revealed

with 2 comments

Technorati Tags:

According to this report from Macworld, AT&T is paying Apple $325 for each iPhone 3G it sells, a report claim… (take it with a little salt… for now)

Here’s the excerpt:

Speculation as to just how much Apple is charging mobile firms for each iPhone 3G has been ongoing since before the product launched, as it became apparent Apple was shifting from its previous revenue-sharing strategy.

The subsidy is more than 50 per cent higher than most other smartphones, leading the analyst to say this reflects the carrier’s confidence that iPhone 3G will lure in new subscribers and help it make money on other services, such as data plans.

Apple’s move means rival firms such as Research In Motion and Nokia will be challenged to deliver devices that match the iPhone in features, at prices that compete.

The end result is that Apple will earn just as much money under the new way of selling the iPhone as under the old, with the main difference being all the money will be up front, rather than deferred.

I wrote in a earlier post that predicted that… well, isn’t it obvious? 🙂 Apple commands a premium and they are confident about that!

Written by gooddealz

June 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Posted in News Only

Exodus… from Yahoo

leave a comment »

Technorati Tags:

Could this be the most disappointing turning point in Yahoo history… where the once online and media powerhouse is going downhill…

Since the rejection of Microsoft 40 over billion dollar bid to take over… key influencers and decision makers has left one by one, possibly as a sign of the disagreement with managements’ lack of leadership and direction for the company… Below are the few articles I read on the exodus from Yahoo… 

Yahoo natives abandoning ship from CNet

Tracking Former Yahoo Execs – Where Are They Now… from TechCrunch

Yahoo’s Executive Structure Crumbles: Lu, Garlinghouse and Makhijani To Leave from TechCrunch

It Gets Worse: Joshua Schachter Leaving Yahoo from TechCrunch

Am pretty sure the ‘Shark’ aka competitors like Microsoft, Google, AOL… are fiercely eyeing the recruitment of those talented people…

Stocks will tumble further… 🙂

Written by gooddealz

June 20, 2008 at 4:23 am

Posted in News Only

Lessons from Firefox 3… A good read.

leave a comment »

Technorati Tags:

A must read on lessons learnt from Firefox 3…

Firefox demonstrates the importance of having platforms that people are allowed to customize. That’s considered normal in desktop computers and servers, and few companies would dare to release a system that placed limits on the types of applications that could be installed. That isn’t the case, however, in cell phones. Google is trying to change that through its Android initiative and the pressure it has put on the FCC to force telcos to allow any phone to connect into their networks. Pushing the other direction is Apple, which though boasting the sexiest phone in existence, also backs a model where Jobs and company controls what is officially allowed onto their Apple-logoed creation (and given the money he gets from telcos for the privelege of shipping an iPhone, is likely to bar things like VoIP clients). As a developer, that’s something that concerns me.

Firefox shows that the open source community can challenge even pre-included (and undermines demands for less pre-inclusion among fans of antitrust, but that’s a discussion for another day). Firefox is fast approaching the level of Adobe’s PDF reader, something that few people get as part of a Windows machine, but practically everyone at some point downloads. Granted, there isn’t the “hook” that comes from the fact that you can’t read a PDF until you download that plugin, but if you notice the amount of coverage Firefox’s record download figures are getting across major news sites, it sure seems like Firefox doesn’t need that hook. It makes me wonder what the community could achieve if one Instant Messaging project could focus the energies of like-minded developers the way Firefox has.

Firefox also shows, at least to me, that the future does not lie in protocols unique to your products that you don’t tell anyone else about. The future, in my opinion, lies in companies that understand that computing is so ubiquitous that it demands open protocols. Products that do a good job of being reliable stewards of that principle end up building the key infrastructure that meets with explosive success upon release. Those that build closed systems, particularly those made by platform companies, end up ignored.

Written by gooddealz

June 19, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Posted in News Only

Type of apps that won’t be found on the iPhone App Store…

leave a comment »

Technorati Tags: ,

Here’s a short article detailing the type of applications that will never make it to the App store… from ZDNet. I heard from somewhere that the SDK has documented clearly certain types of functionality not allowed to be developed for use on the iPhone, one of them being turn by turn GPS… Here’s the list from ZDNet.

There are certain kinds of applications that Apple will most likely never offer in the App Store because they conflict with their own offerings. Some examples include:

  • Music purchases not tied to iTunes (Amazon MP3, Napster)
  • Other browsers (Firefox mobile, Opera lite)
  • GPS applications (although this is debatable)
  • Office Suites (MS Office, OpenOffice)
  • VOIP over EDGE or 3G (Skype, Fring) – In a Q&A session after the SDK was released Steve Jobs said that VOIP applications would be allowed “only via Wi-Fi connections, not via cellular data connections”
  • All scripting languages (.Net, JavaScript, Ruby, Perl, Python)
  • Unlocking/Jailbreaking applications (duh!)
  • Porn
  • Programs that could compromise your privacy
  • Bandwidth hogs (presumably BitTorrent, P2, file sharing apps_
  • Malicious and/or illegal apps (duh!)
  • Apps that require multi-tasking
  • Apps that are memory-resident

It is still a wonderful platform… and I guess developers will just have to live with the Apple Rules, if you wish to have your apps on App Store. Let the jail breaking begin on iPhone version 2.0!

Written by gooddealz

June 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Posted in News Only

Steve Jobs reality distortion field…

with 2 comments

Technorati Tags:

A good read from ZDNet on iPhone 3G – Apple’s reality distortion field redefines the phrase “half the price”

Here’s an extract from the article:

Here’s the deal. An 8GB iPhone 3G costs $199. Sounds good so far. However, AT&T has added an extra $10 a month to the unlimited 3G monthly fees compared to EDGE, so over the 24 month period of the contract, that sets you back an extra $240.

$199 + $240 = $439

That’s a $40 increase compared to the price of the current iPhone.

The cost is now push to the operator… and your monthly subscription fees. 🙂 Well, people will still flock to the iPhone regardless cos now, they can spread their cost for enjoyment over a 24 months period. Have fun now, worry later.

Written by gooddealz

June 10, 2008 at 1:30 am

Posted in News Only