About a week and a half ago I was happy to get an invite to Google’s new take on e-mail: Google Inbox. The idea is to make it much simpler for users to deal and bundle e-mails they get.
Posts in the "Google" Category
I take turns using a few different mobile phones, which is quite interesting to the see pros and cons of each platform. I’ve had a few experiences with Android lately, so I thought I’d share a couple of tips: apps failing to update, and using any music file for ringtones and notifications.
Time again for a number of interesting, entertaining or otherwise all-round good links I recommend taking a look at!
As always, there is so much discussion going on about HTML5 and video on the web, and I thought I’d suggest a solution to it all.
Yesterday Google announced they’re dropping H.264 video codec support in Google Chrome. Whatever you think about this, it’s an interesting move and I thought I’d express my thoughts on it.
Instead of presenting a certain technology or approach, my idea with this post is to get some discussion and feedback about iOS vs. Android.
Seasons come and seasons go; life turns in a constantly changing manner. But, as after every summer, I’m back and I long to write for you!
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I’m saying something really really important has happened for the future of the Open Web. Finally, it looks like there might be a solution to the video codecs and patent encumbered alternatives we have been dealing with.
There has been discussions about allowing CSS to help developers create smooth transitions of CSS properties for elements, and it’s something being specified in CSS3 in W3C CSS Transitions Module Level 3. Here I’m going to show you how to implement it in Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari & Opera.
More and more services around us focus on where we physically are located at the moment, and how we can be assisted in the best fashion depending on that. Today I’d like to introduce the geolocation possibilities we developers have, and also play around a little with Google maps.
In our world of developing web sites, it is always interesting with web browser statistics, and how some people view them. Pair that with a new player in the market and various opinions about its success.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being invited by Mozilla to Prague to, amongst other things, discuss the future of Firefox.
Yesterday, Google outed a very bold move of theirs, and then followed up with a statement that, to me, meant even more. We’re talking Google Chrome Frame and Google Wave deciding not to support Internet Explorer.
Wow. I can’t really believe these are my first words of blogging again in almost two months. It always feels a bit funny getting back in the saddle, but once there, I’m as happy as a butterfly on a flower!
For anyone focusing on SEO and duplicate content indexing, i.e. the same page indexed with several URLs, thus having a negative page rank impact, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft now all support the canonical relation on
Ever felt that you have had the need to enhance your web browser, or the functionality of some web site you frequently visit? Here I will explain how to do that.
The end of 2008 is near, and I felt it was time to summarize the passed year.
Ok, time for an admission: I now, honestly, own an iPhone.
One browser to rule them all, one Google to find them, one extension to bring them all, and in the darkness (Redmond?) bind them.
I just thought I’d mention that I have a new visitor record for this web site.
The web is buzzing! Something which was due to come, sooner or later, has happened. Google is launching their own web browser today: Google Chrome.
Since Gmail released a new version a month or so ago, it crashes several times every day for me.
As promised in my @media Ajax – Journeys and stories post (now updated with pictures!), this one will focus on the presentations during the conference.
I thought it would be interesting to give some examples of how some terms, from my posts, are ranked in Google; both funny and more serious ones. It seems like I know How to get a good search engine ranking.
For some reason it just hit me that it really was a long time ago since I used any specific color for visited links in a web site. How so?
Just playing around on the Internet, I’m finding out that Google has implemented yet another outstanding, supremely cool feature, this time for Google Maps. Now, you can get virtually explore neighborhoods at street-level virtually with Street View.
I’m constantly baffled why most companies and web developers don’t understand, or care about, the importance of using good semantic URLs. Therefore, I though I’d outline some reasons to help you understand why you really should care.
When done properly and in a serious manner, SEO is truly a fascinating field! However, I have some wonderings about how Google and other search engines treat and index certain things.
Some people like to proclaim that the so-called web standards war, i.e. a wide-spread usage of web standards, is over. Let me take a couple of web sites as example why I don’t agree:
The hunt for getting a good search engine ranking affects more and more companies. A higher ranking equals more visitors equals (most likely) more customers. More customers, in turn, equals more money, which is what business is about.
But sometimes, the hunt hurts the quality of a web site.
So, 2006 is almost over and it’s time to look ahead at 2007. Will it be an exciting year? No doubt, we have to wait to see just how riveting it can get! I thought I’d go through some notable things that happened in 2006, not just web-related, and scribble down some words about them…
So, you all have your favorite search engine, right? And probably also the tools/approach you prefer to search with it; for instance, a text field in your favorite web browser, perhaps a web browser toolbar or have it set up through Quicksilver. What I’m interested in, though, is what would make you switch search engine? What would make you use another one?
I will be featured in the next issue of Internetworld . There will be a two-page spread called The Pro’s Choice, where I list three web sites that I like and the reason for choosing them.
As of recently, I’ve had enough of trying to keep track of appointments and other assorted obligations. Fredrika writes things for hand in her little secret calendar, which means there’s no way I can stay on top of things going on or actually double-check when I’m not actually in the same room as here.
This led to me starting to look around for web-based calendar services, where one can enter data and it will be available from any computer at anytime, and also get reminders. Just as I was testing some services, Google were kind enough to apply to my needs and released Google Calendar.
Google Calendar has got the look and feel of GMail and other Google applications and you can just start using it with your existing Google account.
Google Calendar supports five different views:
- Next 4 Days
It is very easy to create an event: just click the desired date/time and enter a subject. You can then drag and drop existing events to move them to another date/time.
It’s possible to get a notification through an alert box, e-mail or a SMS text message. I would love that last option, but it seems like it’s only available for US citizens.
You can also share your calendar and events with others, which is a great thing! This lets you have your own calendar, share some or all events and then also color-code your and other calendars’ events to easy distinguish whose appointment it really is. Your calendar with the events labeled as public is made available at a public address, and there’s also a private address you can use in other calendar applications.
I would love some way to synchronize the information with a PDA or cell phone and be able to use it offline.
All in all, a great service that is yet another step for me from being dependant on just one specific computer.
When doing a web search and your search engine of choice (Google, for most of you, I presume) doesn’t return as accurate or useful results as you had hoped, you might decide that you just want search blogs. Reasons for this can be because blogs usually contain very interesting information, comments on the information and also that they are normally very up-to-date.
The way I see it, there are two major tools for searching blogs: Technorati and Google Blog Search. Google seems to be a little faster, although Technorati has really picked up lately. Technorati also offers ways to see how popular that blog is that contains the information you searched for while you also know that the information that is most up-to-date will be amongst the top results.
Personally, I use Technorati to see how many people link to me and which the latest links are. I never use Google Blog Search.
Do you use any? If you do, which one?
With the humble title of this post, I guess I really need to add that these ways mentioned below are the ones I’ve experienced to be very reliable to get a good search engine ranking. Naturally it varies a lot, but I get somewhere between 28 – 45% of my visitors from pure Google searches, out of just having a high ranking (and sometimes for terms that amaze me :-)). These are my advices:
- Semantic code
- Make sure you write semantically correct code, meaning that you need to use the correct element for the right situation. It is all about how you mark the words you are using, and how and in what context you want them to be interpreted.
- Friendly URLs
Make sure you have URLs with a good descriptive value, as opposed to one being made up of just a lot of parameters. There are different tools and settings to achieve this in most, if not all, web development environments. For instance, these two links both lead to the same web page:
This is a good URL:
and this is a bad one:
- Get mentioned
- If you get mentioned with good words in an appropriate context, especially from a web site that has a good PageRank, it will help push you up the search engine list.
These are the only tips I can give you; basically, it’s just about good web development practises and maintaining good relations with other web site owners.
I’m sure there are good SEO companies out there, but the ones I’ve come across have all been unprofessional and/or been using very suspicious methods. And as soon Google update their algorithms, there’s a big chaos when some SEO’s dubious work fail, since some of their tricks have been found out and taken care of. Then, naturally, it backfires so their customers get a very bad search engine ranking.
Just do as I suggest above; code properly and you will be safe. Look around to see how good search engine ranking most web developing blogs get, just because they know how to implement a web site in a correct manner.
Come on, give us a bad example
Sure, but only since you asked for it. Recently the web site http://www.larmdirekt.se/ was brought to my attention. If you navigate to their web site and disable CSS in your web browser (
Ctrl/Command + Shift + s is one way to do it if you use the Web Developer extension in Firefox), alternatively view the source code of the page.
So, go check out the code of your own web site right now, or ask your SEO what methods they use.
Read more about search engine optimization
A while ago I read Garret Rogers’ post The personalization war, which in part inspired me to write this introduction to different personalized start pages. So what are those, really?
The main purpose of such a start page is for you to get a good and easy overview of a lot of things, including the feeds you follow. Different services also offer different gadgets that you can use, such as seeing your e-mail inbox. Naturally, one of the most useful parts of this is that you have access to the same start view and information wherever you are and whatever computer you are using.
The ones I’ve tested are:
Most of them are, of course (sigh…), in a beta state, so I haven’t really taken that into my observations. I’ve tested them in different categories, and I name a winner for each and finally, a total winner. Live/Start is developed by Microsoft, but I’m not sure if Start will still be around and if they’re putting all their energy into Live now. Both are pretty much the same service right now, though.
Google Personalized Home’s service looks pretty much like all of the other Google services, as opposed to Netvibes and Live/Start who have got very lean interfaces. Netvibes has also got a nice distinct background and borders around its parts to easier tell them apart. My Yahoo! offers a lot of themes, and each and every one of them almost makes me barf.
Winner: It’s a tie between Netvibes and Live/Start.
All of them, except My Yahoo!, rely heavily on an AJAX approach with drag and drop to position your different parts wherever you feel like. Netvibes and Live/Start also offers the possibility to expand and collapse different parts, where Netvibes also has links for expanding/collapsing all parts. Netvibes is the only one showing you a number of unread posts for each of your feeds.
Google Personalized Home and My Yahoo! only present direct links to the posts in your feeds, whereas Netvibes and Live/Start present the text for each feed when a link is clicked, together with the other posts for the same feed, and there you can choose to expand or collapse the text for all of the feed’s posts.
Netvibes and Live overlays a “page/window/layer (yeah, I’m sorry for that word :-))” that fills the entire web browser window when the links are clicked, as opposed to Start that just opens a small one. Start’s behavior is definitely the one of these I prefer.
Live/Start also offers small arrows after each post in a feed which is a direct link to the post in question. This would have been great, if they haven’t added the functionality to these links to automatically open a new window. Extremely annoying. This is 2006, ok? People want to choose themselves if they want to open a link in the same window, a new window or a new tab; don’t force a behavior on users. And if you’re so worried most users won’t get, just offer this as a setting then.
I wish Netvibes would also have these arrow links, but naturally not with the behavior mentioned above that Live/Start have. In the overlay that is opened up, Netvibes’ also dreadfully opens new windows when each direct link to another web page is clicked. Stop it! Now!
Settings-wise, Live/Start is the winner with offering you how many columns you want to use, from one up to four columns. My Yahoo! is the only other service offering this, with the choice of two or three columns. My wish is that all of them should really offer a way to see the text for each feed post in the same view when it’s clicked, and also to expand or collapse all posts for a certain feed or the entire web page. I also wish Netvibes would add a way to mark all posts for all feeds read.
Another thing that blows my top is that the sign in-link on Live for a long time didn’t work in Firefox. Then they fixed it, but apparently added some new update, so now it’s broken again. It’s just a link, dammit, how hard can it be? And the number of dead links and things of inconsistency one stumbles on while using My Yahoo! are too numerous to mention.
If it hadn’t been for Live/Start forcing me to use a Microsoft Passport account, I would’ve declared a tie between Live/Start (because of being able to choose what number of columns to have, and Start also for its nice reading window) and Netvibes (for its unread items feature). However, because of that, it tripped Live/Start at the finishing line.
Winner: My Yahoo!
The most efficient way to use your feeds in different services is to have them categorized in an OPML file and then just import them. Netvibes and Live/Start offer importing as well as exporting of OPML files, although, for some, reason, Netvibes didn’t work correctly with my OPML file that seems to work fine for all the other services on the web. The problem was that I could indeed import the feeds but then the grouping went wrong so I could never see the content of any feed or add it to my page.
Google Personalized Home and My Yahoo don’t offer neither of these, which, to me, is shocking.
Winner: Live/Start, for working flawlessly with feeds.
Google Personalized Home offers you seeing your GMail inbox (surprise), My Yahoo! offers you to see your Yahoo! Mail (another shocker) and Live offers you to see your Hotmail (yeah, I’m trembling with excitement now…). However, Live also has a number of other gadgets for you to use, where Netvibes seems to have the best ones. Netvibes have, amongst others:
- Mail (GMail, Yahoo! Mail or any other POP mail you want to add)
- To Do List
All of them have validation errors, but Netvibes seemed to be the only one that didn’t have well-formedness errors or invalid elements. Google Personalized Home and My Yahoo! didn’t even have a
doctype. Semantically, they were all pretty poor…
The winner is…
If you’ve mustered enough strength to read this far, you have probably guessed that it is: Netvibes. Overall, they offer the most stable, reliable, usable and customizable service. While it’s far from perfect, it’s definitely my pick of the pack. Are you using any of these, or some other personalized start page service? Let me know!
As of lately, I’ve been trying to move my program/service usage online more and more, to make it accessible from any computer and also not to lose information in case of a computer crash. Part of that has been finding a service to follow all the feeds I subscribe to. If you don’t know what a feed is, read Wikipedia’s Web feed definition.
So, deciding which ones to test, amongst other sources, I turned to the statistics for this web site to see what the people who are subscribing to my feeds are using. My conclusion was that the four that seemed most popular were:
The important thing to think of when using these kinds of services is that they should support importing and exporting of OPML files. Then you can just move your feeds from service to service and save them in a file for later reference, instead of entering all the feeds over and over again.
Don’t regard this as a professional review but rather just as a regular computer user testing them out. My impressions were:
From what I gathered, Bloglines seems to be the most popular service online and generally I think it’s ok to use, no more, no less. I don’t like the layout using frames, although I really have to give them credit for their excellent PDA version (the only serviced I’ve had the opportunity to test on a PDA). My preferred usage is to keep my read and unread posts together in the order they were posted by the author, together with an indication in the navigation of how many unread posts there are in that specific feed. Bloglines, as well as all the other services have that indication.
However, one thing that bothers me is that the read feeds disappear from the default view when I click on a feed. It is possible to retrieve them again, but that requires extra steps. An alternative to this is to use Clippings to save your favorite posts, but that’s not as interesting to me.
NewsGator is very similar to Bloglines but with a slightly more appealing layout. It implements the same things with removing read posts from the default view and having Clippings for favorites. The thing with NewsGator, though, is that the whole feed disappears from the left hand navigation, if it doesn’t contain any unread posts. Very annoying.
Google Reader has a default layout which is very sparse but good, and it displays only the latest updated posts. It also has support for keyboard shortcuts, of which I’m a real aficionado. But, as soon as you click the Your Subscriptions link, it takes up the entire top part of the web page.
I would really like to see a way to check posts feed by feed without losing so much space of the web page. Google Reader definitely has potential in my eyes, though.
First, I love Rojo’s front page with the Most Read Stories and Recently Tagged Stories, it’s a great and simple way to see what’s talked about right now. Rojo has also taken a little different approach with tagging posts, something I really like and it makes it very easy to find mine and other people’s posts for a certain topic.
After that you have a number of ways to view your feeds, and the different options you make should stick. Unfortunately, expanded blocks in the Feeds tag view doesn’t seem to be consistent/stable when it comes to that, but otherwise it works fine. Overall, it does seem just a tad slow, though.
I didn’t really find any service that was perfect, but out of these I have to say that Rojo is my pick. One of the reasons for that was the updating frequency, the other services can lag behind up to half a day; I want my information instantly!
So now I use Rojo and another similar service that I will tell you more about another day. I do urge you to test these out; maybe one or several of them are spot on for you.
Are you already using any of the above, or some other service that you would like to tip me about? Let me know!
It has been some talk about this lately, and Google has now released Google Pack. Basically, it’s a package of different software that’s there to make your computer life better. I guess this is targeted at users who aren’t very computer savy, or people that just want it all bundled. Google’s first step towards world domination, maybe…?
The default package includes
- Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar
- Norton Antivirus 2005 Special Edition
- Ad-Aware SE Personal
- Adobe Reader 7
Optional software that can be added to your package
The Google software is pretty obvious, but I think Norton with a subscription that ends after 6 months will annoy people. My guess is that they will perceive this as a free package that will just work. No fees, no additional download, no extra costs.
The other shocker is Real Player. Is it a joke? I mean, really, come on. We all know how hard Real Player sucks. Not the company I’d like to get associated with, I tell you that.
What’s your take on? Will you download it?
The last couple of the days, the whole world wide web seem to be talking about Google and their latest release, Google Analytics. Since I thoroughly enjoy Gmail, think Google Maps is pretty cool and, naturally, use the search engine daily, I was intrigued to say that they were releasing a statistic service in the form of Google Analytics. And for free!
Of course I could’ve written a post right away telling about the release, but I wanted to test it first to tell you about my first impressions. Apparently it took 12 hours to get the account activated after signing up, a truth with modifications if you asked people who tried. After maybe 20 hours the account kicked in. Fair enough, I know everything about deadlines and tight releases schedules.
- It’s not real time
- To me, then it definitely loses its main attraction. I want to be able to check what has happened the last hours, hell, even the last minutes. Live, ok? Now it seems I can only see the data from the day before; that is, when the day is over according to US time. Pretty annoying if you’re located in Sweden.
- No localization
- There seems to be no way, at least not as far as I can find, to localize the time zone and the ways dates are presented. The American date format is pretty disturbing for the rest of the world, if you don’t know that.
On top of that, it gave off some inconsistent behavior in different pages, but I guess every new release has its problems. However, just before I wrote this post, I tried to sign in to check if it was more stable now, and guess what happened? Every time I signed in, I got redirected to the start page of the search engine. WTF? I mean, really…
For the moment, I’m pretty disappointed. If a product/service is as shaky as Google Analytics seems to be right now, cancel it. Pull the plug. Fix the problems and re-release when it works, before it has created such enormous badwill (or perhaps that’s already too late).
But what if they succeed?
Well, then this might become interesting. It’s a free service which supposedly offers a lot of ways to analyze your stats; it’s bound to compete with other services. What will happen with things like Mint, Measure Map and StatCounter? Will they be pushed to become better? Will all aspects of those mentioned, as well as other statistics services, become free? Who knows…?
What does Robert use?
I use StatCounter, and so far I’m very pleased with it. It has always worked but one time, and then I got instant feedback and support, and within an hour or two it was working fine again. Maybe it doesn’t offer as many ways to check the data as Google Analytics, but I prefer a small reliable service over a bulky shaky one any day.
I’m also very interested in what Measure Map will come up with. I signed up for an invitation a while ago (re-did it today), but still haven’t heard from them. If you guys read this, let me try it!
Why not Mint, you say? It’s created by the multi-talented (I did a search for multi-talented, by the way, and one of the results was Vin Diesel. Ha ha ha!) Shaun Inman, and people say it’s really good. I have two simple replies to that: I want it to be free and I don’t want to host it myself. Simple as that, but I do wish Shaun all the best and I’m sure he’ll do fine without me as a customer.
I also wonder, if you use one, what statistics software do you use? Let me know!
- Bryan’s lovely rendering of Google Analytic’s release
- If you’re lucky, Jens will be able to display some screenshots in a near future for you.
PS. By the way, why haven’t Google released Gmail to the public yet? Let people use it, it’s great. If you want a Gmail account, but don’t have an invite, just write a comment and tell me. I can send you one right away. DS.
PS 2. Thanks to Dejan who first tipped me about Google Analytics. DS.
If I have one more child, maybe his/her name should be Semantics. Or Semantica…
Stranger things have happened…
The new software release from Google: Google talk; an IM client that is most likely out there to compete with similar programs like:
The interface is quite trimmed and sleek and I like the look of it. I miss emoticons, though.
Also, I guess I need to add this to my list with speculations about the future of Google.
Google Earth must be one of the coolest applications I’ve ever seen! With me loving to travel and a vast interest in seeing the world, this was a real eye-opener.
And just think about the implications! I really wonder where all this will end!
A tip: hold down the left mouse button to drag the map around, and the right mouse button while dragging up or down to zoom in and out.
PS. Thanks to Faruk for bringing this to my attention. DS.
So, just to spice up the rumour about a Google/Firefox web browser: Google has introduced functionality that will enhance searching
with Firefox and Mozilla browsers. Is this just a result of a good
collaboration of the two, or that they unite in their struggle against
Microsoft? Or is it maybe some preparation before an upcoming launch of
a special Google browser, based on Firefox with lots of extra Google
For obvious reasons, people speculate what Google’s and Firefox secret fling is.
I was also pondering about this in The future of Google.
What is Google cooking with Firefox?
Will there be a Google Firefox?
I just read about Google Toolbar 3 and an alarming feature of it in the latest issue of Internetworld . I hadn’t really read about it before, but the thing that upsets me is the AutoLink feature.
A good blog post about it was written by Kottke.
Basically, what it does if you have it installed (it can only be installed in Internet Explorer on a pc), is that it automatically turns ISBN numbers in a page into links to Amazon, addresses into links to Google Maps, Car license plate numbers into links to Carfax and Package tracking numbers into links to UPS.
Like the example in the editor’s column, if you navigate to Barnes & Noble, ISBN numbers in their pages were turned into links to Amazon (they have now implemented a fix so this doesn’t happen anymore).
I think this is a horrific behavior, alternating the content of different web sites, deciding like a God what, for instance, information about books should link to.
This is what Microsoft initially tried to introduce in version 6 of Internet Explorer with their SmartTags, but it was stopped by a storm of criticism. And now it turns out that the developer behind SmartTags is behind Google’s new AutoLink feature.
Even Microsoft employee Robert Scoble is against it, and he got an interesting feisty comment from a Google employee.
And, of course, people are already implementing fixes as well for this. And if it stays this way, many sites will have to implement fixes if they don’t partner up with Google…
I’m also worried about the implications of this. If this keeps up, I’m worried that this feature will indeed be installed in upcoming versions of web browsers, and in the future the user will never be sure where a link might lead, if it’s an intentional link by the web site, or if it
is added on by your web browser/toolbar etc.
PS. Normally, I try to write daily Monday to Friday, but with Easter coming up I’ll write next post on Tuesday March 29th. For you developers reading this, if you, as opposed to me, have some spare time during the weekend, I recommend reading Roger’s excellent piece Developing With Web Standards. DS.