April 11, 2009

There’s a virus on Twitter: StalkDaily

Twitter got a virus today.  I’m updating what I know technically in my Network World post on the subject.  The gist apparently is that somebody found a way to hack Twitter pages by hacking the URLs in one’s Twitter settings,and created the hacked @GadgetBoyHah profile.  Then he got lots of clicks on it via the usual tactic of following lots of people who, upon notification, checked him out. I was infected too.

The implications for Twitter’s security are not good. The best way to disable or remove this malware is, as I write this, not yet clear, but I hope to get clarity and update the post linked above accordingly.

April 5, 2009

(Humor) You don’t exist if you’re not on Twitter!

I’d like to recommend two Twitter-related comedy videos:

But I’m still waiting for a Twitter-related takeoff on “The Trouble With Tribbles” …

April 3, 2009

Google has a lot more features than I realized

A features and syntax page reveals that the basic Google search box now gives you flight times, weather, stock quotes, sports scores, currency conversion, calculator results, and a lot more. Wow. I did not know.

Since the early 1980s, I’ve thought that natural language interfaces — spoken or otherwise — would someday win.  While this versatility isn’t natural lanaguage per se, it still in my opinion is evidence in favor of that belief.

April 3, 2009

Thoughts on the rumored Google/Twitter deal

Michael Arrington reports that Google and Twitter are contemplating both:

I have three initial thoughts on this:

1. Clearly, in Google’s mission to “organize all the world’s information,” there are several web areas it isn’t yet doing well in, and one of those is microblogs. What’s more, much as in the case of YouTube, it’s hard to see how Google would do that organizing any time soon unless it owned or otherwise was in bed with the leading platform for that kind of content — i.e., Twitter.

2. The YouTube example is apt in another way as well — it’s not clear where the monetization would come from. Google famously doesn’t make much advertising revenue from YouTube. And Twitter is even worse as an advertising platform; sticking ads into the tweetstream would quickly drive users elsewhere, and any other advertising scheme would likely fail because of the broad variety of interfaces — such as various mobile phones — Twitterers use to get at the service.

3. I’ve been suggesting all along that Twitter needs radical user experience enhancements. But when has Google ever made made user experience enhancements to a service? Its core search engine always looks pretty much the same. Ditto GMail. Ditto Blogger. Ditto YouTube.

April 3, 2009

A savage critique of Microsoft’s online efforts

Loose Wire Blog offers a savage critique of Microsoft Encarta (whose discontinuation was recently announced). Although the blog seems in general to be a bit over-the-top curmudgeonly, that particular post seemed well-reasoned.

I’d like to make a more general comment about Microsoft: its online stuff is awful, and Encarta is no different. There are already plenty of people musing on why Encarta died, but I’d say one good reason is that it’s hard to access and get your mind around as pretty much every Microsoft online property.

April 1, 2009

Actually, Google’s other April Fool’s joke is indeed funny

CADIE is an an AI with a MySpace-like blog suitable for a young girl.  (E.g., lots of cuddly panda bears.)

I suspect CADIE is going to grow up a lot over the course of the day …

April 1, 2009

Google’s April Fool’s joke seems pretty lame

3-D browsing.  Yawn.  Not like this Google April Fool’s classic.

March 31, 2009

Google in an ethical screw-up

Google has a screwed-up UI that causes people to buy PPC ads they don’t want to buy. But Google doesn’t refund all the money wasted this way. Bad Google.

March 31, 2009

Twitter shows some directions for growth

TechCrunch pointed out a Twitter jobs page. The specific job TechCrunch mentioned* isn’t up there any more, but at the moment I write this, 18 others are (copied below). That’s considerable growth, given that the same page says Twitter has fewer than 30 current employees. Note the emphasis on search and the mention of Japan.

*Care and feeding of celebrity tweeters. Celebrity tweeting is actually a subject I’ve written and even been interviewed about several times.

As of this writing, the full list is: Read more

March 7, 2009

Yet more NoFollow whining

Andy Beal has a blog post up to the effect that NoFollow is a bad thing. (Edit: Andy points out in the comment thread that his opposition to NoFollow isn’t as absolute as I was suggesting.) Other SEO types are promoting this is if it were some kind of important cause. I think that’s nuts, and NoFollow is a huge spam-reducer.

The weakness of Andy’s argument is illustrated by the one and only scenario he posits in support of his crusade:

The result is that a blog post added to a brand new site may well have just broken the story about the capture of Bin Laden (we wish!)–and a link to said post may have been Tweeted and re-tweeted–but Google won’t discover or index that post until it finds a “followed” link. Likely from a trusted site in Google’s index and likely hours, if not days, after it was first shared on Twitter.

Helloooo — if I post something here, it is indexed at least in Google blog search immediately. (As in, within a minute or so.) Ping, crawl, pop — there it is. The only remotely valid version of Andy’s complaint is that It might take some hours for Google’s main index to update — but even there there’s a News listing at the top. This simply is not a problem.

Now, I think it would be personally great for me if all the links to my sites from Wikipedia and Twitter and the comment threads of major blogs pointed back with “link juice.” On the other hand, even with NoFollow out there, my sites come up high in Google’s rankings for all sorts of keywords, driving a lot of their readership. I imagine the same is true for most other sites containing fairly unique content that people find interesting enough to link to.

So other than making it harder to engage in deceptive SEO, I fail to see what problems NoFollow is causing.

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