Posts Tagged "google"

How to harness user power

Posted by on 24 Feb, 2010 in My Stream | 1 comment


Having discovered that Google Chrome now supports extensions (Hurrah!), I had a go at installing the rather excellent Cool Iris image previewing plugin, and was greeted with this screen, which basically advises anyone wanting to use the plugin on Chrome that they can’t implement it until Google add additional functionality.

What I like about this is that rather than just not listing a Mac OS X version on their website, they’ve gone that extra step to say “We’ve done everything we can possibly do, it’s out of our hands” – thus redirecting any potential user disappointment at the one group who can actually do something about it – the Google Chrome development team. 

There’s definitely a lesson here for anyone designing software. If a third-party dependency is blocking a much requested user feature, harness that user desire and get them to pester the third party for you!

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China vs the West comes to a head – Google may withdraw from China

Posted by on 13 Jan, 2010 in My Stream | 0 comments

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

Cyberattacks, invasion of civil liberties and more. Scary stuff. Be sure to read the full article here.

Update: Good summary of Chinese responses to this here.

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In the Internet limelight for a brief moment

Posted by on 26 Nov, 2009 in My Stream | 0 comments


So I wrote this post about how Twitter’s new retweet design is broken and offering a different suggestion of how they should have redesigned their retweet interface. Dave Winer (inventor of RSS and prominent blogger) wrote about the subject on, and recommended people read my post! Wow. Now, I’ve just checked Google, and when you search on “twitter retweet design” my post comes up first, above the post by Evan Williams, founder of Twitter about why they designed it the way they did.

If that’s not an endorsement of what I wrote I don’t know what is! Now, at the risk of stroking my ego too much, I will stop. But it’s nice to enjoy a moment of Internet “fame”.

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Google Maps is losing its marbles

Posted by on 13 Nov, 2009 in My Stream | 2 comments

I am not sure what is up with Google Maps this week. Usually its public transport directions are very accurate and incredibly useful. But both Mrs Alex and I have experienced some really weird directions from the site this week.

The first image is one Mrs Alex found, suggesting she walk a massive loop to almost back where she started, to catch a bus to a metro station she would have walked past, which is in the wrong direction anyway!

The second image is one I got when I asked for directions to a location near McGill University. Apparently I should hop on the metro to McGill, then walk all the way back home, and walk back to McGill again.

Crazy! I suspect heads will roll at Google when they notice this regression bug :-)

Posted via email from Bowyer’s Bite-size Blogettes

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Finally, somebody notices the problem with Gmail “plus” labels

Posted by on 27 Aug, 2009 in My Stream | 1 comment


Most e-mail systems these days let you set up “disposable” e-mail
addresses, distinct from your main address which you can happily put
in sign up forms etc, without worrying about them being harvested by
spambots etc, as you can filter them to go straight to trash or
whatever should they abused. This is one example where Yahoo actually
does it better than Google, as they have a separate interface for
setting up and deleting these disposable addresses.
Gmail’s way of handling it is to let you append a label to your email
address, for example would still come
through to my Gmail, but would automatically add the tag xyzco to the
mail, and I could optionally set up filters to treat it specially.
This also has the advantage that should xyzco pass my email address to
a third party, it’s clear who passed my address on.
Anyway this is all well and good, but there is a problem. Many (I
would say 40%) of websites that require an email address for sign up,
do not allow + as a valid character in an email address. And there’s
not a lot you can do about this. Use a different email
provider/address, or risk the company spamming you.
Which is why I breathed a sigh of relief when I signed up for
Confluence’s personal wiki and saw the alert shown – ok, they haven’t
fixed it yet, but the fact they’ve recognized the problem is a huge
step forward – it’s the first time I’ve seen any company notice this.

Of course, it would be better if Google just created a better way for
us to have disposable email addresses without having to use a
character that half the Internet thinks is illegal and expecting them
to change!

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