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A blog devoted to all things geeky, including PHP, Web Development, Photography, Design, Gadgets and Gizmos.

January 18 2009

Google Knols best?

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Interesting article this morning in Mashable, mentioning the fact that Google Knol has passed 100′000 pages. Knol is Google’s answer to the VERY popular wikipedia. Wikipedia is somewhere around 2.7 million pages, so it has a few more pages to create just yet.

I hadn’t visited Knol for a while, so it kind of perked my interest. I went to the site and noticed the different style many of the knol articles have. Some of them read like how-to articles or have more of a Yahoo Answers vibe to them. Some articles tackled how particular cultural habits have been established, which is pretty interesting. Opposed to wikipedia which is straight out factual data (citation needed), knol has a broader take on what is valuable information.

As it has grown it has turned into something which is ‘more’ than wikipedia is. Perhaps in a year or two, when Knol has reached the million page mark it will be putting up some serious competition to wikipedia, which it’s how-to + dictionary/reference style. Knol.

December 14 2008

Slowing Googlebot

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If you have a relatively large blog on a shared host, sometimes you get performance issues from Googlebot hitting your website.  The fix is now relatively simple thanks to google webmaster tools.  Go sign up at http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ (or use your existing Gogle account).  Add your website to webmaster tools then verify it.  Click on settings and you will see the crawler speed slider at the bottom of the page.  Set it to want you want, if you have crappy hosting like me, dial it way back.

Slowng googlebot

September 24 2008

Google seeking more innovation

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Google is fostering innovation again, not by simply ecouraging their workers to spend a day per week thinking of new projects in a wide variety of niches, but also encouraging the public to innovate.  Project 10 to the 100th is a competition aimed at taking some great ideas from people around the world and realising those ideas.

The categories Google is accepting ideas in:

  • Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures? Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
  • Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
  • Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem? Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
  • Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
  • Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
  • Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don’t fit into any category at all.

Check out out

September 17 2008

Google buying Valve!!

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Rumours abound that Google might be buying game maker and distributor Valve in the next few days.  Various media sources have indicated that it is a pretty substantial rumour and should go ahead shortly.

Why would an Internet giant like Google buy a gaming company you ask?  Well it has something to do with the fact that Valve also operates ‘Steam’, one of the best online game distribution networks around (..well probably the best).  I use steam everyday to play online games including Team Fortress, Call of Duty 4 and ET: Quake Wars.

With Google’s power behind the great idea/implementation that is Steam we could see buying/playing games online becoming even more popular and widespread over the coming years.

September 02 2008

Google Chrome - The real IE killer?

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Google Chrome LogoI recently installed both IE 8 beta and Google Chrome (Google’s first entry into the web browser market).  Installing IE 8 was a painful 6-7 minute process (IE 8 beta  nuked my Internet explorer 7 install).  In contrast, Google chrome installed in about 1.5 minutes and was a pretty simple process.

The main focus of Google Chrome is to provide a standardized browser interface for accessing web applications.  Gmail, Google docs and the numerous other online web apps are incredibly complex in terms of Javascript and Dom structure because they seek to accommodate the numerous browsers with all of their particular failings (yes I am looking at you Internet Explorer).  Google Chrome seeks to provide a stable platform for presenting web apps.

Google chrome has a really nice touch on the interface - the tabs are above the navigation bar.  It seems like a small change but it makes sense when using the browser.  Aesthetically Chrome is simple and clean.  When browsing it is incredibly fast and since it’s using the tested webkit  as the rendering engine (as used by Safari) we can trust that it will be a LOT closer to correctly rendering XHTML/CSS than Internet Explorer.

Chrome also has a ‘magic bar’ for the url box, which functions in the same way as the Firefox 3/IE 8 url box.  Start typing in a url and it checks your history and favourites for any matches.  Great feature.

Chrome also has a privacy mode (aka porn mode) called incognito.  Safari and IE 8 also have this feature, something FF 3 missed  out on.  When using Incognito, “Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window.”

Chrome also includes it’s own task manager, each tab runs on it’s own thread so theoretically if one application freaks out, the task manager can end the offending process and you can continue browsing in other tabs.  Chrome includes the ability to bookmark applications to desktop/quick launch bar which is handy.

The Javascript engine in Chrome is something special too.  The rebuilt the Javascript engine from the ground up and called it V8.  The engine runs independently of the browser, the end result being incredibly fast javascript speeds.

Did I mention Chrome has all of these features but is still FAST AS HELL.  While I will continue to use FF 3 for web development and SEO work (the plugins are fantastic), I think Chrome might be a new favourite for general web browing and when using web applications.  But I’ll be waiting for the Mac version thanks.

More Info:

Chrome Javascript Speed Tests
Thorough look at Chrome capabilities

August 22 2008

Google supports Enhanced Geothermal Systems

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Google recently announced $10 million USD worth of investments and grants for Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).  EGS is a subtly different process to traditional geothermal energy production.  EGS fractures hot rock, circulates water through the system, and uses the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine.

I find it particularly interesting because Australia has a lot of hot rocks (geothermal hot spots), in South Australia.  There are some disadvantages to using EGS, but nothing compared to the current costs of using oil and coal as primary power sources.  It’s great to see Google supporting this technology, it’s one of the forms of ‘nearly’ renewables that will help solve the inevitable power crisis that will occur before long.

August 22 2008

Matt Cutts of Google on Big Site Bans!

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This is an interesting video I found at the seo-space site over at blogspot.  It’s Matt Cutts of Google’s search engine development team talking about their removal or penalization of big sites who break Google’s ethical SEO rules.

One of the common beliefs in the SEO industry is that the big blokes get away with grey hat and black hat techniques without penalty because… well they are big players in their industry.  However according to Google, big names are not immune from penalties for using dubious promotion techniques.  After all Google banned the German BMW website for using blackhat techniques.

The SEO at the German BMW site was fired.  I have a feeling that the SEO was probably compelled to take such action because a manager somewhere in the German division wanted drastically higher results in a short period of time.  It’s possible the SEO was incompetent and used the techniques, ignorant of the potential penalty, but I don’t think an SEO working for a large company would be ignorant of Google penalties.

Anyway, the video!

August 18 2008

Firefox 3 start pages

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I always find it interesting to see what page people use as their start page in their browser.  A lot of people keep it simple and use google as a start page, or their companies website.

I usually change mine on a weekly basis.  The hot sites this week for me are:

Digg (social news website), iGoogle (Personalised home page with HEAPS of widgets), Smashing Magazine (Web design resources) and Sphinn (Seo version of Digg).  For those people new to the internet who don’t know how to add homepages to Firefox 3, go Firefox preferences, main tab and add the addresses to the homepage input box, seperated by |  (http://www.google.com|http://www.digg.com etc).

August 14 2008

Google Docs Network Errors!

“I used to love her but I had to kill her…” ahh good old Guns N Roses.  Thats how I am feeling about Google docs today after some strange network errors on some large documents.  I’ve been doing some work with the excel and word processor parts of Google docs and up to now, I’ve been really enjoying them.

Great for collaborative work.  However recently 2 on-page SEO docs got to a fairly large size and Google started acting completely bonkers.  Constant “Sorry, a network error has prevented Google Docs from saving your changes…”  errors left me with some documents I have had to remove from Google docs. The issue is mentioned here.

But not only that, it seems that exporting the documents only exports half of whats in there.  The final resort is to simply copy and paste the Google document into a RTF doc, but I lose all of the bolding and text formatting I had in the google doc.  We are talking big docs and it will take me an 1.5 hours+ to re-add the formatting to the 100+ pages.

SO be warned!  Google docs is beautiful until you get large documents then turns into a big problem!