giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
So the user Jalterixnar on the Anthrocon forums was nice enough to create a commercial for Anthrocon 2010 and post it on YouTube:



That is amazingly cool, and the tool used to create it was at http://www.youtube.com/searchstories. I've been playing with it on my own, and it's quite neat, as it allows different kinds of searches to be performed, as well as choosing different music.

I'm unclear whether this was just a "toy" that Google created, or whether they plan on using it to revolutionize the advertising industry, but it certainly is a great step in that direction.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
I wanted to see what the Phillies score was just now. So I went to Google and searched for Phillies score.

This was the first search result:



Is that not cool? It gave me the information which I wanted, and saved me from having to go through the mess on mlb.com.
giza: (Dorsai Irregulars Beret)
First off, go to Google right now, and type in "me". (iGoogle users please log out first) This will give you the chance to create your personal profile and "claim" your name on Google, so that people will more easily be able to find you. Here's my profile:

http://www.google.com/profiles/doug.muth

I also got this new icon, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] finnishfox. It's the very first character art that has my DI beret on it.

I catch my flight out to Furry Connection North tonight. The plan is to drink heavily crash at [livejournal.com profile] girtygrin's place tonight, and arrive on site tomorrow morning to help out with setup.

I've had a bit of a headache for the last week or so. At first I thought it was sinus-related, as I got over a cold the week before that, but now I'm not so sure. I have no history of migraines or cluster headaches, but maybe I'm in the process of getting history. :-) The good news is that 800 mg of ibuprofen helps a lot. The bad news is that I may have to be very careful about alcohol intake at the con. We'll see.

I'll be working security at the con with the Dorsai Irregulars. I haven't seen the schedule yet, but I believe the plan was to have me working nights. This means I'll have weird hours at the con, which can be good or bad.

Google now has an "apps status" dashboard, which is kinda nifty when Gmail goes down: http://www.google.com/appsstatus#

That's all for now. Gotta finish up work and catch my flight. I hope I'll see all of you at FCN!
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
So, Gmail dropped offline for a little over an hour yesterday... and it was like a blackout or something. Hundreds of messages were written on various groups complaining about it, and a search on Twitter revealed dozens of posts about Gmail every second. Within an hour, CNET had coverage of the issue as well. The incident even caused Google to apologize in their blog, which is rare for them.

It's funny that even though the outage was just over an hour, many people (myself included) got all up in arms and acted like their world was coming to an end.

All things considered though, Gmail has an astonishing uptime, even for being a free service, and for being as heavily used as it is. I usually have Gmail running in a tab in my browser whether I'm at home or at work, and the last time I can remember a significant outage is at least a year ago. I can certainly say that they have better uptime than my current webhost (3-4 outages over the last year) and certain companies I have done business with in the past.

*goes back to hitting "refresh" obsessively on his Gmail*
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Gmail now has this:



In case the above is not obvious, Gmail now has the ability to tell you if you are signed on from any other computers, and what the IP addresses of those computers are.

It's a cool little feature, in case you were to say, sign on at a friend's place and aren't sure if you signed out. Or signed on from an encrypted access point and are worried that someone may have sniffed your session cookie.

Furthermore, you have the ability to sign out those other sessions, which is a great way to ensure that no one else is using your account. (Changing your password regularly helps, too!)
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
I think this is a prime example of how Google's PageRank has a bit of a democratic bent to it:



Generally speaking, when you type in someone's name, the very first result in Google is the person's website. Do it for just about any politician, or even people with individual blogs, and you'll see this happen. It also works for corporate entities and non-profits. So for Lisa Paolino's official site to NOT come up when people search for her name is quite significant. I think it's rather telling when a candidate's scandal comes up higher than their campaign's official website.

Moral of the story: Lisa Paolino can get all the monetary donations she wants, but money won't buy a higher PageRank.

In related news, it seems that lawn signs for Daylin Leach and Lance Rogers have been disappearing, yet Lisa's remain untouched. Random acts of vandalism? Or an attempt to sabotage her opponents? I guess we'll find out soon enough on this one.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Who knew there was stuff like this on Google Maps?



If you follow the link to the original, you can zoom out and around and even get the license plate from the front of the car.

(While handing money into a car isn't illegal in and of itself, I think that pretty much passes the threshold for probable cause to perform a search.)

[Edit: It has been pointed out to me that depending on where you live, handing items directly to a driver in a car (food, money owed, etc.) is perfectly normal. So this could be something entirely innocent. Hence the changed subject line.]
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
 
Awhile back, I complained about Google ending their video service, and making the video that I downloaded unplayable. I then went on to snark about how DRM is evil because things like this can happen.

Well, DRM is still evil, but at least Google is being less jerkish about it. I just got this email from Google:


Subject: New - Important Information Regarding Your Google Video Purchase
From: "Google Video Team" <video-support@google.com>

Hello,

We recently emailed you to let you know that Google is ending the
Google Video download to own/rent (DTO/DTR) program, and that
you'd receive a Google Checkout bonus equal to or greater than the
total amount of your Google Video purchases.

Since then, we've received feedback from people dissatisfied with
our approach to phase out the Google Video download to own/rent
program, so we've decided to take additional steps to address
these concerns:

1. We will fully refund your credit card for the total amount
of your Google Video purchases.
2. We're going to continue to support playing your videos
through February, 2008. We won't be offering the ability to buy
additional videos, but what you have already downloaded will
remain playable.
3. The Google Checkout bonus you've already received is yours
to keep. You can use your bonus at the following stores:
http://www.google.com/checkout/signupwelcome.html . Your bonus
expires on October 31, 2007, and the minimum purchase amount must
be equal to or greater than your bonus amount, before shipping and
tax.

Your $1.99 refund will be applied to the following credit card
currently on file with us:

Card type: [REDACTED]
Last four digits of card number: [REDACTED]
Expiration date: [REDACTED]

If you would like this refund to be applied to another card,
please visit your Google Checkout account and update your default
card. Here's how:

1. Sign in to your Google Account at:
http://checkout.google.com
2. Click 'Edit payment methods' along the left side of the
page
3. Enter your credit card details and billing address under
'Add a New Credit Card'
* Click 'Make this my default payment method'
4. Click 'Save'

To update an existing credit card, simply enter the same credit
card number with your new billing address, expiration date, or
other information in step #3 above. The old information associated
with your card will be replaced when you click 'Save.' Remember,
you must have at least one payment method in your account in order
receive refunds.

We will process these refunds in the next 14 to 21 business days,
and it will appear on your credit card statement as
'GOOGLE GOOGLE.COM/CH'

If you have any questions about this change in policy, please read
our blogpost:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/update-on-google-video-feedback.html

If you've forgotten your Checkout password, or need further
assistance updating your credit card, please go here:
https://checkout.google.com/support/

You can also contact us by filling out this form:
http://video.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=none&submit=Continue


We appreciate our users' responses and hope this adequately
addresses them.

Sincerely,

The Google Video Team
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
 
[Edit: This has been addressed by Google. See this post for an update!]

I just got this email from Google:

Date: 10 Aug 2007 21:21:50 -0000
Subject: Important information about your Google Video account
From: "Google Video Team" <checkout-support@google.com>

Hello,

As a valued Google user, we're contacting you with some important
information about the videos you've purchased or rented from Google Video.
In an effort to improve all Google services, we will no longer offer the
ability to buy or rent videos for download from Google Video, ending the
DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program. This change will be effective
August 15, 2007.

To fully account for the video purchases you made before July 18, 2007, we
are providing you with a Google Checkout bonus for $2.00. Your bonus
expires in 60 days, and you can use it at the stores listed here:
http://www.google.com/checkout/signupwelcome.html. The minimum purchase
amount must be equal to or greater than your bonus amount, before shipping
and tax.

After August 15, 2007, you will no longer be able to view your purchased
or rented videos.

If you have further questions or requests, please do not hesitate to
contact us. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

The Google Video Team


So, that's it, the movie that I bought from them (an episode of Beavis and Butthead, actually) really isn't mine after all. Google just decided to turn off support for it and that's the end of it.

And that in a nutshell is why DRM is evil. You can buy a movie (or a game, or whatever), and if the content provider decided they don't like you, they can just disable it, and there is nothing that you can do about it.

Or, consider what might happen if say, the company that you bought your DRM-protected stuff from goes out of business? If there is no longer a legal entity in existence, then who is responsible to provide authentication so you can provide your content?
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
For those of you who use iGoogle, Google's personalized webpage service, we now have a "countdown to Anthrocon 2007" widget available for your iGoogle webpage. To install it on your homepage, click here.

Don't have an account with Google? That's no problem -- just click the above link to get started. It's fast and free.

Enjoy!

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giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Douglas Muth

April 2012

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