Google

Google Spreadsheet – eh?
7 June 2006 in Google | Comments (21)

Google Spreadsheets Logo

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just don’t get “it”. But why the heck do I want to use an online spreadsheet application?

I know it has some fancy features like collaboration and integration with an Excel spreadsheet but seriously, how often do you have a internet connected computer without Excel on it? I use spreadsheets a lot just because I like them and I would always have Excel installed. Business people nearly always have a laptop with them when they travel and that would have Excel on it.

I don’t see how Google can make money from this. It seems lately they’ve thrown their money at a few things that don’t seem to have a direct return on investment. They already have a fantastic brand, it’s not like they’re just doing it to build awareness. I must be missing something – or at least for Googles sake I hope I’m missing something.

I’ve always had the belief that the IT industry works in cycles – at the moment we’re in a web cycle, then we’ll decide that connected desktop applications are best, then back to web and so on. Why do I want to go backwards to using a spreadsheet tool that adds a couple of new features but blows away 90% of what has been in desktop spreadsheeting tools for more than a decade? Why do I want lag when working with even a small spreadsheet? What happens when I want to access my spreadsheet and I don’t have an available internet connection? Do I want to store my financial spreadsheets on a Google server? It all smells a little hyped to me.

When I read people saying that it includes “formulas” and “column sorting” I must admit I’m a tad dumbfounded. Welcome to 1992* :)

I’ve purposefully written this piece to hopefully drive some banter about why you think it’s so good/bad? Do you see the revenue stream I’m missing?

- JD

* I’m guessing these features were around before 1992 but I’m not that old so have no real idea. Whenever VisiCalc came out perhaps?

Google Onebox
20 April 2006 in Google | Comments (0)

Just some general Google news for today :)

Google have released their newest search appliance – Onebox. Onebox pulls data from multiple repositories into one place where previously the Search Appliance could search file systems and web sites but didn’t help achieve Google’s mission of “organising all the worlds information”.

Onebox is the product of working with third party vendors to provide a much more complete view of enterprise data. This includes now searching over Cisco Meeting Place Express, Cognos (BI tools), Employease (HR tools), NetSuite (more BI tools), Oracle (HR, ERP, CRM and SCM applications), Salesforce.com (CRM) and SAS (yet more BI tools).

Bringing this data out of proprietary repositories can only be a good thing for the end users and Google have started opening up the API for the Search Appliance (if this would make it easy to pull data from it or provide data to it I’m not sure at the moment). Hopefully more vendors provide interfaces for the Onebox to utilise (Aftermail? :) )

Of course we’re still waiting for Google to make any of their search appliances available in New Zealand (come on! It’s been years since they debuted!). I’d also like to hear how well the appliance integrates the results and ranks them. Hopefully they’re all in one nice structured list that is relevant but that’s considerably easier to say than actually do.

Update: After some more reading it appears that they simply integrate links (Like “Web”, “Images”, “Groups” etc) into the Google Search so that they include the other repositories. They don’t look to integrate the results.

Press release: Google adds secure search across popular business applications.
Google blog link: Google launches exciting new search appliance.

- JD

Google Analytics adds time zones
12 April 2006 in Google | Comments (0)

A nice new feature has been added to Google Analytics over night – time zones. One thing that has been a mild cosmetic annoyance is that the times don’t match up (so, for example, my traffic seems heaviest at midnight).

Google Analytics TimeZone

It will cause a slight skew in your data for the change (it’s not retrospective). So far I can’t seem to get it to change as it complains I’m not verified but I assume that will be ironed out.

Also other Analytics users don’t seem to see this option yet (“I see dead features”).

Good to see this being added.

– JD

Google Adsense Deluxe
11 April 2006 in Google | Comments (1)

So I decided to play around with Google Adsense. I love Google Analytics and a lot of what it offers is around how AdSense is working so I thought I’d see what else I can learn from it :) I don’t expect I’ll make anything from it though.

I thought I’d post a comment though that I’ve found the Google AdSense Deluxe plugin for WordPress. It seems like a really simple plugin to stick in and enable all sorts of advert management on your site. If you’re using WordPress and are thinking of using AdSense I’d endorse it :)

Check out Google AdSense Deluxe here.

Anyway, back to our normal programming…

- JD

Search Technologies Seminar
15 March 2006 in Google & Search Technology | Comments (2)

I’ll be presenting next Wednesday in Auckland on the challenges of creating a great search experience on your website, and what you can do to make it better. This is a twilight seminar run by Intergen (where I work).

The session will cover topics such as:

  • Why you don’t want Google
  • How to improve the performance of your existing search
  • What benefits you can gain from having a great search
  • How to make your website more search engine friendly
  • What search tools are available (including free tools, search products, etc)

At the session we welcome comment and feedback from the audience on their search solutions and the problems they may have faced. The intention is to cover both searching within a site and information on how to make sites rank better with international search engines.

To register or for more information click here to go to the Intergen website.

- JD

Get your search position for terms
2 March 2006 in Google & Search Technology | Comments (0)

At the moment if you want to find out where you rank for certain terms you have to use tools that brute force check for a position. This isn’t a very nice way of doing the search and means you could be missing terms that are actually useful for you.

Google SiteMaps has recently been updated to display the search position of terms used to find your site. For example, I can see that for the “Consolas Font” I’m the 6th result – nice.

If you don’t already use Google SiteMaps you really should. It’s not the sexiest service (not like Google Analytics!) but it does provide some real information about your site. Most plug-in enabled products (like WordPress, what I use for my blog) have available plug-ins to get SiteMaps working in under five minutes.

- JD

Google Managed Email
11 February 2006 in Google | Comments (0)

Only moments after posting my last entry I see that the email solutions from Google have been reveled. This allows customers to use Gmail services, manage the services and even re-theme the look of Gmail.
Click here to sign up for a beta

Google already provides email hosting for San Jose University.

This could be useful for smaller organisations but I don’t really see too much value at the moment. You can get hosted email with multiple mailboxes, web mail etc from an uncountable number of other providers.

Update 1: Google blog entry about the new service.

Update 2: Howdy to all the folks hitting this entry from the Google Blog :-) Why not leave your thoughts about Google managed email?

- JD

Google Updates
11 February 2006 in Google & Search Technology | Comments (1)

Geek commented about updates to Gmail to provide integration with gTalk. You can now save your chat histories into Gmail with plans for the future to integrate a web based version of their chat client. I wonder how fat Gmail has to get before people start complaining about it being slow/confusing. Personally I’m happy with Meebo – I use that for chat, if I want email I’ll use Gmail.

Google Desktop Search
A new version of Google Desktop Search is out. New features include the ability to search across multiple machines, password protection and the ability to share the search with other users.

This is all good to see, it’s about time I tried GDS again and just checked out how well it is doing these days.

Big Daddy
On related Google news, Google is making a significant update to it’s search engine. The changes come under the code name “Big Daddy” and are significantly more than an algorithm update. The changes include data centre changes and crawler changes. For the first time yet, Google is allowing people to test the changes by detailing the IP addresses of Big Daddy enabled data centres. There has been considerable comment that the changes have made a big impact on the rankings.

You can test your website on Big Daddy with these IP addresses:

  • 66.249.93.104
  • 64.233.179.104
  • 216.239.51.104

Gmail
This is complete rumor, but from the looks of the javascript changes Gmail could soon provide email hosting for third party domain names (so you can have @yourdomain). This isn’t too interesting but I thought I’d throw a rumor out for the end of the week :-)
Gmail javascript snippit

Of course all the fanatic Google lovers out there expect this to be the “Exchange-killer”… *rolls eyes*. I think that’s enough Google for one post :)

- JD