Tag Archives: google

Google’s Movie, ‘The Internship’, Is About 8 Years Late

As The Onion points out, The Internship has everything a 2005 audience could want from a comedy:

  • Great cast: both Vince Vaugh and Owen Wilson were very popular in 2005, after the success of Wedding Crashers and Dodgeball
  • Interesting plot: having an Internet job and struggling with video chat technology were both hot topics in 2005
  • X-Men jokes: also very topical in 2005, with the trilogy ending in 2006
  • Quidditch: very big in 2005, when the fourth film in the Harry Potter series opened, in the hayday of the franchise

See also:

From YouTube, via Laughing Squid

Hitler Reacting To The Google Reader Shutdown

If you use Google Reader, then you already know that it’s going away on July 1st, and are up in arms about it. Some decent alternatives are coming out of the woodwork to fill the void, more will undoubtedly launch in late June, and there’s a petition for Google to change its mind that’s gathered over 130k signatures. But, Google is busy making two-hour commercials and cars for the blind, and they don’t care about you. So in the meantime, here’s how Hitler took the news:

If you’re wondering, the clip is from a 2004 German movie called Downfall, about Hitler’s final days in his bunker. Since 2006, it’s been a popular meme to replace the subtitles to make funny videos to show outrage about various things. One of the best ones was about the release of the first iPad, in 2010:

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From YouTube, via FAIL Blog

And Now They’re Making A Google Movie

Probably because there are not one, but two Apple movies coming out (jOBS and the yet-unnamed Aaron Sorkin Steve Jobs movie), it looks like Google decided to buy themselves a two-hour ad about how awesome and genius-dictator-free their company is. It’s starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson:

From YouTube, via Laughing Squid

Google’s Nexus Tablet Isn’t Helping Wrap Rage

Like road rage, wrap rage is one of those things that comes out after a long day in which just nothing seems to go right, and all you want to do is open a package, but you can’t! You can’t, because it’s like a tiny Fort Knox for the gadget inside, specially designed to cause the most frustration possible when trying to open it. No, that’s not a joke; plastic clamshells are made with two requirements:

  • Make it easier for employees to stock
  • Make it harder for shoplifters to steal

The customer doesn’t figure into that equation at all, despite the fact that we’re the ones paying for it. Earlier this year, plastic clamshell packaging was voted the worst piece of design ever done by the users of Quora. Most manufacturers besides Apple don’t see anything wrong with that, but stores like Amazon and Walmart are trying to convince their manufacturers to actually think of the customers for a change. In the meantime, the latest news in the field is Google’s Nexus tablet, which is supposed to compete with the iPad, but unlike the iPad is thoroughly frustrating to even take out of its box. Below, a montage of frustrating Nexus unboxings, followed by a nice iPad one, followed by a hilarious clip of Larry David trying to open a clamshell on Curb Your Enthusiasm:

Via The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire

After 15 Years, Microsoft Finally Gets Its Hands On Netscape

The history of Netscape is a lot like that of the phoenix:

  1. the company started in 1994,
  2. released the first successful web browser a year later,
  3. made billions,
  4. attracted competition from Microsoft in the form of Internet Explorer,
  5. lost that war in 1997, and
  6. finally, just four years after its IPO, capitulated and sold to AOL.

But, like the phoenix, that’s not where the story ends: just before selling to AOL, the source code was openly released to the public, where it languished in the mediocrity it had become. A few years later, a couple of developers at AOL-owned Netscape began trying to improve the bloated code base and created a project called Phoenix. That name got into trademark trouble with another company, so they changed it to Firebird; but, it turned out that name was taken by another piece of software, so in 2003 they changed it one last time, to Firefox.

Mozilla Phoenix Logo, which later became Mozilla Firefox

 

It turned out Firefox was trademarked too, but in the meantime, AOL had created a non-profit called the Mozilla Foundation to handle such matters. (The name Mozilla is a contraction of “Mosaic Killer”, and was Netscape’s code name all along — Mosaic, being the original web browser and competitor which Netscape did indeed kill. However, Microsoft then licensed Mosaic and turned it into Internet Explorer.)

Firefox became a hit, and is probably the most widely-known open source project ever created. Mozilla continues to develop it, and in fact most of its budget comes from Google, as compensation for making them the default search engine in Firefox. Over the next few years, Firefox was single-handedly responsible for eroding the almost complete monopoly over the web which Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had come to enjoy.

 

In 2008, Google released their own web browser called Chrome. (They’ve also continued to fund Firefox all along.) Since then, Internet Explorer’s share has been further cut in half, from 70% before Chrome was released. Yesterday, however, AOL announced that it sold a billion dollars’ worth of patents to Microsoft; word has it that among those patents are ones from Netscape. If true, Microsoft now holds patents to its web browsing competitor Firefox, which is funded by Google, which in turn makes the remaining of the three major browsers. And that would mean that the byzantine history of web browsers — Mosaic got killed by Netscape, which got killed by Internet Explorer (which came from Mosaic), which got killed by Firefox (which came from Netscape), whose patents are now owned by Microsoft — is going to keep getting more interesting

One last thing worth mentioning is that the guy who created Netscape, Marc Andreessen, became a multi-millionaire from doing so and now invests his money into tech startups for a living. His most lucrative one: an early investment in Facebook.

From All Things D, via Slashdot

The Driverless Car Leading The Blind

For the past couple of years, Google has been leading the effort to create fully automated cars that drive themselves. The benefits you generally hear being touted about are related to safety and convenience:

  • car accidents are generally caused by human error
  • robots are always vigilant, while humans get easily bored when driving and are thus prone to distraction by anything at all: gadgets, eating, talking, sleeping, etc;
  • proper, robotic driving would alleviate traffic
  • your self-driving car is also your taxi and valet; plus you’ll never get a speeding ticket again
  • you could go to sleep in your car in Miami and wake up in Orlando

 

Blind man sitting in the driver's seat of Google's self-driving Prius

 

Well Google decided that wasn’t enough, and that it was time to also play up the heart-warming angle: driverless cars can also give independence to people who can’t drive. The technology isn’t quite ready for the public yet, so they shot a demo video of what things could be like, probably somewhere around 2020: a blind guy gets in his car, tells it where to go, and it takes him through the drive-thru at Taco Bell, then to pick up his dry cleaning, and on the way back home he eats his burrito.

Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and the flexibility to go to the places I both want to go and need to go, when I need to do those things. — Steve Mahan, blind test driver

What the video implies is that shut-ins would no longer have to spend all day locked in their house, be at the mercy of their friends and family, or have to resort to expensive taxis.  Besides the blind, this includes all kinds of disabled people: many of the elderly, the deaf, some of the physically handicapped, children. Wait …. children?! Ugh. Back to the drawing board…

 

See also:

 

From Fox News, via Slashdot

Google Non-Street View Galleries

It looks like the Google cars ran out of streets to drive on, because the company’s been busy taking Street View-type of photographs of a lot of other places. The latest addition is a boat ride on the Amazon, but they also have a train ride through the Swiss Alps, ski slopes, university campuses and lots of other monuments and natural vistas from all over the world. It’s definitely worth taking a virtual trip to all of these places.

 

From Google Maps, via The Google Blog

Fun With Privacy

The Internet’s been grumbling about Google consolidating its various privacy policies into one, and a couple of funny privacy matters shook out of the whole affair.

Skipity

A search engine called Skipity has the worst (yet funniest) privacy policy ever. It’s a riot to read — so you should do that, — but to summarize: it starts out with legal nonsense, then goes on to say they don’t think you really care about privacy and that they will use whatever information they can get about you, if it can turn them a profit. You also grant them permission to insert a microchip in your body, use your secrets, watch you through your webcam and lie to you. If they get a chance to sell your data, they “will jump at that opportunity like a pitbull on a fresh steak.” Paragraph 8 reiterates that it’s not a joke:

8. We are serious about all of the above. So don’t go trying to sue us later with some nonsense like ‘I thought that was all satire.’ All your privacy are belong to us. We mean it.

They also disclose that they like chocolate chip cookies and bacon. It may be the only honest privacy policy on web, and a brilliant publicity stunt.

 

The Guessing Game

An Ars Technica writer tweeted about a Google page she found where you can see in what gender and age-bracket demographic Google thinks you belong. (Apparently Google is trying out for a job at the carnival.) Slate did an informal poll around their office and found it was mostly wrong: it guessed 4 out of 16 people’s demographics completely right, but thought a bunch of women were men, that people in their 30s were twice as old, and had no guess at all for three people. Slate also adds that besides Google’s guess, you can also see what other companies think of you: BlueKaiAOL AdvertisingBizoLotameYahoo, and Exelate. You may be thinking that you’ve never even heard of most of those, but they have certainly heard of you. The good news is that most of them give you the ability to opt out of from them tracking your every move.

 

And finally, a couple of years ago, The Onion had a very funny and relevant article called Google Responds To Privacy Concerns With Unsettlingly Specific Apology.

From SkipitySlate, and The Onion via Slashdot, Forbes and Neatorama

Who Runs The Google?

 

Via Damn You Autocorrect

Google+ Isn’t Doing So Well

In a lot of ways, it’s seems to be following the pattern set by Google Buzz and Google Wave: a lot of build-up, following by a mad rush-in by the early adopters, followed by a slow death as late adopters don’t materialize, and early adopters get bored and move on to the next new shiny thing. According to Yahoo! Finance, people in the know — like Linked-In execs and the CEO of Dropbox’s competitor, Box.net — don’t really see Google+ going anywhere.

And over the past couple of weeks, Facebook has been overhauling its website:

  • To one up Google on the one feature they did better than Facebook, Google Circles, they made their friend lists not only more visible, but automatic! Now you don’t have to even figure out which circles your friend Alan is in: Facebook will do it for you.
  • They added one-way Twitter-like subscriptions (which Google+ also has) and the Twitter-like news-ticker.
  • They added the timeline feature, which lets you pour in even more personal data into Facebook and is therefore a win/win: you get more of your life story in one place, you get to spend more time on Facebook stalking people’s life stories, and Facebook gets even more information about you, so they can show you even better tailored ads while you’re spending all this extra time on Facebook.
  • They made it really easy to automatically post what you’re listening to and watching, so your friends can spend even more time on Facebook.

The over-arching theme: user engagement  — to prevent mass exodus. (If you’re looking for a chuckle, the overhaul was announced at Facebook’s F8 conference, where SNL’s Andy Samberg did a great impersonation of Zuckerberg, who made it really awkward at the end.)

 

A few months ago, Google+ was the new toy with some cool features; now, the honeymoon’s over and the ex’s new haircut looks really good. In the first month, it looks like only about 1 in 10 Google+ members actually visited the site. Judging from the numerous anecdotes comparing it to a deserted wild west town, that figure sounds about right. And in November, Google+ is opening up to developers who will hopefully make some sort of tumbleweed game.

In the end, Facebook will win because it is focused on doing one thing, and doing it well: connecting you to your friends. Apple is focused on making computer-things you love, and they’re bigger than Google. Google used to be focused on search, and no one beats it at that. No one beats it on web-mail either, and their news reader is also hard to beat. But they’re trying to be everything to everyone, and they can’t win big battles with their tightly-focused, smart competitors. Microsoft certainly didn’t, and if Google is something, it’s the new Microsoft.

In the meantime, Diaspora* — the open-source, distributed social networking platform — will be shortly released as a beta, after about a year and a half of development thanks to some hefty Kickstarter funds.

Update, Oct 10 2011: Google+ lost 60% of its active users

From Yahoo! Finance