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UPDATE: Google is tweeting that the New York Times got this flat wrong.

Google has hosed us all on Net Neutrality. The American Internet will be about as exciting and diverse as cable TV. Welcome to the "do maximum evil, screw the startups" era. Next up: paying extra $$$ to ensure consumers can actually understand you when you call them on the phone.
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If so, please contact me at Thanks!
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SEO kids: Google does NOT care about the keywords meta tag. Never did. May as well spraypaint "NOOB" on your forehead. Don't listen to me, listen to the official Google blogs. An obsession with the keywords meta tag is something to look out for when evaluating SEOs. Which you might not need to do anyway.

P.S. No, you don't have to "pay for your website to be on Google" either. [Headslap]
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A bing search for designing while intoxicated (no quotes required) brings up Rick's P'unk Avenue Window Blog post with that title as the #1 result, no muss no fuss no waiting.

A google search still brings up 500 other irrelevant things. Quote it and you get other pages that mention the phrase independently (fair enough), a whole bunch of pages that link to Rick's post (ooo-kay?), and... not Rick's post, ever, unless you add search terms to force it to look only at our site. Etc. I wrote about this problem ad nauseum already. The sitemap helped for a while, now it doesn't seem to be helping any more.

Ditto for svncampfire, a utility I wrote recently that pings svn repositories for new updates and notifies a campfire chatroom about them (*).

The creepiest result is a search for boutell sonnets. Google brings up my sonnets tag as the #2 result, after my LJ profile, which is okay. Bing brings up the sonnets tag as the #1 result, which is better. But Bing also adds a title:

"A New Sonnet Every Monday"

Whoa! Did somebody really go to the trouble to hand-tune that result? No, of course not. Their indexing system was clever enough to borrow it from a link on

Other searches, some of them less self-serving, also suggest that Bing is doing a remarkable job so far. I'm going to switch to Bing for a week to whether I continue to feel that way. Google could use some serious competition.

(*) svncampfire's big attraction is that it uses the svn log command rather than a post-commit hook, so you can monitor an svn repository you don't run.

Dear Gmail

Apr. 25th, 2009 03:02 pm
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Dear Gmail,

WTF? You were awesome. Now you are PAUSE crap PAUSE and PAUSE I can't INTERMINABLE DELAY get anything PAUSE done. This is especially PAUSE bad when it affects my work email. Fix it. It's been weeks. We're thinking semiseriously about alternatives around here. Alternatives... to Google! That's right the unthinkable. Get on it.

No love,

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After a lot of patient investigation I have come to the conclusion that Google loves blog home pages, and hates individual blog articles. It's pretty much true across the board.

I guess this is fine if you want to promote your brand in general, but if you want people to be able to actually find the information that prompted them to get your blog as a search result, it would be a much better idea for search results to point to the permalink and not the home page of the blog... which has changed by the time the user arrives.

Google's new BlogSearch is just as bad in this regard. It's useful if it was just blogged about today, useless if the post was made a while ago because it still wants to give you a home page, or page seven of the home page (which has itself changed by now to show content of another era), or what have you.

The only blogs that seem to get links to the individual articles in search results are those that display only a teaser for each article on the home page of the blog.

I am thinking we may have to do the same to get search results that actually help the long-tail searchers who comprise most of our true readership... or would if they could find the content at all.

Displaying only teasers on the home page also means that people are more likely to be on the actual article page when they decide to tweet it out or otherwise share it with others. Which is also a win from an SEO perspective.

The only trouble is that it'll annoy people who read our blog via RSS. I may be able to deal with that by arranging things so that RSS gets the whole thing while the home page on the web site displays just the teaser. Which would be an... ironic choice... but an effective one.

An alternative would be to use some sort of "hey Google, the definitive home of this content is over here on this link... see, it's really there, I'm not lying to you; please index THAT not THIS" strategy. It would be great if Google supported something like:
Awesome Article Title
<div id="story1">
This is the body of the story as found in the home page. 
You'll find this same story on 
/2008/05/05/awesome-article-title.html, which Google should 
please, please, please index rather than the page it found 
this story on. Of course, if that page doesn't actually contain 
the same content you see here, Google should feel free to 
ignore the permalinkfor attribute in the link above.

Then again, Google could just start recognizing subpages that contain, just once, content that is aggregated on a parent page and making the deduction that they are blog permalinks. That'd work too.
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I did more digging and enabled the google webmaster tools.

robots.txt isn't blocking anything (an empty Disallow: with no / does not block anything; the webmaster tools confirm nothing is being blocked by robots.txt).

It turns out our individual articles are being indexed, they just rank very low unfortunately. I never see them come up for When I do a "blah blah blah" search, I do get them. It looks like some of my earlier tests didn't verify this properly because I was looking for exact strings that were too long.

Good suggestions were made, notably setting up a sitemap and avoiding the "Permanent Link" prefix in titles. Removing dates from permalink URLs might also be a win. Right now we're saying "this stuff is deep, deep deep in a subdir and not as cool as the tags pages." But the tags pages aren't that great for search results because they change so much.

Thanks for the second and third and fifteenth set of eyes, guys.
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Actually Google loves this blog.

But Google hates and I can't figure out why. We don't have any nofollow attributes or similar, and our articles have permalinks. Yet Google bitterly resists delivering our actual articles as search results. It will deliver category pages or our home page as an (often out of date) search result, but not the articles themselves.

If you search for (with the quotes):

"frosted lucky tags: they're magically persistent"

You get pages linking TO my article, and you get one variation on our blog's home page, but you never get the article itself. Even though I linked to the article itself from this blog. Which, as I mentioned, Google likes just fine.

I thought perhaps Google was penalizing all individual blog entries in all blogs as too ephemeral to store, but nope. If I google for:

"Beijing is a bad place to be a cat"

(With the quotes), I get back the permalink to my LiveJournal posting of that title just fine.

What's the story, morning glory? (Mmm, Morning Glory. Now I want a buttermilk biscuit.)
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Once upon a time Google bitchslapped me for selling direct text link advertising— ads which were clearly ads from a human standpoint, but the advertisers were hoping Google would thinking of them as editorial endorsements.

But here's the thing: in Japan Google is not the dominant search engine. Yahoo is. And like any other also-ran web site, Google Japan wants to be Web Site Numero Uno!

So Google Japan paid a bunch of bloggers to post about them. Which is at least one full step further in a black hat direction than anything Boutell.Com— and hundreds of nationally known newspaper sites and the like— were doing a few years ago when Google bent us all over its 800-pound gorilla knee.

So Google is spanking itself. They dropped's pagerank from a nine to a five in the Google seearch toolbar. Which is probably about as real as the original "warning shot over the bow" pagerank drop they applied to sites like mine.

I can't make this shit up folks.

TechPost: Google Uses Every Trick To Beat Yahoo In Japan

Matt Cutts of Google offers apology, describes Google's self-flagellation process
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What do you say to the 8,000 pound search engine gorilla who LURVS you, really LURVS you, but insists on engaging in distressing and excessive marital practices?
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My fellow scurvy sea-dogs,

It has come to my attention that those landlubbers at Google have added a ninja theme option to GMail.


This injustice must not stand!

Click here and sign my petition... or walk the plank:


Pirate Admiral Tom
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Do people ask you lazy shit alla damn time? Shit they could google for their own damn selves? is your best answer!


1. Go to the site
2. Type in your annoying friend's question
3. Copy the link that appears
4. Send them that link in response.

When they click on the link, they'll get the answer to their question... but not before receiving a healthy dose of much-needed education.

This kills me dead. Very A+.
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I installed the new Google Videochat on my Mac today, or rather I tried to.

When you click install you are directed to a page that says the installer will work automagically, which it doesn't of course. It opens (behind your browser window, at least in Firefox) as a mounted disk image and you have to launch the installer manually. No big, but misleading.

Once you do run the installer, close all your browsers as ordered, etc., it restarts your browser and brings you to chat... and if you're me, on my black macbook running Leopard, you get no video love. Not in Safari, and not in Firefox.

Back to the Google Videochat page to find the support and problem-reporting links that must be there... oops, there don't seem to be any.

My boss had the same experience.

What's the story? Has anyone made this work, on Mac or PC?

(Yes, Google Videochat claims to support video on Macs and yes, this Mac comes with both a cam and a microphone as standard equipment.)
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The new Google-powered Android phones send everything you type on them to a shell running as root in addition to the application you are actually trying to use.

In English, this means that if you are, let's say, chatting with your girlfriend via IM and you type "reboot" and press enter, your phone will reboot. This actually happened to one of the individuals reporting the bug.

It's a good thing they weren't in the habit of using harmful Unix commands as sadomasochistic pillowtalk...

Google will, of course, be pushing a fix to Android phones.

Thanks to [ profile] hatter for the story.
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... For adding walking directions to Google Maps.

For sensible queries like 88 East Broadway (the Chinatown Bus station) to Canal St. subway station in New York City, the results are quite good, taking advantage of the fact that one-way streets are two-way for pedestrians.

For unreasonable queries like Philadelphia, PA to Seattle, WA, the results are intriguing but... check out this series of steps:

719. Slight left at US-12 3.2 mi
720. Turn left 1.7 mi
721. Turn right at Co Rd 1.mi
722. Turn left 3.0 mi
723. Turn right 2.0 mi
724. Turn left 1.0 mi
725. Turn right 1.0 mi
726. Turn right 262 ft
727. Turn left 8.6 mi
728. Turn right 0.5 mi
729. Turn left 1.0 mi
730. Turn left 0.5 mi
731. Turn right 1.0 mi
732. Turn left toward 101 St/CR-2 2.0 mi

Ouch. I realize we're talking about the Dakotas here. But is this truly the only way to complete the trip on "safer" roads? I would suggest that unnamed roads be given a heavy penalty in the planning algorithm. Perhaps they already are and this is simply what can be done.

Edit: originally I complained that you couldn't plan a trip avoiding major highways with Google Maps, but it has been pointed out that I'm mistaken. You need to hit "View Options" after selecting "By Car." Then the option becomes available. Other commentators have made a persuasive case that the walking directions above really are pretty optimal.
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So Eleanor and I are due to see the dentist, and the dentist has stopped taking my insurance for the full cost of the appointment.

She's good, but she's not that good, sympathetic though I am.

So I'm looking for a new one. And the insurance company's site gives me an arm-long list of addresses... which I can map individually via a handy mapquest link, but I must type in my own address each time.

Uh, thanks guys.

This makes me wonder: is there an easy way to paste many addresses into Google Maps and get pushpins showing for all of them right off the bat?

Yes, I know one can code such a thing with the Google Maps API, but isn't this obviously useful thing already there? I sure can't find it.

The data is tabular, so I could oh so easily Excel-ify it and paste it... if the page to paste it into actually existed.

I'll probably solve my immediate problem by making a first cut with my amazing eyes and then mapping what's left, but ugh!

Of course I would also be interested in a mapquest-based solution, if it's out there. Thanks for any pointers.
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Has anyone else played with the new-ish "street view" feature in Google Maps? Search for a street address, then click the little peg icon. You can stand in the middle of the street, turn, zoom... it's pretty amazing. It's not perfect— the addresses aren't always right and they often don't have clear imagery of that storefront name you're hoping to verify— but still, pretty damn slick virtual-thereness.
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MySpace is talking big about supporting third party applications, like FaceBook does (because the MySpace experience isn't spammy enough already). And they have confirmed they are joining Google's OpenSocial platform. All of this came out in October and November.

Here in January '08, though, I can't find any indication that it is actually possible to install an OpenSocial application on MySpace. I just see other developers saying "well? Where is it? When is it happening? Whuzza?"

They are talking about a beta period with 1-2 million users. Seems to me I'd be able to find evidence that this has at least begun.

The only third-party MySpace "apps" so far work, just barely, by embedding HTML into your profile with no help from MySpace and quite a bit of hindrance. Although I hear they plan to stop aggressively redirecting outgoing links from MySpace profiles to MySpace's equivalent applications (gosh, that's friendly).

Now, here's the thing: I am a big geek and I spend a lot of time in the thick of things writing code that works. So sometimes I am not the quickest to notice the latest developments. And some of you (I'm looking at you, [ profile] nohx and [ profile] addienfaemne) experience the latst developments on the Intarwebs six months before they happen via the implants in your implants in your implants in your forebrains.

So if anybody should hear that MySpace applications have gone real— as in, they add an install applications button or similar— please let me know, huh? Because I'd like to be in on the ground floor of this particular elevator to stupidland.

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Canadian ISP Rogers is changing Google's home page on the fly without Google's permission. This is a Very Bad Thing. And here I thought Net Neutrality was a problem in the US!

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