March 21, 2006
The rumors have finally come true…Google Finance has launched.
I like the ability to enter a company name instead of being forced to look up a ticker symbol like other finance sites. You can even search by keywords/industry. However, I feel it is more of a Hoovers/D & B that provides company information rather than finance info…you get a corporate summary, news, management info (try rolling your mouse over the management team and see a photo and bio), related companies list, blog posts (for you SEOs, it looks like it might be triggered by finding “(Nasdaq: IACI)” or corresponding market/ticker), discussion forums, and financial info. Graphs, usually a way to quickly see stock price and trending over time, is completely missing for some ticker symbols, but not for others.
The graphs, wherever they exist, have many nice features. They allow you to drag a timeline that defines the period of time represented in the graph. News stories are marked in the graph to help you explain why a stock might have dropped/risen dramatically. You can drag the graph to go forward/back in time and the news stories section moves to correspond to that timeline.
At the top is an “Add to Portfolio” link that allows you to keep track of your own stock portfolio.
Forbes is reporting on Google Finance, what data they are using, how they are doing it, and what they plan on doing with this product. Some highlights can be found at Threadwatch.
Google currently lists a few major finance data providers on search results for ticker symbols and have recently added themselves. Will they eliminate the list and, for simplicity’s sake, add their finance info only? The standard web results (as opposed to the keyword-triggered “smart answer”) currently rank Yahoo finance and CBS Marketwatch as top results…how long until they displace these as well?
Overall, I like the interface but I would like to see the product have more (as the name implies) finance info.
March 20, 2006
I’ve mentioned how Google Local had asked multiple data providers (destination sites like Internet yellow pages and cityguides) to provide them with a feed rather than crawling their sites for data. This provided Google with a better user experience since the data was now structured. They knew this bit of data was a review and that bit of data was a brand sold by a merchant, etc.
It put the data providers in a precarious position. They could provide the data and run the risk of building a competitor or they could decide not to work with Google and potentially lose out on all that traffic they may provide.
Most data providers decided to provide the data. Google Local aggregated the data from all providers onto one page (example). The aggregated data provided users with a much better destination site and Google Local became less of a “search” site (Google Local was originally a place for you to search info, get basic business information, see a map, and link to a bunch of websites). The net effect meant less traffic for the data providers.
When they first launched, I saw providers such as Superpages and Switchboard consistently at the top of results (in the list of websites).
However, for a while now, I haven’t seen any iYP listed in the Google Local results. In fact, I’ve seen plenty of other cityguide-type smaller sites showing up everywhere on their results.
Was this a decision by Google or by the iYPs? The answer to this question might explain why it happened.
I have asked a few friends to see if they can get details…
March 18, 2006
Microsoft announced they will acquire Vexcel…but why?
“The acquisition is part of Microsoft’s exciting vision to deliver a dynamic . . . digital representation of the real world that provides the best local search and mapping experience to consumers, businesses and government,” said Jerry Skaw, Vexcel’s marketing communications manager.
The Inquirer also adds:
Vexcel also does awfully clever things with Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging and 3D modelling.
GISuser.com also adds:
…Vexcel’s flagship product is UltraCam, a large-format digital aerial camera…sounds to me like Microsoft plans on enhancing the recently announced “street side” offering with some more imagery.. now courtesy of their own camera!
March 17, 2006
Yahoo News has a link to try their beta of Yahoo News Local.
When you first log in, they provide a box to enter a location which also accesses your saved locations via a drop down.
Once you’re in, you see news information that is local to the metro area corresponding to the geography you supplied (as opposed to news stories that match the geography specifically…I types in “Burbank,” for example). Topix, on the other hand, provides you with news information specific to your geography.
It will be interesting to see just how “local” Yahoo is willing and able to go with this. Yahoo and Google both have widely used national news sections. If you’re going to get local, I’d prefer something more local than what they are providing me. Right now, when I want truly local/granular stories or information, I check out Topix.net or go directly to sources I know represent that area.
I finally got my MacBook Pro about a week ago. All around, it is a nice laptop and software that runs natively on the intel processors are noticeably faster.
My list of Problems thus far includes
- Airport connections are lost when waking or when idle for too long
- 72+% packet loss on VOIP networks
- runs very hot when running for a while
- unstable software - some software has a habit of freezing or crashing
- The Migration Assistant copied over everything from my Powerbook…including the system problems I was having, and left out directories that had additional software/data
My Solutions to the above:
- Working on an elegant solution while I wait for Apple’s updated firmware
- I have 2 solutions: 1) I bought a router with NAT and connected through the router, 2) Alan said he read that running “sudo /usr/sbin/tcpdump host localhost” in the background helps…I ran a test where I pinged www.google.com and could see the 70+% packet loss without the tcpdump running and, when I ran tcpdump, it went down to 0%! Turning it off increased packet loss again, then running it again (without exiting ping command) packet loss disappeared…weird, but effective. The optimal solution would be to get a firmware update from apple.
- Nothing I can do about it
- Stop using certain software, use the commandline more, use Fink to install software I want to use as replacements, etc
- I started over and installed fresh copies of everything
The thing that made my MacBook unusable was the high packet loss on VOIP networks. At first, I noticed that it always seemed to work in the mornings and then degraded as the day went on. I realized, after reading the forums and talking to Alan that this was because I came to work early and, as people arrived, they’d start using their phones. Anyway, both solutions work well to resolve that issue. The other issues right now are more of annoyances than anything else.
I came across the new Speakeasy speed test.
It sure beats the old dslreports.com speed tests that used java and crashed by browser (this is the second time I write this because it crashed it again when I went to get the link to create this post). Would you please keep Java on the server and out of my client??? The new test didn’t cause any problems and provided a nice feedback as it operated.
It’s funny…I take a look at a lot of the nice new products released these days and many of them are rehashes of old products but with substantially improved UIs. Take a look at Google Maps…Maps and Satellite Views have been around for years and were even around long enough to have been dropped years ago (Mapquest used to have satellite views but dropped them years ago)…but what a difference a good UI makes!!!
March 16, 2006
This story demonstrates how easy it is to get into Google News and could be a way for more SEOs (black hat and white hat, alike) to get additional traffic:
A 15 year old managed to fool Google’s news system into publishing a press release saying that the outfit had just hired him.
He issued it through the free service I-Newswire and despite the fact it contained a number of spelling mistakes it was picked up.
Journalists picked it up because of all the attention Google receives and Google News even published it on their site.
For those who already new about press releases and their benefits…what will google do to counteract this and how will the SEOs respond?
Here’s a new tool for those who are having problems using the geocoding tool or would just like a simple way to set up a geospatial search:
GepSpatialWebService.com provides you an interface to create multiple container buckets that can hold different datasets. You can then query the interface to pull out the data for integration into various tools (i.e. maps mashups).
More info here.
March 14, 2006
Amazon S3 is a service that will provide you with disk space usage. It will be interesting to see how Google will respond. Will they charge or make it free (which you can get for free now, anyway)?
Amazon’s Pricing Model:
* Pay only for what you use. There is no minimum fee, and no start-up cost.
* $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used.
* $0.20 per GB of data transferred.
First processing power/data and a programming/development buy-sell market, now Storage…what’s next? Hosted Applications?
More info and a good writeup here.
Screenshots of Google Earth as an in-car navigation system.
Google, Volkswagen and nVidia are jointly developing an an in-car navigation map system and 3D display that displays a photo-quality view of the driver’s route, rather than the basic graphics displayed by current navigation systems.
It took them long enough. My bet is that all major players are looking at doing something similar.
Additionally, I have been in discussions where we have talked about placing advertisers in those navigation systems. If you have a navigation system, aren’t there such things as “find the nearest McDonalds/Denny’s?” From an advertiser’s perspective, how much better do those leads get than having someone diving in their car towards your business, looking for your product? From the advertising engine’s perspective, how do you keep the data up to date and charge if you are doing a pay-per-lead model when he current technology uses data on a DVD rather than download from elsewhere? Of course, that has never stopped some of these companies with sufficient capital from coming up with a solution. In fact, there are already navigation systems available with “realtime” traffic conditions…
Google’s products claims the product will do the following:
The navigation system is equipped with a vehicle-centric touchscreen interface to Google Earth with state-of-the-art graphics, accurate 3D maps and real-time traffic updates and routing. Current information on restaurants, dealerships, gas stations and other points of interest can be overlaid directly onto the user’s 3D map.
Of course the navigation system manufacturers can always do a subscription model with no advertising at all where the consumer foots the entire bill…or even a hybrid model where they lower the cost to consumers and make money by taking flat rates from chains that have sufficient coverage within a geography (most systems only hold enough data for their locale…that’s why they use DVDs rather than building it into a “box.” I wonder how much of the data (meaning points of interest/business locations and map information/pictures will be on the DVD/box versus downloaded in realtime/near-realtime.