Jul 26 2012

Google, Yahoo, and Facebook’s First Website

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine is a great resource for looking at the history of a website. The Wayback Machine crawls the web and keeps a snapshot of a domain or website and it allows you to easily compare different snapshots. Using the Wayback Machine is like looking at the different digital archeological layers of a website’s design.

Using the Wayback Machine, I was able to dig up the original webpage hosted on google.com, yahoo.com, and facebook.com.

First Google Webpage
The first record webpage hosted at google.com is simple page with two links. The first link, Google Search Engine Prototype points to google.stanford.edu. The second link points to another version of the search engine at alpha.google.com.

Google's Website Nov 11, 1998

Google’s Website Nov 11, 1998

The first archive webpage at google.com that resembles a search engine was recorded on December 2, 1998.

Google's Website Dec 11, 1998

Google’s Website Dec 11, 1998

First Yahoo Webpage
The earliest archived webpage from yahoo.com was saved on October 17, 1996.

Yahoo's Website Oct 20, 1996

Yahoo’s Website Oct 20, 1996

First Facebook Webpage
Facebook uses a robots.txt that doesn’t allow the Wayback Machine to crawl the site and as such there are no achieved versions of the site.

Facebook No Robots

Facebook Hates Robots


Jun 14 2012

User Adoption Bubble

It’s clear that we are in a bubble. I am not saying we are in a stock market bubble, even though most tech investors will agree that private valuations are frothy and that this frothiness is caused by the bubble in which we are in, a user adoption bubble. Where it used to take a long time for people to adopt a new technology, now new products and services gain more users faster than ever before. It took decades for traditional telephone companies to get a signification penetration rate, were as mobile carriers already have garnered an estimated 97% penetration rate in the United States. A similar user adoption rate acceleration can now be experienced by startups that execute well, Facebook has a stepper adoption curve than Yahoo did, and Google Plus had a steeper adoption curve still for its number of Daily Active Users. Products that execute well, such as Instagram, can see an adoption rate that is appealing to investors. An increase in user adoption rate, especially at the 1 million to 50 million user accounts, and a decrease in the cost of running a startup has been a key factor to the trends we have seen in Silicon Valley. The formula, as demonstrated by Instagram, is simple; small team + millions of users = a billion dollar valuation.

Even though some social networking related startups have seen user fatigue, I don’t see or expect the user adoption bubble to burst at an industry level any time soon, especially for well startups that consistent execute on user engagement and amazement. At the individual product or service we’ve already seen where companies have faltered, such as the reports that Draw Something has seen a significant drop in daily users.

The user adoption bubble has been brought on by a number of factors including the ubiquity of internet access, growing number of smart devices and inexpensive computers, as well as social engaging techniques such as poking, liking, following, retweeting, pinning, etc.


Jan 2 2012

Retweet December 2011

From time to time I just blast tweets about software development, project planning, team dynamics, or whatever else comes to mind. Here is a synopsis of recent tweets and rants. If you want to follow the conversation follow me at techknow and/or juixe.

Software Development

  • Being into computers today is not the same as it was in my day when you had to solder chips into boards, now it means you are on Facebook.
  • I don’t know why you would fake such a thing but there are a lot of fake self described geeks.
  • This holiday season remember to backup if don’t already have a backup system in place.

Thought Leadership

  • Life has a funny way to keep you humble.
  • Focus on simplicity, complexity is overrated.
  • Whether I see the glass half full or half empty largely depends on what is in the glass to begin with.
  • To much of a good thing is a bad thing. Not enough of a good thing is also a bad thing.
  • No brain, no gain.
  • There is no such thing as cheap thrills, only cheap tricks.

Product Placement

  • I just realized that I have five phone numbers connected to my iPhone.
  • Not feeling the new Twitter app. It feels like it requires too many clicks to do anything.
  • Every parking lot should be covered with an array of solar panels. Some parking lots take more area than the base of the building.
  • I hate when sites and apps require Facebook Connect to sign up. #pinterest
  • I bet that Taco Bell taco shells are made in China.
  • Like a true politician, Go Daddy flip flopped on the issue and now claims it does not support SOPA. #WhoDroppedTheSOPA
  • Google Grinch: No Ice Cream Sandwich for Galaxy S, first Galaxy Tab, or original Nexus.
  • The one feature that had been overlooked in Android is the ability to take a screenshot of your Android device.

Quote

  • I’m putting you on the do not kill list. – Bender Bending RodrÌguez
  • The truth is often stupid. – Bender Bending RodrÌguez
  • Follow the fucking money. When a VC tells you what’s good for you, check your wallet, then count your fingers. – jwz
  • Let’s go and invent tomorrow. – Steve Jobs

Question

  • Who moved my cheese and then cut said cheese?
  • Who is doing some last minute shopping?
  • How many domains do you own?
  • Church’s or Popeyes?
  • Ancient Aliens or Modern Morons?
  • If you could go back in time and would be stuck in prehistoric time, what skill would you need most to survive?
  • If Mr Grinch is so mean what do you think Mrs Grinch is like?
  • If the world is flat why aren’t international phone rates flat themselves?
  • A touch device is a complicated device with many components, what are the chances that the Galaxy Tab would look identical to the iPad?

Randumb

  • Looking forward to the future!
  • Old Internet memes don’t die, they go remixed, go viral, and trend.
  • It’s rumored that the same maker that built a weight scale with a built it twitter client that tweets your weight is working on a toilet.
  • Money can’t buy you love but it can sure buy some lap dances.
  • When it comes to teenage love, forever doesn’t last long.
  • The surprise is the prize.
  • Empty space is the enemy of clutter.
  • You are the chaos/cause of you.
  • You are the cause of you because you.
  • It is what it will be and it will be what has been.
  • Happy whatever the fuck you celebrate tonight.
  • The Internet was invented for the sharing of funny cat videos and pictures.
  • Make a right at the 3rd dimension and you are here.
  • The best part of nothing is everything.
  • Negative ideas manifest into real feelings
  • Gift wrapping ain’t going so merry.
  • If there is a way to hurt yourself with a tape dispenser I’ve done it… Why is my lip bleeding!?
  • I think that The Terminator is the beginning of a long war against the machines that culminates with The Matrix.

Overheard

  • OH: Annoying people are really annoying.
  • OH: I would love to enjoy my own depression if I only I didn’t have to deal with other people’s depression.
  • OH: I wish my life was an 80’s movie.
  • OH: To be honest, I’m not being honest.

Aug 3 2011

Google Starts Towards The Path of Evil

The unofficial motto at Google has been Don’t Be Evil. Google’s philosophy states that “You can make money without doing evil.” The funny thing about being evil is that there is no technical IEEE standard of evil. That said, Google is on a slippery slope sliding towards impish and evilish behavior. As Google has a lock on the search and online advertising market, it has started to tailgate other industry leaders. Most notably, Google has started to tailgate Facebook and Twitter with different incarnations and versions of a social networking site. Depending on how you count, Google Plus is their fourth attempt at creating a social networking site. Google is also trying to compete with Apple in the mobile space. Well after a year into Apple revolutionizing the mobile phone market, Google got into the arena with their free mobile Operating System Android. In trying to compete in these two distinct markets, they have started to make decisions whose moral compass points towards evil-like behavior.

Even though Google’s latest attempt at a Facebook killer, Google Plus, has been well received it has also generated some of the most passionate arguments against any of their policies. Google Plus does not allow users to use pseudonyms, alias, nicknames, or any online handle other than their real names. There has been opposition against this stance from even within Google engineers tasked with implementing such draconian technology. The reasoning behind this rule makes no sense, and goes against a fundamental human right of self identity. I have the right to go and respond by any name I wish to be known as. In fact, many celebrities often use names other than their real names. Vic Gundotra, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google does not go by his real name that was given at birth so this all seems hypocritical.

The second misstep is their self serving stance on patents as written in a recent corporate blog post When Patents Attack Android. In this post, David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Google, practically accuses Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle of conspiring against Android with “bogus patents.” These are the same “bogus patents” that Google itself had tried to purchased from Novell for $3.14 billion. I doubt that any publicly traded company would bid $3.14 billion on “bogus patents” and in fact publicly complaining about having lost those patents demonstrates that they are not entirely bogus. Having lost the auction for said “bogus patents” Google went on to buy over 1000 patents from IBM for an undisclosed amount.


Jul 25 2011

Google Plus Begins to Stumble

Since it’s initial private launch, Google Plus has received mostly positive reviews from tech insiders that were able to score an invite early on. I was able to get my hands to an invite a day or two after Google Plus, often abbreviated as G+, launched. This is not my first social network, I was an early adopter on Twitter, I was there before @aplusk, and I had the same experience with Tumblr and Quora. Each time a new social network is launched and before the mob of celebrities and social media marketing experts join, these services are often seeded with early adopters from the tech scene. Even with it’s 20 million users, G+ is still in this early adopter stage and this is evident by the list of most followed users on the network. The most followed profiles are those from technologists and tech pundits, including former first friend on MySpace Tom Anderson. A few years ago, this was virtually the same list of most followed users on Twitter.

Google Plus does innovate on a few areas where Facebook has lagged and dragged it’s feet, such as in the concept of circles. That said, Google Plus is largely a clone+ of Facebook, which is a derivative of whatever social trend we’ve seen in the last five years. Depending on how you count, Google Plus is Google’s fourth attempt at this social networking thing. The current trend in social networking sites is that anonymity is to be banned. Facebook was the first social network to demand users use their real and legal names in their profiles and Google Plus has followed this trend.

Since Google Plus is the newest social networking site to see an exponential growth, it is now going through some growing pains in the way Google is policing the community. There have been a large number of reports of Google banning and disabling Google Plus profiles that don’t use “real names.”

The worst part, for those whose accounts have been locked out, is that there is no customer support, no due process, and not even a G+ profile to contact if your Google account is disabled or banned our right. If your Google account is disabled you may be locked out of GMail, Google Docs, and other Google products you may use, which might be have years of data.

The natural progression of these policies is that in the near future people will need to show their government issued identification card, passport, DNA sample, work history and resume, retinal scan, and perhaps a Google history scan to use Google Plus or similar social network. I can appreciate that Google wants to encourage people to use their real names, but there are so many instances beyond their automated algorithmic logic that people use nicknames, pen names, aliases, alternative spellings, stage names, witness protection name, and more. Is Google Plus going to force Jon Stewart to use his birth name? What about Lady Gaga? What about Dear Abby? Larry Brin uses the short form for Lawrence, is that okay? And don’t get me started with folks that are known by their initials or by their profession title such as Dr. Dre.

So why is Google, and Facebook for that matter, so against anonymity? It’s all about the data. The more data Google has on each user, the better they can serve ads targeting them. Google Plus is a user data collection service as much as it is a social network. Google Plus gives Google a new platform to collect even more data that it can then sell, trade, and use to target ads. Currently, most of Google’s ads work on the intent of the user. The more Google knows about the people in your circles, their name, age, background, location, work history, interests, trends, and communication patterns it can easily develop social ads that target you and your inner most circle members.

This whole debate is a red herring, the real issue is about the identifying data that Google is collecting on each profile.  There are already a large number of third parties that are forming a “fourth bureau” of sorts that collects any and every piece of information such as if you pay a phone bill on time or if you spend 6 hours in the middle of the day playing FarmVille.


Jun 1 2011

Never Underestimate Your User

Never underestimate your users, if you do you’ll soon hear about it. Software is often built with assumptions about your users. Your user will be an accountant, your user will understand the labels, your user has experience with Excel, your user is this, that, and the other. Never make blanket assumptions of how your software will be used.

There are assumptions built in in every input field and user control element in software. Common assumptions baked in the User Interface of applications is that your users live in the United States, that they have a zip code or a telephone of a certain pattern. I’ve seen problems with file upload mechanisms when users try to upload a 500 MB PDF document and the server crashes, or when a user tries to enter 10,000 character comment and the database truncates 90% of it.

Facebook and Twitter have learned how to hedge users behavior that could lead to problems with limitations. Twitter best exemplifies this by the 140 character limit of each status update and the 2000 limit on the number each twitter account can follow. The 2000 follower limit can be increased but only when at least that many people follow you back. Facebook has a similar hard coded number of friends you can have.

The less assumptions you built into the software, the easier to use it will be. But as you remove assumptions, consider having caps, limits, and restrictions in case you start to have scaling issues.