15 years ago two Stamford students launched their project — a search engine built on new algorithms and with a goal of organizing the quickly growing piles of information appearing on the web. At the time, rivals like Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, Hotbot, Dogpile and more were all ahead of the California-based startup.
It did not take long for that change, as Google quickly surpassed its rivals en route to going from a noun to a verb and launching countless products in numerous categories. Some thrived, such as Gmail and Maps, while others, like Reader and Buzz, are now just memories.
On the occasion of the 15th birthday, the search giant has done what it has become known for over the years — launched an Easter Egg. Over the years, there have numerous of these — remember “do a barrel roll” and “ponies” (type it in YouTube search if you don’t)?
As part of today’s celebration users can now head to the Google homepage and type “Google in 1998” and get results from that bygone era, complete with the company’s first logo. Happy birthday Google.
When I opened up Google search page this morning I noticed that on the right hand side of the screen are the words Gmail results. I had signed up for this when it was offered back in the beginning of August. First a little background, I work from home and I am the only one that uses the computer. So I don’t have some of the security concerns that other people might have. However if I was using my computer at a coffee shop there are several ways to turn the option off. The first is on the page itself. If you go up to the small globe on the right hand side of the windows just below the search bar and click on it, this will hide those results. The second way is to click on the gear and go to your search setting and go down to Personal results and click on “Do not use personal results”.
If you choose to keep show personal search on and you click on Gmail results it will take you to the search results on your Gmail page. If you click on “show results” you can view the subject line of the last five messages with that search word in the subject line. If you do a search for an individual you will get the subject line of the last five messages they sent you. If you click on one of the subject lines a page with that email message or conversation will appear.
There are a few things that I noticed while using it for short period. The first is the words have to match exactly including capitalization. The second is when you first start using it, it is not clear what does what until you click on it. On good side until you click on a choice nothing shows, so you don’t have to worry about Gmail results just popping up. If you are on a public computer and you are signed into your Google account and you are worried about clicking on it accidentally, I would recommend turning the option off. It will not be available to Google App accounts. Finally I did not receive an email confirmation, it just appeared
Perhaps Google’s most famous button, and there aren’t many on their stark homepage, is the “I’m feeling lucky” option. The option has been with the search engine since pretty much the beginning of their existence, way back at Stanford in the 1990’s. Thanks to modern browser updates like “instant”, the “I’m feeling lucky” option has become nothing more than a nostalgic option.
Now Google has conceded the option, turning it into what amounts to an “Easter Egg”. When you visit the Google homepage and hover your mouse pointer over the button it will spin like a slot machine and land on one of a few options such as “I’m feeling stellar”, “I’m feeling hungry”, “I’m feeling doodly”, and several others.
Each option takes users to a different search result – for instance, the “I’m feeling hungry” button launches a search for local restaurants in the user’s area.
It seems the “I’m feeling lucky” button is officially gone forever, which at this point isn’t a great loss. The Google homepage hasn’t changed much over the years, so this is the biggest deal since the menu bar across the top of the screen began it’s evolution.
Starting soon if your site is hit by numerous DMCA takedown notices it may affect your listing in google search. Google stated in their post
“Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our ranking: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.”
There are some problems with this new policy. First Google determines what is a valid DMCA takedown. A valid takedown simply means that there was a complaint against the site, the correct paperwork was filled out and there was no counter-claim filed. It doesn’t mean the takedown has gone through any legal process and has been found valid by a court of law. Critics complain that if someone has a beef against a site they could use this to issue false claims to punish the site.
As stated by the EFF
“Takedown requests are nothing more than accusations of copyright infringement. No court or other umpire confirms that the accusations are valid (although copyright owners can be liable for bad-faith accusations). Demoting search results – effectively telling the searcher that these are not the websites you’re looking for – based on accusations alone gives copyright owners one more bit of control over what we see, hear, and read.”
Google has stated that sites may appeal if they believe they have been falsely accused. However it is not clear what number would be considered numerous and if the sites themselves will be notified of the reason they are being demoted in search.
Sites are still listed under Google Search, but most likely will not show up on the first page of search, which means people who are search ninjas, will have no trouble finding these sites, however most normal people searches stop at the first page. Which means for all practical purposes the punish sites will not exist for most people. This will clearly hurt BitTorrent sites who are used to share both legitimate files, but also pirated media and games
Many people believe that by establishing this policy Google is trying to placate Hollywood and the music industry who have long complained that Google hasn’t done enough to filter pirated sites. In fact many people have nick named this policy the Emanuel Policy, after Ari Emanuel, Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor who complained at the D Conference earlier this year that Google wasn’t doing enough to filter pirated content
One of the reasons that Google maybe doing this at this time is because it is a content provider now and so it needs to establish partnership with Hollywood media. Google has denied this and says it is because they finally have the data they need. Interestingly both YouTube and Blogger sites will not be effected by the changes in search policy. Search Engine Land explains why this is so in How YouTube will Escape Google’s New Pirate Penalty. I expect that you will start to hear howls from various sites once this policy goes into effect.
You may have written off Yahoo search, but the company themselves haven’t yet given up, even though they have outsourced most everything to Bing. Today the former leader of the industry rolled out a brand new version of their video and image search. Yahoo has strengthened their partnership with Getty Images to help power the new features.
Getty brings with them access to some of the highest quality images and they claim about 20,000 new images added daily and material from some of the highest-profile photographers. In addition to the new images there are new features to go along with them. Both image and video search have a brand new tiled thumbnail look. The thumbnails become larger when hovered on, much like Bing and Google have been doing for some time. Also borrowed from search competitors is the infinite scroll feature that Yahoo has now introduced. There are also two new filters on the left column – HD and Recent. “For images, the HQ badge identifies photos with at least 2 megapixels and a 1024 x 768 aspect ratio. For Yahoo! HQ videos, we use adaptive streaming technology to optimize your viewing experience by continuously adjusting the quality of the streamed Yahoo! hosted video to match the capabilities of your network and device.” Users can also search in the right column while watching a video in the main part of the screen.
The new features seem to be rolling out and not all users have access to them right now. To see more images of the new features you can head over to the Yahoo blog.
Over the past several weeks a number Easter eggs have popped up in Google search, such as the “barrel roll”, “let it snow”, and “zerg rush” – if you don’t understand then do a search for each of those phrases, although the first two seem to no longer be active. The latest one has to do with 80’s singing icon Lionel Richie and a line from one of his most famous hit songs.
When you search for “Lionel Richie” you will get a fun little result to the right side of the general search results. I won’t spoil it here, you’ll have to find out for yourself, but if you don’t remember his hit songs then it probably won’t mean anything. You will also need to spell his name exactly. Google will correct misspellings, but will only show the basic results in that case.
What other fun Easter eggs are out there waiting to be discovered? If you have one then let us know in the comments below. As far as I know only Google is throwing these things into search, but if you see one in Bing or Yahoo then let us know that as well.
I was sent an email invitation to try the new Bing this morning. My default search engine is Google, but I am willing to try something different if it is better. So I clicked on the Try the new Bing. First in order to get the full Bing experience you have to sign in either by using your Windows Live or your Xbox Rewards account and you also have to connect Facebook. I signed in with my Windows Live account and connected Facebook. Now when I search for something using Bing on the left hand side of the window is a grey tab which shows if any of my friends on Facebook have posted anything on the subject on Facebook. It will only show likes, post and photos that they posted publicly. You can also send a question to your friends on Facebook from the same tab.
To be honest the new Bing is a little disappointing, since it only connects to Facebook directly. If you do a search and your friends don’t use Facebook than none of their suggestions show up. There is a limited connection to Twitter, but not surprising there is no connection to Google Plus If you do a general search for movies, then you get two sections Friends who might Know and People who Know. Under People who Know you see tweets from people like Roger Ebert on the subject. So far the subject movies is the only search that has brought up People Who Know section. I hope that is just a temporary situation, because I am more interested in what Roger Ebert thinks about a specific movie rather than what he thinks of movies in general. This would be true of any subject and expert. Most other searches I tried have been fairly weak on the social connections. Part of the problem I will admit is I don’t have a lot of connections on Facebook, however based on my reading I am not the only one that ran into this problem.
The new Bing does have somethings going for it, first the social interaction is to the side and it doesn’t interfere with normal search. Second you can close or open the search column by hitting the arrow on the top right side. I suspect despite these good points, I will continue using Google as my main search engine.