Category Archives: Google/Yahoo

My thoughts on search engine giants. I love both Google and Yahoo equally and I also hate them equally.

How safe is your data?

One of the things which shocked me when I came out of my hiding period is the sudden disappearance of Performancing Metrics. As you have guessed by now, I was using it here to have an understanding of how my users use my site.

Performancing was recently acquired by PayPerPost and they couldn’t get the deal right with Metrics. This has made them to stop the hosting of Metrics service and have decided to release the code as open source, which may take some time. So the net result is that now I am left without a Stats package 😉

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not here to criticize or accuse Performancing or PayPerPost. Metrics was a great product and I was one among the thousands of happy customers they had. It was totally free and was completely invisible on the page, since you don’t need to display a graphics or a back link on your site. They were not deleting the old data (as most stats services do) and the stats were also private. But what concerns me is that I have lost all the valuable stats data which was recorded till now by the service. Worst still, according to the comment by Nick, there is no way for me to export the stats data out of the system. 🙁

Now the question which has popped up in my mind is “How safe is my data?” with the other (web 2.0) websites. So just for a wild imagination, what happens if Google gets dissolved or bought up like Performancing or goes bankrupt (Just imagine). My (digital) life may come to a standstill without access to my email (gmail) and schedules (Calendar). And what if the same fate happens to Yahoo, I will loose all my bookmarks (del.icio.us), my old emails (Yahoo Mail), my photos (flickr and Yahoo photos) etc. Well, it gets too shocking. Isn’t it? 🙁 Worst still what happens if they say, pay $XXX to get access to your data?

This leaves me with lot of questions and also with some shock. But back to the original problem, now I have to look out for a new Metrics/Stats package. I am not able to decide whether I have to go for a 3rd party package (like Feedburner, Google Analytics etc) or install my own copy in my server (like Mint, Analog, Awstats etc). Guys do you have any recommendations?

Posted in Google/Yahoo, Random/Personal | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

BCC in Gmail: a feature or a bug

Update:(15-Aug-2006) Well, it seems that the Bcc filed is displayed only if you are the sender of the message. The confusion is because in Gmail even the sent mails are displayed in Inbox itself for conversation view. Thanks Rajiv for pointing it out.

Recently, one of my friends brought up to my notice that in Gmail even the Bcc field gets displayed. My initial reaction was “No it’s not possible!”. Then I tried to test it by sending myself a mail and to my surprise, even the Bcc field got displayed.

Here is the screen shot.

Bcc field gets displayed in Gmail

I tried Googling around but couldn’t get a satisfying answer. So can anyone throw some light on this and let me know whether it is a feature or a bug or am doing something wrong.

PS: Yuvi, can you gather any information about my browsing activities from this screenshot as you did for Aswin? 😉

Posted in Google/Yahoo, Random/Personal | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Gliffy – Web based Visio

When I wrote about the making of Microsoft Office Killer, I was not able to list a competitive web based program for Visio. But now Microsoft is going to face threat even for Visio in the form of Gliffy.

Gliffy is a web based diagramming solution, similar to Visio on desktop. I was little skeptical when I first heard about it. But my opinion got changed on the very first look itself. It is pretty fast and very simple to use and has a ton of build in shapes and figures.

I was particularly amazed with its speed and it made me to wonder how it was implemented, particularly because none of the usual buzzwords like AJAX, Web 2.0 etc. were present. This is the problem being a web developer. You always look at a website from a developer perspective and never get to look at it from a user perspective. Within a couple of moments I found out that it was entirely designed with Flash OpenLaszlo. (Chirs, Co-Founder of Gliffy clarified that it was built using OpenLaszlo)
Well this may spark new discussion AJAX vs Flash but one thing is sure the guys behind Gliffy have really done lot of hard work and have done a wonderful job.

Here is the review about Gliffy from Lifehacker

Another great thing about Gliffy is that it keeps records of all your revisions, which makes collaboration a breeze – just add and remove collaborators who can access your document, and Gliffy takes care of the rest.

As with most web-based applications (so far), you may not want to move all of your projects online if you create diagrams a lot, but if you need to slap together a diagram every now and then but don’t want to pay the Microsoft premium for Visio, Gliffy looks like a solid choice

As clearly noted by them it may not (or may) fully replace Visio but Gliffy can be really handy when you have to just deal with a small diagram and you are left with just a browser and an internet connection. 😉

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Online Spreadsheets comparison

As I promised earlier, here is the result of my comparison of various online spreadsheet services. I compared the services based on the following criteria.

  • Basic Requirements
  • Interpretability
  • Usability
  • Functionality
  • Sharing and collaboration

Do let me know if I have overlooked something and also your comments and suggestions and I will try to keep this list updated. Also let me know if want me to add some more services to the list.

Features Google Zoho iRows NumSum EditGrid
Basic          
Browser Support IE 6, FireFox 1.07 IE 6, FireFox 1.0, Mozilla 1.4 IE 6, Firefox 1.5, Opera 9 IE 6, Firefox 1.5 IE 6.0, Firefox 1.0, Epiphany, 1.8.5, Galeon 2.0
Stable or beta Private beta public beta Out of beta Public beta Public beta
Regsitration Needed Not needed Needed Needed Needed
           
Interoperability          
Import Excel (*.xls) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Import CSV (*.csv) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Import OpenDocument spreadsheet (.ods) No No Yes No Experimental
Import OpenOffice.org Calc (.sxc) No Yes Yes No Yes
Import Lotus 1-2-3 (.123) No No No No Yes
Import TeX (.tex) No No No No No
           
Export Excel (*.xls) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Export CSV (*.csv) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Export OpenDocument spreadsheet (.ods) No No Yes No No
Export OpenOffice.org Calc (.sxc) No Yes Yes No No
Export Lotus 1-2-3 (.123) No No No No No
Export TeX (.tex) No No No No Yes
Export HTML Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Export to PDF No Yes No No No
           
Print Preview No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max size of imported file 400 KB No particular limit 500 KB 500 KB Not available on site
           
Usability          
Key board navigation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Right Click menu No No Yes No Yes
No of sheets open (by default) 1 3 1 1 1
Undo/Redo Yes No Yes Yes No
Cut, copy and paste Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
           
Line Wrap Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Resize Row Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resize Column Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bold, italic, underline, colors etc., Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Align Horizontal and vertical Yes Only Horizontal Yes Yes No
Insert rows and cols Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Delete rows and cols Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Delete Selection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
           
Functionality          
Search No Search Files based on tag Yes No No
Add Images No No Yes Yes No
Fill Series No To be impemented soon Yes (but Only copy) No No
Functions around 200 Yes around 50 Yes around 500
Format Numbers Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Format Currencies Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Header rows and cols Only Rows No Yes No No
Hide rows and cols No No Yes No No
Merge Sells Only horizontal No Yes Yes No
Sort Only entire sheet, by one column No Yes Yes No
Charts Not yet Bar, Column, Pie, Line Pie, Bar, Line Line, Area, Bar No
Automatic Save Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Build-it Templates No No No No Yes
Publish on other sites No Yes   No No
           
Sharing and Collaboration          
Tagging No Yes Yes Yes No
Chat Yes No No No No
           
Share read access with another user Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Share write access with another user Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Share read access with public No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Share write access with public No No Yes No Yes
Password-protected read access No No No No Yes
Password-protected write access No No No No Yes
           
Real time collaboration Yes No No No Yes
Conflict resolution Last save wins Last save wins Not applicable Last save Wins Last save wins

Links to the above sevices

PS: I composed this list in Excel and then imported it to ZohoSheet and then generated the HTML page and then hand coded and cleaned it.

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Suggest me some features to compare online spreadsheets

Google’s release of Google Spreadsheet yesterday has generated lot of sudden attention on online web applications especially those which are proving to be direct competitor to Microsoft Office applications.

In addition to Google’s Spreadsheet I came to know about a couple of other great products like Zohosheet, iRows, NumSum from Techcrunch’s article yesterday which are also targeting similar user base. So I thought of comparing all these online spreadsheets to get an idea about their pros and cons. (Nice weekend project right?)

So guys let me know your favorite features which you would expect from a spreadsheet program so that I can base my comparison on them. Also let me know if I have missed any other online spreadsheets.

Here are the links to the programs which I am going to compare

I will publish my results as soon as I finish them so stay tuned and don’t forget to leave your favorite features in the comments.

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Microsoft Office Killer in Making

I first speculated that Google has been creating a Microsoft Office Killer when they acquired Writely around 3 months back. But the recent limited public beta testing of Google Spreadsheets really proves that fact that they are in fact building a Microsoft Office Killer.

Some might argue that this is just hype and Web applications cannot compete with native Windows desktop applications. But I somehow feel that Microsoft Office has become more complex these days and may be only 15-20 % of the people really need those complex features but for others the Web counterparts may be enough. Apart from the simplicity the other huge factor is cost. Most of the people would be comfortable in viewing a couple of ads on their web applications rather than spending a fortune in buying their Desktop counterparts. Added to all these is that the document could be stored in Google’s Server itself which prevents you from frequent backup pain.

So here is a list of products from Google competing directly with Microsoft Office Applications

  • Word – Writely
  • Outlook – Gmail
  • Calendaring (Outlook feature) – GCal
  • Excel – Google Spreadsheets
  • Frontpage – Google Pages
  • PowerPoint – I am 99.99% sure that Google is currently creating a PowerPoint killer. It’s just a matter of time before it gets released.

Apart from the main Office applications here are other applications for which Google has a competing product.

  • Picture Manager – Picasa
  • MSN Messenger – Google Talk, Hello Messenger
  • Windows Search – Google Desktop Search
  • Internet Explorer – Google Tool bar and Google’s support for Firefox.
  • Visio – SketchUP, a recent acquisition of Google

I think in the next couple of years (around the release of vista) there could be some stiff competition to gain the market share and as always it is we the users who are going to get benefited as a result of competition. Eagerly waiting to watch Microsoft’s next move. What do u say guys?

Links:

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Google’s New Layout

I fired up Google this morning to search for something and then noticed that there was some change in the Google’s Layout. The different tabs which leads to different services like web, Image, group, news etc was on the left and the Google’s Search box has gone a little bit high.

I immediately checked my colleagues system and the Google’s homepage was displaying as usual. So then only I realized that Google has selected my ip to do some kind of testing to their new UI. So I immediately took a snapshot of it. Here are some of those screen shots.

This is Google’s web search page. Note the position of the different tabs, they are in the left.
Google's New Layout

This is the Google’s Image search page and see the position of tabs. I somehow felt that they are placed in a very awkward manner. (May be someone at Google is using their 20% free time to learn CSS positioning)

Google's New Layout

And for records I was using Firefox on Windows XP while talking these screen shots. Does anyone else noticed this new layout apart from me?

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Google Search syntax dissected

Here is my compilation of some of Google’s advanced query syntax which you can use to get results quickly.

Basic Boolean

Whenever you search for more than one keyword at a time, Google will search for all of them. If you search for

XML Java "web Services"
Google will search for all the words. If you want to specify that either word is acceptable, you put an OR between each item

XML OR Java OR "Web Services"
If you want to have definitely one term and one of two or more other terms, you group them with parentheses, like this

XML (Java OR "Web Services")
This query searches for the word “Java” or phrase “Web Services” along with the word “XML.” A stand-in for OR borrowed from the computer programming realm is the | (pipe) character, as in

XML (Java | "Web Services")
If you want to specify that a query item must not appear in your results, use a -.(minus sign or dash).

XML Java -"Web Services"
This will search for pages that contain both the words “XML” and “Java” but not the phrase “Web Services.”

Operators

In addition to the basic AND, OR, and quoted strings, Google offers some rather extensive special syntaxes for honing your searches. Google being a full-text search engine, it indexes entire web pages instead of just titles and descriptions. Additional commands, called special syntaxes, let Google users search specific parts of web pages or specific types of information. Specifying that your query words must appear only in the title or URL of a returned web page is a great way to have your results get very specific without making your keywords themselves too specific.

Here are some of the common keywords that you can add to your query in Google

intitle, allintitle

Restricts your search to the titles of web pages. The variation, allintitle: finds pages wherein all the words specified make up the title of the web page. It’s probably best to avoid the allintitle: variation, because it doesn’t mix well with some of the other syntaxes.

Eg: intitle:"george bush"
allintitle:"money supply" economics

inurl, allinurl

Restricts your search to the URLs of web pages. This syntax tends to work well for finding search and help pages, because they tend to be rather regular in composition. An allinurl: variation finds all the words listed in a URL but doesn’t mix well with some other special syntaxes.

Eg: inurl:help
allinurl:search help

intext, allintext

Searches only body text (i.e., ignores link text, URLs, and titles). There’s an allintext: variation, but again, this doesn’t play well with others. While its uses are limited, it’s perfect for finding query words that might be too common in URLs or link titles.

Eg: intext:"yahoo.com"
allintext:html

inanchor

Searches for text in a page’s link anchors. A link anchor is the descriptive text of a link. For example, the link anchor in the HTML code O’Reilly and Associates is “O’Reilly and Associates.”

Eg: inanchor:"tom peters"

site

Allows you to narrow your search by either a site or a top-level domain. AltaVista, for example, has two syntaxes for this function (host: and domain:), but Google has only the one.

Eg: site:loc.gov
site:thomas.loc.gov
site:edu
site:nc.us
You can also use site: operator to exclude certain domains from a search

Eg: google -site:google.com
This is particularly useful for ego searches. You can find out all those sites which mention your name expect your site.

Eg: bill gates -site:microsoft.com -site:wikipedia.org

link

Returns a list of pages linking to the specified URL. Enter link:www.google.com and you’ll be returned a list of pages that link to Google. Don’t worry about including the http:// bit; you don’t need it, and, indeed, Google appears to ignore it even if you do put it in. link: works just as well with “deep” URLs-http://www.raelity.org/apps/blosxom/ for instance-as with top-level URLs such as raelity.org.

Eg: link:www.google.com

cache

Finds a copy of the page that Google indexed even if that page is no longer available at its original URL or has since changed its content completely. This is particularly useful for pages that change often. If Google returns a result that appears to have little to do with your query, you’re almost sure to find what you’re looking for in the latest cached version of the page at Google.

Eg: cache:www.yahoo.com

filetype

Searches the suffixes or filename extensions. These are usually, but not necessarily, different file types. I like to make this distinction, because searching for filetype:htm and filetype:html will give you different result counts, even though they’re the same file type. You can even search for different page generators, such as ASP, PHP, CGI, and so forth-presuming the site isn’t hiding them behind redirection and proxying. Google indexes several different Microsoft formats, including: PowerPoint (PPT), Excel (XLS), and Word (DOC).

Eg: homeschooling filetype:pdf
"leading economic indicators" filetype:ppt

related

Finds pages that are related to the specified page. Not all pages are related to other pages. This is a good way to find categories of pages; a search for related:google.com would return a variety of search engines, including HotBot, Yahoo!, and Northern Light.

Eg: related:www.yahoo.com
related:www.cnn.com

info

Provides a page of links to more information about a specified URL. Information includes a link to the URL’s cache, a list of pages that link to that URL, pages that are related to that URL, and pages that contain that URL. Note that this information is dependent on whether Google has indexed that URL or not. If Google hasn’t indexed that URL, information will obviously be more limited.

Eg: info:www.oreilly.com
info:www.nytimes.com/technology

define

Will get the definition of the term that you have entered. This syntax can be used to get the definitions of words, phrases, and acronyms

Eg: define:dreaming
This query will get you the definition of the word dreaming

numrange

If you want to search for a range of numbers then you can use two dots (without spaces) to represent a range of numbers

Eg: inventions 1850..1899
This query will get you all the inventions between 1850 and 1899

safesearch

If you include safesearch: in your query, Google will exclude adult-content.

Eg: safesearch:breasts
This will search for information on breasts without returning adult or pornographic sites.

stocks

If you start your query with stocks:, Google will interpret the rest of the query terms as NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, or mutual fund stock ticker symbols, and will open a page showing stock information for the symbols you specify.

Eg: stocks:goog
This will show information about Google’s stock. Specify ticker symbols not company names. If you enter an invalid ticker symbol, you’ll be told so and given a link to a page where you can look up a valid ticker symbol.

The Special Syntaxes

Currency Conversion

Google makes it easy to calculate money conversions from one form of currency to another.

Eg: $5 in yenThe above query will let you know that five dollars is worth about 566.599846 yen.

If you’re not sure of the name of a currency, use nationality instead.

Eg: 25 Australian money in Italian money
This may sound awkward but it does the job.

Eg: $5 in indian money
This will let you know that 5 US dollars is worth about 224.477976 Indian rupees

You can even convert units in this fashion.

Eg: $2.85 per gallon in British money per literThis query will tell you that it is about 42 pence per liter and provides an international basis for discussing gas prices at the pump.

Check Airfares

When you google for the names of two major cities, Google automatically offers to search for flights.

Eg: Denver Fort Lauderdale
In the form labeled “Flights from Denver, CO to Fort Lauderdale, FL”, enter a departure and return date and choose whether to search using Expedia, Hotwire or Orbitz. Do not use quotation marks in your initial search. Denver “Fort Lauderdale” will not bring up the flight search form.

Find Song Lyrics

If you are looking for the title or lyrics of a song then you can use Google search phrases and wildcards to find them.

Eg: "Friday I am in love" lyrics
Or use the wildcard operator to get lyrics with certain words in them, like this

"Friday * love" lyrics

This compilation is just a tip of the iceberg of the features available in Google’s search syntax. If you come across any other special syntax, then do let me know so that I can add it.

Update: Some of the latest additions to Google Search Syntax can be found here.

Update 2: You can also get the current time of any city using Google Search query.

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , | 194 Comments

Google + Writely = Microsoft Office killer

Well, the news is out. Google has acquired Writely – The web word processor. I expected this to happen, but when I read about it for the first time at TechCrunch, I was little bit skeptical due to my experience with the Technorati acquisition rumor. I wrote about Technorati acquisition in this blog and then only realized that it was just a bit of Google Juice.

Now that both Google and Writely have confirmed the acquisition I can put down my thoughts on this acquisition.

When the rumor was out at Techcrunch, lot of people were of the view that Google doesn’t need to acquire Writely, but can build an in-house web word processor by just using the Gmail and blogger code as the base. But I think that Google did this not because of its inability to code but just to keep its competitors away.

I have been using Writely for nearly 4 months now and I should say that I am a satisfied user. The main reason for me to choose Writely was the ability to share my documents between my home and office computers. I was also using Writely to jolt down notes as and when I found something interesting when I am hooked on to the net. Previously I used to compose a mail in Gmail and then save it in the draft or send an email to myself to share my documents and notes between my home and office computers.

With Google Calendar under beta testing I think Google is going to roll out lot of features with this merge. Some of them could include the integration of Writely with Gmail for composing and the ability to open & store attached word documents in Gmail with Writely and the possibilities could be endless. So as a user of both Writely and Gmail I am very much happy about the merge and I am looking for some cool features in the future. It’s just a matter of time before they buy or develop the online Spreadsheet like NumSum and integrate it with Google Calendar and Writely to provide a full fledged online Office suite, the dreadful Microsoft Office killer.

But this doesn’t stop me from being skeptical about the possible privacy issues. I some how get a feeling that people have started to believe Google too much. But whether Google is keeping the belief is a different story. For instance right now Google know who are my friends (Orkut), my email correspondence (Gmail), my conversations with others (Google Talk), the web pages I search for (Search History), the feeds that I read (Google Reader) and now all my documents (Writely). Will Google keep up their motto “Don’t do evil”? I don’t know, but let’s hope they keep it up.

Links

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Google Calendar – CL2

The long waited Google’s version of calendar is out for some beta testing now. It’s been named as CL2. TechCrunch has some exclusive screenshots. Looks really sleek and a lot similar to Gmail. It’s also said that it will be very tightly integrated with GMail (which is expected).

Here is the expert about CL2

CL2 makes it easy – even effortless to keep track of all the events in your life and compare them to what your friends and family have going on in theirs. We’ve designed a calendar that works for you, helping you add events from email, friends, and other public calendars so you don’t have to spend all your time maintaining your schedule. CL2 even helps you discover new events you might be interested in. We think it’s a great tool for managing your daily schedule, keeping track of what everyone in your family is doing, organizing events for a club or team, or creating public events that you can promote to the world.

Lets hope that it is released to public soon. 🙂

Posted in Google/Yahoo | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment