Microsoft Introduces New Search Engine Bing

BingMicrosoft’s newly released search engine Bing is up and running, and it appears to be a hit.

I have several items I keep in a search list that I look for every now and then. I immediately put Bing to the test with the list, and was quite pleased at the results.  I was shown relevant sites, and not one result sent me to an outdated, invalid, or non-existent link.  To be fair to Google, I tried the same searches, and was given a completely different set for each query, of which two were invalid results.

Bing also plays thumbnails live in the search results by simply hovering your pointer over the image and boasts a snappy and clean interface.  I could do without the wallpaper though.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Google fan and they have come up with some of the most innovative ideas in browser and search technology, changing how we all use the Internet.  I’m anxiously awaiting Google Wave, the real-time communication “multi-tool”.

Ironic isn’t it, that Bing is the number one sponsored ad on Google.  Google may be getting paid for the sponsored ads, but Microsoft has a chance each time to convert the user to a “Binger” rather than a “Googler”.

Google finally describes the new iGoogle features

Two weeks ago my favorite home page and RSS reader iGoogle got a facelift, for the worse in my opinion.  Unsually, Google made no official announcement of it, that changed today.  Upon logging in I see this little button in the top middle of my iGoogle page:

So I clicked it only to read what I already knew, which is pretty obvious if you’ve been using iGoogle for more than a week prior to the change.

  • “Canvas view” gadgets. You can expand any gadget to full-screen view (“canvas view”) by clicking its “maximize” button or the gadget name in the left-navigation bar.
  • Full feed reading.  Google has apparently just turned my iGoogle page into a slightly prettier Google Reader.  Fine for those who like Google Reader, but I rarely read RSS feeds, my preferred method is to click the title and read it on that particular website.
  • Improved Google gadgets.  Google’s way of saying that their gadgets are now in “Canvas view” mode, same as the first bulletin, they apparently just needed to add more content.
  • Left Navigation.  I have no clue why they put the most obvious and most hated change to iGoogle at the bottom of their change list, it appears that everyone wants the option to put the tabs back at the top, so much so that an online petition has been started asking Google to do just that.

The other craptastic change they made was the inability to move RSS feeds from one tab to another by drag and drop.  Two days ago when I was cleaning house there were a few feeds I would have liked to move around, sadly the only way to do this is to delete from the current tab and resubscribe into the tab I want them in.  Pain in the ass.  Why Google, why?  My only hope is that Google will give their users options to change back shortly, or at the very least start to poll more of us heavy users of their products for what we’d actually like changed.  Don’t change your products because 6 months or a year has gone by without change, time alone is not an indicator that it needs to be done!

Read all the details on features and changes here.

YouTomb is where banned YouTube videos live on

You just saw the funniest clip on YouTube ever and emailed the link to all your co-workers and posted it on your friends’ MySpace page, but when they go to view it, it’s not available. Chances are, it was a copyrighted TV show, movie preview or music video that wasn’t allowed by the YouTube terms of service agreement you didn’t bother to read when you become a member. But what if it wasn’t? What if the video you uploaded is of your kid brother doing something funny and someone reported it as inappropriate and it was removed. You could upload it again, but now you are risking your membership being banned.

Say hello to YouTomb, a place where banned YouTube videos go. YouTomb is

a research project by MIT Free Culture that tracks videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation.

They list a pretty comprehensive FAQ section in their About page that details why they are doing this and that they do not condone copyright infrignment at all.

Either way, it’s an interesting idea and being that I heard about the site on a cable news channel, I can only imagine that it will be a short time before YouTube’s parent company, Google, sends their lawyers knocking on the doors of MIT.

Spam, the other white meat

More than three years ago I got a Gmail account for no other reason than it was the cool thing to do. Gmail was in beta, invite only and fairly exclusive. The first month that invites started to be sent out, each user would get five to give to friends and family. I’m not kidding when I tell you that people bought and sold these invites for upwards of $100 and a secondary market started on eBay selling already registered Gmail email addresses of famous peoples names, companies and single letter addresses. It was nuts. I’ll also admit to selling a few invites myself and no, I don’t feel guilty for it. I didn’t use the email address for more than a year, I just sat on it. I wanted to make sure I got the one I have before someone else did and figured I could always use it as a backup if needed.

Since 2000 I have been using email hosted with my own website, mikepanic.com and had very few issues with it. I enjoyed using Outlook and had nearly no spam issues. This changed about two years ago. After using the same email address for nearly 6 years, the spam started to pour in. Clearly I had signed up for something somewhere that sold my email address or, more than likely, spam bots captured my email address which was publicly shown on my website and started to use it. There is virtually no way to combat spam outside of shutting down an email account. What is out of control? Try 600+ spam messages a day. Try not logging into your email for 9 months and seeing 17,000 new messages! This is when I started to use Gmail on a regular basis.

After a painful week or so of going through and switching over various forums, online bill paying and bank account sites to my new Gmail address, confirming them all and getting it roughly squared away, I all but stopped logging into Outlook and figured I’d deal with the spam later. Gmail it was, and web based too!

Going web based was pretty normal to me, no real issues there, I lost a few minor things in Outlook that I liked, but overall I’m happy, really happy with how Gmail works and have been for the last two years now.
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About two months ago I logged into Gmail and saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time, waiting emails in the spam folder. Now don’t get me wrong, Gmail isn’t perfect, there have been a handful of false-positives going in there, but it only happened once ever few months. Over the period of the next few weeks a few more came in and a few more and a few more. It’s not overwhelming yet, as seen here in the screen grab from this week, but it does make me wonder about those sites I give my email address too.

I have been and continue to be really cautious of who I give my email address to, I’ve gone as far as setting up forwarders for different websites I own that filter back to Gmail and can kill them off if they start to become abused. What market is really available anymore for spam email? Do people still fall for the false Paypal and bogus credit card phishing scams?

The iPhone Rocks #2

The iPhone just keeps getting better. I updated my phone just two days ago. This update has been the biggest one since September.

The new features on the phone are even more exciting than the new season of American Idol!

I can now rearrange the icons on the homepage. They do a cute little jig on the screen when you hold an icon down for a second. Also, I can make “web clips” enabling me to add a website onto the main page.

Google Maps now accesses my location by cell phone towers and wireless internet. It pinpoints your location on the map which you can save. There is also a new feature to view the map in a hybrid function. This means the map shows a satellite and street name perspective. Real time traffic is a fantastic feature added as well.

The strangest new function that has come to Apple is iTunes movie rental. You are able to do this via computer or iPhone. I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch anything on a such a small screen. I can hardly make out the videos on YouTube. In anycase, you are able to rent it through iTunes. The rental will download onto your phone with an expiration date when you sync it.

The best thing about the January ’08 iPhone update is multiple person text messaging. I can finally send one text message to a ton of people. This would have been handy on New Year’s when I had to send about a million different text messages to a million different people.

I am now waiting for a copy and paste function.

I honestly can still say this phone treats me well and I have no regrets still. I can’t wait for the next update!

Gmail seems to be working again

After more than thirty minutes of seeing errors while trying to send a message in Gmail, whatever was ailing the server seems to have been fixed. Being that Gmail is still beta, it makes me reflect on an earlier article, what if Gmail shuts down. I rely on Gmail probably more than I should, but for some reason I really trust Google. In the grand scheme of things, these 30 minutes of downtime is probably less than one tenth of one percent of total downtime since the service was launched. I’m just happy it is back.

Gmail is dead in the water

As of about 10:50am EST, Google’s web based email Gmail is dead is not responding. What makes it worse is that Google Groups are giving a 500 Internal Server Error when trying to view them. It took more than 10 minutes to get my email to load properly, trying to send a message has resulted in this cryptic message.

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Searching Google for this term has proved all but useless, since the first 10 pages of results are links to Google Groups pages, which are dead as well. If someone kicked the plug out of the wall that runs the Gmail & Groups servers, please plug it back in.

Gmail + AIM = everyone is happy

AIM, also known as AOL Instant messenger, is still my instant message software of choice; I’ve been using it for what seems like forever and have several hundred contacts in it. Google‘s Gmail has a chat feature built in, no need to download software, so this works in a pinch, but only if the person you are talking to has Gmail and is logged into their email account and / or has a chat client that supports Google Talk. But what if you want to talk to someone on AIM but don’t have the client software installed on the computer you are sitting at, say at work, because your network nazi has prevented you from installing time wasting software.

Don’t fear! Google has integrated AIM into their Chat program, allowing you to login to your Gmail account and contact people on your AIM buddy list. No software to download, it just works. They do suggest you have Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2 installed in order to get all the features and functions to work properly, skip IE and go for Firefox.

Waffles.fm steps up to take OiNK’s place, feels growing pains

So after what I thought was a clever message to the masses regarding the demise of OiNK turns out to be a subtle hint for a new, member only, invite only bittorrent tracking site. Waffles.fm is, from what I understand, very similar to how OiNK was run, only they were never quite as big and are now feeling the strain on their servers as their membership grows.

From what I’ve read around the blogsphere, they are a bit more strict as well, which is fine, I never had many problems with OiNK and honestly, I’ve been able to find almost everything I need on Demonoid as of late. That said, I am interested in an invite, so if anyone has one to share, or wants to trade a Demonoid invite, please use the contact form to get a hold of me, I’ll gladly show you my ratio on Demonoid.

Even with invite only, closed membership, free to use private tracking sites, more than a half dozen other torrent trackers have popped up to fill the void that OiNK has left. All have been open to the public and all are gaining in popularity. This is not the end of torrent tracking site, and as mentioned before, searching Google will often lead you to just about anything you are looking for.

Google breaks the $700 per share barrier

Just two weeks after Google hit $600 per share, they’ve surpassed the $700 per share barrier, and seem to keep on moving. I’m kicking myself for not buying at $400 per share, but I have nowhere near enough money to purchase enough shares to make it worth it. A stock split has got to happen at some point soon though.

More detailed information available at the Associated Press, which is ironically hosted by Google.