… In which I over-react and threaten to quit all Google products.

[This is a direct c+p from an email I just sent to Google. This letter was written to the “profiles support team” who have decided that I cannot use their service if I want to go by the name Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins. FWIW, since many people ask, I entered it into the service FN: Mark “Rizzn” LN: Hopkins. –mrh] Dear Neil of the Google Profiles Support Team, First of all, I think you folks are retarded if you believe I want to use your social network after this. My usage of this name predates the formation of your company. My personal domain name was registered around the same time Google.com was. For you to come in and tell me what my name is – true audacity, and I’m outraged. For you to look at all the sites and references I gave you and tell me that not a single one of them is reputable (Mashable? #theCube? Gmail? SiliconANGLE? Archive.org? None of these are reputable in your eyes?), that is infuriating beyond belief, and demonstrates either unimaginable ignorance or gargantuan hubris. Either one causes me to lose a great deal of respect for your organization. I can understand that you’re trying to mitigate certain unsavory elements in the nascent Google+ environment. You’re trying to prevent anonymity because you don’t want to create the next 4chat. You’re trying to stop brands from invading because you don’t want the next Myspace or Twitter. You’re attempting to mitigate impersonation because you want people to feel secure in their identities. That’s great for you. It’s your social network, and you can run it how...

Early Adopter Grief: Google Video and Yahoo Buzz Bite the Dust

Early adopters are having a hard time with the lives of their early favorite apps lately. Two deaths are hitting me where I live right now: The first one is Google Video. I got an email from Google, letting me know that I needed to download all my old videos and find a new home for them by April 29th: Later this month, hosted video content on Google Video will no longer be available for playback. Google Video stopped taking uploads in May 2009 and now we’re removing the remaining hosted content. We’ve always maintained that the strength of Google Video is its ability to let people search videos from across the web, regardless of where those videos are hosted. And this move will enable us to focus on developing these technologies further to the benefit of searchers worldwide. On April 29, 2011, videos that have been uploaded to Google Video will no longer be available for playback. We’ve added a Download button to the video status page, so you can download any video content you want to save. If you don’t want to download your content, you don’t need to do anything. (The Download feature will be disabled after May 13, 2011.) Please note: This download option will be available through May 13, 2011. Thank you for being a Google Video user. Today, the news hit that Yahoo will be “sunsetting” Yahoo Buzz. On the Buzz website: “Yahoo! Buzz will be discontinued as of April 21, 2011. As of this date you will be unable to access the Yahoo! Buzz site. This was a hard decision. However this...

Monica Keller Leaves Facebook: The First of Many?

I saw this post by Owen Thomas over at Venturebeat: “Open-standards advocate Monica Keller leaves Facebook, joins Socialcast.” Facebook’s efforts to raise its reputation for technological openness suffered a blow with the departure of Monica Keller, a well-regarded program manager for open Web standards whose career at the company proved short-lived. It’s just one of very many recent departures from Facebook in recent months, and one of (I predict, anyways) many more to come in the months ahead. I think I may have mentally stumbled upon the reason why. You know why, in life, it’s not a generally good idea to date the guy or girl who relationship hops? The one that’s never been alone for more than a few days at a time and tries to date around your circle of friends? Sort of the same thing in the corporate world.  John Battelle (if memory serves) had the thought back when Facebook was stealing all those “top talents” from Google that these were really just the chaff of the organization. These were the least loyal or least productive, and Google wasn’t fighting to keep them. In the beginning, it would be a PR hit for Google, but in the end, they’d be a much more efficient company for it. Now, because of their innate desire for the bigger, better thing, I predict we’ll be seeing many of these same folks head off to greener pastures. [Photo credit: Adam Tinworth....

Are You Ever Shocked by Google Autocompletes?

I was playing around on my XBox, trying out different plugins for PlayOn, a service which allows you to watch podcasts on your TV via your XBox. I was watching an interview Kevin Rose did with Marissa Mayer.  The first question Kevin asked was whether or not any of the search terms that comes through the system ever shocks her. Of course, her answer dodged the question, and she played up the fact that the most popular searches on Google truly reflect the Zeitgeist of the world.   I’m reminded of that when I saw a post shared out by someone on Google Reader showing what pops up from Google’s “autocomplete” feature when you type in the phrase “Obama is ”. I wound up trying it out myself to make sure it checked out. Below is a screenshot from my computer. It’s unclear if this is generated from global, national or state algorithms, or if Google generates these based on my social circle.  In most of the likely sample-sets, they’re supposedly predominantly liberal-friendly, or if popular media is to be believed, at least Obama-friendly. Nowhere on the list is the obvious query: “Obama is the president,” or “Obama is the leader” or anything of that nature. All the queries are 100% negative in their connotation, in the context of polite political discourse. There’s something to be said about the fact that to create the negative Google momentum around former President Bush, a Google-bomb was required.  These queries are all natural,...

Rizzn Goes Radically Transparent!!!1!111!!

I’ve talked briefly about my feelings on location based social networks (here, here and here). Louis Gray tackled this topic at length. This is a pithy post that will be a public demonstration of just how sedentary my lifestyle is. I’ve added a new feature to the front page of rizzn.com.  I’ve turned on Google Latitude (screenshotted to the right). How do I feel so secure constantly sharing my location? First of all, my home address is pretty much common knowledge to anyone who cares to find it (a quick Google for me will turn it up, I imagine). Second of all, my home security system (that is to say, my wife’s massive cricket bat) is top notch. Third and finally – I very seldom leave the house. Sure, I could replace the widget with a simple PNG image of my house taken from a satellite view. But who could possibly resist the whole RADICAL TRANSPARENCY!!!11!?!?/? Not me, that’s who.  Mister Radically Transparent Rizzn....

The Great LBS Wars of 2010

I did a little mini-doc containing my thoughts around Location Based Social Networks (entitled “The Great LBS Wars of 2010”). Full description and post is up at SiliconANGLE. This is a non autoplaying version of the embed, so feel free to share it around for those of you who hated the other version. From my post at SA: Jeff Pulver and Justin Kownacki have been advancing a conversation last week week that the germ of which started at this year’s SxSWi in Austin. In Siegler-esque headlines, the question is “What was this year’s Twitter at SxSW?” In terms that don’t make the early adopters gag, the real question is actually: “How relevant and likely to go mainstream are the location based social networks, with emphasis on Foursquare and Gowalla?” Location-based social networks were the buzz of the conference, or at least what most people were paying attention to during the show, due to the hype from a couple of specific organizations. After trying to pay attention to what would be 2009’s Twitter and coming away somewhat disappointed, I decided to just keep an open mind, schedule tons of briefings and see what themes emerged from the conference this year.  I came away with a much different conclusion that what most did, which I’ll get into in later posts, but in terms of the “location based social networking wars,” I think the clear answer as to which one is going to end up mainstream and replacing Twitter is: none of them. In their essence, a location based social network is simply a feature of another service, and generally isn’t something...

Google Voice Fail

I’ve seen some puzzling messages from Google Voice’s transcription, but this attempt to translate an automated reminder to pay my cable bill left me really scratching my head. After listening to the message (embedded below), it turns out it was attempting to transcribe in English what the automated attendant was saying in Spanish. The puzzling text excerpt: Hello, this is Time Warner your cable television telephone internet provider. We need to speak to you regarding an important business matter that will affect your services. Please call our office at (972) 742-5892. Thank you for choosing Time Warner Cable, but I have left Time Warner Cable sleep over those become. That it with you on that. If I’m not eating it.This is the telephone. I posted room. We’ve put that the Catholic that’s so if you can. So if I wanna call me because I color stuff. If you know in a little bit of 20 point lead to get those. If it’s possible a cordial little I have whether he at Time Warner...

MSN Live Search Beating Google?

In my personal blog’s web stats, I’ve been consistently (for the last month and a half) getting five times as much drop-in traffic from MSN Live search users than from Google. Why do you suppose that is? That’s completely up-side-down from how it’s ever been in my...

Google Deadpooled by CrunchBase; OmniDrive Not So Much

I saw a note on FriendFeed from Duncan Riley earlier today indicating he’d posted on OmniDrive, the back-up solutions company that’s had an uncertain future for quite some time. Duncan and Nik Cubrilovic, both of which who have history at TechCrunch, also have history with each other. I know exactly what it’s like to have piss-poor relations with someone in the Web 2.0 world and subsequently blog about it. Todd Cochrane of RawVoice and I had a serious misunderstanding on the amount of money a podcast series I ran on his network was owed, and blogged about it over at Mashable. A lot of nasty words were said at the time as he rallied all his allies against me and organized a smear campaign to impugn my words, but when he and his employees went about doing a forensic accounting, they found that I was right, and a check was eventually sent out to rectify the situation. The situation seems to be similar with Duncan and OmniDrive’s Nik Cubrilovic (without the Omnidrive eventually working to repair its rift with Duncan part). It isn’t hard to see why things are being seen as so bad for Nik and his company. There are rumors that he’s been unable to pay folks for quite some time, as well as the fact that he seems to be working for Mike Arrington again to pay his bills. So when the line “Omnidrive entered The Deadpool 2008″ showed up on the CrunchBase entry for the company, Duncan was not at all surprised and took the opportunity to blog it. I’m not sure of the exact...

Is Google Vulnerable in Advertising?

Steve Rubel just twittered an article from today’s International Herald Tribune entitled “Google shows vulnerability in Advertising.” It’s almost a completely ridiculous article, but for the small weaknesses that Google does have in its ad platform. Of course, because the Time Magazine, Digg and Facebook havedecided to go with other ad partners other than Google, it isn’t necessarily spelling the beginning of the end for the giant. In June, Vivek Shah of Time magazine awarded a three-year, $100 million contract to Quigo Technologies, a venture capital-backed New York company that will handle ad space on more than 15 sites, including CNNMoney.com and People.com after spending six months assessing whether Google, Yahoo or Microsoft could most effectively attract advertisers to the publisher’s Web sites. The article in the IHT focuses on an alleged weakness that the Google AdSense system supposedly possesses – the inability to target your ad towards a single site. Granted, the system is set up on a bidding system, but there is the capability built in to not only put text advertisements on a preferred site (albeit at a CPD, elevated rate), but also video ads, one of the hot new areas of advertisement that is supposedly (at least according to IHT) being ignored by Google. What is the big problem with Google then? Why are big sites like Digg and Facebook going with Microsoft right now? Essentially, it comes down to two things, in my analysis: targeting and subsidy. I doubt that in any of their cases, Google is offering publishers big lucrative deals to switch the entire site’s ad platform to Google. Microsoft clearly is,...

I know what animal you're thinking of.

Hey Rizzn–ites, Have you ever played 20 Questions with a computer or small orb? If so, you know that computers and technology, are very capable of predicting what we’ll say and what we’re thinking. How does it do it? Greg Blonder, who we interviewed on the show about a month ago, posted on Internet Evolution today not asking how it does it, but noting how it doesn’t, and posing a work-a-round for poor predictive technology. I’ve chatted with Greg a few times, and he’s a great guy to talk to, but I don’t know him well enough to know exactly how much of an AI fan he is. I am a fan of AI. I’m an AI nut. One of my big fantasies (given enough cash and computing cycles, one that I think is realistic), is to create a truly sentient (at least by Alan Turing‘s standards) AI. Greg gives a couple examples of how current predictive technology falls short: Search engines, and their contextual ads: “Search engine companies believe that they can target ads more efficiently based on invading my privacy and analyzing my last hundred search queries and emails — and thus charge a premium for each ad served. But last week, while I was seeking information on car recalls, I was flooded by ads to buy the very same lemon from the same company I was investigating.” Piracy: “The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) snoops around our computers to see what music files we’re posting and trying to guess our intent. Do we own the track we posted, and are we just backing it up...

gPhone: 30 pre-Beta Tests Underway

Hey Rizzn-ites and gPhone Hounds, Last week I picked up a stray bit from a LiveJournaler about there being 30 rumored pre-beta gPhones wandering around in Mountain View California. Blogger Michael Bazeley recounts an experience he had in an Emeryville Apple store several days ago: So I’m standing in the Emeryville Apple store today trying to troubleshoot a problem with a sales rep when a young woman bolts up to us saying she wants an iPhone. Like, now. After some back-and-forthing about the particulars, she says she’s a Google employee and she was going to wait for a demo of the gPhone, but it turns out Google’s only letting 30 people test it internally and she’s not one of them. So she’s going with the iPhone instead. At which point, the Apple rep and I exchange glances and he says “gPhone? So it’s real, huh?” And the Google gal realizes she’s probably said too much and changes the subject. There you go. By the way, if you’re interested in carrier information, price, and design, check out this post. Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions...

gPhone: Belaboring the Point on the NYT Article

Hey Rizzn-ites, I posted a bit yesterday about the NYT piece on the gPhone. The coverage of the NYT analysis has been spun as wrong as it can possibly be, with the grand take-a-way being that there is no gPhone coming. The original article was a bit off in the first place. I actually got an email from Miguel Helft this morning, responding to my analysis of what he said. I’m puzzled that you call this a hit piece. Really? A story that lays out the facts, as I known them, and strategy behind Google’s mobile ambitions and plans. In fact, most readers would probably come away with the notion that loosening carrier control and more competition for are good things. No? As for quoting Google enemies, the one and only source I quoted who is in that camp is Scott Cleland, and I very clearly disclosed his point of view. In fact, the one CEO of a carrier I quoted was Vodafone, by some metrics the largest mobile operator in the world, and a Google ally, since they provide easy access to Google services (unlike US carriers). The problem is, Miguel, that very few facts were reported. The leading items were your unqualified (by any sourcing) analysis, and the quotes from those that would be decidedly out of the Google camp. Karsten Weide? Ex-Yahoo. Dan Olschwang? Potential Google mobile competitor. Arun Sarin? T-Mobile competitor (gPhone carrier). Throughout the article, Miguel and all the quoted sources seemed mystified by the hype. As I stated yesterday, the gPhone promise is what the iPhone used to be, but without the threat...

Google + Jaiku

digg_url = ‘http://www.rizzn.com/2007/10/google-jaiku.asp’;I just found out via C.C. Chapman on Twitter, but it would appear that Jaiku has been purchased by Google! This from the Jaiku FAQ today: Jaiku is joining Google. While it’s too soon to comment on specific plans, we look forward to working with our new friends at Google over the coming months to expand in ways we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. Our engineers are excited to be working together and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together. In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now. But fear not, all our Jaiku services will stay running the way you are used to and you will be able to invite your friends to Jaiku. We have put together a quick Q&A about the acquisition. Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen, Jaiku Founders I guess Leo Laporte was right to bet on Jaiku back when he made the switch. I’ll have to take a second look at the service, since it’ll likely be pitched at me within the next couple months in the form of Google’s new social networking initiative (yeah, bet on that!). @sugree had an interesting observation: zingku+jaiku = google phone. It’s a thought, and it is clearly related to the gPhone. Don’t think it’s the totality of it though, by a longshot. Registration to Jaiku is currently closed, but you can request an invitation from the Jaiku site./rizzn Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions...

gPhone: In Defense of Google

Hey Rizzn-ites, Well, if you’re like me, you woke up this morning with an inbox full of emails and a Google reader that pointed to mostly links to the New York Times article on the gPhone. Instead of tapping out thirty or forty replies to emails on my comment on the story, I’m simply going to post here, and refer all the bozos who wrote me back to this article. You can hear me talk about this today on RizWords, daily politics and technology (subscribe for free to listen). Everyone in the new media seems to be taking the New York Times article as if it were gospel, on not a poorly written re-hashing of everything else Crunchgear, Information Week, DigiTimes and I have written previously. Very little primary source research work was done for the article, and everything mentioned as a ‘fact’ about the gPhone, I’ve mentioned previously (to little fanfare) on my blog. The only difference is that the New York Times didn’t attribute me as a source, nor did the even bother to contact me and ask me where I got my facts from. That’s right. I’m saying plagiarism. If not from me, then from the blogosphere in general. That they’ve not checked me out or asked me about anything (or that anyone but the Boston Globe has contacted me from the MSM) to try to get a couple of the rumors they’re reporting as fact correct completely floors me. Here are the first four paragraphs of the NYT article, translated and condensed down to a sentence a piece: Everyone is saying there’s a gPhone coming....

gPhone: Rumored to be in the Wild!

Hey Rizzn-ites and gPhone hounds, Just a bit of gPhone news for the weekend, it has been reported by Alex Lewis over at Network World that Google may have released some ‘pre-beta gPhones into the wild’: Google has reportedly released approximately 30 pre-beta gPhones to current employees for testing. There are a lot of rumors, but if you hang around Mountain View, CA much you may see one in the wild. I was talking to a Googler yesterday but as soon as I asked he quickly shoved the device into his pocket and changed the subject. IF this was one of the fabled Gphones, it appeared similiar in shape to the iPhone, maybe a little thicker, with a bright screen and video. So there ya go, another tasty gPhone rumor snack for you. Carry on! /rizzn Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions...

gPhone: Unsubstantiated Rumor

I haven’t spoken with “Deep Throat” in a couple of days, so I’ll have to ask him about this, but I just picked up an unsubstantiated rumor from a student at Rochester Institute of Technology: So apparently Google’s Phone really truly for all times for serious is coming, whether one likes it or not. It seems that there are displays at the Googleplex where people (that is, Google employees) can check it out. It also seems that the phone will be partially ad supported, in the sense that walking around town if you get close enough to some restaurant you will receive […] I’ve heard of something similar in Korea where instead of getting coupons, you get texts whenever one of your friends is within x miles of you. Interesting. I’ll update you later. Gonna go record a show real quick now. /rizzn Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions...

gPhone: ExpansysTV demos the possible HTC/gPhone Platform

digg_url = ‘http://www.rizzn.com/2007/10/gphone-final-countdown-starts-here.asp’;As we mentioned yesterday, the new HTC Dual touch has been released. ExpansysTV has released a five minute long YouTube video demonstrating the device. It has been speculated by some that this could be the platform for the new gPhone in development by Google (and my trusted sources at least haven’t denied this could be one of the platforms, either). So, figured you gPhone hounds might be interested in taking a peek. Enjoy. Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions...

gPhone: The Final Countdown Starts Here

digg_url = ‘http://www.rizzn.com/2007/10/gphone-final-countdown-starts-here.asp’;Update (11:52 AM CST 10/3/2007): You might be interested in this video demo of the HTC Dual Touch, which is rumored to be the hardware platform for the gPhone. I’d also like to re-iterate that the release dates are less trusted than the details in the main post. I mentioned that the dates I’ve heard have ranged from late Sept to early Oct. I haven’t had any two sources say the same date twice, as I mentioned on the show, as well, so I don’t trust those dates as much as I trust the rest of the details I’ve disclosed. Everyone seems keen to discount me using the dates I mentioned as ‘proof’, so I thought I’d re-iterate the authenticity of specific facts (or lack thereof). In other words, read the entire article in context. Update (8:38 PM CST 10/1/2007): Several people have written in to me with the caveat that after the $400 gPhone is purchased the carrier connection might be subsidized by ads, thus technically free service. No one has said anything that would indicate this explicitly, but then no one has said anything to directly contradict it either. I wouldn’t count on this fact personally, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Trust me, though. I’d love it if it was free.Update (5:00 PM CST 10/1/2007): Finally heard back from T-Mobile. A spokesperson who preferred not to be named stated: “…regarding the gPhone, T-Mobile does not comment on rumors or speculation.” Almost verbatim what Google currently says publicly when asked. In response to my queries about data network specifications, the spokesperson said: “…I...

Google and Facebook

Hey Rizzn-ites, It seems that every time I gear up to do a blog post, Google or Facebook have to worm their way into my monologue at some point. Today is no exception. A few days ago, Mike Arrington dropped a bombshell that got a little play in the blogosphere and then evaporated in regards to Google’s impending response to the Facebook phenom. We all knew it was coming down the pike, because Orkut just isn’t cutting the mustard in terms of the the US market. I immediately commented on my blog that I simply couldn’t see Orkut in any way retooled as a social networking tool, and it having a chance at all to compete with Facebook. In fact, I said that “[m]y advice to Google employees whenever they’ve brought up the social network issue with me has always been dump Orkut!“ Shortly after the post hit the web, I received a call from a Google employee that agreed with me. Here’s what Mike said we’d see: On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more – such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs. Here’s what I’m hearing: instead of leveraging Orkut’s social graph information, we’re going to see leveraging of GMail’s social graph. Does GMail have a social graph? Sure it does. For those of us that aren’t bleeding edge early adopters, what’s the best measure of who’s in our...