Tag Archives | Google News

Alas, Google News Archive, We Hardly Knew Ye

The Boston Phoenix is reporting that Google has decided to quit further work on Google News Archive, its plan to scan and index 250 years’ worth of microfilm copies of newspapers and turn them into a searchable database. The Phoenix says that Google wants to concentrate on projects of more immediate benefit to newspaper companies, and speculates that the News Archive may have been tougher to implement and less popular than Google expected.

It’s sad news. No other Web company except Google would have had the ambition and good intentions to try and do this in the first place; it’s possible that very concept of a grand unified index of the world’s newspapers just died. But  while the project was a success in terms of sheer bulk–according to the Phoenix, Google scanned 60 million pages–it had crippling usability issues. I suspect that many folks who’d find it immensely useful have no clue that it exists–and even if they do, they may find it weirdly difficult to navigate.

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Google News's New New Look Looks Like Its Old Look

A couple of weeks ago, Google did some serious surgery on Google News’s interface. Some folks–a noisy minority, as far as I can tell–hate the new look. Now Google is throwing them a bone, tweaking the new look to be slightly more familiar, and letting users opt for a two-column format that roughly approximates the old layout.


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Google’s Interesting, Useful, Odd, Imperfect Fast Flip

Google Fast Flip LogoDid I just say that one of the differences between Bing and Google is that Bing is splashy and Google revels in its  plain jane interface? I lied. Google had a TechCrunch50 announcement of its own this afternoon, and involves a new Google Labs feature that has a high “wow, lookee there!” quotient: Google Fast Flip.

Fast Flip is based on Google News, and Google says it came up with it to address the fact that browsing through news sites is usually a slow process–not at all like the effortless instant gratification of flipping through a magazine or newspaper. Google has partnered with several dozen news sources–including the BBC, BusinessWeek, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Beast, Esquire, the New York Times, Newsweek, Salon, Slate, and TechCrunch–to create previews of their stories that live on Fast Flip but which display the first several paragraphs of the article in a form that looks like the originating site. You rifle through these previews by clicking left and right arrows, and the pages zip on and off-screen in high-speed, fluid animation–hence the “Fast Flip” name.

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Michael Jackson’s Death Seen as Attack

Google interpreted the swell of searches inspired by the passing of entertainer Michael Jackson as a malicious attack on its Google News service, according to reports.

People searching for news about the music icon after word spread about his condition were met by a cryptic message: “We’re sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.”

It may sound as if Google goofed, but on the contrary, its system worked almost flawlessly. The alert was probably automatic, because traffic was at a significantly higher volume than under normal conditions, and many searches were mobile searches. The company caught onto what was really happening approximately 25 minutes later, CNET reported.

Google did not release specific traffic data, but Yahoo received 16.4 million visitors within 24 hours. The fact that both sites remained accessible is laudable; there was no change in performance from my end.

Had there been a major emergency somewhere in the world, the search giants would have remained a useful conduit for people seeking credible information about what was going on. The companies also showed that they could effectively protect their services from an actual attack.


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Google News: Down Again

Last Thursday, a bunch of Google services went down for about an hour, and the company said that the glitch was due to a traffic jam

caused when it had to route a lot of traffic through Asia. It said it would work hard to prevent it from happening again. But over on Twitter, lots of folks are reporting that Google News is unavailable–here’s what I saw when I tried to get in:

Google News Error

In recent months it certainly seems like the reliability of Google services has been patchy. But I’m still not sure whether it’s been struggling, or it’s simply that A) Google offers more major services than anyone else; B) many of them are indispensable; C) as the most important Web company, it’s under the biggest magnifying glass.

(Postscript: Google News is back up. At least for me, at least right now.)


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5Words for May 7th, 2009

5wordsI’m moving to southeast England!

Really fast Internet in England.

Your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot.

Yet another OS for netbooks.

Anonymous? You can’t watch Hulu.

Indian hacker’s Facebook-compromising tool.

Windows 7 requires no RAM.

WiGig: Short-range gigabit wireless.

Windows 7: no speed demon?

An aluminum EeePC: pretty swanky!

The Senate vs. Google News.


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5Words for April 28th, 2009

5words

I want 100-mbps Internet!

Cablevision: 100-mbps for $100.

Microsoft tests Twitter for emergencies.

Survey: iPhones are primarily personal.

Google News comes to you?

Apple’s doing something with chips.

Dell’s touch desktop available stateside.

New Firefox 3.5 beta available.

New HP laptops for business.

How Microsoft should virtualize XP.

GE’s 100-DVD disc technology.


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Technologizer is on Google News

Here’s some news I’m pretty tickled about: Stories from Technologizer now appear in Google News. (Unlike other Google search services, Google News isn’t trying to index everything, just sources it believes to be professional and credible–only 4500 or so sites make the cut, which is a tiny fraction of the world’s news sites when you think about it.)

Technologizer stories will appear on the Google News home page and in searches. And here’s a link that takes you to a list of all of our items on Google News, sorted by date,

We’re Google News fans here, so it’s a kick to see Technologizer there. More important, there are millions of other Google News fans in the world, and we’re delighted that at least some of them will discover Technologizer as they browse around the site.


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Google Puts Old Newspapers Online in Their Entirety

I’m having a good time here at the DEMOfall conference in San Diego, but there’s stuff being announced at the TechCrunch50 back in San Francisco, too–and TechCrunch scored a coup this morning when Google’s Marissa Mayer used the conference to announce that the company is working with newspapers to make millions of pages of old newspapers searchable in their original form.

When I was in college, a few years before the Web came along, I spent lots of time in the library reading old newspapers in microform form, and what Google is doing here instantly reminded me of those days. In fact, it looks like Google’s newspaper archive is the somewhat grainy black-and-white photographs of papers I remember cranking through. Except now, you can do full-text searching of a vast repository of ’em.

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