echo "hey, it works" > /dev/null

just enough to be dangerous

Google Chart API

I've just been mucking around with the Google Chart API, a straightforward way to produce graphs. Just for fun, here's a graph of new bookmarks of the Habari Project web site on

Now we just have to make sure that we need to change the values on the y-axis by a couple of orders of magnitude by the end of the year.

This site may harm your computer

While cruising the intarweb's verdant tubes recently, Google warned me that a site might install malware onto my computer, and helpfully provided a link to assist me in learning about evil web sites.

Maybe I've been living under a rock—quiet you at the back—but I haven't seen this warning before. I was too lazy to investigate, but if this is a false positive, I wonder how this blogger feels about being tarred with this brush by Mr Google.

[Update: Well, here's how someone felt about being marked as malware, and about Mr Google's response.]

Google Press Center: Press Release

Google today announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The newly created initiative, known as RE<C, will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.

I think in the long term we need to move away from the idea of monolithic power stations providing all of our electrical needs. The future will be a system that allows for many inputs to the system. People will complement the electrical out points they have now with in points, so that you can plug in your solar panels, windmills, pet rats on a wheel, or your kids tied to the Hill's Hoist, and feed power back into the grid.

Android criticisms

Tim Bray points to an interesting and detailed criticism of Google's Android. I don't pretend to grok the mobile landscape, but I do know that the mobile user experience sucks, and sucks needlessly. I've never bothered trying to develop anything for mobile platforms because none of it has ever looked remotely developer friendly.

Search APIs

There's quite a difference between the terms of use of Google's and Yahoo!'s search APIs. While both say you're not allowed to do anything illegal or mission critical (I especially like Yahoo! saying you can't rely on the API if you're operating nuclear facilities), they differ in terms of what you're allowed to do with the results.

Google spends a lot of time saying what you're not allowed to do once you get results (you can only retrieve a small number of results (8 at the moment), you can't use them as the main content on your site, you can't modify them, you can't use a robot or spider to retrieve results). Possibly fair and reasonable, though, for my current (non-commercial, research) project, 8 results won't do and I want to break all those rules.

Yahoo! on the other hand, says absolutely nothing on the subject of what you can't do with the results. All they say is don't whack the server too much.

It's back to the drawing board for ACCC -

[The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] claimed Google did not clearly distinguish between regular - "organic" - search results and ads at the top of the results page, which Google calls "Sponsored Links".

Granted I may not be your average user, but I think this is just wrong headed on the ACCC's part. First, I think it's obvious they're ads. Second, there are plenty of other dastardly things going on that the ACCC should be focussing on. Google may have a lot to answer for, but I don't think this issue is one of them.

Feeds in search results

I'm finding more and more feeds are being returned from Google. This seems like stupid behaviour to me. You use a search engine to meet an information need. I want to know something about Ferret, I'm likely to use a search engine to find it. Do I want to subscribe to a feed? No, that's way too much commitment. If I find what I'm after and the site looks interesting I'll poke around a bit and then I might decide it's interesting enough to subscribe to.

The correct behaviour would be for Google to return a link to the site from which the feed originates.