SitePoint Podcast #40: A Googol of Googles

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Episode 40 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week your hosts are Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy), Brad Williams (@williamsba), and Kevin Yank (@sentience).

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Episode Summary

Here are the topics covered in this episode:

Zeitgeist 2009

Public DNS

Chrome Beta for Mac, Chrome Extensions for Windows

Search Fade-in

Host Spotlights:

Show Transcript

Kevin: December 11th, 2009. Google Zeitgeist 2009 shows pop culture rules the Web; Google builds a better DNS; and Google Search gets some JavaScript lovin’. This the SitePoint Podcast #40: A Googol of Googles.

And welcome back to the SitePoint Podcast. Today, we have me, Kevin Yank, Brad Williams from WebDevStudios, and Patrick O’Keefe from the iFroggy network. Stephan is sadly away with the flu. Wish you well, Stephan.

It’s been a few episodes since we’ve had us all together guys, what’s going on?

Brad: That time of the year, I think.

Patrick: Illness, holidays, family… all bad things.

Kevin: Well, it’s something of a special episode that Stephan is missing and it just seems like, I don’t know, Google must have… Whatever is keeping our hosts down at the moment is not keeping Google down because they have filled our list of stories with Google stuff. Every single thing on our list to talk about today is about Google.

We’re not even going to mention Google from this point forward. If we talk about a site or a product, just assume it’s a Google site or a product. It’s going to save us a lot of time.

To begin with, we have the Zeitgeist 2009, not the Google Zeitgeist, it’s just the zeitgeist because every thing is Google on the show today. This is something Google does every year, it seems like. I think they’ve done it every year from at least 2006 onwards, although they may be doing it for longer. They do sort of a survey of search traffic through the Google Search engine and it shows trends about the year behind us.

So Brad, Patrick, what did you notice in the results this year?

Patrick: You know, one of the things I found funny about this was under fastest rising for the US, #5 is hi5, the social network. It just seems out of place on this list with Twitter and Facebook, and you don’t really think of it in that realm. I mean, the top five are Twitter, Michael Jackson, Facebook, Hulu, and hi5. It just seemed kind of strange to me that they made it up there. I think that’s probably— I’m not sure how meaningful it is to their traffic, but I’m sure it’s a boon for them to be ranked about highly on this year-end rating.

Kevin: I haven’t even heard of hi5. Here in Australia, hi5 is a kid’s band like Sharon, Lois, and Bram!

Patrick: What’s with the Australia and all of these kids band? The Wiggles were out there. The Wiggles are like the highest paid Australians in the world, didn’t I just hear that somewhere?

Kevin: Yeah, it’s our biggest export—kid’s music.

Brad: I don’t really think hi5 is the top 5 social network overall.

Kevin: No, it definitely not. Something must have happened that they were mentioned and a lot of people were searching for them. Do we know for a fact that this search is related to the social network? It wasn’t something else? Hi5? Or maybe there were like three things called hi5 and they band it together to make a high search ranking.

Brad: I mean it’s spelled exactly like the search engine – hi5.

Kevin: Okay.

Patrick: Yeah, so it seems like it is. Brad?

Brad: Yeah, I was actually looking at the global fastest rising top 10. There was this a couple of terms that I didn’t even understand what they were, so I looked them up, and the one that kind of caught my eye was #3 and it’s pronounced as “twenty” apparently, and it’s a Spanish social network. I haven’t heard of this before, but I did some research on it.

It’s a pretty interesting story because it was developed by basically one guy in the spring of ‘06. Launched, and now it’s the fastest Spanish-speaking social network or the largest, I should say, Spanish-speaking social network on the internet, which is pretty impressive story. The fact that they launched not too long ago and they are as big as they are, so I was kind of fascinated that that was up to #3 and it was just behind Michael Jackson and Facebook for total global search keywords.

Kevin: I looked at the Australian numbers because under more regions at the bottom, you can pick particular countries and it looks like every – I don’t know, every place that has a Google office was asked to do their own zeitgeist and the Australian one is really pop culture centric and that’s something I noticed overall in all of these.

I guess when I use Google, most of the time I’m sitting at work and I’m looking up at some technical detail about the Web, and I get used to the fact that Google is a search engine that spits out technical facts for me, but looking at the zeitgeist, it seems clear that the thing that Google is most used for is for pop culture, for finding out about celebrities, about shows, and about social networks, but again that’s internet pop culture, I guess you could say.

The Australian ones are all about TV shows. There is a huge TV show in Australia, a reality show called MasterChef. I don’t know if you guys have heard of it, but it’s just one of these elimination— People who don’t know how to cook come on and trying to be master chefs, and they’re given the same ingredients and they have to try and make something interesting out of it each show. I never watched the thing, but in July, which I think was probably the finale of the show for this year, the searches for MasterChef exceeded the number of searches for recipes on Google. So there was more people watching TV about cooking than actually cooking in Australia in July, it looks like.

Plenty of things about celebrities who have died and it’s interesting obviously, Michael Jackson #1. Number 2 was Jeff Goldblum who didn’t actually die, then Patrick Swayze, then down at #5 Kanye West – dead! It’s interesting that Google searches are not a good source of facts. And breakups, very big in Australia. A lot of bands breaking up, but #2 was Telstra breakup, which is our big telecommunications company here in Australia. It was broken up into smaller pieces and so more people were searching for information about the Telstra breakup than about any other celebrity breakup or band breakup except for Oasis. Oasis was #1.

Patrick: I’m glad you brought that up because I actually also looked at the Australian numbers in preparation for this podcast, and I noted the rest-in-peace column – the dead column – and I don’t know what’s up with Australia, but five of the people on it are not dead. After Kanye West, there’s Miley Cyrus, Emma Watson who is an actress, and then Rick Astley – five out of the ten at least. I don’t know who Suki Stackhouse is – it seems like a character in a novel or something, but I have no idea what the heck that is, but I know that five of the ten are not actually dead, so…

Kevin: It’s something we do here in Australia, and I say we, counting myself as an Australian, but I’m really not. It’s an Australian culture phenomenon called the “tall poppy syndrome” that if someone becomes a celebrity and this is something we talked about in your social media conference presentation that people resent people with celebrity and it’s especially notable here in Australia. When people get popular enough, suddenly the press starts fantasizing about their death. It’s very, very creepy.

Patrick: That oddly disconcerting. I don’t know about Australia… I did notice that the #1 fastest rising term was 1HD, which appears to be a sports TV network?

Kevin: Yeah, it’s a new digital TV channel.

Patrick: That’s interesting, and then Twitter.com was second not just Twitter, but the URL, Twitter.com.

Kevin: Yeah, very strange.

Patrick: I found that interesting too, and I think the key to the success of this show down the line is getting Brad Williams and Kevin Yank to be nude or dead or both – dead and nude at the same time. I think that combination will allow us to break traffic records.

Kevin: If we have learned anything from these results is that Brad and I have to be neither nude nor dead for the Google search results for those terms to be stupendous, so just mentioning it I think is enough.

Patrick: Right. Start the rumors, internets.

Kevin: The second story is public DNS. And this big company we’re talking about all day today is also releasing a domain name service. This is something you may or may not be aware that your internet service provider gives you, but every time you type a web address in your browser or use any program that accesses a server on the internet, typically it translates a name into a numerical address. So sitepoint.com maps to a particular series of numbers.

So your computer is constantly asking your internet service provider what is the numerical address for this name, and Google has decided that this is now the slowest thing about the Web and so they’re going to do it themselves. Just like they did with Chrome, they decided all the other browsers were too slow, so they’re going to build their own browser to show people how a fast browser is done. They’ve decided the next lowest hanging fruit to make the web quicker is to make DNS lookups quicker.

Brad, you said you’ve configured your computer to use Google’s DNS?

Brad: Yeah, and about 30 minutes later, my cable modem locked up for about 20 minutes. I don’t know if that was a sign or not.

Kevin: It was too fast! It couldn’t handle it.

Brad: It was so excited, it fried my modem. I barely got it working for this podcast, so that’s good.

Patrick: That’s the next product, the Google modem, that’s what you’ll need.

Brad: The Google cable modem. Yeah, I actually configured it up. So I’m actually running it right now. I’ve been running it for a few hours now. I mean, to the normal web surfer, I don’t think you really going to notice. I mean, it’s hard to gauge this by watching how fast it loads the page or how quickly it starts to load the page and resolve that domain name or whether it has sped up it any. It happens in such milliseconds, it’s hard to determine.

I pulled up some speed tests by PCMag.com, and they actually did some benchmark tests against their default DNS, the Google DNS, and then Open DNS, which is another provider kinda like Google, and it was all just millisecond differences I mean it’s something you would never actually notice.

Kevin: Were they testing popular sites or were they more obscure sites?

Brad: They tested for PCMag. They test some larger sites like eBay and Amazon, and then some other types who work on it obscure that I hadn’t heard of.

Kevin: Okay, because I was reading Google’s sort of technical documentation on what they’ve done and why they did it and some if it is just— They’re saying just a sheer number of names out there are slowly overwhelming the servers. So if your internet service provider 5 years ago set up their DNS machine, chances are it’s handling a lot more names today than it was five years ago and as a result, it’s under-provisioned, as they call it, and they can’t keep up with— And so, like, it’s cash sizes and big enough to be useful and that sort of thing.

Part of what they’re doing is just making sure that they have a sizeable enough cluster to handle today’s DNS demands in an efficient way, but the most innovative thing they’re doing with this has to do with pre-fetching results. A particular name also has a time to live and expiry time associated with it.

When I check the address of sitepoint.com, that record says, “Here’s the address for now, but this might only be valid for 30 minutes,” say, so that if we ever change to a new server, it will only take 30 minutes in theory for that new address to propagate over the Internet. That means if no has asked your internet service provider’s DNS server what the address of sitepoint.com is in the last 30 minutes, then when you ask it, rather than giving you a cached result, it’s going to have to go and ask the authoritative server for that address.

What Google is doing is keeping tract of which names are popular or most likely to be requested and making sure that even though no one has asked for their addresses lately, it is checking back with the authoritative server to get the latest IP address ahead of time, so that when you ask Google’s DNS, it can give you an answer right away rather than having to ask the server.

That seems to be the core innovation here, and they’re saying that in a worst case scenario, if you hit an obscure site that hasn’t been asked for recently, then a particular DNS lookup can be on the order of hundreds of milliseconds and if the sites has CSS files and JavaScript files and image files hosted on other domains, then those lookups can pile up. I think this is probably a worst case scenario, but the graph they have on their technical page has something like sort of five serialized request. So over the course of an 11-second page load, it had to do five requests that added up to 7 seconds and so in theory for that particular worst case scenario, they could shave 7 seconds off of an 11-second page load if they sped up DNS really quickly.

Brad: Another kind of secondary benefit that I didn’t think about initially, but kind of stumbled upon is by using Google’s Public DNS servers, it actually eliminates your ISPs from kind of hijacking the not-found pages. If you visit a domain that doesn’t exist, a lot of ISPs and mine was actually doing this I use Comcast. It will come to the search results pages powered by Comcast that says “This doesn’t exist,” and then it’s covered in ads. So basically, anything you click on is an ad.

Kevin: I really, really hate that.

Brad: Yeah, it serves no purpose, there’s no way to turn it off. So by using Google’s DNS servers, it actually eliminates that and instead, it will come up with “not available page” just like you would see in Chrome, which is really nice.Now, whether or not I will change or not and turn into Google ads, who knows, but for right now, it just tells you it’s not available.

Kevin: So it seems clear that at least this week Google has completely taken over this podcast, but with this particular announcement, it seems like Google is progressively taking over the Internet. Piece by piece, they’re going, “Well, there’s another piece of the internet that you guys aren’t doing a good enough job at, so we’re going to rebuild it ourselves and prove that we can do a better job.”

Are we going to get to the point where although the web is an open standard, everyone is using the Google Browser with the Google Web Server and the Google Search Engine and the Google Public DNS… Is it all going to be Google?

Patrick, are you using any Google things?

Patrick: I do use Google things: Google AdSense, Google Search. That’s primarily… I’m sure there’s other products in there, I use Google Maps occasionally, Google whatever, some different Google stuff. I think it’s interesting because there’s always this discussion about Google and giving them too much power and there was like an interview with Eric Schmidt about him saying where if you don’t want to people to know that you’re doing something, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it, and he was answering that in question of sharing your secrets with Google and typing in search terms and how this data is used. Some people tool umbrage to that basically, he’s saying you shouldn’t do something, well, you should know about it.

So I mean there’s this train of thought where if they have too much power over the Internet, it will be bad for everyone – I don’t know, I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory, but I do like some separation from Google. There’s nothing wrong with putting your eggs in different baskets, and I’ve discovered that revenue-wise from my websites too where I have been hit by being too involved in one area. So I think it’s a good idea to separate, but at the end of the day, you’re going to use what works best for you. If that’s Google, then that’s Google.

Kevin: It’s a little depressing that Google does all of these things better than anyone else. You know, in my mind, there should be a company that is best at doing DNS and they provide the DNS and a company that is best at building browsers and they provide the browser, but it just seems like, I don’t know, Google has so much money or so many people working for them that anything is web-related or internet-related, they’re just at the top of the game.

We saw that on the desktop with Microsoft. For a while there, although the desktop computer, you could install whatever applications or whatever OSes you want on it. Everyone bought a computer with Windows on it and they came with Microsoft Office and you used… Anything that Microsoft released for Windows was the best thing available. You wanted an encyclopedia for your desktop, you bought Microsoft Encarta because Microsoft built the best encyclopedia and it seems like Google is the Microsoft of the Web.

Patrick: I think it starts with being dominant in one thing. I mean, I think that’s how you make your foothold. Google, obviously, was Web Search was what they created their business around and then they used that money to jump into these other arenas and then that’s how they’re building out, and I think Microsoft was similar with the operating system and then branching out.

I like capitalism and all that stuff, so I think of it as this is kind of cyclical—one corporation is big and dominant now or maybe multiple corporations, but there’s always room in this market, in this industry for someone to come up and innovate and do something differently and they can be the next big corporation, so I’m not all that worried.

Kevin: As cliché as it is to say that Google is not being evil in particular case, they seem to be doing the right thing just as they did with the browser. They’re announcing it saying, “Look, we think we can think of some ways that DNS can be done better, and we’re going to try it and everything we learn, we’re going to make it open source and we’re going to share our results and so that eventually everyone else who makes a DNS server can implement these same things.

It seems like this public DNS is a test case for them and it seems likely that if it proves to be much faster, internet service providers will be installing Google’s DNS software in a few years’ time.

Patrick: That could sound a lot scarier if you added a few words and uses a spookier voice like for example, “Google said they would open source this and share it with … the government.”

Kevin: Yeah, it’s all spin, but compared to the way Microsoft dominated the desktop, I think Google’s dominant position on the Web is a much more open way they’re going about it. Everything they’re doing is backed by an open standard that someone else is free to take and run with. It just seems like the only people that have the time and money to run with these things right now in a convincing way is Google, but you’re right. I think it is cyclical, and it’s a matter of time.

Patrick: So do we drink every time you say Google or how does that work, because I thought we weren’t supposed to mention them.

Kevin: I forgot to mention the drinking game at the top of the show.

Brad: Wouldn’t get past the second article!

Kevin: Listeners at home, pause this podcast and get your favorite drink out because there will be plenty of opportunities.

Our next story is about … Google! And Google Chrome specifically. We were just talking about the Google Chrome browser and the biggest gripe that I’ve had with it for a long time, and Stephan, I’m sure, would echo my sentiment if he were here today as Mac users, we haven’t had Chrome on the Mac and at last, we do.

Google has released Google Chrome Beta for the Mac, and in the same week, they released extensions for Google Chrome for Windows only.

Brad: Yessss!

Kevin: One-upped yet again. Brad, tell us what we’re missing out on as Mac users.

Brad: You’ll catch up eventually. Well, it actually hasn’t officially come out yet, but they’re speculating it should come out next week or what they’re calling their extensions gallery, which will essentially be a portal or a web site where you can go on and browse different extensions and install them. They’re kind of comparing it to the Chrome theme gallery that’s set up now where you can kind of browse through different Chrome themes and easily one-click installation-type stuff. There has been a lot of kind of unofficial ways that you can install extensions, but I’ve never actually got those to work a lot of them, and it’ll be the nice to just have the official way to install extensions finally coming to Chrome.

Kevin: Are you sure it’s not up? I’m looking at chrome.google.com/extensions, and it looks like a directory of extensions and there’s an install button. It’s just disabled because I happen to be looking at it on the Mac.

Brad: Yeah, it would appear. I see. What you actually have to do— It’s telling me to install the Beta Channel of Google Chrome to install extensions. I don’t know if it’s… It looks like there’s some kind of beta.

Kevin: Ahh! Well, listener, by the time you hear this, we may have Google Chrome Extensions live, but it’s exciting and we don’t have it on the Mac yet.

Alex Payne, who interviewed on this show just last week on Twitter said, “Until I can manage bookmarks, block Flash and ads, and use 1Password, Chrome for Mac doesn’t exist for me,” and I have to agree with that one. I am also not going to be switching to Chrome until it’s a full-featured browser, but good on Google for getting it on the Mac.

Brad: The big question is will Chrome maintain its speed once you get 4, 5, 6 extensions installed.

Kevin: That is the big question.

Brad: That’s been a big draw for me. Just the speed alone blows everything else away.

Kevin: And that was the draw for Firefox when I first switched to it from internet Explorer. “Wow, it’s so much faster,” but load it down with 5 or 6 extensions and depending on what those extensions are and how well they’re written, suddenly you have a slow browser again.

Patrick: Why the heck is an ad blocking extension the fourth most popular extension on their web site? Have they forgotten their business? What the heck is going on here, Google? Get it together. You’re hurting everyone.

Kevin: That’s sounding a bit like sour grapes from someone who runs a network of sites supported by ads.

Patrick: Yeah, I’m saying you’re hurting everyone that includes me, it includes Google, it includes our audience, so anyway, that’s another topic…

Kevin: What are they thinking?

Patrick: I don’t know, it’s Google.

Kevin: So yeah, download Google Chrome for Mac and also for Linux. They released the two at the same time. They have a beta of Mac and Linux available at chrome.google.com. Check it out if you want a no frills browser that goes really fast. Maybe you do.

It’s not just their browser that Google is adding extensions and boondoggles too, they have also been working on the Google Search Engine. If you go to google.com, you might notice something missing and that’s everything except the logo and the search box and then you move your mouse and the rest of the page fades in magically. There’s a blog post on SitePoint questioning the value of this called, Google Search Fade-In: What’s the Point?

I’m not sure I agree with this blog post. Guys, let’s just take an informal poll: the fade-in—love it or hate it? Brad?

Brad: I hate it. I think it’s ridi— I don’t even get the point of it. I’d like to hear why you like it.

Kevin: Patrick?

Patrick: I don’t hate things like this because the world is already too full of hate as it is, Brad.

Kevin: Aww…

Brad: Oh boy, here we go.

Patrick: So that’s the honest truth, though, but I don’t hate it. I don’t mind it. It’s fine. I have to say I haven’t seen it. I still can’t get this work on a Firefox logged in or not. I did get it on IE and I see what it is. To me, it just reminds me of playing around with JavaScript. I hate to say it but I don’t know what’s powering it, whatever, but that’s just how – it feels to me, this fade in, fade out. I guess it’s an aesthetic.

Kevin: So the deal here is that they just have the search box and you can type in your search and press Enter without ever seeing any of the rest of the stuff on the page, but if you move your mouse they go, “Oops, you might be looking for another link, we better fade that extra stuff in.” Why do you hate it Brad?

Brad: Well, the main reason is I’m at a use Google Reader and Docs on a daily basis. So when I go to Google, more than half the time, I’m going to click on that ‘more’ link at the top or to click on News. So now I actually find myself, even though it happens in about a second, I find myself almost waiting for that. I have to wait for it to show up before I can even click on it. So I feel like it’s kind of slowed me down and sure, I can just set up bookmarks or whatever but it’s just kind of a habit. I go up there, I click ‘more’, I click on whatever I’m going to and now that I feel like it’s kind of slowed me down even if it’s half a second or a second, whatever it may be, and it just seems kind of pointless to release something like this blog about it, tell people how everything’s fading in. I mean I realize they want to focus on search but I don’t get it. Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.

Patrick: The weird thing for me is that I like to see statistics. I wonder if Google has these, I’m sure they do, they have everything, on people who click on the text box even though if it’s already the focus, even if it’s automatically the focus, how many people click on the text box because I tend to do that out of habit and I cannot navigate the page without those things appearing, so I would have to get in a habit of, “Okay, it’s automatically in there, don’t move the mouse at all or the links will show up again.” So I just type it and then press Enter and I would guess that a lot of people, I don’t want to say a majority, but a lot of people click on it first. So I don’t know how that actually works, if people actually care. I guess this is Google. So they did their studies, their usability studies, their in-person labs, and all that. So I’m sure they figured out it was worth it.

Kevin: Their blog post says they tested about 10 different versions of the fade-in and this is quoting from the Google Blog: “Some of the experiments hindered the user experience: for example, the variants of the home page that hid the search buttons until after the fade performed the worst in terms of user happiness metrics.”

Patrick: Surprising.

Kevin: How do they measure user happiness anyway? “Other variants of the experiment produced humorous outcomes when combined with our doodles.” These are the special Google logos they put up on particular days. “The barcode doodle combined with the fade was particularly ironic in its overstated minimalism.” On one of the days I think it was ‘buy nothing day’ or something like that. They replaced the Google logo with a barcode that I assume meant Google and yeah, on that day the – I’m looking at the screen shot, the Google homepage was just a barcode and a text box underneath.

Brad: I’m just surprised Google doesn’t give any way to kind of turn that off. I mean as a setting under your Google account or even – you know, I’ve always kind of wondered why they don’t allow you to customize the menus a little bit.

It would be very easy for them to make a switch. You could turn that off if you don’t like it.

Kevin: There are already some Greasemonkey scripts out there for people who have browsers with the Greasemonkey extension that let you switch off the Google JavaScript code for the fade-in so it makes it go away but I find it interesting that you use google.com as your gateway to all of Google’s services. I guess I tend to log in to like apps.google.com to do that but technically, that is a gateway for people administering a Google Apps domain. So that is as arbitrary as going to google.com. I think for a customized entry page, Google wants you to use the iGoogle page.

Patrick: I’ve never used that in my life.

Kevin: That is sort of – yeah, google.com/ig, which is like the personalized homepage service and I think then, you can fill it with widgets and all that sort of stuff and it’s still got the Google search at the top. I don’t know if you need to remap google.com to iGoogle, Brad, to solve this problem for you but yeah, it is interesting how different people use different entry ways into the Google universe.

Patrick: It just doesn’t seem like it’s a change aimed at the regular, average surfer, I don’t know. It seems like it’s a change aimed at the techies who are using shortcuts on their keyboard and they know how many mouse strokes they need to make and how they limit that and stick to the keyboard. I don’t know. I don’t think that the average person appreciates the links not being there like I’m thinking of my grandfather or my parents.

Kevin: Patrick, you do hate this.

Patrick: I don’t hate it. I don’t hate it. I’m just arising pros and cons on this.

Brad: You’re mad at it.

Patrick: No, no, no, no, no, pros and cons.

Kevin: I’m going to say I actually like this. I think it’s a great user experience change.

I think most people come to this page wanting to do one thing and that’s type something into the search box and do a search and all of the stuff they’re hiding, the copyright links at the bottom, the links to all the other Google services at the top, the thing to log in to Google with your account or see your account details, the number of people clicking those links when visiting this page is so small that to burden the eye, to give you the user, that cognitive load of having to decide to ignore that stuff consciously and go for the search box, if they can hide that in a way that doesn’t prevent people from using them when Google detects that that’s what they want to do, I think it’s a great thing. I think that’s design at its best.

Brad: You know this is probably what the third or fourth like visual change we’ve seen on the Google homepage just this year, just in the last few months really. I mean they expanded the search box, they put some shiny stylings on the buttons, now they have this fade-in, you know it seems like they’ve done quite a bit to the home page when its users very small changes…

Kevin: You’re right. For something they hadn’t touched it effectively for five years beforehand except… Well, really yeah. They may have added the bar at the top to log in to the different Google services but the heart of the page had not changed for years and yeah, they are definitely mixing it up. It’s like it was taboo to touch it until recently within the company and they must have had some big meeting where they said, “Look, we haven’t changed this page, everyone’s afraid to change this page.” Go nuts. It’s like they ran a contest within Google for ideas to make that page better and they’re trying them out one at a time.

Patrick: I don’t know. Go nuts? They make the text box bigger! “Oh, my gosh!” I don’t know but…

Kevin: “It’s spinning! The buttons are spinning!”

Patrick: Yeah. It’s like they had a meeting probably, “Guys, the economy is down. We can change the page now! Go!” I mean, I don’t know but yeah. To me, everything else, it doesn’t matter to me because I can’t even see it on Firefox. I don’t know if that’s a bug with me or whatever but have at it, don’t know.

Kevin: Yeah. Craig Buckler who wrote the blog post on SitePoint, his biggest beef seems to be the extra weight it adds to the page, the JavaScript code, there is a few lines of JavaScript code that make this happen and it’s a bit more code for everyone who visits the Google homepage to download, and he even points out that it’s going to add a non-trivial amount to Google’s hosting bills because when you serve as many pages as Google does, that’s a lot of JavaScript to serve up. For a company that leaves off the closing </html> and </body> tags in their pages in order to make them lighter, he points out, it seems strange to be adding special effects with JavaScript code to the page just to make it a little slicker. I wonder what the threshold is for something to be useful versus the bandwidth that it’s adding to Google’s bills.

So that is our bevy of Google stories for this week. It’s time for our host spotlights, and, Brad, I think you said you had one on theme?

Brad: Yeah, I have a Yahoo! spotlight. No, I’m kidding. It’s actually Google. Yeah, my spotlight is actually called Google Goggles and Google Goggles is a new mobile phone application and it’s currently available only on Android 1.6+ (so either Donut or Éclair versions). It is coming to the iPhone but essentially what it does, it’s kind of the snap and shoot way to search the Web so you can literally take—and there are some apps like this out there now. You can take a picture of a book and it will scan it and bring back where you can buy the book, reviews on the book, but this actually Google Goggles (oh, that’s hard to say! Google Goggles) goes a step further and you can actually not just do books or products but you can do like landmarks. So say you snap a picture, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the examples they show, and it will literally bring back Golden Gate Bridge search results through Google right in your phone. It’s really amazing. They got some really cool videos that kind of show it and show some different ways you can use it but just the demonstrations look far beyond anything I’ve seen as far as just kind of searching before. So we’ll put a link in the show notes.

Kevin: So it’s more than an image search. It’s more than “look for other images that look like this image.”

Brad: Yeah, it’s not just products. So you can be walking in your local town. You could take a picture of, say, a restaurant and Google will scan it and then try to determine what it is that you took a picture of and if it can figure it out, it’ll bring back to relevant search results, phone numbers, addresses, whatever it may be that have to do with whatever you took a picture of. It even works with like artwork but they do have some pretty cool demonstration videos that kind of show you how all that stuff works. So just search Google Goggles and we’ll also put a link on the show notes. You can check that out.

Kevin: That is freaky.

Brad: It is.

Kevin: I’m not freaked out by technology often but this freaks me out.

Brad: It’s pretty exciting. I’m anxious for the iPhone app but I don’t have Android.

Kevin: Could someone take a picture of Brad Williams and it would bring up the latest naked Brad Williams links that we were talking about?

Brad: I don’t think I’m that popular yet but try it.

Patrick: That’s a visual. Thanks. Thankyou, Kevin.

Kevin: Patrick, what’s your spotlight?

Patrick: My spotlight is a video. It’s called The Unauthorized Biography of SEAN COMBS and Sean Combs is probably better known as Diddy or Puff Daddy and I’m a big fan of him. If you know me, you know that. I thought this was really a good example of a mashup. It takes various footage, clips, pictures, music produced by Diddy or his record company, Bad Boy Records, and it’s put together by this rapper out of Toronto named Shaun Boothe and he basically raps a biography. It’s part of his “Unauthorized Biographies” series and I thought this one was just really, really what put together as far as production-wise and just his work on it. So I thought it will be an interesting thing to checkout for anybody who’s in the video content or music and he’s got a whole series with other various celebrities as well like Muhammad Ali, Bob Marley and so on. So there’s a link in the show notes, check it out.

Kevin: That takes some stones, rapping a bio about a rapper.

Patrick: Right.

Kevin: A famous one, no less. You’d want to start at the bottom and work your way up to Sean Combs I think. You mentioned Muhammad Ali. He’d be pretty high on the list as well. You would want to get his rapped bio wrong.

Patrick: Right.

Kevin: I wonder who he did first.

Patrick: The first was James Brown. It looks like James Brown, then Marley, Ali, Martin Luther King, Barrack Obama, Jimi Hendrix, and Sean Combs is sixth. Oprah Winfrey is at number seventh I guess. The Sean Combs one is really the one that I picked up on and I think it’s interesting because I think as much as anything it’s kind of a tribute too. So I don’t think it comes off as egotistical or judgmental really and I think there is an end game here too and I think it is not only to create a piece of good content and to pay tribute maybe but also to gain attention, and I don’t know what his situation is label-wise or music, putting out music, he’s obviously interested in his own career too. So I imagine that’s a part of it as well but it’s just a really creative endeavor I thought, so yeah.

Kevin: Nevertheless, that order you listed is about right, I think, in terms of who you’d want to get in trouble with the least to most.

I find it interesting that Oprah is coming after Sean Combs.

Patrick: Yeah, I think it’s definitely questionable we add a little legality…

Kevin: Oprah will ruin you!

Patrick: I think it is. I don’t think he’s going to say bad things to get himself sued. Though, I will say that the one about Sean Combs doesn’t completely avoid any negative things, as all celebrities and people have negative things and he touches on those briefly, but another element of this is that on his Twitter page, Mr. Combs shared the link too. So he’s obviously okay with it and since he shared the link himself and even likes it, I guess you could say. I can’t speak to the other estates. Obviously, Marley, Brown no longer alive, Hendrix as well, but I think it will be seen as a fan’s creation more than anything else. So hopefully, it will be okay with everyone.

Kevin: See, that’s what I mean, he started with the dead people, no risk.

Patrick: Their estates could be meaner.

Kevin: That’s true. My spotlight this week is the Panic blog. Panic software is well known in the Mac world. They make software like Transmit and Coda, which web developers will be familiar with. Transmit, one of the best FTP, file transfer applications for the Mac. Coda, one of the best code editors for the Mac. And they’ve just put up a company blog, which may or may not have existed before this. I can’t really tell but if this is their first post, wow, it’s a good one, and it’s talking about the fact that Panic software apparently, as most people don’t know, they started way back in the 70’s writing VAX/VMS automation code for the textile industry and then somewhere in the 1980’s, they decided, “Enough of this automation stuff. We’re not making enough money at this. Everyone is making a fortune writing Atari 2600 games.” And so they decided they were going to write Atari 2600 games and they set about writing, I think, four games and they say in the post, “I’ll be honest, the games were disasters.” They were derivative, they were ugly to look at, they were not fun to play, and in the end, they sort of chucked it all in a cardboard box at the back of their warehouse and forgot about it until now. Apparently, they were house cleaning and they opened up this box and it was full of the actual boxes and posters that were made for these games that were never released as far as I can tell. And they’ve gone ahead and they’ve created—reading the post, it’s a little unclear, but as far as I can tell, they’ve created posters and box art for their current raft of software in the style of Atari 2600 games.

So what if the Coda code editor or what if the Transmit FTP program was an Atari 2600 game, what would its box art and poster art look like and they’ve made these boxes and posters and you can actually order them. You can get the set of four boxes for $30 and the set of four posters for $49 and if you have played video games in the 1980’s, then this will speak to you. If not, it looks ridiculous is all I have to say. panic.com/blog. It’s really, really strange. I don’t know if either of you guys have played Burger Time on the old consoles or an old computer, this game where you were in a burger restaurant. You had to flip burgers and get them out to the customers in time but it looks like the poster art they’ve done for the Transmit application, it looks like Burger Time because there’s this crazed shift running around with files and folders. It’s very strange. Some of it looks like… I don’t know if you’ve seen movie posters for things like Tron, sci-fi movies in the 1980’s, it’s also very weird. Rainbow colors and pencil sketches of crazed faces, really weird stuff but worth checking out if you’re into artwork or retro computer software.

Patrick: I have a whole stack of Atari 2600 games about 10 feet from me in my entertainment center, so, you know.

Kevin: Really?

Patrick: Actually, I have the Atari 2600 out under my main TV right now next to my Wii. How many people can say that?

Kevin: That’s impressive. Does it work?

Patrick: Yeah. It’s actually not a 2600…

Kevin: Wow.

Patrick: I’m sorry. It’s a 7800, which allows it to play both the 2600 and 7800 games of which I have a copious amount.

Kevin: Well, then. You may be getting some Panic software posters for Christmas, Patrick.

Patrick: I’ll take it.

Kevin: That’s it for the show today but before we go, I wanted to mention the SitePoint Advent sale that we’re having right now. If you go to sale.sitepoint.com, every day leading up to Christmas, SitePoint has a different deal of the day for 24 hours only. As we record this on December 8th, we have the Web Design Business Kit 2.0 and Deliver First Class Websites: 101 Essential Checklists. Those two books normally, together, cost $286.95. Today, we’re selling them for $147.95 with free shipping no less. And this is one of our more expensive deals. We have cheaper ones as well. Go and check today whatever day you happen to be listening to this as long as it’s before or on December 24th, go to sale.sitepoint.com and see what we’ve got. We have run things like the entire SitePoint Video Library for $15 in past days, lots of deals to be had and plenty to look at. Go ahead and check it out and subscribe because if today’s deal isn’t for you, tomorrow’s might be and we send you an email out every day if you want to hear about what the deal of the day is.

Which brings us to the end of our show. Sign offs, guys?

Brad: I’m Brad Williams, WebDevStudios.com and you can find me on Twitter @williamsba.

Patrick: I am Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy Network, iFroggy.com. I’m on Twitter @ifroggy.

Kevin: And you can follow me on Twitter @sentience and SitePoint @sitepointdotcom. Visit the SitePoint Podcast at sitepoint.com/podcast to leave comments on the show and to subscribe to receive every show automatically. Email podcast@sitepoint.com if you have questions or comments for us especially leading up to Christmas. We are open to your ideas for what we should be doing different in the new year, if anything. If not, we’ll be bringing you more the same in 2010.

The SitePoint Podcast is produced by Carl Longnecker and I’m Kevin Yank. Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.

Theme music by Mike Mella.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to let us know how we’re doing, or to continue the discussion, using the comments field below.

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  • Joe Zim

    I think the Google Home page fade-in is seriously pointless. Anyone using a modern browser already has a search bar built into the browser! If you are going to the Google homepage then you’re should only be doing it to use the other services they offer, in which case people shouldn’t have to wait for them to appear.
    As for the extra bandwidth problem, after someone has been to the page once, then it’ll be in their cache and it won’t have a whole lot of effect in the long run, I wouldn’t think.

  • http://seriocomic.com seriocomic

    Just like to say thanks for the transcript – I didn’t really feel like listening to anything :)

  • Mike Trigg, hi5

    Hi — I’m VP of Marketing at hi5, and came across your blog discussion about Google Zeitgeist. Kevin mentioned he hadn’t heard of hi5, so I thought I’d post a quick comment on us. hi5 is one of the largest social sites in the world, with over 50 million monthly unique visitors. We’re not quite as big as Twitter, but we’re in the same range. And our US uniques have grown rapidly this year — up almost 40% in the last six months. Our focus is on social entertainment, in particular gaming. Check us out at http://www.hi5.com

  • didxga

    Thanks for the transcript!