Thursday, April 15, 2004
Search turned Find with launch of the A9 Beta
With the launch of the A9-search engine searching became finding. I am impressed, happy that someone is making such an effort in helping people find stuff. Google need some stimuli, not that they are lazy, but competition always sharpens the mind.
There are several issues that are very interesting with A9:
1. The merger with 'Search within the book'-feature which quite quickly will become the worlds largest library searchable online.
2. The browser agnostic search history, which in a mobile context will be wonderful as typing is difficult, particularly if they involve URL’s.
3. The name is short, which in mobile context is very good.
4. Searches get personalized and there will be lots of contextual (metadata) information by applying the concept of 'People who visited this page also visited that page', which we know so well from Amazon. This should create a quantum leap in results.
In my brief test with Series 60 based Nokia 6600 using Opera A9 seemed to work very well. I would however like to see a slightly more condensed layout for mobiles, where screen real-estate is scarce. See attached screen shot and the good comment below from Jean-Yves.
The page loaded fast enough, I will at some point compare the Google and A9 via mobile.
I am a big fan of both Amazon and Google, and both companies share a deep goal to help humans educate or entertain themselves, during Easter I found myself spending maybe two hours in Amazon and it was a nice and somewhat expensive tour in the virtual mall.
As they now are competitors I hope they try hard to do good, not evil. - At least that is what they claim in their disclaimers and/or visions.
One of the key assets Google have is a verb. People might still 'google' when they actually are 'anining' (I am not sure if 'anining' would stick on the tongues globally. It looks weird written in both forms and phonetically is hard to globalize). I am curious who thought of that name, it will be interesting to see if it sticks. (There is a good explanation below, thanks!)...My silly theory of it being the guys in Seattle behind K2, and T9 got trashed.
As Google leverages their platform into 'shopping' and 'news' services, and then the leverage advertising bigtime they become a portal and then hmmm....they dissapear. The challenge is ads take up pixels and so do the content and what is more important for the stock owners of a public company looking for short term profits...OK I am speculating ahead of time...
What I still have to digest is that all my page visits get stored on the Amazon server, once logged in and provided I turn on history tracking. I registered offcourse, but will I like it tomorrow, lets see. I saw a collague today and he said no thanks.
A9 is another one of these Orkut style lets capture alot of meta data machines...will be interesting to follow the debate about privacy.
Friday, April 09, 2004
Do not litter the world with wind power
I do not believe wind power will solve our ecological crisis, it will just add another dimension to it – A visually spoiled world.
I am very fond of the Finnish archipelago, the sea and nature in general. My summers are spent in the archipelago and recently I learned that they are planning to build some wind power plants in one of the most beautiful parts of the Finnish archipelago on the Högsåra island. To me this plan is absurd! Fortunately there is now an organisation trying to stop it called Nature friends of the archipelago. I really hope they will succeed.
This is the way it is intended to look, the light house is of course man made, but the effort making one is so much more greater than putting up a wind power tower that I am not worried that they would start to litter. The old ship is man made, but it passes gently and the next moment it is gone. The picture is taken by me, but it is not from Högsåra, but just to make my point more explicit!
This rim of islands forms the boundary between the western archipelago and 'civilization'. The island is a land mark for miles as west of it is the Skärgårdshavets Nationalpark, or the Natural reserve of the Archipelago, east of it is the more dense part of the archipelago, with small villages and the Dalsbruk city. Most people heading east towards Helsinki will pass it. For many they will head towards them for a whole day, as it has been on of the main route for sailors for more than 500 years. Now the locals are planning to build wind power. Wind power is arguably one of the cleanest ways to produce energy, the towers are almost maintenance free and there is generally a movement in EU to increase the amount of wind power. Being Danish, my mother is Danish, I have followed throughout my life the gradual towerisation of Denmark, and it is almost becoming difficult to drive around the country side without seeing a wind tower. I have not gotten used to them and will never get used to them, to me they are utterly ugly. I spent some time surfing around sites about wind power and I even stumbled across a Greenpeace, video which was at most utopian as it painted wind power as the solution for global heating. Nowhere in the movie or on sites which are pro wind power was there ‘sales’ arguments how this makes the nature more beautiful! This is my key argument. Wind power is tall physical man made litter in nature.
When one reads about wind power there are three key elements that need to taken into consideration: The technology, meaning how efficient and clean is wind power, what is the business case and what are the visual drawbacks. The two first ones are reasonably easy to analyze using facts, the third one is purely based on emotion and taste and hence a so called design issue. From what I hear the business case for wind power is weak and hence public funding has been frequent, or funding from the tower manufacturers. I am not competent to argue about the first two issues and hence what interest me is the third argument aesthetics.
It is very difficult to asses the value of design in general. I tried to do it in my Masters Thesis ten years ago and I did not really solve it. Most of my professional life has been dealing with ease-of-use another design issue, and again putting a price on that has proven very difficult.
I bet if we do an aesthetic poll among people about wind power, I guess most will be against it and as that is such a key issue in wind power, I cannot but conclude: let’s forget about wind power, the drawbacks are far greater than the benefits. I really hope that I will not have to stare at those damn towers for a whole day, when I am heading home from the most beautiful part of the archipelago.
So I urge any politician to think about it in the following way: Would you like to have a wind tower humming next door from your own house? I do not think I have to try to convince the business men, fortunately they think with their wallet and as the business case is weak, less wind towers will be funded.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
A new era of Personal Computing has started. The X40 is on my desk
Just got the IBM X40, the small and amazingly PERSONAL Computer. Looking forward to getting to know this little wonder.