random, google | View Comments I've been using Gmail since the invite only beta, my first received email was 6/15/04, and overall I have 8353 emails stored, which means that: I am currently using 896 MB (19%) of 4647 MB. Not bad, wish Google tracked the amount of spam I've gotten in that time frame. What does everyone else's account look like?
google, china, censorship | View Comments
"Google Inc. is committed to doing business in China despite criticism the company has faced for abiding by Chinese government censorship restrictions, co-founder Sergey Brin said this week. ... Brin told a small group of invited journalists: "I think it's perfectly reasonable to do something different. Say, OK, let's stand by the principle against censorship and we won't actually operate there". But he then added: "That's an alternative path. It's not the one we've chosen to take right now". ... At a regular news briefing in Beijing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the Chinese government viewed Google's involvement in the country positively. -- ReutersSo it is perfectly reasonable for a company who's sole mission is to bring the world's information to your fingertips and was founded with the motto "Don't Be Evil" to work with opressive governments to censor such words as:
- human rights
- bird flu
- water pollution
- tank man
google, china, censorship | View Comments "Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course." http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060606/ap_on_hi_te/google_censorship_3
grid computing, google, yahoo, hardware, internet, microsoft | View Comments A comment I left on Wes Maldonado's blog has started a conversation about grid computing. He posted on Digipede, a Windows centric way to do distributed computing and I responded that it would be "nice" not to be forced to do this type of work on an operating system that required a GUI. That set off another post about cost effectiveness and using existing infrastructure, points I don't disagree with. In an IT environment with a lot of computers running Windows and a problem that allows you to do distributed algorithms easily, Digipede seems pretty exciting. Ever since the original Distributed.net, I'd wondered if a company would bring a product like this to market. It is something that I would have a lot of fun playing with. That said, my point on electricity and running super computer clusters on Windows still stands. My comment wasn't intended to disparage Digipede so much as point out the problem that Microsoft is going to have competing with companies like Google and Yahoo for the next generation of Internet Services. Some have estimated that Google's data centers have well over 100,000 COTS PC's setup in a distributed grid. Google is running Linux, which can run headless without a video card, or the need to install any GUI package. Linux has been "designed" to be completely scriptable from a command line interface. Windows however, appears to have a tight integration between the GUI layers and the NT kernel. As far as I know, it is impossible to install Windows on a machine without a video card. Obviously, the GUI layer will be paged to disk on all these machines, but the cost of a video card multiplied by several hundred thousand is needless. The other competitive advantage Google and Yahoo have is the scriptability of Linux and FreeBSD. While PowerShell is a step forward for Microsoft, my view is that the UNIX environment wins on system administration scriptability. The key to building super computer clusters is easy system administration. Perhaps Microsoft can leverage their existing infrastructure and prove that GUI tools can do everything the UNIX ones can and more, but they are starting with less experience. Google has already proven they can do it effectively. My back of the envelope estimation is that Google Linux sysadmins are each responsible for between 1,000 and 2,000 servers. I don't see a Microsoft solution for that yet, and I don't think the Digipede product is intended to compete in that type of environment. Digipede also probably isn't going to compete in the National Labs super computer arena either (at least yet). The second problem is any kind of parallel programming is really hard. Even threads prove a huge challenge within a single application. While clever, I don't think that Map/Reduce is a magic bullet either. A lot of algorithms simply don't scale linearly with computing power, so adding more hardware just burns a hole in your wallet and in your data center's air conditioning. All that said, there are plenty of places that products like Digipede would fit perfectly. Mainly, I am interested to see how this all shakes out, as we see Microsoft, Google and Yahoo building their data centers close to hydro-electric power to cut costs. Sun is also a dark horse in this whole race, building out their grid infrastructure and custom chips that suck less juice. I can't wait to see more!
google, internet | View Comments Lem Bingley at IT week blogs about the millions of blogs now running adsense that rarely, if ever break the $100 limit that Google requires before they cut you a check. This made sense in the early days of Adsense, since they were still mailing checks to everyone. It certainly isn't cost effective for Google to mail out $0.10 checks all over the world. However, with electronic transfers now enabled, they've kept the limit the same. Even banks don't make this much money of the float. If Yahoo or MSN really wanted to cut into the long tail of adsense, they would lower the minimum payout for electronic transfers to something more like $25/month. The other major complaint that I have with Adsense, is that I am not allowed to set a bid price on what ads can appear on my site. Google controls it. If they determine that my page rates $0.01 ads, that's the ad they place. Granted, it is in their best interest as well as mine to put the ad most likely to recieve a legit click-through. However, it may not be in my best interest to clutter up my page with $0.01 advertisements. I should be able to set a minimum bid price for an ad to appear on my site. If I bid too high, then ads don't show up, but since I'm not making much money anyway, I probably won't care. My visitors will be more likely to come back and read something else I wrote. I am very much looking forward to good competition in this space. I've tried the Yahoo Beta program and it isn't close yet. I hope it gets better soon.
google, china, censorship | View Comments I've been passing time watching documentaries. Along the way, I've discovered that Errol Morris is incredible. Yesterday though, I watched the BBC's take on Auschwitz followed by PBS Frontline's excellent Tank Man. Tank Man is the Chinese Citizen who stopped a column of tanks holding two plastic shopping bags. Seeing how few people stood up to the Nazis and their death camps and the difference that those who did made, it was even more striking seeing Tank Man. It is clear that one concerned citizen can make a difference. In China, huge economic reforms were taken after the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising at the cost of any political reform. In essence, the city people traded freedom for wealth. I suppose the root of the idea is as old as giving the people their quotient of circus and bread, but China took it to an extreme. The fact that it was so easy and the people went along so well made me examine my own country, the U.S.A. We've heard a lot lately from Ben Franklin's quote, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." We're all still trying to find the right balance here after 9/11, and it feels like many people feel we went a little too far trying to find elusive safety, giving up essential freedom along the way. Beyond safety though, it seems that we all are willing to give up essential liberty for purchases. Give a citizen a cell phone, an iPod, cable TV, and a nice car, and he's not going to be concerned with politics. Most revolts seem to stem from widespread economic disparity. After all, the American revolution was started over unfair taxation. For all of China's booming success, the economic disparity is growing daily. The capitalistic approach has largely been benefiting the cosmopolitan city dwellers, with the peasants providing near slave labor in the factories. How bizarre that a country that started out as Communist is only increasing the differences in the classes. In fact, in the country most peasants can't afford to send their children to school. Frontline gave some statistics on the confrontations happening between the Chinese government and the peasants and they have been increasing dramatically every year. There is a good chance that there will be another Chinese revolution if the economic reforms don't move to more people in the country. One can hope that it will give the Chinese people the freedom that they deserve. Seeing Tank Man stand up to those tanks made me want to stand up for the Chinese people too. It is distressing that many companies helping China oppress their citizens are American. Google's China presence censors out all references to Tank Man in their image search: