October 28, 2005

Google Trivia!

Having talked about Google's Philosophy, here are interesting things that many of us didn't know about Google!

The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface.

Infact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.

Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked 'Whats up?' to which they replied "We are waiting for the rest of it". To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.

One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the "Did you mean..." feature. This instantly doubled their traffic, but they had some interesting discussions on how best to place that information, as most people simply tuned that out. But they discovered the placement at the bottom of the results was the most effective area.

The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.

Orkut is very popular in Brazil. Orkut was the brainchild of a very intelligent Google engineer who was pretty much given free reign to run with it, without having to go through the normal Google UI procedures, hence the reason it doesn't look or feel like a Google application. They are looking at improving Orkut to cope with the loads it places on the system.

Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren't told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.

Google has the largest network of translators in the world

They use the 20% / 5% rules. If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included. At least 5% of people need to use a particular search preference before it will make it into the 'Advanced Preferences'.

They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base. They run labs continually and always monitoring how people use a page of results.
The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'

Gmail was used internally for nearly 2 years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.

They listen to feedback actively. Emailing Google isn't emailing a blackhole.

Employees are encouraged to use 20% of their time working on their own projects. Google News, Orkut are both examples of projects that grew from this working model.

Google has a mantra of aiming to give back each page with in 500ms, rendered.
Quote: Give Users What They Want When They Want It
Quote: Integrate Sensibly
Google believes in giving surprises. Thats why they keep things closer until the D-day!

via http://alan.blog-city.com/an_evening_with_googles_marissa_mayer.htm

October 27, 2005

Google Philosophy

Courtesy: Future Google by Battellemedia.Com

I read this list of "Ten things, Our Philosophy" on Google home page!

Worthwhile, for any one who wants to succeed!!

1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.

Take care of your customers. Customers will take care of you. Study what your users needs and deliver them without comprimising anything! Once you build loyalty, they will follow you until death!

2. It's best to do one thing really, really well.

Do one thing. Prove it. Be the best in it. Then, everyone will think that 'If you are good at this, then you are good at everything possibly!'

3. Fast is better than slow.

Everyone want their works to be done faster. Just provide the users what they need quicker than they can expect. Google says, 'it may be the only company in the world whose stated goal is to have users leave its website as quickly as possible'. Sounds funny?

4. Democracy on the web works.

People power. If you want to make a successful business, use your customers to your advantage. Google literally uses every web users preferences (links). Democratising Innovation, do you remember?

5. You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer.

Life is on the move. Who needs a PC to access information. Go Mobile. Serve Anywhere!

6. You can make money without doing evil.

The founders of Google had tough time convincing business people that advertising without flashy, tupid, annoying pop-ups can produce revenue. Today, no wonder 'text-ads' are making billions!

7. There's always more information out there.

Webpages. Photos. Addresses. Blogs. What next? Always you will have more information growing. Different categories.

8. The need for information crosses all borders.

Speak every language. Fulfill everyone's need. Build and deliver solutions across borders!

9. You can be serious without a suit.

Being inside Google is fun. Atleast every outsider is convinced, so. What you wear, what you discuss does NOT matter until you produce valuable goods!

10. Great just isn't good enough.

Never rest. Always build something better. Better is an incredibe word. Think what else can you improve.

I love to read these kind of stories (lessons) and would like to use them in my life / business. ofcourse, I would love to share them with you, atmost!

October 24, 2005

Once upon a time: The 'G' Story

It began with an argument. When he first met Larry Page in the summer of 1995, Sergey Brin was a second-year grad student in the computer science department at Stanford University. Gregarious by nature, Brin had volunteered as a guide of sorts for potential first-years - students who had been admitted, but were still deciding whether to attend. His duties included showing recruits the campus and leading a tour of nearby San Francisco. Page, an engineering major from the University of Michigan, ended up in Brin's group.

It was hardly love at first sight. Walking up and down the city's hills that day, the two clashed incessantly, debating, among other things, the value of various approaches to urban planning. "Sergey is pretty social; he likes meeting people," Page recalls, contrasting that quality with his own reticence. "I thought he was pretty obnoxious. He had really strong opinions about things, and I guess I did, too."

When Page showed up at Stanford a few months later, he selected human-computer interaction pioneer Terry Winograd as his adviser. Soon thereafter he began searching for a topic for his doctoral thesis. It was an important decision. As Page had learned from his father, a computer science professor at Michigan State, a dissertation can frame one's entire academic career. He kicked around 10 or so intriguing ideas, but found himself attracted to the burgeoning World Wide Web.

Page didn't start out looking for a better way to search the Web. Despite the fact that Stanford alumni were getting rich founding Internet companies, Page found the Web interesting primarily for its mathematical characteristics. Each computer was a node, and each link on a Web page was a connection between nodes - a classic graph structure. "Computer scientists love graphs," Page tells me. The World Wide Web, Page theorized, may have been the largest graph ever created, and it was growing at a breakneck pace. Many useful insights lurked in its vertices, awaiting discovery by inquiring graduate students. Winograd agreed, and Page set about pondering the link structure of the Web.

It proved a productive course of study. Page noticed that while it was trivial to follow links from one page to another, it was nontrivial to discover links back. In other words, when you looked at a Web page, you had no idea what pages were linking back to it. This bothered Page. He thought it would be very useful to know who was linking to whom.

Why? To fully understand the answer to that question, a minor detour into the world of academic publishing is in order. For professors - particularly those in the hard sciences like mathematics and chemistry - nothing is as important as getting published. Except, perhaps, being cited.

Fair enough. So what's the point? Well, it was Tim Berners-Lee's desire to improve this system that led him to create the World Wide Web. And it was Larry Page and Sergey Brin's attempts to reverse engineer Berners-Lee's World Wide Web that led to Google. The needle that threads these efforts together is citation - the practice of pointing to other people's work in order to build up your own.

Which brings us back to the original research Page did on such backlinks, a project he came to call BackRub.

At the time Page conceived of BackRub, the Web comprised an estimated 10 million documents, with an untold number of links between them. The computing resources required to crawl such a beast were well beyond the usual bounds of a student project. Unaware of exactly what he was getting into, Page began building out his crawler.

The idea's complexity and scale lured Brin to the job. A polymath who had jumped from project to project without settling on a thesis topic, he found the premise behind BackRub fascinating. "I talked to lots of research groups" around the school, Brin recalls, "and this was the most exciting project, both because it tackled the Web, which represents human knowledge, and because I liked Larry."

Extracts from The Birth of Google, Wired Magazine

Google Week!

Starting today, we are going to explore Google Inc. for the next 5 days.

The questions like,

How did they start Google?

Did they ever imagine this success,

What things are driving them,

How to end their party (If you wish to)

What takes to really beat them in their own game etc.

Come and join me in this fascinating journey to explore the G industry!

Note: I take freedom to choose some news articles (which I enjoyed over the years).

I guess you will enjoy too..

regards, Thiru

October 23, 2005

Democratising Innovation

While I went to a laundry I read this article about "Democratising Innovation" . Don't worry about it, I will tell what it is. Usually, the companies do the market survey, do their product developments in the labs and come up with the final product in the market.

Now, it's time to change the approach says, ERIC VON HIPPEL - Professor and Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

He talks about 'lead users' - who are about 10 to 20% of the normal users (consumers) - who can innovate and improve to suit their convenience. If you can extract ideas from them and mass-produce their customisations - you can win a big market.

For example, ages before the companies started thinking about "Mountain Bikes", some mountain hiking specialists customised their bicycles and used their 'mountain bikes' with added gears etc. Now, you can see Google..which does similar kind of thing..uses people to innovate for it. They let all the source codes open and let people to come forward with innovative applications such as Froogle..

So, just let your customers do the thinking - while you enable your people to extract them and use them!

You can download and read the entire book "Democratizing Innovation" at his home page.

Millions of brains are better than a single brain. Don't you think so?

October 18, 2005

Sania on Time!

//But it's her singles game that has truly taken off in the last 12 months. A series of stunning performances has pushed her world ranking from 326 to 37, which means she has risen faster and further than any other player this year—male or female. Besides the last 16 of the U.S. Open, she won her first WTA title on home ground in Hyderabad in February, and made the final of the Forest Hills Classic in New York in August. "Her best tennis is incredible," said U.S. Open victor Kim Clijsters during a press conference. "She's probably hitting the ball a lot harder and cleaner than a lot of the top girls." Unbecoming, perhaps, for a traditional Indian Muslim girl. But cute, in a way.//

Text and Image from http://www.time.com/time/asia/2005/heroes/sania_mirza.html

October 15, 2005

Independence Day Poll - Results


I have published the results of the Independence Day Poll (Remember  Independence Day Poll – a small survey on the theme of 'Bribery / Corruption in India'?) at http://wethinkasonenation.blogspot.com/2005/10/poll-results.html

Thank you for your participation. You may write to me if you would like to know any related things.

Thanks and regards,


October 13, 2005

Great Team vs. Great Individuals!

Jacques Kallis exits as Australia celebrate, Australia v World XI, 2nd ODI, Super Series, Melbourne, October 7, 2005

Courtesy: Cricinfo, Getty Images

The world looks upside down. Rest of the World (ROW) XI is down under. Australia literally on top of this Planet as far as Cricket is concerned. (Enough Blabbering, Let’s come down to business!)

Here are my observations:
1. No matter how great the players are, you can’t build a great team (ROW) with them in few days.

2. ROW Players from same nationality seemed to have worked in tandem. For instance, Sangakkara takes a stunning catch off Murali (3nd Match, Symond’s dismissal), whereas he missed an easy one off Daniel Vettori.

3. ROW Players took pride in their own achievements not necessarily about the team’s. Lara went for his own shots and never played for the team. (Team, what?)

4. There were few occasions (excitements) when the Rest of World players admired and complimented each other and enjoyed playing side-by-side.

5. Finally, in the 3rd and final ODI, Mike Hussey showed the ‘missing element’ in the Rest of World team. Commitment for team’s cause!

Now, time for the Super-Test. I bet the match won’t last for six days (If Australia bat for 3 or 4 days, it may!).

So, what do you think?