Google :-(

For past few days (days!!!) I’m not able to log into my account at Google (except GMail, thanks for that! – Voice/Blogger/Plus/Docs/… are all broken though). I’m either getting this message:

Sorry, there seems to be a problem. The service you're looking for is temporarily unavailable. We're working hard to restore your access as soon as possible. Please try again in a few hours. Thanks for your patience.
Sorry, there seems to be a problem.

Or I’m sent to infinite redirect loop. None of their self-help pages are useful or have this error mentioned.

Apparently if you get such message, you should read this message in opposite way:

“Sorry (or you should be sorry), there seems to be a problem. This service is looking for you and you seem to be temporarily unavailable. We’re not working on this at all, it may show up on some report at the end of the year though as lost revenue, sad, we see you spent few hundred dollars on our services, so you trust us, but of course we have enough money from everyone else. You may try again in few minutes, few hours or few days, it won’t help you though. Though we appreciate your patience, you should start researching and debugging this yourself instead, thank you.”

I cleared all Google cookies on my browser and it started working. Apparently this has happened to others too.

Update: again…

Knol

There isn’t much to talk about Knol technology – it is either nicely engineered or missing (they probably thought that search is main tool for collaboration). Of course, many issues are already covered by others, but…

My first look was at the featured articles. What was wrong?

  • It features ‘closed collaboration’. Actually, thats no different from a blog, then…
  • It doesn’t care much about the licensing – featured articles had images with “all rights reserved”, or images taken from Wikipedia, with attribution but without share-alike clause. Also, no share-alike license forbids importing of content from many other places, but as we see it – nobody cares. ;-)
  • It doesn’t care about linking. Google search was based on the web links. Wikipedia was built on top of lots of broken links (oh, and working ones too). And nobody is going to type a Knol URL.
  • It doesn’t seem to have community tools. It just doesn’t.
  • WYSIWYG editing leads to articles without structure, just some text parts bolder than the other.

So for now, it seems to be pure-engineering approach at the problem, without looking at actual work done, social implications or properly respecting copyrights.

One needs community for that. Community helps not only with content, but with style, metadata, organizing, and most of all – ensures that project maintains values and spirit.

Rant on search crawlers

This isn’t even remotely funny. Every major search crawler provides different Accept-Encoding headers that make it bypass cache and always hit the backend. It is easy to hack Squid to disregard spaces between options (as IE puts them in headers: gzip, deflate, and Mozilla does not: gzip,deflate), but some of these things make caching hell:

  • msnbot: Accept-Encoding: identity;q=1.0
  • googlebot: Accept-Encoding: gzip
  • yahoo (slurp): Accept-Encoding: gzip, x-gzip

Add Opera with it’s Accept-Encoding: deflate, gzip, x-gzip, identity, *;q=0 and KHTML with Accept-Encoding: x-gzip, x-deflate, gzip, deflate, and you get a hell where bold normalization solutions have to be applied. I guess we just have to treat it as single-bit ‘gzip’ and ‘plain’ difference, and screw everything else.

Update: squid patch :)

Google does encyclopedia: Knol

It is all closed yet, announcement by VP Engineering tells us Google is launching their idea of encyclopedia – looking for people who can write authoritative articles. No words on licensing apart from “we want to disseminate it as widely as possible”, though author-centric view is more what Citizendium, than Wikipedia wants to do.

Ad revenue sharing poses many interesting questions, especially in collaborative effort. As Wikipedia now provides page view statistics, Google (or knollers) may just work on top of the cream pages (by knowing search trends), and have very distorted overall content. Now it is closed, invite only, so we can’t tell anything more. Time will show. Good to know more organizations are believing about aggregating and disseminating knowledge – it is Wikipedia’s mission, and it is nice to have partners. :-) Though of course, there might be some tensions with Search Quality team…

Weird wit by Google translation technology

I was translating some document from German to English, that had my surname in it.
It got translated to ‘Beesley’, and I immediately thought of Angela Beesley, chair of Wikimedia Advisory Board. I started playing more, and did find, that:

  • French ‘Domas Mituzas’ to English translates as ‘Anthere fall’
  • ‘Mituzas’ in German is ‘Schindler’ (Matthias?:)
  • Spanish ‘Domas Mituzas’ to English translates as ‘Anthere Anthere’ (every wikipedian has a bit of Florence inside :)
  • English to Portuguese renders me as “Domas Lessig” (I have creative commons t-shirt :)
  • English to Chinese is “florence 100,000″…

Thats what Web 3.0 is all about. Tampering with my personality. Who am I? :)

MySQL 4.0 Google Edition

At the Conference I realized how much Wikipedia’s database operation had in common with Google – many rules and ideas of operation, problems faced, solutions imagined. Ah, there is one huge difference – they have brilliant engineers resolving quite a few of the issues, whereas we slack and live with as-is software. One of very nice coincidences is that our base MySQL version used is 4.0.26 – surprise, surprise, same one as the one Google have released patches for :) So, here the story of running MySQL fork begins… Continue reading “MySQL 4.0 Google Edition”