Monday, March 27, 2006


Ex Googlers and Ex Amazonians

Xooglers started out about 5 months ago as a great resource by ex-Google employees, with some very informative posts about the early days at Google.

Posts have slowed down recently, and the recent article on high paying adwords ("mesothelioma lawyers", "tax attorney", and "mortgages" all get mentioned) from certain angles looks just like an attempt to attract high priced click income to the site. However as pointed out in the comments, these keywords dont carry nearly as high a price as made out - the prices quoted are for results on Google search pages, not on third party sites.

(In fact, the original story seems to lead back to CyberWire who published a long list, though its also been picked up by a good few heavyweights, such as John Batelle).

If stories of the early days at what have now become Internet giants interest you, can I also recommend Geeking with Greg, by Greg Linden, who often touches on his early days at Amazon, when not giving in depth insights into personalized search in general, and Findory in particular.


Riya photo service can't count

Riya, the online photo service whose widely advertised feature is its face recognition, finally opened its doors to everyone this week.

In just a few days they raced to over a million photos uploaded, though for all I know, they may be several times that by now.

I noticed, that they are obviously indexing (some of) the EXIF data to be found in most digital photos, and was curious as to what makes of camera were most popular.

So, I did a quick set of searches, which gave me the following results
Those totals are suspiciously close too each other, so I frankly do not believe them. I therefore expanded my search some more, to look at other popular search words - namely some numbers, in which I would expect the number 1 to be massively more popular than any other number. The results of this were as follows:
Again, all the totals are from a very small range, which suggests that none of these results can be trusted to be accurate. We've grown used to search engines giving us "estimated" numbers, especially when their indexes are up in the billions, but when you are hovering just over a million, yet always get about 20,000 as the answer to any query, then it looks as if someone can't count!

As requested, to help the team at Riya find posts on problems with their service, I'm hereby noting that riyasux.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Konica Minolta's Garage Sale

Minolta were the first manufacturer to market an autofocus camera, variously produced with the Maxxum, Dynax, or Alpha brands depending on geographical location, and over the years have had many innovative cameras. However sales always placed them a long way behind Nikon and Canon, and their inexplicable decision to hold off producing a modern digital SLR for so long must have led to many photographers deserting their platform for one of their competitors.

(For the curious, they did indeed have an early digital SLR, the RD175 in around 1995, but for that to have been your only digital camera capable of accepting your lenses for a full 10 years in this fast moving market must have been a death knoll. Their second digital SLR was produced for their APS based Vectis lenses, of which there was a very limited range, and so had few attractions).

When it did eventually come out, the Konica Minolta 7d had a few tricks up its sleeve - body integrated anti-shake being its unique selling point. It's a great camera, but came too late to save the company, even with its cash injection from merging with Konica. This has been followed by a cheaper entry level difgita SLR camera, the Konica Minolta 5d, which uses more plastics in its construction to bring costs down, but is otherwise mostly feature comparable with the 7d.

With just these two cameras in its digital range, and much of the entry level (equals huge sales potential) already gone to Canon, Minolta have found that photography does not make economic sense for them any more, and in Janauary 2006 announced their withdrawal from the photographic market. The assets are being sold to Sony, who will be producing new cameras to fit the existing Minolta lenses.

In the UK, Morgan Computers, a well known outlet for end of line equipment at good prices, has secured what they describe as a "massive factory clearout" - they are offering both digital and film camera's for sale. I suspect stocks are limited, especially for the prime items.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Google Reader does JSON and Atom 1.0

The new share feature in Google Reader has been noted in a few places, not least of which is on the main Google Reader Blog.

A brief but informative post at Persistent Info by Mihai who worked on the feature, gives a few key technical insights into the implementations. Key amongst these are the fact that
Blogger has long used an obsolete Atom draft format, so its about time that they moved to the released spec. JSON is an interesting technology, and Google is in this instance behind Yahoo, who have offered JSON output via many of their APIs for a while now.

Update: It's also worth taking a look at Niall Kennedy's post where he reverse engineered the Google Reader API.

Update 2: Also very worthwhile seeing Tim Bray's comments on the Atom data they are outputting.