Category: Interweb

Cuil Needs Work

The Interwebs are buzzing with Cuil news today, a new search engine developed by a few Google expatriates. Cuil (pronounced “Cool”) aims to index all web pages, something which Google does not do. Considering the buzz and the potential, I gave it a quick test run, but I was not impressed. My first search, like most egomaniacs, was for my last name “mekosh”. This is what Cuil returned yesterday morning:

A screenshot of Cuil\'s results for \

Granted, when every major media organization points traffic at a new site there are bound to be problems handling that server strain. Even Apple suffers growing pains; see MobileMe. I know I’m not an Internet legend, but my name is on dozens of sites; I should be able to see results the first time.

The search for my surname appears to be returning results now, but they are not the results I’d expect from a Google-killer. On the first page of results for “stephen mekosh” is a proxy site stealing my content and inserting links into it. Not cool. Furthermore, the most obvious result for “mekosh” would be this website, but doesn’t even appear on the first page of results; it’s on page four. It’s hardly necessary to mention that Google does much better.

I would hope that even if the first page results aren’t that useful, they would at least be arranged in a helpful manner. This is not the case either. As my friend, Joe, mentioned, the multi-column layout makes scanning results an annoying and slower process. Furthermore, the images next to the results are rarely accurate. Several people and images were combined with results for my name, yet none of them were correct or applicable to the content.

Some websites are humble giants, all massive influence and little bravado; Cuil is neither. When you launch a site with the tagline of “The World’s Biggest Search Engine,” you had better bring your A-game. At this point, Cuil is nothing more than a reminder that Google search is still the best available.

Google Map Improvements

I noticed earlier this week that Google has added some new features to its already great Google Map site. I’m not sure if these changes have been rolled out gradually city-by-city, but it is now possible to see the outlines of individual buildings and Metro stops.

It appears that the individual buildings feature is limited to major downtown areas. If you scroll a few screens to the right of the image above—to Little Italy—the individual buildings are not shown. I’m not sure if Google plans to add more areas to the map or even more rural areas, but it’s certainly an interesting, if not particularly useful, feature.

The Metro stops are also a nice addition, but without more information (not even a pop-up?) they aren’t very helpful. If they expand this to include bus stops and other public transportation options, this would be a huge improvement over the MTA’s terrible maps and general user-unfriendliness.

Script Kiddies Must Die

Within the past week, Turkish hackers losers decided to hack the Forums using a simple exploit of phpBB‘s session handling twice. Why? I have no idea. There are only three forum members and hardly any activity, so why anyone would go to the trouble is beyond my understanding. Were they tired of popping zits in their parents basement or what? I respect people who know how to hack and do so with good or benign reasons, but corrupting forum databases for no reason at all? It’s not cool, it’s sad.

I’m a Micropatron

I am a micropatron

It’s true. I put it off until the very last day, but I contributed my $2.50/month to help Jason make blogging his full-time job. For the sheer number of great links I’ve followed from his site, it would be worth it for me to help keep him in business. However, I really like the way that he went about the whole “micropatron” idea; it’s kind of like PBS doing their annual fundraiser in order to keep their channel commercial-free (or paying for HBO or satellite radio). It’s not a new idea, but bringing sponsorships to the blogosphere is just crazy enough that it might work. And then, there are the gifts. Mmmm… TextDrive “webhosting for life.” I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Not Creepy Enough to Spam?

I received an amusing spam today from an email address based at in my Gmail account.

Gmail Spam Screenshot

I’ll bet that “kvfmdtmb” didn’t know that I have all of my email forwarded to Gmail, but he/she/it still should be careful because “Gmail is nearly immortal!” Don’t worry “kvfmdtmb,” your crap is “Spam.”

A Sneaky PayPal Fraud

I read this interesting snippet on Boing Boing:

Until now, it’s been easy to spot a PayPal fraud site by the telltale URL. But here’s a PayPal fraud page that uses a Microsoft feature/bug (take your pick) to overwrite the scammer’s URL with a legitimate-looking URL. If you make the page small, you’ll be able to see the fraudster’s URL.

The scam page does a pretty good job of covering up the URL, but if you have the Google Toolbar, the script for the page breaks and it shows you the scam URL in the address bar and the faked PayPal URL in the Google search box on the Google Toolbar. Score another one for Google’s Toolbar.

I just noticed that the script that displays the fake PayPal URL also will show that URL on that section of the screen even if you have other windows opened over the web browser window.

Google AdSense Image Ads

Apparently, Google is now offering image ads in their AdSense program in addition to their established text ads. They are targeted—or relevant, as they say—but it seems a little odd for Google to divert their focus from a non-obtrusive advertising format to images. Perhaps Google isn’t making as much money with their AdSense as they did when they were new.

Most likely their reasoning behind this has to do with the fact that most large publishers already serve image ads on their pages along with text-based ads. However, one has to wonder if Google’s upcoming IPO has convinced them to increase the value of the company? They wouldn’t be the first company to sacrifice some ideals in the face of Big Money. Anywho, it’s all speculation.