Archives for May 2008

Follow me on Twitter, FriendFeed, or RSS

I changed it so that anyone can follow me on Twitter or FriendFeed. The links to follow me are and .

And of course you can subscribe to my RSS feed if you want. You can subscribe by clicking any of the buttons below:

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe to my feed Subscribe to my feed

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe to my feed Subscribe to my feed

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe to my feed Subscribe to my feed

If aren’t a subscriber yet, let those RSS buttons call to you. 🙂

What Google Knows About Spam

If you didn’t attend Web 2.0, you can watch my ten-minute keynote about “What Google Knows About Spam” (and several other keynotes) on I’ll embed the keynote below as well.

The only thing I don’t like about conference speaking is preparing slides. When I use slides at a talk, I almost always make a custom presentation. That’s why I prefer Q&A sessions; making slides is too much work.

To make the process easier this time, I tried using Google Docs to create the presentation, and then saving my Docs presentation in PowerPoint (PPT) so that the conference could easily project the slides. The “Save as PPT” feature worked perfectly for me — go Google Docs team! 🙂 Here are the slides in PowerPoint (PPT) form.

In case you want to see the slides yourself, here they are in embedded form:

In addition to simple PowerPoint exporting, it’s also easy to embed a Docs presentation on your own web page.

[Thanks to Tracy O for cc-licensing the “money” image that I used in the presentation.]

I’ve always meant to do a post to say that search engine optimization (SEO) is not spam and that Google doesn’t hate SEO, but I never seem to get around to it. This presentation gave me a chance to slip those facts into the minds of several thousand tech-savvy folks. 🙂

Custom Search Engine adds new features

Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) just announced that they now power AdSense for Search. Another nice new change is that if you provide a Sitemap, Google will use that to improve the coverage of the custom search engine.

Now let me nip one idea in the bud, because I can already feel a few people thinking it: this is not a backdoor way to get more pages in Google’s index or to improve your search ranking. The official blog post mentions that. But I think this is a win for webmasters all around. If you use AdSense for search, the product is now better and more tweakable. And if you provide a sitemap, your custom search can get much better as those urls are incorporated into a CSE-specific index.

I’ll just give you a quick anecdote to point out how easy-to-use this product is becoming. My Mom runs a charity that has a web site, and she asked me about site search. We had this email exchange over the course of several hours:

Mom: I wonder if I can add a gadget to search our website like I see on other websites. Is that hard?
Me: This is what people use to add a search box to their site:
Mom: It works. I have a search button on my blog!

At my grad school, the goal was to create something so useful that a faculty member would want to use it, and so easy that a faculty member could use it. 🙂 As the email exchange above shows, Google Custom Search Engine is so easy, it’s Mom-approved.

The Custom Search Engine team keeps pushing the technology further and further, and these two changes are major improvements. If you haven’t taken a look at using CSE for your site search recently, it’s worth taking a fresh look.

Back from Maker Faire

Man, I love Maker Faire. It’s almost as if Burning Man mated with Slashdot. Here are afew of the fun things I saw today.

In the Craft area someone showed the credit cards that they accepted, but the credit card sign was hand-made:

Handmade credit cards

Also in the Craft zone was a “postcard machine.” It was a person sitting inside a booth pretending to be a machine. You could select the postcard you wanted and push two dollars through the slot. The person in the booth would make beeping and booping noises and then slip a custom postcard into your hand:
Postcard machine

Outside, several people were driving around in mobile muffins:
Mobile Muffin

Not to be outdone, someone had decorated their art car entirely with pens and markers:
Art Car

I forget where I saw this, but someone had made a Q*bert quilt:
Qbert + quilt = quiltbert

Finally, I enjoyed this art installation about the “newspaper of the future.” It was a standard newspaper machine but had an LCD monitor that showed optimistic headlines:
Newspapers of the future

Good stuff. I bought a pair of Monkeylectric LED Bike light sets, so that should be fun. 🙂

Maker Faire!

I’m heading to Maker Faire today. It’s a fun event if you like robots, crafts, art cars, flame throwers, Coke ‘n’ Mentos shows, building your own electronics kits, knitting weird hats, Lego creations, plush monsters, power tool racing, or walking around outdoors in the California sunshine. Highly recommended if you’re in the Bay Area today.