Category Archives: Interesting Items

Things SWCP staff members found interesting, or fun.

Mobilegeddon is Upon Us

“Mobilegeddon” is a funny way of referring to Google’s latest change of its search engine ranking algorithm. Of course, whenever the world’s most-used means of finding things tinkers with the way it works, people are concerned and easily spooked. You can see how the changes affect overall rankings here. But this particular tweak only affects smartphone users and the websites they look at – which these days, may be a whole lot of people but it’s still nothing like an Armageddon, except possibly to panicky overworked web-designers. Starting April 21, Google began ranking websites for smartphone users by how mobile user-friendly they are. But these rankings will only affect Google listings accessed by smartphones – traditional desktop, laptop, and also tablet user rankings will not be affected in any way. And it applies not just to entire websites, but page by page. This is Google’s way of encouraging website owners and developers to make their sites more easy to use on smartphones, where Web usage continues to explode. Tiny screens and different needs Surf on a cell-phone for a short time and the need for such modernization is soon obvious. Most websites that look great with huge pictures, small type, and plenty of fashionable white space on a nice large desktop or laptop screen look bad and are hard to navigate on a tiny handheld device. Scrolling and zooming all over the place can be very frustrating, and it’s hard … Continue reading

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Internet Is Still Not TV – But It’s Getting There

This Sunday’s showing of the much-awaited 5th season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones grimdark fantasy drama was anxiously watched, and not just by avid fans. The wildly-popular series also provided an excellent real-life test case of just how good Internet streaming could be in the wake of the FCC’s historic decision to support Net Neutrality. The results were highly encouraging. The episode topped cable charts for the week, hauling in an estimated 7,997,000 viewers. Only pro wrestling came near. And despite rampant piracy, including the first four episodes of the new season leaking on the Internet, Game of Thrones broke its own audience record. The event was also a test case for HBO’s brand-new standalone streaming service, HBO Now, aimed only at Apple users, which survived without crashing. However, Dish TV’s Sling streaming service was not so lucky, with users citing delays signing in, not being able to get the show or even any other Sling channels on various platforms, including Roku and Xbox. Sling is Dish TV’s service for those unwilling to subscribe to cable, but this is not the first time it has had problems. March Madness basketball’s semi-final game also caused the service to falter. The basic reason is the hidden difference between TV and the Internet. As we’ve written before, TV and the Internet work by completely different and opposite models. TV, even cable and satellite, is a broadcast medium – content is sent out … Continue reading

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Is Google Getting Too Big?

Google, the most widely-used search engine on Earth, is involved in much more than noting LOLcat links. It has both gobbled up products and services and come up with its own, ranging from a host of online tools to physical products like Android smartphones and even driverless cars. Their product list features no less than 47 categories of online services, 7 just under “Specialized Search”. Despite the occasional misstep like Google Glass, it’s been an amazing success story. However, recent developments may cause some wondering at the extent of the company’s influence and ambition. In Europe, for instance, Google has been under investigation for 4 years for antitrust violations. Complaints have come from publishers in Germany and in Spain, as well as Microsoft Europe and travel sites, including Expedia and TripAdvisor in the US. CEO Eric Schmidt is set to visit next week to work things out. The stakes are quite high; the company could be fined billions of dollars. He also needs to address the raft of complaints on privacy violations. Europe’s “digital czar”, Günther Oettinger, recently fired off a blast at Google and Facebook, warning of the US giants’ exploiting Europeans by harvesting and selling their personal data. He called for a single European-wide law to protect their data privacy, and has spoken ominously of taxing American companies operating there. Investigation into antitrust charges has also begun in Russia after a complaint from a native search engine company. … Continue reading

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