Google is starting to lose it

Everyone loves Google. The media loves to talk about Google’s “innovations” and the way they have revolutionized computing. I, frankly, never understood what the big deal was. Sure, Google changed the search business, but that’s the only innovation they had going for them, adsense/adwords notwithstanding. AdWords brings in a substantial portion of their revenues, if not the biggest. And even that is starting to lose its lustre thanks to greater pressures to generate more cash. Robert Cringely, of PBS fame, took a jab at the AdWords algorithm in his latest column.

An AdWords advertisement I can see why Google would let go of quality control in their AdWords service. After all, who cares about quality when it brings in the cash. If poor quality advertisements show up on my blog, it is my fault, not Google’s for having keywords in my content that link to pitiful ads.

The ad on the left was showing on my blog this morning, and since it seemed intriguing, I clicked on it. Now, before you say Click Fraud, let me tell you that you don’t get paid for clicking on your own Adsense ads since your IP address is tracked. The ad gave me the impression that I would somehow be able to download Windows Vista Beta 2 if I clicked on it, and so I did, only to pull my hair later. Why would Google do anything to instigate such a response? I thought one of their corporate philosophies was not being an evil company? What I saw on my browser was like an “adfarm”.

Google ads link to more ads!

Yes, someone was ingenius enough to pay for AdWords, and then have his keywords linked to a webpage with more ads (using a service called AdBrite) to generate net income for himself. As you can see, the webpage is pretty deceptive, and if you’re an unknowing scavenger looking to lay your hands on Windows Vista Beta 2, you would probably try clicking on 3-4 different links before you realized that it’s all a sham.

Where is Google’s quality control? Why am I being forced to carry these stupid advertisements on my blog? What should I do about it? I am thinking I should stop using AdSense altogether and switch to Yahoo! Publisher Network or something else. Quite simply, I am dismayed by this, and am starting to hate this company (Google) now.

I don’t know if I should react so strongly just because some company that pays me with half a peanut for every click on the ads it places on my blog tried to tarnish my content with its repulsive, unmoderated ads. Maybe I am overacting. I wonder how many people have had an experience like this.

The best way to seek software development interns

This webpage has got to be the best potential opportunity advertisement I have ever seen on the Internet. Truly remarkable. There’s not much crap, is straight to the point, tells the student that the company has something great going for it, and most importantly, tells a lot about their work culture in very few words.

Which software engineer/developer/architect/designer doesn’t like to spend long hours toiling in front of the computer at the wee hours of the morning? This company offers the promise of that sweet self-inflicted torture along with the benefit of location. Excellent marketing. The company offers free accomodation, free food, free entertainment, free sodas, and access to a plethora of nightspots. I am sure even Google doesn’t offer all that to their interns.

Now, if only I were in college.

Link: http://www.fogcreek.com/Jobs/SummerIntern.html

My bit on education in India

I just came across this interesting news article on MSNBC that blames textbooks for America’s downtrend in technological and scientific leadership at the global level. The article goes on to say that textbooks in American schools are too thick, archaic, and politically motivated. All sounds good until the article mentions that one of the reasons why India is doing so great in the knowledge and service economy is because of the good textbooks and school systems.

I have studied at Government schools for the most crucial years of my pre-college life. They are nowhere world class, or even good. The textbooks are more often than not, a complete waste of money, and are much more politically influenced than anywhere else. How can you forget the controversies surrounding them that crop up every year or so? In fact, I remember being taught the English language in Hindi!

Indian textbooks, atleast the official Government published ones, are designed basically to provide low cost education. They are really inexpensive. Most students know better and often purchase supplemental books to help them score higher in exams. If I spent Rs. 30 on a government textbook, I would be spending Rs. 300 or more on the supplemental book/guide written by more renowned authors.

I guess a very major difference between “here and there” is that in India, no one expects to be spoon-fed. There is so much competition that everyone is on their toes, perpetually, to figure out ways to outdo the other smart kid in school. At least I didn’t expect to get world class spoon-feeding at my Rs. 45 a month Government school. This is especially true in fields like science and math. Indians, by nature, stress a lot on both these subjects. It is acceptable to score in the 70s on your Hindi exam but anything less than a 90 on the science course calls for disciplinary action.

Then there’s this thing about choice. A lot of Americans are given the choice of what area/interests to pursue very early on during their schooling, whereas the earliest Indian students get a chance to make any type of choice is around the age of 16 when they decide if they want to be future engineers, doctors, artists, or writers.

Schooling doesn’t stop at the school. Almost everyone, especially the science and math majors, enrolls in post-school hours academic coaching which is often very rigorous. Coming back home at around 10PM after studying all day isn’t a rarity in India. You have to be a notch up than your neighbour if you want to succeed. There’s competition to even get into colleges, much less graduate from it.

In the end, I think it’s your personal motivation that matters more than textbooks or anything else. Sure, good schooling makes all the difference in life, but a good school system/books and poor students isn’t going to make anything happen. It’s all about imagining yourself at some position and then working your way to that position.

My tryst with (almost) pervasive Internet

What’s different about this post is that although it is being composed on my laptop, the Internet connectivity is provided by my cellphone. I have to admit, the feeling of being able to surf the Internet wherever your cellphone takes you is very nice. I have actually never used my phone’s GPRS (it doesn’t support the faster EDGE) capabilities to do anything more than use Google Local on it, or periodically check my emails while on the move/highway.

The setup using my Sony Ericsson S710a software was pretty straightforward, and once I have the requisite bluetooth modem driver, I can just setup a regular dial-up connection in Windows to connect to the Internet instantaneously. Cingular’s coverage is awesome, and although there are periods when the GPRS fails, the connection is overall pretty rigid, and FAST!

I can’t wait for this technology to mature more and eventually reach critical mass. Once that happens, I could see companies like Microsoft literally making cars with operating systems being navigated through the Internet. Not just navigation, a fast pervasive Internet means a breadth of services like customized “Waypointing”, family tracking, and even sharing media with other family members on the go. I have always prophesized Microsoft manufacturing cars in some way, and a pervasive Internet could just be the driver for that initiative, especially when the car is becoming more like a general purpose customizable Dell hardware piece with lots of embedded/special purpose software that controls everything from the brakes to the cooling.

Sometimes, I feel like getting trained to be an effective visionary!