Cuil Search Engine
Published by Toronto Mike on July 28, 2008 @ 10:52 in Technology
Cuil, pronounced cool, is the newest search engine out to steal a slice of Google's pie. I just checked it out for the first time by searching for toronto blog.
The results were fantastic! I mean, look at what's #1 in Cuil when you conduct that search. That's pretty cuil.
Rogers Hijacks Our Web Browser
Published by Toronto Mike on July 21, 2008 @ 12:56 in Technology
At home, our ISP is Rogers. Judging from the analytics I receive for this site, many of you are also Rogers customers. It appears Bell and Rogers dominate the residential internet access space in the Greater Toronto Area.
When you put a term like "cnn" in the address bar, your browser typically adds on the .com for you. When you put a term like "torontomike" in the address bar, your browser typically treats it like a search and renders the results for that keyword in your default search engine. This is how the browsers work because it makes for the best user experience.
Rogers has decided to hijack that practice. Rogers customers who now put a term like "torontomike" in the address bar are automatically redirected by default to a Rogers-branded Yahoo search for that keyword, complete with obtrusive graphical advertisements at the top and right hand side, not to mention the textual sponsored links beneath that Rogers logo. Below is a screen cap of what you see with Rogers.
If you're a Rogers customer, here's how you stop the hijacking. At the very bottom click "Learn More About This Page" and agree to opt out of this madness. The opt-out is cookie-based, so if you clear your cookies you'll need to do it again.
What pisses me off is that I pay Rogers for access to the Internet, not for messing with the content. Take my money and give me a pipeline to the net where I can use whatever browser I choose and visit whatever sites I choose. I'm not paying for jerkware.
How The Blogosphere Works
Published by Toronto Mike on June 29, 2008 @ 12:47 in Technology
Yesterday afternoon, before heading over to East Side Mario's to celebrate a couple of birthdays, I asked for help finding three Canadian songs in MP3 format. These are three songs I adore but have never had in my collection. That fact alone tells you're they're a little obscure.
By the time I got home, I saw a comment from Jason on that entry required my approval before being published. To combat comment spammers, I moderate all comments with 3 or more links in them. Jason was linking to his blog and two music blogs that he thought might be able to help me in my search.
I manually approved Jason's comment and, as people clicked through my site to the music blogs he linked, those blog owners saw traffic to their blogs from TorontoMike.com. As any good webmaster would do, they clicked over to see who was linking to them. I do this as well when I check my referral logs.
Miss Parker from Rave and Roll saw what I was looking for and was able to share with me the Demics and Diodes tracks. Shortly thereafter, at about 12:19am, the 3rd and final track came through thanks to Brian. In less than 12 hours I had the three songs I was unable to find on my own.
This is a great example of how the blogosphere works. It takes a great big world and connects it digitally via search engines and referral logs. It's much clearer in the chart below I just threw together.
Things the Web Replaced
Published by Toronto Mike on June 21, 2008 @ 16:14 in Technology
My kids will never know a time before the World Wide Web. I was already in university when the web arrived, so I have many memories of doing things that I no longer do as a result of this communications revolution. Here are some things that the web has replaced.
Encyclopedias - I think everyone over the age of 30 remembers the encyclopedia as the definitive reference point. It's where I'd start when doing an assignment or writing an essay. The thing about encyclopedias was that they were heavy and expensive and out of date so quickly. Furthermore, you could read them at the library, but you couldn't take them out. The web means I don't even think about encyclopedias any more.
Maps - I remember those big maps that were impossible to fold. You had to have one to plan your route, and you needed a Perly's or MapBook for driving directions. Now, it's all Google Maps for me and the paper map you buy in stores may rest in peace.
Letters - Remember when you had to write a letter, put it in an envelope, slap an address and stamp on it and drop it in a mailbox? My friend spent a year in Sweden and we communicated in this archaic fashion. That wouldn't happen today, we'd keep in touch via email.
Reference Books - It's not just encyclopedias. I used to have one book with info on movies, another with info on rock bands and others with baseball statistics, hockey players, not to mention the good ol' dictionary. IMDB killed the movie book, AllMusic killed my rock band anthology and BaseballReference and HockeyDB killed my sports stats books.
I'm sure there's more, but these are a few things that the web has replaced. Oh yeah, throw the fax machine in there. Who's faxing anymore?
The Best Firefox Yet
Published by Toronto Mike on June 17, 2008 @ 18:15 in Technology
With more than 15,000 improvements, Firefox 3 is faster, safer and smarter than ever before. I've been using Release Candidate 2 of Firefox 3 for a couple of weeks now and I'm loving it. It's faster, that memory leak seems to have dried up and there are neat enhancements all over the place.
It's been four years since I gave Internet Explorer the boot for Firefox 0.9 and I've been converting family, friends and colleagues ever since. Try it for two days and you'll never go back. After all, it is Download Day.
CRTC, Get Your Damn Hands Off My Web
Published by Toronto Mike on May 17, 2008 @ 10:24 in Technology
Canadian Thinker is calling it "scary stuff". I think that's an understatement. The CRTC has reversed it's 1999 promise to stay out of the realm of cyber space and is now looking at limiting Canadians' access to online broadcasters and Internet-based radio stations. It may also see a levy charged to Internet service providers to pay for the creation of more Canadian content online and they're looking at the practice of "traffic shaping" by ISPs in this country.
Net neutrality is important and our right to view content regardless of country of origin via this medium is now threatened. As Canadian Thinker said:
The CRTC has enough trouble handling what's on it plate already, without wading into the murky waters of cyber space.
As it stands, the CRTC is nothing more than a lackey for the major broadcasting companies in Canada, I'm sure Canadian internet providers would like to have their competition squashed as well.
Before it's too late, let's tell the CRTC that CanCon has no place on the world wide web.
Google Friend Connect
Published by Toronto Mike on May 12, 2008 @ 11:21 in Technology
The Google Press Center just made an announcement about Google Friend Connect. Here's what Google Friend Connect entails.
Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social -- and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect (see http://www.google.com/friendconnect following this evening's Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming -- picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.
Visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.
I love this idea. I don't know if it will stick, but I'm going to implement Google Friend Connect right here, just for kicks. Stay tuned.
Published by Toronto Mike on May 3, 2008 @ 21:17 in Technology
Microsoft is withdrawing its offer for Yahoo! after talks between the two companies broke down on Saturday.
My reaction can be summed up in one word... Yahoo!
Previously on Toronto Mike:
The iPhone is the One
Published by Toronto Mike on May 1, 2008 @ 20:02 in Technology
This is been a busy mofo of a week. I'm just coming up for air, was there an announcement about the iPhone coming to Canada?
Oh yes, here it is. In the worst kept secret in Canadian telecom history, Rogers will be bringing Apple's iPhone to Canada later this year.
In 2005, I outlined the ideal phone for me. I wanted a phone that wasn't just a phone, but an MP3 player, web browser and more. Then, in 2007, I declared that I had found what I was looking for, and Apple was calling it the iPhone. The iPhone would be my very first mobile phone.
Since I wrote that entry, work has given me a Blackberry. So long as I'm not seeing an invoice, I won't be switching, but once I'm paying my own way, I'm knocking on Apple's door. The iPhone is the one.
Published by Toronto Mike on April 30, 2008 @ 17:03 in Movable Type, Technology
Boing Boing has a little write-up about how NYTimes.com hand-codes its HTML. I'd link to the NYTimes.com article, but you have to register to read it.
I've been hand-coding all my HTML and CSS for a decade now, and I doubt I'll ever do it any other way. Over the years I've tried the design part of Dreamweaver and other wysiwyg HTML editors, but the control I'd sacrifice always reminded me how much faster and effective it is to hand-code.
About five-years ago I wrote about this subject, but I'd like to modify my opinion since then. I still love the control, take pride in the accomplishment and find the entire process to be rather romantic, but I've learnt hand-coding and Movable Type can coexist for optimal performance. The HTML and CSS is still hand-coded, but a sweet CMS like Movable Type can do all the heavy lifting for you. It's thinking smarter instead of harder.
Khoi Vinh, the Design Director of NYTimes.com, says the following:
It’s our preference to use a text editor, like HomeSite, TextPad or TextMate, to “hand code” everything, rather than to use a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) HTML and CSS authoring program, like Dreamweaver. We just find it yields better and faster results.
I couldn't agree more.