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Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Brief History of the Web- Part seven...











  To my dear readers, I apologize for the delay of part seven.  The one downside of my recent popularity on the blogging scene, and having to write articles for a number of major commercial websites, now including eHow.com, is that my time is a more precious commodity.

  I will not give up on this blog, and the maximum time between posts here should be about two days.

  My 'A Brief History of the Web' series is among my most popular work, and I aim to please!

   Make sure you read any parts you may have missed, first:



  So, there have been some major successes on the web, and the one I'm focusing on in this post is still a huge player, if not the HUGEST player, today.

   Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  They were PhD students at Stanford University.  They first met in 1995.   The following year, they created a search engine called BackRub, for the use of Stanford students and faculty.


1996 BackRub screenshot, courtesy of blogoscoped.com

   BackRub- at old URL http://backrub.stanford.edu, don't try it now, you'll get a 404, became very popular on Stanford's campus.  It soon grew to a point that Stanford decided their bandwidth couldn't handle it anymore.

   Now, if Stanford were clairvoyant, they would have invested money into giving BackRub more bandwidth somewhere else, but they didn't.  Obviously, that was but a minor hurdle for Page and Brin.

The very first screenshot of Google, from 1997.  This page was still hosted at backrub.stanford.edu.
     So, they started Google, in 1997, technically speaking.  'Google' is a play on the word googol, which in mathematical terms, means 1 plus 100 zeros, a number I won't bother to type out here.  The name was intended to represent the nearly infinite number of web pages that can be found by Google.

From 1998, finally using the google.com domain.  This is the very first appearance of Google's colourful logo.  Soon afterward, the font was changed slightly, and the exclamation mark was dropped.  No more pretending to be like Yahoo!
  
  Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim wrote Page and Brin a cheque for $100,000.  I'm sure Andy doesn't regret it now.   PC Magazine soon made Google their favourite search engine in their list of 100 Favorite Websites, toward the end of 1998.

   Throughout the very end of the 1990s and the first few years of the 2000s, Google grew at a shocking pace.

   By 2000, Google launched in a number of different European languages.

A quick evolution of the Google logo, courtesy of amitbhawani.com
 

 As pretty much all of us know, Google is famous for doing fancy stuff to their logo on special occasions, or for special reasons.  Here's the very first 'doodle' logo, for New Year's, 2000:










  Then, they did Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day.  Next up was St. Patrick's Day.




   Below are some more interesting 'doodles', done in the year 2000:



                  
Summer Olympics 2000, in Sydney


Hey, here's Halloween 2000, and today is Halloween 2010!

Yes, the skating penguins are a culture neutral 'Happy Holidays' graphic, but is this really a nod to us Linux freaks?

  In recent years, Google's 'doodles' have caught on so much that they've had the permission of the owners of major intellectual property to use their entertainment properties.





  And recently, they've gotten REALLY creative.  Here are some Google 'doodles' that are really abstract:

To commemorate Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille, a way for the blind to read by touch.
A barcode, pure and simple.
Celebrating Samuel Morse, the inventor of Morse code. 

  And some more very interesting 'doodles':


Tetris!  There was a time that my father couldn't get enough of the game...
UNIX date: 1234567890
Tetsuwan Atomu, otherwise known as Astro Boy, for us Osamu Tezuka loving otaku...
A jazz fan like myself must tip my hat to Dizzy Gillespie!
Commemorating the 'gogol', how apropos...
Getting warm and fuzzy with Norman Rockwell
How many decibel places have we determined of pi, yet?
A Doodle4Google competition winner from 2008, Germany's Mai Dao Ngoc
In honour of Eric Carle
September 9th, 2009's 09/09/09 09:09:09
Her Majesty the Queen visits Google's HQ

   And Google has even done some pretty cool interactive stuff, with video and Adobe Flash.

  

  This video logo celebrated John Lennon's recent 70th birthday.  See Remembering John Lennon: An Objective View for my thoughts on the man.


  This logo is playable!


   The above is a .png graphic, but you may play the Google Pacman Doodle here: google.com/pacman


  And finally, for my 'doodle gallery', anyway, here's today's 'doodle', using Scooby Doo to celebrate Halloween 2010:



   It's done in Flash, and each 'paw' brings you to another frame in the picture story.


   Anyway, enough of that for now!


  We all know that Google has expended far beyond web search.  I use a number of different Google services, such as THIS blogging format and host, Blogger.com.  Most blogs hosted here are yourblogname.blogspot.com.  Google bought Blogger by buying Pyra Labs in February 2003.  When I create the RSS feed for this blog, I use Google's acquired Feedburner.com.  Please subscribe to it here, you'll be in good company!  http://feeds.feedburner.com/kimcrawleycom-BrightIdeas  Google's biggest moneymaker is AdWords/AdSense, and I make a little bit of money by running ads on this blog, as well as a share of the revenue from Google ads on my articles at Blogcritics and Dragon Blogger.  According to my legal agreement, I may not click on my own ads- I wouldn't even consider it.  I'm not even allowed to say, "please click on my ads!"  I also use AdSense to promote my web design services at KimCrawley.com.  Soon, my domain will lead to an index page promoting my OVERALL online content freelancing services, including web design, graphic design, and article writing/journalism/blogging.  My web design website will simply be hosted there, right now my domain and index.html simply leads to my web design site.

  Google offers a plethora of other services, and even has excellent browsers, closed source Chrome and open source Chronium.  Google's Android OS is used on more and more smartphones, it's still a much better smartphone OS than what Apple uses for their iPhone.  But, Apple sucks overall, anyway, see Why I'll never spend a dime on Apple...  Microsoft has done poorly in the area of smartphone OSes, and hence all of the recent promotion of Windows 7 Mobile.  At least they're not Palm.  And I can't forget my home province hero, RIM, the creator of the BlackBerry.

  Anyway, I digress.  If things keep going at this pace, my ass will be tattooed with 'property of Google'.  I'm not a Google 'fanboy', (I'm more of a FOSS/Linux 'fangirl', if you can't tell) but I'm certainly in awe of their success, I'm even using their services AS I TYPE.   Will Google ever become a corporate disaster story?  Or will they be 'blue chip' for decades or even centuries?  Only time will tell.


  I will do my best to publish parts eight and nine while I'm in the pharmaceutical lab from 5:00pm tomorrow to the morning of Thursday the 4th.  Obviously, I plan to post the first part of Diary of a Lab Rat tomorrow, too, writing about my experiences.

  Friday, I'll be attending my very first 2600 meeting.  I will also be bringing my Ubuntu netbook there.  I expect to be the least knowledgeable person there, by far.   I study IT, and I'm learning programming, but I'm REALLY green.  So, I hope to make some new friends who can teach me stuff, even indirectly.  I certainly have a lot of respect for the hacking community.  I may be blogging about those meetings, too, but only publishing stuff that isn't confidential.  (Hackers are NOT criminals, crackers are.  But even at some Oprah book club meeting, some matters may be confidential.)

  When I have time, I'll change the colour scheme of this blog for better readability.  It'll be a time consuming process, and I'm stubborn about it.  I love black and fushia so damn much! 

   I'm very busy with Blogcritics, Dragon Blogger, and Demand Media/eHow.com as well.  You'll be reading lots more of me, folks!




Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm obsessed, Janelle Monae edition






   Dear readers, I've been super busy lately.  My writing is in high demand, now!  I've got a review to write on Invizimals (a PSP game) for Blogcritics, I've got aricles I'm writing for ehow.com, and I've been writing articles for Dragon Blogger, as well.

  My personal blog, this one, is still very important to me, and part seven of 'A Brief History of the Web' will be online tomorrow, but not today, as I originally said.

  My 'Obsessions' series posts take a lot less time to create than my longer, more text and research heavy articles.  I didn't want to miss a second day posting here, so I'm writing another 'Obsessions' article, as a snack to tide you over until tomorrow.

  There is a very talented young lady who released her first complete major label album in May.  Her name is Janelle Monae, and she's getting a lot of recent buzz, deservedly.  (Unlike some people I know, cough, cough, Ke$ha, cough, cough!)

  I love innovative soul and hip hop, and her recordings are revolutionary.

  The album she released in May, The ArchAndroid, is a very creative concept album, loosely based on the classic 1920s film, Metropolis.

   My fellow Blogcritics writer, Jelani Sims, wrote a very thoughtful review of The ArchAndroid.  You should check it out!

   Enjoy a little bit of the album here:









  See you tomorrow!











Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Toronto's Loss Is Hamilton's Gain






Collaged images courtesy of miaminewtimes.com, treehugger,com, hamiltonwaterfront.com, and raisethehammer.org



   That was quite an election Ontario municipalities had on Monday night, eh?  

   Strangely enough, both of the candidates I voted for won, my Hamilton mayoral candidate, Bob Bratina, and my ward 11 councillor candidate, Brenda Johnson, won.   

   I was elated about that.

   But then the bad news about Toronto came, Rob Ford is Toronto's new mayor.   
   If I was still living in Toronto, I don't know if I would have voted for George Smitherman or Joe Pantalone.   Joe was the candidate I truly believed in.  He was an excellent team player for the most recent Toronto mayor, David Miller (a man I like).  Joe believes in Transit City, the public transit plan approved by the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario to add a lot of LRT (light rail transit) to busy Toronto routes.  I have a lot of friends in Toronto, and I'm in Toronto, especially downtown, very frequently.  My friends and I will really benefit from Transit City, a plan Rob Ford opposes.  

    And Rob Ford's the man who is being referred to in that 'wife-beating, racist drunk' sign in the photo montage above.  Is Rob Ford a 'wife-beating, racist drunk'?  I'm not 100% sure, but he certainly seems that way.  There was a publicised 'domestic issue' at Ford's house a bit over a year ago that the cops got involved in.  And, when Ford toured China in 2008, he was quoted as saying, "Those Orientals, they work like dogs!  They sleep by their machines, they work so hard!"   Maybe he's not racist, but he definitely can be culturally insensitive.

   On the topic of racism, cultural insensitivity and xenophobia, there's something I've got to get off of my chest.

   Someone I know gave me a phone call last night.  She sounded excited.

   "I sent an e-mail to our new mayor!"  She isn't from Hamilton, or Toronto, but for her sake, I won't reveal her Ontario city or town.

    "Okay, good for you," I replied.

    "I told him I don't want my city/town to go all multicultural-like, like Mississauga.  I said, keep the brown people and the turbans out!"

    "Oh, my gosh!  What you did was so racist!"  I was outraged.

     "No, no.  I didn't use language like that..."

     "I feel very uncomfortable with you, right now,"

     "Fine! See you later!" she yelled, and hung up.

     I was really, truly horrified.  Racism and xenophobia from a mere acquaintance is disturbing enough.   But, hearing it come from someone I've known for many, many years made me sink into a bit of a depression.  I chain-smoked and drunk voraciously last night, my way of coping.  

    My liberal, tolerant, progressive values should be glaringly obvious, especially to someone who knows me well.   That she thought she could tell me that and I would approve, well, that infuriated me.

     Racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, those are some of the ugliest facets of humanity.   Yes, there's Islamophobia, too.  A lot of these Islamophobics don't realize that Islam and Sikhism are two COMPLETELY UNRELATED RELIGIONS, and that it's Sikh men who wear turbans.  But, hatred toward Muslims and hatred toward Sikhs is equally horrible.  These hateful Islamophobes don't even know who they're hating!

    This particular racist person will probably end up reading this.  They may accuse me of violating their privacy.

    Well, my message for you is this- you sent that e-mail to the new mayor's office.  That e-mail had your FULL NAME on it, and your identifying e-mail address.   Twenty or so people from the new mayor's office could have seen it.  With your proper full name, and knowing what city/town you live in, you can easily be identified.

    According to my Google Analytics, a typical post on my blog now gets a couple of hundred hits.  

     But, the vast majority of my readers don't know you.   I went out of my way to not offer identifying information, not your name, not your relationship to me, and not even which municipality you live in.   

     You violated your privacy, by choice, by sending that e-mail, without a proxy server or hiding your full name.   Whereas, by the details in my blog, you're just some random person from Ontario, one of millions.

     I want you to apologize to me, privately, for sending that e-mail.  Your action made me deeply depressed.

     Dear readers, how would you deal with a situation like this?

     Anyway, I'm very happy a good man, Bob Bratina, is my new mayor, and a good woman, Brenda Johnson, is my new councillor.  And of course, the mayor of my old hometown of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, was re-elected, marking now over thirty years of being Mississauga's mayor.  She is an international record breaker, and a true legend.  

     And, there's some good news about my professional blogging career!  The popular technology and entertainment news source, DragonBlogger.com, has taken me on as their newest writer.  I wrote my first article for them yesterday, Why Newbies Should Use Linux.  You can read it here: http://www.dragonblogger.com/newbies-linux/.

     So, now, if you want to read ALL of my articles, you've got to:
  1. Keep checking out my personal blog, KimCrawley.com- Bright Ideas, http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com.
  2. Keep visiting Blogcritics.org.   My author page is here, http://www.blogcritics.org/writers/kim-crawley.
  3. Don't forget about Dragon Blogger, http://www.dragonblogger.com!
   And now, I might be paid good money, per article, to write for Demand Media, visit Demand Media's Wikipedia page to read more about them.  My articles would be syndicated, in an objective tone unlike the strongly subjective tone of my other online writing, and anonymous, non-attributed.   So, if you read one of those articles, you won't even know it's me.  But I've got to make a living, tokidoki merchandise doesn't buy itself!

   

     Part seven of my 'A Brief History of the Web' series hits tomorrow.






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Monday, October 25, 2010

A Brief History of the Web- Part six...








   I've mentioned the great AOL Time Warner debacle previously in my 'A Brief History of the Web' series, at least a couple of times.   I was just teasing you, whetting your appetite for a tasty disaster story.

  Are you ready for it?  Here it is!

  Make sure you've caught up with this popular series, before diving further in to this post, part six:



   Throughout the 1990s, as the World Wide Web rapidly grew in users, Prodigy, Compuserve and AOL started to take a hit, even though all three services started to offer a web browser, starting around 1996.

   AOL was the obnoxious alpha male of the online service providers.  You know what they say, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

   Back in 1985, before AOL was named AOL (or America Online) and I was being potty trained, Jim Kimsey and Steve Case started an online service for Commodore 64 computers, years before the web existed.   It was named Quantum Link.  Below is a screenshot from that year.  Commodore 64 screenshots!  I'm going hardcore now.  Hardcore!

Quantum Link on Commodore 64 in 1985

   America Online started as a BBS system for Apple computers in 1989.  By 1991, AOL was launched for DOS and Windows OSes.  AOL proceeded to explode in popularity, adopting poor business practices along the way.  As they were the big guy on the block, compared to Prodigy and Compuserve, their competitors, they thought that they were 'all that', and became aggressive.  In the mid-1990s, people had to scrub all the AOL CD-ROMs that accumulated everyday off their backs, in the shower with a rough loofah.   After a long shower, hundreds of CDs would wash down the drain. 

   It was terrible!  You just had to be there...

   And if you wanted to call to cancel after your 700, 1000, or 6666 'free hours', AOL's CSRs were forced to make cancellation impossible.   'No' didn't mean 'no'.  'No' meant 'yes'!  As you were saying 'no', several new charges would show up on your credit card bill.  'No' meant 'I want to sign up for 100 years', right?

   Ladies and gentlemen, here's an evolution of AOL logos, from 1991 to 2010:

AOL logo, from 1991-2006
AOL logo, from 2006-2009

A series of new 2010 AOL logos.  See, now the logo is just a transparency layer, to be placed on any random graphic you want.  Is this creativity, or desperation?
   
   Oh, you guys keep telling me you love the old screenshots.  So, here's some for aol.com:

An aol.com screenshot from 1996, back when they could do no wrong...

aol.com in February 2000, mere weeks after the announcement of the AOL Time Warner merger

  
aol.com in January 2001, around the time the AOL Time Warner merger was legally and financially finalized

  And here's a logo AOL Time Warner adopted for the 2000-2001 merger:





   Yes, back in 2000, Time Warner was a sweet, wealthy young lady who laid eyes on the new kid on the block, AOL.   AOL had a little less money than Time Warner, but was still pretty wealthy at the time.  Time Warner would scribble in her notebook in pink pen ink, "Mrs. AOL, Mrs. AOL, Mrs. AOL..."  She thought, as AOL was such a pushy big guy, who seemed to be on the cutting edge of a new technological revolution, that marrying him would make her even MORE wealthy, even though she still made a little more than he did, at the time.

  Miss Time Warner came from an old money family, very well established in the media and corporate communities.   AOL wanted the kind of legitimacy he could only get from marrying old money.  Time Warner wanted to be hip, cool, cutting edge.

  Each had something the other wanted.  "Babe, with my fancy Internet stuff and ISP subscriber base, and your content generation, media properties (including Bugs Bunny!), Hollywood investments, television and magazine subscribers, we could take over the world.  Just you and me, babe!  Once we rule Planet Earth, Marvin the Martian should be no problem!"

   "It's synergy!  SYNERGY!  The hottest new word of the new millennium!  Why, in Fortune magazine's January 2000 issue alone, the word appeared thousands of times!"

   A week or so after AOL and Time Warner's engagement was announced to the world, Time Warner's Time magazine did a cover about it.

   Now, I don't feel so bad about writing about my father's books here or on Blogcritics.org.   Thanks, Time Warner!


  
   And here's what happened to AOL's subscriber base, after the merger:

This image is courtesy of Wikipedia

   By 2002, AOL lost $99 billion dollars, the largest loss ever for a corporation at the time.  AOL and Time Warner filed for divorce in 2003.

   What do couples fight about most often?  Money, of course!

  Now, AOL is a mere shadow of it's former self.  To continue my corporation=person metaphor,  AOL is now flipping burgers at his local McDonald's franchise, making money, but $6.00 an hour pales in comparison to $6 million an hour.

   The other big name in the 'dot com' bust of 1999-2001 was Pets.com.

Pets.com screenshot from the year 2000
    Pets.com received a huge amount of money from investors from 1998 until 2000.  Amazon was actually one of those investors.  What was Jeff Bezos thinking?

     He was probably thinking what most business people were thinking at the time.  "If you spend enough hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, a 'dot com' is sure to become a huge moneymaker!"

     Well, all that money spent did have some effect.  By 1999, millions of people were familiar with the Pets.com sock puppet mascot.  "Why shop at Pets.com?  Because pets can't drive!"



   The people behind Conan O'Brien's Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, who debuted in 1997, sued Pets.com over their sock puppet mascot.




  
Really, the lawsuit was pretty silly. Don't those Americans realize MuchMusic and CityTV's Ed the Sock first appeared on Canadian television a few years earlier?





   Anyway, Pets.com was a corporation for less than two years, fizzling out by the year 2001.   Many other multi-million dollar 'dot coms', such as Garden.com and Webvan also crashed and burned before 2001 was over.

   Part seven is coming up in a couple of days, dear readers!  The 'dot com' bust wasn't so bad, because Web 2.0, Google, social networking and Wikipedia quickly caught on.

   Keep reading this blog for the good news in the final few parts of my 'A Brief History of the Web' series.   I also have a lot more great articles, coming right up, right here!

  I also have a lot planned for Blogcritics.   Keep visiting both websites, so you don't miss a thing!






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