Now This Log

Archives: August 2001

Thursday, 30 August 2001

I propose a new word.

How do I know it's new? As of this moment, it is not in Google's vocabulary. It probably will be shortly since their web-indexing speed seems to be improving by leaps and bounds and they should be by again any day now.

So, last night I was looking over my referrers for the first time in two months, and noted with surprise the vast number of different searches that brought people to my site from Google. Apparently I show up in the first page of results on searches as different as "dave mckean graduated", "turn off SDI in word 2000", and "prevent deep linking". (...not that my pages are necessarily useful results for the above queries, but I do show up in the first page of them today.)

And looking over the list, the sentence popped into my head: I seem to be highly googular.

Meaning: this site seems to have noticeable weight in Google's index, which I understand comes from many folks linking to me who are themselves linked by many. From Google's Technology page:
Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes [links] a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important." Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search.
So, I propose that googularity refer to the importance or popularity of a page or site in Google's page-ranking system, i.e. the probability that it will appear high in the list of results for a given search phrase and the consequent contribution of additional googularity that a highly-ranked site gives in turn to any page it links to.

Googularity is probably not quantifiable in any useful way by anyone outside Google; it's more of a comparative term.

  • Microsoft's site is surely more googular than Bare Bones Software's, no matter what one's opinion may be of their relative merit.
  • Getting a link to your site from Scripting News almost surely increases your own googularity. (And no, I don't expect Dave to fall for that...)
(It turns out, I'm not so googular as I initially thought... testing several of the search phrases by which people stumbled upon a page here, my site was not in the first two pages of results on most of them. So much for that little pride bubble...)

I find the word useful; perhaps you will too. And thanks to everyone who's been linking to me all these years for getting me where I am... permanent link

Just the other day I was wondering aloud whatever happened to AltaVista; I never see it come up in online discussions any more, and I certainly never hear its name in conversation. Turns out I'm not alone: PC World checked it out and found it a bit behind on its indexing:
  • AltaVista May Leave Users Searching [PCWorld, snagged from Tomalak's Realm]
    No new Web pages have been added for months to the index behind the regional search sites, AltaVista confirmed on Tuesday.

    AltaVista says the index is outdated because the database that holds the regional URLs is being merged with the main international database. ... Ultimately the merger of the two indexes should result in a better search service, but the new Web index won't be ready for about another month...
I remember when AltaVista was the best search engine I could find; I used that for text searches and Yahoo for category searches, and that worked quite well for a very long time.

Then there was HotBot, which was better at some things (like finding people by name), then Google came along and fairly quickly became the best at everything I need a search engine for. It even took over first place in category searching from Yahoo. And it remains free to use.

All this to say: Google rules, AltaVista's comparative toast. If Google sold a black or white t-shirt that didn't say "I'm feeling lucky!" [rolls eyes], I'd probably buy it. permanent link

Unwind? When the hell does that guy wind? Come on.
-- David Letterman on President +/- 0.01% Bush's vacation

permanent link

Only because you don't see the hairline in that photo, Scott... permanent link

Wednesday, 29 August 2001

The war against making software that has lawful uses continues:
Grand Jury Charges Russian Company and Programmer []
Since the grand jury handed down a five-count indictment, Sklyarov -- who is out of custody on $50,000 bail -- could face a prison term of up to twenty-five years and a US $2,250,000 fine. As a corporation, Elcomsoft faces a potential US $2,500,000 fine.

Adobe doesn't seem to be saying anything about this development so far.

Why the DMCA should be repealed. permanent link

Pictures from Peter Gabriel's recent gig in Seattle [requires javascript]. I've never seen him perform live.

I'd really love for him to finish 'UP'...

Also, he's in the technology news:

Peter Gabriel puts a price on downloads [CNET]
Peter Gabriel's record company has launched a subscription service for Internet music downloads, beating major labels in the race to ask fans to pay for digital access to their music.

The service, called "Womad Digital Channel," will give fans a monthly package of 40 tracks for about $7.20.

I might look into that... permanent link

Kristie's got an interesting theory:
Someone suggested to me once that Mac users always put their sidebars on the right, while PC users always put theirs on the left, since that is the way their computers are set up. Hmmm....

...and it may well be true for some, but I actually moved the sidebar for practical/usability reasons (and because I over-think things like this).

Genehack has reminded me more than once that people who use text-only browsers have to scroll down through whatever's in the left column before they get to the real content of the page. The longer the left sidebar, the greater the obstacle to the reader; a site like, say, Cam's will require a Lynx user to page down several times to see today's new content. If the sidebar is on the right instead, the meat of the page will show up in the first or second screen of the text browser.

I never had much in my left sidebar, so I wasn't too worried about it before, but hey, I was redesigning anyway so I shoved it to the right.

(Pre-emptive note, just so I don't get 10 corrective e-mails from professional designers: It's true that the scrolling problem won't occur if someone lays out their page using CSS instead of tables [and puts the left sidebar material after the main content in their HTML file], but I'm not going to be doing that for another couple of years because of the number of legacy browsers still hanging around. And because I don't mind table layout all that much, even though I know I'm supposed to.)

(Also: There are plenty of good aesthetic and graphical-usability reasons for having the sidebar on the left. No one should feel bad about choosing to have it on the left. I just decided to change how I do it, for text-browsing usability. Who knows, I may change back if I get tired of it.)

So, that's why the sidebar's on the right now. Plus, I'm a Mac user. :) permanent link

Tuesday, 28 August 2001

In case anyone out there missed it, Apple's Titanium PowerBook (a.k.a. the best Mac ever) became a much better deal last week. permanent link


Carol Lay's Story Minute: Out of Time
He tried to find a time machine to take him home... but the promise of that technology was still in the future

This Modern World: If CNN were actually a 'liberal' news network...
After all, everyone remembers the network's outspoken opposition to the gulf war... the fawning coverage of their comrades in the anti-globalization movement... permanent link

One of the cool things about getting the Washington Post is that about this time of year you hear about the 'West Wing' cast coming to town for various location and exterior shots. We haven't tried to track them down (we're not that obsessive), it's just fun to hear about.
  • Bluemont Meets 'The West Wing': TV Show to Film Scenes in Town, Use School Band [Washington Post]
    The little western Loudoun County town of Bluemont will fill in for the New Hampshire hometown of Josiah Bartlet... Local officials stressed that the show's set is closed and that uninvited spectators will not be allowed. ..."Bluemont is so small, there's just nowhere to put spectators," Kilday said. "People can't just think one or two of them won't matter. It will matter."
  • 'West Wing' Dismays the North: New Hampshirites Unhappy That Virginia Is Stand-In for Their State [Washington Post]
    It's a beautiful scene, evoking the best of rural New Hampshire's traditional connection to old-time political stumping. But this is not rural New Hampshire. It is Bluemont... [New Hampshire] is especially sensitive about impostors because New Hampshirites are almost uniformly portrayed in movies as a bunch of plaid-wearing farmers gathered around a little white church -- and filmed elsewhere.

    "I certainly understand where the people from New Hampshire are coming from. But I think it's logistics. New Hampshire is not close enough," said John Spencer, who plays chief of staff Leo McGarry. "I'm a northeasterner, and I do think this looks authentic."
I understand both sides of the NH vs. VA disagreement, but shows have budgets and it's television fiction, not a documentary; Virginia wins. permanent link

Right then. Thought I was slacking off, didn't you?

Nope, I've been making the transition to managing this portion of the site with Greymatter instead of with Frontier/Radio Userland.

This involved various redesign work, as you can see. This design may evolve some over the next month or so...

Using Greymatter will make it much easier for me to post one link at a time instead of having to create a whole day's worth of content before posting anything (which is how I've done it for years). This lowering of the barrier to posting will hopefully mean I'll post much more frequently. We'll see.

Anyhow, welcome to the new Now This log. I'm enjoying it more already. permanent link

Links, exploration and
synthesis from
Steve Bogart

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photo by my wife
If you want to be e-mailed when there's new stuff here, say "add me."
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