Web Interface for AOL Data

A commenter over at Techcrunch put together a simple little web interface to the AOL search data.

Michael Arrington from Techcrunch spoke with Andrew Weinstein over the phone lastnight about this. Andrew is the AOL employee who first issued the apology that can be seen over at Techcrunch. Anyway, Michael thinks Andrew is truly pissed off about what happened, as he definitely should be.

What I’d like to know, is how the decision came about to release this data in the first place. This had to be a decision made from pretty high up the ladder. Another thing, AOL shouldn’t even allow access to this data in it’s raw format. Or, very, very few people should be able to access the raw data, except for a few servers. I mean, nobody at AOL should have any reason to use such detailed data. Instead, there should be a reporting type system that runs reports based on the raw search data, that way nobody can actually see the data itself, only the summarized reports.

I don’t think Jason’s idea of turning off logging is practical. It’s really quite simple, don’t allow access to the raw log data.

Philipp Lenssen has some pretty good commentary over at Google Blogoscoped. He’s taken some time to see what individuals are searching for, pretty amusing:

At 10:08 PM, 28963 looks for “porn sites”. 28963 quickly amends the search query to read “freee porn sites”. (Two days later, 28963 shows a sudden interest in genital warts.)

He’s got a lot more of them, so head over to Google Blogoscoped for more amusement. Garett Rogers at the Googling Google blog at ZDnet has some commentary too.

This is the type of news that will reach every single AOL user. People will be boycotting the company because of their blatent disregard for the privacy of users. As my fellow Canadians would understand — this could be the TSN turning point.

Markus Frind has put together nice post detailing how one AOL user likes searching for ways to commit murder. Some of his commenter’s are upset, but Markus asks some good questions:

Users in the comments are pissed off at the idea that people can be arrested for planning a crime like murder, calling it minority report like. I ask you why is it that americans have no problems arresting people that are planning or researching how to conduct terrorist attacks? Yet if a person plans on killing his wife that is ok, until he actually does it? How many people do you have to plan on killing before its ok for a company like AOL to hand your records over to the government? I am not taking sides, I’m just pointing out the obvious double standard. This story will open a can of worms, and will decide just how private your data online really is.


More on Google Analytics

I really like Google Analytics right off the bat. After getting to see some of the reports generated, I’m basically hooked. It just has an overall nice and pleasant way of showing what’s been happening on your site. I like the map, although I’d prefer an integrated Google Maps interface, instead of the Flash. But, there’s a lot of things that could really improve Google Analytics in my eyes.

Hopefully Google has some nice changes in store for Google Analytics, formerly Urchin, now that they’ve changed the name and have gone a totally different direction as far as marketing and product branding goes.

I don’t like the fact that the data used to generate the reports isn’t live. It took about 36 hours for any data to show up in my reports. And it took even longer for Analytics to realize I had installed the code on another site I had setup. I have no doubt they’re experiencing some pretty extreme server loads. Hopefully this is one of those things that will get better as the initial hype dies down. Google Reader was unusable for at least a couple days after it’s initial announcement. Performance got better after a couple days but didn’t improve enough for me to possibly use it as my every day feed reader.

One feature I’d really appreciate in Google Analytics would be the ability to export reports to PDF. I may have to try exporting one of the report pages to PDF in IE. I’m not sure if there’s a FireFox extension to create PDF’s from webpages.

Google Analytics

I’m sorta surprised to see Google offer a free web reporting tool before they have a free live web stats package. Especially a tool like Urchin/Google Analytics, it’s got to have serious potential to make money. Maybe I’m wrong though, maybe that’s why the previous owners sold it to Google.

It’s gonna be useful to me no matter what. I’m excited to hopefully try it out on a few sites that make use of AdWords. There’s a lot of features in Google Analytics that are specifically for conversion tracking from AdWords and I believe Overture. All that’s involved is tagging links used in your search marketing campaigns and then letting Google Analytics know about those tags. That’s only if you use a paid search service other than AdWords. Google AdWords accounts automatically share conversion data with Analytics, provided the accounts are properly linked. There’s even a URL builder to assist in building tagged links for ads.

Should be fun.


Happenings in the Blogosphere

Patrick, the dirty kuffar behind Clarity and Resolve, has a new look for the website. I think it looks a whole lot better. I like the lighter color. The amount of graphics has been reduced too, which makes for a much quiker loading page. It’ll probably save him some bandwidth too. It’s got a more minimalistic look to it than the previous design. I love it.

Also, James Joyner, over at Outside The Beltway, is getting married tonight. Best of luck to him and his new wife. I guess this will end up in the “Beltway Wedding Jam”.

Since we’re on the topic of weddings, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable recently proposed to his girl via Ask Jeeves search. He brought Yisha (fiance) to his office and asked her to search for her name. Upon doing so the search results returned a small image and text asking the question. You can see more by searching Ask Jeeves for “rustybrick engagement“. Very nice Barry.


Google Reader

Google announced Google Reader at the Web 2.0 Conference. It’s supposed to make it easier to manage lots and lots of feeds. Check out the tour for more on how the whole thing works.

I’ve used it a little, not much yet though as it seems to be running incredibly slow at the moment. I really like how it shows your different feeds and how it displays articles from the feed. It’s got a nice interface but needs a lot of little things done to it. There’s really no confirmation after you click the “subscribe” button, when you go back to your Reader home, you’ll be notified of feeds you’ve recently subscribed to.

Hopefully it’s not truly as slow as it currently is. There’s no way in hell I could use it at this speed. It looks fun though. Thanks to Matt for the news. Om Malik’s Broadband Blog and Between The Lines have the news too.

UPDATE: I think Google Reader was getting hammered with requests earlier. It’s much snappier now and has an interface very similar to that of Gmail. I like it, I dun care what anyone says. I still love you Google, dun listen to all those haters. I’ve already forgotten about the failed web accelerator…


It’s About Damn Time!

Google is finally indexing the longren.org domain. I think it took right about 6 months for longren.org to start showing up in regular Google search results. Now maybe I’ll get more referrals from people searching google rather than just people searching google blogsearch.

The longren.org domain has a pagerank of 5. When I was at my old URL I had a PR of 3 I believe.

I had a lot more to do this weekend than I originally thought. After we got back from Cedar Rapids on Saturday, I came into work for about 3 hours. Then Ashley and I went to see The Nadas at Peoples Bar in Ames. Amber, Ashleys sister wanted to take her to that as a little birthday gift. Katie, one of their friends ended up getting an OWI, went to jail and doesn’t have a license anymore. I kinda felt bad, but not really.

And most of yesterday was spent playing Tiger Woods 2006. It’s wicked fun, my favorite one of em all so far. JV bought it Friday and brought it over yesterday. Now that I think about it, he may have forgotten it in my Xbox, so I may have something to look forward to when I get home this evening.