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Google Tidbits 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read dept.
XeroCool writes "Alan Williamson got invited to BayCHI lecture at PARC by Marissa Mayer (Product Manager for Google) to talk about google and get the facts. They both were in a room and Alan got some good facts about Google. One fact was: The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'."
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Google Tidbits

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  • They wanted to emulate a Googlephonic Stereo.
  • Whaa?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jozone (835038) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:03PM (#11378841)
    How could someone not know HTML, yet be able to write googles algorithm? Dont most programmers laugh at the easyness of html?
    • Re:Whaa?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Knowledge does not come miraculously from the sky! Looking up HTML codes takes up precious time. Most coders don't like to stop to tie their shoe laces either. If its functional, leave it alone.
    • Re:Whaa?? (Score:5, Funny)

      by JaxWeb (715417) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:22PM (#11378930) Homepage Journal
      I know what you mean - all they had to do was a quick Google search to come up with a host [google.co.uk] of tutorials!

      Call themselves geniuses...
    • Re:Whaa?? (Score:5, Funny)

      by wfberg (24378) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:42PM (#11379017)
      How could someone not know HTML, yet be able to write googles algorithm? Dont most programmers laugh at the easyness of html?

      Yeah. And French is easy too. Ten year olds speak it!
    • Maybe because HTML at the time was a dry, boring-to-work-with language that looked awful and was incompatible with even the most current standard browsers, each using it's own little variety of HTML/Javascript to make things look "purty". That could be it.

    • It just wasn't a priority.
    • Re:Whaa?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CySurflex (564206) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @02:18PM (#11379518)
      I wouldn't say HTML is easy. I would say that it's a skill that people without a programming background can pick up which is why it has an easy reputation. To really be an HTML guru you would have to spend a lot of time and understand the structure and the theory.

      (Note - I'm a programmer, but I do ok with HTML)
  • by the_2nd_coming (444906) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:03PM (#11378844) Homepage
    is there some type of founder that is other than the original one?
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      It depends on the sense of the word!

      From WordNet (r) 2.0 :

      founder
      n 1: inflammation of the laminated tissue that attaches the hoof to the foot of a horse [syn: laminitis]
      2: a person who founds or establishes some institution; "George Washington is the father of his country" [syn: beginner, founding father, father]
      3: a worker who makes metal castings
      v 1: fail utterly; collapse; "The project foundered" [syn: fall through, fall flat, flop]
      2: sink below the surface
    • My brother found Google the other day. That was really good cause I was wondering where it'd gotten off to.
    • Columbus?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:04PM (#11378849)
    Slashdot was originaly supposed to be Slashbot, home of the slicing, dicing, humanity destructing robot of death. Good thing for us they had a spelling error in the domain name and just made it news for nerds.

  • Apache (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcraveiro (848243) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:04PM (#11378850) Homepage
    That way of naming things is indeed very usual; for instance, "Apache Server", was named after its status of "a patchy server".. ;)
    • Re:Apache (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gimpboy (34912)
      My understanding from the article was that the inventors of google didnt know how to spell googol. Where as the apache folks new how to write 'a pachy server', and were just being cute with their words.

      So a misspelling isn't really the same as a cute pun.
      • Re:Apache (Score:3, Informative)

        by vidnet (580068)
        On Revolution OS (disk 2), Brian Behlendorf says that he chose the name because it simply sounded good unlike many of the other software names at the time. He wasn't aware of the 'a patchy' thing before someone mailed him and said "haha, I get it".
    • MOD -1 WRONG (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:47PM (#11379045)
      http://www.linux-mag.com/2000-04/behlendorf_02.htm l [linux-mag.com]

      Quote: The name literally came out of the blue. I wish I could say that it was something fantastic, but it was out of the blue.
      • Don't Mod -1 wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jane_Dozey (759010) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @02:38PM (#11379632)
        You're both right. The name came about because the guy who thought of it thought it sounded interesting rather than the generic "spider this" or "web that" kind of thing.
        However, the name was adopted because it fitted well since the server was indeed "a patchy server" at the time. Had it not sounded like a pun on the status of the software it may not have been adopted as the name.

        Hence, you are _both_ correct.
        • [several stories credited to founder interviews deleted]

          Sigh.

          I had assumed it came directly from "google" (to stare at, especially if through glasses), which came from "ogle" perhaps via "googles" (glasses - a corruption of goggles with a bit of "ogle" thrown in). Both were slang terms in use in the '50s, at least in southern Michigan.
  • by filmmaker (850359) * on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:07PM (#11378855) Homepage
    The article highlights the key to Google's success: constant feedback via formal studies and data analysis, and access to very large data sets. It's like the webmaster that pours over his Urchin stats and tweaks his website according to his current traffic patterns.

    That kind of dilegence makes for an improved quality of experience for the person visiting the site, and increases the traffic for the webmaster. Google applies that same dilegence on a global scale.
  • by Tellarin (444097) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:09PM (#11378861) Homepage Journal

    Some very interesting facts indeed.
    But the one that really caught my attention was the one about the 6 types of e-mail users. I'd really like more info on that.

    Anyone has any idea where to get more info on this? Still haven't found anything.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:39PM (#11379009)
      I don't know about Google, but here at MSN, we classify email users this way:

      1. Those that feel physically inadequate and need viagra and penis enhancements.
      2. Those that hate their careers and need diplomas.
      3. Those that are lonely and want to know about every porn site in existence
      4. Those that need cash quick and don't mind helping out friendly Nigerian Officials
      5. Those that need good luck and don't mind sending out chain mail to get it.
      6. Those that want cheap prescription drugs from reputable companies in the back of alleys.

      Here at MSN, we're committed to helping our users so we start off by by giving our users access to all these value added emails. As we get to know users better through Microsoft patented Big Brother[TM] technologies, we tailor or filters so that you can get more of the informative emails advertising that you need.

      Try out MSN. We're eager to serve you.[1]

      ------
      [1] See http://members.cox.net/kaiotea/serveman.htm
      or http://www.scifilm.org/tv/tz/twilightzone3-24.html

    • Yeah, sadly it doesn't elaborate on that.

      I'm thinking it's something like this:

      1. People who use AOL e-mail
      2. ???
      3. ???
      4. ???
      5. ???
      6. Profit!

      No wait, wrong list, nevermind.
    • "But the one that really caught my attention was the one about the 6 types of e-mail users. I'd really like more info on that."

      Oh, yes, of course.

      1) Small penis
      2) Small breasts
      3) Thousands into debt
      4) Related to a distant Nigerian cousin
      5) Happens to enjoy ROLEX watches
      6) Two or more of the above
    • by Anonymous Coward
      From -- http://www.davidco.com/coaches_corner/Julie_Daniel /article9.html [davidco.com]

      Julie Daniel
      Keeping Your In-Box "Real"

      Since I've been accredited to do the David Allen workflow coaching in the UK I've seen an awful lot of e-mail in-boxes. Different people manage their in-boxes in different ways but one of the things that I've noticed is that, before they do the coaching and implement the GTD approach, most people have some kind of "yuk" feeling associated with their in-box.

      It seems that most people have at lea
      • Seems quite likely useful for "tracking" what they got.
        It kind of matches the only two types of users I could find/identify in texts related to the talk.

        > File and delete (don't leave anything in the inbox)
        > Hunt-and-peck, comfortable with lots of unread mail in their inbox
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:09PM (#11378863)
    A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'."

    Sheesh... you would think that they could have at least Googled for the correct spelling.

  • in the name... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:09PM (#11378865) Journal
    Looking at Googol and then Google you have to say it was one hell of a lucky mistake. Google rolls off the tounge and everyone knows it's easy to spell where as googol is just an annoying nameto think about.

    Googol
    Goggol
    Googgol
    Gogool

    All lookf airly similar and alot of hassle to for average idiot to recall. So if thisis true Google got lucky as hell.
    • Sigh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:30PM (#11378964) Homepage Journal
      Looking at Googol and then Google you have to say it was one hell of a lucky mistake. Google rolls off the tounge and everyone knows it's easy to spell where as googol is just an annoying nameto think about.

      Yes, it's amazing how a word you've seen and heard almost everyday for the past, oh, five years is easier to say and spell than one you aren't familiar with. What an incredible coincidence!
    • Blockquote the poster:

      Looking at Googol and then Google you have to say it was one hell of a lucky mistake. Google rolls off the tounge and everyone knows

      Also, I've always thought that it benefitted from being close to "goggle", a device for preserving your sight. :)
      • And I've always liked that it's composed of two words, "go ogle", which can be interpreted to mean "searching" or "looking for". (And turn off the adult filters and image search "brick" to ogle for your self!)
    • I think it's a bit suspicious that the founder of Yahoo! is Timothy Koogle.

      Methinks the google guys sorta put their competitor's name and a word that conveys 'hugeness' together, but they can't say that it's based on Koogle's name for legal reasons.
    • I feel dumb. I got the spelling wrong, too. I had to look up googol in order to find out that it was 10^100. Duh.
  • I Feel Lucky (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spac3manspiff (839454) <spac3manspiff@gmail.com> on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:10PM (#11378868) Journal
    "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.

    Exactly, "I'm Feeling lucky" keeps "Google" search from looking naked for some odd reason. It's Genious.

    I think it's a subliminal messege to stop researching for your english project and search for "Paris hilton nude".
    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:33PM (#11378976) Homepage Journal
      "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.

      Exactly, "I'm Feeling lucky" keeps "Google" search from looking naked for some odd reason. It's Genious.


      I think people don't use it because if they do, they feel like google is calling them "punk" while routing them ;-)
      • On the other hand, I use google since the days when they still had the old logo, way before they became big, and I didn't have an idea WTF that button would do, but I didn't bother to click, I always press ENTER. I mean, "I'm feeling lucky"? I'd made it "To First Result", at least that would've given an actual idea. "I'm feeling lucky" always sounded like an Online Casino ad to me.
    • I agree that the addition of the "I'm Feeling Lucky" does keep the main google page from looking too barren.

      I don't use it myself, because I always like to see where I'm being sent before I click on something. The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button doesn't permit this. So I always do a regular search, which shows where the links go before I click on them.

      Since so few people apparently use it, I wonder if they'll replace it with something else if they come up with some other clever idea, something else to keep t
    • "I feel lucky" is nearly never used.

      Except when concealing goatse.cx links.
    • The only time I use "I'm feeling lucky" is with the firefox quicksearch of the same name. It can save some typing for those of us who are exceedingly lazy.
    • "I feel lucky" also makes things like Googlebombing more fun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googlebomb [wikipedia.org]
    • It's Genious.

      Genious? Is that the opposite of ingenious? I think you are a bit too harsh on those guys...

  • Of related interest, UW Seattle had Jeff Dean of Google give a talk recently about Google's engineering setup, including the GFS and MapReduce: WMA and RM videos here [washington.edu].
    • New College Thing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BSDevil (301159) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @01:36PM (#11379303) Journal
      Based on what you say, this seesm to be the new form of College recruiting Google uses. A few months ago Google came and visited McGill, and did a 2-hour presenation on the basics of GFS, but primarily on MapReduce. Included was a few demos by the presenter (Karel someone - used to be a McGill prof) demo'ing some of the internal MapReduce funcctions, like calculating the number of links between words and the number of MapReduce keys needed, and so forth.

      Plus, they gave out free pens and T-Shirts. The actual recruiting part took up about 10 minutes - only a brief mention of what it was like working at Google. Good presentation tho.
  • Servers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitalgimpus (468277) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:15PM (#11378892) Homepage
    Nobody still has detailed their servers.

    How many, specs, data centers.

    People have guessed, and analyzed everything... but still no true official statement.

    That's what I was really hoping for.

    Still interesting though.
  • Harumph! (Score:3, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:17PM (#11378902) Homepage Journal
    Employees are encouraged to use 20% of their time working on their own projects. Google News, Orkut are both examples of projects that grew from this working model.

    Please could somebody let my boss know. Pretty please.
  • Kogal? (Score:4, Funny)

    by tom1974 (413939) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:24PM (#11378940)
    10.# The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'

    Wow that was close. Some more typo and we'd all be kogaling instead.
    • Re:Kogal? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by The Hobo (783784) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @03:21PM (#11379886)
      Actually Google isn't the only company with an accidental name, if any of you know what a Ski-Doo is (snowmobile), a reporter who interviewed Joseph Armand Bombardier about his new invention was told its name was to be a Ski-Dog, but the reporter typo'ed it and named it a Ski-Doo, and Bombadier stuck with it to this day.
  • names (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:25PM (#11378945)
    Don't you guys find embarassing the history of all these "I-thought-I-knew-how-it-was-spelled" names? Google, Novell, Cisco (?) etc. Seems like all those ivy founders had major educational problems. I would probably modded as troll if I were to say that another funny coincidence strikes me - they are all americans. But I'm not saying it ;-)

    Excuse my poor english, as I'm not a native speaker, just a poorly educated east-european.
  • WOW! (Score:4, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... inus threevowels> on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:31PM (#11378969) Homepage
    Programmers who can't spell? Now I've heard everything!
    • Programmers who can't spell? Now I've heard (sic) everything!

      Slashdotters who have bad grammar? Now I, too, have heard of everything!
      • Re:WOW! (Score:3, Informative)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Nothing wrong with my sentence. Adding an "of" between heard and everything simply chases the meaning of the sentence, rather than correcting it.

        Now I've heard (sic) [sic] everything!

        And, as you see above, [sic] requires square brackets, not parentheses.
  • by SlashCrunchPop (699733) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:37PM (#11378999)
    As I already pointed out [slashdot.org] quite a while ago, the name was not chosen by accident and it should be read as go ogle. Porn is behind everything, man!
  • Small populations (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fisheye1969 (842355)

    I'm not sure about the use of small user populations for testing.

    I wrote something about this in a blog article [milui.com], though the references have yet to be added which I'll do later today.

    However, I'm happy to admit that Google seem to be doing plenty of correct things. Gmail has become my email of choice so the interface can't be that bad, and the main Google page has always been cool for me. Before that, I used to use alltheweb.com in preference to the big portal sites, but Google's results seemed, well, be

  • by Rie Beam (632299) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @12:45PM (#11379036) Journal
    "The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button."

    Well, it makes sense if you think about it. Everyone wants to feel lucky...and I doubt a "I feel apathetic towards the world and my creator" could fit there, anyway...
  • by The Mutant (167716) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @01:08PM (#11379164) Homepage
    I tried Google, Yahoo, Dogpile and A9 and all of them just liked back to Mayer's blog.

    Google's Scholar [google.com] found two papers citing THREE [tinyurl.com] types of email users :

    1) Users who don't file at all
    2) Users who file frequently
    3) Users who file infrequently

    This paper cited a paper by Whittaker and Sidner, titled Email overload: exploring personal information management of email

    It seems filing is the primary category, but I'm foxed about the other three. Any ideas?

    • You know what's interesting (IMHO) is that new software products have changed my (and others, I'd imagine) email profile. I used to be a user who filed frequently, since I use Outlook and Outlook's search is slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. So I'd have a gaggle of folders and have rules that sorted incoming mail. When I responded to certain emails, the mail would get moved to a new folder, and so on.

      But now with tools like Lookout, Google Desktop, and others, I can search my inbox in a split second. An

  • I had heard awhile back that "Google" is so named because you cannot solely trademark(TM) numbers or words expressing numbers.

    Is this not the case?

    • I had heard awhile back that "Google" is so named because you cannot solely trademark(TM) numbers or words expressing numbers.

      Is this not the case?


      Shhhhh! The marketoids are working hard to promote this lie. Which brand story sounds more likable, a name chosen by a bunch of lawyers, and one that was come across through an innocent mistake.

      Hahaha. Oh, those Google guys are so smart and succesful, but they make mistakes just like everyone else. In fact, their entire brand came out of a mistake. I mak
  • unconscious grammar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @01:10PM (#11379180) Homepage Journal
    The problem with these grammatically silly story summaries is that the posters don't really read them themselves before they submit. And the Slashdot "authors" who accept and publish them seem to also give only the most cursory check of how it will sound when read by a reader. It's largely a problem of a kind of arrogance: already thinking you know what it says, so not even seeing the mistakes you made when you wrote it.

    Paris in the
    the spring.

    Many people have to read that many times before they see the error, because the expression is familiar enogh that they merely recognize it from the familiar words, rather than actually parsing the words themselves. Unfortunately, this is a flaw deriving from the excellence of human communications recognition, tolerant of transmission errors. Tech can help address it (like putting black text on a different randomly colored background for each word, or parenthesis for each word, for "edge enhancement"), but it's really a bug in our technique.
  • by sunhou (238795) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @01:12PM (#11379189)
    There is another interview with her here [goodexperience.com].

    Among other things, it talks about how many links they have on the main Google page. There's also a funny bit about some guy who sometimes sends them e-mail containing only a 2-digit number. They finally figured out the guy was e-mailing them the number of words on the main Google page, presumably to let them know he is getting annoyed when there are too many (e.g. when it got up to 52 words). :-)

    Oh, and there's a much bigger version of the picture of her from the previous interview, here [mediajunk.com].
  • The one who is wise,
    to him you show every detail of how to use the Google API to the last SOAP call

    The one who is contrary, for he will demand exact results on an poor query and be angry when google fails to produce

    The one who is foolish, who can not understand the basics of queries.

    and the one who does not know how to search. to him you will show the basics of how to search

  • Barney Google? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @01:28PM (#11379269) Homepage
    Too bad... I thought it was a portmanteau of Googol, ten to the hundredth power, and Barney Google ("Baaaaarrrney Google! with the goo- goo- googly eyes!"), whose name is correctly spelled with a -gle. Barney Google was a comic strip icon of the Roaring Twenties, and the title of the Billy Rose hit song of the same name and era.

    Barney's horse Spark Plug was so popular that Sparky became an common sobriquet; indeed that is the source of Charles M. Schulz's nickname.

    Google lives on in rare cameo appearances in the comic strip, generally known as "Snuffy Smith," whose full title is actually "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith"
  • From the article (fact #6):

    Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren't told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.

    I noticed one of these trials. I sat at a desktop--I forget exactly when--and that time Google looked something like this. [archive.org] When I saw what would be Google's new look [archive.org] on another PC, I was wondering w

  • http://www.rashmisinha.com/archives/05_01/googles- pragmatic-datadriven-approach-to-user-interface-de sign.html [rashmisinha.com]

    http://notebook.geekdom.net/pages/baychi-google_ui .html [geekdom.net]

    The second one even has something about the 6 types of mail users:

    - File and delete (don't leave anything in the inbox)

    - Hunt-and-peck, comfortable with lots of unread mail in their inbox
  • One Google founder = Russian. Perhaps? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Gogol
  • Blog Inaccuracies (Score:5, Informative)

    by RgrRbbt (850433) on Sunday January 16, 2005 @06:00PM (#11380845)
    I also attended and took detailed notes at Mayer's talk at PARC and would like to say that although Alan Williamson does a good job of highlighting the key points, he gets many of the details and facts wrong.

    Going through Williamson's blog points one at a time, I will state the inaccuracies in those which need revising:

    1. Mayer never said the Google founders "didn't know HTML." What she actually said was that Brin came up with the original look, but decided not to add complexity because "he said he didn't do HTML" (emphasis theirs), as in he considered it pedestrian and didn't want to bother with it.

    3. It wasn't search usage that doubled when they fixed the spell-checker's back-end, nor is it correct that they found the bottom to be best. Here's what Mayer actually said: the original spell-checker ("Did You Mean" feature) was very bad and would make suggestions like "Turbotax" -> "Turbot ax" and to keep it less conspicuous, they kept the spelling revision suggestions in light grey text at the top of the page. Then, they improved the spell checker from the back end, and saw that the click-throughs of the "Did you mean" feature doubled. As the feature got better, they made the text larger and red, and this caused click-throughs of Did You Mean to double again. However they noticed many users were still complaining using the feedback link at the bottom that the search results weren't useful, and when they checked what the search was of those users, they found misspellings (i.e. users had overlooked the Did You Mean at the top). So, they added an additional Did You Mean at the bottom of the page, to catch those people, and the click-throughs doubled once again.

    5. It's not so much that Orkut didn't have go through the normal Google UI procedures, it's that because it's his 20%-time personal project that he's still toying with (most of which he did in 4 days, according to Mayer), it's not really part of Google's official feature set. It's really just that guy's personal project that they may use at some point down the road. Mayer never said anything about the "loads it places on the system," so it's unclear if it's hosted on Google servers at all, or if high volume is even an issue.

    6. Mayer didn't say Excite@Home users often get to see new features. What she said was that a long time ago, they did one experiment where they wanted to see if having thumbnails of the search results was a good idea, but they knew they would need to find high-bandwidth users to test it on. So, they decided to use Excite@Home's IP range to test it on them, and they got so many complaints from those users (mostly due to having many fewer results above the page fold as a result of the thumbnails), that they scrapped the idea. There was no indication they did any more experiments with Excite@Home or other broadband users exclusively.

    7. When she said they have the largest network of translators, the context is that Google has a site where you can sign up to help translate Google's help pages and interface into your language: https://services.google.com/tc/Welcome.html [google.com]

    11. The 6 types of email users were discovered over the course of qualitative observations of users brought into the lab to test Gmail (and often observed from a distance, to give the user email privacy). Two specific types of emailers she mentioned are: "file & deleters" and "hunt & peck folks, who are comfortable leaving some emails unread".

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