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Comment Re:Truth (Score 1) 125

Google hasn't been a functional search engine in about a decade.

Perhaps by your very narrow definition. But it's vastly better than it was at finding what people are looking for, which is what they always wanted, regardless of terminology.

However, it's *not* as good at "keyword regexp bingo" as it used to be. But if you're still trying to use those old-style queries, you're doing it wrong. Try typing complete natural language questions for what you want to find. I find this works amazingly well, even on obscure technical topics which include lots of "keywords" which are heavily overloaded in other contexts.

Comment Re:Truth (Score 3, Insightful) 125

The underlying problem is Google is supposed to be a *search engine* It's supposed to show you where to find stuff on the internet. At some point in time they decided to complete with Ask Jeeves and become an "answer engine." Good luck with that.

It has always been an answer engine, and that's the reason it became popular.

Back in the day (mid 90s) most everyone was certain that search engines could never be very useful. Lycos, Altavista, etc. weren't terrible, but they also weren't very good, because although they could effectively spider the whole web that just meant that any search matched thousands or millions of pages, and they had no way to determine which of those were the best answers for the query. The "smart money" was betting on Yahoo!'s approach of manually curating enormous lists of links.

Then Larry Page's pagerank algorithm found an excellent (not perfect, but excellent) way to figure out which of all of those answers were likely to be the best ones. That insight launched Google. It took off precisely because it provided better answers, rather than just returning a list of everything that was on the Internet. A list of everything on the Internet is not useful.

Comment Re:Myth: Mayer didn't do well for Yahoo! (Score 2) 145

The bottom line is that CEOs are supposed to generate value for shareholders

Reports say that Meyer ordered underlings to not buy the resources to prevent and then not report the security breaches at Yahoo! That cost shareholders more than $1B in valuation on the Verizon deal.

Yep, had she done better there, perhaps Yahoo would be worth $48B instead of $47B. Considering it was worth $19B when she started, shareholders might be inclined to give her that one.

Comment Re:No one makes anyone buy anything. (Score 2) 206

Would you accept a store charging you more for food because their magical sensor at the door (or in your fridge) has detected that your starving, or because they deduced from your clothes that you're more likely to pay more?

Not too many years ago, those were, in fact, standard practices by nearly all merchants. It's only been for the last century or two that stores have gotten in the habit of having fixed, marked prices. Before, prices were negotiated and you can bet that the merchant took into account everything he could see about the customer when deciding what price he could get.

The modern version is a little different, of course, because the online retailer *appears* to have a fixed, marked price, and there isn't an opportunity for interactive negotiation. But it's also different because the customer can easily shop a dozen other stores almost effortlessly. The customer can also do something like "wishlist" an item, which is a signal to the seller that the customer is interested in buying, but not willing to pay the posted price right now... which means there's a good chance that a slightly lower price will generate a sale.

So, I think buyers who are willing to be a little careful can effectively negotiate, and arguably hold the stronger position against online retailers. Buyers who are willing to take the first price offered, on the other hand, will pay in dollars for the time they save.

Comment Myth: Mayer didn't do well for Yahoo! (Score 2, Informative) 145

The implication of this article is that Mayer made out like a bandit while doing a bad job. But the numbers say that she didn't do a bad job. That surprised me, because my perception was the opposite, but the last time this came up, I did the numbers, here.

Under Mayer's tenure, Yahoo! generated a 21% annual growth rate in market value, beating Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, as well as the NASDAQ, S&P 500 and Dow Jones. I should point out that those companies also pay dividends, but they're all in the 1-2% range, so the dividend payouts don't change the results.

Now, you can argue that some other CEO would have done better, or that the main reason for Yahoo!'s success under her tenure was the decision to invest in Alibaba, made by her predecessor, but speculation about what someone else might have done is unproductive, and she decided to stay with that investment. The bottom line is that CEOs are supposed to generate value for shareholders, and market-beating value was generated, from a company that was clearly moribund before she was hired.

You can also argue about whether any CEO is worth the millions they get, but if you judge against other CEOs she earned her money.

Comment Re:Hey dinguses... (Score 1) 68

But then you would end up with anti freeze which is a poison in your water supply. Plastics kill birds and fishes. Anti freeze kills humans. Which lives do you value more?

Cite? The article says nothing about anti-freeze (or anything like it) as a waste product.

Also, even if there are potentially-hazardous waste products, that doesn't mean it isn't a viable alternative to putting it in landfills. It depends what the waste products are and what is required to make them safe.

Comment Re: AT&T (Score 1) 193

I have to raise an eyebrow about your comments. Granted, I'm not out in the middle of nowhere, but I live in North GA and can drive all the way to Orlando, FL and not lose service, although it may not be as strong in some places, it's still there. On the other hand, there's a control room at work, buried deep in the middle of the building, and if the door to the room is closed, I get nothing. If the door is open, I get enough to get the occasional text message. I have to go to my office to make a call. I have T-Mobile, and had the same problem when I had Virgin (Sprint network). On the upside, I've traveled to Canada, and my son to Germany, and our phones "just worked." So I can't attest to network performance for where anyone may live, nor customer service (haven't needed it, which is the best service, IMO), but if you travel internationally, T-Mobile can be very handy to have. I pay $160/month for my family of four. I was paying the same at Virgin, but for prepaid without as many minutes and much less total bandwidth.

Comment Re: AT&T (Score 1) 193

Live in a suburban/rural area, travel much and/or want to make sure you've got connectivity wherever you go? Verizon or AT&T are probably a better choice.

I live in a rural area, travel quite a bit (domestically and internationally), and need connectivity wherever I go, and I find Project Fi works better for me than Verizon (haven't tried AT&T). The combination of T-Mobile and Sprint's networks gives me roughly equal coverage to Verizon in the US (there are places I can't get coverage with my Verizon SIM and places I can't get coverage with my Fi SIM, in about equal proportions), and Fi's international coverage is great.

Disclosure: I work for Google (on Android), but that has nothing to do with my use of Fi, other than the fact that I always have a Nexus/Pixel, so I don't have to switch phones to switch carriers.

Comment Re:What's changed? (Score 1) 304

The truth is not a harmful germ.

In the self-selecting petri dish provided by social media, memes evolve for truthiness far more than truthfulness. Your analysis is comprised of about 80% wishful thinking. You need to open your eyes to the actual dynamics of online discussions, rather than just what you think should happen. I long assumed that the unrestricted flow of information was all that was needed to encourage the growth of ideas, the discovery of truth and the exposure and elimination of falsehood. It's become clear that that is not the case.

I don't know what the answer is. Restricting information flow is definitely not the answer. Perhaps poking some holes in the "filter bubbles" (not actually the right term, since the phenomenon isn't caused by personalized search filtering but by personalized group selection, but it's workable) is sufficient, but I doubt it. I think what it's really going to take is for people to self-immunize by learning about memetic evolution. I have no idea how to get people to do that.

Comment Re:Privacy (Score 1) 75

I'm guessing that sure, a lot of folks wouldn't care, but I would posit that the majority of the populace using social media even is NOT aware of the massive information collection going on, nor how it is used.

I doubt the difference is awareness so much as caring. Germany, in particular, is extremely sensitive to privacy reasons. What's more interesting is why the populace of some countries care so much more than others. German motivations seem obvious... but Russians would seem to have almost as much motivation and they're heavy users of social media.

Comment Re:Why is this surprising? (Score 1) 75

Gabbing, food-plate moneyshots, selfie-admiration and laughing at animals does not necessarily lead to productivity.

You're implying a causal relationship, which is contradicted by the existence of many other high-performing economies -- including the most productive countries -- that do have heavy social media usage.

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