I love local search. It follows many practices similar to Web search, though different often in ways that do reflect an attempt to map the real world. Google’s Streetview cars are a little like Google’s webcrawler Googlebot. Instead of collecting URLs for Websites, Google Maps collects addresses to associate with businesses, nonprofits, government offices, parks, landmarks, and many other destinations. It has its own challenges as well, such as the streetviews car being turned away at sentry guard booths for military bases, or not being able to drive down “private” roads. Google Maps also can’t use latitude and longitude coordinates in places like China since their export and use is classified by that country as if they were munitions.
I’m also often frustrated by local search. Driving directions from Google often begin by telling you to go “east” or “west” on your first turn. I’m not Mason or Dixon, Lewis or Clark, and I don’t carry an in-car compass with me when I drive. I often have no problems with the directions other than that, for the first 99% of the trip, and then have problems with the last few hundred feet.
Might Google start providing more link options in Google Instant Previews as a result of this acquisition?
A company that filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google in 2007,on the day that their last patent was granted, has now assigned all of their patents to Google. The flowchart below is from one of their patents and shows multiple link options available when someone hovers over a link.
The company, iLOR, LLC, applied for a preliminary injunction against Google’s Notebook application, and Google successfully filed a motion for summary judgment to terminate the claims against it, and was awarded around $660,000 in attorney’s fees. The case set a new standard (pdf) on appeal on when attorney’s fees should be awarded in patent infringement cases when the decision regarding the fees was reversed on appeal.
Google seems to be making a regular habit of acquiring patents from IBM, with a new acquisition of 39 granted patents and two pending patent applications on September 30th, recorded at the USPTO today. Like the earlier transactions this year of 1,030 patents tranferred in May, and 1,023 patents assigned in August, there’s a wide range of technology included in the transaction between Google and IBM.
The list of patents includes one filed in 1996 involving the use of an API and a java applet, which sounded pretty interesting (I listed it first), especially considering the ongoing Oracle-Google litigation involves java and APIs. Some of the other patents included are listed in that patent as being related to it. Other inventions include such things as file archiving approaches, distributed database information systems, encryption, user authentication, and managing configurations of computer systems.
Google and Oracle are set to go to trial on October 31st on claims that Google infringed java related patents held by Oracle, in which Oracle is claiming more than $1 Billion in damages.
One of the things that’s clear about how search engines work is that when they find a link pointing to a page using certain anchor text, that page might be seen to be a little more relevant for the text found in that link. Google pointed that out in one of the earliest white papers about how the search engine works:
This idea of propagating anchor text to the page it refers to was implemented in the World Wide Web Worm [McBryan 94] especially because it helps search non-text information, and expands the search coverage with fewer downloaded documents. We use anchor propagation mostly because anchor text can help provide better quality results. Using anchor text efficiently is technically difficult because of the large amounts of data which must be processed. In our current crawl of 24 million pages, we had over 259 million anchors which we indexed.
– The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine
But one of the assumptions that many make is that each link, with its anchor text, is equally as important as any other link and that if a page has lots of links pointing to it with certain anchor text included in those links that it will rank more highly for the terms found in that text than it otherwise might in the absence of all those links.
In July, Google launched a beta version of their Page Speed Service, which collects content from your pages on the fly, and republishes it on a proxy, rewritten in a manner that should provide faster pages. Search Engine Watch wrote about this proxy service on July 29, 2011, and Adam Hopkinson in the comments points to details about the configuration page one sets up to control this service. The service appears to be one that Google will charge for once the beta is over.
What if Google also offered the ability to do other things through that proxy service such as offer localization of those pages, with the ability to set up translations of text on the page in different languages, or to change logos and other images for viewers from certain locations?
Imagine that rather than using machine translation, you could edit the proxy versions of your page through a browser, like the service from Israel that NETMASK Internet Technologies provides with their Netmask.IT! tool. That tool can work on webpages as well as on software products. Customers of Netmask Internet Technologies in the past, for at least the software localization that they offer, have included Siemens, Compaq, IBM, Data General, Sun, Oracle, Motorola, HP, and SGI.
It’s a tangled web when it comes to patent acqusitions and infringement lawsuits, and a scorecard isn’t enough to keep track of the all of the businesses involved and the nature of their relationships with one another, as a recent acquisition of patents by Google from Mosaid Technologies illustrates.
In mid-September it was reported that Mosaid Technologies sold $11 million worth of patents to an undisclosed technology company. The purchased involved 5 patent families that Mosaid considered non-strategic patents because there were no licensing deals in place on the patents. It was supposedly the largest sale of intellectual property by the company since they started licensing technology patents around 4 years ago.
According to the US Patent and Trademark database, Google was recently assigned a number of patents from Mosaid Technologies. The assignment was executed on September 9th, and recorded on September 20th. The patents acquired by Google sound similar to those described in the news report I linked to above, involving technologies covering flash memory, encoding data, data compression, database search, and encryption approaches. Originally, a number of these patents appear to have originated at companies other than Mosaid Technologies, including Micron Quantum Devices, Inc., Purple Ray, Inc., Integrated Silicon Solution, Inc., and Chrysalis-ITS, Inc. (which was acquired by Safenet).
If you’ve heard about Mosaid Technologies recently, it may have been because they’ve been involved in some newsworthy events. For example, they acquired Core Wireless Licensing S.a.r.l. at the start of September, which holds approximately 2,000 patents originally filed by Nokia:
Is Facebook targeting conventional and social ads to the social network’s users and their connections, based upon visits to pages outside of Facebook that show Facebook widgets or use Facebook tracking pixels, while the Facebook users are logged out of Facebook?
On Sunday, Australian tech developer Nik Cubrilovic wrote a post titled, Logging Out of Facebook is Not Enough, which describes how cookies from Facebook are sent to Facebook everytime someone visits a page that contains a Facebook widget of some type, even after that person logs out of Facebook.
A Facebook engineer wrote the first comment to the post, explaining that the cookies in question are there for safety and security purposes, to provide customizations to users, and to help Facebook maintain and optimize their services. He notes that Facebook has no interest in tracking people, and, “We don’t have an ad network and we don’t sell people’s information.”
The Wall Street Journal picked up on the story yesterday, and did some exploring of their own, including contacting Facebook, who responded with a interesting statement.
I read a novel not long ago, Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge, that suggested that in the future one of the most popular technology positions would be that of software archeologist, with development and programming skills capable of digging through many lines of code to decipher where they originated and how they might work with other kludge within a program to interact in meaningful ways. It made me wonder how important it would be to have a sense of the history of the growth and development of the Web.
A trip to the US Library of Congress Photographs website showed me a little of the local history of my region that I didn’t know much about, including the existence of a resort I hadn’t heard of before about five miles from where I live that could house more than a thousand people, and which had been the vacation spot of Presidents, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and more.