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Google Isn’t the Company That We Should Have Handed the Web Over to

Put simply:

This is a company that, time and again, has tried to push the Web into a Google-controlled proprietary direction to improve the performance of Google’s online services when used in conjunction with Google’s browser, consolidating Google’s market positioning and putting everyone else at a disadvantage. Each time, pushback has come from the wider community, and so far, at least, the result has been industry standards that wrest control from Google’s hands. This action might already provoke doubts about the wisdom of handing effective control of the Web’s direction to Google, but at least a case could be made that, in the end, the right thing was done.

Why should you care? For reasons like this (emphasis mine):

For no obvious reason, Google changed YouTube to add a hidden, empty HTML element that overlaid each video. This element disabled Edge’s fastest, most efficient hardware accelerated video decoding. It hurt Edge’s battery-life performance and took it below Chrome’s. The change didn’t improve Chrome’s performance and didn’t appear to serve any real purpose; it just hurt Edge, allowing Google to claim that Chrome’s battery life was actually superior to Edge’s. Microsoft asked Google if the company could remove the element, to no avail.

In any other industry, we’d call that grounds for antitrust lawsuits.

Microsoft isn’t blameless, either. They opted to take the easy way out and Firefox will likely have to pay the price:

By relegating Firefox to being the sole secondary browser, Microsoft has just made it that much harder to justify making sites work in Firefox. The company has made designing for Chrome and ignoring everything else a bit more palatable, and Mozilla’s continued existence is now that bit more marginal. Microsoft’s move puts Google in charge of the direction of the Web’s development. Google’s track record shows it shouldn’t be trusted with such a position.

At the end of the day, one thing’s clear: competition is good. We see it in all walks of life. With Microsoft turning tail and succumbing to the Chrome overlords, they’re admitting they don’t care about the openness of the Web… just their market share and numbers.

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The NY Times: How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’

Killer reporting from Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner over at The New York Times:

 

Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.

Shocker. However you interpret this, Rubin denied the coercion on Twitter, but not the payments.

The article goes into detail about a host of other accounts too:

In 2013, Richard DeVaul, a director at Google X, the company’s research and development arm, interviewed Star Simpson, a hardware engineer. During the job interview, she said he told her that he and his wife were “polyamorous,” a word often used to describe an open marriage. She said he invited her to Burning Man, an annual festival in the Nevada desert, the following week.

Um, creepy?

At Mr. DeVaul’s encampment, Ms. Simpson said, he asked her to remove her shirt and offered a back rub. She said she refused. When he insisted, she said she relented to a neck rub.

“I didn’t have enough spine or backbone to shut that down as a 24-year-old,” said Ms. Simpson, now 30.

A few weeks later, Google told her she did not get the job, without explaining why.

…She said the official asked her to stay quiet about what had happened, which she did — until Mr. DeVaul’s public profile began rising in articles in The New York Times and The Atlantic.

I don’t want to spoil too much of this. Just read it. It’s really good.

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Stratechery: The Battle for the Home

Ben Thompson:

If the first stage of competition in consumer technology was the race to be the computer users went to (won by Microsoft and the PC), and the second was to be the computer users carried with them (won by Apple in terms of profits, and Google in terms of marketshare), the outlines of the current battle came sharply into focus over the last month: what company will win the race to be the computer within which users live?

This is a great read that everyone should comb over. Ben takes a look at each of the four (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook) and their strengths, weaknesses, their go-to-market status,  business models, and their overall strengths and weaknesses. In general, Ben creates great content and if you agree, consider a Stratechery membership.

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Alphabet Shuts Google+ Social Site After User Data Exposed

Reuters:

Google will shut down the consumer version of its social network Google+ after announcing data from up to 500,000 users may have been exposed to external developers by a bug that was present for more than two years in its systems.

The company said in a blog on Monday it had discovered and patched the leak in March of this year and had no evidence of misuse of user data or that any developer was aware or had exploited the vulnerability.

Google said a software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between a major redesign in 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue.

Whoops.

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Google Violations

Dave Winer reminded me why I opted to never use AdSense again:

Emails like this from Google about “violations” on my website are really disturbing, esp since I don’t run any Google ads on my site. I wish they’d STFU about violations, or say what the violations are. I always can use a good laugh. Their email is a violation of my independence. Fuck off.

Yes. 👏

Additionally, I’m told this blog is not fit for Google AdSense, which is fine. The last time I used AdSense was 2012 to 2013, I think. I was kicked out of the program without evidence I did anything wrong, but couldn’t argue against it. Without knowing what I did, I had no idea what to fix. Google always has the last say when it comes to their services and while that’s not particularly unique, they do a great job of reminding us from time to time that we’re at their mercy and we should consider ourselves grateful that they’re letting us play in their holy sandbox. 

I brought the Carbon ad network (under the ownership of BuySellAds) on board last week, an email I was genuinely excited to receive that email. They’ve been great to work with so far, have only a handful of rules, and the advertisers they allow are top-notch. As far as serving banner ads goes, Carbon is the limit. The rest of the revenue will be made up of affiliate links for stuff I actually believe in (and use) and site memberships. Dave has no ads, and that’s entirely fine–and his prerogative. I think the right network can make a world of difference.

Plus, I’m not subjecting my visitors to unknown levels of ad-tracking. BSA/Carbon does a bit of it, yes, in order to inform their advertisers how their ads performed, but that’s about it. I appreciate clean and simple advertising and wish the rest of the world would get on board. Even a single tear would not be shed if AdSense went away tomorrow. 

I can dream.

Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography