Monthly Archives: March 2005

Google gives back to Open Source

Google has released a number of projects on sourceforge with its own google group for users to participate in, as well as some Open Source APIs from their new page.  There are 2 rss feeds (an update and featured programs) to keep up to date with changes on their page.  This is an interesting turn from Google’s usual secretiveness.  Perhaps they are trying to open up to the coding community which Amazon has been able to tap into.  I would not be surprised if Yahoo! was quick to follow as well.

Particularly interesting are some of their APIs:  Web Search to search Google, AdWords to interact directly with the AdWords Server, and Desktop Search to integrate into other applications and add new file formats.

Google Trying to Entice Smaller Websites

John Battelle writes in his blog about changes Google is trying to make with their AdSense campaigns and mid-size websites.  It is refreshing to see Google reach out to smaller sites, but John brings up some interesting points:

  • Searchblog: Adsense Update:  Fred, $500, and Is Google Trying Harder?I explained to the rep why Boing Boing is not using Adsense – the list is rather long. First, the ads are not very relevant – Boing Boing is pretty eclectic and updates quickly, and the content confuses the Adsense algorithms, forcing them to default to lowest common denominator type ads – like mortgage offers and affiliate sites. The Google rep countered that for sites the size of Boing Boing, Adsense can crawl more quickly, increasing the chance that more contextual ads will appear. He also reminded me that Adsense has updated tools which allow publishers to specify keywords for ads they might wish to attract, as well as ads they might want to avoid. So Boing Boing might use keywords like “music,” “gaming,” or “technology” to attract advertisements in those categories. And we can create negative keywords like “mortgage” to get rid of those offers. I knew Google had these tools, but this fellow told me Google has given the keywords more weight lately. This isn’t exactly the verticalization of Adsense I had been hoping for (I’d love it if Google let advertisers “tag” themselves so publishers can connect to those tags), but it’s a start.  The trickier part of Boing Boing’s resistance to Adsense has to do with its Terms of Service (TOS) for both advertisers and publishers. Adsense has an anti-“anti” TOS – it does not allow negative ads. This meant that ads promoting, say, anti-Bush t-shirts, were not allowed. To its credit, Google has updated this portion of their TOS (political speech is now OK), but the “anti” terminology is still in the TOS, and the definition is so vague as to be difficult to comprehend.

Apple never ceases to amaze me

I went to the Apple Store last night after work to pick up a new powerbook g4.  My current one is one of the originals, and while it still is in great condition, after four years it is on the slow side.  My husband is drooling over the prospect that I may let him have it as his first Mac – although I cautioned him that he’ll still need an escort to be allowed into the Apple Store.

I got the machine home and powered it up (yay for having enough power to boot before asking for the power cord).  After answering a few questions in the setup, it asked me if I had an old mac and if I would like it to transfer information between the two.  Sure!  I powered down the old mac and attached the firewire cable, pressing T as it booted.  Suddenly the two computers were talking and transferring everything from my old mac to my new.  45 minutes later and I didn’t have to reinstall a single application or move any bookmarks or mail.  Absolutely amazing!

How to Finance the National Debt – AMT

AMT is Alternative Minimum Tax and it is an income tax that was put in in 1970 to make sure that people who were typically getting out of their burden of taxes in writeoffs actually had to pay their fair share.  What’s the problem?  The tax brackets were set without taking inflation into account and so are rapidly affecting more and more Americans.  The AMT does not allow you to include many normal deductions and may be owed on top of the regular income taxes.

  • Slate:  Bush’s Secret Tax on DemocratsRepublicans don’t want to fix the AMT because fixing the AMT would require undoing their beloved tax cuts. Without the billions generated by millions of taxpayers getting slammed by the AMT, the marginal rate cuts would be impossible to sustain for the next several years, let alone make permanent. Without the AMT, the deficit picture would look far worse than it does. This paper by Daniel Feenberg and James Poterba of the National Bureau of Economic Research projects $480 billion in AMT revenues between 2003 and 2010, with the AMT providing $125 billion in 2010. Gale and Burman estimate that repealing the AMT could cost the treasury $1.1 trillion through 2014, assuming the tax cuts are extended. The kicker: “By 2008, it would cost more to repeal the AMT than to zero out the regular income tax.”

My guess this is how the Bush Administration is planning on financing the Iraq war and many of the other deficit causing plans.  Plus the supposed income tax cuts are popular with the masses – at least until they (if they) figure out the real picture.