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Friday, May 9, 2003

Google Answers Researcher Interview: Clouseau-ga

This is part 5 of the Interview Series with Google Answers Researchers (or GARs, for short); today, we’ll see what Clouseau-ga has to say!

Note: This interview is approved by Google Answers, but does not in any way represent Google’s views.

Clouseau-ga

What’s your first name?
Bob

Where are you from?
Born in the Bronx, lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 25 years and now in exile in Sacramento. Would love to relocate.

What’s your profession?
I’m, shall we say, “between assignments”. In a past life I have been a musician, store owner, sales and marketing guy and product manager for medical devices. My current passion, aside from Google Answers, is Home Theater. Need a sales or marketing department?

What’s your age?
55

Got a homepage? Where?
Yes, but more personal than professional.

Clouseau-ga on Google Answers

When did you become a Researcher?
I was approved on June 27, 2002 and answered my first question on July 1.

How did you find out about Google Answers?
I constantly get phone calls such as:

“I’m at 57th and Broadway. Where’s the best Italian Restaurant?” or

“What digital camera under $500 should I get?”

My daughter and I always joked about a “1-900-CALL BOB” service. One day she emailed me:

“Dad,

If you haven’t seen this already, it’s worth taking a look at. With your interest in online researching, this might be fun for you.

https://answers.google.com/answers/main

The rest is, as they say, history.

What do you like best about answering for Google Answers?
I can pick and choose my assignments and work whenever I feel the urge. I learn something new daily. And I have developed wonderful new friendships and a new support group with the Researcher’s Forum.

Would you consider taking this up as full-time job, provided the question volume would be high enough (or is it already full-time for you)?
I spend entirely too much time here for the return I earn right now. If volume was up and I could earn a living, I’d probably increase my supply of “No Doze” and bump my relationship with Google Answers up to “intravenous”.

What kind of question subject you usually like to answer?
I’m not that particular. If it “grabs me”, I’ll go for it. While being Jewish didn’t provide an advantage in answering “How Tall Was Jesus?”, I tackled it early on. My best dollar returns and tips have come from “where can I find" type of questions.

In one sentence, what’s the trick to a good answer?
Re-read the question three times and be sure that you would feel the question has been answered and worth the price as if you were the customer.

What would be the new Google Answers slogan, if you were responsible to create one?
I can’t imagine a better slogan than Pink’s “You ask. Google Answers. Any questions?”

Which Researcher would you take as guide on a dangerous island?

Pink.

We might not survive, but we’d laugh all the way to the banks.

Clouseau-ga’s Favorites

What are your favorite research tools and websites (please include browser and text editor you are using)?
I use a complex and useful setup of odd applications I have stitched together.

There is no better browser than MyIE2 in my opinion, and although a steep learning curve, the utility is phenominal. I link this to Metapad for an editor and Spell Checker which works even in the Answer Boxes.

My browser includes the now infamous “Clouseau Bar” where links to everything Google Answers as well as my 100 or so favorite search tools are always on screen.

What are your favorite websites and newsgroups?
Waaaay too many to list. I spend time daily at shopping bargain sites, pool cue collector sites, software updates, shareware sites, home theater forums....the list goes on and on. I also host several conferences on The Well and have since 1986!

I will just suppose Google is your favorite search engine (right?). Do you remember which one you were using before, and why you decided to switch to Google?
AltaVista and Yahoo were my first “go to first” search engines. Google is now not only number one, but usually all I need. If I require more, it is generally a search engine that is very specific to my immediate need.

What are some of your favorite questions & answers by others?
Too many to list. I’ll often read almost every answer of researchers I admire most and learn lots from the differing styles and techniques of my colleagues.

What are some of the questions that were really a lot of fun answering for you?
Number one for me was a search on the writings of Bernard Koopman and Military Operations. Took a lot of clarifications, back and forth and emails and phone calls to both discover exactly what the customer wanted and where to find the information. I finally located a colleague of Koopmans’ that provided me with documents I could have never found on my own.

Turned out the customer was a candidate for the 2001 Koopman Prize in Military Research. He won and used my research in his acceptance speech.

What would be a fun $200 question for you to answer?
Almost anything that starts with “Find me...” and ends with a totally satisfied customer. I love the hunt.

Clouseau-ga’s Spare-time

Got any weird hobbies?

Nothing particularly “weird”.

What was the last book you read, the last movie you saw, and the last album you listened to?

* Maybe this is my “weird” hobby 8^)

Do you know some other Researchers in Real Life?
Only online, but I’d love to change that.

Final words by Clouseau-ga

If you’d write a book about your life, what would be the first sentence?

Hindsight

Chapter 1:

I was a great student. At least by the conventional means of measurement. I got good grades.

But the educational system, at least in my youth, rewarded those who had a decent memory and could remember dates, times, names and numbers. They never taught me to think. I mean, after all, if any teacher had once told me you should learn history so, just maybe, you won’t make the same mistakes, I would have approached my schooling in a very different manner...

Anything else you’d want to add?
Nope, out of time. Need to go see what new questions have been posted!

Google Searching Blogs

Google is to create a search tool specifically for weblogs, most likely giving material generated by the self-publishing tools its own tab.

CEO Eric Schmidt made the announcement on Monday, at a conference for librarians and researchers. ’Soon the company will also offer a service for searching Web logs, known as “blogs,"’ reported Reuters.”
-- Andrew Orlowski, 09/05/2003 (The Register, Google to fix blog noise problem)

Google Researcher Interview: Scriptor-ga

Part 4 of Google Answers Researchers Interviewed, presenting: Scriptor-ga, currently waiting to answer his 400th question!

Note: This interview is approved by Google Answers, but does not in any way represent Google’s views.

Scriptor-ga

Where are you from?
L├╝beck, Germany

What’s your profession?
Freelance author

What’s your age?
29

Got a homepage? Where?
I do have a homepage, but it might prove a bit dissapointing ... there is nothing personal about me, only about my books. Anyway, here is the URL: www.oliverhenkel.com

Scriptor-Ga on Google Answers

When did you become a Researcher?
After signing my contract, I received my login on 8 May 2002, and the following day I answered my very first question.

How did you find out about Google Answers?
It was slightly bizarre. I had never signed up for the Google Friends Newsletter; yet I received one, in April 2002. It was the one where the start of Google Answers was announced. I was curious and had a look at it. And what did I read on the GA homepage? They were looking for Researchers! So I applied...

What do you like best about answering for Google Answers?
I can do something that is fun, interesting, never gets boring and brings me money. What else could I desire (except more questions)?

Would you consider taking this up as full-time job, provided the question volume would be high enough?
Definitely: Yes!

What kind of question subject you usually like to answer?
History questions, questions related to anything German, finding contact information for companies, and genealogy questions.

In one sentence, what’s the trick to a good answer?
Never leave good enough alone. Okay, that is a Raymond Loewy quote. But it fits perfectly here.

What would be the new Google Answers slogan, if you were responsible to create one?
Just one word: “Ask!”

Scritpor-ga’s Favorites

What are your favorite research tools and websites (please include browser and text editor you are using)?
I’m using IE 6.0 and write my answers with the most simple tool under the sun: The Windows Editor. My favorite research tools are:

What are your favorite websites and newsgroups?
I don’t have a favorite newsgroup, I’m just starting my discovery tours in Usenet. And my favorite website has nothing to do with knowledge and research at all ... it’s a place where ugly websites are ridiculed:

I will just suppose Google is your favorite search engine (right?). Do you remember which one you were using before, and why you decided to switch to Google?
In the beginning, there was AltaVista. But at some point, I discovered AllTheWeb.com, which was lightyears ahead. I still use it today to get alternative results. But I mainly use Google because it’s so basic and yet mighty.

What are some of your favorite questions & answers by others?
There are far too many fantastic answers by my Fellow Researchers to name only three or four here.

What are some of the questions that were really a lot of fun answering for you?
Once a customer desired to know the location of a mysterious library where the destiny of all human beings is written down. Believe it or not, I found it in India. And the customer was very pleased: “This answer changed my life! I am definitely going to visit India!”

And another customer desperately searched for a German town called “Todejmi”. It took me a while before I found out that the place’s name was actually “Podejuch”...

What would be a fun $200 question for you to answer?
“What is the name of the author of the German novel ’Kaisertag’ and how can I contact him?”

Scriptor-ga’s Spare-time

Got any weird hobbies?
I collect 50s’ and early 60s’ rock’n’roll...not really weird, but considering my age, it’s at least a bit unusual.

What was the last book you read, the last movie you saw, and the last album you listened to?
The last book was a biography of pharaoh Tuthmosis III ... research for a new novel I’m working on. The last movie ... well, that was “Bibi Blocksberg” (and I’m glad because most of my Fellow Researchers don’t know what that means... ). The last album I listened to was “Bobby Vee meets The Crickets”, a 1991 CD re-release of a 1962 LP.

Do you know some other Researchers in Real Life?
Yes, one: I met larre-ga in early 2003 when she visited my home town.

Final words by Scriptor-ga

If you’d write a book about your life, what would be the first sentence?
“Don’t expect too much."

Google domains, words, and trademark issues

Yesterday a friend asked me where that Google Answers website was again. He told me he tried Googleanswers.com, Googleanswers.net and so on. (Yes, he should have simply tried querying Google.)

Of course, it’s much more common for companies to create new top-level domains, than to create a new sub-domain, albeit latter does make more sense from a technical point of view. However, the natural order of words is reversed — Google Answers becomes Answers Google, Google News becomes News Google, and so on. That is why www.googleanswers.com and so on, as additional option would be more intuitive.

I wanted to see how Google treats this issue, so here’s the result list:

www.googleanswers.comRegistered by Google, but not used
www.google-answers.comRegistered by Google, but not used
www.adwords.comUsed by Google
www.google.netUsed by Google
www.gogle.comUsed by Google
www.gooogle.comUsed by Google
www.googlenews.comRegistered by Tucows (expired)
www.googlesearch.comRegistered by Lorna Kang, Malaysia (Forwards to www.ownbox.com/treasure/search.html)
www.googlesearchengine.comRegistered by NOLDC, Inc., USA
www.googleimages.comRegistered by Azra Khan, Pakistan
www.googleimagesearch.comRegistered by Henry Chan, Hong Kong
www.google.infoRegistered by Google, not used

(The list could be continued.)

Interesting to see that some of the Google-registered trademarks are used by others as domain-name, such as “Google Search”, or “Google Search Engine”. (Several backlinks exist for www.googlesearch.com, while AllTheWeb didn’t turn up any for www.googlesearchengine.com.)

Also interesting to see that Lorna Kang, registrant of googlesearch.com, already was through legal disputes over domain names in the past. So was Azra Khan (successfully sued by the Italian Benetton Group for registering unitedcolorsofbenetton.com, which is now “under construction”). In the meantime, Henry Chan’s “Googleimagesearch” (“Google Image Search” is a Google Inc. trademark) is a pop-up infested portal covering such diverse shades of business as porn & online gambling.

As for Google Answers, we saw Google Inc. already registered certain domains. The service came out of Beta; the question is, why don’t they simple forward to answers.google.com when they already got www.googleanswers.com? It might be that it’s Google’s strategy to not get into any legal disputes over domain names by educating people to use the sub-domain name scheme. (Sub-domains can only be used by the one owning the top-level domain.)

On a related note, a similar case, one that has been take to court, was with the domains www.newyahoo.com and www.yahoo-usa.com some years back, or the case of Yahooka (a directory of marijuana-related information and sites) and Ya-hoo in 1999.

Well, just to be on the safe side, I changed the name of this blog from “Googlosophy Blogoscoped” to simply “Google Blogoscoped”, after reading that Google really, really doesn’t like any word-plays with their trademark (like “Googlicious”, which is quoted on their trademark page). The main-idea behind this is to protect the trademark from become a generic term (like “kleenex”, “spam”, “jeep”, “scotch” tape, “post-it” notes, “aspirin” and “wonderbra”).

Take the digerati de-facto acceptance of “google” as a verb synonymous to “searching”. This could hinder a case in court when Google Inc. tries to protect their trademark. As you may know, for that reason Google Inc. won’t hesitate to pressure online-dictionaries to make their point, like the Google vs WordSpy case:

“I am trademark counsel for Google. I have recently become aware of a definition of “google” on your website, www.wordspy.com. This definition implies that “google” is a verb synonymous with “search.” Please note that Google is a trademark of Google Technology Inc. Our brand is very important to us, and as I’m sure you’ll understand, we want to make sure that when people use “Google,” they are referring to the services our company provides and not to Internet searching in general. (...)

We ask that you help us to protect our brand by deleting the definition of “google” found at wordspy.com or revising it to take into account the trademark status of Google."
– Word Spy ownder Paul McFedries, quoting Google’s trademark counsel

The Word Spy entry for “google"/ “googling” is still existant; and not only for using Google, but also other search engines, and not even just that — it can be used for searching in general (McFedries quotes someone telling him the daughter was “googling for her sock”). However, the revised version now includes the proper trademark notice: “Note that Google™ is a trademark identifying the search technology and services of Google Technologies Inc.”.

Since Google for many is the entrance to the web, it would be interesting to know wether or not they use their power to censor certain words (Googled, Googlology, et al).

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