Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

15 Annoying Things About Google revisited
By Brian Mingus

I decided to take a quick look at how much progress Google has made on fixing the bug reports I filed on this blog four years ago:

1) When you search for the definition of a word with the define operator (for example, define:hemifidl), Google does not use their query-based spell checker to try to fix it and you have to do it yourself. But searching regular google for the same typo results in the correct suggestion.

This bug has been fixed.

2) Google Analytics does not take advantage of Google Maps, instead using some static, boring and highly zoomed out depictions of earth

Analytics now uses Maps!

3) I am shown the number of e-mails in my spam folder in Gmail, causing me to obsessively check it since I get more spam than regular mail. Although, I must say Google gets 99% of the spam and has never miscategorized a message. That accuracy is what makes me mad about being pestered about the contents of my spam folder.

My Spam folder and my Drafts folder are now conveniently hidden using a recent Gmail feature that lets me drag and drop them under a More link.

4) Google Reader and Gmail have different interfaces, when in fact the data structures that they represent have intrinsically similar properties [that should be invisible to the user] and thus should have a common interface. I’ve been saying this, and Yahoo! recently picked up on it. Kudos to Yahoo! I won’t be switching but I did admire.

Supposedly Google Wave is going to finally fix this problem, but for now it’s still a bug.

5) I can’t export my starred entries in Google Reader. Web 2.0 (commonly defined /as/ Google) is all about the users owning their data. I should be able to download everything Google has on me in a convenient xmlified archive.

Reader has had a somewhat hidden API for doing this for a long time now so I have my starred entries in xml format, although I haven’t used rss for over a year. Additionally, Google’s Data Liberation Front is now working on making all your data across all Google services available to you. I think I’m leaving this bug open until the Data Liberation Front makes all your data available across all services.

6) If you are trying to get directions on Google Local and you accidentally type an address into the “Search the map" form and then properly click on “Get directions” it does not move the address for you and you have to copy/paste or retype it. Ditto “Find businesses”. Simple Javascriptery.

This bug has been fixed.

7) Orkut exists.

When will Google finally kill Orkut? I’ve heard that Orkut is fantastically successful in Brazil. Maybe I just hate the name. And the way it looks. And works.

8) Google Alerts don’t work very well at all for the actual, bleeding edge status of the web. In fact, it’s downright terrible. The only thing worse is the MSN alerts which resend you the same things every single time they crawl the web.

I’ve heard that this is now fixed, as I know of one person who has a Google alert for the word ’Wikipedia’ and manages to sift through the data.

9) Google Book Search pretends that you can only read within a few pages of your query, when in fact you can just search for a phrase on the last page you were allowed to view and go on to read more pages using this algorithm.

This is clearly still a bug as Books is very restrictive about how much you can read. But under the new books settlement that is in progress Google will be able to show you 20% (!) of orphaned works. Until that happens, this is still a major bug.

10) Google hired Vint Cerf but they won’t listen to Tim Berners-Lee. Old url schemas from Google Print and other Google products no longer work. This is anti-web. See

Bad Google. Bad web, actually. With the proliferation of tiny url services and microblogging the “Web” 2.0 becomes stale very quickly and content providers such as Google don’t care one iota about breaking swaths of past urls.

10) Google doesn’t use their award winning translation technology to provide their customers a better experience. They just use it to win awards.

This bug has definitely been fixed, as Google Translate is coming of age. It supports translations between dozens of languages now and Google has even released a collaborative translation tool with native support for translating Wikipedia articles.

11) Although it’s understandable, there are a whole smorgasborg of Linux geeks working at the Googleplex, yet they write almost all of their software exclusively for windows. E.g., Picasa.

Google releases lots of products on Linux now. It’s usually not a first priority, but they have contributed extensively to the Wine project and I am happily running Chrome on 64 bit Ubuntu using an easily installable .deb package. So this bug is fixed, nice work GOOG.

12) All these damn product blogs. But, thanks Philipp for fixing that one (hope they don’t send you a cease and desist) =) [conceptually, they should just have one blog and more bloggers, but hey]

I’m closing this bug as INVALID. The ton of product blogs has turned out to be a good thing, giving us an inside look into how Google’s teams work.

13) The Google Accounts page looks like it was designed in Microsoft FrontPage by a novice. This is my personal data you are representing, thanks!

This bug is clearly fixed – Google has centralized all of your settings and cleaned up the accounts page.

14) Google forgot to send Google Groups to their PhD sporting UI gurus. I’m color blind and I can tell you that schema is a disaster.

Groups now has a beautiful interface and I have been invited to more and more groups that have been started up for local activities, such as quick pick up summertime volleyball games in my town.

15) I can’t search with regular expressions ;)

I’m closing this one as you can now search using regular expressions at Code Search. Additionally, Amazon has partly solved this problem for Google – if you want to run a regex over the entire internet you can do so using amazon EC2. They will load up a copy of the internet for you and provide you the compute resources needed to do it.


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!