Google Blogoscoped

Monday, June 21, 2004

Digital Rights Management

On Digital Rights Management, the copyright technology pushed by Microsoft, Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing says “I don’t need to be a cracker to break your DRM. I only need to know how to search Google” (June 17, 2004). Listen to the audio speech or read and comment on the HTML version I put up at Authorama.

Yahoo’s Yisou

Yahoo unveiled their new Chinese search engine Yisou (which translates into “No. 1 search”).

How Much Is 1 Gigabyte?

We know Gmail allows us to store 1 gigabyte of emails. But how much is 1 gigabyte really? The question might seem trivial to answer: just google it. But you will get a different answer depending on who you ask.

Because of above irregularity in definition, we also end up in a messy place talking about a terabyte.
A terabyte could be 1,000,000,000,000 or 1,099,511,627,776 bytes. I could go on with the petabyte but will spare you even longer numbers. And of course it doesn’t stop there either: we can continue with the exabyte, the zebibyte (which is 1024 times an exbibyte), or the yottabyte. OK, just for fun let’s write out the yottabyte:

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.

(Compare that to the thoughts a human thinks per day, around 40,000, and you realize it must be an awfully big number.)

So let’s start at the beginning. A byte is a small unit and should be well-defined – a byte is eight bits, right? It may be today. When Werner Buchholz coined the term in 1956, it could describe one to six bits. That’s why an eight-bit byte is also called octet in formal contexts. (Half of a byte, by the way, is a nibble, which is also called semioctet.)

And a bit? That’s the information atom, the smallest unit the computing revolution could think of. It’s geek jargon for binary digit and denotes the smallest unit of storage. It’s what computers perform calculations on (unless we are talking about quantum computers, which manipulate qubits.)

And finally, it’s pretty clear what a bit means.

I saw an interesting illustration once. There was a king, and he had servants to serve him meals. Because it was quite a walk from the kitchen, the king – sitting on his large table – decided to raise his left arm when he was hungry. A single arm raised once therefore would hold the information “I’m hungry”, but the king could not specify the type of dish he wanted. After some days he was bored by the same food, so he started to use both arms. Now he could communicate four different wishes to the servants – no arm means “not hungry”, left arm means “potatoes”, right arm “noodles”, left and right together “dessert”.
So two arms are two bit, and two bit allow us to count four numbers in binary (from zero to three: 00, 01, 10, 11).

Now after all this confusion, how much is 1 gigabyte? Well, if people ask you just tell them: it’s a lot.

Father’s Day

You might have missed Google’s Father’s Day logo (the third Sunday of June in the USA).

News at Ask Jeeves

The butler’s back: adds some new features, including a binocular icon which shows a preview image of the page if you move the mouse over it, and instant on-page movie review and poster.

The main problem with Ask Jeeves right now is search results are cluttered (e.g. up to half the screen is reserved for sponsored results on some searches), and all the nice features like image preview or movie review work only on a very limited set of search terms (e.g. while “Shrek” has an on-page movie result, “Taxi Driver” has not).

It must be tough competing with Google because you can’t be more radical in implementing a minimalist user interface; all you can do to stand out by adding features Google hasn’t. This doesn’t mean any searcher actually needs these features, and you will always move further away from what makes Google good.

Gmail for the Troops

[Gmail] and are two new sites dedicated to donating Gmail invitations to US troops.

PS: You will find a daily dose of Gmail invitations in the forum.


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


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