Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Preview of the Canon EOS-30D

(via Engadget) A preview of the new Canon SLR, the EOS-30D, has been released by Engadget.

It's pretty much just a "refined 20D", as they put it - not like the 5D, which offers almost all the features of a 20D at a lower price point, but is still a separate line. The 30D will probably replace the 20D.

The most welcome feature - which really should be on all Canon's cameras - is that you can now see the ISO speed in the viewfinder. All I have to say on that is finally! This is the most friggin' annoying interface bug with Canon SLRs, and would be enough for me to run out and buy one of these if I had the cash. :P

And of course, the obligatory pic (it looks exactly like the 20D). This was stolen from Engadget:

I'm still looking forward to something that competes with the MP offerings of the 1D and its revisions, at a lower price. (The 20D current retails for around $3000 in Australia, from memory - or around $2000 in the US.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

FirefoxMyths.com: misinformation

Recently I've seen firefoxmyths.com referenced a few times, mostly on forum threads about "which browser is better".

When I first saw it, I was interested, since I had thought that someone had finally catalogued all the bullshit about Firefox going around the internet. However, this reads more like an advertisement for Avant Browser.

disclaimer: I can't stand Firefox fanboys crapping on about what they don't understand, as you might have noticed by my earlier post on some of Firefox's "innovations". Personally, I use Opera. However, this page is so horribly wrong on most counts that I'm forced to defend Firefox here. So, here follows a debunking of the debunking on that site...

Requirement Myths
The author appears to misunderstand the difference between "browser" and "operating system", and manages to contradict himself, all in the one "point". First off, he claims that IE has "much" lower system requirements than Firefox, while ignoring the fact that the CPU clock speed required for IE is roughly double that of Firefox. Secondly, he doesn't take into account that IE is part of the operating system, so its requirements appear to be much less than those of Firefox, particularly the "disk space" ones.
Update: I was wrong here, the requirement for IE is actually a "486 66 Mhz CPU", not a "486.66 Mhz CPU" as I had read it. I can't find a Microsoft source for my claims as to IE's integration into the OS, but they are somewhat substantiated by this quote:

Internet Explorer 6 SP1 setup installs the majority of its files on the drive where the Windows operating system is installed, regardless of the installation location you choose.
..from the source provided at firefoxmyths.com. I also forgot to admit that Firefox has some pretty bad issues with memory consumption under the default configuration, though this issue is not reproducible under all Firefox installations.

Performance Myths
Most of the information listed here is correct, simply because it's sourced from a much more reliable source. However, this..

The argument that components of Internet Explorer may load during Windows Startup is nullified by Opera's start times. Which means there is no excuse for this except poor coding on Firefox's part.
..is an interesting idea. Somehow, the author thinks that the fact that Opera has a faster "cold start" than IE means that saying "IE loads in part with Windows" is completely invalid. We call this an "fallacy of irrelevance".
Update: The author refuses to accept that Opera is irrelevant to the myth "Firefox Is Faster Than Internet Explorer". Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Market Share Myths
I'd question the reliability of any stats on browser market share, since it depends on so many factors: for one, the content of the site measuring the stats.
Update: Yes, I agree with the author on this one as per his comments below, but not the site. The wording of the site implies that somehow, the lower usage statistics are "more correct", when it would be more accurate to say that the fact that there are several conflicting reports on Firefox's market share indicates that measuring market share is extremely difficult and unreliable and such statistics should be taken with a grain of salt.

Security Myths
The Secunia advisory for Firefox claims that currently, there are only three unpatched vulnerabilities, all of which have medium criticality or lower (3 / 5 bars). Opera has one unpatched vulnerability with the lowest level of criticality (a minor URL spoofing problem). IE currently has 32 unpatched vulnerabilities from Extremely Critical to Not Critical. While this does indicate that Opera is "the most secure", in my opinion it does not make Firefox "insecure"; the author claims that one vulnerability is enough to make software "insecure". Firefox's security claims are based on comparison to Internet Explorer, and are perfectly valid. While Firefox does have its share of security flaws, it has proven to have had far less serious flaws, and it has responded to them more quickly than Internet Explorer - which is the main point marketed by the Mozilla team. Additionally, the author's arguments about spyware, while logical, are simply not true: Firefox is an excellent "solution", in part, to the spyware problem - as its comparably low level of exploits and smaller and more IT-savvy user base, make it a much less attractive to spyware vendors, and as such, there is no widely spread spy/malware software that installs through Firefox (at least to my knowledge).
Update: The author continues to claim that one vulnerability nullifies any chance of describing the software as "secure", so again, we'll have to agree to disagree here. However, nowhere in the relevant paragraph on firefoxmyths.com is the notion of "Firefox as a solution to all security problems" raised. I stand by my conclusion, that Firefox, in comparison to its primary competitor, Internet Explorer, can reasonably be considered "secure" as a web browser. I also suggest that it is a good method to minimize spyware installations, though I don't suggest that it is a complete spyware solution. I also disagree with the idea that the author's guide to securing Windows XP can give any user the "same level of protection" he has, as an uninformed user tends to be able to click "Yes" enough times to install any malware program. Additionally, Avant Browser (with the same level of security as Internet Explorer) has been recommended over Firefox. It should be noted that several IE exploits have existed (and been exploited) in the past allowing the silent installation of malware without user input, while this has not yet happened with Firefox, possibly due to its smaller user base. As things stand, I would recommend Firefox over Avant for just this reason, as history tends to repeat iteself. Finally, the author continues to suggest that "Firefox is incompatible with 10 - 15% of sites", rather than "10 - 15% sites are poorly coded and implement non-standard functionality only present in Internet Explorer", which I feel reflects the situation much better.

Feature Myths
All true up until Tabbed Browsing (though the myth that IE7 "stole" Firefox's icon seems a bit ridiculous to me; I've never heard that myth, and I'd think most people who actually care about such things would know the real story). The rest of this section demands a more thorough debunking:
Tabbed Browsing: Claims that Opera only added "tabbed" browsing in 2000 per a Wikipedia article - the author clearly doesn't understand the difference between MDI and TDI. Also claims that Firefox was released in 2004 - it was released in 2002, albeit under a different name (Phoenix).
W3C Standards: Claims that Firefox has "incomplete" support for for many W3C standards, then claims that IE has "very good support (86%) for the most important web standard, HTML 4.01". Apart from the fact that this is a clear attempt to confuse a reader into thinking standards support in IE is better than in Firefox (far from it, IE doesn't even support position: fixed; in CSS..), claiming that HTML 4.01 is the "most important web standard" is laughable. It's seven years old, released in 1999, and the web has moved forward since then. While it is possible that most sites are written in HTML 4.01 (I have no statistics for this), I would say that the most important web standard is the current "version" of HTML, XHTML 1.1 (though this is a separate standard, it is very similar and is designed to replace HTML).
Update: The author claims that he does not intend to confuse readers into thinking that IE has superior standards compared to IE, therefore, I suggest the text be changed to reflect this. Despite the fact that it is "biased against IE", the original source for the information should still be linked to, and I'd suggest that it be indicated under 'notes' that Firefox has better support for all HTML-based web standards than IE. Additionally, the "source" link regarding Firefox's 'poor standards implementation' is broken.
W3C Standards define a Webpage: Here, the author just fails to understand the contextual meaning of the word "define". In this case, it means more or less that W3C standards outline the way a web page "should be", not define as in a dictionary definition.
Update: I was basing this on the Myth Heading, not the actual Myth itself, apparently. The real Myth is "A Site that doesn't conform to W3C Standards is not a Webpage". This seems more than a little obvious to me, but I'll accept that I was wrong here. Sort of.
Acid 2 Browser Test: The author claims that the Acid2 test tests "the features considered most important for the future of the web". Incorrect, the test is designed to demonstrate how the most poorly-supported features should work, not the most important ones. The most important ones are already implemented in most browsers (by and large, the only browser without support is Internet Explorer in most cases).
Update: The author claims that he is correct, but the only quote I was able to find on the Acid2 website he referred to was "It uses features that are not in common use yet, because of lack of support", which appears to support my argument.
Web Page Rendering: Claims that "Firefox is not 100% Internet Explorer and ActiveX compatible", and as a result will not render "web sites that depend on ActiveX or were only tested in Internet Explorer (which there are many)" correctly. If those sites had adhered to coding standards when they were created, they would work correctly in all major IE competitors (Opera, Firefox, Safari and others), but in many cases would have problems with IE. Most web designers know that trying to get IE to support your website can be a major hurdle after testing a design that works in all other "standards-compliant" browsers.
Update: Apparently, I'm just making excuses here, in that case, I would suggest that the text be reworded to accurately reflect the truth (as suggested previously): "10 - 15% of sites are coded poorly or using proprietary technology and as a result will only work correctly in Internet Explorer". I accept that 10 - 15% of sites "don't work" correctly in Firefox, but the problem is not with Firefox, it is with the sites.
Web Page Rendering Differences: Claims that "Firefox does not wait for the whole page to be rendered like IE" is a myth. Based on the other information quoted and linked, I'll assume the author means "Firefox progressively renders pages, unlike IE" or "Firefox does not wait for all markup to be downloaded before rendering, unlike IE", since what he's saying doesn't make sense (why exactly would the browser "wait" until it has finished rendering a page?). Here he says that IE offers support for progressive rendering in tables. Since any modern website design uses divs, not tables (tables-based layouts are an old hack left over from pre-CSS days), IE's progressive rendering is next to useless. (I'm not even sure if Firefox uses progressive rendering, to be honest, but in any case, it's a lot more noticeable in Opera than any other browser.)
Update: I concede defeat here too, in actuality, IE supports progressive rendering except with tables-based layouts (where there is only partial support). The confusing wording of the summary got me, and had I read the source more thoroughly, I would have understood what really happens. Anyway, I suggest that the summary be changed to what I said ("IE supports progressive rendering except with tables-based layouts (where there is only partial support)."), to make it more clear to the reader.

The author ends his article with a challenge:

Do you think there is a single argument that refutes a single fact on this page? Think again. The sources speak for themselves and the facts are irrefutable.
He also claims that Firefox fanboys have "blindly react[ed] rather than calmly [thought]" when presented with said facts. I'm not a Firefox fanboy, as I said, I'm far from it, but I've tried to present a calmly thought-out response to this article, which is not only poorly researched in parts, but appears to be intentionally misleading in others. I'm tempted to suggest that the entire site is an ad for Avant Browser, which he recommends at the end since it includes IE's rendering engine for "99.99% website compatibility" and "all the newest features of other browsers" (such as "100% security", according to the Avant website). He also suggests that readers read his other "guides", like "XP Games" (where every game is "100% Freeware", it reads like a malware site) and "XP Media" (which ironically implores the reader to "Get Firefox with Google Toolbar for better browsing"). Ordinarily, I would have expected this kind of writing to be ignored, but since it seems to be getting a fair amount of attention, I've taken the time to debunk it and forward my response onto the author. Hopefully I'll be able to post back here confirming that he's seen the light and decided to correct all the misinformation on his website. To the author: I challenge you to come up with a reasonable rebuttal of the facts I've presented here, or otherwise modify your website to be a little less misleading about things.

Update: I've added Updates to most parts of this entry according to the comments below by Andrew K. - the author of the page. There are a few more things I'd like to respond to:

  • I never suggested that the page wasn't researched or thought out correctly - however, I do feel that in many cases the writing is constructed in quite a misleading way which makes it feel very biased when read by someone who knows the subject matter reasonably well.
  • I simply said that the "100% Freeware" comment on every game on the XP Games page makes the site read as if it's a malware site. "100% Legal", "100% Free" and such are all terms that I see on such sites all the time, and especially when things look like they have been copy-pasted all over the page, it loses the page a lot of credibility. I'd suggest that the repetition and "100%" be removed - there's no such thing as "90%" freeware, and it just makes the whole thing look a lot less suspect.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My experience with Digg

My recent post on µTorrent's WebUI was quite popular after I submitted it to Digg - it's currently sitting on 1061 diggs.

Submitting it taught me a couple of things about Digg that I'll keep in mind for future reference.

  1. The URLs generated by Digg suck. The URL for my submission was http://digg.com/software/Preview_of_µTorrent_s_web-based_interface_(with_screens) (I submitted it under the title "Preview of µTorrent's web-based interface (with screens). For some reason, Digg cuts out punctuation like ', but doesn't get rid of the two brackets and for that reason it was a total pain in the ass to post the link places. MSN Messenger for example won't auto-link the last bracket (not all that obvious from a glance), and the person you sent it to usually won't notice (just getting the "dead link" message). This problem occurs with Wikipedia too, since that's the way they name different topics with the same name (eg. Placebo (band) and Placebo (album)). Additionally, the µ broke many forums when I tried to use the [url] tag. I ended up having to hexify the URL like so: http://digg.com/software/Preview_of_%C2%B5Torrent_s_web-based_interface_%28with_screens%29.
  2. Digg people suck when it comes to AdSense. There's some sort of restriction on the information I can divulge about my AdSense "earnings", but suffice to say I made less on the day my story hit the front page (probably giving me about 50 times the daily traffic I usually get) than I do in a normal day. It actually makes me feel kinda guilty - since Digg is a technology site, I'm presuming most of the visitors ignore ads like "Bit Torrent Here" etc. that Google inserts (as would I, since I don't trust many of the p2p-related sites in AdSense).
  3. Given that, the average intelligence of a Digger seems to be quite low. :P There wasn't much of this related to my submission (in fact there wasn't any), but if you check out the other submissions on Digg, particularly the ones that are more or less "check out this cool link", you'll find a massive number of stupid comments like "lol google hax", "microsoft is gay" and other such crap. I admit that a lot of smart people use Digg - since I know a lot of Digg users from other places - but it just seems that the vast majority of commenters are not those people.
  4. Though this doesn't really relate to Digg, my blog is ugly and I seriously need to work harder on creating my own theme (these mods to Minima Black just don't cut it, I'm afraid). The main problem with it is that it adheres horribly closely to the blog stereotype of having long rants in thin columns, meaning you have to scroll heaps. And you know how I feel about scrolling.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

µTorrent's WebUI: monitor your downloads remotely

Update: Some people were questioning how I got access to these files. While µTorrent itself is developed by ludde, with access to the source and the original creator, there is a µT development "team". We work on stuff like the website, managing the forums and that sort of thing, and get previews of this alpha stuff for that reason. ;)

Lately, the µTorrent development team have been working on a WebUI (web-based user interface) to allow users to remotely manage their BitTorrent downloads. (Don't know what µTorrent and BitTorrent are? Check out my earlier review of µTorrent.)

As the WebUI is still undergoing alpha testing, it is currently inaccessible to the public (when the UI goes final, you'll need to install a bunch of extra "add-on" files to make it work, as the WebUI currently takes up about 110 KiB of disk space after compression - almost as large as µT itself).

However, here's a little intro to the WebUI and how it works. Click the screenshots to enlarge them.

The WebUI runs through your web browser, and is accessible via HTTP through the port you use for BitTorrent. Of course, I'm running on port 31337. Basically what this means is that you can access the WebUI, once installed, by going to http://localhost:port/gui/index.html in your web browser. localhost basically is a shortcut to "this computer" - so obviously, this will only work if you're accessing the WebUI from the same computer as µTorrent is running on.

It's probably more useful to access the WebUI via your IP address (perhaps using dynamic DNS ). So, if your IP address is, and you run µTorrent on port 666, you could access the WebUI at from any PC, assuming you've done all the necessary port-forwarding to allow µT to serve the UI.

Of course, you wouldn't want just anyone to access your UI, so it's locked with a password configurable from µTorrent's Advanced Options menu. Here's the GUI operating on my computer under Opera:

Screenshot of the WebUI running under Opera, displaying the address bar.
You can get these torrents from legaltorrents.com.

The buttons below the address bar are all part of the WebUI, but I've included the Opera toolbar too just so you can see how the URL works. From left to right, the buttons are basically the same as those in the regular desktop version of µTorrent: add, delete, start, pause, stop, and move a torrent up or down. There's also a fully functional search bar at the right-hand side of the window. Clicking the search icon will open up a menu allowing you to pick a search engine, and entering a query into the box then hitting Enter will pop up with the results in that engine. (Unfortunately, at this stage, the WebUI uses an internal list of search engines - although it can be edited, this may not be the case with the final version. Perhaps it will be able to take the list from µTorrent's Search Engines setting.)

Screenshot of the search engines available to the WebUI.

Clicking the plus button (add torrent) spawns a little dialog allowing you to upload a torrent from the current hard disk. This way, you can visit your favourite torrent site, download a .torrent file, and add it to µTorrent, so it's downloading while you're away and ready for you when you get back.

Screenshot of the upload torrent dialog.

The DHTML columns are fully resizable and sortable, just like in µTorrent (though there is no "secondary sorting" feature). However, sorting the columns is done using JavaScript with no communication with µTorrent, so sorting won't be reflected in µTorrent.

Screenshot of the Size list, sorted in descending order.

Double-clicking a torrent brings up the Torrent Properties dialog, which you can't move, but it does display most of the info in µTorrent's General tab. You can access the Files tab, too:

Screenshot of the first page of the General tab.
Screenshot of the second page of the General tab.
Screenshot of the Files tab.

You can also right-click on torrents in the main window or in the Files tab, but not all of the options from desktop µTorrent are available:

Screenshot of
Screenshot of

As for browser support, the WebUI is currently fully functional in Firefox, partially functional in Opera 9.0 TP2 (no right-clicks work, even when JavaScript is permitted to control right-clicks), and partially functional in IE (no right-click in the Files tab, occasional graphics glitches and crashes).

Like I said earlier, the WebUI is still under construction and will be released to the public when a more stable version is available. A 'lite' version using less DHTML will be available eventually, too. This is essentially just a preview to see what's coming up in µTorrent development.

If you want remote access to your BitTorrent client now, there are several BT clients offering some sort of WebUI: Azureus (via the Swing Web Interface plugin), ABC and G3Torrent, though apparently the functionality is quite limited and some of the clients are no longer under active development (I haven't tried them out myself). You could also try using a VNC system (like TightVNC), which is what I would recommend, though it's a bit more bandwidth-intensive than a real WebUI - so you can keep using µTorrent.

This article has been submitted to digg.
Digg it now!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Opera Labs and Opera 9 TP2

Opera has just opened the doors to Opera Labs, somewhat reminiscent of Google Labs, as well as releasing Opera 9.0 Technical Preview 2 (TP2).

One of the major features in TP2 is the official alliance with BitTorrent Inc., the company behind BitTorrent owned by Bram Cohen. Whereas earlier previews of Opera 8 featured basic BitTorrent functionality built into the browser, this was based on the open specification for BitTorrent. Now, Opera has a commercial alliance with the company itself which they are using to license the BitTorrent logo and integrate the official BitTorrent Search into the browser.

Additionally, and possibly more significantly, Opera 9 TP2 (which can be downloaded from Opera Labs) contains widget support, as reported by InformationWeek. Here's a screenshot of the widget configuration dialog (of course, you can completely disable widgets if you so desire):

Widgets in Opera

And here's some screenshots of the Slashdot widget, which folds out to display the latest Slashdot articles:

Slashdot widget before unfoldingSlashdot widget after unfolding

Very nice. Widget support does seem to be a bit bloaty, but Opera is still significantly slimmer than Firefox in executable size, install size and resource usage, so I'll stick with it. Also, widgets are something I'd like to get into, but when I've tried it in the past it's been a pain in the ass to keep another program running in the background to control them. Since Opera is always running on my PC, the job suits it nicely.

This all comes in addition to the recent release of the second beta of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7. Looks like things are pointing towards another instalment of the Browser Wars..

Sunday, February 05, 2006

MSN Messenger's personal messages and more

I had naïvely thought that with the introduction of MSN's "personal messages", people would use them instead of having essay-length quips in their name.

However, it seems that people now have shit in their name AND in the personal message. Personal messages were created for a reason - you put your exciting news summary (you know, like "@ city bying stuf", "PUT A (F) IN UR NAME TO RAISE AWARENESS OF 9/11", "omfg mi dad is so meen" and "(8)u dnt no wot itz lyk wlcum 2 mi lyf(8)" - usually all strung together separated by broken heart emoticons) into one and save everybody else the annoyance of having to read it EVERY TIME YOU SEND A MESSAGE.

Like I said, people have just taken the personal message to mean that now you can have TWICE the shit appearing on your contacts' desktops.

Here's a demonstration of how annoying these long names could be if you're not the sort of person who keeps one program open, maximized at all times (ie. someone who uses the computer for reasons other than "ch@in 2 m8s on msn"). Just imagine how bad it would be if you had multiple people in the same conversation.

A typical conversation with MSN names of reasonable length. Note that the entire conversation fits in the window with no need for scrolling.
Short names.
Once people have long names, you must scroll down! Fuck no!
Long names.

Now I really didn't have that much of a problem with it when there was no alternative, since having info like this is occasionally useful and I don't have a huge thing against people who like advertising their inside jokes. However, since we've got personal messages, PUT SHIT IN THERE INSTEAD, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST. I have to admit though, Microsoft fucked up pretty bad when they made it so that personal messages "basically don't work properly yet", that is, they don't always "save" unless you close MSN Messenger properly, and they're not portable (if you sign in on one MSN client and change your PM, that won't be reflected on another client, unlike your MSN name and contact list).

Moving on, something else that really shits me about MSN: those people that add you to their list that you don't really give a shit about (so you don't immediately start talking to them), then 20 minutes later open a conversation with you asking "hu iz dis?". Why the fuck did you add me in the first place asshole? Now if these people were spammers or mail order brides trying to find a "business partner" than I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it, but invariably they're the 12-year-old third cousin twice removed of someone you once talked to on MSN because they asked you the same question.

Or how about the people that change email addresses and demand that you "add their new addy"? First off, there are very few reasons to change addresses in the first place. These include:

  • You were using an email address given to you by your workplace, from which you have been fired for using MSN or browsing midget pornography during work time;
  • You discovered that Hotmail sucks ass and decided to switch to Gmail because at the time Hotmail only had 2MB of storage and you like having searchable email;
  • Your email account was otherwise disabled or deleted (note: this does not include getting that email account banned from signing up on your favourite teen forum);
  • You're changing your identity due to someone stalking you.
Other reasons frequently cited for a change of email address that are NOT reasonable include:
  • Your old email address was qt_chik_princess_2005@hotmail.com, but now it's 2006, and you want to be the first person to secure qt_chik_princess_2006@hotmail.com (helpful hint: don't put the year in your email address!);
  • Your old email address was nicole_loves_james@hotmail.com, but James dumped you for a hotter, smarter, and all-round better person;
  • Your old email address was dashboard_confessional_rok_6945@hotmail.com, but ever since "emo music" became uncool you decided not to like them anymore;
  • Your old email address was jewhater@hotmail.com because you hate Jimmy Eat World, but many people misinterpreted it;
  • Your old email address was cute_lil_thang@hotmail.com, but now you're fat, ugly, boring and nobody likes you;
  • You forgot your old email addresss;
  • Someone blocked you;
  • You "just got sick of the old one".
Furthermore, even if you do change email address, there is a MUCH easier way to get all your contacts back than simply telling people to add your new address, and it saves the potential embarassment of asking your best friend to re-add you only to discover that they don't even know who you are. Here it is, supplied to you exclusively by my blog:
Transferring contact lists from one account to another
  1. Sign into your old account.
  2. Click Contacts at the top of the screen (or press Alt+C if you've hidden the menu bar), then select Save Contact List.
  3. Save your contact list to a location of your choice.
  4. Sign into your new account.
  5. Click Contacts at the top of the screen (or press Alt+C if you've hidden the menu bar), then select Import Contacts from a File.
  6. Hopefully by now you haven't forgotten where you saved your contacts from before. Locate the file and double-click it.
  7. Your contact list has been imported, celebrate by writing some poetry.

Finally, one more thing to rant about, though this applies to all the internet, not just MSN. The following phrases have been way overused and are no longer funny:

  • FTW
  • roflcopter
  • Chuck Norris / Vin Diesel
  • FPS Doug / Boom Headshot
This list of course is supplementary to all the other words that used to be cool but aren't any more (eg. LOL, pwned, hax, 1337, et cetera). Thankyou.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Yet another dodgy "pay-for-freeware" website

There's a great writeup over at SiteAdvisor.com on yet another one of those sites that basically charge you for freeware.

Definitely worth a look. The only way we can get this sort of thing to stop is if people stop making the mistakes that get them caught out in the first place.

Today, they've reviewed "FreeDownloadHQ", which basically sells you a subscription for about US$35 that does absolutely nothing. They don't even host the downloads they "sell", they just redirect to download.com.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Google censoring China search results

Much has been made recently of Google's decision to censor China's search results as per the request of their government. Searching Google's Blog Search for 'google china censor' turns up 4 481 results as of now, which means that it's certainly made an impact on the 'blogosphere' (not that anyone gives a shit). However, it is quite interesting to take a look at the search results offered to the Chinese in comparison to the vanilla google.com results, for example:


Apparently, this is the first image that comes to the mind of the Chinese government when presented with the phrase 'Tiananmen':

Tiananmen according to Google China

However, the image presented by the international version of Google looks a little more like this:

Tiananmen according to Google International

So, there's obviously a little bit of what could be called "foul play" going on.

I really don't have that strong a standpoint on this - even assuming that Google prevents access to any other version of the search results than google.cn for Chinese users, I still don't see what the big deal is. At least Google is providing a service in China - basically their only other option is to get blocked from China entirely, since it's the governments fault. However, a lot of people feel differently. You might want to have a look at the Slashdot articles on the topic, since there's a wide range of opinions presented in the comments, some of them quite insightful: