Google Gets Cooler; Microsoft... Is Still Everywhere

Google bought the mapping company Keyhole last year, and now Google Maps can show you aerial satellite photography of whatever location you’re mapping.  As if Google Maps wasn’t cool enough already!

Google also recently added support for natural-language search queries (like the one I just posted about).  But according to the article:


Google Q&A has strengths and weaknesses, Norvig admitted. ... For example, asking, "What is the population of India?" returns rock-solid results in the form of links to Web sites that answer the question.

On the other hand, the top result for the question, "What is the capital of France?" was "Investment Capital and Banking in France."

... But the queries don’t have to be full sentences. The system identifies both query words, such as "who" or "what," and fact-type terms such as capital, director, population. "To find out who directed "Finding Nemo," you don’t have to put in the ’who is,’" he explained.

I think this is more marketing hype than anything "new" from Google.  Their existing search already ignored common words (like "is") anyway; I don’t see how this new "natural language" support is fundamentally different.

In other tech news, Microsoft’s approach to Windows system security may be changing (which can only mean "improving" at this point) when the next version is released in a year or so.  One huge problem with the current design is the fact that, although Windows supports the concept of different levels of user privileges:


...90 percent of Windows software can’t be installed without administrator access to Windows, [and] 70 percent won’t run properly unless the user is an administrator.

The whole point of having restricted user-level accounts is that you don’t want your users to be able to break critical parts of the system -- even when "your users" just means "you."  You don’t want to use the powerful administrator account for your day-to-day activities, because 1) even if you’re good with computers, you could accidentally delete something crucial, and 2) you run lots of programs written by other people and companies, so you don’t want to give them access to critical parts of the system either.

But as the above quote shows, it’s simply not practical to run Windows with a user-level account, because like so many things in Windows, this security feature was hacked on as an afterthought and doesn’t really work yet.  Until it gets fixed, we’ll continue to be plagued by myriad viruses and otherwise-malicious programs that hijack Windows systems and then modify the system to prevent the user from removing them.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply


01. Apr 11, 2005 at 09:33am by mom:

I just love that mapping site!  ALthough, it is a little scary to think that ’big brother’ is watching and, if I happen to look up, can just about see the color of my eyes when I’m gardening (or whatever) in my back yard :(

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