Google, PDPs and OpenSolaris put readers to the test

Can you make it to the end?

DVD it in many colours

Letters Call this our attention span test.

The quantity of e-mail received this week - in conjunction with leftovers from CES - has made individual "letters" efforts on our Google Video, a PDP history site and OpenSolaris for Power chips stories impossible. So, we're putting the burden of dealing with this mess on you.

First, we'll start with some perspective and letters on the Google Video column. That's our short attention span course for the youngsters - and likely Google fan boys - out there.

Next, it's off to some clarifications on Paul Allen's PDP museum. That's the medium attention span test, as you history buffs will likely hold out for page two or be smart enough to make your own way there.

And, last we go to our embarrassment of a story on OpenSolaris for Power. We really dropped the ball on that one. We are not, however, hiding our shame on page three. It's simply a story with the narrowest audience and so stands as our supreme attention span test.

Now, to Google country.

Three or four of you took real exception to our Google and CBS release embarrassment of a video store opinion piece. One objection was that we are stupid assholes. The second objection was that Google has labeled this horrible store a "Beta" site, and so it deserves to be horrible.

The most polite and rational letter arguing for the beta merits came from Matthew Natali. His delivered one of the few non-flames on the topic.

I do believe that Google is over-hyped, and that the product they have up is inferior to iTunes. The problem with your argument is that this is a Beta version. Yeah, you can say they shouldn't have released a Beta version this bad, but that is their philosophy, and so far judging by their stock price it isn't too bad of a philosophy.

In today's online world we like to lambast every decision that a company makes, but if you want to be respected and not look like another typical complaining blogger, you should give companies a chance to release their products.

That missive beats the heck out of "Do you understand what beta means? Get a clue." from someone called Iceboxqs, and we really appreciate Natali's perspective.

Screen grab shows one CSI video available

It's the most popular show on TV. Why bother with more than one download?

We are, however, sticking by our original opinion on the matter. Google has a host of products that have been in beta for years. Google News, for example, has stayed relatively the same during its lengthy beta run, making us wonder why the designation exists at all.

Some software companies have made a habit out of running long betas, so time isn't the only issue. No, the real problem is that Google is selling product here. It's fine to put out a test version, but don't trick the consumer into thinking it works fine. For instance, we purchased a Charlie Rose video, and weren't told until the purchase was over that it wouldn't play on our Mac. The receipt sent to our e-mail account has said for five days that instructions will arrive on how to retrieve the video for our Windows machine. No suck luck.

But we're nice guys. So, Page and Brin can keep our 99 cents.

Lots of Charlie Rose photos

Hmm. Should I watch Charlie Rose or that Charlie Rose guy?

And, in fact, Google Video seems to mark the first time the public hasn't popped an erection for whatever Google produces. Our story ended up on where most of the readers tore into Google. Ars Technica gave Google a drubbing as well, saying

"Compared to the established competition, the store's interface and navigation is clunky. That is due in part to its reliance on a web browser, but with Google's experience with content-rich web applications, it seems it could have done better with its video store."

As usual, Nick Carr turned a nugget into something much more profound by questioning the beta culture Google pushes.

Thankfully, Google seems to have taken notice of the mess it created. After one day, it managed to find a NCSI video to put under the NCSI tab. It also removed all the photos of Charlie Rose with no description of who he was interviewing and has replaced them with a few photos of Charlie Rose that do describe the interview. That's turning little value into value, and it's appreciated.

Still, the store remains hopelessly thin and is an embarrassment when compared to rivals. With any luck, Google will use the 99 cents it gouged from us to make some improvements.

The most major fix, according to you guys, would be to open the store to international users. Thanks for all your letters on that. There's little we can do, but you might try calling co-founder Brin. We hear he's from Russia.

That's enough of us.

Oh come now, Googles site does have some redeeming qualities. I mean where else can you get a episode of survivor, Barney vs. tupac and some girl called Megan shaking her hindquarters all in one page?

Actaully come to think of it, I think I would rather see Barney take out tupac than an episode of survivor.


Nate Griffin

You are spot on about the quality of the interface for this service and CBS should probably quietly drop out of it, but after just a few minutes of playing with keywords, I found some pretty funny stuff. Didn't take long to find some silly videos with a sexual flavor either, although nothing truly explicit showed up yet. I suspect that may change quickly if anyone is allowed to submit links and/or video. I wonder how Google plans on preventing this becoming just another TGP site for explicit video? Therein lurks huge potential embarrassment for old media.

Mark H

Although it is in Beta, you have a good point. The Star Trek episodes aren't in any kind of order, like air date or episode number.

Jeremy Davis

You do realize that Google Video is still a beta product? It is not meant to be the final form, in fact it is far from the final form. Please before you go about bashing companies for something they are doing, make sure that it is the final product, not a test release.

It even says Beta on the google video site.

Matt Greene

Couldn't agree more -- google video was kind of a disappointment after they hyped it up so much.

you should check out, they have not received nearly as much press but it is absolutely impressive what they've done.

J Schachter

The NCIS from the drop-down menu comes up with "0 results found". Why? Why include something you do not have? Hello Mr. Page, wakey wakey!

Sahil Choujar

In fairness, any clunkiness and lack of content is entirely wiped away by the inclusion of the superb System Administrator song -

Martin Hanley

With regards to the google video store, does anybody else find it rather ironic that one of the videos on the front page is 'MacWorld Boston 1997'???

Perhaps this is a ploy to make people think that is the last time Apple actually did anything worthwhile? Perhaps no one in Googleville realises that Macs are made by Apple? Or perhaps the Googleites are just burying the hatchett and are holding out the hand of friendship?

I htink that the Goole video store would be more successful if it just put up a big sign sayng "Buy you videos from itunes, they're great compared to us!!!" and then they could put an affiliate link underneath to make some money every time someone clicks on it and buys something from itunes :-)

I htink it's high time the people at google loaded up a copy of Google Earth on their PCs as they have clearly lost their way.....


Rob Smith

Take a look at ITN's offering on the video store. For $0.99 you can buy a 17 second video about Hadrian's wall. Because previews are set at 30 seconds, you can see all of it before you buy it. Maybe the purchased one is higher quality. I just can't be bothered to find out.

Paul Morriss

Hi Ashlee,

I don't quite understand what is so terrible about the google video interface.

My honest and impartial opinion is that google video is one of the most important developments of recent years.

It continues the google tradition of relevance and links to free content along with the option of paid for content. Ok, its not as snazzy as a fully branded itunes experience, but I think in the end people will prefer googles open and honest architecture rather than the rather selective 'walled garden' which apple provides.

Obviously time will tell...

graham beale

What classic HTML design. It brings back fond memories of the first Web pages I did in the mid-90s. I bet it looks even better viewed under Windows 3.1.

Cheers, Tony Coates

And now off to the PDPs.

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