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It’s the end of the year and I have a little gift for Google for the year 2008. It’s a summary of issues and bugs I found in the various Google services, free and paid ones as well. Some are fresh and triggered this post and some others are older where I already send a feedback to Google in the past.

Google is obviously not used to deal with people and their best people for web usability must all be busy with the organic web search page. Okay, it is not easy to manage all the different new services and offerings that are partially in-house developed products and partially products and services that were acquired over the past few years. However, fundamental mistakes and errors should not happen, even under those circumstances. I was lucky today to bump into a whole chain of bugs and usability issues with Google’s Picasa, Google Checkout and Gmail. I also include some older issues, including ones with other Google services while I am at it. It comes down in total to SEVEN usability issues and FIVE real bugs for Picasa and Google Checkout alone.

It’s a long post, broken down into multiple parts and it is primarily written for Google.

Let’s start from the beginning. I have a regular Gmail account with an address at the chúng tôi domain. This is an old account, which I created when Gmail was launched. I also have an account for “Google for your domain”, the hosting service provided by Google.

Google Picasa

I paid on December 28, 2006 for the upgrade to 10 GB for the Picasa account (free account has 1 GB limit), which also seems to automatically upgrade the storage for my normal chúng tôi account (I have to wait 1 day to be able to verify that. Explanation follows). The upgrade was purchased via Google Checkout.

November 5, 2007

This is a friendly reminder from Google that your paid storage plan with us will renew soon. Here is your information:

Price: $20.00 US

The renewal process is automatic — no action is required. We will charge your card on Dec 28, 2007.

Of course, we want to be sure we only charge your card if you are interested in renewing. If you would like to cancel your paid storage, you can do so by visiting the link below and selecting the basic plan.

The Google Team

P.S. Need to update your credit card info?

The first weird thing was that I was not unable to update any description for any web album. Every time I pressed save, an error screen appeared (bug #1). I had some problems with Picasa Web before and thought that they might use the holidays for an upgrade. I looked for any notes etc., but did not see anything.

Then I launched Picasa for Windows on my PC. I wanted to upload a bunch of new images for some of my galleries. There I got the error message that my quota was exceeded.

Huh? I did not recall seeing anything on the Picasa website and I did also not receive any email today or yesterday regarding the expiration of my quota. Furthermore, wasn’t it supposed to renew itself or did I read the email from November 5th incorrectly?

I looked again on the website and looked and looked and then saw something weird in the footer in tiny letters and only on the private overview screen with ALL galleries.

You don’t see it anywhere else, not within the galleries, the public galleries overview and not even on the settings page. The message could not have been hidden any better. I guess the users are not supposed to see it or something like that (usability issue #1). Well, the message made clear that the automatic renewal did obviously not work and my storage expired without any warning or notice (bug #2). Luckily for me, next to that message was also a link to upgrade the storage.

Google Checkout

Notice anything? Right, the checkout button is disabled and it does not show any billing and payment information. There is also not even an error message that indicates this issue (bug #4). A link to update the billing information is missing too (usability issue #2).

I had to abandon the checkout process, which was a dead end at this point anyway and went to my Google account to check my Google Checkout information. I did specify payment methods and billing and shipping information and as you can see on my purchase history, it worked before, even with the updated credit card.

I had a hunch and loaded up Firefox to go through the same process. This time the shopping card shows a payment method and also the checkout button is enabled.

I completed the checkout but I still have the same problems as before. The storage is also not upgraded and nothing indicates that there was an upgrade purchased and pending (usability issue #3). The Picasa page shows friendly the link to buy just another upgrade. I don’t think so.

Okay, it stated that the upgrade of the storage will take up to one day, but I thought that in my case the upgrade is more of a renewal rather than a new upgrade. I mean my Picasa albums use up already over 1 GB of the extra storage (usability issue #4).

Google Storage in General

It seems that even though the subscription expired and I did not pay for the additional storage that Google did not delete any of my stuff. I hope that it is really the case and not just look like it. I will find out eventually. I started thinking about what could be happening with my Google Hosted account and storage when it is due to renew (I need to check that right away).

This experience did not increase my confidence into Google. If Google wants to get serious about this potential market and make people feel comfortable to use the storage and web enabled applications without fearing for their data, this does certainly not help, on the contrary.

P.S. Another Picasa Suggestion

I have some additional suggestions for Google Picasa, but will only mention the most critical ones to keep it short.

Show the file name and resolution of an image in the galleries and detail pages. Show the information right beneath the image in a smaller font or at least in the tooltip of the image if you hover over it. Also show it in the tooltip if you organize images of a gallery. This is easy to do and helps a lot for several reasons. A) De-duping is easier, which is a manual job anyway, since you do not provide much help and tools to prevent it or clean it up. B) I often use descriptive file names for images. This is helpful if you don’t have the time to enter the same again manually for the description or tags.

Update 1/1/2007: It has been two days now since I renewed my storage upgrade and 4 days since Google was supposed to renew the subscription automatically. My paid for storage is still not available to me . So much for the plans to clean up and update my online galleries. 🙁

You're reading Google Services Bugs And Usability Issues That Spoil My Holiday Spirit – Part I

How I Converted My Mercedes

I started with a WVO kit from Frybrid. This company sells a rather high-end (~$2,000) setup for my model of Mercedes. The primary components are:

Heated fuel hoses (hose-in-hose)

20-gallon fuel tank (with heat exchange)

Heat-exchanger under the hood

Heated fuel filter

Embedded computer to control dummy lights and switches between stock diesel tank and veggie oil tank based on radiator temperature

The idea is simple enough: Place a second fuel tank in the trunk and wait for the vegetable oil to reach a combustible temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is important because vegetable oil is much thicker than diesel at room temperature, so you have to get the viscosity thin enough so the pumps and injectors can move it. By tapping into the car’s radiator hoses, the engine heat can be transferred through heat exchanges to warm the vegetable oil. Frybrid provides a reasonable kit, but to be honest, I wouldn’t do business with them again, as their customer service wasn’t the best. My system came with a faulty temperature sensor that I was unable to get replaced.

A secondary veggie oil tank in the trunk. Mikey Sklar

My conversion took one week with the assistance of a professional diesel mechanic. It was a stressful process ripping apart the car and just hoping that everything would work in the end. Having a mechanic around to offer tips, tricks, and tools, and to make minor repairs on the ancient vehicle, helped quite a bit. I don’t recommend taking on your own conversion if you’re not already well-versed with the automotive world. The downside of having a mechanic around is the cost (~$1,500).

Under the hood: a mess of fuel hoses and solenoid valves. Mikey Sklar

Do not buy an old car

I’m not kidding—this was the single biggest mistake I made. Burning veggie oil is just a matter of heating and filtering, but keeping a 25-year-old car on the road is an entirely different challenge. If I were to do it again, I would buy something made in the last 10 years that was well taken care of. I have spent just as much on repairs totally unrelated to the veggie oil as I did on the entire vehicle + conversion + installation. At this point the door locks do not work, the A/C and heating in the cabin are unreliable, the stereo is dead, and the odometer has been stuck at 86,000 miles probably since the early 1990s.

Oil collection and filtering is a skill

My girlfriend pumping waste oil behind a gas station in Marfa, Texas. Mikey Sklar

I have an overpriced gear pump setup called the One Shot. I like it because it’s self-contained in a Pelican suitcase, and includes a high-quality filtration system. But getting clean oil that won’t clog the vehicle’s fuel filter every 300 miles takes more than just this hardware. I like to collect oil from a local restaurant and let it sit for 30 days. Then I run the oil through a highly technical denim filter (literally old jeans from the thrift store). Finally, I use my one-shot to filter the remaining particles down to two microns out of the oil.

Consider making biodiesel

Lots of folks mix up the difference between WVO and biodiesel. Biodiesel is made through a chemical process usually combining lye and methanol with waste vegetable oil that causes the glycerin to drop to the bottom and leaves the lighter biodiesel to be poured off the top. I purchase methanol from a local car-racing supply store and lye from a pet-food shop to make biodiesel at home. It costs me roughly a $1 per gallon and prevents me from having to purchase diesel fuel for the cars stock tank. Just be careful: Both methanol and lye are hazardous.

Refilling the veggie tank during a road trip. Mikey Sklar

Usability Strategy And Search Engine Optimization

Usability Strategy and Search Engine Optimization

Google is concerned with how people find information and what they do when they access a document found in the Google index. Which document in a site they tend to land on, how long users spend on that document and how much, if any, time does a user spend exploring information in a domain, are all pertinent to how Google perceives the relevance of documents listed in the index. As long-term online marketers know, this is where usability comes into the picture.

Usability, as defined by Kim Kraus Berg is, “… the ability to successfully, comfortably and confidently learn or complete a task. For the web site designer or application developer, it’s the mechanics of designing and building a web site or Internet-based application so that it can be understood and easy to accomplish any task.”

According to local (Victoria-based) website marketing expert, Michael Linehan, a focus on site usability is simply common sense marketing. Leading visitors towards goal-orientated outcomes makes as much sense for a functioning website as it does for a functional building and, to follow through on the analogy, it all starts with a smart architect.

Michael knows his stuff, so much so StepForth considers him to be one of our marketing and site usability gurus. If our assumptions about user-behaviours and the post-Jagger Google SERPs are correct, Michael’s talents will play an important role in our overall SEO techniques.

“It’s all about marketing,” Michael explains (exclaims is probably a better word, ML is pretty passionate about this stuff), “and marketing is all about envisioning an effective strategy.” While most people involved in business understand the concept, surprisingly few actually take the time to implement and follow a marketing strategy in relation to their websites.

“Website owners have to prioritize their messages and make their websites easier to use. It’s a matter of measuring the importance of different parts of their marketing strategy and their websites.”

Michael suggests that over 95% of companies he has worked with use opportunistic marketing tactics with separate strategies being employed out of sync with each other. A simple example would be the Yellow Pages ad that does not mention the website URL or a printed brochure that does not include an email address in the contact information. A more complex example can be found by looking at most business websites.

“When a business owner gets a website for their business, they often expect the designer to know how to market their new website.” said Michael. “That’s just ludicrous. Website designers already have a difficult and mentally demanding job. Expecting them to be proficient marketers is like expecting your architect to act as your real estate agent.”

Michael deconstructs websites, pulling them apart to find or add the little things specific to a business website designers often can’t customize for. His work could be described as user-outcome optimization.

He has a good point. Search engine marketing is becoming much more complicated. The web is rapidly adopting a more professional attitude as it grows into the global mainstream marketplace. As this maturing takes place, two factors should drive website owners and webmasters towards a more professional view of their online marketing strategies.

The first factor is the increased analytic abilities of the major search engines. As previously mentioned, Google is taking stock of a number of user-sensitive factors surrounding documents in its index. In March 2005, Google filed a patent titled, “Information retrieval based on historical data“. The patent application outlines the historic record Google keeps on every document and file in its index. One of the items mentioned covers user behaviours touching on the following points:

* an evaluation of search traffic driven by Google and related keywords the document was found under

The second factor is the evolving needs of website users and their increased analytic abilities. The Web is almost second nature to most of its users. People are experienced in the environment and, at least in the case of work-related web use, know what they want. As it stands today, there are a lot of websites that no longer live up to user expectations because those expectations have moved beyond the design of those websites.

All good marketing strategies are goal orientated and center around a clear vision. As time goes on, it can get pretty complicated, especially when clarity and ease of use are the ultimate design goal. Objective planning might involve rethinking the design of your website but moving into the near future, rethinking the design of your website might just become essential.

Jim Hedger, Search Engine News Writer – Jim Hedger is a writer, speaker and search engine marketing expert working for StepForth Search Engine Placement in Victoria BC. He has worked as an SEO for over 5 years and welcomes the opportunity to share his experience through interviews, articles and speaking engagements.

Can I Use Python As My First Programming Language? Why?

In today’s world, everyone is upgrading their skill by learning to program. As the market is challenging and competitive as well, knowing how to code gives you an upper edge in your workplace. However, selecting the best language is also a challenge to start with. Fortunately, Python has got your back.

But can Python serve as a suitable introduction to programming? This article will go into that very issue and examine the factors that contribute to Python’s appeal to novice programmers.

Let’s have a look at the following factors before opting for a programming language such as Python −

Python has raised its popularity since its introduction in 1991. Beginners should choose this high-level, interpreted language since it is simple to read and write. Python is surrounded everywhere. Whether it is data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, or web development, Python has a major role to play here. A perfect choice for giant or small applications to start with.

Python has reached a greater height because of its straightforward and simple-to-read syntax. The program’s logic may easily be understood thanks to the indentation-based code layout. As a result, without becoming mired down in complicated grammar rules, you can pick up the fundamentals of Python rather quickly. Python is more user-friendly for beginners because its grammar is frequently compared to that of the English language.

For beginners starting to code, Python’s modular architecture is another benefit. Developers can save time and effort by using the language to create compact programs that can be applied to bigger projects. Complex software development is made simpler by Python’s great modularity, which enables you to build on prior work. The reuse of code is a tremendous choice for those studying the fundamentals of programming.

In addition to its simplicity and modularity, Python is common for its brilliant and lively community. This community is made up of programmers who collaborate and share knowledge, presenting beneficial sources and aid for beginners. You can discover a variety of online tutorials, forums, and documentation that makes studying and programming with Python plenty easier. Moreover, Python boasts a massive library of modules and packages that enable you to solve common coding troubles and create environment-friendly and high-quality code.

Python has turned out to be a well-known language for machine studying and facts research. Python has established itself as the go-to language for facts analysis, generally due to the fact of its sizable library and tool collection. Data evaluation libraries in the language, including Pandas, NumPy, and Matplotlib, make it simple to work with big datasets and current information visually. Complex machine-learning mannequin building is made simpler via Python’s machine-learning packages, such as TensorFlow and Scikit-learn.


Programming is a beneficial capability to have in the current digital era, and Python is a top-notch preference for freshmen who prefer to research programming. Python is a remarkable language to look up to due to the fact of its simple and simple-to-read syntax, modularity, and sizable community. It is a precious Genius to have in a variety of fields, from web development to statistics science and laptop learning, due to the fact of its popularity and adaptability. Python is absolutely a language to take into consideration if you’re thinking about gaining knowledge of code.

Google Seo 101: Updating Your Google My Business Listing

Google‘s latest ‘Search for Beginners’ video on YouTube is an introduction on how to use Google My Business.

This is actually the last video in the Search for Beginners series, though Google says it will continue to add new content to the Google Webmasters YouTube channel.

Given that the information in this video series is geared toward beginners, as the name suggests, what’s covered may already be known to experienced SEOs.

If you’re new to local SEO, or want to refresh your knowledge of Google My Business, here is a quick recap of the video.

Who is Google My Business For?

The video starts off with a brief introduction to Google My Business, which is a free tool that helps local businesses manage how they appear in search results and Google Maps.

Google My Business is only for businesses that serve customers at a physical location.

So businesses that strictly operate online cannot claim a Google My Business listing.

Service-area businesses are also eligible to claim a listing as long as they have a permanent location of some sort that is staffed during opening hours.

How is Google My Business Useful?

Google My Business helps people find your business through search results and Google Maps.

It can be used to maintain accurate information about a business in search and maps. It can also be used for engaging with customers and attracting new customers.

According to Google, businesses with a verified Google My Business listing are twice as likely to be consider reputable.

Editing Information in Google My Business

You can edit information that appears in Google My Business after claiming your listing.

Google My Business allows you to edit the following pieces of information:

Business name

Business category

Hours of operation

Phone number(s)

Website URL

Photos for your business

Opening date (applicable to new businesses that haven’t yet opened)

Physical address

This video happened to come out at an awkward time, because the ability to edit Google My Business details is restricted at the moment.

All edits have to go through Google’s review team, which is currently limited due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

See: Google My Business Temporarily Removes Features Due to COVID-19

Eventually, things should return to normal as far as editing Google My Business listings goes.

See Google’s full video, as well as a complete transcript, below:

Let’s talk about how you can change your Google Maps information in search.

If you own a store, or a business with a physical address where you see customers, you can claim the listing on Google My Business.

Google My Business is a free tool that helps you manage how your local business appears on Maps or Search.

If your business serves customers at a particular location, or within a designated service area, Google My Business helps people find it.

Google My Business is useful for maintaining accurate information about your business in Google Search, for interacting with your customers, and for attracting new customers.

Verified businesses on Google My Business are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users.

It’s very important that you keep your business information up to date so that customers can find you.

Sign in to your Google My Business account to edit your business’s details. You will only have editing access if you have first verified your listing in Google My Business.

The details you can edit in your Google My Business are: your business name, your business category, your hours of operation, your phone numbers, your website URL, photos for your business, your opening date, and the address.

And that’s it. This video concludes the Search for Beginners series. However, there are many more videos coming up to the Google Webmasters YouTube channel.

Google Find My Device Network Upgrades Are Key: Sharing And Automotive

Google Find My Device network upgrades are key: Sharing and Automotive

Both Apple and Google have helpful phone, tablet, and computer-finding networks in play right now – but they aren’t created equal. In a bit of a teardown of an app this week, the Google “Find My Device” app and system indicate there’ll be a relatively major upgrade coming to Android devices soon. In addition to expanding the ways in which a user can find a lost device, this upgrade looks to drop in on smart vehicle systems, creating what might be future smart vehicle’s greatest boon.Recently a report from 9to5Google revealed a bit of a teardown this week showing the Google Find My Device app in dogfood mode. This means the features we’re seeing here might never make their way to the final build – but they’re certainly in testing. This was the second in a line of updates where crowdsourcing appeared as a major part of the equation in Find My Device’s future.

One interesting bit added to this latest build is the word “spot.” It’s unlikely Google would change the name of their Find My Device network, but a codename “spot” suggests they’re giving enough attention to new features that they need to call them out with a new codename. At the same time, Spot would be a pretty cute name for an app that’s meant to be a friendly seeker of hidden items – like a keen-nosed doggy. It’s likely a coincidence that this dogfed version of the app includes said element that is sometimes associated with a friendly family pet.

The latest dogfed version of Find My Device adds the long-awaited “share” of devices. Share Device will be helpful for families with devices that are shared with children during the day and used by parents at night, or devices that are lent out to individuals for short periods of time. The sharing of a device makes it ever-so-slightly more likely that a lost device would be spotted, as all owners agree to be part of the same Find My Device network.

One part of the latest round of update text includes: “When the device is with you, you implicitly share your location with its co-owners.”

The same dogfed app includes information about Vehicle Data. Users will be able to locate vehicles that’ve been logged in to their Google account. This won’t work for every single vehicle that works with a Google login, but with Android Automotive, users could potentially lock their profile the same as they would for any tablet or smartphone.

Android Automotive doesn’t (currently) control any major vehicle functions, so this won’t be the sort of remote kill switch desired by European authorities, but it COULD potentially allow a user to locate their vehicle if it’s been stolen and a thief hasn’t thought to remove the user account from the vehicle’s infotainment system.

Take a peek at the GMC Hummer EV video above to see what Android Automotive was capable of in around May of 2023. This was shown during Google I/O 2023 – does it all look like the right direction to you?

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