Why Bing?

At D7 today Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft is going to be releasing a new search engine called Bing!. Apparently when asked why the name Bing! Ballmer gave a few pretty generic reasons like its short, easy to say, and works globally. Sure, thats all good and nice, but that really doesn't explain why they picked that name.

Had you asked me I would have said, "Because Bing! is the sound you make when you know that answer to the question, and thats exactly what Bing! does."


Typical IE arrogance, they don't see Firefox as a threat? Sure.

Is reporting outages really news worthy?

If you are foolish enough to read as much tech news as I do you probably heard about Google having some issues today. Reports said that search, GMail, blogger, and a few other services were hit for about an hour [official announcement here]. Thats right, reports said. As is people reported on this. If you didn't notice, every single word in that sentence was actually a link to a different article, reporting on the down time. If I was really determined I would have done that with this entire article, I'm sure it possible I am simply unwilling to copy paste that much to make my point. My favorite part of most of these articles is that they all seem to contain a phrase similar to "We can access Google just fine, but people on Twitter are reporting issues." They are absolutely right, when I first heard about this I did a twitter search for everyones new favorite #googlefail and sure enough tweets were popping up faster then I would glaze my eyes over them. Literally within 5 seconds of doing a search, it already said that 80 more people had tweeted with #googlefail in it. Here is my question, why is it that no bloggers seemed to be affected, but everyone and their grandmothers on twitter was going bezerk, coincidence?

Not being able to access websites is a tricky issue, its often not very clear what the issue is. Is it my computer? Is it my router? Is it [favorite website of choice]? Or is it somewhere is the middle? Thats why I actually see value in websites like http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/, there are simply lots of times when you have no idea. There is a great quote by a brilliant man name Leslie Lamport which says:

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable.
While I agree with the quote, I think I am going to have to modify it slightly for this occasion:

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unable for doing any real work, and as a result your only option is to complain about it on twitter.
Honestly, they put solitaire on your computer for a reason.

Kindle For Kids

Word is out that Amazon is planning on releasing a larger version of the Kindle on Wednesday. The new device is supposed to be geared towards magazines and textbooks which require a much larger screen then regular novels. If you've been here for a while you would know that I have high hopes for bringing the Kindle into the textbook market. That industry (empire?) is desperately lacking in competition and could use someone to ruffle their feathers a bit.

Unfortunately, the more I see of Amazons strategy with the Kindle, the more concerned I become. The current Kindle sells for $359 on Amazon and has a 6" screen, a few ticks on the abacus would tell you thats just under $60/inch. Now they are coming out with one with a bigger screen? Don't they know people can't get bank loans these days? In all reality I'm sure they don't charge per inch of screen real-estate but they have held on to that price point like it was the only one in town. My uneducated guess is that they are going to actually bring in the new Kindle above the $359 price-point and keep the Kindle 2 where it is. Lets just throw a number out there for good measure and say $429.

Once you get past its inflated price it will be interesting to see how they deliver on features. People who intend to use this as a replacement for textbook are much more demanding then those who are using it to read the latest Daniel Steel novel. As I previously harped on, search is critical since people are way too used to finding what they want very quickly. Beyond that, considering all the crazy sidebar notes/sticky notes/highlighting schemes people employ on their textbooks having a replacement or improvement on that would be important.

For a good opinion on the priorities in Kindle features I think this fake conversation between Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs captured an important point:

Jobs (laughing): Surf the Web? On an Etch-a-Sketch?
And then proceeded to sum up my opinion on "value added" features:
Bezos: The Web is a value-added feature.

Jobs: No features are value added. They're either features or they're not.
Update: Wow its actually more expensive then I had guessed, it rings it at a hefty $489. At least there is free shipping!