Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, August 30, 2021

Dude. Forest Whitaker is playing Ugandan dictator/cannibal Idi Amin in upcoming flick The Last King of Scotland?

I can’t think of a more inspired, dead-on casting choice. Brilliant.

And what’s with that title, considering it’s about an African despot? According to Amin’s 2003 obituary:

He praised Hitler and said the German dictator “was right to burn six million Jews.” He bizarrely offered to be king of Scotland if asked.

Good thing no one asked.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/30/2006 11:36:07 PM
Category: History, Movies
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Still afraid to go near the computer after finding out that search engine logs can more or less ID you directly?

Then fire up Firefox and install the TrackMeNot extension. It’s a browser companion that periodically pings Google, Yahoo! and the like with dummy search queries to throw them off your trail. Since it’s coming from your Internet connection, those pings automatically carry your IP address, so it mimics actual search requests.

It’s not foolproof. Even though the fake search terms are random, it’s possible to identify them and then filter them out. But it’s something.

I can’t imagine the search sites would be happy about this; it’s essentially junk (almost spam-like) clogging their bandwith. Since it’s a Firefox app, it’s never going to be widespread, but still.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/30/2006 11:22:04 PM
Category: Internet
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check it out
I’ve been known to dump on Google’s various business ventures. For instance, I took some delight in a long-ago dissecting analysis of Froogle’s shortcomings.

The sell-jobs haven’t gotten much more compelling since, as “Googling” doesn’t transfer well to non-search functions. Now, it looks like Mountain View’s latest revenue-generating gamble, Google Checkout, is foundering early, causing perhaps irreversible damage in the eyes of users:

While all new Internet services have technology kinks that need to be worked out, the Piper Jaffray survey results suggests the challenges facing Checkout go deeper than that.

Some retailers told Jaffray analysts they were afraid of ceding control they usually have over their online customers to Google.

Part of that stems from Google’s requirement that if a checkout user wants to change an order, they have to go through Google Checkout, not the retailer’s own site.

About 10% of those surveyed by Piper Jaffray also expressed fear about the insight Google might get into their own customers or business operations. That’s because Checkout is a repository for the same type of customer information — such as their email addresses or shopping preferences — that retailers usually have at their fingertips…

Now a harried Google is trying to make amends for fumbled orders by sending out free T-shirts, mouse pads, memory sticks and in one instance a wireless mouse to befuddled customers.

But with Checkout, Google’s learning a hard lesson: When it comes to handling other people’s money, consumers forget about learning curves.

Looks like Google is taking full advantage of the beta status of Checkout — i.e., make all the screwups now. Assuming the product can survive the collateral damage long-term — an iffy proposition.

Would it be the worst thing in the world for Google to flame out in the non-search offerings? If users aren’t biting on the concept of Google as a one-stop Internet shop, maybe it should just give up and redouble efforts on the search/content fronts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/30/2006 11:02:43 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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