Always Get Better

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

A Simple Makefile for the Go Language

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Hey folks, it’s been awhile!

I’ve been playing with Google’s Go language, and will be sharing what I’ve learned over the coming weeks.

First off, which seems like the easier way to compile your source code? This:

6g fib.go
6l fib.6
mv 6.out fib

or this?


Personally, I prefer using a Makefile, even for a small project with one source file.

Without further adieu, a simple Makefile for the Go Language:

GC = 6g
LD = 6l
TARG = fib

O_FILES = fib.6

make clean
make $(TARG)

$(LD) -o $@ $(O_FILES)
@echo "Done. Executable is: $@"

$(O_FILES): %.6: %.go
$(GC) -c $<

rm -rf *.[$(OS)o] *.a [$(OS)].out _obj $(TARG) *.6

Google Launches Its Own Programming Language

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Google has taken another step toward world domination with the launch of an experimental new programming languages aptly named “Go”. Go promises to pick up where C and Python left off, providing programmers with a new garbage-collecting low level languages suited to efficient server programming.

I spent the better part of last night looking for a way to get Go‘s tool chain to run under Windows using Cygwin. Unfortunately the tools can’t be created; even if they could, they would produce binary files which would be unusable within Cygwin/Windows due to their low-level nature.

If you are a Windows programmer hoping to give Go a try, your best bet is to download the andLinux distribution – this is a native Linux distribution that runs similar to a virtual machine under Windows. Once you have set it up, go to the Installing Go page for instructions on getting started with the new language.

Love My Chrome

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Having worked with Online Applications for a number of years, I am rarely happy to be introduced to a new web browser. A new web browser means another test case – every line of code has to be verified against all of the major browsers before going into production. Another browser means new faults to watch for and program around, which translates to longer time to market. When I first heard about Google Chrome I thought to myself “great. Here we go again.”

As far as actually using the thing, it took a long time. My preference has been Firefox for quite some time and although I have flirted with other browsers I always found myself preferring the usability of the software Mozilla’s team has put together for us. So when Chrome first came across my desk I didn’t invest much time into trying out its features. What a mistake!

Over the past couple of weeks I have found myself moving over to Chrome. After I got over the absence of the usual interface I began to relax; as it turns out, you don’t need a lot of buttons to navigate the World Wide Web. Google has once again simplified common usage patterns down to tasks that anticipate what you intend to accomplish and hide unneeded options.

Most Visited Sites
The handiest feature by far is the grid of most visited sites that greets you when you create a new tab. I will never again have to type the url to access my mail and analytics.

Draggable Tabs
On Firefox I often found myself wanting to create separate windows for specific tabs. I’d have to copy and paste the url into a new instance. With Chrome I just grab the tab and rip it out of the pane – presto chango – new window! I can even drag tabs between windows to create and destroy Chrome instances as desired. Very useful.

Basically, Firefox has been relegated to online banking. My new weapon of choice is Google Chrome, and for the time being I doubt I will be looking back. The download manager could stand to be updated, but otherwise it is a slick and mature product.

Gmail for Company Mail

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Even though it is a search engine, Google has done a fantastic job delivering a bewildering array of services over the past several years. Between its Android platform, Office Suite, Mail Services, Blog Hosting and Video acquisition, there is no field untouched by Google’s reach. Today I want to talk a little about my experience using Gmail for corporate email.

I suspect many readers are familiar with the GMail interface – that sleek AJAX application that kicks the tar out of Outlook in terms of both speed and usability (how do they get their apps to run so fast?). GMail for corporations is a slightly different beast than GMail for individuals. Some differences are:

  • New features are rolled out on GMail for individuals first. Presumably this is to test-drive changes before surprising the corporate users who may actually be paying for the service.
  • GMail corporate uses your company’s DNS name – email addresses take the form of rather than
  • Company-wide documents and email addresses can be automatically shared between existing and new accounts

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Always Free
For the first 100 email accounts, companies are able to use Google’s services for free. That means 7GB of storage for every user, world-class chat and mail functionality, incredible speed, POP and IMAP access, plus a web interface that makes enterprise-level email applications obsolete.

The catch: if you need more than 100 accounts, you need to switch to paid mode, which is $50 annually per user. Of course, an organization larger than 100 employees is likely in a position to absorb the extra $5000+ for email services as part of its operating budget. For a smaller company, $50 per account can be a lot of money – but the free version is fully featured.

External Devices
Any application capable of downloading POP or IMAP mail is able to reetrieve messages from a GMail account. If you need to get your email from more than one program or device take note: GMail ignores ‘leave on server’ and ‘retrive X days of message’. If Device A downloads an email, Device B will not and vice-versa.

The way to correct this is by changing your username to, which will cause GMail to download all email in the last 30 days. Watch out! This will download duplicate email if you already have mail one file before switching to recent mode. Consider yourself warned!

How does Google protect your privacy on GMail? Essentially, it doesn’t. Anything you send through the GMail servers technically becomes property of Google.

What does that mean for the average user? Probably nothing. Email should never be considered a secure medium – a good rule of thumb is: do not send anything you would be embarassed to see on the front page of your local newspaper tomorrow morning.

Google claims they do no cataloguing or data mining on emails within the GMail system. However, they do use context-sensitive advertisements which will appear alongside all mail in your inbox. Some users may be annoyed by the ads but personally I find them to be often interesting; sometimes they are even worth a click!

Use GMail, or Not?
Although it is constantly improved, GMail is a mature and scalable product. Companies with small or non-existent technical staff would do well to trust this critical function to Google rather than to [insert ISP name here] due to the size and credibility Google has made for itself. Technical staff at larger organizations may even welcome the switch – letting someone else manage email issues reduces headache and expense.

Improving WordPress Page Titles

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Anyone half-serious about running a large blog knows that search engine ranking is critical to getting properly indexed. Over 90% of the traffic to Always Get Better originates from search engine traffic – therefore the ease of which Google (among others) is able to index this site is the life-blood of its continued success.

WordPress is a terrific platform with out-of-the-box support for many of the critical elements necessary for site building: CSS layouts, RSS feeds, track backs. But the glaring problem with WordPress is the default title format: “Blog Name > Blog Archive – Post Title”. What is that!?

Many search engines only catalogue the first several characters of web page titles. If the title of your post is at the end of the page title, it may get cut off in favour of your blog’s name!

The simple solution is to reverse the code as explained at the WordPress garage (and quoted below for convenience):

You can switch it through the use of plugins, but if you want to avoid using another plugin you can fix this in the header.php file. Find the code that starts with <title>, and replace what is currently there with this:

<title><?php if ( is_single() ) { ?> <?php wp_title(''); ?> &raquo; <?php } ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></title>

Cuil not so Cool

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Jumped on the bandwagon and tried out Cuil today.  The verdict – more development time needed.

1. Result counts are wrong
I searched for the (rare) name of a friend and found 3 results.  The search engine counter said 4 results were found.

2. Duplicate content
I searched for the bizarre phrase ‘fell in outhouse’.  The first 3 pages were nearly identical results.  For a time I wasn’t certain I was really changing pages.

3. Named after a Salmon
Apparantly ‘Cuil’ is a gaelic word referring to knowledge and hazel – they talk about a salmon of wisdom.  I’m not sure how that sits with me…

I chalk up the high server load and weird results to the infancy of the product and expect that it will improve over time.  The column interface is sleek and attractive.  The results clustering appears to be advanced although similar to WebFountain.

Right now, though, I don’t understand why Cuil is being touted as the next generation search engine that will replace Google.  The press coverage and their own site confuse me as to whether the big deal is the size of the search catalogue (apparently 3x that of Google) or the fact that the company’s leaders are made up of former Google employees.

Time will tell, but as of launch today I don’t see Cuil becoming my default search provider any time soon.

Google Finds Evil and Protects us from it

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

As confident as we may be that we’re the only ones using our computers, the truth is we can’t ever be completely safe. For my own part, I was smug in the knowledge that because I ran an up-to-date antivirus program, didn’t hang around the web’s so-called “red light districts”, and didn’t download software I was unsure of, I had nothing to fear from those nasty virus things.


Just Being Careful Won’t Protect Your Computer From Attack

When NIMDA hit, I really felt violated. Even though I did nothing to cause my computer’s fall from glory, there it was. Where once I had the illusion of control over my space, all of a sudden it was shattered. It’s a brave new world.

Unless giving up the Internet is an acceptable alternative, we have to live with the risk of having our computers compromised at any moment. Apparently there are legions of “zombie networks” just waiting to be activated and used for evil – computers with hidden software controlled by enterprising criminals interested in nothing but a quick dollar.

Maybe it’s because I’m naive. Maybe it’s because I get paid by the hour so long virus-cleansing sessions don’t cut into my dinner plate. But I have to ask – how much of a problem is this? If my regular actions aren’t putting me at (extra) risk, what benefit will worrying bring?

Never Visit a Trojan Page Again

Fortunately Google exists to protect us from evil-doers by scanning the web for so-called “badware”. When performing Google searches and attempting to access one of these “bad” sites, Google presents us with a warning and gives us the option to bail or continue with the site.

Thank goodness for that! Let’s all uninstall our antivirus software now.