A journal that focuses on Flash Platform development, and a little bit about what I am up to on any given day.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fine, don't sell me a copy of Flex!

Over the last month I have started really getting into Flex. Of course I absolutely love using it, just like all the other Flex users out there will also testify to.

I have already built 2 pretty cool apps that are running on my local machine right now, and I have decided that I really want to bring Flex fully into our development and staging enviornment here in the office.

So, I start on the road to getting pricing information on the server. I start by going to the Macromedia site:


hmm, no pricing info here, so last week i decided I would fill out the form to have Macromedia contact me:


After doing so, haven't got a response yet.

Then I proceeded to take the initiative and call about it. I dialed the number, it took me to Macromedia Canada, and began reading me a list of sales associates. Press 1 for "Some guy", Press 2 for "Another guy", etc.

I have no idea who I want to talk to, I just want Flex pricing information for a company like ours, and hopefully purchase a copy of the software within the week. Pressing 0 just repeats the list again.

Anyways, I tried #1 and #2 and both were voice mail. I am not really interested in buying Macromedia's crazy expensive server at their convenience.

So if anyone out there involved in selling Flex wants a potential customer, give us a call here at Teknision.

I am a bit suprised that the process for purchasing the server is so loose. It worries me that there isn't really a price, it is whatever a sales guy can price it at.

If I can buy ColdFusion from the Macromedia store, why can I not do the same for Flex?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Still dissatisfied with results....

I blogged a few days ago about Google's "Dissatisfied with results feature":


Well, we contacted Google about this and recieved this response:

// From the Google Team

Thank you for your note. We understand your concern that our search results have been manipulated through our new "Dissatisfied" search suggestion feature. Please be assured that this is not the case.
Our new suggestion feature offers alternative search queries when our algorithms notice you might receive a more useful set of results if your refine your search terms. This feature is entirely automated.
Although this feature is labeled with the term "Dissatisfied," it isn't directly related to the "Dissatisfied" link at the bottom of our search results pages. Based on feedback from helpful users such as yourself, we're actively considering changing these labels to help avoid any confusion. We appreciate your thoughtful feedback on this new feature.


Well I have considered this response and come up with the follwoing response back:

//My Response

1/ The system is presenting links to a local competitor when you search for "Teknision" (our company). They compete in the same industry as we do, yet no other companies in our industry in this city or abroad appear via this feature.
This suggests to us that this listing was somehow planted there by them using some kind of mechanism on the Google site rather than being the result of an automated procedure. If it is truly automated, what is the criteria for this to happen? We have rarely seen this feature exposing itself across other searches we have done, so what constitutes it being invoked?

2/ If this feature is to appear more frequently in the future, it seems to us to be more harmful than good. In our case, the end user is searching for "Teknision" and 30 pages of qualified links about "Teknision" present themselves. However, 4 links down on page 1 of the results, alternative queries are being presented with inline results that override many pages of those qualified links. Those inline results are not actually related to the context of the search criteria, so again it seems as if the included query was planted rather than automated.
How is it that Google sees this as bringing value to the search experience? Would it not make more sense to present them with another link to suggested queries rather than place automated results inline?

3/ We would tend to think that most users would not be able to tell whether or not they are satisfied with the results of a search by the 4th listing within the results. Do you not think that including this feature so early in the results is degrading to the integrity of the search engine itself?
In conclusion, we are very appreciative of Google's offerings, but this feature seems to be out of line with the vision of the Google search engine as it has come to be known. So ultimately we are looking for an answer to what constitutes the invocation of the "Dissatisfied inline results" for a particular search word? What criteria exists to make this type of suggestion?


So the thing is, if the search was for "Flash Development, Teknision" i would be able to understand it as the term Flash Development could lead to a competitor. But when the search term is "Teknision" what does "Company XYZ" have to do with that?

If I am searching for info on a specific car like say a Mazda 3, it is likely that I am trying to find infomation on that car, suggesting to me that I should take a look at a Subaru WRX is not in context at all with my original search criteria, and feels like spam.

Also we tried doing a search for "Coke". If "Google's" response is correct, wouldn't it in turn list results for "Pepsi"? It doesn't. It makes me laugh becuase after years of "dissatisfaction" campaigns between the 2 companies, it doesn't produce one of these Google links.

So, I am just looking for a clear answer as to what causes these links to appear in a search.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dissatisfied with results?

Google has recently been experimenting with a new feature:

"Dissatisfied with Results"

Here is a link to a small discussion I found on search engine watch about the issue:


The feature allows you to make a search, and If you are dissatisfied with the results you get back, you can fill out a form that allows you to describe why you are dissatisfied, as well as enter a link to the content you think should be listed there.

Try doing a Google search, and look to the bottom of the first page for the link to the form.

Dissatisfied? Help us improve

By doing this, a new set of links appear when someone does a search that are inserted, and they are inserted right on the front page, about 3 or 4 links down.

Google to me has always been genious in the way they have built their web applications, but I would say that this is the first time I have ever seen them publicly deploy a feature this precarious. Let me explain why:

1/ Users will have the ability to force results into a search. Before this was achieved by Google AdWords, which are unintrusive. AdWords are also sponsored, so the party that recommends the content, has to pay for it's placement in the search.

This dissatisfied mechanism allows a third party to insert it's own results unsponsored into a set of results free of charge. This means that your results are no longer neutral, they are subject to other's opinions, and more than that, they may lead you off course easier, as another may purposely plant results meant to steer you away from what you are looking for.

2/ Most people that are dissatisfied with a search, would not know the url of the content they would be searching for, that is why they would be doing a search in the first place. Therefore, the only people that would take advantage of this feature will be spammers.

A competitor of ours has already leveraged this new feature to insert it's own links inline into a search for Teknision. When you do a search on Teknision you get about 30+ pages of related links about our company, but now compeitition is free to come in and override qualified links with their own suggestion.

3/ By presenting the Dissatisfied feature a few links down on the main search page inline, you are degrading the integrity of your own system. Putting the word dissatisfied right in the results suggest to the user that the search engine has not found the right content.

Google should present the Dissatisfied feature as a link, not inline results at the top of the search. By adding this feature this way, they begin to breakdown the neutrality of their system that everyone has grown to love, and instead replace it with a digital battleground that will annoy a large amount of current customers they have for functionality such as Google AdWords.