Thursday, June 29, 2006

Check out Google Checkout



The word has come down.
Google Checkout is here.

I knew something was up a while back with all of the chatter over Google's counter to PayPal. I went to checkout GBuy (thinking they'd to a "Gbuy.com" in the same way they did "Gmail.com"). That was a non-starter. Then I went to http://purchases.google.com/ That should have given me nothing. Instead, it gave me my account profile, as though soon something more for my Account profile would be here.

Today I logged in to find that in lieu of my account setting, there is a login page for Google Checkout. It obvious you can sign in buy stuff via Google. What is a little less obvious is that you can also be Google Checkout seller. It is closely tied into Adwords-- including incentives if you , as a Google Adwords account holder, choose to use Google Checkout to hawk your wares.

Unfortunately, it looks like Google lags behind Paypal out of the gate. This service is only available to American users of Google. https://purchases.google.ca/ is a dead link-- no coming soon or account information available, there.

Google Checkout does offer a Developer Center (https://checkout.google.com/seller/developers.html). An API and set of resources for you to help an e-commerce provider get going. If this API is like the other Google APIs, this could be a 9.0 quake on the e-commerce/shopping cart scene. So many players in the field are so lousy at their jobs that a contender like Google (combining size, quality and chutzpah) could send a lot of e-commerce providers packing. Here's a quickie view of what the API offers:

The Google Checkout API automates a variety of processes for you, including:
  • Sending your shopping cart to Google
  • Processing orders (charging credit cards, updating order states, archiving orders)
  • Cancelling and refunding orders
  • Applying tax and shipping rates based on a buyer's shipping address.
  • Processing coupon and promotion codes

I love these animations-- so pithy and tidy.
These are all things that have caused developers sleepless nights. Or, the developer has been able to lean on expensive products and providers to carry out the work that may be prohibitive for the Mom'n'Pop web shops.

I am intrigued by this move on Google's part. As a Canadian, I am not thrilled by their US-Only approach. Will they expand to other countries (to the remaining 95% of the world?): likely eventually. When will they do that? Who knows. If they their ass handed to them after the battle with Paypal, they may never expand and leave Google Checkout has a PT boat in their fleet. If they can couple all of their suite of tools in something huge (advertise on Google Base; research it via Froogle; find the pick-up location via Google Maps; pay for it with Google Checkout), then Paypal will wither. Given Paypal's behaviour over its lifespan, I would be happy with that. What we don't need is Paypal 2.0 piped out from the Googleplex: all of the alienation of the customer base; all of the inconsistent service; and the ability to buy/sell online.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Is This Blog Worth $750?

I started at a local Craiglist post: cheap computers. I thought, cool. They came from a local computer "school" that closes down. Not a big surprise. Victoria is home to a lot of scam computer schools. I thought I'd check if my local "favorite" had finally imploded. Sadly no. But they are working on a new scam. It looks like they're scamming people for $750 to do up their blog:

blogs From $750

Last October, General Motors (GM) tiptoed into the blogosphere, quietly launching a blog to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its small-block V-8 engine -- the high-performance roar behind decades of Corvettes, Camaros, and other muscle cars.

Last October, General Motors (GM) tiptoed into the blogosphere, quietly launching a blog to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its small-block V-8 engine -- the high-performance roar behind decades of Corvettes, Camaros, and other muscle cars. The company's virgin blog has attracted a small, happy group of gearheads who write lovingly about power-train codes, horsepower modifications, and other riveting under-the-hood topics. "It was a safe group for us," admits Michael Wiley, GM's director of new media.

Encouraged by this early success, GM has moved into the blogging big time. In January it launched Fast Lane, an online forum hosted by the company's vocal -- and, it turns out, highly literate -- vice chairman Bob Lutz. "People were already talking about us all over the Internet," Wiley explains. "This blog was an attempt to get GM more involved in the dialogue and to get people talking to us. We see this as a direct line to enthusiasts, supporters -- and detractors."

It's working. The site, which focuses on topics such as GM design, new product launches, and business strategy, averages 4,000 to 5,000 hits per day from people around the world. Those consumers are talking back, and then some: Each posting receives between 60 and 100 comments, a mix of positive and negative reactions to Lutz's thoughts. Some are comically precise about what he should do next. Here's a recent posting by "Bruce," clearly a motivated GM consumer: "Mr. Lutz, how about a small, open air Hummer to compete with the Jeep Wrangler? Also, why not produce a stripped down (cloth seats, no a/c, eliminate many power features), no options, hard core (Z51) version of the Corvette (similar concept to the Porsche 911 RS America)? Call it the Stingray. It would appeal to the hardcore enthusiast, rather than the luxury, Grand Tourer market and could be sold for less. It would eliminate the need for a new Camaro."

The above is what they have to say about blogs. A whole lotta nothing. I have to assume that they may be cybersquatting on primo subdomains at Blogspot and Blogcharm and others. If I happen to find out if they've been cybersquatting on these, I won't waste any time passing my concerns to the companies who actually own those sub domains.

Did I mention that these guys do some kwality work (see below):

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Microsoft .NOT

I have a love-hate with most technologies. I'm not alone.
My dream technology combo: PHP and MySQL on a Microsoft IIS platform with all of the filesystem commands common to Linux available for this version. I have had this combo before and from a dumb-blonde perspective, it has been great! I'm sure the server has a small stroke everytime you issue a request. And, hackers slather at the PHP/Microsoft combo. So, enough said about my biases.
I thought Microsoft's .NET platform held a lot of promise. I dived into .NET development for a while. It had some painful aspects that I thought were neccessary evils. The compiled version was fast, while the inline code was SLOW. The Datarow controls were cryptic. Worse than that, they were toxic to search engines (I do wonder if MSN Search could parse them). I threw link checkers at my Recipe site; they choked. This recipe site has 6997 recipes. You'd think that would garner some traffic. Nope. This huge and "easy" to get at repository sat unused. Why? Because I chose to use .NET, datarows drawn from an Access database and those rows passed users to the recipes they desired. Search engines went in a couple of pages then petered out.
I wanted to pursue a distraction today. So, I went back to Access, did a Query from the data table, made a simple report with a lot of HTML built into the output, then I output the whole table via this report and query.
That left me with a massive report. I fed it through a script to split it, then save these pieces as individual pages. The report built all of the << < > >> navigation into the pages and I built a new splash page. The recipe display page itself was ideal, so I left it as is.
The experience has cooled me on .NET. In a month or two, I will report back to discuss if my recipes site is now well travelled since I removed all of the rocks and boulders from the road.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Youtube.com Appears To Have Been Hacked


The popular Youtube.com hasn't been hacked, it was just down for maintenance. It's such a media sweetheart I thought it was probably only a matter of time before it got hacked.

In semi-unrelated news, Digg.com is down (2) (3). Earlier this week IMDB jumped the cliff, all of its actor references went missing. When I went to see who starred in "XYZ" it had a blank where it should have a name and a link. Kudos to IMDB for making a partially functional site. Curses that that one of their two most important assets (actor info vs. move info), went AWOL.