Nov 29, 2005

Don't count out Microsoft yet

Microsoft, the world's largest software company, has never been known as an innovator. They didn't make the first operating system for the PC. Neither did they bring in the graphic user interface (GUI) concept - along with Apple, they took the idea from Xerox. Yet, the market share of their operating system on the world's PCs is simply absolute. Their Web browser is technically one of the poorest out there, riddled with obscene security holes and buggy programming. Still they hold an unbelievable market share, fighting it out against Mozilla, Opera and others, which are far more superior when it comes to performance. They didn't bring out the concept of gaming consoles, but their new Xbox is slated to beat Sony's Playstation to the No. 1 position. So what keeps them going?

The Redmond giant may not be a breeding ground for new ideas and inventions that have transformed the way how we work and play, and indeed live. But when it comes to playing catch-up and beating the leader, they are second to none. Only Apple can make similar claims (with their user interface, MP3 players and so on, which they didn't pioneer but are the current market leaders), but Apple is indeed thought of as one of the more creative companies out there.

Microsoft, over the years, and with the help of its Windows platform, bulldozed into the computing industry and has retained that lead ever since. They have not been entirely successful in plotting the industry curve and almost blew their chances when they missed the Internet bandwagon. But resilient as ever, they fought their way back into the Web by riding on the browser software they had been bundling with Windows. They crushed Netscape and almost got split up in the process by inviting the wrath of the US Anti-trust laws.

The Web today is dominated by Google and Yahoo when it comes to search and content, respectively. However, both of these giants are battling out for becoming the largest Web service provider. Conventional computing standards and systems are being increasingly replaced by Web services. Microsoft has finally decided to jump into the arena and flex its muscles with Windows Live, available at and Start at

Some people have already written off Microsoft from the race, and have declared it a final battle between Google and Yahoo. But from what we know of Microsoft, they might be in the game just yet.

Nov 16, 2005

Website tracking - The Google Way

If you are a web publisher and you don't have access to data like who is viewing your site and how actively have they been following it, there is good news. Google, adding to its ever-growing portfolio of Web services, is offering Google Analytics. And like everything else from Google, it is free.

Google Analytics is based on Urchin, which was acquired by Google sometime back. Urchin offered its customers access to web-site statistics and user information which would help webmasters and publishers determine who is doing what on their web-site. Urchin offered its services for fee, while Google is offering it for free.

Well, it is free if your web-site has less than 20 million page-views, and if you are a blogger, you should most probably fall in that category. Analytics also comes fully integrated with Adwords, the Google advertiser program.

How to use Google Analytics

Anybody with a Google account can access the Analytics after agreeing to the terms of service. Once you are logged in, you can setup profiles for the different websites you want to track. Once you are done, you will be provided with some lines of Javascript code to be inserted in your pages that you want to be tracked, and that is it. If you are a blogger, insert the code into your blog template, and it will be automatically inserted in every page of the blog.

There are quite a number of options available in Analytics and frankly, I haven't figured them out yet. But I was amazed by the sheer amount of data that a webmaster can collect from a simple page-view. There are a lot of options available and it seems to be a goldmine of information.

There is only one problem though. By Google's usual standards, the site seems to be pretty slow. Browsing around takes quite a while, and the next page takes forever to load. However, to be fair, the interface is quite user-friendly and there is quite a lot of information to be presented in the first place. Maybe these are operational issues and will be sorted out soon.

So, Google has begun to flux its muscles in its fight to retain publishers with its Adsense program. I wonder if Yahoo is watching this.

Nov 11, 2005

The Undelete My Blog Project (UMBP)

If you have read my previous post, Recovering deleted blogs, you would already know that I had deleted this blog on accident a few days ago. However, I didn't want to let my posts go into oblivion just like that and I managed to get all the posts back. Going through that experience taught me that there weren't too many resources out there to help a blogger out of this predicament. To take on the challenge, The Undelete My Blog Project (UMBP), was born.

The Project intends to be a resource site dedicated to helping bloggers in need. It will offer my very limited knowledge on the subject, but even better, the collective wisdom of all our blogger friends. The blog has just started, but I would definitely welcome any inputs and suggestions that you have on the topic. All helpful suggestions and recommendations will be duly acknowledged. And one more thing. The 'Me' in UMBP refers to all those bloggers who need help in undeleting or recovering their blog. Not just me. :)

Nov 2, 2005

Recovering deleted blogs

The other day, the most terrible thing happened. I was messing around with the Blogger interface, and before I knew it, I had deleted my blog. This blog. Yes, 'Wandering in Elysium' had vanished into thin air.

I was horrified. Shocked. Down in the dumps. Call it what you may, it wasn't a great feeling.

I fumbled around in the site, searching for ways to recover the blog or some magic button which will bring everything back to life. Alas, there was none.

I refused to give up. Then, a thought struck me. I summoned up a couple of search engines and entered a few keywords from my blog and I scanned the results for references to my blog. And there, near the links to the blog address, I clicked on the 'Cached' link. Gotcha!

It took some time, but I had done it. With some meticulous searching and formatting, I had recreated my entire blog, right from scratch. Couple of blog tools like IceRocket also helped me out in ordering the content as in the original one. The only sad thing was that all the comments posted on my blog were gone for good. But still, this is better than being 404'd!

P.S: For people who didn't quite get a grip on what happened till now, here is what happened. The major search engines on the Web keep a local copy of all the pages they have visited in an archive, and this is what they call 'cached copy'. That means that you can still search for content on the engine and find pages that have been removed from original locations, even months after that has happened. Of course, they should have been spidered by the search engine first.

What I did was extract the cached copy from the search engine and recreate my blog, right from the very first post. Do leave me a comment and contact info if you need any help on how I did this. It is pretty simple actually, but I will be only glad to help out a fellow blogger in need. :)