Google makes billions of dollars in revenue each fiscal quarter. That money comes about by the same process that all companies use: They sell a product to their customers. Their customers pay money for that product.

Who’s Google’s customer? You? Really? When’s the last time you paid Google for anything?

Advertisers are Google’s customer. What do they sell to advertisers? They sell you. Or, at least, they rent you out, or provide access to you.Mike Elgan

Assuming I'm going to see ads on the internet anyway, my total experience is improved the more relevant and helpful they are in connecting me to what I'm looking for. To the extent that my information helps Google improve my experience on the web, they're welcome to it.

Would I rather no ads at all? Yes. Realistically speaking that is not going to happen.

from The New York Times, a neat infographic:

note how the number of edges emanating from a company is an indicator of its health1. Kodak has been dying since the commoditization of the digital camera. Nokia started to crumble when the iPhone went global. conversely, HTC is doin' all right—they even split last year.

filing lawsuits is an indicator that you've lost your innovative edge. losing the lead, you're exploiting what's left out of your inventions and legacy until you've finally converted all your integrity into bankruptcy. the news will enjoy adding their spin as well, further complicating things.
whether founded or not, these impressions taint your reputation. they damage your business.

Can you name a company you admire that spends its time enforcing patents, instead of innovating? Remember the pirate flag you flew over Apple's headquarters when you were building the Mac? Is Apple part of the Navy now?Wil Shipley

who cares if someone took your ideas to build a competing product? that's how the market works. build the better product—it can't be hard if all your competition can only manage plagiarism.

I hope this passes soon so we can get back to creating the future.

1 the inverse is also true, the healthiest companies are the juiciest targets—they can afford a settlement.

Randall Munroe answering "what does xkcd really stand for?":

I've been using that as a unique point in the space of 4-character strings to point to me, you know I've been using it as my name on every service since the 90s because I got tired of changing my name every time my interests changed.

it started out when I was 10 years old and AOL first popped up and I was on there as … I think I had first skywalker4 and then animorph7 and then I'd pick other names … and then I was eventually like, "I'm tired of having names that point to other things, that identify me with those things, I want a string that will just point uniquely to me that's not my name because you know that's kinda boring."Randall Munroe (at 44:30)

he later complains about the 6-character limit of GMail, which caused my friend ozloy to become the ozzloy we know and love today.

Randall's talk is actually pretty neat, I'd recommend finding an hour to watch it. it's funny to me how we both started consuming comics with all of Calvin & Hobbes and taught ourselves braille.
also: how much Google actually knows about you.

I get asked "what does numist mean" quite a lot, and my answer is very much the same: I was really annoyed with all of the interest-based, numerically-suffixed nicks on the internet and how impersonal they were (are), referring to existing brands in order to give the identity a meaning — a first impression before the first impression, usually: "I spend too much time indoors". I spent an entire night and day trying to come up with something, typing it out, seeing if it looked or sounded awkward or already had a meaning, until I came up with numist.

finally, something entirely unique and easily pronounceable, or so I thought. at the time it didn't occur to me that it had a close neighbours in the English language, and I intended it to be pronounced nümist but every so often someone who's never learned another romance language comes up with a dumb-sounding alternative. I later discovered it should have been capitalized as well (Milami made the same mistake), which would have utterly ruined numist for me since I really didn't like the harshly angular properties of the capital N in contrast to the curves of the rest of the nick.

I discovered these shortcomings years after I'd chosen it, making it a bit silly to change. a lot of people know me by this nick now, and it's not uncommon for it to be used as my name in meatspace by folks I originally met online.

all but two of my friends have an iPhone or intend to buy one.

one has a Pre, and appears to be a strange mixture of enamoured with and annoyed by it (especially Palm's constant attempʦ at iTunes integration1).

the other has both a G1 and a FreeRunner. he's not especially bothered by the battery life or speed, and appreciates the hackability. to put things in perspective, he's also the only friend that dœsn't use a Mac2: he lives on Ubuntu.

as far as I can tell, this is fairly representative: the G1 finds iʦ home mostly with the freedom fighters.

1 feel free to blame Apple for this if you want, the point is it still degrades the Pre experience
2 he did buy a Mac Mini and gave the OSX thing a try for over a month. it's hard to adjust to "the Mac way of doing things", especially when you can't get over how stupid it can be sometimes. it's like writing Java. the Mini is a media PC now.

I love what Google has done.

Search surprised the world (or at least Yahoo!), GMail turned the world of webmail upside-down, Maps effectively launched web2.0, and part of their success has been their spartan yet functional design. I like it, but for a company focused on engineering, the various apps' interfaces (Mail, Voice, Reader, Calendar, for today's example) all differ from each other in noticeable and annoying ways.