Archive for the 'yahoo' Category

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Machine tags

Take a look at this URL, and the page behind it. This is a list of all the Flickr photos with the tag “xmlns:dc=“. Although these have been around for a while, I hadn’t been aware of this kind of tagging until recently.

Why “xml” in the namespace declaration? This doesn’t have much to do with XML. How many tags are there in the world that start with “dc:” and are not referring to Dublin Core? At least the tag declaring the namespace provides a good hook for finding things with machine tags. It’s only a small step up to RDFa from here, which is good! -m

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Yahoo! introduces mobile XForms

Admittedly, their marketing folks wouldn’t describe it that way, but essentially that’s what was announced today. (documentation in PDF format, closely related to what-used-to-be Konfabulator tech; here’s the interesting part in HTML) The press release talks about reaching “billions” of mobile consumers; even if you don’t put too much emphasis on press releases (you shouldn’t) it’s still talking about serious use of and commitment to XForms technology.

Shameless plug: Isn’t it time to refresh your memory, or even find out for the first time about XForms? There is this excellent book available in printed format from Amazon, as well as online for free under an open content license. If you guys express enough interest, good things might even happen, like a refresh to the content. Let’s make it happen.

From a consumer standpoint, this feels like a welcome play against Android, too. Yahoo! looks like it’s placing a bet on working with more devices while making development easier at the same time. I’ll bet an Android port will be available, at least in beta, before the end of the year.

Disclaimer: I have been out of Yahoo! mobile for several months now, and can’t claim any credit for or inside knowledge of these developments. -m

P. S. Don’t forget the book.

Monday, December 31st, 2007

XPath puzzler: solution

Thanks to all the folks who showed interest in this little XPath puzzler published here a few weeks ago. Some asked to see the dataset, but I’m not able to release it at this time (but ask me again in 3 months).

Turns out it was a combination of two bugs, one mine, one somebody else’s. Careful observers noted that I wasn’t using any namespace prefixes in the XPath, and since I did specify that it was XPath 1.0, that technically rules out XHTML as the source language. Like nearly all XML I work with these days, the first thing I do is strip off the namespaces to make it easier to work with. Bug #1 was that in a few cases, the namespaces didn’t get stripped.

Bug #2 was in the XPath engine itself. Which one? Uh, whatever one ships with the “XPath” plugin for JEdit. It’s hard to tell directly, but I think it might be an older version of Xalan-J. In the case of the expression //meta, it properly located only those elements part of no namespace. But in the case of //meta/@property, it was including all the nodes that would have been selected by //*[local-name(.)='meta']/@property. Hence, a larger number of returned nodes.

Confusing? You bet!  -m

P.S. WebPath would not have this problem, since in the default mode it matches local-names only to begin with.

Friday, December 21st, 2007

XML 2007 buzz: Hadoop

OK, the majority of the buzz came from my talk, where I strongly encouraged folks to take a look at Hadoop. This article seems to be saying much the same things. If you’re curious about the future of distributed computation and storage, it’s worth a look. -m

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Hacking Facebook

I didn’t get to do much for Yahoo Hack Day, but I did get to help a coworker a teeny bit with an implementation of Y! Search for social web sites, including Facebook. There could be some interesting repercussions from that, so I won’t say more now. But what did surprise me is how many Yahoos are active on Facebook.

Myself–I’m still a Facebook curmudgeon. But mostly I simply haven’t had the time to check it out, or figure out the value proposition of accepting an invitation. -m

Monday, October 8th, 2007

XML 2007 Schedule

As widely reported by now, the final schedule for XML 2007 this December in Boston is up. All I have to add is the suggestion of careful attention to the Tuesday program at 4:00. :) If you can’t wait, some technical details are forthcoming in this space. That is all. -m

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

On the closing of Yahoo! Podcasts

A strange note at the top of the web site that appeared in the last couple of days:

Yahoo! apologizes deeply, but we will be closing down the Podcasts site on Oct. 31, 2007

It’s underlined to look like a link, but in fact is just styled that way. Some further observations and questions:

  • The writing style is out of sync with the rest of the site, clearly done by someone else, likely not a marketing person nor designer
  • View-source shows the markup was jammed in there without regard to the CSS/structure on the rest of the site (look for style=”color:#fff;text-decoration:underline;padding:6px;margin:4px;”)
  • Is this a case of the original folks who wrote the site having moved on, and the new owners find it easier to shut down?
  • Is this a part of “finding focus in hollywood”? (linked earlier)
  • Is it a good idea for Yahoo! Podcasts to exist? If there’s even a Y! site for Wii, why not podcasts?
  • Is this a case of not being able to automate things down enough?
  • Why doesn’t Yahoo! produce any podcasts?


(Note: I wasn’t involved in Y! Podcasts nor in the apparent decision to shut it down)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

2 years at Yahoo!

Today is my 2nd anniversary at Yahoo!. Looking back, it’s been a great time. Since I don’t know how long ago, I’ve fantasized about being involved in research. Check. Since sitting across from the mobile guys for 5 years in W3C meetings, I’ve fantasized about working in mobile. Check. And since I wrote Web search, without the web (demo), I’ve fantasized about working on web-scale search.


What will the next two years bring? I don’t know, but I’m certain they will be even better than the previous two. -m

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Get yer Go

Still more mobile news. Yahoo! Go is shipping. No alpha, beta, gamma, etc.–the real deal. Give it a whirl. If your phone, like mine, can’t handle the awesomeness, you can visit the slick web-only version at -m

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

More phones have Y! buttons

Have a look at these new Samsung phones, especially on page 2. Still limited to Asian territories, but this sort of thing has to be coming to the US and Europe as well… -m

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I hardly knew ya

The big buzz today is news that Terry Semel has stepped down as CEO of Yahoo, and Jerry Yang has stepped up. Believe it or not, Y is the first place I’ve worked at that’s large enough that I’m not on a first name basis with the CEO, so this kind of thing is much less personal. I can’t remember even shaking his hand.

In reflection, Terry’s management style seems to be based largely on the Dale Carnegie How-to-win-friends-and-influence-people style that’s been influential in my life and career. I have more respect for him than for most of the armchair CEO’s out there. I never understood some of the venom hurled at Semel, but then again I’m happy to see the change–I think Yahoo needs a little less Hollywood right now.
In short, there’s lots of change happening at Yahoo, both at the management level and in my personal role to play. But each change so far has been good, and the changes are adding up to something even bigger. After some recent personal tough times, I’m glad I decided to stay with Yahoo. What’s even better, there will probably be no more Tom Cruise visits. :-) -m

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Search On

The approximately seven readers of this blog have probably already heard this, but just in case: I have a new role at Yahoo!–working on next generation search.

Lots of details are still falling into place. For now I describe it: “Imagining, specifying, prototyping, developing, and evangelizing next-generation web search experiences leveraging the full and unique capabilities available within Yahoo!”

In many ways, this is a logical stepping stone after oneSearch, and I’ll be dealing with lowercase semantic web issues more now. Expect the focus of this blog to shift accordingly (though I’m still interested in mobile and will make note of important happenings.)

Search On! -m

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

The billion-dollar sand trap?

I thought this article was interesting in overall tone and a specific quote:

Modifying the software for each phone’s display is a matter of brute-force labor. There’s no intellectual way around it. Yahoo! is one of the few companies that’s been able to pull this off, but only because they have an army of Ph.D. hackers working for them.

Thanks! The primary design for the content adaptor was done by one non-Ph.D.–me–with plenty of help from the resident “phone whisperer” and a talented team of fellow non-Ph.Ds. It’s not a matter of “brute force” at all. The only way to solve the problem with finite resources is to understand developers, understand the problem space, and be smart about drawing a line between the two (and being flexible enough to handle the inevitable unknown).

One thing is certain: the industry is changing fast. A mobile app working great today will look dodgy in a year, and be obsolete in two years. It’s not clear if this will stabilize at some point, or keep shifting..

But I’m curious about what the rest of you think. Is mobile the next big thing, or a huge sand trap? Comment below. -m

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Big money in small screens

Here’s a NYT article on Yahoo! Mobile, including a picture of the “warroom” where I spend a few hours on a typical day. The sign on the back wall says “platform team”, and on top of that “Maru” in Kanji and roman characters. -m

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Mobile search compared

Here’s a great comparison site. Try out some searches you might run from your phone and let me know: which one did you prefer? Why? -m

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Yahoo oneSearch launches on mobile web

Today Yahoo! launched oneSearch on their other front page, OneSearch has been available for a while, but only from within Yahoo! Go. Now it’s available to millions of mobile devices equipped with a data connection and XHTML browser.

The basic premise behind oneSearch is to replace the tri-modal search box, where you have to say whether you are searching the web, local, or images, with a single all-knowing search box. Available context information, such as your zip code, is used to guide the search. Internally, the application is smart about figuring out what kind of things you might be looking for. For example, someone searching for “pizza” in a mobile context is probably more interested in a list of restaurants (with reviews) than in a list of hyperlinks. Behind the simplicity of a single search box, there is a great deal of work going on to make your life easier.
Ever since Yahoo! Go betas (and gammas) started coming out, folks have been asking me how else they could get access to this application. Now it’s easy.

Not too long ago, the front page relaunched simultaneously in 19 countries. The new design was simple, and based on a new platform called Sushi, as mentioned in published sources. OneSearch shows off the power of this approach, even though this launch didn’t cover 19 countries…yet. (Getting access to local data for movies, restaurants, sporting events, and so on is no small feat.)

As I said before, this is only a small part of an overall strategy that has been years in the making. Much more to come. Watch this space. -m

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Windows Live Search for Mobile

Spotted under the headline Windows Live Search for Mobile Goes Final, Still Great (like they were expecting it to suddenly plummet in quality?) on Gizmodo. It’s a 114k jar file that runs on my SLVR, where Yahoo! Go isn’t yet available yet, so points for that. Search suggestions show as you type, hugely useful on a klunky 9-key entry situation. They use an interesting UI to hold search results, densely packed–6 down the screen–with a status bar on top, and each search result marquee-scrolling back-and-forth as needed. A detail page can zap you in to map mode or set up a call.

My standard test search–a little offbeat but still plausible–for mead near Sunnyvale produced disappointing results. The meadery within walking distance didn’t show, and of the top 6, two were duplicates. Scrolling down to the 10th result, though, did show an interesting, useful result, albeit 60.15 miles away: Knowne World Meads. I wanted to visit the web site, but here lies another problem: there’s no web integration. None of the search results include a URL or clickable link.

For all the hassle, I’ll stick with Opera Mini and my favorite search engine, thank you. -m

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

The internet is a series of pipes

Check it out. -m

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Yahoo! Keitai

A few more tidbits on the Softbank Mobile turnaround, for which helped architect the mobile platform.

SoftBank phones have a “Y!”-button which links to Yahoo!-keitai. Yahoo-Keitai! offers a list of official sites, new services (e.g. a new communicator service), and also access to free mobile internet sites through the YAHOO directory, as well as access to YAHOO services, such as YAHOO-auctions.


Friday, January 26th, 2007

Opera Mini turns One

Congrats to Opera Mini on its first anniversary. I just installed it on my new SLVR, and the download is an astounding 98k. Why can’t more software be this lean? And yes, Y! search came as the default. -m

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

My computer is famous

My second career as a hand model has been exposed, by a blog post from the guys behind Yahoo! Messenger. BTW, I have even more stickers now, including one of those Flickr stickrs seen in the shot. -m

P.S. The photo is credited to Yodel Anecdotal, which is another blog. Did anyone catch when that first showed up? URL anyone?

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Yahoo! + Opera = Crazy Delicious

(Press release) Starting today, Y! is the exclusive search partner for Opera Mini across more than 100 countries. The release also names “oneSearch”, going live later in Q1–definitely something to keep an eye on. -m

Monday, November 20th, 2006

The new Flickr Mobile site is up, joining the recently-launched Notice a trend in mobile URL design here? Expect to see more of this from Yahoo! and other places.

The interesting thing about these URLs is that they don’t end in .mobi. There are technical advantages (cookies) to staying with an established domain name. What are your plans, if any, for dot-mobi domains? -m

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Meet me at Mobile 2.0

Monday I’ll be at the Mobile 2.0 event in SF. If you’re there, look me up! -m

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Softbank Mobile victim of own popularity

So, the question I posed here was what effect Number Portability would have on #3 carrier Softbank Mobile customers in Japan. Would they leave for greener pastures, or would lower prices and free Yahoo! content (not to mention a bit of advertising) attract new subscribers? Yep, file this under good problems to have. -m

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Letting the Sushi out of the bag

ZDNet Asia offers a rare glimpse inside Yahoo! Mobile, including the code name for a current project I’m involved with. Read on to get an idea why I keep saying to expect big things soon in this space. -m

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Yahoo! Answers Mobile

Just ran into this. Nice! Mobile mashups are getting some serious momentum.

To elaborate on my previous comments a bit, the concept of what people find usable differs between sitting at a desktop and sitting/standing/running/driving with mobile in hand. Desktop sites aren’t optimized for these kinds of use patterns. Ergo, fertile ground for lots of mashups. You were getting tired of the Maps API + X formula anyway, right? ;-) -m

Friday, October 13th, 2006

More Job Opportunities

Lots more going on at Yahoo! Come join the fun! We’re specifically looking for PHP, SQL, DHTML, XML, and JavaScript folks. And if you have some knowledge of video codecs, definitely get in touch. -m

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Yahoo! + SoftBank: watch this space

Today Softbank Mobile launched a new mobile service, delivering tons of Yahoo! Japan content, powered by Yahoo! US technology, to Softbank Mobile phones. This is notable for a few reasons:

  • In the past, content of this caliber been inside paid walled gardens in Japan. Opening this up could be the tipping point for a shake-up in one of the most amazing mobile markets.
  • This is the first time a carrier has been in so close with a content provider. If this works out (and leading signs are very good), it could be a model for the rest of the world.
  • I’ve seen some of the new hardware from SoftBank Mobile. The phones are great and–through tight Y! integration–go a long way toward solving longstanding UI problems related to the mobile web.
  • Number portability is coming to Japan, I believe beginning today on October 24. Once this gets momentum, user bases could shift rapidly. Today is the ideal time to be playing a strong card.
  • Apple rumors continue to swirl around SoftBank. I’m giddy at the thought of iPods accessing the web through my code. :-)

So, watch this space. More good things are coming. -m

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Hack Day cometh

Another cool thing on the way: this Friday is the first public Yahoo! Hack Day. I’ll be out on the lawn for sure. If you’ll be there–look me up. Since the presentations come rapid-fire at the end, here Chad Dickerson has some tips on presenting in 90 seconds. -m

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