Weblog entries for April 2004


Google could be on to something

Google's new Gmail service has been kicking up a stink lately, mostly due to privacy concerns. Some people are worried that Google will be reading their email, albeit automatically, in order to display targeted advertising.

The obvious riposte is that other web-based email services already automatically read all incoming email to check for viruses, and some of these services are run by other companies who are perhaps less than trustworthy, so where's the problem? Gmail also attempts to filter spam, of course.

This made me think that perhaps Google could be on to something huge in the fight against spam.

Gmail requires users to sign into Google's servers. Therefore, Google can track that same user on the Google search engine. They can also record which link was followed in the search results.

So is it possible to correlate an increase in incoming spam with a previously visited site? I'm not sure. But if it is, Google is in an immensely powerful position. They could blacklist suspected spammers' sites from their search listings, thereby reducing the number of people who visit those sites and, in turn, reducing the amount of spam that is sent.

One thing I do know: the engineers at Google are far more intelligent than most people. It's entirely possible that they've just come up with the ultimate weapon in the war against spam. If you're not in Google's listings, you may as well not exist.


I've invented the next big thing in gardening

Why don't Dyson make lawn mowers?

As Eddie Izzard pointed out so eloquently, they're “related to the cleaning equipment of the same name, the 'Hodududududu'.” And he's right. They're more or less the same shape, and they both suck things from the ground into some sort of storage compartment or bag within themselves. The only large difference is that vacuum cleaners don't have large spinning blades on them. I think this is a good thing.

The thought occurred to me as I was mowing the lawn and the bag filled up. “Aha,” I thought, “If this was a vacuum cleaner, this would be the equivalent of the bag filling up and it losing suction.” And sure enough the mower started leaving bits of grass behind which wouldn't fit into the bag.

Then I thought how great it would be if lawn mowers could not fill up in the same way that Dyson vacuum cleaners don't lose suction. How hard would that be? Obviously you wouldn't be able to fill them up infinitely, they'd need emptying at some point, but I'm sure Mr Dyson and those clever chaps at his factory can come up with something.

So if any Dyson employees are reading this, get in touch. I'll do a bit of testing for you in exchange for a few million pounds. How's that?


I might devalue the car

S and I had the following conversation last night, after she'd been talking about listening to the radio in the car.

"What were you listening to?"

"Woman's Hour on Radio 4."

"You're not old enough to listen to that, surely?"

"Well, I didn't realise what it was until the end when they said, 'Woman's Hour was presented by...'."

"What was it about?"


"And you didn't realise it was Woman's Hour?!"

I may have to remove the radio from her car. It's for her own safety.

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