Google has not been doing so well in the UK. A High Court battle between Foundem and Google, which has been ongoing since 2006, has reached an interesting stage. The issue is ranking algorithms. Readers will remember that I’ve written about this subject in the past. Foundem had asked the court to approve a review of Google’s ranking algorithms by an independent expert. Their claim is that Google demoted Foundem in favour of paid adverts because Foundem is a commercial rival. Google was given the offer to withdraw their evidence that only a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) engineer could understand and when they refused, a choice was made to let an expert examine an unredacted version of the evidence and comment on it. This puts Google in an interesting place. If they withdraw their redacted evidence, it could indicate they are trying to hide something and if they refuse expert analysis, it could indicate the same thing. Their claim is that if an expert looks at the code, they will lose their competitive advantage. Yes, the judge saw through this one as well. The case is currently on hold amid the current Covid-19 situation.
– There are some claims that Covid-19 has been caused or exacerbated by 5G networks. This has even led to some 5G towers being torched. I wrote about this in an earlier article. 5G uses the same frequencies previously used by other services like TV and data transmission for decades. It is at the lower end, lower energy part of the RF (radio frequency) spectrum. The only study indicating any potential issue comes from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which concluded that along with coffee and talc-based powder, RF radiation could be “possibly carcinogenic”. Other studies used exposure levels far higher than what people experience even with very high cell phone use. In conclusion, based on current evidence claims about 5G and RF dangers should be put in the same category as other conspiracy theories. As a general rule, however, don’t sleep with your cell phone under your head or in your sporran.
– Online ordering sounds like a good idea until you order something from overseas. With the current lockdowns, overseas mailing is much slower because the number of routes from there to here is a lot lower. I ordered a small item from the US and the tracking system reported seven days later that it had arrived at a Jamaican distribution centre. At the time of writing, it has been three days with no status change. Pre-Covid, it would have taken less than a week in total. I’m guessing it is waiting for possible routing options to open up. I have another item sitting in Hong Kong since March 23 but that one is understandable as well. If you want it fast, order from the country you’re in.
– If you are looking to get into drawing on your computer or tablet, then you might want to check out Inkscape. It has been around for a while — since 2003 — and it is close to version 1.0. It is free, fully-featured and if you are looking to get started then it is an option to look at. Its release is scheduled for May 1st but a release candidate is available now.
– I was involved in my first Zoom meeting recently with over a dozen participants using video and it worked a lot better than Skype ever has for me. It was a family gathering to celebrate a birthday, something that social distancing does not allow to take place in-person these days. I know there are some current security issues with Zoom but for this kind of thing, it works very well.
– In related news, the Microsoft Teams product saw users accumulate 2.9-billion meeting minutes in March with April looking to surpass that as more people work from home. As I pointed out to a Thai friend and business owner that as people get better at using such tools and being productive from home, it opens up the opportunity to give workers more work at home opportunities. This could start with say a Wednesday work from home schedule which breaks up the week and removes travel time for the day. If this works, the days can be extended. The technology exists to make this happen but will require networks in some places to be improved and expanded. Some organisations will fight this but the benefits to each side are there. What the Covid-19 situation has done is highlight just how important those IT teams are and how a good IT setup can potentially even save a business.
– If you have an interest in music and want to see what is possible using technology then check out Richie Castellano’s Multi-Camera Rock Show on YouTube that was released on April 13th. As a one-man show, with some remote support, his use of technology for a video blog is truly impressive. It would have taken quite an amount of preparation but the result is excellent.