God bless generous Gmail

Wow, I can’t believe that my Gmail disk quota has gone up to 4,328 megabytes. It must have been my reward for staying loyal to Gmail for over three years now.

From September 7, 2004 when I registered for a Gmail account, I managed to use up over 2 gigabytes with over 28,000 mails. (Caveat: I couldn’t count the actual number of mails because the count Gmail only shows is that about threads [or conversations, as what Gmail calls it]).

Gmail is generous. Perhaps Google is looking at Gmail users as its virtual stockholders and it’s just right to give non-financial dividends to them as the corporation has been raking in a lot of profit for its commercial endeavors. Its net income increased seven times from its December 2004 earnings of $399,199.

Google’s strategy has worked for it. What it gives free from one hand, it takes much more into another. Indeed, there is such thing as free lunch, because the one giving it has more, more than enough. Google is capable of giving much more space because it wouldn’t be called Google if it is not.

Perhaps, another reason why Google is giving much more Gmail space is that it still pales in comparison to Yahoo in terms of users (including those who’ve been loyal Yahoo fans since Day 1). Although I believe that the reason why Gmail has not reached the 1% of the market share in terms of web hits is that Gmail users are allowed to access to their mailboxes outside of the web via the POP3 service. And it remains a great advantage of Gmail over Yahoo, which only allows POP3 to paid users.

But then, it may be true that there are still lots more of Yahoo Mail users out there. I have attended a lot of conferences and fora and I have seen Yahoo email addresses outnumbering Gmail ones in the attendance/registration sheets. (I have this impression that those with Yahoo email addresses are Yahoo fans who don’t care about disk space at all, while those with Gmail accounts are either Google converts or people who want a change in managing mails and much more disk space, to boot. Although, I’m sure there are peeps like me who maintain both Yahoo and Gmail accounts, only that either of the two should be more active. In my case, it’s obviously Gmail.)

POP3, now including IMAP. Over 4 GB of space. New mail management features, including multiple labels. Ads that feel like they don’t exist at all. Fast. With recordable chats integrated into the mailbox. More protection against spam. These are some of the cool things about Gmail. And I think I’ll stick to my Gmail account for at least another three years.

Staving off business interests and restrictions from universal access to digitized books

It caught me by surprise that International Herald Tribune’s (IHT) online news story about several research libraries defying Google’s and Microsoft’s books digitization schemes had just been retracted. The story’s link is supposed to be this See for yourself. I guess that Google and/or Microsoft put a lot of pressure on IHT to hide the story from public access.

If I’m not mistaken, it was about two years ago that both giants (with Google being first in 2004) started to launch books digitization projects for the purpose of providing researchers worldwide online access to old books that reside in the public libraries. They extended the power of the Internet from merely providing search engines for web sites’ contents.

Google and Microsoft have succeeded but only to some extent. For not all research libraries agree to their terms. The giants are now facing an uphill battle versus an alliance that believes that access to content should be insulated from business interests and restrictions. That alliance is Open Content Alliance (OCA). The OCA offers the same services as Google and Microsoft, but differs in terms of levels of access to the content. While respecting copyrights, the OCA wants the broadest number of Internet users have free access to digitized books irregardless of which search engines are used. Thus far, the alliance is focused on more than 80 libraries and research institutions worldwide contributing out-of-copyright works.

Google had wanted the US Library of Congress to be its first major partner in books digitization. But the latter had decided to deal on a more open approach, thus, choosing OCA instead for a project that will digitize the Library’s public domain works including “brittle” books and US history volumes. Doron Weber, Program Directof of Sloan Foundation that granted 2 million dollars to Library of Congress for such project, said: “God bless Google and Microsoft, and they’ll do what they do. But we need to do the right thing, because we’re in the privileged position of thinking about what’s good for the country and society over the long-term.”

In the homefront, Wikipilipinas’s founder, Gus Vibal, wants to digitize Filipino works with the end in view of preserving them for future use. He also wants universal access to the digitized versions. But it is not yet clear whether he’s thinking along the lines of Google and Microsoft or OCA, even though Vibal once said that he’s mulling over eventually monetizing visits to the nascent online Philippine knowledge portal.

Online Pinoys’ search for meanings and answers

Corruption, proverty, homosexual. These were the words noted to have been mostly used by Filipino Google searchers. Aside from these words, Filipinos are also top searchers for the words “drugs”, “love”, and “Brad Pitt.” Yes, words that could give one an idea what’s preoccupying the online Filipino mind over time.

I didn’t know there’s that provides information on the frequency of topics and keywords searched worldwide through Google Search. I verified the report by myself to be correct. Likewise, I tried to search other words that it may not have discovered or reported. Words that I suspect to have also fed into cyberpinoys’ angst, curiosity, or otherwise.

Keyword/Topic Philippines’ Place Remarks
Hatred 1st Followed by Australia and United Kingdom
Faith 1st Followed by United Kingdom and United States
Mining 7th Top countries are South Africa, Australia and Indonesia
Social Justice 2nd First is Australia
Agribusiness 1st Followed by India and Australia
Reform 1st Followed by Ireland and Australia
Charter Change 1st Trailed by United States and Canada
Social Media 3rd Trailing Colombia and Mexico
ZTE 6th Topnotchers are Pakistan and Malaysia
Migration 4th India, Australia and Singapore are top three.
Call Center 1st Followed by India and Pakistan
Bribery 2nd Following Malaysia and followed by Hong Kong
Military Government 1st Followed by United States and Canada
Justice System 1st Followed by Australia and Canada
Shabu 1st Indonesia and Malaysia follow.
Texting 2nd Second to New Zealand and over United Kingdom
Constitution 1st Followed by United States and France
Gender 2nd First is South Africa and third, Australia
Rural Development 7th Nigeria, Kenya and India are top three.
Agrarian Reform 1st Next two are United States and Canada.
Nepotism 1st Followed by South Africa and United States
Civil Society 3rd South Africa and Indonesia are top two.
Killings 1st Australia and New Zealand come next.
President 1st Followed by United States and India
Cash Gift 1st Followed by United States and Canada
Impeachment 1st United States and Brazil are second and third, respectively.
Human Rights 5th South Africa and New Zealand lead.

I also tried to search the words freedom, democracy, Microsoft, open source, coup, revolution, education, and opposition. Interestingly, the Philippines did not figure in the top ten, at the very least.

Google Trends may be used to focus the study on different places in the Philippines. It’s interesting to note that while ‘corruption’ is the mostly used search keyword in Davao del Sur, Cebu, Manila and Rizal, ‘impeachment’ is confined to Manila only.

I wonder if other search engines offer the same service. Yahoo has Yahoo! Buzz, though it’s much more showbiz. And do you know what the Philippines is famous for in Yahoo! Buzz?. Check this out.

Rooting for Google AdSense

How I wish I had Google AdSense on this blog. Because I want to earn money from it, that's why. Some of my friend bloggers already are.

I have one on my blogspot blog. But in order to earn from Google ads, I need to be active in that blog. But how can I be active in it when I already prefer WordPress?

I learned that WordPress does not support Google AdSense (yet?) for bloggers having free WordPress accounts. Well, it makes sense that WordPress does not do so. Why, definitely it cannot allow its free-account bloggers to earn money using a service that is free, can it?

Google good for speedy probes

Google has been good to me and the peasants.

In the campaign meeting regarding Ka Eric Cabanit, one colleague shared an information that a government official may be involved in his killing. He mentioned the lastname but could not pinpoint exactly that person in a particular bureaucracy. We wanted to know why he was involved.

While the meeting proceeded, I immediately went to a computer in a nearby room and googled the man's name. In a matter of one second, I shivered at the revelation I got. Yes, I was able to know the fullname of the man, as confirmed by his designation in a government agency. The more I was convinced it was him because of his significant role in protecting Malacanang vis-a-vis the controversy of misuse of the ill-gotten Marcos wealth. Ka Eric was among the agrarian reform advocates that went on a limb to expose the evidence and hold government accountable for such misuse of farmers' funds.

I'm sure my colleagues at the meeting were impressed upon my quick sharing of the information. I hope they were impressed not at my doing it but at the coolness of Google.

Googling my name

Occasionally, I find time to visit Google and search my name.

What a change now. Barely a year ago, my name would be associated to my ICT activities, with my membership in the Philippine Linux Users Group (PLUG) and participation in various global conferences. This year, I already see that the balance has been struck between my ICT 'fame' and my foray into real social issues, in particular, agrarian reform. My organization's site has become more popular these days. Search "PEACE Network Filipinas" on Google and the first entry to show is that link to our site. By extension, my name has been more prominent, having landed few Philippine media outfits.

This online journal I'm maintaining will surely bring my name to new heights, that is, if I become more active in it and exert more efforts in marketing my advocacies.

Gmail convert

Last year, I learned from my global colleague that Gmail has been publicized as an alternative, free 1GB webmail. But it was under development and registration was by invitation only. I googled Gmail and the sites I visited pointed to the basic fear of infringement on privacy, as Gmail watches the words you type on your composer or the words in the messages you receive and suggests sites related to these words. For example, when Gmail learns that you typed the word sex, it will suggest sites pertaining to sex. I was affected by this fear, so I did not pursue learning more about Gmail.

Late this year, my interest in Gmail was roused by the excitement over PLUG mailing list, which seemed to be spammed by requests for invitation to Gmail account as well as responses to the requests.

Due to my insistence over PLUG mailing list, I received an invitation from Roger Filomeno to register a free gmail account. Which I did on the dot. Now I’m enjoying the fast, intuitive and cool webmail service in the world. It’s kinda revolutionary. A thread is considered a conversation. There’s only one record (one-line) for a thread, instead of displaying all messages belonging to that thread that clutters your inbox. You can apply multiple labels to a conversation, eliminating the need for folders. You can archive messages (remove from your inbox) but they are just out there ready to be searched and retrieved.

About the fear of infringement on privacy, I don’t care now. I believe that one must be ready to open him/herself to the prying eyes of the Internet, even those of the CIA. My principle here is that very private matters must not be written through the Internet, despite the security measure you’re taking to hide these from public view.

Wow, I now seem to be a rabid follower of the Gmail religion. (OK, in principle, anything alternative to Microsoft…)