Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Currently Viewing Posts in Yahoo!

A leaner version of the Yahoo! homepage

Yahoo! Search There’s a mean, lean version of the Yahoo! homepage. If you pull up search.yahoo.com in a web browser, you’ll get a bare-bones page with no ads. It’s even got the nifty little trick to put the cursor in the search box.

The total page weight (HTML + Images + JavaScript) comes in at 10.3K, which is actually lighter than www.google.com (12.3K). Both of these load faster than the 33K www.yahoo.com home page if you’re using a 56K modem.

Now, if only there was a way to skip the banner ads in the search results…

Busy at work this week

I’m in the SF Bay Area this week for work and I’m really busy. I don’t even have time to write anything amusing for my blog.

Now that I’m officially a pointy-haired (in the Dilbert sense) manager-type, there are lots of meetings. Some intersting new projects are on the plate for the coming year.

Speaking of the coming year, it will be interesting to see if 2003 is the year that Yahoo! Engineering really starts to move en masse to PHP, or whether properties will wait until 2004, when our infrastructure group cuts off support for yScript.

After all, it’s just a perl script

Someone at work volunteered to port and maintain our proprietary package-management tool to Solaris. All twelve thousand uncommented lines of it. Good luck.

I’m sure someone is going to notice, and they’ll want to spend the next 3 months of their time doing a Linux port, too. It seems to me like it would be a better use of their effort and port their app to FreeBSD instead.

We’re a FreeBSD shop. Always have been, and probably always will be.


Home pages are dead. Yahoo! GeoCities should re-invent itself as a blog site. Fresh content is better than stale content, and blog authors have an incentive to keep their blogs up-to-date.

(Note: the views expressed here are my own, and not those of my employer.)

Home pages are dead. Yahoo! GeoCities should re-invent itself as a blog site.

Creating your own website (traditional homepage or blog) is, for most folks, an exercise in vanity and self-indulgence. “I’m John Smith, and here’s my kewl website! Aren’t I special and unique?”

Part of what makes publishing appealing is the fact that someone might be reading what you’re writing. It’s like getting to act in your very own 6th-grade play — people are watching you and they care what you say! (Or, at least we web authors are duped into thinking that someone cares.)

When homepages first became a big thing in 1996-1997, people created these multimedia atrocities. There are tons of GeoCities sites that are nothing more than a collection of blinking GIFs that they found somewhere else.

My guess is that folks eventually realized that compiling a bunch of images that you stole from other people’s sites doesn’t make for a very compelling reason to visit a website. And since most of us aren’t artists, it’s too difficult to create our own images. For an amateur, putting together a professional-looking website is no easy task. So many of these websites have gone stale.

Enter blogs in 2001-2002. Instead of being graphics- and design-heavy, they are text-heavy. This makes sense, because everyone knows how to write. (Well, everyone who is literate knows how to write.) And everyone knows what’s going on in their own life, too. So making an online journal suddenly doesn’t seem so difficult. And you’ve got incentive to keep it up-to-date, because you’ve got all of those loyal fans who are waiting for the latest installment of your very-exciting life! To extend my 6th-grade play analogy, it’s like performing in that play every single day!

Adding blogs to Geocities has significant costs. Aside from having to develop a whole bunch of new software, they’ll have more customers using GeoCities’ resources. Constantly changing content and archiving means more disk space and more pageviews because people are reading that content more frequently. Of course, GeoCities really would need to provide RSS feeds (this is de rigueur in the blogging world) and these feeds will be polled by robots, which will increase server load even more. So Geocities might need to beef up its resources to handle the increased demand from customers. And then there’s the whole customer support issue…

Even so, a blog service would be a win for Yahoo! in the long run. Feeling some compulsion to keep your blog up-to-date is sorta like email — it’s very “sticky”. That means increased customer loyalty, which is always a good thing in the business world (even if it costs you some money).

YHOO is buying INKT

inktomi-logo1.gif In a not-so-surprising turn of events, Yahoo! is buying Inktomi for $235M.

There has been a lot of discussion both outside and inside the company about search engine competitor Google, so clearly Yahoo! is doing this to stay competitive in the search space. Whereas Yahoo! has something like 74 different properties in 25 countries, Google does one thing and they do it well. But search is an important part of a portal. Very important. And Yahoo! knows this, or it wouldn’t invest a pile of cash.

I just hope that this acquisition goes smoothly. Peter Lynch wrote in One Up On Wall Street that after a M&A goes through, the new combined business is usually worse off than if the two companies had remained separate. And I think Yahoo!’s track record has been better than average. On the one hand GeoCities seemed to go pretty well, but whatever happened to all that great content from broadcast.com?

Yahoo!/PHP media wrapup

After the buzz on slashdot several more reputable news websites published stories about Yahoo! and PHP. Here’s a summary so far of the press coverage:

I doubt this sort of thing ever makes it into the New York Times, but it’s really novel for me nonetheless. All sorts of people I know from years back have emailed me over the past couple of days to say “Dude, you’re famous!”

15 minutes of fame, part 2

The PHP-Yahoo! story got picked up today by CNET News.com. My favorite excerpt:

“(Yahoo) is a cheap company. (It) can’t afford to waste engineering resources.”

–Michael Radwin, Yahoo engineer

I hope I don’t get fired for pointing out that my employer is stingy. 🙂