The Byte Doctor

I won’t bore you with another long dissertation about the search engine wars, but a quick mention about this odd phenomenon is interesting. Basically, when you submit a new site to Google, you should expect it to appear fairly rapidly, rank well for a week or two, and then disappear from the rankings, or get buried 10 to 20 pages deep in the results. Then, over time, it will bubble up to the ranking it really deserves. So don’t be surprised if your Google listing suddenly vanishes – this is ‘normal’ behaviour. Barry Schwarz of the SEORoundTable calls this the “sandbox effect,” meaning that new sites are placed in a sandbox (where they can all play nicely away from the real sites). I don’t expect you to know who he is.

I personally have quit using Google. Their search results are becoming less and less relevant. Instead of finding what I am looking for, I find blatantly commercial ‘paid for’ listings, and garbage sites. If Google doesn’t get their act together soon, they will lose their precious number one position, and fast. I have found that Yahoo gives me what I am looking for now and suggest you try it.

Both Altavista and FAST (AllTheWeb) are now using Yahoo Search Engine results, so the Search Engine world is now Google, Yahoo, and everyone else.

Spyware epidemic

Microsoft estimates spyware is responsible for half of all PC crashes. Dell says 12 per cent of its tech-support calls involve spyware, a problem that has increased substantially in recent months. Scans of one million internet-connected PCs, conducted last quarter by Internet service-provider EarthLink Inc. and desktop-privacy and security vendor Webroot Software Inc., found an average of 28 spyware applications running on each PC and more than 300,000 programs at large that can steal data and give hackers access to computers.

Much like spam email, spyware and its resultant problems are becoming serious. These small applications are planted on a PC by some software programs, websites and email messages and can track a websurfer’s every online move. Criminals or dishonest businesses can use spyware to capture keystrokes and copy personal data from hard drives and transmit it to the people behind the eavesdropping.

Antivirus vendors such as McAfee Inc. and Symantec Corp. are adding anti-spyware capabilities to their security software. Likewise, ISPs such as America Online and EarthLink are introducing tools to help customers find and disable spyware. Microsoft has added anti-spyware technology to its upcoming Windows XP Service Pack to block pop-up ads, a common way people get lured into downloading spyware. Computer makers and software developers are spending millions of dollars dealing with this.