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A Google Blunder- the Sad Story of Urchin

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the but-analytics-is-free dept.

Google 164

Anenome writes "Google has a track record of buying startups and integrating them into its portfolio. But sometimes those acquisitions go terribly wrong, as Ars Technica argues has been the case with Google's 2005 purchase of web-analytics firm Urchin Software Corp. 'In the wake of Google's purchase of the company, inquiring customers (including Ars Technica) were told that support and updates would continue. Companies that had purchased support contracts were expecting version 6 any day, including Ars. What really happened is this: Google focused its attention on Google Analytics, put all updates to Urchin's other products on the back burner, and rolled out a skeleton support team. Everyone who forked over for upgrades via a support contract never got them, even though things weren't supposed to have changed. The support experience has been awful. Since the acquisition, we have had two major issues with Urchin, and neither issue was solved by Google's support team. In fact, with one issue, we were helped up until the point it got difficult, and then the help vanished. The support team literally just stopped responding.'"

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164 comments

Urchin: Google's nappy-headed stepchild. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20926533)

Google hates niggers.

Re:Urchin: Google's nappy-headed stepchild. (0, Troll)

nilbud (1155087) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928491)

That explains a lot, have you seen what comes up when you search for "Niggers" on the google website? It's all laughs and jokes as far as google are concerned.

Just goes to show... (1)

LLKrisJ (1021777) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926571)

... How a once idealistic company (or one with some good ideas at least) gets corrupted by it's own succes. They are going the way of the evil corporation real fast.

But at least Brin and co. have their private airstrip now :)

Re:Just goes to show... (3, Funny)

Starturtle (1148659) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926825)

But at least Brin and co. have their private airstrip now
I heard it was an 21-foot X-Wing model that actually flies.

What it really shows (4, Interesting)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927109)

Is that choosing commercial or proprietary software based on the notion you get better support is a myth. I can't even tell you how many PHB's I know that are scared to do anything without a support contract. The moral of the story: Your people should be able to solve 99.9% of all software problems on their own and rely on support as little as possible. Most support contracts I've dealt with have been mostly useless and we've generally had to solve all the hard problems in house. I've pretty much lost faith in support contracts meaning anything other than "a company to sue when things go wrong". But suing a company doesn't bring back lost customers and it doesn't bring back a company that doesn't exist anymore. Blaming others is a great cop out, but I'd never base a business around the blame game.

Re:What it really shows (5, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927203)

Is that choosing commercial or proprietary software based on the notion you get better support is a myth.
Given that OSS can ONLY make money from offering support (or by being sponsored by a large company) with all other things equal the likelihood is that the OSS people will offer better support, because unlike closed source companies the support is their bread and butter.

Superior free software support (2, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927785)

Additionally, if the software is popular and the original vendor provides poor support, someone else will step in with a better offer. A market economy is always better for the customer than a state granted monopoly.

[ BTW: I guess most people "make money" on free software not by support or sponsorship, by being paid in advance by the customer for the development. I know I do. ]

Re:Superior free software support (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928323)

[ BTW: I guess most people "make money" on free software not by support or sponsorship, by being paid in advance by the customer for the development. I know I do.
Wow when given the choice between paying for code they own the copyright to or paying for code that their competitors can then freely used, I figured most companies would go with the former rather then the latter. Kudos to you for finding companies that will do the former.

Re:What it really shows (1)

berwiki (989827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928643)

Given that OSS can ONLY make money from offering support....OSS people will offer better support

How did you come to that conclusion? Seems like FUD if you ask me.
If anything, OSS companies would try to oversell you on support, keep you on the phone longer, and result in shoddier software which require you to keep calling back.
Wouldn't that be a more likely corporate evolution of a company that ONLY obtains revenue from Support contracts??

Re:What it really shows (1)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928839)

That doesn't work in a whole loot of situations. It's great to have good people that can troubleshoot, if you can afford it. Most companies pay for support because it is still cheaper than hiring experts on every piece of software you have. one person can't know it all and if you have tailor software to suit your needs you really have to have support from the people that made it. In some instances in house is good but there are just as many instances where it is just not economical.

Re:Just goes to show... (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927119)

There must be something that happens to make a corporation and those who make it up become corrupt. All the bureaucracy? Or maybe the money does it...

Re:Just goes to show... (3, Insightful)

sYkSh0n3 (722238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927331)

I think a lot of it has to do with going public. Instead of worrying about making a good product and turning a profit, they have to worry about INCREASING profit. It can never be good enough. They have to constantly make more and more money to keep the stockholders happy. Eventually, they have to screw the customer for the sake of the stockholder.

I blame Microsoft (-1, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926597)

Wait, bear with me for a minute.

If it weren't for the constant threat of absolute annihilation at the hands of Microsoft, Google would be free to build and support any number of cool technologies that users would certainly flock to like gays to Apple products.

I haven't personally used the Urchin software, but I have been on the receiving end of bad support, and it has almost without exception been traceable back to the offices in Redmond that each company with bad customer service was forced into it by unwinnable competition with the software giant. There are only so many resources that can be spread between customer support, development, and test. In some cases, some companies can push testing off onto customers (Google and Microsoft itself are prime examples). But most of the time, it takes all a company's got to fight the good fight. Unfortunately, the customer is the loser in almost all cases.

Re:I blame Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20926649)

Not bad... you should get some pretty good bites with that one. And almost certainly mod points.

Re:I blame Microsoft (5, Interesting)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926667)

It is googles' own greed. They purchased this company in competition with M$ but it is Googles fuck up not M$. So by your Bad Analogy if Mandravia goes under it is some how M$ fault? Not that fact that Mandrake got bought out and the parent company fucked up? I think you need to pull your head out of the sand (or your ass) and realize that not everything is Microsofts fault.

Re:I blame Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20926669)

If it weren't for the constant threat of absolute annihilation at the hands of Microsoft, Google would be free to build and support any number of cool technologies that users would certainly flock to like gays to Apple products.

Quite fitting considering your username...

Re:I blame Microsoft (1, Interesting)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926815)

I nominate you for Slashdotter of the year. Nobody, and I mean nobody, else here can compete with brazen, baseless, brainless anti-MS vitriol like that, which is saying something, given the company we're in. You, sir, deserve a medal.

Re:I blame Microsoft (3, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926935)

Ok, I'll bite...

Price doesn't have to be the only basis for competition. You can compete on service, and quality of product as well. To make an analogy, look at the retail market. Walmart competes on price, and its pretty successful. Target, knowing that it can't beat Walmart on price, competes by having brighter stores, and higher quality goods. Recently, Target has had a higher growth rate than Walmart, indicating that atmosphere and quality are criteria used by consumers to evaluate stores.

Similarly, you don't have to compete on price with Microsoft, and if you do, you'll probably lose. The trick is to go for quality and service - something that Google has been going for, except in this case. That's why the continued disregard of existing Urchin customers was a blunder - it put a black mark against Google's reputation for good customer service.

Re:I blame Microsoft (2, Funny)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927823)

Walmart competes on price, and its pretty successful. Target, knowing that it can't beat Walmart on price, competes by having brighter stores, and higher quality goods

Yeah, I have heard that those rocks [arstechnica.com] that Target sells are quite HiFi. However, I am not sure how "portable" they might be...

Re:I blame Microsoft (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926989)

This isn't an analogy. Its naught but flamebait. Very disappointing BadAnalogyGuy. Next time include an analogy and it might not be so bad.

I blame Microsoft too, for setting the standard. (2, Informative)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927049)

This has been the MOU for Microsoft for years buy a company, speak the 'we support our users' talk, take the staff and code, drop the non-MS users and then tout how they are innovating and are the best thing there is.

Any of these ring a bell:
- Fox Software
- Bungie
- SubLogic

All of which made great programs that supported users of multiple platforms, MS bought them, said they were dedicated to enhacing the product across all platforms, made a half assed release or two and then dropped all other platforms due to 'lack of interest' (they claim it was customer lack of interest when it was more like Microsoft's). It's amazing MS Office for Mac has lasted as long as it has...

I am curious on what similarity, does Google limit the user by switching to Analytics- or what is missed by Analytics that isn't by Urchin?

Re:I blame Microsoft too, for setting the standard (3, Funny)

weicco (645927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928817)

Ah, yes. The first rule of Slashdot: if that I happen to like is critized, move focus to MS.

Two sides to every story (2, Insightful)

d0rkb0y (783140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926603)

So a company made promises regarding a product right before they sold. Are the people who made those promises to you still in charge of the product? Did they cash out and move on to another venture? I'm sorry for your loss, but you should put some effort into learning what really happened. You have posted exactly what I am posted, which is opinion. I don't feel this is news worthy.

Breach. (3, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926679)

So a company made promises regarding a product right before they sold.

It looked to me that they signed a contract. Therefore, wouldn't it be breach of contract and be actionable in court?

Re:Breach. (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926995)

It looked to me that they signed a contract. Therefore, wouldn't it be breach of contract and be actionable in court?

Nope. From the article:

"Them's the breaks," as they say: the support contracts never guaranteed upgrades.

It looks to me like they never got the upgrade promise in writing, and now they're whining that Google is failing to acknowledge a verbal promise made by the old dev. team. To which I say, "So what?" Isn't the first rule of corporate dealings, "Get it in writing or don't get it at all?"

Re:Breach. (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927103)

To which I say, "So what?" Isn't the first rule of corporate dealings, "Get it in writing or don't get it at all?"
And its having this attitude that lets companies like Google get away with it. Around these parts if someone promises something verbally, not only is it enforceable in court, its considered a lie and bad character to then go back on the promise. Much like Google has in this case.

Re:Two sides to every story (5, Funny)

uglydog (944971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926683)

I don't think the original company management ever planned on releasing an upgrade.

Here's a news flash: when it takes 2.5 years to get an upgrade out that was due shortly after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, it's already effectively "discontinued."
I think what happened is that Urchin promised to deliver the upgrade "when the Red Sox won the World Series". Who could have seen that coming?

Re:Two sides to every story (2, Funny)

jZnat (793348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927635)

They should have said the Cubs instead, then! :P

Re:Two sides to every story (4, Interesting)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926827)

Are the people who made those promises to you still in charge of the product?
In theory this is irrelevant. The other side of the "corporate" coin -- that is, the side that doesn't involved shielding everyone involved from being liable for being jerks -- is that it, the corporation, persists beyond the tenure of its employees, officers, etc. Promises made by people on behalf of the corporation (or other business structure) are still binding on that corporation after those people leave. At least that's the theory. Of course now-a-days corps can do whatever they "want" with little or no repercussion.

Re:Two sides to every story (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928051)

Well, I think there's a bit of a practical problem, there. If all the old people are replaced with new people, and there's no actual record of what promises were made, then...what do you do? What can you do? You can either do whatever somebody else tells you you're supposed to, or you can do whatever all the documents tell you to do.

Re:Two sides to every story (2, Informative)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928791)

Sure its a practical problem, especially with smaller organizations where your scenario is more likely. But that doesn't absolve an organization from its responsibilities. And its also the purpose of things like contracts.

Regardless, if the organization fails to perform its contractual obligations, then there are methods for dealing with that. It is the responsibility of the organization to keep track of its obligations and it is the customer's responsibility to be prepared to deal with an organization that doesn't live up to its obligations. This can range from simply pointing out the problem to filing a lawsuit. A lot of contracts actually deal with this scenario specifically. For example, my two commercial leases have clauses that allow for transfer of the contract to other parties, but force the parties to maintain the terms of contract despite this transfer. But I'm wandering OT with that.

yep (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926615)

Everyone who forked over for upgrades via a support contract never got them, even though things weren't supposed to have changed.
In summary: hey got "forked-over" after forking over.

Re:yep (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927043)

> "In summary: hey got "forked-over" after forking over."

Of course, if it were OSS, it could just be forked ...

Anyone got a link to the complete specs of what their log analysis tool does?

Buyouts (5, Informative)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926677)

Isn't this just what happens about 50% of the time with company buyouts in tech? It seems like either you're buying them because you want their technology for yourself, or you're trying to eliminate a competitor. (Very rarely some holding company may actually just want to own a piece of the action and make a profit from your hard work). In either case though, the purchasing company doesn't give a crap about the viability of the company they're buying. I wouldn't say this is just google, I'd say this is the way most tech companies with money to spend handle buyouts.

Re:Buyouts (2, Insightful)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926829)

Another reason is that the buyer wants to get the customer base, so they can then slow down and phase out the earlier product and offer an 'upgrade' to their main product. Buying a company for this reason can be cheaper than advertising, etc, to get new customers.

Re:Buyouts (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926867)

Parent is right on only the percentage is closer to 90. Most acquisitions are destroyed by the "not invented here" mentality and soul-sucking turf battles.

Ars is abusing their publishing privilege by whining about something that didn't go their way. Hardly news.

Re:Buyouts (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927145)

Ars is abusing their publishing privilege by [informing people that Google makes promises and then doesn't keep them]. Hardly news.
And it isn't it sad that this is hardly news?

Re:Buyouts (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927965)

Google also seems to have a real policy of not keeping external productified versions of technology they want for their internal use.

Uncertainty (5, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926701)

What companies like Google don't realize is that it's the uncertainty that kills customers. Most of us won't really care if you're going to buy Urchin, move all the best pieces to Google Analytics, and then kill it off - just tell us what the fuck you are doing so we can plan accordingly. Dicking people around by pretending to support what you know will be a dead product is a good way to get people to hold grudges against you.

Re:Uncertainty (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927077)

> "What companies like Google don't realize is that it's the uncertainty that kills customers. Most of us won't really care if you're going to buy Urchin, move all the best pieces to Google Analytics, and then kill it off - just tell us what the fuck you are doing so we can plan accordingly. Dicking people around by pretending to support what you know will be a dead product is a good way to get people to hold grudges against you."

You must be new here; it worked for Microsoft ...

In Soviet Googlestan, product updates kill YOU!

Re:Uncertainty (2, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927083)

What companies like Google don't realize is that it's the uncertainty that kills customers.

This.

Not that Google doesn't realize this, but they dropped the ball in this case. We have a few major systems being rolled out at the University, and the faculty web tools have sporadic uptimes. Fastest way to have faculty NOT use your tools? Have the system be down just ONCE when they want to use it. "It never works!" is what you'll get and they'll do it themselves from there on out.

Re:Uncertainty (2, Informative)

Typoboy (61087) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927359)

That is the bane of my web-app existence. It's to the point where I try to be careful who I ask to test what at what time, because if it is scary enough, they won't come back.

Re:Uncertainty (0, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927155)

Beavis: The future sucks. Change it.

Butthead: I'm way cool Beavis, but I cannot change the future.

Re:Uncertainty (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927479)

I'm not sure I'd limit it to "companies like", pushing the limits of what the law will permit in terms of consumer deception, even fraud, is broad and pervasive throughout the commercial sector. About all you can do is make noise and file a suit. Noise, lately, has been very effective if you can get enough interest in it. It shouldn't be very hard to write a piece equating their behavior here to a very reasonable lack of confidence in google checkout (a product Google cares very much about). If they're untrustworthy when they're outright taking your money, how much trust can you have when they aren't even the recipient of that cash?

Speaking of... whatever happened to all of those support contracts Microsoft made with the software upgrades included when they were trying to move people to XP. I hate to ask, but Google just returns a mountain of blogcest about vista.

If anyone would know about an Urchin (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926711)

It would be an Anenome...

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (3, Informative)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926851)

>> It would be an Anenome (sic) ...

A sea urchin is an Echinoderm, like starfish and sea cucumbers.
An anemone is a Cnidaria, like coral and jelly fish.

Imagine obligatory wiki links here.

jfs

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927101)

So, in other words, I should clam up about what I don't fathom?

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (4, Funny)

griffjon (14945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927727)

Just don't try to mussel into the joke just for the halibut, fishing for +1 Funny, or you'll end up get "dock"ed karma.

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928181)

Abalone! You shelfishly want all the Carpa for yourself.

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928251)

Look, if you're gonna make fish puns, just quote the whole song and be done with it.

It was April the 41st, being a quadruple leap year
I was driving in downtown Atlantis
My Barracuda was in the shop, so I was in a rented Stingray, and it was overheating
So I pulled into a Shell station They said I'd blown a seal
I said, "Fix the damn thing and leave my private life out of it, okay pal?"

While they were doing that I walked over to a place called the oyster bar -- a real dive
But I knew the owner, he used to play for the Dolphins
I said, "Hi, Gil!!!"
You hafta yell, he's hard of herring

CHORUS:
Think I had a wet dream Cruisin' through the Gulf Stream Oooh-ooh-ooh-ooh Wet dream...

Gil was also down on his luck
Fact is, he was barely keeping his head below water
I gullied up to the sandbar He poured the usual
Rusty snail, hold the grunion, shaken, not stirred
With a peanut butter and jellyfish sandwich on the side -- heavy on the mako
I slipped him a fin -- on porpoise I was feeling good
I even dropped a sand dollar in the box for Jerry's Squids -- for the halibut

Well, the place was crowded We were packed in like sardines
They were all there to listen to the big band sounds of Tommy Dorsal -- what sole
Tommy was rockin' the place with a very popular tuna -- "Salmon Chanted Evening"
And the stage was surrounded by screaming groupers
Probably there to see the bass player

One of them was this cute little yellowtail
And she's giving ME the eye
So I figure, this is my chance for a little fun
You know -- a piece of Pisces

But she said things I just couldn't fathom
She was too deep, and seemed to be under a lot of pressure
Boy, could she drink
She drank like a... she drank A LOT...
I said, "What's your sign?" She said, "Aquarium" I said, "GREAT!!! Let's get tanked!"

I invited her up to my place for a little midnight bait
I said, "C'mon baby, it'll only take a few minnows"
She threw me that same old line
"Not tonight -- I got a haddock"

And she wasn't kiddin' either, 'cuz in came the biggest, meanest looking haddock I'd ever seen come down the pike
He was covered with mussels
He came over to me, he said, "Listen shrimp -- don't you come trolling around here"
What a crab This guy was steamed -- I could see the anchor in his eyes

I turned to him, I said, "Abalone -- You're just being shellfish"
Well, I knew it was going to be trouble, and so did Gil, 'cuz he was already on the phone to the cods
The haddock hits me with a sucker punch
I catch him with a left hook He eels over
It was a fluke, but there he was, lying on the deck, flat as a mackerel
Kelpless

I said, "Forget the cods, Gil, this guy's gonna need a sturgeon"
Well, the yellowtail was impressed with the way I landed her boyfriend
She came over to me, she said, "Hey big boy, you're really a game fish"
"What's your name?"
I said, "Marlin"

Well from then on, we had a whale of a time
I took her to dinner
I took her to dance
I bought her a bouquet of flounders
And then I went home with her
And what did I get for my trouble?
A case of the clams

Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 29.1).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 30.1)

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928439)

Look, if you're gonna make fish puns, just quote the whole song and be done with it.

You got me. It is Trawl Tuesday after all...

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (2, Informative)

threaded (89367) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926959)

I thought an Urchin was the old name for a Hedgehog, and that Sea Urchins are so named because they have lots of things sticking out of them, looking somewhat similar, if you sort of squint sideways with your head cocked to one side.

Re:If anyone would know about an Urchin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20927879)

Wikipedia says: "You are correct."

By the way, In German an Hedgehog is an "Igel" (not to be confused with the English word "eagle" which sounds the same) and a Sea Urchin is an "Seeigel" (not to be confused with the sea eagle, which still sounds the same).

FOSS losers (5, Insightful)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926731)

It makes one wonder how many of these companies eschewed open-source solutions, in favor of expensive "supported" software.

Hopefully enough of these examples will eventually reach the tipping point where PHBs will finally begin to wonder what exactly they're getting for their money.

Re:FOSS losers (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927189)

Wait... So the company that doesn't want to worry about its own software, and therefore buys a support contract, will now be benefited by the "fix it yourself" nature of FOSS? I know the power of FOSS is being able to go into the code and alter/fix things that you don't like - but considering this company clearly doesn't want to have its own little team of coders doing something like that (hence buying the contract), what's the point?

More likely a rash of unsupportive developers will simply create room for companies that actually HONOR their support contracts...

Re:FOSS losers (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927547)

The point is that FOSS does not leave you completely dependent on a single supplier: you can buy support and enhancements elsewhere. If there are lots of unsatisfied users, there is likely to be a fork.

Suppose Urchin had been FOSS. It would have been forked by now, and the devs of the forked version would be offering support.

Re:FOSS losers (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927575)

If the program you are using is free software, then you have a choice of who to get support from. Anyone can start a maintained, supported fork of the program and offer their services. This competition (or even just the possibility of competition) will tend to give a better deal to the customer.

With Urchin, the only people supporting it are those 'trained' and authorized by one company, Google. There is no chance for any independent third party to get the code and start offering services.

Maybe you're not a car mechanic yourself, but still you wouldn't buy a car with the hood welded shut.

Re:FOSS losers (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927195)

"supported" and "open-source" are independent. The third independent variable is "being actively developed" which is the missing ingredient with Urchin. Since Ars provides zero details about the two major "issues" and is mostly complaining about not getting upgrades, I'm guessing that they were not bugs but new features that they wanted.

Why PHB's go with commercial services (2, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927299)

It makes one wonder how many of these companies eschewed open-source solutions, in favor of expensive "supported" software. Hopefully enough of these examples will eventually reach the tipping point where PHBs will finally begin to wonder what exactly they're getting for their money.

You don't understand why companies prefer commercial solutions.

If I buy services from a company and they fail to deliver, I have choices. Like suing them (example: breach of contract) and recovering damages. I can't do that if I install open-source software, unless I hire a firm to take care of the implementation, and *they* fuck up on what they promised they'd deliver.

Just because you don't understand how something works, doesn't mean it's broken.

Re:Why PHB's go with commercial services (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927611)

I think this is not a fair comparison. It should be

installing proprietary software and paying for it versus installing free software and paying for it

or if you want to compare the no-money case,

installing proprietary software without paying anything versus installing free software without paying anything

Re:Why PHB's go with commercial services (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20927721)

You don't understand why companies prefer commercial solutions.

Oh, I understand all right. To some degree, it is CYA maneuvering. But once you peer beneath the veneer of "support" what are you really getting? Urchin is a good example because it is a fancy web-log reporting tool. Not necessarily beyond the capabilities of a few internal developers, or other existing tools in the OSS world.

I have choices. Like suing them

See, this is exactly the kind of problem with Career Management attitudes today. You yourself indicated that your final solution is to spend more money lawyering up, and even more money on an 'alternate' solution. The only real rationale for the purchase is to have someone else to yell at.

And PHBs keep getting away with it, because nobody seems to call them out on all the money they waste on empty promises and vaporware.

Re:Why PHB's go with commercial services (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928153)

If I buy services from a company and they fail to deliver, I have choices. Like suing them (example: breach of contract) and recovering damages.

I'd love to see examples where this has actually happened. Commercial software companies fail to deliver at the time. It's routine. And yet it's always the admins and the users in the company that bought it that end up having to "pay" for it.

Re:FOSS losers (1)

bruce_the_moose (621423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927557)

I got the radio-silence from their support even before the Google deal went down. No emailed response, the voice mail box was full. I ended up writing a snail-mail letter to Urchin's president pleading with him to have someone at least respond to one of my emails so that I knew I was getting through. I got a letter from him where he declared the circumstance was "unacceptable" and I finally got a response on the trouble ticket. I'm still waiting for the upgrade we were supposed to get. That said, I still like the product. Its reports are better than WebTrends, it's cheaper, and it runs on Unix.

Re:FOSS losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20928801)

Right, because hiring 2-3 developers and a domain expert at $150-$200K/piece (including overhead, healthcare, etc), waiting the average of 3-4 months it takes to build that team, and another 5-6 months to implement the solution, is far less risky. FOSS projects drop off the face of the earth far more often than commercial projects. Just do a cursory search on the SF or FM to see how many projects had legs for a year than activity died. Spending even 5 figures on licensing is usually a lot cheaper and less risky.

On the bright side... (1)

mengel (13619) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926735)

... you also couldn't find anyone from Urchin to arrange for a new support contract. So they weren't continuing to take your money and not provide suppport -- they wouldn't even take your money.

Here's the lowdown. (5, Informative)

Fireye (415617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926789)

Google purchased Urchin outright.

Google/Urchin provided support for a short while, and all was good. Then, Google/Urchin decided to outsource ALL support requests except major bugs. They "trained" authorized support personel from various companies, which are now listed under their resellers page. But, a good percentage of those people know jack about the inner working of Urchin. I feel sorry for them, honestly, because I doubt they were trained properly and there's very little solid documentation.

Urchin is EXTREMELY poorly documented. Want to know how to create your own report inside a profile? It's easy! Now, do you want to analyze some metric in a different way than Urchin does by default? Wow. Good luck. datamap.dm, I hardly knew thee. I still don't know it well, because there's very little documentation and zilch for examples about how the integral parts of the program work. Want to change how some .tpl (report templates) look or present information? Good luck, there is exactly zero documentation about it. Hell, the "support" personel I worked with didn't even know those files existed, or what they did.

So yeah, Google is certainly at fault somewhat, but a lot of the issues people have could have been resolved even prior to the acquirement of Urchin! Documentation will save us, or in it's absence damn us.

Another topic is that Urchin currently has two outstanding LARGE vulnerabilities, as published by US CERT. Google/Urchin was notified back in June or July about these security holes. They claimed a fix was in the works. It's now OCTOBER and they're totally silent on the issue. My support requests (directed directly at google, not at one of their support contractors) go unanswered. There hasn't been an update to the program in years. Google/Urchin is COMPLETELY silent about the Urchin standalone product.

I'm extremely happy that this is getting some public attention, because it bugs the bejeezus out of serious Urchin users.

Re:Here's the lowdown. (0)

jagdish (981925) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927393)

Want to change how some .tpl (report templates) look or present information? Good luck, there is exactly zero documentation about it.
Yeah, and dont even get me started on the .tps reports.

Most online documentation vanished ... (2, Interesting)

allankim (558661) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928443)

Urchin.com had at one time extensive online docs, including a very good searchable knowledge base. IIRC most of these docs vanished shortly after the acquisition.

I too am happy this is getting some attention, as management needs to be reminded from time to time that no company is infallible. Even Google.

The Democratic Party Thinks Blacks are Stupid! (-1, Offtopic)

WhatsUpNegro (1171485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926857)

A book that is well worth reading is They Think You're Stupid by Herman Cain. Information in that book and recent articles in liberal newspapers demonstrate that Democrats want to continue the political anomaly where the Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted. The primary method used by the Democrats is to falsely accuse the Republican Party of being "anti-black."

Given the commendable civil rights record of the Republican Party that was started in 1854 as the anti-slavery party, as well as the current policies and actions by Republicans to help blacks prosper, the accusation that the Republican Party is "anti-black" is ludicrous on its face.

As author Michael Scheurer so succinctly stated, history shows that the Democratic Party is the party of the four S's: Slavery, Secession, Segregation, and now Socialism. The Democratic Party has hijacked the civil rights record of the Republican Party and taken blacks down the path of Socialism that has turned our black communities run by Democrats for the past 40 years into economic and social wastelands.

Considering the horrendous record of racism and "anti-black" Socialist policies of the Democratic Party, the question becomes, how do Democrats keep blacks voting overwhelmingly for a party that has caused so much harm to blacks?

With the help of the liberal media, Democrats use a combination of deception, hypocrisy, and re-writing of history to paint the Republican Party as a racist party, causing blacks to cast a protest vote against Republicans, not a vote for Democrats.
Democrat Deception

A prime example of deception by the Democrats involves the effort to gain a voting member of Congress for the residents of the District of Columbia. Democrats recently blasted Republicans for legislation not passing in Congress. Yet, Democrats fail to mention the provision in our Constitution which designates DC as federal land and prevents DC residents from having a representative in Congress. In order to change that provision, there must be an amendment to the Constitution. The Democrats know this. Even so, Democrats want to deceive blacks by continuously introducing legislation in Congress, rather than seek an amendment to our Constitution. Why? They simply want to keep the issue alive to use against Republicans who refuse to go along with the unconstitutional scheme of the Democrats.

Shamefully, the Democrats are trying to blow smoke in the eyes of blacks about the S-Chip program that provides health insurance for poor children. In a typical sinister ploy, the Democrats want to expand the S-Chip welfare program to include over 700,000 adults, some with family incomes over $60,000. When Republicans objected to this expansion, including a veto by President Bush, Democrats accused Republicans of not caring about poor "children."

Every election cycle, Democrats try to deceive blacks by claiming falsely that Republicans "disenfranchise" blacks, even though blacks are voting in record numbers and, after several investigations in 2000 and 2004 by civil rights organizations and liberal newspapers, Democrats have produced no blacks who were denied the right to vote. If even one black person had been denied the right to vote, that person's name would have been blasted on the front page of every newspaper in this country.

In spite of evidence to the contrary, Democrats continue to repeat the mantra that "Republicans do not care about poor blacks." Ignored is the fact that, since the War on Poverty that began in the 1960's, more than $7 trillion dollars have been spent on poverty programs, with over $500 billion spent on 80 poverty programs in 2006 alone. Contrary to the claims by Democrats, the No Child Left Behind Act which brings accountability to the school system is fully funded to the tune of $13.1 billion. In reality, Republicans have cut no programs designed to help the poor. Unknown by most blacks is the fact that a federal law mandates an automatic increase in funding for poverty programs.

Meanwhile, it is the Democrats who are actually taking actions that harm blacks. Democrats are aligning with the Teachers' Union and blocking providing school choice opportunity scholarships that would help black parents get their children out of failing schools. Democrats are putting the special interests of the Teachers' Union over that of poor blacks. Democrats do not want to acknowledge that the money belongs to the people, not the buildings.

Democrats are also aligning with the AARP, one of the Democratic Party's biggest special interest groups, by blocking Social Security reform, even though blacks on average lose $10,000 in the system because blacks on average have a five-year shorter life expectancy.

Hypocritical Democrats

In an ultimate display of hypocrisy, Democrat Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted against the minimum wage bill even though Democrats used minimum wage as a wedge issue during the 2006 election. The liberal press that supports the Democratic Party issued not one word of condemnation when Clinton and Obama, plus all of the other Democratic Party presidential candidates, refused to participate in the Congressional Black Caucus Detroit debate that was to be aired on FOX News. Yet, there was a media firestorm when four of the Republican Party presidential candidates did not participate in the Morgan State Tavis Smiley debate aired on PBS.

Democrats claim that they care about diversity, but readily demean black professionals who do not toe the Democratic Party's liberal line, slandering blacks as "vile," "Uncle Toms" and "Sellouts," including Dr. Condoleezza Rice, General Colin Powel, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. Democratic Party operatives even insulted black Democrat Juan Williams, calling him a "Happy Negro" on CNN, for daring to expose the failed Socialist policies of the Democrats in his book Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America.

One example of hypocrisy is how the Democrats use the name "Willie Horton" to castigate Republicans. Democrats do not mention that it was former Vice President Al Gore who first brought up Willie Horton's name against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis during the 1998 primary election because, after Dukakis released convicted murderer Willie Horton from prison on a weekend furlough, Horton raped a woman and stabbed her husband.

In the general election, former President George H. W. Bush followed the example of Al Gore and used the name of Willie Horton against Dukakis who was the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. Today, Democrats condemn G.H.W. Bush about Willie Horton, but hypocritically give Gore a pass.

Another stark example of hypocrisy is the way Democrats ignored the recent use of the "N-Word" on television by Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Now the Democrats are shamefully sullying the memory of Lee Atwater by falsely accusing him of using the "N-Word" in 1981, ten years before he died of a brain tumor on March 30, 1991 at age 40. Atwater was a tough political strategist who beat the Democrats in the political area, but he was not a racist.

Note that the charge that Atwater uttered a racist statement using the "N-word" was made by a liberal Professor Alexander P. Lamis, a native of South Carolina, who had worked as a research assistant at the liberal Brookings Institution before joining the Case Western Reserve University faculty in 1988.

Prof. Lamis claimed that Artwater made a racist statement in 1981, 18 years before Prof. Lamis wrote his book in 1999 (which was written 8 years after Atwater died in 1991) about politics in the 1990s. The title of Prof. Lamis' book is Southern Politics in the 1990s. If Atwater had made such an explosive, racist remark, why did Prof. Lamis not report that to the media in 1981 (or at any time during the 10 years before Atwater died) in order to destroy Atwater as a political strategist?

In Atwater's obituary written by Michael Oreskes that was published in The New York Times the morning Atwater died, Oreskes made an effort to trash Atwater even before his body had cooled, using every negative thing ever written or said about Atwater. Yet, Oreskes never once mentioned any statement made by Atwater in 1981 where he used the "N-word" as claimed by Prof. Lamis. The mean-spirited obituary about Lee Atwater that was published in The New York Times on March 30, 1991 can be found on the Internet at: [NY Times]

Democrats' Re-written History

An example of Democrats re-writing history involves the murder of blacks in the South during the civil rights era by "rabid racists." Democrats today want blacks to believe that it was Republicans who were the murderers. Instead, history shows that it was the Democrats who were the killers. One liberal historian, Dr. Eric Foner, decided to write an accurate account of history in his book A Short History of Reconstruction. Also, inner-city minister Rev. Wayne Perryman conducted five years of research, wrote a book entitled Unfounded Loyalty, and sued the Democratic Party in 2005 for that party's 200-year history of racism. The Democrats came into court and, under oath, admitted their racist past, but refused to apologize because they know they can take the black vote for granted.

In court, Democrats acknowledge that it was the Democrats who fought to expand slavery; passed those Jim Crow laws and Black Codes; and opposed the passage of very piece of civil rights legislation from the 1860's to the 1960's. The Democratic Party, using their terrorist arm, the Ku Klux Klan, went on a Republican-cleansing murdering spree in the South after the Civil War. For years, Democrats lynched and terrorized Republicans, black and white, until they drove Republicans out of the South. This led to the South voting solidly for the Democratic Party for over 100 years after the Civil War because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks.

It defies logic to think that all of the racist Democrats suddenly rushed into the arms of the Republican Party after the Republicans were successful in helping blacks gain freedom and civil rights. In fact, Democrats declared that they would rather vote for a "yellow dog" than vote for a Republican because it was Republicans who fought to free blacks from slavery; amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom, citizenship and the right to vote; founded the NAACP; and pushed to pass civil rights legislation in the 1860's, 1950's and 1960's over the objection of Democrats.

Democrats were perfectly happy when the racist South was voting monolithically for the Democratic Party. Yet, Democrats today have the gall to demean Richard Nixon for his "Southern Strategy" in the 1970's that was designed to reach out to fair-minded Southerners and get them to stop voting for the Democratic Party that did not share their values and had caused so much harm to blacks. It was Richard Nixon who first implemented affirmative action with the expanded 1969 Philadelphia Plan, assisted by black Republican Art Fletcher who was known as the "father of affirmative action enforcement." Nixon was also responsible for the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1970's. The transformation of the South from voting solidly for the Democratic Party was a 30-year odyssey, and Louisiana is still in the hands of the Democrats.

During the modern civil rights era, while Democrats were blocking school house doors and killing civil rights demonstrators, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower sent troops into the South to desegregate the schools. Eisenhower also assured the Brown v. Board of Education decision by appointing Chief Justice Earl Warren to the US Supreme Court. It was Republican Senator Everett Dirksen who crafted the civil rights legislation of the 1950's and 1960's. Dirksen wrote the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was filibustered by Democrats, a law that more Republicans voted for than Democrats. If it had not been for Republicans, President Johnson could not have achieved passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Most black Americans today do not know that Democrat President John F. Kennedy was not a civil rights advocate. In fact Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act, opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. and had Dr. King investigated on suspicion of being a communist in order to undermine Dr. King. Also unknown is the fact that President Lyndon did not have civil rights at the top of his agenda. Johnson failed to mention one word about voting rights in his 4,500-word State of the Union Address delivered on January 4, 1965. In that speech Johnson devoted only 35 words to civil rights.

The statement by Johnson about losing the South after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was not made out of concern that racist Democrats would suddenly join the Republican Party. Instead, it was an expression of a concern that the racist Democrats would again form a third party, such as the short-lived States' Rights Democratic Party. This prediction came true in 1968 when Democrat George C. Wallace started the American Independent Party that attracted other racist candidates, including Democrat Atlanta Mayor Lester Maddox who brandished an ax-handle to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant.

In order for the Democrats to win the White House in 2008, the Democratic Party must keep a "lock" on the black vote, and they are counting on black Americans accepting all of the negative rhetoric spewed out about the Republican Party without question. What they are not counting on is black Americans seeing through the Democratic Party's deception, hypocrisy, and re-written history.

Frances Rice is chairman of the National Black Republican Association and can be contacted at: www.NBRA.info

You Think Blacks are Stupid! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20927373)

Given the commendable civil rights record of the Republican Party that was started in 1854 as the anti-slavery party, as well as the current policies and actions by Republicans to help blacks prosper, the accusation that the Republican Party is "anti-black" is ludicrous on its face.

The Republican Party of 1854 is not the party of today. The Democratic Party of the 1950's & 60's is not the party of today either. The Racist Democrats abandoned the party during the civil rights movement, adopting the "Government is bad" mantra of the Republicans as a means to kill equlaity initiatives such as forced integration. What an organization did 50 years ago is not as important as what they want now. Fortunately, neither side actively campaigns on the side of racism anymore, though you still get a few crazies one noth sides...

Honestly, who cares? (0, Redundant)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926915)

Google-analytics and urchin are both evil.
Can you say blocklist?

Sorry Mr. Submitter but you are preaching to a room full of dry eyes.

Re:Honestly, who cares? (3, Insightful)

Fireye (415617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926943)

Errr, the version of Urchin he's referring to postprocesses Apache/IIS/Websphere/etc log files. You don't have to use cookies to track users (though it helps). ... so, disregarding cookies, why is Urchin evil?

Re:Honestly, who cares? (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20926977)

Been blocking Urchin and Google-Analytics for years. Whenever I set up someone with Firefox, I do that for them as well. No cookies, no tracking gifs, etc.

Re:Honestly, who cares? (1)

D4rkn1ght (800767) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927963)

I don't have anything against Urchin. But while some sites work fine, others just take forever load. This is why I block Urchin and Google-Analytics.

Sue! (2, Insightful)

jbrandv (96371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927017)

I say go after the deep pockets of Google, demand a jury trial, profit! When they bought the company they also have to take on their customer support. I suspect that a jury would agree.

One word! (0)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927027)

Greed!

Are they finally evil? (2, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927045)

Come on, if Microsoft did this we'd be yelling loudly how bad they were.

Re:Are they finally evil? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927389)

When Microsoft consistently buys companies with good products, improves them and releases them free, come tell me how they're the same level as Google. As it stands now, Google bought a company with a couple of products, built one of the products up and turned it into a free service with a huge following while not spending a lot of resources on the other product. The ignoring of the product was evil, the building up of google analytics was good, we come out with overall neutral.

Re:Are they finally evil? (1)

gentlemen_loser (817960) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928783)

As it stands now, Google bought a company with a couple of products, built one of the products up and turned it into a free service with a huge following while not spending a lot of resources on the other product. The ignoring of the product was evil, the building up of google analytics was good, we come out with overall neutral.

So then, if I pat you on the head and kick your friend in the nuts, I am neutral and not evil, right? I am starting to get a little sick of Google getting a free pass. And to clear, free software (according to the FSF) means:

The word "free" in our name does not refer to price; it refers to freedom. First, the freedom to copy a program and redistribute it to your neighbors, so that they can use it as well as you. Second, the freedom to change a program, so that you can control it instead of it controlling you; for this, the source code must be made available to you.

Google's "free" software is not really free. Rather, it is merely another avenue by which to ram ads down the throat of the public. I am officially coining the term "Free as in Google".

ok (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927183)

I'm trying to work up the passion to be outraged here, but it's kind of hard to care. This kind of thing happens all the time.

Re:ok (1)

Fireye (415617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927275)

Most people shouldn't be outraged about it. Honestly, most people shouldn't even care.

If the people who purchased upgrade support from URCHIN want to take them to court, they'd have a decent case.
If the people who purchased it after Google acquired it want a new version, your only decent recourse is to bitch and moan. And guess what? Google isn't listening. And neither should anyone else.

However, Google should release security fixes for the existing product.

Re:ok (2, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927701)

I'm trying to work up the passion to be outraged here, but it's kind of hard to care. This kind of thing happens all the time.
Just pretend it's Microsoft instead of Google.

What did you expect (2, Insightful)

aggles (775392) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927377)

It is sad that Urchin (the product) is all but dead, but what did you expect? Google bought a Web analytics product to help sell ad-words. Its hosted version is free, has been much updated and is well worth the price you pay. Google is not deeply in the product business, except for their search engine appliance. It takes a huge infrastructure to compete with the leaders of Web analytics products and services, such as Omniture, WebTrends, Coremetrics, Visual Sciences and Unica. Its not in Google's business model to do this. What is really sad is that there are so few good web analytic products left. WebTrends, Unica (the old Sane NetTracker) and ClickTracks is about it. If you have been paying yearly support on the Urchin product to Google, you seriously need a lesson in dealing with software vendors. Oh wait - you just got one.

-aggles

How to Fix Google Analytics (3, Informative)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927395)

$ echo "127.0.0.1 googleanalytics.com" >> /etc/hosts
$ echo "127.0.0.1 www.googleanalytics.com" >> /etc/hosts


Does the trick every time .....

Re:How to Fix Google Analytics (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20928373)

I actually have a vhost for both those on a webserver, and point my hosts at that:

                Servername www.google-analytics.com
                ServerAlias google-analytics.com
                DocumentRoot "/home/apache/htdocs/googleanal/"

and then have urchin.js which contains:

function urchinTracker()
{
                return;
}

This makes the web browser a lot happier.

Urchin was so-so, but it was ours. (1)

gentleolas (609359) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927495)

The data center I was at paid $1500 for Urchin expecting upgrades. Given the log-file crawling of the stand-alone Urchin vs. Javascript embedding of Analytics, Urchin seemed more reliable in the numbers. Google Analytics has much better reporting, however. But why do both still use RegEx for filtering IP addresses? Can't they write a simpler interface for that common task?

This always happens (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927509)

We have a 3rd Party App we use with our in house developed apps. The 3rd Party app was based in the Europe then bought by a company in Texas. We had a a very expensive support agreement in place with this company and the new larger company was not honoring it.

They proceeded to do some business posturing attempting to sell us into more of their products with the carrot of gaining access to their enhanced support. They were going up against an even bigger company (us) and it wasn't until our lawyers put the fear of god into them until they started honoring their support agreement. Sometimes I don't mind working for a Mega Corp.

Gone wrong? (1, Insightful)

hhlost (757118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927589)

Saying that the acquisition went "terribly wrong" assumes that Google's true intention was to continue with support and updates as they supposedly said. Just like saying that the Bush Administration failed in Iraq assumes that the true intention was to bring peace, stability and democracy to that country.

Who doesn't block them with NoScript? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927649)

I don't know about everyone else but I specifically block these scripts with NoScript. Who needs them? Certainly not the users.

Not a new story (4, Insightful)

maggard (5579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927651)

Anyone remember Dodgeball.com [dodgeball.com] ? Google bought 'em when they were hot, everyone expected great things, check out their founder's resignation letter [flickr.com] .

Google is competitive, outside and inside. If a product doesn't have a strong voice, strong support, it'll get starved. There are lots of examples of this, where Google (or Yahoo or any other company) buys a smaller company and it's products just kinda evaporate.

Sometimes it is truly a mismatch in cultures. Other times the folks coming in get sucked into 'more interesting' projects and their original ones languish. Once in a while the goal of buying the company was to shut it down, or at least to deny it's benefits to a competitor.

Whatever the case whenever a buyout happens smart folks immediately put together transition plans, if only contingency ones.

In my career I've had CA buy and rape/pillage/burn (not always in that order!) any number of products we've depended upon. Yahoo! also has a record of ingesting, partially digesting, then eventually burping up a barely recognizable (and rarely for the better) version of the original service. Same for Amazon - anyone else recall Firefly, PlanetAll, A9 with street-views, etc.?

Urchin is just one more example of why committing to a product or service that isn't it's owner's primary interest is a risky gamble. Never assume the status quo; companies & priorities change and that's how inattentive customers get caught out.

Umm, is it just me, or.... (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927877)

... is the whole acquisition thing a complete mystery. I mean, today we hear about google buying Yet Another Social Networking Site 'Jaiku', what is innovative about that product ? Will anyone be surprised in 18 months when there is no more Jaiku.

What I don't understand is why Google buys any of these shitty companies and their lame products, except perhaps as a public service so that us normal people don't have to even bother with knowing about them at all.

Re:Umm, is it just me, or.... (1)

Fireye (415617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20927995)

Google acquired Urchin for a definite purpose. They saw the Urchin 6 On Demand service, and realized that it could have a large impact on how they target ads. They purchased Urchin, and converted Urchin 6 On Demand into Google Analytics.

Urchin 6 (standalone) was supposedly nearly finished. There are reviews of it out there on the web, along with screenshots. So in a sense, THAT individual product has disappeared, but it's legacy lives on in Google Analytics.

Sadly, I can't use Google Analytics, since our privacy policy restricts the use of cookies.

Re:Umm, is it just me, or.... (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928065)

My point is... what exactly was novel about Urchin. From what I could tell it was a log file scraper. Never seen one of those before ! -- ducks --

For a serious comment... (0, Offtopic)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928001)

On page 15 of my copy read in "CHINDIA: How China and India Are Revolutionizing Global Business", I read that one:

"Google principal scientist Krishna Bharat is settin up a Bangalore lab complete with colorful furniture, exercise balls, and a Yamaha organ -- like Google's Mountain View (Calif.) headquarters -- to work on core search-engine technology."

Maybe write him directly and ask him to supply some of those $10,000 a year developers, unless, that is, they've been re-tasked...

But, the book will set you back (see it as an investment of) $18.95, is 384 pages, and is worth it. It's by Newsweek, and mainly is a narrative compendium of many articles that give hints about what MAY be coming. It's not alarmist, but it IS illuminating and sobering for a LOT of people.

However, I'm tired of the bellyachers who forgot some/many of these prognostications/predictions in Weekly Reader from as far back in 1974. I'm not shocked. I HAVE been hurt (due to poor/non-existent savings) by the downturn, and spent years trying to recover, and earn only about 70% of what I did in 2001, but, I'm not shocked. The REAL problem is too many in the US aren't preparing.

Google drowning Urchin is just Google doing business. But, it might be nice if they return some bodies to the project/software, or release it to Open Source/Community developers, and then sponsor it. Ah, but then that might conflict with their existing plans. Well, Google should spin it off and sponsor or invest in Urchin.

Security issue with Urchin!! (3, Insightful)

naasking (94116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928095)

For those companies that use Urchin, note that there is a potential security vulnerability that I came across on a copmany's ordering page just a few days ago. The company, who shall remain nameless, has since taken my suggestion and closed the security hole, but I don't know how many more ordering screens use Urchin in the same way.

The problem is thus:

1. The ordering screen where you enter your VISA card number is loaded over https
2. The ordering screen includes the urchin.js [google-analytics.com] script file, but this file is loaded over unsecured http
3. This means that urchin.js could be replaced in transit with another script which could steal your personal info by, for instance, changing the form you are submitting to point to another server.

In this case, the Firefox "lock" icon displays an error: "Warning: Contains unauthenticated content". Unfortunately, this is very easy to miss. I only spotted it because I use the Petname Toolbar [mozilla.org] , which prevents phishing and spoofing. The toolbar would not let me set a petname for this site, because the unsecured content could literally change anything on the page, so it wasn't safe. If you don't already have the Petname Toolbar installed, I highly recommend that you install it.

Urchin could close this hole if they allowed urchin.js to be loaded over https, but the file isn't available over a secured link. To anyone using urchin.js, make sure you don't include that file on your secured pages.

What's even more disheartening, is that this site was verified as "hacker safe" by ScanAlert [scanalert.com] ; missing such an obvious hole really decreases my confidence in their testing methods.

Re:Security issue with Urchin!! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20928667)

Isn't it available via https://ssl.google-analytics.com/urchin.js [google-analytics.com]

Standard Fare (2, Informative)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928169)

The same thing happened to dodgeball [flickr.com] when they were bought. Google buys companies for the people, not the product.

Support from Google? Are you joking? (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20928435)

I have dealt with them before. I couldn't get my adSense served and so I filled out the contact form. The only reply I got was from an automated email program. Nobody answered the support line. No where to buy a support contract. I got hold of some indirect friend working inside Google and he said he couldn't help me find a support person either.

It is the worst support I have ever seen.... but that's why google is so successful... they have so many users; they don't need to worry about YOU anymore.

Ah, the famous google analytics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20928487)

I recently remarked something strange. A lot of site where making request to www.google-analytics.com. I discovered that, because, often, there was a sufficient delay for Firefox to display that in it's status bar.
So I took the step of adding the line: 127.0.0.1 www.google-analytics.com in /etc/hosts.
Not for performance reason, but I'm more and more uneasy with Google data collection... And adding DoubleClick to the mix...
But then, I have discovered that some sites no longer work, most notably depositfiles.com.
Comment the line in hosts, it works. Uncomment, it doesn't.
Is google complicit of this, I don't know. But having a company knowing so much about you, even when you don't use knowingly their service is extremely troubling.
Do no evil is a great catch phrase. Perhaps the first evil is lying about doing no evil...
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