16-year-old Maryland teen creates Good50 search engine for older web users

16-year-old Sunmee Huh

I hate to say it, but that “Model Minority” stereotype is based on reality sometimes. Some young Asian Americans are just darned smart, hard-working good students. Take Sunmee Huh, a 16-year-old Maryland teenager, for instance. Last year, she noticed her grandfather struggling to use a search engine, and had she an idea. She decided to build her own search engine, designed for older, tired eyes, so her grandfather could search the Web for information easily, without straining to read the text or messing with his browser to make the type larger.

She started with the most popular search engine, Google, and used its backend programming to drive her version. She then enlisted the graphic arts help of her younger (!) sister Dahlia to make everything look nice, called the search engine Good50.

16-year-old Sunmee Huh created the Good50 search engine for her grandfather.In the process she made it super easy to change font size as well as background color (the black background, she explains in Good50’s About Us page, is a “high contrast” version to help people with poor vision that also happens to use less energy to display, so it’s a “green” option).

“Designed with the public’s health in mind, Good50 has pre-set the search box to a larger size and gives the option to adjust to a larger font in the search results,” the About Us page explains. “These features of Good50 will reduce eye strain and help to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Some possible symptoms of CVS include headaches, dry and/or red eyes, fatigue, double vision, and neck or back pain.”

Although she’s reaching out for publicity top spread the word about Good50, Sunmee isn’t in it for the money. She has Google ads on the search engine but refused to add the “sponsored links” that are often at the top of Google search results, figuring those ads are just confusing for Internet newbies — and her grandfather.

And, she also pledged to donate at least 5 cents for every 50 visits to the search engine, from the Google advertising revenue she collects. In April, she made her first donation: $50 to the Red Cross for Haiti relief. In May, she sent a $100 donation to Meals on Wheels. Continue reading

AOL still has its place

When I wrote last week about the death of AOL, I may have been premature. Maybe it’s just the start of a new chapter in AOL‘s lifespan.

Take this Washington Post story today, for proof. AOL last week screwed up and released private information about its users and how they use the company’s search engine.

Significantly, the top search term entered by AOL users is “Google.” Continue reading

AOL is dead, long live AOL

Truly, it’s the end of an era.

My first online job, way back in 1996, was as Content Editor of AOL’s Digital City Denver. It was a great time to be working on the Internet — there was a palpable sense of excitement. Everything was new, and everything was possible.

Never mind that AOL wasn’t exactly the “Internet” (many ‘Net folks pooh-poohed AOL even then), we were all missonaries preaching the online faith. Like the other handful of online companies at the time, we spent more than half of our long days meeting with potential partners, advertisers and content providers, as well as anyone who would spend the time to listen, to tell them about the Internet and how it would change their lives. Continue reading

iPods — the New Barbie

When Barbie was “born” into the Mattel family of toys in 1959, she wasn’t just a doll. She was the epicenter of a retail revolution.

When parents bought their baby-boomer girls a Barbie, they were agreeing to an unspoken but implicit contract with the toy store to return time and again and buy stuff – lots more stuff – for Barbie.

That’s how Mattel envisioned her. A kid wouldn’t be happy with just the Barbie and some clothes like any earlier doll would offer. Nope, Mattel created an entire fantasy world, with price tags attached to every damned thing in that world, from friends like Midge and sister Skipper, and of course, the sexless boyfriend Ken (whose irony-drenched advertising slogan was “Ken…. He’s a Doll!”) to Barbie houses, Barbie Sports cars, carrying cases, closets, apartments with Barbie-sized furniture, picnic sets and even a tiny Barbie Doll for Barbie to own! Continue reading