How to opt out of Google and protect your privacy: Move to remote village

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

google remote village

may be the top search engine in the world, and it may collect a lot of data about you if you use its email, chat, photo, or video services. Heck, even if you’ve avoided every Google product, Google probably still knows a few things about you if you’ve ever done anything that might have possibly left a trail on the web.

But America’s finest news source, The Onion, lets us know that Google has a new service that lets you opt out. All you have to do is click the opt-out button and a van will show up at your door and relocate you to a remote 22 acre village where you’ll be expected to sever all contact with the outside world. Your home will be destroyed to protect your privacy.

You can check out The Onion’s satirical video after the break. Sure, it’s all a joke. But you know what? It does highlight just how difficult it is to stay off the grid in the age of the internet.

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20 Great Google Secrets

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet Market, SEO | Tags: , , |

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1306756,00.asp

excl.gif No Active Links, Read the Rules – Edit by Ninja excl.gif

Google is clearly the best general-purpose search engine on the Web (see

http://www.pcmag.com/searchengines

But most people don’t use it to its best advantage. Do you just plug in a keyword or two and hope for the best? That may be the quickest way to search, but with more than 3 billion pages in Google’s index, it’s still a struggle to pare results to a manageable number.

But Google is an remarkably powerful tool that can ease and enhance your Internet exploration. Google’s search options go beyond simple keywords, the Web, and even its own programmers. Let’s look at some of Google’s lesser-known options.

Syntax Search Tricks

Using a special syntax is a way to tell Google that you want to restrict your searches to certain elements or characteristics of Web pages. Google has a fairly complete list of its syntax elements at

http://www.google.com/help/operators.html

. Here are some advanced operators that can help narrow down your search results.

Intitle: at the beginning of a query word or phrase (intitle:”Three Blind Mice”) restricts your search results to just the titles of Web pages.

Intext: does the opposite of intitle:, searching only the body text, ignoring titles, links, and so forth. Intext: is perfect when what you’re searching for might commonly appear in URLs. If you’re looking for the term HTML, for example, and you don’t want to get results such as

http://www.mysite.com/index.html

, you can enter intext:html.

Link: lets you see which pages are linking to your Web page or to another page you’re interested in. For example, try typing in

link:http://www.pcmag.com

Try using site: (which restricts results to top-level domains) with intitle: to find certain types of pages. For example, get scholarly pages about Mark Twain by searching for intitle:”Mark Twain”site:edu. Experiment with mixing various elements; you’ll develop several strategies for finding the stuff you want more effectively. The site: command is very helpful as an alternative to the mediocre search engines built into many sites.

Swiss Army Google

Google has a number of services that can help you accomplish tasks you may never have thought to use Google for. For example, the new calculator feature

(www.google.com/help/features.html#calculator)

lets you do both math and a variety of conversions from the search box. For extra fun, try the query “Answer to life the universe and everything.”

Let Google help you figure out whether you’ve got the right spelling—and the right word—for your search. Enter a misspelled word or phrase into the query box (try “thre blund mise”) and Google may suggest a proper spelling. This doesn’t always succeed; it works best when the word you’re searching for can be found in a dictionary. Once you search for a properly spelled word, look at the results page, which repeats your query. (If you’re searching for “three blind mice,” underneath the search window will appear a statement such as Searched the web for “three blind mice.”) You’ll discover that you can click on each word in your search phrase and get a definition from a dictionary.

Suppose you want to contact someone and don’t have his phone number handy. Google can help you with that, too. Just enter a name, city, and state. (The city is optional, but you must enter a state.) If a phone number matches the listing, you’ll see it at the top of the search results along with a map link to the address. If you’d rather restrict your results, use rphonebook: for residential listings or bphonebook: for business listings. If you’d rather use a search form for business phone listings, try Yellow Search

(www.buzztoolbox.com/google/yellowsearch.shtml).

Extended Googling

Google offers several services that give you a head start in focusing your search. Google Groups

(http://groups.google.com)

indexes literally millions of messages from decades of discussion on Usenet. Google even helps you with your shopping via two tools: Froogle
CODE
(http://froogle.google.com),

which indexes products from online stores, and Google Catalogs
CODE
(http://catalogs.google.com),

which features products from more 6,000 paper catalogs in a searchable index. And this only scratches the surface. You can get a complete list of Google’s tools and services at

http://www.google.com/options/index.html

You’re probably used to using Google in your browser. But have you ever thought of using Google outside your browser?

Google Alert

(www.googlealert.com)

monitors your search terms and e-mails you information about new additions to Google’s Web index. (Google Alert is not affiliated with Google; it uses Google’s Web services API to perform its searches.) If you’re more interested in news stories than general Web content, check out the beta version of Google News Alerts

(www.google.com/newsalerts).

This service (which is affiliated with Google) will monitor up to 50 news queries per e-mail address and send you information about news stories that match your query. (Hint: Use the intitle: and source: syntax elements with Google News to limit the number of alerts you get.)

Google on the telephone? Yup. This service is brought to you by the folks at Google Labs

(http://labs.google.com),

a place for experimental Google ideas and features (which may come and go, so what’s there at this writing might not be there when you decide to check it out). With Google Voice Search

(http://labs1.google.com/gvs.html),

you dial the Voice Search phone number, speak your keywords, and then click on the indicated link. Every time you say a new search term, the results page will refresh with your new query (you must have JavaScript enabled for this to work). Remember, this service is still in an experimental phase, so don’t expect 100 percent success.

In 2002, Google released the Google API (application programming interface), a way for programmers to access Google’s search engine results without violating the Google Terms of Service. A lot of people have created useful (and occasionally not-so-useful but interesting) applications not available from Google itself, such as Google Alert. For many applications, you’ll need an API key, which is available free from
CODE
http://www.google.com/apis

. See the figures for two more examples, and visit

http://www.pcmag.com/solutions

for more.

Thanks to its many different search properties, Google goes far beyond a regular search engine. Give the tricks in this article a try. You’ll be amazed at how many different ways Google can improve your Internet searching.

Online Extra: More Google Tips

Here are a few more clever ways to tweak your Google searches.

Search Within a Timeframe

Daterange: (start date–end date). You can restrict your searches to pages that were indexed within a certain time period. Daterange: searches by when Google indexed a page, not when the page itself was created. This operator can help you ensure that results will have fresh content (by using recent dates), or you can use it to avoid a topic’s current-news blizzard and concentrate only on older results. Daterange: is actually more useful if you go elsewhere to take advantage of it, because daterange: requires Julian dates, not standard Gregorian dates. You can find converters on the Web (such as

CODE
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/JulianDate.html

excl.gif No Active Links, Read the Rules – Edit by Ninja excl.gif

), but an easier way is to do a Google daterange: search by filling in a form at

http://www.researchbuzz.com/toolbox/goofresh.shtml or http://www.faganfinder.com/engines/google.shtml

. If one special syntax element is good, two must be better, right? Sometimes. Though some operators can’t be mixed (you can’t use the link: operator with anything else) many can be, quickly narrowing your results to a less overwhelming number.

More Google API Applications

Staggernation.com offers three tools based on the Google API. The Google API Web Search by Host (GAWSH) lists the Web hosts of the results for a given query

(www.staggernation.com/gawsh/).

When you click on the triangle next to each host, you get a list of results for that host. The Google API Relation Browsing Outliner (GARBO) is a little more complicated: You enter a URL and choose whether you want pages that related to the URL or linked to the URL

(www.staggernation.com/garbo/).

Click on the triangle next to an URL to get a list of pages linked or related to that particular URL. CapeMail is an e-mail search application that allows you to send an e-mail to google@capeclear.com with the text of your query in the subject line and get the first ten results for that query back. Maybe it’s not something you’d do every day, but if your cell phone does e-mail and doesn’t do Web browsing, this is a very handy address to know.

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Google unveils Caffeine: Next-generation search tech

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

google-caffeine

Google is turning to the public (or rather, web developers) for help testing its next-generation search infrastructure, code-named “Caffeine.” The changes have to do with the way Google crawls the web and indexes content, so you shouldn’t notice any changes int he search engine interface.

In order to try out the new version, visit www2.sandbox.google.com, and start searching. You can share feedback with Google by hitting the “Dissatisfied? Help us improve” box at the bottom of the page and sending a message with the word “caffeine” in it.

Overall, the search results look pretty similar, but there are a few minor changes. Some items may be ordered a little differently, while the text descriptions of some pages look different.

If you aren’t particularly interested in testing the new technology to help Google out, here’s another reason to give it a try: As far as I can tell, there are no ads on the Caffeine interface. I’ve conducted a few dozen searches, and so far I haven’t seen a single sponsored result. Of course, that’ll change by the time the new code is integrated into Google’s main product. But it’s nice while it lasts.

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Which Search Engine Do You Choose In The Blind Test?

Posted on August 9, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet Market, Microsoft, Yahoo | Tags: , , , , |

By Michael Arrington, Tech crunch

blind search engine

 you tried out this blind search tool yet? It provides results from Google, Yahoo and Bing in three columns but doesn’t tell you which column is which search engine. You then tell it which one you think shows the best results, and you then see which answers are from which engines. I keep choosing Yahoo as the best results.

A few search engine experts we’ve spoken with over the years say that users tend to think Google results are better just because they’re from Google. If you take any search engine and put the logo on top, it tests better. So Yahoo results with a Google logo will always test better than, say, Google results with the Yahoo or Bing logo. People are just used to thinking about Google as the best search.

This search tool strips out all the branding, so you’re forced to really think about which results you like better. And early results showed a much more even distribution than Google’s 70% market share would suggest: Google: 44%, Bing: 33%, Yahoo: 23%.

The score keeping feature was removed when people found a way to game it, but you can still run the test against yourself and see which search engine you really like the best. Too bad the one I seem to like will shortly be mothballed.

The tool was created by Michael Kordahi, a Developer Evangelist at Microsoft.

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In The Pre-Chrome OS World, Google Optimizes Gmail For Netbooks

Posted on August 6, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

by MG Siegler, Tech crunch

Google is clearly enamored with the netbook space. We already know that it’s serving as an entry point for the new Chrome OS, but Google isn’t just going to sit around and wait for that, it’s starting to optimize its experience for netbooks already. labnolab

Tonight, Google has just released a small new feature in Gmail Labs so that users can optimize their email service for viewing on netbooks. It’s a small, but noteworthy setting as netbooks have become popular, yet most still run sites just as full-sized laptops would. Gmail’s engineers apparently had a problem with that, so they launched the new “Remove Labels from Subjects” feature.

Basically, this does exactly what it says, removes the labels that are normally in front of subject lines in Gmail. The idea is that this will save a lot of screen real estate, especially on netbooks.

While a lot has been said recently about the growing differences between Apple and Google, this attitude towards the netbook is as good of an example as any. While Apple has said time and time again that it isn’t interested in the netbook space (at least as it’s currently comprised), Google is clearly thinking about it a lot.

Google also notes that using its Chrome browser in full screen mode is a good solution for netbooks. That is, of course, until Chrome OS is released.

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Google Acquires Video Compression Technology Company On2 For $106 Million

Posted on August 5, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet, Tech News | Tags: , , |

Google and On2 Technologies jointly announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Google will acquire On2, a developer of video compression technology. The acquisition is expected to close later this year. On2 markets video compression technologies that power high-quality video in both desktop and mobile applications and devices and also holds a number of interesting patents.

on2Some of its codec designs are known as VP3, VP4, VP5, TrueMotion VP6, TrueMotion VP7 and VP8. Its customers include Adobe, Skype, Nokia, Infineon, Sun Microsystems, Mediatek, Sony, Brightcove, and Move Networks. On2, formerly known as The Duck Corporation, is headquartered in Clifton Park, NY.

Under the terms of the agreement, each outstanding share of On2 common stock will be converted into $0.60 worth of Google class A common stock in a stock-for-stock transaction. The transaction is valued at approximately $106.5 million.

According to the release, $0.60 per share represents a premium of approximately 57% over the closing price of On2’s common stock on the last trading day immediately prior to the announcement of the transaction, and a premium of approximately 62% over the average closing price of On2’s common stock for the six month period immediately prior to the announcement of the transaction.

Important to note is that On2 once had a market cap in excess of $1 billion at its peak, after going public on the American Stock Exchange in 1999 following a merger with Applied Capital Funding (which was already listed at the time). Before its entry on the public market, The Duck Corporation had raised $6.5M in venture capital funding from Edelson Technology Partners and Citigroup Ventures.

Back in 2001, On2 made waves by releasing their VP3 compression technology to the open-source community, including their patents on the technology. The technology lives on in the form of (Ogg) Theora. You can find more information about this here.

The agreement is subject to On2 stockholder approval, regulatory clearances and other closing conditions.

Google is reluctant to dive into specific regarding the product plans until after the deal closes, although it’s conceivably related to its immensely popular video service YouTube.

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Latest Google Chrome Beta Is “30 Percent Faster,” Supports HTML5, And Is Prettier Too

Posted on August 5, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet Market, Tech News | Tags: , , , |

by Erick Schonfeld, Tech crunch

Google just released a new beta version of its Chrome browser for Windows PCs. The company claims that it is 30 percent faster than the current stable version of the browser (based on V8 and SunSpider benchmarks).

googlechromelogoWhat may be more significant, though, is that this is the first version of Chrome that adds some support for HTML5, including video-tagging capabilities. The latest Firefox 3.5 beta also adopts HTML5, which allows for all sorts of cool things inside Web video like links and other interactive elements. It lets you treat video more like a Webpage. Along with Google’s acquisition of On2 today for its video codec, it looks like Google is getting behind open video in a big way. (Read this post from last year for more on the evolution of HTML).

The new Google Chrome beta is also prettier. Those themes we’ve been telling you about are now fully incorporated. And the new beta also improves the New Tab and Omnibox features.

When you create a new tab, Chrome shows you thumbnails of the sites you visits the most often (just like in Safari). These act as automatic bookmarks. Now, you can rearrange the thumbnails in any order you like by dragging and dropping them, or you can pin one down so that it doesn’t move even if you don’t visist it as much as other sites.

The Omnibox is Chrome’s all-in-one address and search bar. As you type words in, it gives you drop-down suggestions, which now have icons distinguishing between search results, bookmarks, and Websites.

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Google’s got a new Chrome beta

Posted on March 18, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet, Windows | Tags: , , |

By Lee Mathews, Downloadsquad

On the official Google Chrome blog a few hours ago, Google announced the release of a new beta version that falls somewhere in between the stable and developer branches.

Apart from the speed improvements in Google’s V8 javascript engine, several new features have been added. In addition to the drag-to-split side-by-side browsing feature demoed in the clip above, the new Webkit core includes autoscrolling, full page zoom, and form filling.

If you’re trying to get your hands on it, you may need to be patient. A number of Twitterers are having the same problem I encountered: The downloader application looks like it’s working, but the actual setup process never begins. The announcement only came a few hours ago and Chrome devotees are likely hammering the download servers, which may be partly responsible.

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Dell Adamo arrives tomorrow? Google seems to think so

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: Google, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Paul Miller, Engadget

adamo-google

Thanks to a fortuitous search on Google Ireland, friendly tipster Niall spotted this rather intriguing sponsored link for Dell Adamo. Instead of the vague “Learn More” promised by similar sponsored links in the States, the ad on Google Ireland says that we can “Discover the Love Story on 17/3.” Dell has been pretty mum on a release date — most details, in fact — for this laptop, so it’d be quite the pleasant surprise to be staring at an order page for the thing as of tomorrow. Of course, the sponsored link goes to the same old splash page for Adamo we’ve got, so we’ll probably have to wait until tomorrow to find out what this really means — maybe Dell’s planning on teasing us another few months with vague statements and flashy imagery; wouldn’t that be thrilling?

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Jaiku micro-blogging client goes open source

Posted on March 15, 2009. Filed under: Google, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

jaiku

Google has released the source code for micro-blogging service Jaiku. The company announced earlier this year that it would cease development of Jaiku. But instead of shutting Jaiku down altogether, Google has moved the project so that it now runs on Google App Engine.

Meanwhile, now that JaikuEngine is avialable to the public, anyone can set up their own version of Jaiku. And developers can help contribute to the project. It should be interesting to see how the project fares. While Twitter certainly dominates the micro-blogging space, it’s possible that the new open source nature of Jaiku will make it attractive to open source enthusiasts. There’s also the possibility that by making the project open source, developers will contribute new and exciting features more quickly — but only if a strong developer community grows around JaikuEngine.

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Google Reader adds comments, risks wrath of web publishers

Posted on March 13, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

google-reader-comments

Google Reader has added a new feature that makes reading RSS feeds a more social experience: You can leave comments on other users’ shared items. In other words, if your friend clicks the share button next to a blog post or news item in Google Reader, it will show up in your Friends’ shared items section along with any comment they’ve left. Now you can also comment on their comment. If multiple friends have shared the same item, you’ll see multiple conversations.

All told, the feature looks and feels a lot like FriendFeed. But there’s one major difference: Google Reader displays the full text of any articles that make their full length items available via RSS. So if your’e someone who only clicks through to articles you’ve read in your RSS reader to see what comments other people have left, this new feature could keep you from ever clicking through to the original web site. And that might be fine for you, the reader. But web publishers who rely on advertising might not be nearly as happy about this development.

Right now Google doesn’t import comments from blogs, so there’s still original content on the original web site. But there’s also currently no way for blogs or other web sites to import comments from Google Reader, as they can from FriendFeed. That may change in the future.

What do you think? Are you likely to use the new commenting system? Would you rather use FriendFeed? Or do you just visit web sites when you want to read and participate in the comments?

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Google relaunches GrandCentral as Google Voice

Posted on March 13, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

google-voice

Nearly two years after acquiring “one telephone for life” service GrandCentral, Google is finally preparing to relaunch the service with new features. GrandCentral has been in private beta for the last two years. Over the next few days Google will be prompting existing beta users to upgrade to Google Voice before rolling out the service to new users in a few weeks.

GrandCentral lets you set up a single phone number that you can give out to anyone. When they call that number, it will ring any phone number you’ve linked to the account. So you can print a single number on your business card, and people will be able to reach you on your home, work, and cellphones. The service also lets you record phone calls, screen calls, create rules for calls coming from specific numbers, and receive email notifications of voicemail messages.

Google Voice has all those features, plus a few new ones, like the ability to make free calls to US numbers and cheap calls to other numbers, make conference calls, and send, receive, store, and search SMS messages.

You’ll also get transcripts of all your voicemail messages. That alone is pretty cool. Google will use an automated method to convert speech to text – a service other companies are charging for. Why? My guess is because Google wants to monetize GrandCentral the same way it has Gmail: With contextually relevant ads that will show up in your sidebar. And in order to determine what ads are relevant, Google needs to translate speech to text.

The company admits that the automated transcripts won’t be perfect. But the company has been fine tuning its speech recognition software for the last year or two with the Goog-411 service.

You can find a more complete list of Google Voice features at the Google Voice homepage.

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Google Also Likes To Use FriendFeed For R&D; Reader Gets Conversations

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Techcrunch

google-readergooglereaderlogoIt looks like Facebook isn’t the only site to draw inspiration from FriendFeed. Google Reader has just launched a new feature that gives users the ability to comment on items that have been shared by their friends, allowing them to hold conversations focusing on each individual story. In other words, it does almost exactly the same thing as FriendFeed (at least for stories shared through Google Reader).

There are a few key distinctions. For one, conversations in Google Reader are only be visible to friends of the user who originally shared a story (FriendFeed allows comments to be displayed to the public with input from users who aren’t your friends). But Google’s blog post notes that it has more for its new comment system on the way, and it wouldn’t be surprising if public sharing is on the roadmap.

Also important to note is that there’s apparently no way to export the conversations that are held on Google Reader. While this is likely because of the private nature of the conversations, it can’t be welcome news to services like FriendFeed, which thrive on being able to import activity from other sites.

We’ve heard that Google has been toying with this idea since at least 2007, when we noted why some blog owners may well be opposed to it. For those blogs that send out full feeds (rather than summaries or the first paragraph of their posts), this new feature could potentially move the conversation away from the blog and onto Google Reader.

googreadshot

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Google Now Lets You Target Ads At Yourself

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Google Adwords, Internet Market | Tags: , , |

By Erick Schonfeld, Techcrunch.com

google-ad-preferencesGoogle is wading into behavioral ad targeting in a big way today. It will start placing cookies on consumer’s browsers to collect information about their interests whenever they visit sites that show AdSense contextual ads. Then it will show ads targeted to those interests to the same person as he or she browses the Web on other sites that also serve AdSense ads (which is a large portion of all commercial sites).

Since Google already knows what each site or page is about, it will use this information to place each user in one of 600 subcategories of interest. If you visit tech blogs often, you are probably interested in technology. If you visit Trulia, you are probably in the market for real estate. Through AdSense, Google can now target ads not only based on the context of the page you are on, but also based on the context of the pages you have visited in the past, even if you are on a site that is completely unrelated. For instance, as a completely hypothetical example, it might show you a real estate ad targeted to the towns you were searching on Trulia when you visit a gadget blog.

Not only will Google now target ads at you based on your interest, but it will also let you target yourself. Anyone can go to Google’s Ad Preferences Manager and see exactly how Google is categorizing their interests. (Most people will probably see nothing right now, since this program is only being rolled out on a test basis and will gradually expand). Now, here’s the really smart part: Google lets you add or remove any interest. In effect, it is inviting you to declare what kind of ads you wan to see. You can also opt out of the program completely.

While most people will probably never bother to tweak their ad preferences or even be aware that they can, this represents an important new precedent in online advertising. Why should the ad networks be the only ones who can determine how to target ads at consumers? Why not let the consumers self-target if they care to do so?

Google knows that its interest-based targeting algorithms need a lot of work. Even if it can get just a small percentage of people to correct the algorithm, that data theoretically could be applied to other people with similar browsing patterns. Google gets to say that it is giving users more privacy and control, while collecting really valuable data that will help make its targeting more effective. In the online ad game, whoever can target the best can charge the most.

goog-add-interest

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Google to Make Its Own Netbook?

Posted on March 10, 2009. Filed under: Google, Notebook | Tags: , , |

By Chris, Mobilewhack.com

google-netbook

What better way to start the week than with rumors about netbooks? Besides an Apple netbook which is said to be in the works, a Google netbook is also rumored.

And it’s all in the words of Google’s CEO Erick Schmidt:

What’s particularly interesting about netbooks is the price point. Eventually, it will make sense for operators and so forth to subsidize the use of netbooks so they can make services revenue and advertising revenue on the consumption. That’s another new model that’s coming.

Are we going to see an Android-based Google netbook soon? Is Google planning to make some extra money off the netbook business? What would you choose between an Apple or a Google netbook?

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Google stumbles again, accidentally shares docs

Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: Google, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Lee Mathews, Downloadsquad.com

strbwet

Google has confirmed that a TechCrunch tipster was telling the truth: an error indeed caused some users’ text documents and presentations to be unintentionally shared with others.

According to Google’s statement, the glitch affected “less than .05% of documents” and only shared files to people with whom a user (or one of their collaborators) had previously shared another document.

Somehow, that’s not very comforting.

Regardless of the number of users affected or how isolated an incident this was, it raises some serious concerns. Even if none of your documents were involved, they could have been. Accidentally violating privacy and exposing data (whether it’s confidential or not) is a massive problem, and one that just shouldn’t happen. Period.

None of my Google Docs contain any sensitive details. They don’t contain any useful information about anything, for that matter. That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about who sees them and who doesn’t. They’re my documents, and I certainly don’t want collaborators being accidentally given permission to access them.

For a while I’ve been pondering finally moving my documents from my desktop to my Google Docs, but that’s a move that I’ll be putting on hold for the time being.

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Google’s Tip Jar Uses Crowdsourcing for Save Money

Posted on March 6, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , |

By Leena Rao, Techcrunch.com

tipjarGoogle is using its Moderator product to help people share ideas on how to save money in recessionary times. Moderator is a tool that helps groups determine which questions should be asked at all-hands meetings, conferences, and online Q&A sessions, among other scenarios. Google has set up a site called Tip Jar, which is powered by Moderator, to gathers money-saving tips in one place and allow visitors to vote and rank them in order of usefulness. The most popular tips will rise to the top of the list. And users can submit tips to the lists as well.

Google’s Tip Jar breaks down tips by categories, which include finance, shopping, food, vacation, family and others. A sample of some of the more popular tips include:
• “Go to the grocery store with your belly full. You won’t buy too many things because you just ain’t hungry.”
• “Utilize online bill pay with your bank. It keeps you in much closer contact with your money, as you can keep a very close eye on your balance and be in much less danger of overdrafting. It saves you money on stamps and paper checks.”
• “Buy a flask and carry your coffee/tea to work with you. Coffee and tea only costs pennies to make yourself, but costs $1 or more elsewhere.”
• “Eat out one fewer time each month. If it costs you $25 to eat out, but only $5 to eat in, then the $20 you save each month allows you to almost completely fund a $500 emergency savings account.”

Although Google designed the site to provide tips about saving money, there are many users who are making suggestions on other subjects, such as how to be more environmentally-friendly in everyday tasks. Those tips could easily be an entire separate site, so there is definite potential to create Tip Jars for popular and trendy topics.

Tip Jar is a good example of the power of Moderator. Google Moderator is a fairly useful tool to engage a crowd, whether it be within an organization or across the entire web. Google Moderator even caught the eye of the Obama Administration, which recently used Moderator to power part of its Open Government initiative on Change.gov. Moderator was built by Google Platform Engineer Taliver Heath as a side project on top of Google’s App Engine.

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Google Calendar adds Gears support, now available offline

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Google, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Lee Mathews – Downloadsquad.com

gcal

In late January, Google began offering Gears support for your GMail account and now Google Calendar has received offline superpowers as well. Right now the feature is really only handy for getting a look at what’s on your schedule: it’s read-only, so you can’t edit or add events for synchronization later. Since GMail already provides a more complete set of offline features, hopefully we’ll see increased functionality in Calendar in the near future.

If you’re not using a desktop calendar application with CalDav to do this already, it’s a nice reassurance to know that your Calendar data is accessible right in your browser even if you’re temporarily without an internet connection.

If you haven’t installed the Gears plugin for your browser yet, you’ll need to do that, of course. Get it from Google, then flip the switch on your Calendar. Alex at Google OS noted an error message regarding events beyond June 4, 2009, though my calendar imported without issues. Of course, the feature – and Google Calendar itself, for that matter – is still in beta, so bugfixes and enhancements are no doubt already in the works.

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Google quietly launches Google Tasks

Posted on March 4, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , , |

By Brad Linder

google-tasks

Update: Well that didn’t take long. Apparently Google really hadn’t meant to unleash this service on the public just yet, because the URL no longer works.

Google has, without any fanfare, apparently launched an online task manager application cleverly called Google Tasks. This appears to be a more fleshed out version of the Gmail Tasks widget that showed up in Gmail Labs a few months ago. And the services are linked. If you create a task in one application, it will show up in the other. In fact, it’s possible that Google Tasks is little more than the backend for the Gmail Tasks widget, but it does offer a decent way to create and manage tasks from one location.

You can nest tasks within one another, and add notes to any task. You can also set due dates and check off tasks when they’re completed. Users can create, edit, and delete multiple task lists. But only the default list will be shared with your Gmail account.

Source: downloadsquad

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Vanno’s Watchdog Index Keeps Companies Honest With ReputationCheck

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Tech Job, Tech News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By Leena Rao

Microsoft

is ranked #492 out of 5811 companies.

Best Companies

1.  Cisco Systems

2.  Toyota

3.  Whole Foods

4.  Unilever

5.  Texas Instruments

Worst Companies

1.  Nintendo

2.  Carnival Corp.

3.  Syngenta

4.  Compass Group

5.  Pemex

Click here to see more >

Social evaluation platform Vanno launched a widget application of its real-time company reputation index called ReputationCheck. Vanno’s platform allows customers and others to share stories about their personal experiences with a particular company, submit news articles they’ve read about companies, fill out surveys and comment on companies. Vanno then quantifies this dialogue and information into an index using Bayesian algorithms (the same statistical methods used to filter spam and detect credit card fraud). The company’s index measures the reputation of more than 5,800 companies worldwide.

Vanno’s reputation index was recently brought into the public light when Vanno quantified the damage Kellogg’s brand sustained after the company pulled the plug on Michael Phelps’s sponsorship following the swimmer’s marijuana photo fiasco. Vanno’s data suggested that Kellogg’s reputation plummeted after its decision, falling even further on the index than when the company had to recall products after this year’s peanut butter salmonella scare.

ReputationCheck, the index’s embeddable widget, shows a company’s real-time reputation rank and compares the rank to the best and worst companies relative to customer and employee satisfaction, community involvement, the environment, patriotism and social responsibility. The widget can be used in a post or in the sidebar of a site. Considering all of the various inputs of the index, the ranking system cannot be deemed as 100 percent authoritative. But it certainly is a measure of the public’s perception of a company. (Contrast to Glassdoor, another reputation service from employees’ point of view). While the index widget could be useful to bloggers and writers to show one measure of a reputation of a company, its probably best not to rely upon ReputationCheck as the final arbiter of a company’s standing.

Here’s the index for Google, which ranks highly

Google

is ranked #28 out of 5811 companies.

Source: techcrunch

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Google blocks unlocked G1s from downloading for-pay applications

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: Google, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Nicholas Deleon

googlefightLooks like Google is now preventing anyone with an unlocked G1 from downloading for-pay applications from the Android Market. Google says this is to prevent piracy (but only in the most abstract sense, in my [worthless] opinion), but some developers don’t like the idea. Welcome to the Situation Room, I’m Wolf Blitzer.

Google just implemented this ban a few days ago. In the company’s world, it was done to prevent someone from using an unlocked phone from buying a for-pay application, returning it (Google allows full refund returns within 24 hours of downloading), then re-downloading it for free. This Minority Report scenario can happen because unlocked phones give the user access to all the phone’s directories, including the “special,” usually off-limits directory where for-pay applications are stored.

This is where Android developers enter the picture. Google lets the devs buy unlocked phones as part of their development kit. These developers, however, should they only own the unlocked phone, can now no longer purchase their own for-pay application from the Android Market! It’s insanity! One developer is so mad he’s starting to sound like that crazy CNBC guy from the other day, suggesting a “revolt” of some sort:

It would be the only way to show Google that this is NOT acceptable, and that devs are not second (third?) class citizens on the Market. I do not know about you, but I am beyond angry that I can not even see my own paid app on the Market with my 400 dollar dev phone!

Seems to me the easiest way to avoid upsetting the very developers who make Android Market hum is to eliminate the new rule preventing them from downloading for-pay apps. How many people are going to go through the trouble of buying an unlocked phone just so they can get free apps? And if these people exist, so be it; there can’t be that many of these “pirates” that it puts Google out of business.

Source: mobilecrunch

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Google adds user generated photos to Street View

Posted on February 28, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder

google-street-view-ugc

Google Street View lets you see photographs of city streets and their surroundings taken by Google cameras attached to vehicles that have been driving along major city streets in the US and other countries including Japan, Australia, and Spain. And now you can also find photos taken by amateur photographers as well. In this case, that’s a good thing, because the amateur photos are often higher quality and more interesting compositionally. That’s what happens when a human being snaps a photo instead of letting a computer to it.

Google is using geotagged photos contributed through Panoramio. The company also makes some of these photos available in other applications like Google Earth.

If you’re viewing a location in Street View that has user photos available, an icon will pop up in the upper right corner of your screen letting you know that user images are available. When you click, a series of photos that you can scroll through will pop up. Just click the button on the right, which should now be labeled Street View, to go back to the normal view.

Source: downloadsquad

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Google Enters the Twitter Game : Google + Twitter = Twoogling?

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Loren Baker

Google is now on Twitter. As insane as it may seem, it has taken Google years to start using their Google account, which is located at Twitter.com/Google.

google-twitter-caption

Google + Twitter = Twoogling?

Their first post, a Twoogle if you will, was a binary message (way to geek it up Google) :

“I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010”

Roughly translated to : I’m F E E L I N G L U C K Y

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a sign. No, it’s not a sign of a Google acquisition, although John Battelle did start off my morning with an excellent post on how Twitter is the new YouTube :

“So why did Google really buy YouTube? My answer, which of course looks brilliant given it’s 20/20 hindsight: YouTube was a massive search asset.

After all, YouTube now gets more searches than Yahoo, Google’s closest search rival.“

Battelle argues that Twitters main asset may not be its userbase or its buzz, but its “Real time. Converational Search”

So, does Google opening up it’s Twitter account with binary riddles spell the ultimate acquisition of Twitter by Google. Not really. Instead it more or less signifies that Google has accepted Twitter as a form of mass communication in the same way that Google was interested in Blogger and Blogging. Remember when the Official Google Blog was first launched in 2004? Before that, Google relied on Google Groups and various webmaster forums to communicate with its users, webmasters, publishers and other target audiences.

Now, Google has a blog for everything. The Official Google Webmaster Central Blog. The Official GMail Blog. Google LatLong. The Google Analytics Blog …etc. Noticing a trend here?

One problem with blogging however. Remember that GMail outage we had on Monday night? Where was the Official GMail Blog then?

Source: searchenginejournal

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Yahoo SearchMonkey Adds Facebook Profile Actions Into Search Results

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Yahoo | Tags: , , , |

By Erick Schonfeld

yhooo-fb-search

Yahoo just embedded some Facebook functionality directly into its search results via SearchMonkey. When you search for a person on Yahoo, if they have a public Facebook profile, a link to that profile will appear in results, along with a photo and several actions you can take. these include adding them as a friend, “poking” them, sending them a message, and viewing their friends.

You can see how it looks like in the image above, which shows results for Yahoo marketing VP Raj Gossain. The blue links under his name are the actions you can take. These are similar to the deep links SearchMonkey added to Yahoo Search for Wikipedia results.

The links save you at least one step. But I’ve also noticed that the Facebook profile is often far down the results page. I wonder if this will help to change that. By all rights, Facebook should be the default people search, whether on Facebook or on search engines like Yahoo and Google.

Source: techcrunch

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GMail improves multiple attachment handling

Posted on February 26, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet | Tags: , , |

By Lee Mathews

mult-attach-gmail

As Google continues to add more features to Gmail, I’ve been waiting patiently for one tweak to solve an issue that has always been particularly annoying.

In the past, if you wanted to add more than one file attachment to a message, you had to click and browse repeatedly. At long last, Google has made it possible for us to make multiple selections. Make your choices, click open, and watch the progress indicators go to work as your files upload.

If you change your mind and need to remove a file or two, simply un-tick the corresponding checkbox prior to sending your message. The new uploader is Flash-based, so you’ll need the plugin installed to make it work.

Source: downloadsquad

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