Archive for category Google

Spam From Spying

A while back, we told you about how Google was using its mapping street-vans to “accidentally” collect things like your passwords in their efforts to provide all the public information they can to people.  Recently, Steve Kovach has pointed out that they’re recording your browser history in order to spam you with adds while you’re online.  I’ve got to admit that I’ve noticed a serious uptick in the number of adds I come across from the sites I’ve visited more than once.

To me, though, the problem is more that once again you’re being tracked.  The fact that it’s merely to advertise sites you’re already looking at is merely insulting.  But they’re violating your privacy – once again – by tracking you in the first place.  Steve focuses on the companies themselves, and that’s worthwhile in itself, because blocking them from getting the information does reduce the problem.  But the heart of the issue is that, once again, you’re being spied on by people claiming to help you.  That makes it look like nothing’s ever going to change, and these people really do want to take over your brain.

Honestly, it makes me feel like everyone’s got their own personal stalker who’s creeping around the Internet.  Maybe that’s what Eric Schmidt was talking about with his creepy line, in which case, it’s definitely been crossed.  And all so they can remind you about something that you’ve already looked at.  There’s a little cynical thought inside me that’s wondering what this is really about.  It can’t just be about rerunning ads, because no one’s so forgetful that they need reminded that they’re interested in something.

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Fresh Start For Google?

So Eric Schmidt is out, and Google’s original  CEO Larry Page is back in charge.  Hopefully, this will mean an end to policies like the “creepy line” that Schmidt was lampooned for so many times last year.  Since Page was in no small part responsible for Google’s early success, it’s a hopeful sign that this change is going to take the company back to the kind of  direction that made everyone love it in the first place.

Of course, this could mean no difference in the long run, only time will tell what Mr. Page is going to do as the man calling the shots.  The company has the unofficial motto of “Don’t be evil”, though, so hopefully this change will take the company away from the invasive practices that they’ve been tending toward for the last year.  Personally, I think that this leadership change is, as Schmidt said in a recent update to the Official Google Blog, for the best.

So, as long as the company stops scaring us all with the possibility that it actually is trying to become the third half of our brains, that means we can expect things to go a lot smoother for everyone.  Everyone who’s trying to do honest business online may well be able to get things done more effectively in the near future.

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Happy New Year, Internet!

2010 has been an interesting year for the Internet.  Google’s made several bids at major expansions – more than one of which have already proven to be complete flubs.  Facebook has faced scandal over failures in its famous privacy policy (you know that’s why it beat out MySpace).  China has all but declared war on most of the top websites.  Yahoo! has staggered along amid mockery and diminishing popularity.

SEO has changed, too.  You still need to keep track of things like meta-tags and link building, but social media marketing and even video SEO have taken up a lot of the focus that used to go into how much you could get away with without being marked as spam.  Just 12 months ago, social media was the Next Big Thing that everyone was trying to figure out how to use effectively, and now its becoming a proven method of courting return visits from people and even first time stops from their friends.

There have been virus scares on a lot of important websites.  Someone even used one to attack Iran and a number of other countries en masse!  It’s safe to say (pun intended) that the Internet has revealed that it’s every bit as dangerous as the concrete jungle.

But things aren’t all bleak.  As I just said, social media is stabilizing as a way to market your company.  Smart phones are evolving to use satellite technology in addition to cell towers.  A guy made a real fortune selling virtual real estate.  Most of the times a major site has been caught in an embarrassing situation, it’s managed to take care of things and save face.  And the Internet has really proven how it’s become the front line in freely expressing yourself.

I don’t know whether the Internet’s come a long way or whether this has all been just a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it’s been quite a year.  I’m sure that you’re looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring to the online world as much as I am.

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Is It A Google World?

Google is very useful for a lot of things.  It’s earned its place as the leading search engine.  I personally use YouTube a lot to enjoy cool video clips.  But it’s worrisome to see Google trying to take over everything they can get their hands on.  Some months back, Eric Schmidt said that his company was trying to toe up to the “creepy line” with how much it does for you.  Well, it looks like they’re at it again, and as usual people don’t like it.

Google’s trying to break into TV, running it through the Internet.  In itself, that’s not necessarily all that bad – or even particularly original.  In the long term, it’s actually probably a good idea because of how streamline the technology is inevitably going to make life.  The problem is that, once again, Google’s trying to do everything.

The company’s gotten very good at making people nervous that it’s going to take over every aspect of their lives, even taking a bath!  Everybody’s heard about the Street Level program effectively spying on people even in their most private moments.  So, it’s perfectly understandable that we shouldn’t want the same company having a foothold in every part of our lives.

But now we’re supposed to be happy that they’re offering us our television programming online?  Something they need to consider is that, with all the things they’re trying to get a foothold in, it sure looks like Google is trying to build up some kind of a monopoly – something that’s proven to paint a bull’s-eye on any company for a long time now.

I’ve said many times that I like Google as a general rule.  But I really don’t like it that they’re trying to muscle in on so many parts of our lives.  It’s like they’re trying to achieve something out of a bad sci-fi story.  Is there a limit to where they’re going to spread, or is it a Google world after all?

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Google Has Met Its Match

How do you bring down a giant?  Get him to pick a fight with a bigger giant.  And that’s just what Google’s done.  They’re suing the U.S. government for awarding a contract to their competitors rather than them.

Now, the problem is this:  court cases involving two powerful opponents (or one powerful and one very stubborn) always get ugly.  It’s very possible that this will wind up breaking Google’s monopoly on a lot of things.  I think it’s even likely, because the whole question of the case turns on whether or not they have a right to demand a monopoly from the government.

Google’s been getting into a lot of trouble lately for being too much of a Big Brother element in our lives.  So, naturally, they’re now challenging the one institution that can equal them in terms of how much it’s poking it’s nose in people’s lives.  The difference is that Google doesn’t run the courts, the government – the one they’re challenging – does.  A fair fight?  Probably not.  One that Google started?  Definitely.

All in all, I’d say that this is probably the biggest mistake that Google’s ever made and perhaps ever will make.  What I want to know is what were they thinking when they decided this was a good idea?

Does anybody out there see a way they can survive this?  ‘Cause I’d love to know.

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Third Half Of Your Battery?

Google’s done it again.  They’re in trouble for toeing the “creepy line”, and want to improve their image.  So, what do they do but extend their field of influence yet again?  Now they’re building a 350 mile power line that’s expected to carry electricity from Atlantic wind farms to nearly two million homes.  All well and good.

But the very thing that people have been worrying about is that Google is getting hold of too much of their lives.  Their CEO recently said that the company should be “the third half of your brain”, but apparently they now want to be the third half of your battery as well.

Honestly, I’ve got no problem with them making money.  But it seems to me that when your company is under fire for taking over too much, the best way to solve things isn’t to try garnering points by doing something PC in a new field of business (that’s more expansion).  Instead, you should clean up your act in the area people are complaining about.

Sure, they’re only funding the start of the project, but how’s that actually different as an effort to improve the way the company’s perceived?  They may be enjoying a little better perception at the moment, but this doesn’t do anything but deflect the ire that’s been directed toward them for the past several months and will probably end up increasing it if they decide to pursue the project after their initial investment runs out.

Google’s been making a lot of enemies both in public and private lately because of their ability and clear willingness to go too far in their quest to provide information to people using their sites.  Expanding things so that they’re also providing those people with electricity isn’t going to help with that in the long run, if it even does in the short run.  And, if you’re watching the “creepy line” so you can toe up to it, you’ve crossed it several yards back.

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Social Media May Be More Important Than Keywords

This just in:  If anyone needed proof that computers are changing the way people live, here it is.

As of today, people spend more time on Facebook than on Google and all of its subsidiary services put together.  That may not surprise some people too much, because of how popular social media has become in the past year, but it’s definitely worth noting that people spend more of their time “hanging out” with friends online than looking for things they want or need.

AP reported on the Forbes website today that people are using 9.9% of their time on Facebook as opposed to 9.6% on everything Google has to offer.  In case you’re interested, Yahoo! came in third at 9.1% percent.  That’s just about thirty percent of everyone’s time online spent on these three website systems!

Facebook is pretty much social media and social games, so it’s got a much stronger claim in its time clocked.  Even when you’re playing one of the ever popular games there, you’re still doing much the same thing you’re doing while checking out the updates and other posts on your friends’ Walls.  The services on Google and Yahoo! are much more spread out over a broad range of subjects, so it’s easy to see what people like most when you get right down to the nitty-gritty of it.

Does this mean that Facebook, and other sites like it that have yet to emerge, are going to become the main way that people communicate with each other at some point in the near future?  Not necessarily.  People still need the normal experiences of life in order to survive.  Nevertheless, they will continue to integrate computerization more fully into every part of life.

That may sound funny, considering how much everyone does things with computers anymore.  But it wasn’t more than fifty years ago that computers filled entire rooms in order to do what are now simple calculations.  Nowadays, people can carry models with hundreds of gigabytes of processing power in housings that are smaller than briefcases.  Simpler, but still powerful models can be found in people’s pockets all the time.  All this innovation, and someone a hundred years ago would have called all of this magic.

Well, this magic is being drawn toward bringing people closer together.  Just over a year ago, people were only spending a little less than 5% of their time on Facebook, and that’s pretty much doubled in a year’s time.  Seniors are using the site more and more these days, too.  It’s steadily becoming more than other social media – it’s becoming the medium through which people reach out and touch each other’s lives.

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Universal, Vital Google

There are a lot of people that have a beef against Google for one reason or another.  Even so, it’s worth paying attention to everything they do, because they’re the single most powerful presence on the Internet.  They make it possible for billions of people to find whatever they’re looking for with without a lot of trouble that you had to deal with when using a lot of the search engines that came before them.

When Google came on the scene in 1998, it revolutionized how web pages were searched by arranging everything on its new page ranking system.  Since then, it’s led the way in efforts to make sure that the top list entries are always the most relevant for searchers.  That’s why they’ve been able to become the most popular search engine on the web.

In fact, we probably couldn’t find half as much on the Internet without their help at some point or other.  They do everything from helping people find what they need to walking novice webmasters through everything need to know to work their websites, and offer ways for people to get websites hosted.  They’re even offering their own web browser now.  They really make all kinds of things possible – and easier since you can get everything covered in a single, consolidated place.

If Google wasn’t there, the internet might or might not be smaller.  It would be a lot harder to do whatever you want without it.  That makes it a resource that everyone ought to appreciate, no matter whether they’re unhappy about something the company does or they really love it all.  There’s plenty of other things that they do online that depend on Google, so that it proves its worth every day.

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Will Facebook Replace Google?

The changes in the Internet are very interesting to follow.  Once upon a time, the browser service was the central hub upon which all of your surfing would be based.  For the past few years, it’s been the search engines.  Just now, though, all eyes are turning toward social media like Facebook and Twitter.  This is especially interesting since Google has recently come out with its own browser software, thus making its own bid for the throne in the Browser Wars.

A lot of social media sites also have their own search engines, to help you find things on their sites that interest you.  Of course, they have their share of paid adds, but that just helps them to be able to afford the expenses associated with keeping their sites running.  The interesting thing is that the “search” bar at the top of the page is only half of the engine, even though it’s the whole of the software.

Facebook’s real search engine is everyone you know on it.  Anything they find interesting enough to post or to list as a “Like”, you can check up on for yourself.  It’s a more intuitive way of both finding things and being found, because it depends as much on your assessment of people as it does on your active interest in the thing you’re looking at.

The difference between social media like Facebook and conventional search engines like Google is that, with Facebook, one is not searching for salable goods or information so much as for people.  The other two can be found – there are plenty of pages dedicated to companies or subjects that people love and on which they want to gather information, but finding and keeping up with people is the main goal.

This has made social media very important lately, because life itself (both in work and leisure) has more to do with one’s interactions with others than it does with finding data or a good deal on a product.  As the Internet changes, this will become more and more apparent, I think, through what takes prominence online and what services see the most use.

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Government and Google: Two Peas Not in the Same Pod

Connecting all the Dots

Not long ago, the Internet went ablaze with Google having the ability to show direct satellite images of your home. Many people ran to the popular site to get an eye full of this “new” technology that was just released to public. Fast forward months ahead and you can now get a full view of everything that is currently happening on your street. Exciting and extremely scary at the same time.

Google uses street-vans to collect images around the world. These voyeur friendly vehicles cruise your local neighborhoods to get a first hand view of everything that is going on to make your Google mapping experience that much cooler. Let’s try another fast forward. It’s now revealed that the site was also using these vans to collect information via wifi. The safe and encrypted network that all your systems are running on.

Google recently addressed issues concerning the safety of their networks when it was found that Chinese computers hacked into their systems. If Google’s system can be easily infiltrated, just what information could hackers actually have access to?

Fox News brings up these questions and more in their recent online piece Is National Security Behind Google’s Wifi Spying?. The outrage of many political leaders and the slow response of the national government is all questioned throughout the article. What does this mean for the future of the Internet? Many people are all for a safer America, but at what cost? If the offices at Google, a World Wide Wonder, can easily be hacked into, how safe is the free wifi connection on your iPhone?

The government has longed wanted to have more control over the Internet dating all the way back to the Bush Administration. According to an recent investigation by The Washington Post, summed up in a series of articles titled Top Secret America, many Google employees have access to  and secret clearances with the government. The power of the government seems to be steadily increasing as they make us feel more safe and free by securing our borders and pushing through our computers’ back door.  One can only imagine the force that can be drawn when you combine the intelligence of Google and the power of the federal government. Just sayin’.

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