Ex-"Anonymous" Hackers Plan to Publish Members' Identities

by WZ on March 20, 2011 1 Comment

Ex-members of the hacktivist group Anonymous plan to reveal the group's identities to the public. Readers who follow tech news have probably already heard of Anonymous a few times.They're hackers that began as online pranksters, but have in recent years decided to take sides in political conflicts, being responsible for attacks on Scientology, Paypal, the Pentagon, Sarah Palin among other targets. According to the Forbes article, the ex-members don't believe the group should act as judge, jury and executioner.

A hacker named "Hubris" writes:

“They say they fight for free speech, but then they use fear and intimidation, like Scientology or Fox News,” he says. “That’s not freedom of speech, and we won’t put up with that crap.”

As their opening barrage, the split-off group has released a torrent titled "insurance" to various file-sharing sites and will soon release keys to unlock it. This ...

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European Union to Enshrine "Right to be Forgotten"

by WZ on March 17, 2011 0 Comments

The EU has issued a warning to Facebook and other social networks that they intend to pass strict privacy laws enabling individuals to withdraw consent for processing their online data. The new legislation is partially intended to prevent people from being able to jeopardize the livelihood of others due to personal information placed on the Internet.

"I want to explicitly clarify that people shall have the right – and not only the possibility – to withdraw their consent to data processing," Reding said. "The burden of proof should be on data controllers – those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need to keep the data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is not necessary."

Facebook Declares War on Groupon

by WZ on March 15, 2011 0 Comments

Looking to further monetize their 500 million global users, Facebook intends to expand its Deal discount service into a full-blown rival to Groupon and Living Social. The new service will debut in Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. Adding its own twist, Facebook states that they wish to focus on activities you'll want to do with friends...or with "Friends" as the case may be.

This video showcases the original Facebook Deals service.

Microsoft Unveils Lean Mean Internet Explorer 9 Machine

by WZ on March 15, 2011 0 Comments

I was skeptical when Microsoft announced today they had released IE9. I was fed up with all the ad-friendliness and slow speeds of previous IE versions that I finally switched to Chrome last year. 

I downloaded the new IE9 to give it a spin before posting. I'm fairly impressed. I still think Chrome is faster, but Internet Explorer 9 is probably equal to Firefox now in speed. Plus, the new IE comes with some interesting options, including the ability to limit ads and to disable plugins that slow down searches.

So, I no longer feel Internet Explorer absolutely sucks. I won't say it's the best browser. I still think Chrome holds that title. However, Internet Explorer 9 certainly feels competitive now. Users should be aware though that IE9 is incompatible with Windows XP.

You may read more about IE9 from this article at Cnet.

Google to Launch New Social Network to Rival Facebook

by WZ on March 14, 2011 0 Comments

Google has announced that it will launch a new social network called Google Circles at its conference in May. Social networking has long been a deficient spot in Google's portfolio and with Facebook's rise, they leave themselves in a vulnerable position where Facebook may begin offering searches from within Facebook itself.

I know this may sound like a crazy suggestion, but sometimes I wish Google wouldn't place their name in front of every new endeavor. While banking on their name will probably guarantee some usage, a truly original name seems more likely to become a #1 brand. At some point, the label "Google" is going to develop the same generic stigma as the word "Acme".

Google Expands Ability to Block Websites Beyond Chrome

by WZ on March 10, 2011 0 Comments

Today, Google rolled out another change to their search engine many might not notice. Accompanying all your searches, you will now see an option to block particular websites from your search results.  You will need to be logged into Google, of course, since the blocked list only applies to your account.

Previous, this ability was limited to those who downloaded and installed a Chrome extension, but now Google has applied the change to the engine itself, in essence forcing all web browsers to carry it.

According to the Huffington Post article above, blocking a site will not affect its overall rankings...yet. Google wants to see what kinds of sites people are blocking first before making a decision.

Personally, I think allowing people to de-rank websites will probably result in the Mutual Assured Destruction of Left/Right political sites.

Google Blocking Tool

THE AFTERMATH: Who Won & Who Lost in Google's Latest Search Change?

by WZ on March 9, 2011 0 Comments

Now that the dust has cleared from Google’s tinkering with their search engine, we can finally study the data coming out. Who won and who lost? Did their changes successfully de-rank content farms?

According to software firm Sistrix, Maholo.com, Wisegeek.com, Ezinearticles and Yahoo’s Associated Content have all lost around 75% of their web traffic. This is a devastating blow to their revenue. This has left many companies issuing immediate layoffs and scrambling to meet Google's new higher standards. In particular, Ezinearticles.com has issued a series of stricter rules for article submission.

Ironically, Demand Media, the one company often held up as the iconic example of a content farm, emerged unscathed by Google’s changes. It’s most prominent site eHow.com even grew in traffic, counterbalancing decreases in AnswerBag.com and Trails.com.

Unfortunately, “Mom and Pop” websites were smacked down hard...or helped ...

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Google Releases "Speedier, Simpler and Safe" Version of Chrome

by WZ on March 8, 2011 0 Comments

Today, Google announced a new version of Chrome available for download. I use Chrome as my primary browser. I find it way faster than Internet Explorer and slightly faster than Firefox, so I highly endorse it. This announcement from Google came right on the heels of a recent Firefox update.

Chrome boasts new sandbox security technology that will isolate malicious webpages that attempt to download viruses and other malware to your computer.

You may download Chrome here.  On a side note, why do we as Americans love hearing British accents in our tutorials?

MOVIE WARS: Facebook & Warner Brothers Team Up Against Netflix

by WZ on March 8, 2011 0 Comments

Starting tonight, you'll be able to watch selected Warner Brothers movies on Facebook at the cost of $3 for a span of 48 hours. The first title will be THE DARK KNIGHT.

I would've been impressed if the deal was better. I doubt many would pay $3 to watch movies on their computer, its what you'd pay for a Blockbuster movie rental. Basically, it tries to turn Facebook into a Pay-Per-View channel, and I don't think Facebook carries the right "mood" for a movie watching experience. YouTube tried this too and it didn't go well. The only way I see this popular is if Facebook turned the viewings into a community online theater.

Netflix's basic rental deal is far better, offering unlimited streaming videos plus rentals for ~$9 a month. This aspiring YouTuber gives a run-down how the Facebook movies will work.

Roughly Half of the U.K. Population Uses Facebook

by WZ on March 2, 2011 0 Comments

Latest statistics show that Facebook now boasts more than 30 million users from the United Kingdom, roughly half the entire population. The societal penetration would probably be even more incredible when you factor out very young children and the elderly.  

Here are some incredible statistics.  In January 2009, Facebook boasted 150 million users.  This number has more than tripled in 2 short years, with 500 million users...100 million of them signed up in the last 5 months. 

In other news, Facebook just bought Beluga, an upcoming mobile group messaging company, probably to gain access to a team of former Google employees. Logic-Cool noted in January that Facebook vs. Google will likely be the next great corporate rivalry.

A million here, a million there...pretty soon you might be talking about some serious amounts of people.  Here's Zuckerberg noting the 500 million milestone back in 2010. Watching this video ...

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Google Aggressively Expands into Central and South America

by WZ on March 1, 2011 0 Comments

Tired of dealing with China, Google seeks to expand its Latin American staff by 50% after a whopping 80% boost in revenues from South American countries over the previous year. The Spanish-speaking Internet in the Western hemisphere boasts over 650 million users, many coming online for the first time.

Google

 

SocialEyes App Allows Facebook Friends to Chat Hollywood Square-Style

by WZ on March 1, 2011 0 Comments

A new Facebook app went online Monday allowing "Friends" to chat en masse in Hollywood Square fashion.  The new mass chatting program claims to be a more civilized version of Chatroulete. The app requires no download, only a login to Facebook.

If you're curious about SocialEyes, you may explore the app at SocialEyes.com or apps.facebook.com/socialeyes.

SocialEyes on Facebook

Engineers Achieve 1 Terabit/Sec Data Rate on Single Photonic Chip

by WZ on February 28, 2011 0 Comments

Engineering teams at Infinera Corp. in California have created a PIC (photonic integrated circuit) capable of processing 1 terabit/sec. Infinera is one of those companies that the overall public rarely hears about, but their work is important to the vitality of the Internet. Infinera's chips are already widely used around the world in the 100 gigabit/sec range.

Certain critical junctures of the world wide web must be able to carry the bulk of all worldwide internet traffic. For example, intercontinental fiber optic cables or fiber optic links between cities carry an extremely heavy burden of data. The new PIC's will allow enormous upgrades in capability of these junctures without having to upgrade the underlying infrastructure.

Consider that worldwide Internet traffic is increasing 50% a year (doubling ~18 months), in roughly 15 years the amount of data being moved will be a 1,000 times greater than ...

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Microsoft's Prototype Xbox Gaming Avatar Looks & Talks Like You

by WZ on February 24, 2011 0 Comments

USA Today has a neat demo of Microsoft Labs' latest avatar software. Currently, they can only create a head, but Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie states they intend to give us full-body avatars in the near future. In particular, there's a high buzz floating around Microsoft about the Kinect and the great impact its having for researchers all around the world. They see the Kinect as a primary motion and voice activated controller for the home.  For instance, the Kinect already allows you to Pause/Play movies routed to your TV through Xbox Live with voice commands.

Google Brings Down the Hammer on Overstock

by WZ on February 24, 2011 0 Comments

Google penalized Overstock in its search rankings after discovering the company had encouraged backlinks from colleges and universities by offering the students/faculties discounts. Previously, Overstock had ranked #1 in many generic product terms such as "laptop computer" or "vacuum cleaner". Now they've dropped to #40 to #70 according to the WSJ.

One of Google's criteria in ranking any website is to look at how many times other people link to it. In particular .edu websites rarely link to commercial products and Google tends to weigh their links higher. Previously in the case of JC Penny, Google discovered thousands of inactive websites linking back to the retailer's website.  

Here with Overstock, the attempts to increase page ranking were more honest and open, but Google didn't like it anyway. The company prefers rankings to be based on organic traffic and linkage, and paying others (in effect) to ...

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U.S. Military Now Crowd-Sourcing Designs for Future Combat Vehicles

by WZ on February 23, 2011 2 Comments

Hoping to reduce their normal 10-20 year design cycle for future military tech by a factor of 10, DARPA has opened up design for the next generation of rescue vehicles to the general public.  In response, they've received dozens of ideas from ordinary people through a social media contest called XC2V Challenge. Similar to how Wikipedia functions, the military hopes that the expertise available through crowd-sourcing builds and compounds upon itself.  

DARPA will judge the submissions and build a concept model from the winner in June. Final submissions are due March 3.  The program offers $10,000 in prizes.

Military Rescue Vehicle

Argon, 1st Augmented Reality Web Browser Now Available on iPhone

by WZ on February 23, 2011 0 Comments

Augmented Environments has released an Argon iPhone app, a portable web browser that lays graphic content on top of your smartphone's video stream.  Similar to existing translation apps, Argon will allow users to scan their immediate environments to see if any related Internet content exists. For example, if you're visiting New York City, a "Sex and the City" fan may have created a visual guide for you to follow. The company hopes to crowdsource the creation of suitable web content.

South Korea Aims for National 1 Gigabyte Internet by End of 2012

by WZ on February 22, 2011 0 Comments

South Korea aims to have 1 gigabyte/second nationwide internet by the end of 2012.   South Korea currently ranks #1 in internet speeds ahead of Hong Kong and Japan.  Gigabyte service is available here in the U.S. for the whopping price $350 per month...in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Google is opening up other experimental locations around the U.S.

The engineer overseeing the South Korean expansion Choi Gwang-gi stated that the intention was to build the South Korean internet with all future technology projections in mind, including 3D TV, ultra HD video streaming, HD teleconferencing and cloud computing.

The U.S. currently lags behind Latvia and Romania in average internet speed. The United States usually ranks in the Top 10 or a bit below it.  

And here I thought my 100mb speed was good...

"One of the customers already connected to Mr. Choi’s pilot program is Moon Ki-soo, 42 ...

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Amazon Declares War on Netflix

by WZ on February 22, 2011 0 Comments

Amazon released a new Movie/TV streaming service which will be completely free to customers who already pay $79 dollars a year for free 2-day shipping. To everyone else, that's the price to subscribe.  Customers can choose between 5,000 TV shows and movies.  This increases the number of serious Netflix competitors to 4...Apple, Google, Microsoft and now Amazon.

You may see the announcement on the Amazon homepage. Amazon's service can be run on a computer or on the Roku, which is a device that costs ~$199.

Netflix still ranks as number 1 though, offering access to 20,000 TV shows and movies for 7.99 a month, $5 more than Amazon's per year price. For now, the Amazon deal seems mostly a nice reinforcement for those already paying the free shipping charges.

I honestly don't see Netflix winning in the long run here. The ...

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Google Declares War On Apple's Digital Content Apps

by WZ on February 16, 2011 0 Comments

In a bid to undercut Apple's digital distribution of subscription newspapers and magazines, Google has launched One Pass. The service will allow publishers to sell content that consumers can view on apps designed for smartphones and tablet PC's.  

Google will allow content creators to keep a whopping 90% of the revenue gained from One Pass, a direct counter blow to Apple's 70%. In another contrast, this time in Apple's favor, Google will allow publishers to demand personal data from subscribers. Apple places this choice in the hands of the customers.

Even so, it's hard to argue whose services will be more popular when your goal isn't to make money. Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt commented in Berlin:

"Our intention is to make no money on it...We want the publishers to make all the money." 

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