New submitter smithz writes "Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is expanding its antitrust probe of Google Inc. to include scrutiny of its new Google+ social networking service. Google this week introduced changes to its search engine so that results feature photos, news and comments from Google+. The changes sparked a backlash from bloggers, privacy groups and competitors who said the inclusion of Google+ results unfairly promotes the company's products over other information on the Web. Before expanding the probe, FTC was already investigating Google for giving preference to its own services in search results and whether that practice violates antitrust laws. The agency is also examining whether the company is using its control of the Android mobile operating system to discourage smartphone makers from using rivals' applications. Google is facing similar investigations in Europe and South Korea."
SharkLaser writes "Microsoft's Bing search engine has overtaken Yahoo for the first time. While both Bing, Yahoo and a bunch of meta-search engines like the privacy-oriented DuckDuckGo use Bing's back-end, it clearly shows Yahoo's declining market share. comScore has also released its search data for 2011 — overall, Bing gained 3.1% of market share while Yahoo lost 1.5% and Google lost 0.7%. Yahoo's new CEO Scott Thompson has lots of work to do."
Meshach writes "Google's release of the new 'Search Plus Your World' feature has elicited harsh words from Twitter's general counsel (who used to work with Google). He claims that the changes will make information harder to find for users and be bad news for news publishers. Some analysts are wondering if this is a prelude to a legal battle similar to Microsoft's bundling of IE."
SharkLaser writes "Google is today launching an update to their search engine. This update is intended to bring you personalized search results based on your Google+ friends, sharing, pictures and likes. They're calling it 'Search plus Your World,' and the update is going to automatically personalize all search results to a greater degree than before. These personalized matches will appear along your normal search results. For example, if you are searching for images of babies, Google will now personalize your search results and give high preference to baby photos from your Google+ circles. TechCrunch is speculating that over time they will also start adding search results from all the other Google services, including Google Docs, Gmail, Contacts, Music, Voice, wallet and so on. Today's launch also uses Google+ data for another purpose: helping you search for information about people on Google+. For example, if you are searching Google for 'music,' Google will now display relevant people and pages from Google+, like Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and Snoop Dogg." Update: 01/10 18:40 GMT by S : Changed the summary to reflect that the idea of adding search results from other services was speculation from TechCrunch, and not something Google said.
New submitter DCTech writes "South Korea's Fair Trade Commission is accusing Google of methodically interfering with an anti-competition investigation into Android. 'Google deleted files and made its employees work from home in an attempt to frustrate the investigation, alleges the commission in an interview with a South Korean newspaper [machine translation]. The non-cooperation allegedly came after Google's Seoul office was raided by the commission's officials in September. The anti-competition probers were looking into whether Google's Android phones unfairly prioritize Google search and are "systematically designed" to make it difficult to switch to another option'. Now the South Korean watchdog is considering maximum fines for Google's non-compliance. Google is currently under investigation for similar anti-competition issues in Europe and the U.S."
New submitter Lexx Greatrex writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "Google had been sued by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which was offended by search results including the word 'escroc,' meaning crook, according to a story posted Tuesday by the Courthouse News Service. 'Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought,' the article states. 'A Paris court ruled against Google, however, pointing out that the search engine ignored requests to remove the offending word... In addition to the fine, Google must also remove the term from searches associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie.'"
SharkLaser writes "Google's search engine has always looked pretty much the same since it was introduced in 1998. However, Google is now testing a revamped look that is the largest change the search engine has ever done to its website. The new look strips the black bar running horizontally at top and places it as an openable menu on the left side. The move is said to promote Google's other services without making the search engine too cluttered. The new side menu is also more similar to Chrome OS and allows Chromebook and Google's website to have the same look and feel. Another consequence of the move is that it now takes users two clicks to enter other services such as Images and News, which is said to improve the amount of ad clicks and visitors advertisers get. Considering that European Commission is examining claims of Google downgrading rival websites and U.S. senators are calling FTC to inspect Google for unfair practices, the move comes at a surprising time."
SharkLaser writes "Last week it was announced that Google has renewed their search deal with Mozilla. The amount Google paid to Mozilla was surprising: $300 million per year, despite the slightly falling market share of Firefox. Many took this as charity, and for the purpose of advancing the web. Now sources in the bidding process have revealed that Google's main rival in the bid was Microsoft's Bing, along with Yahoo. This bidding war was costly to Google, which is now paying 300% of what they used to, just to be Firefox's default search provider. Mozilla veteran Asa Dotzler is also giving insight into the deal between Google and Mozilla. 'Google started out as a search company. But that's not what they are today. Google's primary business is advertising. Google brought in $9.7B in revenues in Q3'11. 96% of that revenue was from ad sales. Not all traffic to Google ads is 'organic' though. To help drive ad sales, Google pays for traffic to their ads. They paid out $2.21 billion, or 24% of their ad revenues in 'Traffic Acquisition Costs.' That money goes to revenue shares with their AdSense partners and to 'distribution partners' — presumably browser makers, PC OEMs, and mobile OEMs and operators.' Google also pays shareware and freeware distributors to bundle Chrome and Google toolbar with their programs and games."
SharkLaser writes "U.S. Senators have written to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about their concerns over Google's Internet monopoly. Google executives did themselves no favors when the Senators looked at Google's business practices in September. When asked if Google has monopoly in online search, Google chairman Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying 'I would agree, Senator, that we are in that area.' Another worrying quote is from Marissa Meyer, Google's VP of location services, who said that it was 'only fair' that Google put its own sites on higher placements than competitors. The Senators are also warning that Google is only facing one real competitor (PDF), Microsoft's Bing. Almost all other metasearch engines use either Google or Bing technology to deliver search results, including DuckDuckGo which uses Bing. In Europe Google is currently under investigation of monopoly abuse and the EU has also delayed Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility."
New submitter happyscientist writes "This is a nice 'Hello World' for using Hadoop MapReduce on Common Crawl data. I was interested when Common Crawl announced themselves a few weeks ago, but I was hesitant to dive in. This is a good video/example that makes it clear how easy it is to start playing with the crawl data."
mikejuk writes "A recent Google research paper outlines how it might use AI to read digits in natural images — specifically Street View photos. The idea is to automatically extract the number of each house as captured by Street View and then use this to improve the geocoding data returned by Google. When you next ask for directions to a particular address the new data could be used to show you a street view looking directly at the house you specified."
judgecorp writes "The European Commission is delaying Google's proposed purchase of Motorola Mobility, saying it wants 'more infromation.' Europe may be nervous of the power the purchase will give Google in the mobile space."
Trailrunner7 writes "Officials at Cnet's Download.com site have issued a statement apologizing for bundling the popular open source Nmap security audit application with adware that installed a toolbar and changed users' search engine to Microsoft properties. Fyodor, the author of Nmap, raised the issue earlier this week, saying that his app was being wrapped in malware on Download.com. It's not unusual for download sites to bundle free applications with some kind of adware or toolbar, but the creators of open-source applications take a dim view of this practice, given the nature and ethic of open source projects. Nmap is a venerable and widely used tool for mapping networks and performing security audits and Fyodor wrote in a message to an Nmap mailing list earlier this week that Download.com, which is part of Cnet, a subsidiary of CBS Interactive, was bundling the application with its installer, which, if a user agreed, would install a search toolbar and change the user's search engine to Bing."
itwbennett writes "At the Usenix Large Installation System Administration (LISA) conference being held this week in Boston, two Dartmouth computer scientists presented variants of the grep and diff Unix command line utilities that can handle more complex types of data. The new programs, called Context-Free Grep and Hierarchical Diff, will provide the ability to parse blocks of data rather than single lines. The research has been funded in part by Google and the U.S. Energy Department."
An anonymous reader writes "India's Telecoms minister has prompted an uproar after it was revealed he met with executives from Google and Facebook to pressure them into screening 'objectionable' content. Critics argue it is a dangerous step down China's censorship path. 'He denied such a demand was censorship. There is some content on the Internet that "any normal human being would be offended by," he said. The government has asked social media companies to develop a way to eliminate offensive content as soon as it is created, no matter what country it is created in, he said.'