An anonymous reader writes "Travel site Orbitz found out that Mac users tend to select pricier rooms and swanky hotels. So, from now on, they will show more expensive hotel options to Mac users than to PC users. This is why, although I am a Mac user, my Firefox agent string says 'Windows XP' :)" The (paywalled) WSJ report on which Reuter's summary is based carries Orbitz' s softer explanation, which is that the results by platform are an experiment based mostly on presentation and search-result ordering rather than actually naming higher prices based on OS: "[T]he company isn't showing the same room to different users at different prices. They also pointed out that users can opt to rank results by price."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
First time accepted submitter Autumnmist writes "Craigslist has sent a Cease and Desist to PadMapper, a site that does a mashup of Craigslist (as well as Rent.com, Apartments.com) apartment listings and Google Maps. Craigslist is great, but apartment hunting through Craigslist has always been a needle in a haystack proposition, because all apartments for an entire city area are shown in a giant list. PadMapper made Craigslist better by locating each listing on a Google Map of the area. From PadMapper: 'I recently received a Cease and Desist letter from Craigslist, and wasn't able to get a meeting or convince Craigslist's lawyer that PadMapper was beneficial to Craigslist and apartment hunters in general. They allow mobile apps to display their listings if you buy a license from them, but not websites."
After Larry Page bowed out from some public appearances, reader Pigskin-Referee writes with the news that "Google Inc Chief Executive Larry Page has reassured employees about his health, but the company on Friday shed little additional light on an unspecified condition affecting his voice that will sideline him from two high-profile events in the coming weeks. Page told employees in an email on Thursday that there was 'nothing seriously wrong with me,' according to a source who had seen an internal staff memo. The 39-year-old Google co-founder sat out his company's annual shareholders' meeting on Thursday because he had 'lost his voice,' according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who informed attendees of the news at the start of the event."
An anonymous reader writes "Five years after it was first introduced, Google's Safe Browsing program continues to provide a service to the 600 million Chrome, Firefox, and Safari users, as well as those searching for content through the company's eponymous search engine. According to Google Security Team member Niels Provos, the program detects about 9,500 new malicious websites and pops up several million warnings every day to Internet users. Once a site has been cleaned up, the warning is lifted. They provide malware warnings for about 300 thousand downloads per day through their download protection service for Chrome."
Hugh Pickens writes "Garance Franke-Ruta writes about a new study of racially charged search terms on Google that aims to predict the effects of the Bradley effect, a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some U.S. elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. 'How much we are under-representing people who are intolerant and therefore unlikely to vote for Obama is an open question,' says Andrew Kohut, the president of Pew Research Center. 'I suspect not a great deal, but maybe some. And "maybe some" could be crucial in a tight election.' The study found that the percentage of an area's total Google searches from 2004-2007 that included the racially charged search for the word 'n****r' is a is a large and robust negative predictor of Obama's vote share. 'A one standard deviation increase in an area's racially charged search is associated with a 1.5 percentage point decrease in Obama's vote share, controlling for John Kerry's vote share,' writes Stephens-Davidowitz in the study. The results imply that, relative to the most racially tolerant areas in the United States, prejudice cost Obama between 3.1 percentage points and 5.0 percentage points (PDF) of the national popular vote in the 2008 election. This implies racial animus gave Obama's opponent roughly the equivalent of a home-state advantage, country-wide."
First time accepted submitter WindyWonka writes "Google and AOL were sued for patent infringement Thursday, accused of violating two former British Telecom patents via Google's search 'snippets' and by Google AdSense and Advertising.com ad serving technology. Incredibly, the lawsuit by apparent patent troll Suffolk Technologies asserts that every Google search result 'snippet' display violates one patent, and that another really broad server patent is violated every time Google and AOL serve up ads."
theodp writes "Remember the Pre-Cogs in Minority Report? Slate's Will Oremus does, and wonders if Google could similarly help the police apprehend criminals based on foreknowledge collected from searches. Oremus writes: 'At around 3:45 a.m. on March 24, someone in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., used a mobile phone to Google "chemicals to passout a person." Then the person searched Ask.com for "making people faint." Then Google again, for "ways to kill people in their sleep," "how to suffocate someone," and "how to poison someone." The phone belonged to 23-year-old Nicole Okrzesik. Later that morning, police allege, she and her boyfriend strangled 19-year-old Juliana Mensch as she slept on the floor of their apartment.' In theory, Oremus muses, Google or Ask.com could have flagged Okrzesik's search queries as suspicious and dispatched cops to the scene before Mensch's assailants had the chance to do her in." I bet you're already thinking of just a few reasons why this might not such a good idea.
gambit3 writes "In a move to squeeze more cash out of its lucrative Web-search engine, Google is converting its free product-search service into a paid one. Online retailers will now have to bid to display their products on Google's Shopping site. Currently, retailers include their products for free by providing Google with certain data about the products. Google then ranks those products, such as cameras, by popularity and price. 'We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.'"
itwbennett writes "Responding to complaints from Chinese Googlers that the search engine is 'inconsistent and unreliable,' Google has updated its service to help users steer clear of search queries that will result in page errors. Google will now highlight characters and phrases that are likely to 'break' a user's connection. 'By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China,' the company said in a blog post."
MojoKid writes "Folks have been clamoring for more on Google's Project Glass and Sergey Brin — one of the co-founders of Google — is now burying himself in the R&D department associated with its development. Recently Brin appeared on 'The Gavin Newsom Show' with the prototype glasses perched on his face. The visit was actually a bit awkward as you can see in the video, as it's a lot of Brin and Newsom describing what they're seeing via the glasses with no visual for the audience. However, Brin dropped a bomb when he stated that he'd like to have the glasses out as early as next year."
angry tapir writes "Two U.S. lawmakers have called on the U.S. Department of Justice to reopen its investigation into Google's snooping on Wi-Fi networks in 2010 after recent questions about the company's level of cooperation with federal inquiries. Representatives Frank Pallone Jr., a New Jersey Democrat, and John Barrow, a Georgia Democrat, called on the DOJ to fully investigate Google's actions for potential violations of federal wiretapping laws. In light of a recently released U.S. Federal Communications Commission report on Wi-Fi snooping by Google Street View cars, the DOJ should take a new look at the company's actions, wrote the lawmakers in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder."
squiggleslash writes "CNN reports that IBM CEO Jeanette Horan has banned Siri, the iPhone voice recognition system. Why? According to Horan '(IBM) worries that the spoken queries might be stored somewhere.' Siri's backend is a set of Apple-owned servers in North Carolina, and all spoken queries are sent to those servers to be converted to text, parsed, and interpreted. While Siri wouldn't work unless that processing was done, the centralization and cloud based nature of Siri makes it an obvious security hole."
benfrog writes "Microsoft just quietly launched so.cl in an experiment to more closely unite web searches and social networking. It's not intended as a stand-alone social network — users can log in with Facebook or Windows Live IDs, and it will share your searches publicly by default. "As students work together, they often search for the same items, and discover new shared interests by sharing links. We see this trend today on many social networks, such as Twitter, where shared links spread virally and amplify popular content. So.cl experiments with this concept by automatically sharing links as you search." They've also (wisely?) put Bing Search at the center of the site."