SquarePixel writes "Google has yanked its free music service in China after being unable to make it popular enough. The service offered Chinese people free licensed music downloads and was launched in 2009 to compete with the rival search engine Baidu. 'Once China's second largest search provider, Google has now fallen to fourth place, overtaken by other local companies. — Google's popularity in the country has waned ever since 2010, when the company pulled the plug on its China-based search engine following disputes with the government over censorship and hacking concerns. Google's market share is at 5 percent, while Baidu's is 74 percent.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "Scheduled to be released next month, Ubuntu 12.10 now includes both Amazon ads in the user's dash and by default an Amazon store in the user's launcher. The reason for these 'features'? Affiliate revenue. Despite previous controversies with Banshee and Yahoo, Canonical is 'confident it will be an interesting and useful feature for our 12.10 users.' But are the 'users' becoming products?" Update: 09/22 19:35 GMT by T : Reader bkerensa scoffs, calling the Amazon integration unobtrusive, and says objections to its inclusion in the OS should be ignored, "because in reality ads will not be found in 12.10 unless you are seeing them on a third party website you go to in a web browser." He's got screenshots.
New submitter SquarePixel writes "Microsoft is urging Safari users to switch to Bing after Google was fined $22.5 million for violating Safari privacy settings. 'Microsoft is keen to make sure that no-one forgets this, let alone Safari users, and the page summarizes the events that took place.' It tells users how Google promised not to track Safari users, but tracked them without their permission and used this data to serve them advertisement. Lastly, it tells how Google was fined $22.5 million for this and suggests users to try the more privacy oriented Bing search engine."
vu1986 writes with this bit from GigaOm: "Google has made public the details of its Spanner database technology, which allows a database to store data across multiple data centers, millions of machines and trillions of rows. But it's not just larger than the average database, Spanner also allows applications that use the database to dictate where specific data is stored so as to reduce latency when retrieving it. Making this whole concept work is what Google calls its True Time API, which combines an atomic clock and a GPS clock to timestamp data so it can then be synched across as many data centers and machines as needed." Original paper. The article focuses a lot of the Time API, but external consistency on a global scale seems to be the big deal here. From the paper: "Even though many projects happily use Bigtable, we have also consistently received complaints from users that Bigtable can be difficult to use for some kinds of applications: those that have complex, evolving schemas, or those that want strong consistency in the presence of wide-area replication. ... Many applications at Google have chosen to use Megastore (PDF) because of its semi-relational data model and support for synchronous replication, despite its relatively poor write throughput. As a consequence, Spanner has evolved from a Bigtable-like versioned key-value store into a temporal multi-version database. Data is stored in schematized semi-relational tables; data is versioned, and each version is automatically timestamped with its commit time; old versions of data are subject to configurable garbage-collection policies; and applications can read data at old timestamps. Spanner supports general-purpose transactions, and provides a SQL-based query language." Update: 09/20 17:57 GMT by T : Also in a story at Slash BI.
1sockchuck writes "Google continues to expand the global reach of its infrastructure. Today the company announced plans to build its first data center in Latin America, investing $150 million in a facility in Quilicura, Chile. Google cited growing Internet use in Latin America, and said Chile has reliable infrastructure and a business-friendly environment. Last year Google announced plans for three new server farms in the Asia Pacific region, as well as a new data center in Dublin. Over the past year, Google has invested more than $2.5 billion on servers and data centers."
theodp writes "A newly-granted Google patent on Dynamic Pricing of Electronic Content describes how information gleaned from your search history and social networking activity can be used against you by providing tell-tale clues for your propensity to pay jacked-up prices to 'reconsume' electronic content, such as 'watching a video recording, reading an electronic book, playing a game, or listening to an audio recording.' The patent is illustrated with drawings showing how some individuals can be convinced to pay 4x what others will be charged for the same item. From the patent: 'According to one innovative aspect of the subject matter described by this specification, a system may use this information to tailor the price that is offered to the particular user to repurchase the particular item of electronic content. By not applying discounts for users that may, in relation to a typical user, be more inclined to repurchase a particular product, profits may increase.' Hey, wasn't this kind of dynamic pricing once considered evil?"
mikejuk writes "As well as buying up patents to defend itself against the coming Apple attack on Android, Google is also readying its own technology. It has extended its Patent Search facility to include European patents and has added a Prior Art facility. The new Prior Art facility seems to be valuable both to inventors and to the legal profession. In order to be granted a patent the inventor has to establish that it is a novel idea — and in the current litigious environment companies and their lawyers might want to show that patents should not have been granted."
hypnosec writes "Google has been recently granted a patent that could not only improve online search, but also will possibly give the search engine giant an awful lot of information about the world. Google wants to scan and analyze the content within videos (YouTube videos, most probably) and look for objects in the real world, identify them, and make a catalogue out of those objects. The patent describes Google's technology of scanning a video, picking out landmarks, objects and context; and subsequent tagging and categorization." Adds reader MojoKid: "The privacy implications of such an automated system are enormous. Facebook's own automatic facial recognition software was highly controversial when it debuted, and what Google has now patented puts Facebook to shame. The larger question, unaddressed in this patent, is whether we want our individual personal data to be tagged, filed, and logged without permission or choice."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Ever wanted to mine your own Facebook data? Wolfram Alpha is offering you the chance. Wolfram Alpha bills itself as a 'computational knowledge engine.' In contrast to other search engines such as Google and Bing, which return pages of blue hyperlinks in response to queries, Wolfram Alpha offers up objective data: type in the name of a person, for example, and you might receive their dates of birth and death, a timeline, and a graph of Wikipedia page hits. Now Wolfram Alpha's offering a new feature that can spit back years of your personal Facebook data sliced, diced, visualized and analyzed."
New submitter spac writes "AllthingsD has an interesting story about how a startup called Wajam requires users of their service to download a script that sets up a proxy to handle all network requests for the purpose of providing 'Social Recommendations' within built-in apps. The privacy implications of using this profile script isn't clearly presented to users. Are we really to entrust our data to a company founded by a man who comes from the world of browser toolbars? And for social search?!" The company rushes to counter privacy concerns by pointing out that their service has "received security certifications from TRUSTe, McAfee and Norton."
Cutting_Crew writes "Gizmodo has called attention to a story that describes the worst job you can get at Google: wading through and blocking objectionable content, which includes watching decapitations and beastiality. A ex-Google-employee who did just that tells his own story of a year-long stint of looking at the most horrible things on the internet. In the end, he needed therapy, and since he was a contractor, he was let go instead of being hired as a full time employee."
New submitter wreakyhavoc writes "Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider maintains that Amazon's reviews and One-Click ordering will undercut Google's shopping ad revenue, and that Google is 'terrified.' From the article: 'Google is a search company, but the searches that it actually makes money from are the searches people do before they are about to buy something online. These commercial searches make up about 20 percent of total Google searches. Those searches are where the ads are. What Googlers worry about in private is a growing trend among consumers to skip Google altogether, and to just go ahead and search for the product they would like to buy on Amazon.com, or, on mobile in an Amazon app. There's data to prove this trend is real. According to ComScore, Amazon search queries are up 73 percent in the last year. How could Google fight this possible threat? Perhaps they could expose the astroturfing of Amazon reviews. Of course, this could backfire, as it would also draw attention to the astroturfing, link farming, and SEO games in Google's search results."
Nerval's Lobster writes with the widely-reported news that Google plans to acquire from publisher John Wiley & Sons the Frommer's travel guides, along with Wiley's other travel-related publishing assets. "This marks Google's second purchase of a popular guide in less than a year. In September 2011, the search engine giant acquired Zagat, with the intention of mining the company's enormous trove of data on restaurants and local points of interest. Zagat scores and summaries now appear in the Google+ Local tab (present on the left rail of the Google+ profile page). Google's acquisition streak reveals a particular conundrum facing tech companies that offer travel and location services: you can assign thousands of the world's best software engineers the task of creating a simple, intuitive interface for ferreting out the best airline fares or restaurants—but sooner or later, you'll need to fill that system with reliable content."
Hugh Pickens writes "Forbes Magazine reports that employee benefits of Google are among the best in the land—free haircuts, gourmet food, on-site doctors and high-tech "cleansing" toilets are among the most talked-about but the latest perk for Googlers extends into the afterlife. 'This might sound ridiculous,' says Google's Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock, 'But we've announced death benefits at Google.' Should a U.S. Googler pass away while under the employ of the 14-year old search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. Even more surprising, a Google spokesperson confirms that there's 'no tenure requirement' for this benefit, meaning most of their 34 thousand Google employees qualify."
An anonymous reader sends word of a change Google will be making to its search algorithms. Beginning next week, the company will penalize the search rankings of websites who are the target of many copyright infringement notices from rightsholders. Quoting The Verge: "Google says the move is designed to 'help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily' — meaning that it's trying to direct people who search for movies, TV shows, and music to sites like Hulu and Spotify, not torrent sites or data lockers like the infamous MegaUpload. It's a clear concession to the movie and music industries, who have long complained that Google facilitates piracy — and Google needs to curry favor with media companies as it tries to build an ecosystem around Google Play. Google says it feels confident making the change because because its existing copyright infringement reporting system generates a massive amount of data about which sites are most frequently reported — the company received and processed over 4.3 million URL removal requests in the past 30 days alone, more than all of 2009 combined. Importantly, Google says the search tweaks will not remove sites from search results entirely, just rank them lower in listings."