itwbennett writes "Larry Page just wants to be loved. Well, he wants 'Google to be a company that is deserving of great love,' Page wrote in a public letter. But he also wants to offer the kind of personalized service that the requires trampling on your privacy. 'The recent changes we made to our privacy policies generated a lot of interest. But they will enable us to create a much better, more intuitive experience across Google — our key focus for the year,' Page wrote." From the letter: "Think about basic actions like sharing or recommendations. When you find a great article, you want to share that knowledge with people who will find it interesting, too. If you see a great movie, you want to recommend it to friends. Google+ makes sharing super easy by creating a social layer across all our products so users connect with the people who matter to them." With all the claims of altruistic intent in the open letter, one might wonder why Google has to push their own social network instead of working on open protocols for sharing.
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First time accepted submitter constpointertoconst writes "If you use Google Maps to calculate directions, you may now notice (if your route is covered by their traffic data) an 'in current traffic' travel estimate for current route. Some may recall that Google Maps had a similar estimate in the past, but it was removed last year due to poor accuracy."
smolloy writes "Apparently some users of reCAPTCHA have recently begun seeing photographs appear in their CAPTCHA puzzles — photos that look very much like zoomed in house numbers taken from Google Streetview. It appears that Google has decided to put the reCAPTCHA system to help clean up Google streetview images, and 'according to a Google spokesperson, the system isn't limited to street addresses, but also involves street names and even traffic signs.' A large collection of these has appeared on the Blackhatworld website."
netbuzz writes "Last year it took almost an hour, but this morning Google's enormously popular conference for developers sold out in about 20 minutes, Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, told his followers on Google+. 'While we're overwhelmed with the interest and enthusiasm around Google I/O, we know it can be very disappointing and frustrating when an event sells out this quickly,' he wrote. Those who did not get tickets were not only disappointed and angry, but mystified as to why they were left out of a first-come, first-served sale despite being online and ready to buy the second the bell rang. And, of course, tickets were quickly being scalped on eBay." Of course, everyone who gets in drives away in a free Tesla.
itwbennett writes "Assuming Google isn't offering Voice out of the goodness of their hearts, what's the payoff? One likely, if cynical, possibility is that Google Voice is 'just another feeder for their vast database on you,' writes Kevin Purdy in a recent blog post. Or maybe Google just wants to get better at speech-to-text, and collecting your voice messages is just one big voice-mining effort. 'They already did it with GOOG-411, the free phone directory service that mined voices across the country to launch Google Voice's current transcription offering,' says Purdy. For its part, Google says it has no plans to monetize Voice beyond the international calling and number porting fees that it currently charges."
It's not just Japan that wants to regulate how Google displays search results: judgecorp writes "A committee of British MPs and peers has asked Google to censor search results to protect privacy and threatened to put forward new laws that would force it to do so, if Google fails to comply. The case relates to events such as former Formula One boss Max Mosley's legal bid to prevent Google linking to illegally obtained images of himself."
tekgoblin writes "This is an interesting move by Google but not completely off the rocker for them. Last year they blocked search results from the co.cc domain because they believed they polluted the search results. Google plans to penalize overly optimized sites because they want to level the playing field for other websites who do not concentrate on such efforts. From the article: 'Google Engineer Matt Cutts explains the following: “We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.” The search engine at Google is about to go through a major overhaul and de-prioritizing sites with heavy SEO is just a small part in the big picture to bring better search results. The changes to the search engine will be coming in the next few months.'"
n1ywb writes "Goerge 'geohot' Hotz, famous for being the first to jailbreak an iPhone and for his spat with Sony over PS3 jailbreaking, was busted for possession of a small amount of marijuana at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas on his way to SXSW. The shakedown goes like this: drug dogs are run around vehicles; when they signal, DHS searches the car and finds the contraband; DHS then turns evidence and suspects over to the local sheriff. Willie Nelson, actor Armie Hammer (who played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network), and Snoop Dogg have all gotten in trouble at the same checkpoint under similar circumstances."
First time accepted submitter X10 writes "Google announced some time ago that they want only developers to attend their Google IO conference. They hinted at developing a 'programming test' that you have to pass before you can register. Now, they have introduced the Input Output machine at the same time they announced that Google IO registration will open on March 27. I take it that registrations will be ordered according to the quality of one's IO machine. Cute idea ..."
hapworth writes "Google's engineering culture is 'wasting profits,' according to a new report published today that refers to $16 billion worth of Google projects that are going nowhere. According to the analysis, it's not that the ideas — such as the Kansas City Fiber Project, driverless cars, and other engineering efforts — are bad. Rather, it's Google's poor execution that is killing the company and adding billions of dollars worth of projects to its 'trash pile.'" On the obvious other hand, Google's done a lot of interesting things over the years that they've managed to make work well, and that strayed from their initial single-text-field search bar.
An anonymous reader writes "Harry Shum, who oversees research and development for Microsoft's Bing search engine, believes his company has now matched Google's ability to build software platforms that can harness the power of tens of thousands of servers. — 'For many years, we've really tried to play the catch-up game,' Shum says. 'And now we feel that after a lot of effort, we understand search quality problems better than before, and that if you look at Google and Bing, the quality is beginning to be very comparable.' While his comments might be a little biased, many people do share the same opinion. How do you feel about Bing's search results compared to Google's? For example DuckDuckGo, the privacy oriented search engine, uses Bing's back-end and has gained a small following on Slashdot."
suraj.sun writes with an excerpt from an article over at Ars Technica: "Los Alfaques, a bucolic campground near the Spanish town of Tarragona, isn't happy with Google. That's because searches for 'camping Alfaques' bring up horrific images of charred human flesh — not good for business when you're trying to sell people on the idea of relaxation. The campground believes it has the right to demand that Google stop showing 'negative' links, even though the links aren't mistakes at all. Are such lawsuits an aberration, or the future of Europe's Internet experience in the wake of its new 'right to be forgotten' proposals? Legal scholars like Jeffrey Rosen remain skeptical that such a right won't lead to all sorts of problems for free expression. But in Spain, the debate continues. Last week, Los Alfaques lost its case — but only because it needed to sue (U.S.-based) Google directly. Mario Gianni, the owner of Los Alfaques, is currently deciding whether such a suit is worth pursuing."
theodp writes "The WSJ reports that a coalition of Internet giants including Google has agreed to support a do-not-track button to be embedded in most Web browsers — a move that the industry had been resisting for more than a year. The new do-not-track button isn't going to stop all Web tracking. The companies have agreed to stop using the data about people's Web browsing habits to customize ads, and have agreed not to use the data for employment, credit, health-care or insurance purposes. But the data can still be used for some purposes such as 'market research' and 'product development' and can still be obtained by law enforcement officers. Meanwhile, after Google got caught last week bypassing privacy settings on Safari, and was accused of also circumventing IE's P3P Privacy Protection feature, CBS MoneyWatch contacted Mozilla to see if it had noticed Google bypassing Firefox's privacy controls. After reports that Google ponied up close to a billion dollars to Mozilla to beat out a Microsoft bid, this seems to be one of those have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife type questions that has no good answer. Anyway, according to a statement attributed to Alex Fowler, global privacy and public policy lead for Mozilla: 'Our testing did not reveal any instances of Google bypassing user privacy settings.'"
kodiaktau writes "Google is working to deliver a heads-up display allowing users access to email, maps and other tools through a wearable interface. According to the NY Times' sources, the device will be available later this year, and sell for prices comparable to smartphones. 'The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS. ... The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Daniel Brandt started his 'Scroogle' search engine because he wanted to provide increased privacy to people who searched online through Google. Unfortunately, while Google tolerated this for a while, they began throttling Scroogle queries. This, in combination with extensive DDoS attacks on Brandt's servers, has caused him to take Scroogle offline, along with his other domains. He said, 'I no longer have any domains online. I also took all my domains out of DNS because I want to signal to the criminal element that I have no more servers to trash. This hopefully will ward off further attacks on my previous providers. Scroogle.org is gone forever. Even if all my DDoS problems had never started in December, Scroogle was already getting squeezed from Google's throttling, and was already dying. It might have lasted another six months if I hadn't lost seven servers from DDoS, but that's about all.' Internet users who made use of the services will now need to investigate other options."
itwbennett writes "In response to Microsoft's claim that Google circumvented Internet Explorer privacy protections (following the discovery that Google also worked around Safari's privacy settings), Google on Monday said that IE's privacy protection, called P3P, is impractical to comply with."
nonprofiteer writes "With a program called Screenwise, Google is offering a total of $25 in Amazon gift cards to anyone willing to install a Chrome browser extension that will let the search giant track every website the user visits and what they do there over a year-long period. Google says it will study this in order to improve its products and services. Forbes points out that $25 in Amazon credits isn't quite enough to buy a six pack of Marshmallow Fluff ($26.75)." The money isn't much as a pure trade for privacy, but I suspect that many people would like to have their preferences be among those that shape how Google — and other companies, too — actually organize their interfaces. (Note that the tracking can be selectively turned off by the user.)