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."
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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."
hypnosec writes "Apple announced during WWDC 2012 that it is going to ditch Google maps and bring out its own under iOS 6. So, Google started working and in fact raced ahead of Apple in providing 3D maps for iOS. Through a blog post, Google announced that it has now made 3D imagery available on its Google Earth for iOS app. Users of iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or new iPad, while using Google Earth for iOS app, will feel that they are virtually flying over cities.The feature, as of now, works only for 12 regions. Cities for which the 3D imagery is provided are from US with an expectation of a city in Rome. The U.S. cities include: Boulder, Colo., Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Lawrence, Kan., Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Diego, Santa Cruz, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Tucson, Ariz., and San Francisco, plus its East Bay and Peninsula neighbors, notes the blog post."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Ahead of a legal battle with Apple, Samsung has begun disabling the local Google search functionality on the international version of the Galaxy S3. This mean S3 owners will no longer be able to search contacts, messages, or other content stored locally on their phones using the in-built Google app. The interesting thing is that Apple has yet to sue Samsung over this feature in the EU or the UK and so it seems as if Samsung is being ultra cautious ahead of the the companies' big court date on Monday next."
TheNextCorner writes "Cmdr Taco writes for The Washington Post on why you shouldn't write off Google+ just yet: "Google+ is technically better than its rivals in a number of key ways. The user interface is comfortable and friendly. It's easy to maintain circles of contacts, and to segregate what you share with each group. Discussions of small-to-medium sizes are manageable and readable — even in real time. Facebook wins when it comes to the open graph and app ecosystem, but a lot of people don't care about that stuff.""
benfrog writes "Facebook has lost what (by the standards of their userbase) is a modest number of users over the last six months, which is perhaps one of the causes of a fall in their stock price. In the meantime, a study shows that Google+ users are more satisfied with the site than Facebook users, who are (understandably) upset about the number of recent UI changes, the amount of advertising, and other elements, according to a statement accompanying the study. Figures also show dramatic growth in Google+ usage."
Several readers sent word that Google has announced its intention to start fighting drug cartels and other 'illicit networks.' According to a post on the official blog, the company thinks modern technology plays a key role in helping to 'expose and dismantle global criminal networks, which depend on secrecy and discretion in order to function.' They're holding a summit in Los Angeles this week, which aims to 'bring together a full-range of stakeholders, from survivors of organ trafficking, sex trafficking and forced labor to government officials, dozens of engineers, tech leaders and product managers from Google and beyond. Through the summit, which lasts until Wednesday, we hope to discover ways that technology can be used to expose and disrupt these networks as a whole—and to put some of these ideas into practice.'
An anonymous reader writes "An article at CNET discusses Google's ever-expanding role in search, and where it's heading over the next several years. The author argues it's becoming less of a discrete tool and more an integrated extension of our own minds. He rattles off a list of pie-in-the-sky functions Google could perform, which would have sounded ridiculous a decade ago. But in 2012.. not so much. Quoting: 'Think of Google diagnosing your daughter's illness early based on where she's been, how alert she is, and her skin's temperature, then driving your car to school to bring her home while you're at work. Or Google translating an incomprehensible emergency announcement while you're riding a train in foreign country. Or Google steering your investment portfolio away from a Ponzi scheme. Google, in essence, becomes a part of you. Imagine Google playing a customized audio commentary based on what you look at while on a tourist trip and then sharing photo highlights with your friends as you go. Or Google taking over your car when it concludes based on your steering response time and blink rate that you're no longer fit to drive. Or your Google glasses automatically beaming audio and video to the police when you say a phrase that indicates you're being mugged.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Frédéric Filloux writes that traditional newspapers that move online are losing the war against pure players and aggregators because original stories are getting very little traffic due to the poor marketing tactics of old-fashion publishers. Meanwhile, aggregators like the Huffington Post use clever traffic-generation techniques, so the same journalistic item will generate much more traffic. Here's an example: On July 5th, The Wall Street Journal runs an editorial piece about Mitt Romney's position on Obamacare and the rather dull and generic 'Romney's Tax Confusion' title for this 1000-word article attracted a remarkable 938 comments. But look at what the Huffington Post did: a 500-word treatment, including a 300 words article plus a 200-word excerpt of the WSJ opinion and a link back (completely useless) but, unlike the Journal, the HuffPo ran a much sexier headline: 'Mitt Romney is 'Squandering' Candidacy With Health Care Snafu.' The choice of words for the headline takes in account all Search Engine Optimization prerequisites, using high yield words such as 'Squandering' and 'Snafu,' in conjunction with much sought-after topics such as 'Romney' and 'Health Care.' Altogether, this guarantees a nice blip on Google's radar — and a considerable audience : 7000+ comments."
walterbyrd writes "The latest in the ridiculous saga of the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung, which has resulted in Samsung phones and tablets being banned from sale in the U.S. is that Samsung, with the help of Google, has been pushing out an over-the-air software update to make its phones worse. Yes, the OTA update is designed to take away a feature, in an effort to convince the judge that the phones no longer violate Apple's patents. The feature in question? The ability to do a single search that covers both the local device and the internet."