A while back we brought you the story about users being infected with the DNS Changer malware and how, come July, they were going to lose their ability to connect to the internet. We also told you about how a collection of websites were running a piece of code to alert users to the fact their computers may be compromised.
Now Google has joined the group of websites offering up the warning to users. They are expecting to alert around half a million users in the first week alone. Without Google, it was going to take the other sites quite a bit of time to reach everyone. Who doesn't use Google? It's important that these messages reach users as the system will be shutdown July 9, 2012.
"In general we want to notify users [of malware infections] anytime we are capable of doing so, but the fact that we don't do this more often is really just because it's hard to come across cases where we can do it this accurately," Google security engineer Damian Menscher said. "In many cases we only have maybe a 90 percent confidence that someone is infected, and the false positive rate of 10 percent is simply too high to be feasible. But in this case we can be essentially certain that someone is infected."
Ever felt that some of those autocomplete suggestions Google provides just aren't quite something you would ever search for? Well, apparently Google did too as they now have announced they will be improving Gmail search's autocomplete function. The updated function will have tailored predictions based upon the e-mail in your inbox.
These autocomplete suggestions should be a bit more useful to users than the current system. The system will function similarly to how Gmail's advertising system works. The advertising system reads the subject and contents of e-mails in your inbox and then custom tailors ads based upon what it found. Google stresses that no humans read the data.
It's likely that the autocomplete will use a similar system, if not the same, as the advertising system. I'm sure that some will not like the additional use of what is considered private data, but at the same time, it is already being used for advertising and other purposes. This use of private data should at least improve the user's experience.
English language users will see the update first over the next few days and then it will gradually roll out to others over the next few months.
Google Docs' days are numbered. Google has pitched Google Drive as a replacement to Google Docs since its release in April. What I, along with many users, didn't realize is that Google will be killing off Docs and transitioning all users to Drive. Drive is currently still opt-in, but it looks like soon users will be opted-in automatically as their Docs account is upgraded to a Drive account.
In fact, Google has started to warn users of just this fact. It seems as though this transition is coming sooner rather than later, and Google's transition documentation supports that saying that "we expect to finish the transition from the Google Documents List to Google Drive by late summer (2012)."
This transition will occur in three phases. Currently, users are in phase one, or the "opt-in phase." From there, users will be allowed to opt-out for a little while longer if they would like more time to transition. Once users are moved onto phase three, everyone will have a Google Drive and Google Docs will no longer exist.
This isn't exactly a bad thing. Drive is a good replacement and has the same capabilities as Docs and even comes with more storage. Unlike the controversial Gmail upgrade, one could argue that Drive is the next logical step for the Docs app to make.
In what will be a huge initial public offering (IPO), Facebook is confirmed to be selling shares at $38 when it starts trading tomorrow morning. This price will value Facebook at an incredible $104 billion and raise $18.4 billion in capital. This release price is higher than what Facebook had originally aimed for in the first filing.
MSNBC believes that the total amount raised will be flexible:
The offering will raise more than $16 billion for Facebook and selling shareholders, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and ultimately could raise up to $18.4 billion, assuming underwriters exercise their option for "overallotments" to meet strong demand.
Due to the strong demand that has already been seen, it is likely that Facebook will make the full $18.4 billion. This demand has caused Facebook to offer more stock at the offset than it previously was going to. The IPO is set to release about 18% of the company to the pubic. This will make Facebook have the second largest IPO, just behind Visa's $19.65 billion.
Twitter, just like Facebook, tracks its users. Twitter does track users less, but it is still there. The microblog has now joined Mozilla in giving its users a way to opt-out of being tracked in any way. Twitter is implementing this feature by enabling Firefox's Do Not Track feature. The Firefox feature only works if a website acknowledges it.
The new feature was announced by Ed Felten, chief technology officer for the Federal Trade Commission, at the New York Internet Week privacy panel. Twitter has since confirmed the announcement on its website. Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said, "As the Federal Trade Commission's CTO, Ed Felten, mentioned this morning, Twitter now supports Do Not Track. We applaud the FTC's leadership on Do Not Track, and are excited to provide the benefits of Do Not Track."
This move is just another in recent times that attempts to put power in the hands of its users. Not to long ago, Twitter filed a court motion to protect the information of one of its users who used Twitter during an Occupy protest. Mozilla shared some statistics on Do Not Track in a post. "We're excited that Twitter now supports Do Not Track and global user adoption rates continue to increase, which signifies a big step forward for Do Not Track and the Web," Mozilla said in the post.
The largest cable TV provider in the US, Comcast, has announced changes to its data cap to encourage users to use their internet without fear of hitting the cap. These changes are actually simple as they are just removing the cap. Unfortunately for users in the new test markets, this means that they will be getting switched to a tiered plan similar to wireless carriers.
The users of these test markets are going to get to try the new model which includes overage fees. There are actually two different models that are going to be tested. The first sees a 300GB allotment for all internet speeds with overage fees for exceeding that. The overage fees would be something like $10 for 50GB more.
The second model will increase the 300GB allotment with each increase in speed. The same "overage" fee would apply to these. Either way, users are getting an extra 50GB, but are now running the risk of getting hit with massive bills if they happen to use the internet a lot one month. Additionally, while these trials are underway, the 250GB cap will be suspended around the country.
Yesterday we reported about how The Pirate Bay was under attack from a DDoS. Of course, since it was a DDoS, it is pretty hard to figure out who is behind it...unless they post on Pastebin that they are the cause of it. That's just what this former Anonymous member turned hater did. This lone user has claimed responsibility for the entire DDoS.
The lone assailant goes by the pseudonym "Nyre" and left a message on Pastebin explaining the reasoning behind his actions. According to the post, "The Pirate Bay was a press-release website for Anonymous." Since he no longer likes or agrees with Anonymous, he decided he should block them from releasing press releases by taking down the entire site.
Of course, take all of this with a grain of salt. Anybody can post on Pastebin as an anonymous guest and say whatever they would like. Looking through his Tweets, he seems to be an interesting fellow. I would still lean towards the current common theory that The Pirate Bay angered Anonymous with its admonishment of Anonymous' DDoS of Virgin Media. More as it comes.
We talked about the redesigned socially-driven Bing last week, with a massively redesigned interface, that promised new features that would differentiate itself from search giant, Google. Well, today, Bing is mostly up and can be tested by everyone.
It's not available on bing.com yet, but it is available at bing.com/new. If you want the 'full experience', you'll want to link your Facebook account up. The only thing missing is 'Snapshot', the center of the new three column design. But, the new interface is shown off, as well as Bing's new social integration elements.
I haven't tested it thoroughly, but it does look nice. I'm too much of a Google fanboy (everything I use is powered by Google), so Bing doesn't interest me that much. This will most likely change somewhat when Windows 8 is released. But, The Next Web is reporting that the new Bing is faster, not by a large margin, but noticeable in some areas.
Note: If you're not in the United States, set your country to the US in Bing, or else you won't see the new version.
Reports are coming in from around the world that The Pirate Bay is largely unreachable. No, this isn't due to some country's court order. Instead, according to a TorrentFreak insider, The Pirate Bay is suffering from a DDoS. This DDoS comes at an interesting time as they had recently openly criticized Anonymous for DDoS'ing Virgin Media.
In all likelihood, this is an attack by Anonymous after being criticized. However, it has not been confirmed to be them. At the time of writing, the site has been down for about 24 hours and seems to be unreachable from my end. TorrentFreak's inbox often suffers when The Pirate Bay goes down, but this time seems even worse.
The problem lies in the fact that people were expecting The Pirate Bay to be unreachable due to the censorship rulings, but they were also expecting to use the bypass methods. They weren't expecting those methods to fail. It will be interesting to see if Anonymous claims responsibility for this attack. More as it comes.
The Overclocker's latest issue is out, Issue 19. The latest read covers a bunch of hot topics such as a 'Z77 Battle Royal', a cover feature about the Ivy Bridge-based Core i7, and they also interview Brazil's finest overclocker, Rbuass.
Also covered is a review of GIGABYTE's GEFORCE GTX 680, Plextor's M3 256GB SSD, ASUS' Rampage IV Formula, ASUS Radeon vs. GIGABYTE HD7870, G.Skill Trident 2400MHz CL10 RAM, and finally, Intel's 520 Series SSD. There's much more to read, so don't miss out!
You can read the entire issue, all for free, here.
GM has announced that they will be pulling $10 million in ads from Facebook as they say they don't work. This comes at a bad time for Facebook as they are about to launch their IPO. GM's marketing executive have apparently been reviewing GM's advertising and found that the paid ads are worth the money. They will, however, continue to use the free advertising on Facebook.
GM currently spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $40million on Facebook advertising, though only $10 million of that goes to paid Facebook ads. (These are presumably annual figures) The other $30 million goes to upkeep on the company's Facebook page, along with paying for promotions and giveaways which don't appear to make Facebook any money.
This $10 million isn't much in terms of the $3.7 billion that Facebook brought in last year in advertising. However, GM is the third largest advertiser in the United States, so the fact of them pulling their advertising may cause other companies to reexamine their strategies to see if Facebook is really worth it.
Business Insider's Jim Edwards points out that Facebook has a much lower clickthrough rate than Google does. This could be due to the different medium that Google is compared to Facebook:
The photo sharing site Flickr is set to improve a major feature. Flickr is moving to something they are calling a "liquid layout" which will change the layout to match the size of the browser window viewing the site. The layout will focus on showing high-res images as large as it can on the main photo pages along with the usual information around the side.
The image above is what it used to look like. The image below is what the new "liquid layout" will look like for someone with a large monitor. The pictures were originally 500px wide as the site launched when 800x600 was the norm. In 2010, this was increase to 640px. Now they have selected a range of sizes so that images won't have to be upsampled.
This redesign is just one of many that the aging site is in need of. The site promises many more over the coming year. Next is speed: "Now that the algorithm is complete, we need to work on the performance," said Flickr developer Ross Harmes in a Flickr code blog post. "The first time you go to a liquid photo page, we have no choice but to adjust the page width on the fly. But every other photo page you visit will have the dimensions stored from the last page, and the page will be rendered with the correct width from the start."
YouTube is an empire like Google, one that is built on clicks and advertising. However, as of late, clicks have been falling, but YouTube isn't concerned. You see, this is all going perfectly according to plan. YouTube would rather have "engagement" than "views" as it will allow them to garner a more lucrative advertising market.
YouTube has invested $100 million in order to create content channels which should aid in getting users to more engagement and fewer clicks. Incidentally, this type of video, the engaging type, is more appealing to advertisers as users who are engaged are thought to be in a more receptive mind-set for brand advertising.
"Our goal is we want users to watch more and click less," said Cristos Goodrow, a former Google search executive who joined YouTube as director of engineering a year ago. "This is better for users because it takes less clicking to get to the video you want to watch." Eli Goodman, media evangelist at ComScore, said, "The effectiveness of advertising is enhanced when someone is in an engaged state."
Additionally, YouTube is struggling with when to show a user an ad. Previously, an ad was shown about every 7 minutes. Now, however, they are changing that to an equation that features hundreds of variables. This equation tries to decide when a user is engaged. At that point is when the ad should be shown. However, some people were worried that some people would never see ads. "There were some internal struggles; some people
I'm pretty sure Mark Zuckerberg is even more OCD about GUI layout and usage than even Steve Jobs was. The latest example of this is the new update that has been released for mobile users. The update aims to make better use of the limited screen real estate that is often a restriction on mobile design.
Facebook plans to make better use of the real estate by reducing the amount of white space, or blank space. Instead, some of the content will be more densely packed so that more fits onto the screen. Above is a before picture and below is an after. You can clearly see the change in the size of the 4 photos posted.
Starting today, we're rolling out an improved design for posts in news feed on your mobile phone. Now photos are up to 3x larger, and all posts will fill your mobile screen from edge to edge. The new design will be available on iOS, Android and m.facebook.com. Check out some before/after screenshots below.[above]
It is likely that if you go to use Facebook Mobile you will immediately see the change. Whether or not you like it, however, is another story. Part of the problem is that there are too many features to pack into a mobile experience. However, it seems as though what Facebook can fix, they will.
Programming bugs almost always make their way into production code through some inadvertent way. This time it is Kickstarter who has found a flaw in some of its code. This bug allowed access to 70,000 unpublished projects' project description, goal, duration, rewards, video, image, location, category, and user name.
On the Kickstarter Blog, they have made it abundantly clear that no financial data was ever publicly visible. Of the 70,000 "visible" projects, only 48 were viewed, and that includes views by the Kickstarter team trying to verify and patch the bug. The bug had been introduced into the code with the April 24 homepage redesign.
The bug was introduced when we launched the API in conjunction with our new homepage on April 24, and was live until it was discovered and fixed on Friday, May 11, at 1:42pm. The bug made accessible the project description, goal, duration, rewards, video, image, location, category, and user name for unlaunched projects. No account or financial data was made accessible.
Based on our research, the overwhelming majority of the private API access was by a computer programmer/Wall Street Journal reporter who contacted us. Outside of that person's use, our research shows that a total of 48 unlaunched projects were accessed during the three weeks this bug was live (this number includes a number of views by Kickstarter's developers working on the API itself).
It has been a while since there has been news surrounding the upcoming top-level domains that ICANN was accepting applications for. Once again ICANN has had to push back the deadline for applications due to technical issues. The system had to be shut down lost month after receiving "a report of unusual behavior."
ICANN was originally going to reopen the application process yesterday and require applications to be submitted by the middle of next week. After which, ICANN has to go through the applications and decide who gets what names and which names will have to go up for auction. Before the bug that shut the system down, ICANN has reportedly accepted 2,091 applications and collected about $350 million in fees.
The system was originally shut down "following a technical glitch that may have allowed some users to see some file names and user names of other users." This latest delay is due to ICANN's continuing need "to review the extensive database of system logs and system traffic." ICANN continues by saying:
We have seen no evidence that any TAS user intentionally did anything wrong in order to be able to see other users' information...The large majority of users are unaffected by the glitch. We continue to review the extensive database of system logs and system traffic, and any new and relevant information that emerges from this analysis will be shared with applicants in a timely way.
With all of the new smartphones and tablets being released, it's not unexpected that mobile traffic has increased its contribution to the overall amount of global web traffic. Incredibly mobile traffic now accounts for 10.01% of all global web traffic. In 2010, that number was a tiny 3.81%, according to Pingdom.
Asia has the largest contribution to this mobile data traffic as it contributes 18%, but other countries are also increasing to create the massive upswing in mobile traffic. Incredibly, in India mobile traffic will overtake fixed-line traffic by the end of 2012. Smartphone sales have increased 40% year-over-year to 144.9 million during the first three months of the year.
Regionally, 48.87% of India's traffic comes from mobile devices. Worldwide, Africa is just behind Asia in mobile data usage at 14.85%. The reasons that developing countries and continents have higher usage of mobile data are pretty clear. Often PCs are too expensive or the infrastructure to provide internet to them is expensive and unreliable. Hence, mobile is the clear choice. These findings increase the evidence that websites need to provide a viable mobile website for users.
In the wake of a UK court ordering UK ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay, many sites have popped up as proxies to allow access to the site. The site is actually happy that sites are helping people access The Pirate Bay even when the sites copy its index. However, they aren't so happy when the copy charges users for access.
The idea of charging for access to The Pirate Bay is in direct contradiction to what they stand for. As such, when these copy sites use their index and charge for access, they aren't the happiest website on Earth. "We've noticed at least 3 sites that are tricking users to buying access or similar. We do not condone this behaviour, The Pirate Bay is a free service!" says an official blog post.
So, there are a couple of messages to take away from this. One, beware of illegal torrent sites that are illegally copying blocked illegal torrent sites. Two, if you are behind the blockers, make sure you are using a good proxy to access a free service. "Take care and don't get tricked. There's a war going on. It's the mafiaa against the people. Let's make sure that the people win."
Social networks really do take up a lot of a user's time as they try to read and respond to everyone. I'm not saying I don't spend my fair share of time of Facebook; I probably spend more than average. However, I mostly access Facebook from a computer. A new study shows that users spend more time accessing Facebook from their cell phone than they do the computer.
The study says that the average user spent more than seven hours pursuing Facebook via their cell phone, while only spending six doing the same from a computer. This is based off of data for the month of March. "Social networking proved to be a particularly popular activity on smartphones with several brands demonstrating exceptionally high engagement, in some cases higher than the corresponding time spent by users via traditional Web access," ComScore's report says.
It's not just Facebook that is doing well, either. Twitter users spent quite a bit more time on the site via cell phone. Whereas they only spent 20 minutes on Twitter from a computer, they spent on average just about two hours. Wow! Once again, this data is for the month of March. ComScore was able to collect this data using a new mobile behavioral measurement service called Mobile Metrix 2.0.
We all know it's coming, but Apple and their secrecy shuns us from the truth, constantly. We don't know if the next-generation iPhone will be called just 'iPhone', or 'iPhone 5', or something completely different.
But, Fusible has reported that Apple have filed a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) where they seek to gain control of the iPhone5.com domain. WIPO authorities are currently assessing compliance of Apple's claim with the agency's regulations, and proceedings are likely to be initiated in the near future.
Right now, the iPhone5.com domain hosts a small discussion forum dedicated to the, well, discussion of the 'iPhone 5'. The forum was launched in October 2010, hot on the heels of the iPhone 4 release earlier on in the year. This should be interesting to most people, as Apple didn't even try to gain control of the iPhone4.com domain until over twelve months after the iPhone 4 itself launched.
Spring cleaning is in full effect over at Google. Usually during the spring, Google attempts to rid itself of dead-end projects or, you know, push to overhaul the internet's DNS system. In this case, Google would like to replace HTTP with a new protocol called SPDY. To encourage this, it's showing potential speed gains on mobile networks.
Relying on the company's benchmarks, I can say that mean page load times on a Galaxy Nexus are 23% faster with the new system. Google hypothesizes that even more speed can be gained with future optimization. Google has already implemented SPDY in Chrome and Mozilla in Firefox. For once, even Microsoft seems to be on board.
So, as a way to transition, Google is proposing an Apache 2.2 module called mod_spdy. This module would allow web servers to take advantage of features such as stream multiplexing and header compression. HTTP, you've been good to us, but it appears that it is about time for you to go into the history books.