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Good Guy Google is taking a step to end easy access to child pornography on the web as political pressure increases. Google has announced that its engineers are working on an industry-wide database to store information about images that have been flagged as child pornography. This database would include metadata about the image and a hashed signature of the image, allowing the file to be easily identified by others and removed.
The hashing idea allows duplicate images to be easily identified across multiple websites without a human having to identify the image as child pornography. There could be a few issues with the system, however, as one could easily manipulate a pixel or two to change the signature of the image. Google has probably thought of this and maybe even come up with a solution, but we don't know for sure.
Google has also announced a $2 million fund for independent software developers who work on solutions to end the circulation of child pornography.
Microsoft users have long enjoyed the privilege of linked accounts in both Hotmail and Outlook.com services, but that is all about to change. Microsoft says that sometime in the next few months it will be removing the linked account feature from Outlook.com and will be replacing things with user aliases.
Microsoft ultimately blames poor security for the changes noting that users usually keep their main account up to date with password changes, but rarely modify linked account passwords. The new user aliases will essentially be new email addresses that are managed under a single user account. Additionally you will be able to forward all email from secondary accounts to the main account and have the ability to reply from any of the secondary accounts from within the main account.
We've found that quite often, people who use linked accounts keep their primary account's security info (including password and proofs) up to date, but don't lavish as much care on their secondary accounts. It's easier for a malicious party to compromise one of those secondary accounts, which gives them full access to your primary account. Note that if we detect suspicious activity in your account, we automatically unlink accounts to try to help prevent this abuse, but we think we need to go further.
Digg's Google Reader replacement to move into Beta and possible launch days before Google pulls the plug
In just a few weeks Google will shut down its Reader service for good, despite the massive outcry to keep it alive. Website Digg has been working on a replacement since the announcement was made that reader was going away. This morning it appears that the Digg Reader may just be ready to roll out a few days before the closure, giving everyone ample time to transition over.
Digg's reader uses the same API as Google Reader, so it should be very similar in function to what we are used to. Unlike Google Reader, the service most likely will not stay free, though. Digg says that "free internet services do not stick around very long" and that they "would like their users to become their customers." Pricing plans and other relevant information has not been released yet.
For now the service will be free and will enter public beta starting June 26th with "Friends and Family Beta" beginning this Wednesday with limited access.
This coming July yahoo will give its users the chance to switch out to a shorter more convenient user id. The company will begin resetting each and every Yahoo ID that is been dormant for a period of more than 12 months. This will effectively free up millions of usernames that can be registered with new users.
Yahoo's senior vice president Jay Rossiter says that this is the company's "next big push" and that "we want to give our loyal users and new folks the opportunity to sign up for the Yahoo ID they've always wanted."
Starting in mid July existing and new users will have the opportunity to reserve their ideal username, unfortunately it will take up to a month to learn if the name you have chosen has became available. To prevent your dormant Yahoo ID from being reassigned all you need to do is sign in to the service he for July 15 and the ID will be yours to keep forever.
YouTube has rolled out the new YouTube "One Channel" design to all users. The new design is meant to unify the layout across desktop, TV, and mobile. It features cover photos and trailers, but comes with many more advantages according to Google.
The One Channel design originally launched back in February, but as a limited trial. In March, YouTube allowed channel users to make the switch if they wanted to check out the new design for themselves. Back in May, YouTube announced that everyone would be switched over to the new design today. Google says the following are advantages of the new layout:
- Gain more subscribers. Google says it has seen an increase in new subscribers for channels already using the new design.
- Get more channel visits. Channels with the One Channel design have seen a significant increase in visits to their channel page because clicks from the guide always go directly to the channel, again according to Google.
- Let your brand shine through in more places. With the One Channel design, you now have channel art visible on iOS & Android apps, mobile web and TV.
This morning, Yahoo announced that it has redesigned its search page and claims this new look "put[s] your results front and center." Search results are now placed higher on the page and Yahoo is even touting improved performance thanks to several undisclosed improvements to its search algorithm.
Yahoo has also integrated its Google-like top navigation bar to the search page in an attempt to improve the user experience. While these changes are small, they are part of Yahoo's larger plan to revamp their image and combine utility with beauty. The company says that today's changes are just the first step in achieving that goal.
Google has plans to launch a new HTML5 development tool designed for "creative professionals." This new tool will launch within the "coming months" and will be a free tool. Google says that the new tool, known as Google Web Designer, will be able to create "cutting-edge advertising" and "web content like sites and applications."
The announcement was made through Google's DoubleClick, making it somewhat obvious that advertising is Google's main focus with this new tool. In fact, the tool wil be integrated into AdMob and DoubleClick studio. For right now, it appears that advertising content is the main focus of the new tool, but Google's description makes it appear that it will eventually turn into a website crafting tool.
Pinterest has announced a new feature that will allow users to search items that they have pinned, rather than all pins. This will make it easier to find something you know you pinned. It's really a feature that should have been included from the beginning. Now it's hear:
When you type a word into the search bar -- like San Francisco, beaches, or BBQ -- you can filter results by clicking "Just my pins." We'll show you everything you've pinned with that keyword in the pin description. Be sure to add words in your descriptions that will help you find that pin again.
The feature is rolling out on the web and will eventually be brought to mobile. Pinterest says they are currently planning to bring it to mobile, but they have not announced a firm date for when it will appear.
Twitter has confirmed that they had technical difficulties with their site and API, which resulted in downtime for some users. The issue lasted for around an hour, with Twitter confirming that "some users may be experiencing issues" with the micro-blogging site.
Some users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue.
The downtime seemed to be sporadic, with users reporting being able to access the site on some tries but not others. The API also appears to have been down, as reports from users say their third-party Twitter clients are unable to pull data from the social networking site.
According to Twitter, the issue was caused by an error in a routine change.
Due to an error in a routine change, Twitter was not available from 1:08pm PDT to 1:33pm PDT. We rolled back the erroneous change as soon as we identified the issue. Additionally, some users may have experienced Tweet delivery delay from 1:33pm PDT and 1:53pm PDT. We apologize for the inconvenience.
LinkedIn is the latest web property to join the growing crowd of companies that have implemented a version of two-step authentication. Two-step--or two-factor--authentication make accounts more secure by requiring more than just a password. Users often have to have access to their cell phone to log in on an unrecognized account.
In LinkedIn's case, users will be required to input a code sent via SMS to log in on an unrecognized device. LinkedIn director Vicente Silveira notes, "Most Internet accounts that become compromised are illegitimately accessed from a new or unknown computer. When enabled, two-step verification makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your account, requiring them to have both your password and access to your mobile phone."
Twitter and Apple both recently added two-step verification. For Twitter, it might have been too little, too late as they had already suffered from a number of high-profile hackings, including one of the AP's account that led to a rapid drop in the Dow Jones from a fake tweet.