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Ah, passwords. Most people are still surprised to learn that a majority of users continue to use common passwords such as 1234 or their last name. Microsoft know this and hence are beefing up security of their popular web-based e-mail, Hotmail. Microsoft are changing their password policy which will soon forbid the use of particularly common passwords. What this means is anyone who creates a new Hotmail account or changes the password of their existing account won't be able to use obvious passwords like "123456" or "password."
The new security system will block common phrases such as "ilovecats." In the near future, Microsoft could also extend this ban on obvious passwords to existing accounts. If an account is compromised, and that account sends you spam or a fraudulent e-mail, you can report that their account has been compromised. The feature is called "My friend's been hacked!," and this will block their account so the spammer can no longer user it, when your friend tries to log in the next time they'll go through an account recovery process.
I now await every service that uses a password to implement these features. Your move, World.
Google has known for a while that millions of websites registered freely (or very cheaply in bulk) through a Korean company are plagued as malware-hosting sites. The most notorious subdomain full of these types of sites was .co.cc.
Kicking things into spring cleaning mode after rolling out several new products and freshening up existing ones, they knew they'd have a hell of a task on their hands isolating the bad sites from the good, especially when you're talking 11 million of them!
Easiest solution? Block the entire .co.cc subdomain of course, which is exactly what Google has just decided to do. As to how effective this drastic manoeuvre is long term, I can't imagine all that significant in line of the seemingly forever resident global malware war.
Google are on a rampage this week, not only launching their social networking extravaganza Google+ (which is awesome btw) but now a new look Gmail is out and being previewed. The new look is virtually identical to Google+ which helps keep an overall theme for Google and has cut the clutter away and still keep it as a powerhouse e-mail solution. Google have stated it's a Google-wide effort to bring you, the user, an experience that is more focused, elastic and effortless across all of their products.
They've said that they are not going to change everything at once and will work on the upgrades gradually over the next few months which will allow users plenty of time to get used to it and incorporate feedback that will go into the ever-evolving design. Google are starting with two new themes for users to try as a sneak peak of things to come. Currently there's "Preview" and "Preview (Dense)" themes in the Themes tab in Gmail Settings.
The team behind Hotmail have revolutionized their speedy e-mail system, trimming content on their pages to speed up download time and eliminated a network round trip on login for further speed gains. Their goal was to make Hotmail feel instant and they knew by speeding up downloads that it would get close to their goal. But that's not the only thing they had to do, even with today's fast internet, the network is the bottleneck and Hotmail needed to keep their customers from experiencing that latency.
Their approach was to get user data closer to the browser, and when the data is not available on the browser, get it there more efficiency and most of all, without the user noticing. The team also took advantage of the super powerful modern web browsers like Internet Explorer 9 and made them more app-like, by doing more work in the browser and less work on the server.
Google held a media event in San Francisco today where they talked about how they're tackling barriers on mobile, announcing that they're bringing speech recognition and computer vision technology to the desktop and took the next step for Google Instant - Google Pages. Google are right when they say the thirst for knowledge doesn't stop when you get off the computer, it continues on your mobile device. Mobile search traffic has grown 500-percent in two years with mobile search growing at a comparable pace to Google in their early years.
Google reckon that one of the driving forces behind this growth is speech recognition. Voice search doesn't require anything but your voice making it simple as pie to run searches from your mobile device. Today Google teach their English Voice Search system using no less than 230 billion words from real queries so that they can accurately recognize the phrases people are likely to say. As the quality has increased, so has usage; in the past twelve months alone, Voice Search traffic has increased by a whopping 600-percent and every single day people speak more than two years worth of voice into their system.
Bit of a weird one for everyone today! Intel's new Museum of Me is a new way to look at your online social life. Museum of Me creates a virtual museum in which the objects on display are drawn from your Facebook page and the exhibits are things you care about; your friends, photographs, videos, your Facebook wall and things you 'like'. A video preview is below:
If you'd like to visit your own Museum of Me, check it out here.
Damn. I guess this is what happens when you turn down a $6 billion bid from the most successful search engine in the country. Google had announced it will be deploying it's thinly-masked Groupon competitor, dubbed "Google Offers", starting in Portland, Oregon.
Is it me, or is the name itself kind of a stab at Groupon, re: the $6 billion offer to buy the company? Either way, the service will be launched soon, and after Portland will expand to New York City, San Francisco and evidently the greater Bay Area, according to the map in the background of the above photo, which depicts the Oakland/Berkeley region.
Google revealed the service back in January of this year, but you can now sign up at a page that claims it will begin to notify you of deals that offer, minimum, 50% off or more at local businesses. And unlike Groupon, these deals will not, I repeat, not require a minimum number of people to register in order to get the offered deal.
Google has a Help Page to answer basic questions, but little is really known regarding the logistics of the service. I'll put my money on "email-based", but that's really just a shot in the dark.
Telstra have revamped their website in yet another move to get customers to deal online with them more. The move might work as the site is much less text-heavy now and feels slightly less bloated.
Gerd Schenkel, executive director of Telstra Digital says:
You told us our site was too text heavy, confusing and very hard to navigate - you couldn't quickly and easily find what you were looking for, and as a result many visitors had to phone us or go into a store instead...you told us it was really hard to find the basics - such as viewing and paying your bill and checking your email, so we've made these sections much more prominent.
We all know that collectively, we must go through an insane amount of data across the globe through the Internet. Now we have some solid numbers to play with, in 2008 alone the world's servers processed an insane 9.57 zettabytes (ZB) of information. This data even underestimates as it does not include exclusive private servers built by Google, Microsoft and others.
Whichever way you look at it, the number is very difficult to fathom - consider that there are 1000TB's in a Petabyte and then 1000PB's in an Exabyte, with finally, 1000EB's in a single Zettabyte and you'll finally get the picture. I'd like this type of storage at home, thanks.
If you don't recall, Google April Fool's Day pranked the tech community by announcing Gmail Motion. Evidently the members of University of Southern California Institute for Creatie Technology MxR Lab were laughing at Google rather than with them.
USC's ICT MxR lab develops the Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST), a Kinect-based motion-recognition system that allows you to develop motion-controlled interfaces for application commands, amongst other things.
The prank was on Google, as the MxR's duplicated Gmail Motion entirely, including all of the ridiculous gestures, using a system they call Software Library Optimizing Obligatory Waving (SLOOW).
Still love that the stamp slapping works.
Good work guys! Video below: