Russia's massive internet service provider Mail.ru has announced today that it will be dropping Google in favor of using its own proprietary search engine for all queries searched through its service. We first heard rumors that this may take place back in November of last year when Mail.ru suggested it would be canceling are Google contract.
Mail.ru is essentially the Google of Russia and operates a range of online services including 2 social networks, instant messaging services, online gaming properties, its own proprietary browser, and of course it's very own search engine. That search engine for the most part has been powered by other search engines in the past including Google and most recently fellow Russian search engine Yandex.
"It's remarkable that there are fewer countries with their own search engines today than those with their own space program," says Dmitry Grishin, Co-Founder and CEO of Mail.Ru Group. Mail.ru says that in the past few years it is expanded its search engine team from just 15 people to well over 200 while its index volume has doubled in size from 5,000,000,000 to 10,000,000,000 documents.
Newegg.com announced today that it has launched a new members-only sale site that features daily bargains in a variety of product categories including consumer electronics, home electronics, jewelry, fashion, and much more. The new site, NeweggFlash.com will focus around so-called "flash sales" which are much like the existing Deal-of-the-Day sales that existing Newegg customers have grown to love.
Newegg says that through this new site quick online shoppers can now snap up a very wide an exciting range of popular consumer products at extremely low prices. Customers will have to be ready to move fast as the offers are designed to sell out fast with discounts of up to 75 percent. While the new site is members only, membership is free and only requires a quick and simple sign up.
Soren Mills, chief marketing officer at Newegg:
We're thrilled to launch NeweggFlash and join in on the flash sale phenomenon. Newegg is proud of the deep relationships we've built with our vendor partners over the years. It's these relationships that allow us to offer very compelling deals on NeweggFlash and give us an edge over competing flash sale sites.
You would have thought Nintendo owned WiiU.com, but they don't, as it's owned by a cybersquatter. Nintendo submitted a complaint to the World Intellectual Property Organization, but have been denied.
WiiU.com was registered quite some time ago, on January 13, 2004 to be precise. No reason has been given by WIPO, with WiiU.com currently a placeholder page that redirects its visitors to a bunch of links, some of which are related to the WiiU, some to other sites.
Yahoo announced today that they would be doing a Google-like summer cleaning in which they sunset older and out-of-date products. One of the most notable products to make Yahoo's sunset list is the ancient search engine AltaVista. There are many other products on list, which you can see below. Most of the product closures take place by the end of July, though two don't happen until the end of September.
CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Googler, appears to be taking the Google approach to these products. Many of these product shutdowns aren't surprising. Previous rumors had suggested that AltaVista was going to be shut down in 2010. Many of these products are legacy or duplicate a function provided by another aspect of Yahoo's offerings. As such, they are just costing the company money.
Google will pull the plug on Reader Sunday at midnight, users scramble to Feedly and other alternatives in preparation
Sunday night after the clock strikes midnight, Google will shut down its Reader service for good. That's right after eight long years the search giant is pulling the plug on its popular RSS feed importer. The project was created back in early 2005 by Google engineer Chris Wetherell and after two years of development was released to the public through Google Labs in 2007.
With the pending shutdown, many alternatives of popped up with big-name sites such as AOL and Digg both developing their own replacements. Other alternatives have been around for quite a while now such as The Old Reader, Pusle, and my personal favorite, Feedly. All of these alternatives except for Pulse allow for the importation of your Google reader feeds via XML file.
Here at TweakTown most of us have already switched over to Feedly which seems to be winning the race as the most popular Google reader replacement with more than 8 million new subscribers being added since Google announced Reader's shutdown. This is partially because Feedly makes the importation process so simple as all you need to do is log into your Google account and it will import your Google Reader settings automatically. Additionally, the interface is very Google Reader like with some UI improvements for a more refined experience.
Google has announced that they are opening up their Street View Trekker program to third-party non-profits. Google is looking to expand Street View imagery off the beat path. To do this, they need to take their Trekker backpacks by foot into areas not accessible by cars or other imaging devices.
So, who better to trek into the unknown than the tourism boards or non-profits responsible for protecting those areas? This is exactly why Google has opened their program up to the public. Google is now accepting applications, though the details of the program aren't exactly clear. You can fill out an application at Source #2 below.
It was leaked today that Facebook is working on a Chat Room feature. This feature is currently in testing, so don't expect it to be coming to a profile near you for quite sometime, if at all. Facebook confirmed that the feature is being tested, but wouldn't confirm any details regarding the feature.
Luckily for us, someone who has the new feature was more than happy to talk. The option to start a chat room would be above the Update Status box. Clicking "Host Chat" would open up a chat box that then anyone could join. A status update would be pushed out to your friends inviting them to join.
The host would have the ability to set a topic for discussion, expel people, and set privacy options, though these chat rooms could ultimately end up connecting friends of friends. Privacy details could prove troublesome and could result in the project never seeing the light of day, however, it could end up being a valuable way to discover new friends via trusted mutual friends.
Google has processed hundreds of terabytes of Earth imagery to construct a cloud-free version of its satellite imagery used in its Maps and Earth products. The data is also now higher resolution, providing the ability to see the Earth in greater detail. The new imagery comes from NASA's and USGS' Landsat 7 satellite. Due to a hardware failure early in life, this was no easy feat.
Landsat 7's imagery has black stripes in the normal images due to said hardware failure. Google had to combine multiple images in order to remove those black stripes. This same process is essentially how they managed to get a cloudless version of their imagery, even in tropical zones that almost always have some cloud cover.
Google has also focused on bringing the new imagery to zones that hadn't been updated in a while. This means the new imagery focuses on Russia, Indonesia, and central Africa. Google notes that the new image is over 800,000 megapixels. In other words, it would take a piece of paper the size of a city block to print it out at the standard 300dpi.
Facebook strongly denies allegations that it handed over user data to the Turkish government in relation to the ongoing protests currently taking place in Turkey. Facebook notes that they rarely provide any user data to Turkish law enforcement or government officials, with the only exception being if there appears to be an immediate threat to life or a child.
Facebook has not provided user data to Turkish authorities in response to government requests relating to the protests. More generally, we reject all government data requests from Turkish authorities and push them to formal legal channels unless it appears that there is an immediate threat to life or a child, which has been the case in only a small fraction of the requests we have received.
We are concerned about legislative proposals that might purport to require Internet companies to provide user information to Turkish law enforcement authorities more frequently. We will be meeting with representatives of the Turkish government when they visit Silicon Valley this week, and we intend to communicate our strong concerns about these proposals directly at that time.
Reports of Facebook providing Turkish officials with user data stemmed from an NPR report that cited a Turkish minister. He claimed that Facebook was "in cooperation with the state" and that Twitter refused to supply user data. Facebook and others are worried about pending litigation that could force them to provide more data to the Turkish government. Some of Turkey's legislators have called for stronger social media use rules in light of the protests.
Should Facebook and Twitter be required to cooperate more with the Turkish government?
Google has just announced an addition to its popular Transparency Report. Google will now be including information about malware, broken down by country. Google has included various interesting tidbits including how many users they protect through their SafeBrowsing technology, how long it takes for a site to become reinfected after being cleaned of malware, and various other bits of information Google has gleaned.
Glancing over the data, it's easily seen that malware doesn't seem to be on the rise, unlike government data requests. India has the highest percentage--16, for those keeping count--of infected sites, but via total number of hosted sites, the United States is way ahead of India. The United States has two percent of all scanned sites infected with malware, but this amounts to two percent of 14 million sites. India is 16 percent of just 26,000 sites.
To check out Google's interactive map of malware infections, head to Google's updated Transparency Report.
Today, we are hearing rumors that Microsoft will launch a web-based version of Xbox Music, a Spotify-like music streaming service. The company says that this will allow Xbox Live subscribers to be able to access their content across various platforms.
Citing sources familiar with Xbox Music's internal team, The Verge is reporting that the web-based version will launch as early as next week at music.Xbox.com. The same sources also state that Microsoft is already started updating its Xbox Music pages in preparation for the launch. Xbox Music on the web will work very similar to how Spotify handles its web-based music streaming, and will let you manage playlists through the browser.
Microsoft is also refreshing its Xbox Music App in preparation for Windows 8.1. The new design will include a two-panel interface and will improve discoverability while allowing quick access to collections of songs. It will also support streaming music files from SD cards and improved play to smartphones outside of the Xbox music catalog.
This morning Microsoft unveiled its new Bing for Schools initiative, a voluntary program that offers schools in the US a custom tailored version of its Bing search engine that is K-12 appropriate. The customization process removes all advertisements from the search engine you to Microsoft believe that schools "are fore learning and not for selling".
SafeSearch, brings built-in adult content filter is configured to the strictest settings by default and is locked down so students are unable to change it back manually. Microsoft says that there will also be many more enhanced privacy protections, but declined to elaborate further.
Bing for Schools will come with several bundled short lesson plans that the school can use to teach students basic digital literacy skills. "We see the program as something we can build alongside teachers, parents, and visionaries to create the best possible search experience for our children," Matt Wallaert, a Bing Behavioral Scientist said.
Twitch.tv is down, and once it comes back online, all users will be requires to reset their passwords and stream keys. We know this, as the information is coming directly from their blog, which blames the outage on a caching issue with their web CDN partner.
Some were worried that Twitch were hacked, but this isn't the case. The company has stated that they haven't been hacked and it should be back up shortly, but "10s of millions of accounts resets takes quite a bit of time".
It seems like several different web companies are racing to build replacements to Google's ill-fated Reader product that officially closes down July 1. Digg was one of the first to announce a replacement option, now it appears that AOL has thrown its hat into the ring.
According to the AOL Reader site, the new product is "in private beta now." It promises "all your favorite websites, in one place." Not much is known about the service. In fact, I haven't been able to find anything publicly announced by the company ahead of the launch.
On another page, a bit more information about the service can be found. It offers a customizable layout, the ability to import and export your feeds, and an API so anyone can develop web, desktop, and mobile apps on top of the service. We'll have to see how it ends up looking once it is out of beta.
Facebook has just reported about a bug that "may have allowed some of a person's contact information (email or phone number) to be accessed by people who either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them."
It's important to note that only phone numbers or e-mails were affected. The bug was present in the Download Your Information (DYI) tool.
The bug doesn't likely present a huge security risk as the information was provided about people who were already connected with you in some form or another. This means that it probably isn't an issue if their e-mail or phone number shows up in your data; you likely already have it.
Of course, Facebook needs to be careful as they are the stewards of quite a bit of personal and private information. We're glad that it was just phone numbers and e-mails, but Facebook needs to make sure things like this don't happen in the future.
Google has decided to make its News product opt-in only in Germany in light of new copyright laws. The change will take place August 1. After that date, only news sites that have opted-in to the program will have their news stories appear in Google's News search engine.
The issue came about because Germany passed a new copyright law that takes place August 1. This law could see Google possibly having to pay publishers fees for indexing and returning snippets of their stories. Google wants to limit liability, so the only way to do that completely is to eliminate everyone and force opt-in.
Interested news publishers can head to Google's Webmaster Tools. Once there, they can opt-in to be indexed and returned as part of Google News. If publishers don't opt-in, they will be removed from the index on August 1.
Google argues that they were providing a free service that increased publishers' traffic. Some German publishers will be sure to opt-in, but a fair amount probably won't.
I'm a huge fan of Feedly, so much so that I use it every single day. If I'm out and about, or looking for some news or information, it's my go-to service. Feedly have announced a huge restructuring of their services today, which include a new cloud infrastructure and "Feedly Cloud".
Feedly Cloud is a scalable infrastructure that the company says is finally ready to replace Google Reader - I've just jumped with joy. New users can now pull everything easily from their Google account and begin using Feedly right away. Existing users, like myself, will have to ensure they have the latest version of Feedly installed, and their accounts will be migrated to Feedly Cloud in the coming days. The new service has also given Feedly the freedom to create a standalone web interface, which can be found at cloud.feedly.com, which works in most major browsers without plugins, or extensions.
Trolls, arm your picture stores, Facebook has just unleashed native photo comments. This means you'll now be able to reply directly with that hilarious or trolling picture instead of linking to an outside source. The change will initially roll out to web users, though we expect it to make it through all platforms.
The roll out started today, but that doesn't mean that you will have the ability right away. It's rather simple to reply with an image: in the usual "Write a comment..." box, there is a new little camera icon on the right. Simply click that and pick an image to attach to the comment.
Facebook has an event scheduled for tomorrow, but it's not exactly clear what they will unveil. Facebook's recently introduced #hashtags and this newly released photo reply will certainly add to Zuckerberg's speech, but they certainly aren't the next "big idea." Stay tuned to TweakTown tomorrow to learn just what Facebook is planning.
It seems as though your Facebook News Feed will be free of video ads, at least until fall. According to a report, Facebook has delayed plans to introduce 15-second video ads to your News Feed. Previous reports suggested that Facebook would start rolling these ads out in July.
The delay is reportedly to allow Facebook to debut the new ads alongside new social-networking features. This means the new video ads are tentatively planned for a mid-October release, though that time frame is currently unofficial.
Rumors say the ads will auto-play, though it's likely that sound won't be enabled. Reports suggest Facebook was seeking in excess of $1 million for a day-long run of one of these ad units.
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.