Google is the company that is world famous for its motto “Do No Evil”, but in the world of online book scanning, the Open Book Alliance isn’t ready to take them at their word. The OBA, founded by the Internet Archive, has become a united voice for those who feel Google was handed a monopoly with its $125 million settlement with publishers. The primary argument is that competitors such as the Internet Archive, are forced to negotiate individual contracts with rights holders, while Google can simply scan now, and pay later when the author makes a claim.
“If this deal goes ahead, they’re making a real shot at being the library, and the only library” claims Internet Archives founder Brewster Kahle. Until recently the Open Book Alliance has been lacking any real corporate muscle, but with the recent inclusion of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon into the alliance, they definitely will be taken much more seriously. With the outcome of the Department of Justice investigation into the matter still pending, Google is quickly finding itself in a very public battle over digital book rights, and they seem to be making many more enemies than friends these days.
According the OBA, anti-trust and anti-competitive concerns are an important focus, but they also worry about Google’s commitment to privacy. The American Libraries Association claims “When it comes to privacy, the agreement is silent on the issue with regards to what Google intends to do with the data it collects”.
Will the addition of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon into the alliance help ensure equality in the book scanning industry?
When the FCC got involved in the rejection of the Google Voice application for the iPhone, opinions were mixed. While iPhone users almost universally wanted to know where to point the blame, they were also unsure if government intervention was the way to go. Regardless of where you fall on the issue the verdict is in, and it now appears Apple is the guilty party.
In a written response to the FCC, AT&T claims the telecommunications company had “no role in Apple’s consideration of Google Voice or related applications”. The filing also revealed another juicy tidbit of information we’ve all been wondering about for months now. AT&T has actually been involved in the app approval process on at least a handful of occasions, but from what we can tell, this was limited to bandwidth hogging applications such as Pandora, and MobiTV that Apple feared would impact the overall stability of the 3G wireless network.
Apple, knowing that it was caught red handed, was quick to point out in its FCC filing that they have “not rejected the Google Voice Application” and that they “continue to study it”. It appears that the primary reason for the rejection is limited to concerns over how Google Voice alters “the iPhone’s distinctive user experience”. Apple fanboys will no doubt take this reasoning as the directive of Steve Jobs and leave it be, but Google was quick to remind us that Android forces no such restrictions.
“Google doesn’t screen or reject Android Market apps on the basis of content or functionality”. Everyone who uses an iPhone knows they are locked into Steve’s world, but should iPhone users accept that?
As open-source proponents will tell you, there are several advantages to running Linux, and the open-source camp is about to have another bragging point, at least if you're a Chrome user. Google Chrome will soon be available in 64-bit form, but only for Linux..
"The V8 team did some amazing work this quarter building a working 64-bit port. After a handful of changes on the Chromium side, I've had Chromium Linux building on 64-bit for the last few weeks," said Chrome engineer Dean McNamee.
While Vista 64-bit users might be miffed at being left out in the cold (at least for now), the move make senses, given that 64-bit adoption is still stronger on the Linux side than it is with Windows. But given the smoother experience of moving to 64-bit on Vista compared to XP, and Windows 7 shaping up the same way, we imagine a Windows version of 64-bit Chrome can't be far behind.
One of the benefits of 64-bit software is the ability to better utilize large amounts of RAM. 64-bit software can also take up more disk space, but with 1TB drives fast becoming the norm and not the exception, even mainstream users aren't likely to scoff at the trade-off for additional performance.
It wasn’t long ago that the Gmail team added the feature to import your old mail and contacts to Gmail. Only catch, was that it was only available to new users, since they’d be the most likely to benefit from the process. But, they’ve finally made the feature available to their entire user base.
“Now, with just a few clicks anyone can copy all of [their old contacts and mail] to your Gmail account. It's easy — just go to the Settings > Accounts & Import page and click "Import mail and contacts." A window will pop out to lead you through the short import process. If you want us to continue to forward any new mail your other account gets for 30 days, we can do that too,” wrote Marcin Brodziak on the Gmail Blog.
They say that coping your mail over can take anywhere from a couple days to a week, depending on how much you have. Once it’s all taken care of though, you can forget about your old account and enjoy using everything in one place.
Food and beverage manufacturers have for long employed blind taste tests as a marketing gimmick. A Microsoft employee, Michael Kordahi, appears to have taken a leaf out of their marketing handbook. He has developed a website called Blind Search that lets the user query three different search engines simultaneously.
It presents the search results from the three search engines in as many unmarked columns. The user has to vote for the search engine that “best matches your search query.” The choice is between Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Google is the most popular browser with 41% votes, according to the data Kordahi has compiled hitherto. Bing is currently placed second with 31%, with Yahoo enduring the ignominy of the last spot with 28%. Given that Microsoft and Yahoo have inked a search engine partnership, it is interesting to note that the majority of the visitors actually dislike Google. Kordahi asserts that Blind Search is his personal initiative, independent from Microsoft’s influence.
Nope, Google's Chrome browser still doesn't come with extension support (do'h!), but as of the latest developer build, it does come with built-in bookmark syncing (woohoo!).
"Many users have several machines, one at home and one at work for example. This new feature makes it easy to keep the same set of bookmarks on all your machines, and store them alongside your Google Docs for easy web access," Google wrote in a blog post.
Somewhat late to the bookmark syncing game, Chrome is the only major browser to make the feature both built-in and free. User's of Apple's Safari browser have been able to sync bookmarks for some time now, but it requires a MobileMe subscription ($99/year). Firefox users don't have to fork over any ducats, but they do have to install an appropriate extension, such as Xmarks.
iGoogle already gives you plenty of ways to keep in touch, whether it be Gmail, Latitude or keeping up with the day’s news. But, never one to leave well enough alone, the folks at Google have decided to bolster their army of gadgets in the interest of making iGoogle a more social experience.
For some time now there has been plenty of talk about killing off IE6. Digg has prevented users on IE6 from certain activities, Facebook has been hinting at its users to upgrade since February 2009 and YouTube is supposedly going to cut off support altogether. But, according to a recent post on the IEBlog, Microsoft is committed to keeping support – at least for the lifespan of XP.
“The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments,” said the post. “Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have. As engineers, we want people to upgrade to the latest version. We make it as easy as possible for them to upgrade. Ultimately, the choice to upgrade belongs to the person responsible for the PC.”
Microsoft has stated that they plan on keeping Extended Support for XP until April 8, 2014 – so if you’re an IE6 user, you’ve got roughly four more years to enjoy your ancient web browser.
But, if you are interested in making today the day you upgrade, be sure to check out these great alternatives!
Google this week announced that for the last several months, it has been working on a secret project of a next-generation architecture for the company's web search. The new architecture includes crawling, indexing, and ranking changes and is the "first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and other dimensions," Google wrote in a blog.
Rather than incorporate these changes into their existing search infrastructure, Google is instead providing a developer preview and is asking webmasters and "power searchers" to give it a try.
"Right now, we only want feedback on the differences between Google's current search results and our new system," Google explained. "We're also interested in higher-level feedback ('These types of sites seem to rank better or worse in the new system') in addition to 'This specific site should or shouldn't rank for this query.'"
Google warns that most users won't notice a difference, as the system isn't completely finished. Nevertheless, anyone interested in checking it out can head over to http://www2.sandbox.google.com/. To give feedback, look on the search results page for a link at the bottom that says "Dissatisfied? Help us improve." Click the link, type your feedback, and include the word "caffeine" somewhere in the text box.
In a deal The Wall Street Journal estimates to be worth $50 million, Facebook is acquiring FriendFeed, a real-time feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites.
"Since I first tried FriendFeed, I've admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. "As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use."
While Facebook and FriendFeed both remain mum on financial terms of the deal, the real value may lie in FriendFeed's engineering team. FriendFeed's four founders helped to create Google's Gmail and Google Maps services, and will hold senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams. All 12 of FriendFeed's employees will also retain their position, at least while long-term plans for the product are being hashed out.
In related news, Facebook also announced a new version of its search, which now allows members to search the last 30 days of the news feed for status updates, photos, links, videos, and notes being shared by friends.
"Facebook is competing with Twitter to be the center of real-time activity and updates for people online," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.