On January 31, you may have thought the entire internet had fallen prey to what would have ranked as the fastest spreading worm in the history of the web. That's because for about an hour on Saturday morning, all Google search results were flagged with a warning saying "This site may harm your computer," including Google.com. Clicking a marked site would bring up yet another warning.
So what exactly happened? Well, it wasn't a worm, and the internet wasn't under attack (no more than usual, anyway). Instead, Google said it ultimately boiled down to human error.
"Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs," Google explained on its blog. "Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes."
Google initially said it gets its list of malicious URLs from StopBadware.org, which StopBadware.org said isn't true. After several updates, Google's final statement says it "works with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list," but that fault untimately fell on Google.
The Chinese government lambasted 19 Internet companies for not doing enough to curb pornography on the internet. It published the names of 19 companies, including Google and premier Chinese search engine Baidu, in an online statement on Monday. The Chinese government says that it wants a cleaner internet that can facilitate the proper development of minors.
The Chinese government also explained as to why each of the 19 companies figured in the list. For instance, Google is on the list as it hasn’t placed any filters to prevent pornographic content from appearing on its image search website.
Although Google had said in its riposte on Tuesday that the search engine enjoys no control over “the billions of pages in our index,” China’s Xinhua News Agency is reporting that all websites that were rebuked by the Chinese government, including Google and Baidu, have submitted their apologies.
Facebook has dragged Brazilian start-up Power.com to court. The Brazilian company has been on collision course with Facebook ever since its launch, for it is a social-network aggregator that allows internet users to access all major social network websites, including Facebook and MySpace, through its website. Power.com raised Facebook’s ire by proceeding with the launch of its service without seeking its blessings.
The two parties tried to settle their differences across the negotiation table, but all in vain. Facebook stipulated that the Meebo for social networks utilize Facebook connect. It eventually decided to file suit against the Brazilian start-up. Although the Brazilian website’s CEO Steve Vachani maintains the case against his company is weak, the website is no longer offering access to Facebook through its website. Ironically, Facebook has been under fire for showing feeds from Google Reader, Hulu, Last.fm, Pandora, StumbleUpon, and YouTube.
Have you ever sat down and itemized the time you spend on the web doing non-work related tasks? You know, things like forwarding jokes via email, updating your Facebook profile, catching up on forum threads, and everything else that's non-conducive to your job. According to a new study, you may be far more unproductive on any given work day than you might have imagined, and collectively, dilly-dallying on the web is costing the economy around $900 billion each year. Yowzers!
Preposterous? Not to Basex, a New York-based research company who has been focusing its efforts on analyzing what it calls "information overload." In its ongoing study, Basex says the average worker loses 28 percent of his time to interruptions, while information workers spend 15 percent of the day searching. All tallied, only 25 percent of the workday is spent on "productive content creation," or in other words, actual work. Technophiles aren't immune to wandering aimlessly on the web, either.
"We recognize that as younger workers come into the workforce, they are more handy with technologies, they're more comfortable using them," Basex CEO Joseph Spira says, "but that doesn't mean they use them any more intelligently."
Hey, that reminds us - stop whatever work you're doing and go sign up for Will Smith's Twitter feed for your chance at winning some cool swag.
Adobe's come up with a new tool that could ultimately change the way you look at web browsing. As it stands now, glimpsing back in time means honing your Google-fu, with no real efficient way of looking at a particular page or subject by date. Adobe's Zoetrope tool changes all that.
Of course, you can already go back in time using projects like the Internet Archive, but Zoetrope makes such methods seem rudimentary by comparison. With Zoetrope, a user can look back hours, days, or months by pulling on a scrollbar at the bottom of any given webpage. And that's just the beginning. By drawing a selection box over any part of a particular page - like stock prices, for example - Zoetrope makes it possible to scroll back in time just on the selected portion while the rest of the page remains the same. From there, you can make multiple selections, link them together, and turn them into graphs. Let's say Nvidia just announced a price drop on one of its videocards. Using Zoetrope, you could head over to Newegg and highlight one or more cards, then scroll back in time and quickly determine if price drops are few and far between or fairly consistent.
A description really doesn't do the technology justice, and thankfully Technology Review has posted a video of the nifty tool in action. Check it out, then hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Rackspace Hosting has made two acquisitions in a bid to establish itself as a major player in the lucrative cloud computing market. It has acquired Slicehost and Jungle Disk to bolster its Mosso cloud service. The acquisitions are said to be worth $28 million. Rackspace’s Cloud Files, scalable file storage service, will most probably be integrated into Slicehost, according to the Slicehost website.
Amazon has agreed to acquire casual web gaming company Reflexive Entertainment. The move marks the internet behemoth’s foray into casual gaming. Reflexive was constituted in 1997 and is stationed in Orange County, California. Reflexive is working on a game development and distribution service called Reflexive Arcade.
The Reflexive Arcade service will be restricted to only PC, Mac and web-based games. The true motivation behind this particular acquisition is not yet known. The two companies haven’t made the details of the transaction public.
Last week’s Gmail outage, which lasted for about 28 hours, has once again highlighted a major shortcoming of cloud computing and web-based services. The incidence exemplifies cloud computing skeptics’ greatest concern that unheralded disruptions in cloud computing services might cost businesses’ and individuals dearly.
Some Gmail users – including paying Google Apps subscribers - couldn’t access their accounts between 16 and 17 October. Incensed users expressed their indignation across the internet, while Mark, a Google Apps adviser, provided regular updates on the status of the issue, as long as it lasted.
Earlier this year, Amazon’s Simple Storage Service remained unavailable for 8 hours. That particular episode had also spawned similar questions regarding cloud computing. Companies will have to come out with ways to keep outages to a negligible count.
Adobe’s senior marketing manager in the Platform Business Unit, Tom Barclay, said that the Flash Player 10 is capable of “things not possible with Silverlight 2.” The direct reference to Silverlight 2 underscores the amount of respect Adobe accords to its seemingly innocuous rival – just about enough. Barclay heavily touted the addition of Adobe Pixel Blender-related functionality in the new edition. Flash Player 10 has simultaneously become available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Facebook is the most visited social network globally and Britain is no exception to this fact. The website is the second most popular website in the UK after Google UK, according to Hitwise. Its popularity in recent times can be gauged from the fact that it registered a staggering growth rate of 2905% from September 2006 to 2007. Of course, the website is probably never going to replicate its performance during that period – its halcyon days. Its annual growth rate has come down to a more digestable level of 88%.
Its growth in the UK is certainly slowing down. There was only a 4% increase in its traffic between August and September, which is almost negligible compared to the 50% growth during the same period last year. Facebook’s average session time has also come down to 20 minutes.
Is there a message hidden in these numbers? Are social networking websites marching towards their popularity threshold? Will there be a corrective decline in their traffic?