Tag Archive for Google

Google’s Malware Alert


Many news media outlets have been making it sound like Google was accidentally spreading malware. Even the Wall Street Journal said “One Million Google Users Hit with Malware”.

Actually, Google was just notifying people that it had detected malware on their computer. Google’s system wasn’t actually searching your system — which would be an invasion of privacy — but it was detecting a specific malware program that is known to redirect traffic to Google’s systems.

In other words, Google was detecting software, other than the users browser, which was communicating with Google’s servers.

I have yet to learn what the purpose of this malware was, but I have some thoughts on it. It may have been trying to burden Google’s servers with additional traffic. Or it may have been targeting Google’s ad network.

I suspect if they were targeting the ad network they might be trying to make fraudulent clicks on the pay-per-click Adsense and Adwords network. If you’ve seen “Ads from Google” on a web site, such as the ones you see on this blog, then you should know that Google pays the site owner every time someone clicks on an ad. This is usually just a few cents, but they can add up. The fraudulent clicks take money from the advertiser and Google.

Any software that can compromise Google’s Ad network would affect Google’s reliability and reputation. Since ads are Google’s big earner they can’t allow that to happen.

So while the Wall Street Journal reporters in the video above think Google could be come a first line of defense against malware, Google was just watching out for themselves and their advertisers.

Google Mail aka Gmail Outage

gmailCan I blame yesterday’s Gmail outage for the lack of a post today? No?

Just in case you didn’t know it, Gmail, Google’s email service which has been in beta since 2004, went down Tuesday afternoon, and didn’t come back fully until late in the evening. Google attributed the problem to server changes which may have overloaded their router traffic. That’s tech talk for the drain got clogged. (I recommend G-drano, Google guys).

Gmail has over 146 million users worldwide, and most of them were unable to access the service for much of the day. This is the second major outage this year. The prior one occurred on February 24, when Gmail was out for about 2.5 hours. You can read about that one here on Skylarking under Gmail Crashes Again. Did that say, “Again”? The major outage prior to that was October 2008 when Gmail was out for 30 hours without explanation.

Major outages aside, PC World reports that there have been several minor outages, too, prior to the last February’s outage:

• July 16, 2008: A similar “502 error” (bad gateway) struck Gmail, leading to what was described as a “long outage” by affected users.

• August 6, 2008: Technical trouble knocked an “undetermined number” of Gmail users (including both regular users and paying Google Apps clients) out of their mail for about 15 hours.

• August 11, 2008: An issue with Google’s “contacts system” caused Gmail access to go offline for a “couple of hours” for numerous users. Both individual accounts and Google Apps accounts were affected again.

• August 15, 2008: The third outage within a span of two weeks left users locked out of their accounts for more than 24 hours. That pesky “502 server error” popped up on the Gmail login page here, too.

• October 16, 2008: Users went a full 30 hours without access. Google didn’t elaborate on what caused the issue.

Google claimed in an IDG News Service report that “Gmail suffers only about 10 to 15 minutes of downtime each month”.

I guess I should be thanking Gmail for today’s post. “Thanks, Gmail!” Love skylarkingblog at gmail.com

D-Day or Tetris … You Decide

… or “Remembering My Grandparents on D-day”.

The past two days I’ve been trying to watch the movie Pearl Harbor (2001)  on cable. I had wanted to see this movie when it came out (despite the poor reviews) and I managed to catch the end last night, and the rest of it this morning … okay, this afternoon … when I woke up.

Grandmother

Grandmother

World War II is significant for my family in several ways. My grandmother was American and worked as a welder in the shipyards of Baltimore, and my Scottish grandfather served in the British Merchant Marines on a supply ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the war my grandparents from two different countries met, got married, and had a son, my father.

But I haven’t been thinking about playing Tetris at all lately, and I haven’t heard of anyone coming together over this game that is typically played solo.

“What in the world am I talking about” or “where am I going” you ask?

Well, after finishing the movie, and taking my laundry out to the cleaners, I turned on my computer and went online. My start page, as always, Google.com, and I am confronted by the Lego like logo today. “???” appeared over my head, shortly followed by “!!!”

Google/Tetris

Google/Tetris

Now, I know that Google uses a special logo design when they decide to signify some special event or occasion; so I just had to wonder what was behind the new logo. I clicked to find out and it took me to a page about Tetris’s 25th anniversary. It was launched on June 6, 2004 at the Soviet Unions’ Academy of Science by then 29 year old Alexey Pajitnov.

Of course, June 6, 1944, 65 years ago, was the start of the Normandy invasions by the Allied Forces that lead to the end of the war in Europe a little less than a year later. My grandfather survived the war, as did my grandmother. They married the year before the invasion, and my father was born shortly after.

Do a search for “June 6 1944” and D-day is all you’ll see in the results. No mention of Tetris.

Free Internet Marketing Course from Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schoemaker

v4_300x2501Over the last few months there is one question I get asked at least once a week: “Rob, do you have any thoughts on these ‘making money online’ programs?”

Some want to know about affiliate marketing (product promotions), others want to know about Google Adwords and Adsense (pay per click or PPC), and some want to know about both.

More often than not I tell them it’s not as easy as it sounds, and if anyone says they can make it easy for you, chances are they are going to make more money off of you than you will. I also end off by telling them if they want to read more about Internet marketing they should check out Jeremy Schoemaker’s Shoemoney web site. The Shoemoney blog is a great resource for learning the ins and outs of Internet and affiliate marketing.

Now I can do that one better.

Jeremy Schoemaker recently started a 12 week email based course on Internet marketing. He’s offering the course for FREE with no strings attached. Here’s a rundown of the week by week course topics:

Week 1 – The Beginner’s Guide To Internet Marketing
Week 2 – Affiliate Marketing 101: Everything You Need To Know To Start Promoting Products
Week 3 – Market Research: How To Crush Your Competitors And Discover Hot Niches
Week 4 – Pay Per Click: How To Earn Cash With Each Click
Week 5 – SEO: How To Rank Higher And Increase Traffic
Week 6 – Site Creation: How To Build A Site With Zero Programming Knowledge
Week 7 – Content Creation: How To Create Articles That Attract Users And Increase Sales
Week 8 – Marketing: How To Use Social Media To Spread Your Brand
Week 9 – Make That Cash: 10 Ways To Monetize Your Site And Increase Profitability
Week 10 – Testing & Tracking: How To Optimize Your Site & Make Sense Of The Figures
Week 11 – Building Your Team: How To Network With Others And Find Long Term Partners
Week 12 – Launch Day: How To Kick Start Your Business And Manage Your Projects

Here’s your opportunity to learn from a master. Jeremy’s writes in a layman’s style which is very easy to read and understand. If this is enough to pique your interest then sign up for Jeremy Schoemaker’s Free 12 Week Internet Marketing Course. I just signed up for it myself just this past weekend, and I’ve started the first week.

Need more information?

Well, each week you’ll receive a message from Jeremy in your Inbox. Each message contains a synopsis of the week’s topic with a link to a multi-page PDF filled with in-depth knowledge from Jeremy’s own 13 years of experience. As I said earlier, the PDFs are easy to read, and they include an “Action Plan” of tasks for you to perform to start your own Internet marketing business.

So sign up for the course, and if you have any questions, please post them with the comments links below, or send me an email. I’ll be happy to help you out as much as I can.




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Android 1.5 Update (Cupcake) Delayed

Bonnie Cha at cnet news reports:

T-Mobile USA announced on Monday that it’s still finalizing the build to “ensure optimal functionality and smooth delivery” so it has delayed pushing out the over-the-air update by one week. The carrier said it expects all G1 owners to have the Cupcake update by early June.

Well, I will have to start anxiously waiting again next week.

More news stories regarding the Android 1.5 update delay can be found here.

The image above can be added to your G1 boot screen by following instructions at zenthought.org. I haven’t tried it myself, so be careful if you decide to try it yourself.




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Google Android Will Update This Week

It’s been a while since I discussed Google Android on this site, Sept. 16, 2008 to be exact, but I have been keeping an eye on it. (I bought one in February).

Currently, the only phone using the Android operating system is the T-Mobile G1 manufactured by HTC.

Last week T-Mobile announced they would start distributing the long awaited “Cupcake” or v1.5 update. (An update was previously released in February 2009). Here’s an excerpt from their announcement:

T-Mobile is delighted to announce the upcoming release of Android 1.5 with ‘Cupcake’ coming soon to the T-Mobile G1,” T-Mobile wrote in a statement late last week. “We plan to begin sending out the update starting the end of next week. As with previous software maintenance releases, the update will be randomly sent ‘over the air’ to T-Mobile G1 customers. We expect everyone will have their update by the end of May.

The earlier update many fixed some problems, but added few new features. The new “Cupcake” update will have several new features — some of which, like a virtual keyboard, are highly anticipated by owners of the device. Here is a list of new features to be found in the update:

  • On-screen soft keyboard
    • Works in both portrait and landscape orientation
    • Support for user installation of 3rd party keyboards
    • User dictionary for custom words
  • Home screen
    • Widgets: Bundled home screen widgets include: analog clock, calendar, music player, picture frame, and search
    • Live folders: Allows viewing of SD card contents without opening an application.
  • Camera & Gallery
    • Video recording
    • Video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats): Previously only possible via a free Android Market download
  • Bluetooth
    • Stereo Bluetooth support (A2DP and AVCRP profiles)
    • Auto-pairing
    • Improved hands free experience
  • Browser
    • Updated with latest Webkit browser & Squirrelfish Javascript engines
    • Copy ‘n paste in browser
    • Search within a page
    • User-selectable text-encoding
    • UI changes include:
      • Unified Go and Search box
      • Tabbed bookmarks/history/most-visited screen
  • Contacts
    • Shows user picture for Favorites
    • Specific date/time stamp for events in call log
    • One-touch access to a contact card from call log event
  • System
    • New Linux kernel (version 2.6.27)
    • SD card filesystem auto-checking and repair
    • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0
  • Google applications
    • View Google Talk friends’ status in Contacts, SMS, MMS, GMail, and Email applications
    • Batch actions such as archive, delete, and label on Gmail messages
    • Upload videos to Youtube
    • Upload photos on Picasa

Additional features include a more refined user interface, animated window transitions, keyboard clicks or vibrates if desired, and an accelerometer for rotating applications onscreen. The camera will have a faster startup time, and faster shutter speed (image capture), while the GPS features are supposed to have faster response times. (GPS navigation wasn’t suitable for driving, and the route didn’t recalculate if you changed your course. Improved GPS functionality was available from third parties such as Telenav.)

Google has released a video highlighting the improvements and enhancements (shown at top) found in the Cupcake update. T-Mobile has released an Android 1.5 with Cupcake video as well. Many G1 user videos can be found on YouTube.

And in case you were wondering, Cupcake is a codename for the update, and the codenames are alphabetical. The next update will start with the letter “D” and some, like Rob Jackson at Phandroid, are speculating it will be called “Donut” to be followed by “Eclair” in keeping with the dessert theme.

Save 38% on Social Networking and Blogging for Dummies

Is there a nicer way to start the day then by opening an email from Amazon.com letting you know that “March is Dummies Month”? I don’t think so, but then again, I haven’t smelled the coffee yet either.

All the books in the Dummies series are 38% off this month, so many titles can be acquired for less than $20, and if you buy two, you’ll probably get free shipping on your order over $25. Here are a few select titles to consider today:

Facebook for Dummies Facebook For DummiesFor better or worse, you’ve heard of Facebook, but you haven’t the slightest idea what it’s about, or maybe you’re already using Facebook, and you want to get the most of it. This is your book… (don’t take it personally).
Google Adsense for Dummies Google AdSense For DummiesOkay, so you’ve been seeing articles and ads here and there telling you how to make money online with Google Ads (Adsense). Which of these systems are scams? What does it take to succeed with Google ads? Get this book to find out what involved. (Have you noticed the Ads for Google blocks scattered around this site? Hmm? Have you?)
web-dummies Web Marketing For Dummies By implementing effective Web marketing strategies, you can quickly build a successful Web site and business. But how do you take on search engine optimization and search engine marketing to achieve the results you want? Web Marketing For Dummies, 2nd Edition shows you how! This guide helps you apply your marketing knowledge to the Web world, taking you on the path to online marketing success. In this book you’ll find out how to use online tools to spread your marketing message; establish a strong Web presence; promote your site with e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and social networking tools; and measure your marketing success.
pod-dummies Podcasting For Dummies Podcasts? These are video or audio clips which can be shared and distributed online. The term came about with the advent of the iPod as it gave people an opportunity to spread or broadcast their message through iPods and the iTunes service, but now it’s so much more than that, and anyone can do it. Seriously.New tools have made it easier to create a podcast. Podcasting For Dummies shows you how you can create and distribute your own online recordings using tools you already have. Chapters cover: Choosing a topic that fits your expertise; writing an outline or script for your podcast; picking the microphone, headphones, and audio editing software that best suit your needs, conducting interviews and recording an interview subject who’s not in the room with you; finding a place to host your podcast online; promoting your podcasts in the blogosphere, online discussion groups, and social networking sites; seeking out sponsors, advertising, and subscriptions to make your podcast pay; and creating podcasts designed to promote a business.Interested in getting help with your own podcast? Why not try contacting Bruce Chamoff at Hot Web Ideas and his podcasting network? Tell him Skylarking sent you.

skylarkshelfHere’s a great endorsement for the Dummies series of books: A snapshot of a shelf from one of my office bookcases. I’ve got the books: Fundraising For Dummies, Nonprofit Kit For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) for my work with non-profit organizations, eBay For Dummiesand Starting an eBay Business For Dummies, Office 2007 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummiesand FrontPage 2003 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, PHP & MySQL For Dummies, there’s Howie Jacobsen‘s book, AdWords For Dummies, PayPal For Dummies, and last of all Norton Internet Security For Dummies. You can click on the photo for a larger image.




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Microsoft Scores

Nick Wingfield of the Wall Street Journal reported some significant news regarding Microsoft this past Friday, and agreed with what they had to say.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2009

First, let me tell you this were mostly business deals that will greatly benefit Microsoft. Two of them involved raising the profile of Microsoft’s Windows Live Search service, and the last bit of news concerned the next version of Windows, Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista, due out later this year.

These news bits were all connected to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote address at this past week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This was Ballmer’s first time delivering Microsoft’s keynote address at CES. Previously it has been done by Bill Gates, but Bill Gates stepped away last year from day-to-day matters to become more involved in his philanthropic projects.

verizonVerizon and Windows Live Search

Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft had a 5 year deal with Verizon Wireless to make Windows Live Search available on Verizon’s mobile phone network.  Microsoft and Google have supposedly been in a bidding war to provide their search services on the network. The deal is estimated to cost a minimum of $650 million with Microsoft paying on a per phone/handset basis.

windows-liveThis bodes well for Microsoft, as they have been trying earnestly to get an advantage on Google. For example, Microsoft’s efforts to acquire Yahoo!have been reported for a long time in the news. Microsoft is the third most popular search service after Google and Yahoo!, but the Verizon deal will get them more visibility.

The Verizon deal will take off in the early half of this year.

dellDell and Windows Live Search

Microsoft also secured a Dell, I mean deal, to have Windows Live Search and the Windows Live toolbar setup as the default search service and tool on Dell’s line of consumer and small business computer systems for the next three years. Microsoft already has similar deals with Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo.

The Microsoft/Dell deal displaces an existing deal between Dell and Google. Windows Live Search will start appearing on new Dell systems starting in February.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Sr. VP

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Sr. VP

Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi admits that Microsoft needs more deals of this sort to truly compete with Google, but that “These two partnerships are very significant for us, because it…gives an opportunity to put our search offering out before a broader audience now in a pretty mainstream way, and I think you should think about it as the first step of us slowly bringing up the dial on how we start to promote our product.” 

Windows 7

windows-7Steve Ballmer’s other big announcement was that a “test version” of Windows 7 — the successor to Windows Vista which is expected to be released late this year — is now available. The test version, also known as a “beta” version in the computer industry lingo, is available for consumers to tryout on their systems.

Let me warn you that test or beta copies are far from being final, and that bugs do exist in these programs, and that harm could be done to your system and files. Do not use it on your primary computer. The purpose of beta versions if to help Microsoft determine what bugs exist and how to fix them.  It is strongly recommended that should you decide to “try it out” that you back up your entire system first, and, I repeat, don’t use it on your primary computer system.

Microsoft has setup a page discussing things you should know about the beta version, and they have another page for information on the upcoming Windows 7 and its features.

The beta version expires on August 1, 2009. You will need to install a prior version Windows on your system before that date.

Tune in tomorrow morning when I discuss the new features of Windows 7, as well as my theories on how it will be received.




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Is Google sending you to foreign countries?

Update (12/3/08): The “let us know” link in this article has been repaired.

In my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed a problem many people are experiencing at Google: Being redirected to another country domain. In my case, France or www.google.fr. Skylarking reader, Lulu, has also been experiencing this problem, as well as a few readers over at Martin Brinkman’s Google Hacks blog.

Though many people have suspected spyware or viral activity, I had suggested a misread or misdirected IP address. Yes, spyware could cause such a problem, but Google’s computers read your IP (Internet Protocol) address, and attempt to detect your geographic location based upon that numeric address.

Today, I found to some people over at Google Groups who were commenting on this same problem. The “Google Guide” responded by directing them to the Google Web Search Help article “Connecting to Google: Redirecting to another country domain”.  Here’s what the article had to say:

General information

We normally redirect users in countries other than the United States from http://www.google.com to one of our country-specific sites (e.g. http://www.google.co.uk for Google UK) to provide easy access to country-specific search features. We use your computer’s IP address, which is frequently the Internet address of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), to determine your location and the corresponding Google domain.

If you’d prefer to visit Google.com instead, click the Google.com link on the bottom right-hand side of the Google homepage.

If you have cookies enabled, your browser will connect directly to Google.com on all subsequent visits. For more information on cookies, please visit http://www.google.com/cookies.html and http://www.google.com/privacy.html

Tips to prevent the redirect

If cookies are disabled, you’ll experience the same redirect each time you visit Google. Try these methods to prevent the redirect:

Report incorrect IP detection

Finally, if you feel that we’re detecting your IP address incorrectly, please let us know and we’ll investigate.

Using the “let us know” link will take you to a form where you can report a misdirected IP address to Google. The form asks for your Name, email address, your geographic location (City, State, Country), your IP address, and the Google domain you are being redirected to. I filled in the form this afternoon. I’ll see what happens. It will take time, of course.

If you don’t know your IP address, you can find it by going to http://whatsmyip.org/.

Now I just have to find a way to keep my PC here in New York now that it’s seen France. Oh, Google?


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Question for Verizon Internet Users

Update (2/25/09): Some potential solutions for the Google redirect problem can be found here in a post from 12/02/08.

Dear Skylarking Readers: If you use Verizon for your Internet access, I’d like you to go to www.google.com and search for anything, and see if your search results are redirected to www.google.fr.

Here’s why:

In my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed how my Google searches were being redirected to www.google.fr, Google’s French subsidiary. I, not as clearly as I had hoped, suggested that the problem appears to be related to Google’s computers misreading my IP (Internet Protocol) address as originating in France.

To clarify, my ISP (Internet Service Provider) is Verizon FIOS. So Verizon assigns my computers an IP address whenever I connect to the Internet.

Prior to my Google.fr woes, I had received a phone call from my bank stating they believed someone in France had tried to access my bank account. As I worked with their security expert, he looked further and saw it was a Verizon IP address, and further investigation revealed that the IP address originated in New York, and not in France. The bank computers had misread my New York USA IP address as being a French IP address.

It is my opinion that Google is also misreading the IP addresses. It is my opinion that this problem is specific to Verizon users. Perhaps just FIOS users. Perhaps just users in the metro NY area.

So go to google.com and conduct a search. Let me know if the address bar shows you’ve been redirected to google.fr.

If you have a Google account, make sure you aren’t logged in. If your Google account includes your zip code. That information may be used by Google to track you correctly. Those of you who are being redirected from google.com to google.fr might try signing up for a Google account (www.google.com/accounts). You can edit your personal information to include your zip code.

I’d like to point out that I have checked my computer thoroughly for spyware and viruses. I used both Lavasoft’s Ad-aware and PC Spyware Doctor to scan my system.

Update (2/25/09): Some potential solutions for the Google redirect problem can be found here in a post from 12/02/08.




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