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99-year-old Japanese plays Nintendo to keep mind sharp

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A 99-year-old Japanese woman may yet offer the best proof of regular video gaming being good for the health.

Umeji Narisawa started playing “Bomberman” for the original 1980s Nintendo Entertainment System console when she saw her grandchildren had fun playing it, Japan Probe reported.

Narisawa said playing the game daily has kept her mind sharp, and credits the daily pressing of controller buttons for her dexterity – she can still thread a needle to this day, the report said.

The report indicated Narisawa started taking up the game in 1985, becoming an expert and clearing all 50 levels of the game.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Google+ ‘fastest-growing’ ever

Google is a latecomer to social networking but its new site, Google+, is growing much more rapidly than Facebook, Myspace and Twitter did in their early days, technology experts said Tuesday.
While Google+ may be the fastest-growing social network ever, it remains to be seen, however, whether it can pose a serious threat to the social networking titan Facebook, which has more than 750 million members.
Andrew Lipsman, vice-president for industry analysis at tracking firm comScore, said Google+, which was launched by the Internet search and advertising giant on June 28, had 25 million unique visitors as of July 24.
During a panel discussion on Google+ hosted by Wedbush Securities, Lipsman said it took other social networks much longer to reach 25 million users: 22 months for Myspace, 33 months for Twitter and 37 months for Facebook.
“Obviously, this is a very strong growth trajectory,” Lipsman said.
He cautioned, however, that Google “has a really large user base it can build off of” with its one billion users worldwide.
And it still has a “really long way to go to be competitive with Facebook,” Lipsman said.

Important
“Google+ is the fastest by a long shot but it’s important to realize that fastest may not always be best,” he said. “Sometimes, that slow build can lead to a strong network effect that pays long-term dividends.”
Most Google+ users — 6.4 million — are in the United States, followed by India with 3.6 million, Canada with 1.1 million, Britain with 1.1 million and Germany with over 920,000, according to comScore.
Lipsman said many Google+ users appear to also be users of Google’s email program Gmail and display a “very strong early adopter profile.”
He said the ratio of men to women is about two to one and that 60 percent of Google+ users are between the ages of 18 and 34.
In the United States, the highest numbers of Google+ users are in the tech-savvy cities of San Francisco and Austin, Texas, he said.
Steve Rubel, executive vice president for global strategy and insights at public relations firm Edelman, said Facebook is not “vulnerable immediately” to Google.
“I don’t see (Google+) taking significant share from Facebook in the next 18 months,” Rubel said.
At the same time, “what we have seen is that over the years there’s never been a social network or community that has had significant staying power,” he said. “There’s always a shuffling every two or three years, a changing of the guard.

“We saw it with Myspace,” he said of the one-time social networking leader that has been eclipsed by Facebook and hemorrhaging users ever since.
Rubel said Google was compelled to try its hand at social networking because Facebook is restricting the access of its search engine to Facebook content.
“What’s happening is more content is being created behind Facebook’s walls than ever before and a lot of that content is invisible to Google,” he said.
“Conceptually, at least, they’re building kind of an alternate Web… There’s also an entire Web that is app-based on mobile phones. That is also invisible to them.”
Rubel said it was conceivable that more content would be invisible to them in five or 10 years than what the search engine can see today when created on Facebook or inside apps.
“So they had to make a play to get more people to create content on their site,” he continued. “It’s to get more people to spend time on Google.”
In unveiling Google+, Google stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different “Circles,” or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.
One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook Groups.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Google+ Claims 20 Million Members in First Month

Does the world really need a new social networking site?

Maybe it does, and maybe that helps explain the success of Google+. It only turns a month old on Thursday, but it already claims up to 20 million members. And since the service went live, Google Inc. stock has gone up nearly 30 percent, raising the value of the company (the “market cap” in Wall Street jargon) by $45 billion.

“They’re probably the only company well positioned to launch a Facebook alternative,” said Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and a prominent Google-watcher. “People like alternatives. Twitter doesn’t offer a full-fledged alternative to the Facebook experience. Google does.”

Google+ is still far smaller than Facebook, but it is already stealing attention and advertising dollars. It offers one-stop shopping for people who want to link up with friends and family, but don’t like using multiple sites.

“Google+ has aspects of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in it, and folks are a bit overwhelmed with all of the different social networking services,” said Rob Enderle, a technology analyst based in San Jose, Calif. “Folks have also crammed these other services with tons of ‘friends’ they don’t really know, and the sheer volume of activity has weakened the quality of the experience.”

Google+ will look familiar if you’ve used Facebook — but different. There are photos and comments from friends, but there are also “circles” into which you can categorize people with whom you’ve linked — friends, family, acquaintances and so on. There may be something silly from that Saturday-night party that you’d share with close friends, but not with a business connection.

Enderle says the mix is well-thought-out. “Google+ thus simplifies their online social networking life,” he said in an email to ABC News, “and has allowed them to start over choosing their ‘friends’ more judiciously, preserving the quality of the experience.”

That said, tech-industry wags like the irony that the most-followed public figure on Google+ is Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook’s founder. (Well behind, according to Google+ Statistics, are Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders.)

And writers have noted there’s a tech-geek Silicon-Valley quality to Google+; Zuckerberg’s 388,000 followers can’t compare to the 11 million on Twitter that Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber each command.

But Google is not complaining. It has a success on its hands. “For people who love Google,” said Sullivan, “it’s like they’ve found a home where they can be loud and proud about the company.”

One other thing: There is an aura of exclusivity to Google+. When it started you had to be invited to join, even if only by a friend you hadn’t seen in years. “That last created a bit of a feeding frenzy that I think surprised a lot of us,” said Enderle. “In a way they used social engineering to create initial demand and that was new to them.”

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Google Now Detecting Viruses, For At Least One Form Of Malware

Google has just announced something pretty interesting, that it is using its own data to detect viruses and will as of today be using Google Search results pages to warn users if their computers are infected with a specific form of malware. Users infected with the virus, which is apparently rerouting traffic to Google and other sites through a proxy, will see the below warning.

From the Google blog post mysteriously titled “Using data to protect people from malware”:

“Recently, we found some unusual search traffic while performing routine maintenance on one of our data centers. After collaborating with security engineers at several companies that were sending this modified traffic, we determined that the computers exhibiting this behavior were infected with a particular strain of malicious software, or “malware.” As a result of this discovery, today some people will see a prominent notification at the top of their Google web search results.”

Google’s Matt Cutts offers more details about the virus on his Twitter account, apparently it only affects Windows computers and hijacks Google results. “That’s how we learned about it,” Cutts says about the “results hacking” thing, without offering many more details. Google is recommending you follow the advice in its Help Center if you do receive the notification.

This is the first time major search engine turns its results pages into what is ostensibly a malware alarm. Of course this is in the company’s best interests; if proxies are intercepting communications they could also potentially access Google accounts, thus creating more headaches for Google.

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Twitter Drives 4x as Much Traffic as You Think. Here’s Why …

Most web publishers measure where their traffic is coming from using an analytics package such as Google Analytics, Omniture or Core Metrics.

These were good packages in the pre social media world at helping figure out who was driving your traffic.

Today they’re wrong. Terribly wrong. And figuring out who is referring your traffic is a very important part of determining how you allocate your marketing budgets. It is almost certain that Twitter is driving much more of your referrals than you think.

Possibly up to 4x as much.

Jonathan Strauss is the gentleman who did all the number crunching and has written an excellent post on why this is.

I’ve been a user of awe.sm (his product) before I invested in his company (disclosure) so the understatement of Twitter as a referral source is a problem I’ve known about for a long time. Let me give you the simple explanation.

Take a look at the Google Analytics log for BothSidesofTheTable.com for yesterday. I had 8,502 visitors yesterday of which 1,669 are listed as “direct.” Direct traffic are people who typed in my URL directly. They weren’t “referred” by anybody.

But look at the second line. This says “direct – bothsid.es / bothsid.es – twitter” and shows 1,423 referrals. Line 5 says twitter.com / bothsid.es – twitter” for 712 referrals and line 9 shows twitter.com for 170 people.

What does that mean?

awe.sm tracks all of my social media sharing behavior. What awe.sm does is it allows publishers to be able to track each individual share behavior to a level of granularity that no other campaign tracking tool I’m aware of allows.

In ordinary tracking line 2 would have shown up as “direct” traffic and I would have assumed that I was getting a lot more direct traffic than I really was. I would have assumed I was 36% direct and just 10% via Twitter when the reality is that I’m 20% direct and 27% via Twitter.

In fact, the actual Twitter referrals are generally up to 4x as much as people think is happening. And the same is almost certainly the same for most publishers in terms of understating referrals.

This is a problem because publishers might then under invest in Twitter campaigns relative to others because they don’t get “last mile attribution” right.

This happens with other marketing campaigns, too. Often you hear a radio ad, see a TV ad or read an article in a magazine and you type the results into Google to find out more details about the product or service. The problem is that marketers assume that Google drove the traffic. They did not. So you ramp down your TV or print campaigns and suddenly your search volume goes down.

Doh!

Last mile attribution is very important to understand marketing ROI. For the above problem the best company I know of is called Convertro. I’m not an investor in the company. But Jeff Zwelling is one of the most informed people on last-mile attribution with whom I’ve spoken.

And in social media the problem is even worse than I described. Twitter is an amazing generator of social hooks to websites. Some of that comes from Twitter.com or other Twitter clients. But since many other websites pull in Twitter data, including links, you don’t always know who is referring the traffic to you.

Case in point: LinkedIn. Many Tweets are now being sent to LinkedIn and then the publisher assumes that the source of the referral is LinkedIn. In some ways it is because that’s where your user engaged the content. But get rid of the Tweet and you get rid of the referral traffic in the same way as I described the loss when you cancel your TV commercial.

So when I see MG Siegler announce that LinkedIn is sending more traffic to TechCrunch than Twitter – I’m not so sure. I understand why he would think that – Google Analytics tells him so. But I’ll bet a hefty amount of LinkedIn clicks were originated on Twitter. And I’ll bet a whole lot of TechCrunch “direct” traffic is from Twitter.

With proper social media attribution you need to generate a unique URL for EACH share behavior. So if you click on a “Tweet this” button on a website to send an article to your friends, that link needs to be individual to you and to that exact share instance. By making the URL link unique to its point of generation you can then track it better as it spreads to other sites

And importantly when anybody else then shares the link to this site it maps out a “parent / child” link relationship. So if the original Tweet was on Twitter and then somebody builds a “Tweet this” from a product like LinkedIn, you can still tell that the original source of the the story was Twitter. Call it, “last mile social media attribution” and when you’re a brand spending money on products & marketing you need to know this.

They also cookie users so that we can better track who it was that drove viral adoption of campaigns. It could be that one influential person send a Tweet but he doesn’t have a lot of followers. If Ashton Kutcher follows that person and suddenly shares if with his 7 million followers it would start to snowball.

So there you have it. The story is never quite as simple as the data might lead you to believe.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Web Addresses Enter New.Era

The dot-com era is over. Welcome to the dot-anything age.

On Monday, the organization that regulates the world’s Internet domain names—yes, there is central coordination—approved changes that could allow anyone to register any name they like in almost any language as a Web address.

The new rules affect what the industry calls top-level domain names, the familiar dot-coms and dot-nets that end every Web address. Now, instead of having to use one of those existing forms, users will be able to end their addresses with the name of their company, such as dot-Ford, or their city, like dot-Berlin.

Now, your domain name could possibly be just about .anything. WSJ’s Jen Valentino-DeVries explains why on digits.

Journal Community

If successful, the change could alleviate a shortage of dot-com Web addresses and produce hundreds of millions of dollars in business for the companies whose business is managing the Internet’s vast registries, as well as those selling the names, called registrars. Companies could gain new tools for highlighting their identities and networking with suppliers and distributors.

The shift, however, could also cause anxiety and disputes among governments, companies and other entities in safeguarding their brands and identities in cyberspace. Those seeking religious or political names, for example, could lead to sensitive situations.

For companies, even those that are happy with dot-com and aren’t interested in adopting a new domain-name suffix will have to monitor the process to head off any potential trademark or brand-name infringement from other applicants, Internet experts said.

“Instead of having a dot-com that doesn’t really mean anything, you will have an extension that means something,” said Antony Van Couvering, the head of Minds + Machines LLC, a Santa Monica, Calif., company that advises clients on domain names.

The idea behind the change—which likely will need another 18 months before any of the new names become active—was to create more choice on the Internet and potentially spur innovation, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, the nonprofit Internet coordinating body that approved the measure.

[ICANN]

For companies, having a Web-address suffix reflecting their own name could benefit branding as well as online security.

Online sales of counterfeit goods are on the rise, with fake domain names duping customers into thinking they are getting a good price on the real deal. Fraud is a problem, too.

To combat that activity, companies could register their brands as domain names—dot-brand—then offer authorized distributors of their products access to that domain, said Elisa Cooper, director of product marketing at MarkMonitor, a firm that helps businesses protect their brands online.

Those distributors would appear on the Web as distributor1.brand and distributor2.brand. Eventually, consumers could learn that only sites using the dot-brand domain carry authentic products.

Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages-America, says the change creates interesting opportunities for building his brand. But he worries about the cost and wonders whether the new addresses will be adopted by consumers, noting that alternatives like dot-biz failed to find an audience. If it does catch on, companies like Pepsi may feel pressure to follow suit.

“I see this as nice to have, but it’s not something we’re going to get cracking on tomorrow morning,” Mr. Singh said. “I am keen to see how other brands adopt it, because this will only succeed if it has critical mass adoption among companies.”

Many companies opposed the change, however, citing the hassles it would create. Major companies typically register their name in multiple countries under country-code domain names such as dot-uk for Great Britain, as well as under multiple top-level domain names such as dot-com and dot-net.

The new rules create infinite options, compounding the registration issues. “Trademark owners and their lawyers are watching this closely to ensure their rights,” said Jeff Brown, a spokesman for videogame publisher Electronic Arts Inc. “For us, the domains seem expensive and offer negligible value.”

Peter Dengate Thrush, standing, chairman of Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, at an Icann meeting in Singapore on Monday with Rod Beckstrom, the organization’s president and chief executive.

Search-engine giant Google Inc. warned that the change has the potential to create widespread user confusion.

“For example, if someone wants to find Citibank, would that be at citibank.com, http://www.citibank, citi.bank, or somewhere else?” a Google spokeswoman asked hypothetically.

Icann will accept applications for addresses under the new rules from Jan. 12 to April 12. The first of the new domains could be online by late 2012.

There are currently about 20 generic top-level domain names, like dot-org, and more than 200 country-code domain names, like dot-de for Germany. As of April, there were more than 211 million Web addresses in use around the world, with nearly half of those using the dot-com suffix, according to Matthew Zook, the head of ZookNIC Internet Intelligence, an Internet research firm.

Companies now will need to determine if they want to register their name under the plethora of potential new addresses. Ford Motor Co., for example, might eventually need to consider whether to register its name under a new dot-Texas suffix—ford.texas—to associate with customers there, or get a suffix using its own name, dot-ford.

“We need time to investigate but it sounds interesting,” Said Deep, a spokesman for Ford, said Monday. “In the end, we will do what makes the most sense for our customers.”

Since so many names are already taken on the popular dot-com suffix, the change could produce attractive alternatives like dot-web for entities that missed out.

Not everyone will jump in, primarily because entry isn’t cheap.

A company or government or individual that wants a domain-name suffix must pay Icann $185,000 just to apply. The application itself is several hundred pages long.

The fee could keep smaller businesses from registering a unique extension, even as the change opens up opportunities to build Web addresses on industry keywords like dot-pets, said Warren Adelman, president of domain-name registration firm GoDaddy.com.

Jason Levin, an online florist in Vista, Calif., who paid $2,500 on the secondary market for SunFlowerGuy.com, said he’s unlikely to change his domain name under the new rules. “If we saw an opportunity that made sense, we’d consider it,” Mr. Levin said. “But I’m not in the business of buying and selling domain-name extensions. I sell flowers.”

For those who secure domain names, there is a yearly fee to Icann of around $25,000. That comes on top of the costs of running the domain-name suffix, likely outsourced to a company already in the business, which can run anywhere from $15,000 to millions of dollars, depending on the number of users, according to Ms. Cooper of MarkMonitor.

More

In Charge: Will Small Businesses Buy New Domains?

Icann said the hefty fee is based on the estimated cost of processing the applications, including possible litigation involving name disputes and other contingencies.

Applicants that look like cyber-squatters taking advantage of brand names or trademarks that clearly don’t belong to them will be rejected, Icann said. An applicant seeking to register, for example, dot-cocacola, would have to be the well-known beverage company.

Winners otherwise will be determined by a panel that will consider factors like financial and technical capability, as well as how the applicant plans to use the domain. Some contests for a single name could be resolved by an auction, potentially generating sizeable revenue for Icann.

Once an appealing domain-name suffix is secured, selling the secondary names—meaning the words to the left of the dot—could be a profitable business. Dot-doctor could be an attractive offering to the medical profession, said Adrian Kinderis, chief executive of Melbourne-based AusRegistry International, which sells names under country code domain names like dot-au for Australia and dot-om for Oman.

Dot-doctor, for example, could be made available to only licensed doctors, who would get Web addresses appearing as yourname.doctor.

“I could sell those for $1,000 a throw because you’re adding value into the verification mechanism that exists,” Mr. Kinderis said.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Facebook facial recognition draws ire of Connecticut Attorney General

Facebook‘s facial-recognition feature for automatically tagging uploaded photos with the names of those pictured sparked a backlash from privacy advocates. Now it’s coming under scrutiny from Connecticut‘s attorney general, who sent a letter to company officials this week requesting a meeting.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said he has “deep concerns” about Facebook’s choice to make the tagging feature opt-out, not opt-in.

“The potential uses of facial recognition on this scale remain unclear but concerning,” Jepsen wrote. “This important privacy issue needs to be addressed promptly. There may be some fairly simple changes that can be implemented to make certain that consumers are fully aware of the implications of ‘Tag Suggestions.'”

Facebook first introduced its “Tag Suggestions” tool in December, but it has recently accelerated the feature’s worldwide roll-out to the site’s 500 million members. Four privacy advocacy groups, including the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), banded together last week and filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. They asked the FTC to require Facebook to cease using facial recognition technology without users’ explicit, opt-in consent.

A Facebook representative said the company is in contact with Jepsen’s office and is “eager” to explain more about how Tag Suggestions works. However, Facebook is standing behind the tool and its widespread deployment.

“Since last December, we’ve been gradually rolling out the feature and millions of people have used it to add hundreds of millions of tags,” Facebook said in a written statement. “This data, and the fact that we’ve had almost no user complaints, suggests people are enjoying the feature and are finding it useful.”

Facebook members who don’t want their name to come up in the suggestions tool can disable it in their “privacy settings” panel. Facebook offers instructions for how to do that in its blog and in its “help” pages. Members can also un-tag themselves from a photo at any time.

But EPIC and other critics say those tools are too difficult to use, and that the onus should be on Facebook to expressly confirm users’ consent — not the other way around.

That issue is also at the heart of Jepsen’s gripe.

“In Facebook’s desire to promote photo sharing and tagging among its users, it appears to have overlooked a critical component of consumer privacy protection — an opt-in requiring users to affirmatively consent,” Jepsen wrote in his letter.

Government regulators and policymakers are growing increasingly concerned about how tech companies handle user privacy

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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