Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee
One of the problems of sharing a Google Maps location with someone is its incredibly long URL, containing all the parameters e.g latitude, longitude, search terms, long strings of numbers and so on. It looks very bad on your email signature / newsletter and novice users often have no idea what this link is all about. Seeing the long URL of a Google Maps location, some users may get the feeling that you’re spamming them.
Google has officially rolled out support for G.co URL shortener in Google Maps. Now you can obtain the shortened link to a Google map using the linkbutton at the top right corner of the page, as shown below:
By default, Google Maps will show you the long URL of the selected location but choosing the Short URLcheckbox will shorten the long URL to a sweet G.co/maps/XXXX. That’s far better, easy to memorize and far more readable.
This feature is only available on the web version of Google maps as of now, while Android users have to wait for the next update of Google Maps app for Android.
The G.co short URL for Google maps also works on Place pages, but the sad news is that there is no way to get a customized short URL for your Google maps place page. For example: If you sell black hats in California and want to generate a G.co short URL for your Google maps business page at g.co/maps/blackhats, you are out of luck.
Actually, this is in a way good and keeps away spam. Allowing the option to customize the ending characters in the short URL would lay the welcome mat open for spammers. No one wants to click a link that has the word restaurant in it and land in to the address of an SEO firm.
Google says that this is part of their effort to increase trust among users.
We only use g.co to send you to Google web pages, and only Google Maps can generate a g.co/maps URL. This means that you can visit a a g.co/maps shortcut with confidence, and always know you will end up on a Google Maps page.
Update: The contest is now closed as the winner has been chosen.
Do you want to find out how globally connected you are on the social space? How about the idea of measuring your social influence across the globe and take home an iPod Shuffle?
In partnership with Western Union, Techie buzz is giving away an Apple iPod Shuffle to one lucky Indian user, who identifies himself as the most networked person in the world. Here is how the Your world Facebook application helps you find your global world rank by mapping your social friends into a world map:
1. Go to www.westernunionworld.com/yourworld and login with your Facebook account. The application will access information about you and your Friends to calculate your global connectivity.
2. Once the app has finished mapping all your friends over a world map, you will be shown your world rank and how deep global connections you have.
In addition to an image of your global network, you will also obtain a score (World Index) which is based on how globally connected you are. Your World indexscore will be shown at the bottom right of the browser window, as shown in the screenshot above
To enter the contest, here is what you have to do:
1. Grab a full page screenshot of your global network and upload the image to any free image hosting site. We recommend using Twitter for uploading the images but if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use imgur.com
2. Tweet the following message:
RT @techiebuzzer: Enter the Western Union Network Challenge and win an Apple iPod Shuffle http://goo.gl/sry5W
3. Post the URL of your screenshot and the URL of your tweet in the comments section, along with the right answer to any one of the question mentioned below:
a) Who founded the Western Union Company?
b) Which Hollywood cultural icon or singer used Western Union to send money to his parents?
So your comment should read something like this
I just found out that my global world rank is [global world rank here] [image URL here]. Here is my tweet [link to your tweet] and the correct answer for 3(a)/3(b) is [your answer]
1. Only one entry per person. Duplicate or multiple entries will be discarded
2. The contest is limited only to Indian users and we won’t be able to send you the winning prize outside Indian geographical location, even if you manage to win the contest.
3. Please post original screenshots and don’t fake it. Entries that are manipulated for the sake of winning the contest will be rejected.
4. One winner will be chosen randomly from the list of all entries and announced on this page and a separate page.
5. The contest ends on 30th August, 2011 and the winners will be announced on 1st September, 2011.
6. Posting your comment is mandatory. Please don’t email us your submission or use our contact form to cast your entry.
Best of luck!
Winner of the Western Union iPod Shuffle Giveaway Contest
And the winner of the contest is …..
Congratulations Simrandeep, you will hear from us shortly at the email address you used to comment on this post.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in the contest and made it a success. Here at Techie-Buzz, we regularly organize Giveaways so if you were not lucky this time, be sure to check our upcoming giveaways and contests.
Here is how Google related works from your browser.
When you visit a website, Google related scans the content of the current page and offers contextually related content in the Google related toolbar. A thin bar will appear at the bottom of the browser, suggesting news, images, YouTube videos, blogs and other useful content that Google thinks might interest you. These suggestions are real time in nature and they will change when you navigate from one page to another page.
For example: If you are reading a page on Wikipedia, Google related will show you videos, photos from Google image search and webpages which has similar content. You can watch the videos without having to leave the page so this feature acts more like an assistant, which algorithmically predicts the type of content which might interest you and shows the same at the bottom of the page.
Google has been increasingly focusing on user satisfaction these days. Google Instant pages, Instant previews, Google Plus, algorithmic improvements in search everything is part of Google’s strategy to improve the overall user experience of users. After refining the improvements at the searchlevel, I guess Google wants to bring the same experience at the browser level. The by-products are already here Google Instant pages, which speeds up web browsing and Google related, which offers contextual content relevant to the page you are viewing.
Google has all the data about the pages you are visiting from Google Chrome. Coupled with Google related, Chrome Data and your Google Plus stream data, they can easily figure out which pages satisfy you the most and which sites you visit frequently. It won’t be surprising if Google eventually starts showing updates and posts from your Google Plus stream in the Google related bar. After all, Google is going The Social way’ these days.
One and half months from the launch date and Google Plus is in full swing, measuring its next logical step: Games.
If you go back in time and recall what made Facebook so popular among teenagers and college students, you can do the math. Of course, Google won’t do the same mistake over and over again, this time they are quick enough to add support for games in Google Plus., borrowing a little help from the same old player Zynga.
Starting today, games in Google Plus will be rolled out gradually to all users, you can check your Google Plus profile for a fifth tab at the far right, as shown below:
Using the Games tab at your Google plus profile, you will be able to quickly filter gaming related updates from friends in your Google Plus circles. This is a direct counter to Facebook’s news feed system, which often gets cluttered and bombarded with tons of gaming and application updates. Google will provide a dedicated page for all things gaming, which is cool.
At this moment, Google Plus will launch 16 games which includes Angry birds, Dragon of Atlantis, Diamond dash, Edgeworld, Zombie lane and some more. I hope they won’t disappoint Farmville and Cityville fans.
Introducing Games in Google Plus is a giant step towards attracting the mass. Google did an amazing job in attracting the geeks and the tech savvy audience but if they want the crowd to chase the heck out of them, there is only one way – satisfy their basic needs. Social networking in 2011 has gone beyond one-on-one conversations, you have to have the entire mix in a well packaged format. Google knows that.
Some good news for game developers – Google will take only 5% on in-app purchases and transactions which is 1/6th of what Facebook charges game developers at this moment. This is a really big deal and Google is going aggressive to attract developers in the playground as well. Google says that this is just a promotional rate while a revised rate will be put into effect later.
I wont be playing but for those who will, games in Google Plus is going to be real fun.
Are we in for a micro blogging war? Soon after Twitter enabled native photo uploading feature for most Twitter accounts, TwitPic founder Noah Everett announced the launch of Heello a complete Twitter clone which works the same way as Twitter does. One hundred percent!
Here is how Heello works. You create an account at Heello.com and can follow people whose updates you want to read. Uhâ€¦ in Heello’s language, listen.
Next, you can post tweets pings and they will appear on your public Heello timeline. That’s right, your updates in Heello are called Pings.
Your listeners can send a reply to your ping and mutual following allows you to send private messages to your listeners. Retweeting updates of your listeners has been renamed to Echoso you can echo the pings of your followers. There I screwed it again, it should read listeners.
The big deal here is that Heello comes with photo and video sharing capabilities out of the box, with more features coming soon. Here is how the ping box at Heello looks like
You guessed it the character limit of a ping is 140.
Anyone who has a Twitter account can blindly say that Heello is a complete Twitter clone. Neither Noah Everett is denying this statement.
If Twitter can compete with its developers without fair notice, then why can’t we?he said.
Fair argument, Noah. It is just a matter of time when Twitter’s mobile apps will support native photo uploads and suddenly, all the TwitPics, yFrogs and third party image sharing sites are put out of business. When it comes to sticking with a service, Internet users are not that loyal to be honest.
The Heello team is gearing up for a full fledged war on Twitter in the coming months. Heello will support SMS integration, video uploads, checkins, mobile apps and an exclusive feature called Channels. Channels will let Heello users group themselves together and users would be able to Listen’ to a Channel to see all their pings at one place.
Getting found by potential customers is a real problem these days.
You maybe a company, an individual or a startup but if you are not being found by customers or recruiters, the chances of getting hired is really very thin. Ego surfing is becoming a standard practice and employers frequently Google the name of a person before deciding to hire them or avail their service. If they can’t find you from a simple Google search or land into the online profile of someone else, guess what happens.
There are millions of people who can’t be found through Google search just because:
they have very common names and Googling for their name returns thousands of similar results.
they have unique names which is impossible to spell.
they change their employers and career paths frequently and Googling their name sometimes show outdated results.
Fact of the matter is that you have no control on what gets displayed on Google when someone is searching for your name or company.
So how do you ensure that Google returns the links and results you want potential customers and recruiters to see, when they are searching for your online presence, Twitter profile, LinkedIn resume, personal blog etc?
Enter vizibility.com a simple approach to customize how you want to show your links and online profiles on Google search. Vizibility lets you add your social profiles, blogs, press mentions and other links to your Vizibility dashboard. By making use of Google’s advanced search operators, Vizibility lets you reorder and customize which links are shown on Google search, when someone clicks your Vizibility search me button.
Vizibility’s PreSearch button is a proactive strategy where users pre-select the information they want displayed in search results. Through a simple wizard, the Vizibility service makes it a snap for users to quickly create and share the optimal Google search for themselves and their companies. Vizibility’s patent-pending service provides users with a free, permanent SeachMe link and button which return just these results. This PreSearch can be added easily to online profiles, websites, resumes, email signatures, business cards and anywhere else they have to be visible.
We had a chat with Vizibility founder James Alexander and he agreed to give us the following interview over email.
Amit: How is your service different from Google Alerts or the latest “me on the web” tool? Do you use additional signals like Twitter mentions or links?
James: We’re pretty excited by the fact that Google is helping to elevate a serious problem we’re uniquely positioned to address. By announcing Me on the Web,Google did not introduce any new functionality. Instead, the tool’ is essentially a new FAQ section on your Google account dashboard. They pulled together a small collection of related information and resources with a focus on trying to get people to create a Google Profile and build some buzz for their new Google+ service.
Where Vizibility differs is that we actually give individuals real tools that allow them to curate and share their entire online identity, getting anyone searching for them to their correct information in one click or QR code scan. At the same time, we deliver reports and metrics that allow users to monitor their search results and activity.
Vizibility users get a personal SearchMe button, link and QR code, which they can put on their online profiles (including their Google Profile), email signature, business cards, resumes, PowerPoint presentations or anywhere they need to be visible. We can even buy their name in Google with a personal AdWords campaign so users can be found by someone searching for them directly in Google.
While Google Alerts are helpful if you are receiving them for a trademarked company or brand name, alerts based on a person’s name alone are often inaccurate or irrelevant. These results are no different from Googling a person’s name, and our data shows that only 12% of search results based on name alone are about the actual person.
Amit: I see Vizibility uses Google search operators to customize what’s shown on search results when someone uses the Vizibility button. How does that differ from when people override with their own keywords?
James: Vizibility makes it very easy for users to take advantage of Google’s powerful advanced search features to help them curate their Google results, and get people to the right information about them in a single click. We call this a pre-configured search or a PreSearch.
While these advanced search filters are available to anyone using Google, Google’s own data suggests that less than 5% of all searchers actually use them.
Another key feature Vizibility offers exclusively is the ability to verify and rank your top five favorite results, allowing anyone to instantly see your best, most relevant results in a single click.
Amit: What if users simply shorten the URL of search results that Vizibility offers and use it rather than the button? What additional benefits would they miss?
James: While you can easily create a short URL that links to your long Google advanced search query, the minute you put that somewhere it’s locked in. If you switch companies or careers, change your name, or something old or irrelevant gets indexed by Google, that short URL is instantly outdated. You will need to build a new search, generate a new short URL, and update any sites or places where you have shared your old short URL.
With Vizibility, you can refine your curated Google results at any time without having to update any of your profiles, email signatures, or anywhere else you happen to share your SearchMe button, link or QR code.
The Vizibility QR code can also share the user’s entire online identity along with their curated Google results, including their professional and social profiles, business card details, profile photo and more, all through a true mobile experience.
Whenever a Vizibility user’s SearchMe button, link or QR code is clicked or scanned, the user is notified that they were just searched, along with the location of the person searching for them. Vizibility users also have access to metrics and reports informing them how their search results are changing over time, how often they are being searched, and the location of the people searching for them.
Amit: What about local search? Can users optimize their Vizibility button to get found for local searches? Like when a recruiter is looking for a programmer in a specific city rather than the whole web?
James: Vizibility does not directly impact or provide tools to take advantage of local search. However, by including your SearchMe button and link on your online profiles and bio, it will benefit from Google’s algorithms to deliver local results to searchers.
Amit: You say Vizibility is geared towards career professionals who want to control how search results are displayed? Can this model be gamed? Like my competitor setting up gimmicks or something similar?
James: While it is possible for someone other than you to set up a Vizibility account using your name, they will not be able to put it on any of your online profiles, email signatures, business cards, etc. Only you have access to update your profiles and other places. Simply creating a Vizibility account does not put it in circulation and in front of people who may be searching for you.
Claiming your place in cyberspace is an ongoing challenge and Vizibility can play a key role in helping individuals take control of their online identity and make a killer first impression. If someone is hijacking your identity by setting up websites, blogs, profiles, etc. under your name (whether they include a bogus Vizibility link or not), it is important that you take appropriate measures to combat this. While removing content from the Internet is not our specialty, there are services available to help. For example, Vizibility has partnered with Reputation.com, the leader in online reputation management, to offer services in this area.
Amit: How does the analytics of Vizibility work?
James: Vizibility users have access to two online reports: Search Results Change Report and User Metrics Report.
The Search Results Change Report monitors your search results over time, highlighting results that are new, and those that move up and down within your custom search. Similar to a credit monitoring report, this allows our users to watch their results and make changes to their PreSearch if they see something show up that should not be there. In addition to online access to this report, each customer receives a monthly summary of this report, highlighting any changes to their top results.
The user metrics report allows users to track activity on their SearchMe buttons, links and QR codes, including the location of each click. Users can also receive text message and email alerts every time a person searches for them using their SearchMe button, link or QR code.
Amit: Can you put some light on the feature “Buy Your Name in Google?”
James: Our Premier Pro and Business accounts include the buy your name in Googleservice. We set up and manage a personal AdWords campaign so these customers can easily be found by someone searching for them directly in Google. The ad links to their Vizibility SearchMe link, directing the searcher to their curated results and alerting the user that someone has just searched for them.
Amit: One disadvantage of Google Profiles is when individuals have very common names and their profile is lined up with several other Google profiles on search results. How can Vizibility help them in this regard?
James: The way in which Google Profiles appear in Google search results depend on several variables, including location of the person searching in relation to the location of the person being searched. One way that Vizibility can help is by creating a natural organic SEO benefit for our users. By linking to your SearchMe link in multiple locations (LinkedIn, blogs, online profiles and bios, etc.) that Google can index, you are improving the relevance of your SearchMe link.
Over time, your SearchMe link, as well as your top five verified results, will benefit from this increased relevance and start to move up. Make your Google Profile one of your verified results, and it will eventually be more relevant than the profile of others who share your name.
To demonstrate the power of Vizibility and SEO effect it has, just Google my name James Alexander. Two years ago you could not find me in Google. Today, I am the number one result.
Amit: Indeed it is. Thanks James.
And following is a video interview where James Alexander talks about the objectives of Vizibility and how the service lets you curate your Google search results:
I just Googled myself and found there are 2,710,000 results for my name. It’s about time I get my Vizibility pre-search button.
Back in June, we told you that Twitter will soon add a native image sharing option in the new Twitter interface. This news was confirmed, when several users reported of getting a built in image upload feature in their Twitter account. This happened shortly after Twitter acquired TweetDeck, which co-relates to the fact that Twitter wants to engage deeply with its audience and is now more serious on providing features people enjoy using.
Two months since then and it’s finally here. Twitter has started to roll out it’s photo sharing service across the globe and you should see it in action, the next time you login to your Twitter account.
No configuration or settings are required to enable Twitter’s own photo upload feature for your account. It should be enabled by default and you should see the above screen within a couple of days.
With this new photo sharing feature enabled for your account, uploading and sharing photos with your Twitter followers is super easy. Simply click the camera icon, browse to the local folder where the image is stored and hit the Uploadbutton. Then hit tweet- the photo will be uploaded at pic.twitter.com and the link will be added to your tweet, automatically.
Once the photo is uploaded, your followers will be able to preview it from their timeline (see example). You can upload images of any dimension and Twitter will automatically scale the image so that it fits properly on the display pane of new Twitter interface. There is one catch though you can’t upload photos that are either 3MB or bigger in file size.
While Twitter’s own photo sharing service is already live, let’s not hope that Twitter will end support for Flickr, Twitpic, YFrog and other third party photo sharing sites. So many users still use Twitpic and Flickr to share photos with their Twitter followers and ending support for third party image hosts will break a major portion of the Twitterverse.
The Privacy Aspect of Your Twitter Photos
There is no option to completely delete uploaded images from your Twitter account. Once you have uploaded an image, it’s stored on Twitter’s web server forever. You can however delete the tweet that contains the link to your image but this won’t delete the actual image file from Twitter’s image serving website. If someone manages to copy the location of the image before you delete your tweet, he will be able to access the image regardless of whether he has a Twitter account or not.
Update: After testing the following link after an hour, I found that the original image file was also deleted from Twitter’s image server.
Example: For the sake of testing, I uploaded an image from Twitter.com and deleted the tweet after copying the web address of the image. My tweet has been deleted but the image is still accessible at this link – https://p.twimg.com/AWcYJhTCMAAlnzK.png
Deleted images will not show up in Twitter search results but just in case you think Twitter is ideal for sharing whatever photo is stored in your mobile – No it isn’t. Every tweet which contains a link to your photo is searchable so you should be careful about it. However,if you have a protected Twitter account – your images should never show up in search results.
Watch the following video or head over to the help center to learn more about Twitter’s own photo upload feature:
If you are based in India and have been using PayPal for quite some time, you might be aware of the new PayPal law for Indian users – brought in effect from March 1st 2011.
According to the rule:
1. Any balance in and all future payments into your PayPal account may not be used to buy goods or services and must be transferred to your bank account in India within 7 days from the receipt of confirmation from the buyer in respect of the goods or services.
2. Export-related payments for goods and services into your PayPal account may not exceed US$500 per transaction.
This law was put forward after Reserve bank of India laid out a couple of new guidelines for all organizations that participate in the transaction and storage of money, whether online or offline.
Short answer is that after March 1st, 2011, no Indian user could buy anything using the money stored in their PayPal account and they have to mandatorily withdraw all the money to their bank within 7 days. If anyone fails to withdraw, the money will automatically be refunded to the sender.
Some Consequences Of The New PayPal Law Enforced On Indians
1. If you go on a vacation for two weeks and remain offline during that time, chances are that any money received on your PayPal account will automatically be returned to the sender.
2. If you don’t have a credit card linked with your PayPal account, you won’t be able to buy anything online. Worst thing is that you won’t be able to pay your hosting fees and any online bills because after March 1st, PayPal requires a credit card for all outgoing payments from your account. This came as a shock to Indian PayPal users like me who don’t have a credit card and they used to pay their bills from the money they obtained from Freelancing or by providing other online services.
Auto withdraw Funds From PayPal to Your Bank Account
Looks like PayPal has loosened some grip from Indian users and has rolled out an update in its fund withdrawal system. You can now enable auto withdrawal of PayPal funds to your Bank account by logging into PayPal and going to Profile > Add /Edit bank account.
If you have only one bank account added to your PayPal account, it will be made the default option for auto withdrawal of funds. However, if you have multiple bank accounts added and verified, you can choose to which bank the funds should be withdrawn automatically.
This is an Indian regulatory requirement and applies to all PayPal users in India. Which means, there is no option to opt out of PayPal auto withdrawal system.
Your PayPal balance is auto withdrawn to your local bank account in India daily. You can check your bank account within 5-7 working days after your funds have been auto withdrawn from your PayPal account.
When The Auto Withdrawal System Can Result In Slight Loss?
Lets say you receive $150 from John on 1st June and $100 from Harry on 5th June.
Now according to this new system, the $150 will be automatically withdrawn to bank within 2nd June and the $100 will be automatically withdrawn to bank on 6th June. Since both $150 and $100 are less than INR 7000, PayPal will deduct a small fee amount of Rs 50 on both withdrawals. Which means, you lose INR 100 just because the auto withdrawal system is in effect.
Earlier, you could have manually withdrawn the gross amount of $250 to your bank on 6th June and need not pay any withdrawal fee whatsoever. I agree the fee amount is not that large but considering the exchange rate fluctuations, the little amount of control has been snatched from your hands. There is nothing you can do with your PayPal balance, as it will auto withdraw itself from now on.
I am more of a browser person and never felt the need of a desktop email client like Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird. These email clients have so many features but the one I have always liked and envied is the 3 way scrolling pane in Microsoft Outlook. All messages are lined up in one pane while you can preview a specific message in it’s dedicated preview pane. The third pane lets you navigate around your inbox, jump to a label and access other options.
This helps you save time as you don’t have to jump back and forth between messages and recursively refresh your inbox folder. You can quickly preview a message, reply to it and preview another one in fewer clicks.
Some good news for Gmail users, this feature is now available in Gmail labs and after you activate the preview pane Gmail labs feature from Gmail > Settings > Labs, your inbox should look something like this:
Few days back, Google introduced inbox styles which lets you choose a specific style for your Gmail inbox. It’s about time they have realized the frustration of folks like me who have to deal with dozens of email every single day.
With the 3 way pane setup, I am never really out of the inbox and can read and reply to messages directly from the inbox. The selected message open up in a new pane while existing messages from a label are accessible from the middle one. This also helps in better organization and I can refer to the headline and date of an earlier message while I am rushing out on a reply. Sweet!
You can either choose a vertical pane or a horizontal one cy clicking the small arrow icon at the right top corner of Gmail inbox. I will stick to the vertical pane as it produces an effect close to Windows Live mail desktop client.
All other Gmail labs features e.g keyboard shortcuts will continue to work in the split view. And this labs feature is not limited to the new Gmail theme by any means.
I must mention that preview pane looks a bit ugly in Firefox 5, with scrollbars and all. At least for me, it is ugly.
For 10 years, Google never bothered to update their webspam report page by either refreshing the design or adding more functionality to it. Meanwhile, the web, changed dramatically.
Following the launch of Google’s recent algorithmic updates, the web search scenario has taken a steep turn. Webmasters and content producers, who earlier never paid attention over scrapers, have grown more serious these days. DMCA complaints, copyright infringement and web spam reports are being filed in bulk because often times, scrapers and imposters beat the original source in search results.
This might be one of the reasons why Google has redesigned their web spam report page, which now contains more clear and concise instructions on how should webmasters proceed with a web spam report.
Here is how the new webspam report page of Google looks like:
The new webspam page is neatly categorized into different sections and unlike the older form, now you have separate forms for reporting phishing sites, duplicate content or sites that sell paid links. This will make life easy for newbie webmasters who want to file a spam report in a specific category. The earlier page had all the options mixed up into a single form, which is now replaced with different forms and links to informative tutorials by Google employees.
You might know that Google is very serious regarding PageRank sculpting and according to Google, selling or buying links is a clear violation of webmaster quality guidelines. Hence, Google has added a new option under the paid links category where a webmaster can report which site is selling links and which site is buying them. Here is how the form looks like:
Spam pages try to get better placement in Google’s search results by using various tricks such as hidden text, doorway pages, cloaking, or sneaky redirects. These techniques attempt to compromise the quality of Google search results and degrade the search experience for everyone.
If you find a particular spammy website ranking ahead of you for your own content, you should go ahead and file an appropriate spam report. The more data and information you pass to Google engineers, the better they will be able to understand the pattern and improve their methods to fight web spam.