Google Street View Gets More Intrusive, Now in Parks and Historical Places

After a controversial road-trip, Google street view is now treading into parks, historical places, gardens and all sorts of public places. The street-view camera has now been mounted on a tricycle, which people are readily driving around at these places. This is one such tricycle as appears on


Given the new hierarchical level Street View just entered, I would say, Google Street view lovers are going to super-love it and those who hate it, are going berserk by now. This brings Google Street view to unexplored destinations of the digitally augmented real world. The tricycle has a camera mounted at a height of 7 feet giving it the perspective of a walking human being. This will be different from Street view cars, cameras in which are usually mounted higher up, or so it seems.

Google has hired local football players and athletes to drive around these tricycles and do its dirty work. Google was accused of collecting private user-data through Wi-Fi networks while using these cameras and it had agreed to delete the data too.

Access to public places like parks, monuments and other key locations gives Google more possibilities to explore public places. Given the fact that the Street View service is not a direct source of revenue, we should look at the brighter side and give this attempt the due respect before crying foul.

Gmail Email Deletion Blamed on New Software Update

If you have been following the recent news, Google had a major outage where emails were being deleted for certain users. Google did acknowledge that the problem was affecting around 0.02% of their users and have been continuing to work on fixing those issues.

Google has now posted an update on their official blog explaining what exactly went wrong. According to the updates, Google basically rolled out a new software update to their storage software which caused an unexpected bug. This bug affected around 0.2% of users.

The bug was quickly spotted by them which led them to perform a rollback to the earlier version of the software. Google is still continuing to fix the problem and even though they have multiple backups of user emails, most of it was corrupted by this bug. Google is now reportedly restoring these emails from tape backups, which have remained offline and not been affected by this bug.

However, users who were hit by this bug will not receive emails sent to them between 6:00 PM PST on February 27 and 2:00 PM PST on February 28. So if something important was sent during this period then the email sender will have to send it again to you.

Rest assured, outages such as these are not acceptable and it was really bad on Google’s part to roll out software which could cause such a problem. Though I love using Gmail, I would certainly not be happy if my emails are not delivered or if someone cannot send me an email.

Hopefully we will not see such problems in future again. If you have been affected by this problem, you can check the Apps status page for updates on the issue.

Google Rolls Out An Algorithmic Update To Remove Spam Sites From Search Results

spam-sitesIn recent times, Google has been pretty busy trying to save it’s face from the raising eyebrows on search quality, spam sites infiltrating Google search results and content aggregators dominating the SERP’s. We told you how messy the entire Google experience can get, even Google News is not free from junk sites and content aggregators.

It’s not that Big G wasn’t listening to the appeals, they announced a big algorithmic change in January 2011 followed by announcing domain filtering in search results.

In fact, Google also released a Chrome extension which allows the user to block specific sites on Google search result pages.

Today Google announced that the Google search quality team has rolled out a major algorithmic change in their ranking system. This change will impact almost 11.8 % of search queries made on Google search and the algorithmic changeis designed such that they will reducerankings for low quality sites which don’t add value to a subject or scrap content from other sites.

At the same times, Google confirms that the new algorithm will make sure that readers can find more original content in search results. Sites who post original stories, write detailed reports and publish thoughtful analysis or research work are surely going to rank higher in the search results for a given query.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.says Google in an official blog post.

Google says that the algorithmic update does not entirely rely on the feedback received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension. However, the web spam team did consider the data received from the extension and compared it with the sites, which were marked as SPAMby the new Algorithm. In fact, the algorithmic change addresses 84% of the spam sites, which other users have also blocked in the Personal blocklist chrome extension preferences.

What are those sites ? Google hasn’t disclosed the list.

The algorithmic change is launched in U.S only and will be rolled out on other locations over time.

Yahoo Gets Back In the Game, Tops Visitor Count for January

Yahoo has seen a sudden increase in traffic for the month of January which might have a potential of bringing it back in business. For a company that was going to sell out, Yahoo held up pretty strong and the increase in traffic has happened across all Yahoo services, not just the website.


Image via: Tech4globe
According to reports by ComScore and as pointed out by CNN, Yahoo received

178.9 million unique U.S. Web visitors last month, according to research firm ComScore, barely besting Google’s 178.5 million unique users. Microsoft’s sites came in third place, attracting 176.8 million unique users. Facebook and AOL rounded out the top five with 153 million and 111 million unique visitors in January, respectively.

All these three companies shared similar performance stats. However, when it comes to ad reach, Google was able to reach out to 93.1% of users while Yahoo was following at 85.5%. Surprisingly, Facebook was a top ten company when it came to ad reach. Although this data cannot be projected to the future, we can analyze the reason for this surge in January.

The reason is cited as an increase in the traffic for tax-preparation sites and travel-enthusiasts. This is a highly seasonal reason for traffic and Yahoo is clearly a favorite amongst these two categories of users. Another seasonal traffic is the increase in Facebook visitors in the month of December. Either way, overtaking Google is something of a feat for Yahoo, even if the traffic is seasonal.

Google Introduces 2-Step Verification Process for Secure Logins

Most of the web applications built today rely on user passwords to allow secure access to data. This process has been in practice for a long time, however, passwords can easily be hacked.

Google Account Settings 2-Step Verificaiton

Also at times there are vulnerabilities in websites which lead to database hacks allowing exploiters to gain access to user data, including passwords. Many banks today provide a secure login to users where users have to provide a password and a verification code which is usually sent to their mobile numbers. This form of authorization is very secure as users will only be able to login if they have the passwords and their mobile phones.

Google has today introduced a similar 2-step verification process for all the accounts where users can opt-in to securely login using their password and a secure code sent to their mobile phones.

To enable the 2-step verification with your Google account, head over to your Account Settings page and turn on the 2-step verification. The verification setup will guide you through the process and also allow you to setup backup phones so that you can login even when you have lost your current phone.

Google 2-Step Authentication

Once you have setup the 2-step verification process, you will have to first login and will then be sent a code through a message which you will have to enter before you gain access to your account.

The 2-step verification process is a really good more from Google since it will allow users to keep their data safe even when their passwords have been compromised. For users like me who rely on Google for email, contacts and more, this is something that will definitely make using Google more secure.

Google Says: Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Today when I fired up Google for my first search, I was greeted with this cool looking interactive Google Doodle. You can see a video of the Verne doodle in action here.


Naturally, I was curious and after clicking on the doodle, I found out that it’s the 183rd birthday of Jules Verne. As most of you know, Verne is a famous French science fiction writer who died in 1905, at the age of 77.

Verne’s stories are so entertaining, that he’s listed as the third most translated individual author in the world. Even though some the gizmos in his books were unbelievable, many of them later became fact instead of fiction. Here’s a list of 8 Jules Verne inventions that came true. (courtesy of National Geographic)

  1. Electric Submarines
  2. Newscasts
  3. Solar Sails
  4. Lunar Modules
  5. Skywriting
  6. Videoconferencing
  7. Taser
  8. Splashdown Spaceship

Here are a few of the books that he has written. I bet you’ll recognize at least one.

The Mysterious Island

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas

From the Earth to the Moon, and a Trip Around It

Around the World in Eighty Days

The Lighthouse at the End of the World

I’ve read one or two of his books, but I think most of you are probably more familiar with the dozens of movies that have been made, based on his novels.

Here’s a trailer for one of the most famous movies.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) Trailer

You can find many of Verne’s books online (for free!) at Project Gutenberg. You can also watch several clips from movies based on Verne’s novels, at Youtube.

Bharti To Get $5M Grant From Google For Upgrading Schools

As a part of it’s global philanthropic program, Google has announced that it will giving a grant of US$ 5 Million to Bharti Foundation in order to set up elementary education schools in India. Bharti Foundation happens to be the philanthropic unit of Bharti Enterprises Ltd which is the parent company of Bharti Airtel – One of India’s largest telecom companies.

Bharti Foundation will set up new schools and upgrade the existing schools in Northern part of India in the states: Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The schools will be named Satya Elemantary Schools. Bharti Foundation also plans to use these funds for setting up middle schools and upgrade the existing primary schools to support elementary level education.

Currently Bharti Foundation facilitates provision of basic education to poor children, especially girls, with the help of its 236 primary schools in villages and one senior secondary school. Starting from June, the foundation has plans of building 15 more primary schools and four senior secondary schools.

Google and Twiter Get Back to Egypt, Tweet without an Internet Connection Now

The Internet kill switch in Egypt has worked well towards shutting down any form of communication. The Internet is blocked and SMS networks are down. In short, you just cannot get any form of message out to anyone.


Google had probably foreseen this event and acquired SayNow on 25 January this year. The SayNow about page describes the service as,
Founded in 2005, SayNow set out to build voice-based experiences that are fun and social. Along the way, we reinvented the way phone calls are made today. Voice is engaging, authentic, and an emotional form of communication, yet is largely ignored on social media and smartphone platforms.

Google has put their skills to good use by building a service that allows users to tweet without an Internet connection and through voice calls. The new service allows you to speak a tweet and this eliminates the need for an Internet connection, as all you need is make a call, speak your message and add a #egypt hashtag along with the message.

Ujjwal Singh, the co-founder of SayNow has said in a blog post,
We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time.

The numbers you need to call are +16504194196, +390662207294, or +97316199855 and follow the above procedure. All tweets sent to this number will be posted in the speak2tweet account. Egypt has gone completely dark now as the last standing Noor group ISP went down this Monday. This service should bring some hopes to Egyptians.

Google Offers: Groupon and LivingSocial Clone And Future Competitor

A few months back Google had made a spirited offer to buy out Groupon, a website which offered group discounts and send more foot traffic to businesses across the world. Groupon was a runaway success which led to them declining Google’s rumored $6 billion buy out deal. Today Groupon is valued at around $15 billion.

Google Offers

Groupon’s competitor Living Social also has a huge clout in the market. The recent success of selling over 1 million Amazon coupons goes on to show that. So in all, both Groupon and Living Social are huge runaway successes. Google on the other hand is sitting on a huge pile of local advertisers who they want to tap in to, after all there is so much money in the offing.

So would Google just sit around and lurk till they found another sound investment like Groupon? Well, the answer is no. Recently, Mashable uncovered some confidential documents about Google’s new venture called "Google Offers".

Google Offers in a nutshell is similar to what Groupon and Living Social does. It will be offering customers a deal for a limited amount of time at a discounted price. Unlike free local listings for Google search, Google Offers will take a cut of the pie while driving foot traffic to small businesses.

So is this a Groupon Killer? Well not exactly. As Brad from TNW puts it, the offers market is huge. One day you will find a better deal on Groupon, the next on Living Social and the next on Google Offers. So no one is going to kill anyone here, it all depends on how good a deal each of these competitors can offer.

Google has confirmed to Mashable and Search Engine Land that Google Offers is for real and that they are currently talking to small business to test out the product. So you might not see Google Offers deal for the next few months.

Nevertheless, in case of group deal offers, the more the merrier for the customer, since they will have more offers and deals to choose from. This will also be good for businesses too since they will have options and negotiation power since every deal site would want their money. In the end it is a win-win deal for everyone.

So let the competition begin. If you are interested you can view the Google Offers Fact Sheet uploaded by Mashable on Scribd.

Google Android Market Policy Puts Amazon App Store Future in Jeopardy

Amazon has declared its plan for an Android app store long back. However, it seems that Google does not want any app store to be available (for download from Android Market) to Android users other than its own Android Market. This is the very reason why, it pulled another app store: the Kongregate Arcade, even though it catered only to flash games.


A lot of development and planning goes on behind the making of an app store and Google pulling off app stores proves fatal for developers who work on this. If this is true, next in the line of fire is the Amazon Android app store. This store would act as a marketplace where apps could be bought and sold by interested parties. Amazon has already urged developers to submit their apps and if Google pulls the Amazon app store app too, it has to be installed separately.

Though, the Android market had already laid the trap when its terms says,

You may not use the Market to distribute or make available any Product whose primary purpose is to facilitate the distribution of Products outside of the Market.

The alternate route app stores can take is to make themselves available pre-installed on devices like the Samsung devices do. Another approach can be simply providing another portal for apps like Getjar does. Either way, they are missing the advantage of a wider reach through the Android Market.

(Image Via: Android Community)