Twitter May Start Selling Followers At a Price

There have been several services which help users increase their followers and spam their timeline with links to them. However, here is a mother of all "gaining more followers" on , albeit it might just cost you a bit.

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According to All Thing D, Twitter will soon start selling followers to users for a price. The new business model will be similar to the "Promoted Trending Topics" introduced by twitter last month, and will pitch the user to a wider range of people to follow.

People familiar with the company’s plans say it has been discussing yet another revenue generator: Think of it as a Promoted Tweeterproduct, which highlights specific user accounts, designed to bump up follower counts.

However, the pricing or business model behind the new paid followers is not yet known and users may be charged based on the number of new followers they gain. I am not sure how well this new model will work for Twitter, but it might definitely be helpful for brands and big companies to get more exposure amongst millions of users.

After all the more followers you have the more reach your product has. What do you think of Twitter selling followers to users? Do you think it will work? Do you think it will be annoying? Let me know your thoughts.

Google Expects Chinese Government To Renew Operating License

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that he expected the Chinese government to renew their license which would allow Google to continue to offer search and other services to Chinese users.

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Google who has been at loggerheads with the Chinese Government over a hacking of some accounts had threatened to move out of China in January. They did close down their China operations and began redirecting all the Chinese users to the uncensored Hong Kong domain.

The Chinese government did not approve of this and threatened to oust Google to which Google stopped redirecting users and began sending users to a new landing page. Now after all these months the time has come when Google has to renew its license in China and it might be tough if not impossible.

However, Eric Schmidt is confident that the Chinese government will renew its operating license and continue to allow Google to operate its search and other businesses there.

Addressing a topic that has been hanging over the company for months—the fate of its business in China, he said the company now expects to have its operating license from the Chinese government renewed, allowing it to continue to offer search services to Chinese users.

It is not clear if Google will be offering search through the Chinese domain and whether they will start censoring the results as it used to do earlier after their license is renewed.

(Source: WSJ)

YouTube Movie in the Works, And You Can Be a Part of It

Everyone wants to be in a movie. Now, thanks to YouTube you can! YouTube wants capture a day, as seen through the eyes of people around the globe. The popular online video hosting site owned by Google is asking folks from all walks of life to submit videos capturing both the mundane and the extraordinary.

Kevin Macdonald, the Oscar-winning director of The Last King of Scotland will cull the user submitted videos and create a feature documentary film, which will be produced by Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator. The documentary will be called Life in a Day and will premier at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

YouTube-Life-in-a-Day-Movie

If you want to be a part of this unique global cinematic experiment, all you need to do is shoot a portion of your day on July 24 and upload it to the Life in a Day Youtube channel. Twenty selected contributors will get the opportunity to attend the film’s premiere.

Sara Pollack, entertainment marketing manager for YouTube, told The Globe and Mail that YouTube will be distributing hundreds of cameras in developing countries so that even people who don’t usually tape themselves can participate.

Participation instructions and guidelines are available at youtube.com/lifeinaday.

(Hat tip: @labnol)

More Gmail Problems: Never Stops Loading For Some Users

GmailLast month, we reported that Gmail was being unbearably slow for a small subset of users. The problem came to our notice after Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of Duck Duck Go, complained about Gmail’s sluggishness.

It seems that Gmail problems are raring their ugly head once again. One of our commenters pointed out that Gmail has been practically inaccessible to some users for the past three days. According to this thread on Google’s official support forum, Gmail perpetually displays the “loading” prompt and fails to open any mail. Here is a typical description of the problem offered by changk05:

Also for me started after July 4th weekend. The problem remains despite 4 different computers with different versions of IE, and a mac as well. Installing Chrome did not work. Can’t open messages. Can’t forward messages from list view. Can’t get into settings. Please fix.

Although most of the affected users started encountering these problems after the 4rth July weekend, some users have been experiencing difficulties for more than a week. Let’s hope that Google will fix the issue for everyone, and having a famous blog is not a per-requisite for getting support from Google.

Update: Google has finally responded to the mounting complaints. Here is the response offered by a Google employee:

I am sorry that you are all experiencing this issue. We are working very hard to solve the problem, and I will update you as soon as I can.

While some of the workarounds do not work for everyone, they are worthwhile troubleshooting steps. If you have not yet tried any of the following workarounds, I suggest giving them a try.

1. Clear your cache and cookies (you can find instructions on how to do this in the referenced article)
2. Use the basic HTML version of Gmail by clicking on the link at the bottom of Gmail
3. Use another browser.
If these do not help fix your problem, you can try some of the other suggestions in this thread. In the meantime, please know that we are continuing to work towards solving this issue.

We have also posted this problem on our Known Issues page, where you can report that you are experiencing the issue.

YouTube XSS Vulnerability Fixed [Official Statement]

YouTube-Vulnerability Earlier today, a critical cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability was uncovered in YouTube. It now appears that the source of these attacks was Ebaumsworld, with 4Chan later chipping in to propagate it. Of course, both sides are accusing the other of the wrong doing.

Google swung into action fairly quickly, and the vulnerability has now been fixed. Jay Nancarrow, a spokesman for Google, reached out to us to issue the following statement:

We took swift action to fix a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability on youtube.com that was discovered several hours ago. Comments were temporarily hidden by default within an hour, and we released a complete fix for the issue in about two hours. We’re continuing to study the vulnerability to help prevent similar issues in the future.

In spite of Google’s swift response, the script kiddies managed to cause a fair amount of annoyance. A large selection of popular YouTube videos, especially Justin Bieber videos, were flooded with malicious comments. Fortunately for us, while obnoxious, most of these scripts did little damage other than irritating viewers.

Cerulean Studios Turns 10: Announces Trillian 5

Facebook and Twitter might be the dominant social networks, however they aren’t the only way to connect with friends and strangers. Many of us still rely on instant messaging services like Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger or the good old IRC. In fact, most of us use multiple services on a day-to-day basis. However, using individual clients for each service can be quite inconvenient. This is why applications like Digsby are so popular.

However, even before Digsby, Trillian built its reputation as a neat multi-protocol messaging client. Unfortunately, for the past couple of years, Trillian has been struggling to retain its charm. Trillian Astra (v4) took too long to come. And when it came, it disappointed many. The good news is that with Trillian v5 things are set to change for the better.

Trillian-5-Interface
Trillian 5 – Flexible Interfaces

Earlier this week, Trillian’s developers -Cerulean Studios, celebrated its 10th anniversary by announcing Trillian 5. The new version will feature a brand new user interface, which is not only beautiful and functional but also sleek and slim. Minimalism is the ‘in’ thing these days and Cerulean Studios is following suit. The flexible interface offers 5 modes – large, medium, small, tiny and simple. Simple mode occupies very little space and is ideal for Netbook users.

Trillian-5-Supported-Networks
Trillian 5 – Supported Networks

Trillian will support Twitter, Facebook as well as LinkedIn in addition to other networks like Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, AIM, Skype and E-mail. It will also leverage Windows 7’s in-built GPS support to enable Foursquare check-ins.

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Trillian 5 – Foursquare

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Trillian 5 – Facebook

Other features include synchronized contact list, accounts, and chat history, streamlined news feeds and enhanced performance. Trillian 5 Beta will be released to current subscribers soon.

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Trillian 5 – Chat Window

Warning: Highly Critical XSS Vulnerability Discovered in YouTube

YouTube-VulnerabilityIt appears that YouTube is vulnerable to XSS (cross-site scripting) attacks. Details are scarce since this is a breaking story. However, according to preliminary information available with us, it is possible to hijack cookies to gain access to a logged-in user’s Gmail and YouTube accounts.

Although, it’s unclear who discovered this vulnerability, 4Chan users are already trying to actively exploit it. The exploit makes use of PHP, JavaScript, and XSS, and is being spread through comments on videos. Any logged in user who has browsed to an infected page is vulnerable. The best solution is to completely log out of YouTube until this issue has been fixed. If you are worried that you have viewed an infected video, delete all your cookies.

Spread the word to your friends and family members and help them stay protected. We will update you as soon as we learn more.

Update 1: TheNextWeb is reporting that Justin Bieber videos are being targeted in a big way.

Update 2: YouTube has now blocked all scripts from comments. However, video titles are also vulnerable and video responses are now being used to exploit the vulnerability.

Update 3: Google has issued an official statement.

Indian Government Threatens to Ban Gmail, Skype and BlackBerry

Bored with China and Pakistan banning web services left and right? Here is something new. Possibly feeling a bit left out, the Indian government has decided to join in on all the fun.

Apparently, the Indian security agencies are struggling to monitor the content being shared over Gmail, Skype and Blackberries due to their highly encrypted nature. According to The Hindu, a reputed daily newspaper in India, “Department of Telecom (DoT) will ask these companies to either ensure that data going through their networks be made available to security agencies in a readable format or face a ban from offering services in India.”

Indian security agencies are concerned that services like Skype are being used by terrorists to bypass monitoring mechanisms put in place for telephone calls. Skype and RIM (the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry handsets) will be given 15 days to respond, failing which services that do not allow lawful interception on a real-time basis would be banned. Google will also be asked to use encryption standards that can be monitored by the Government. However, the Government won’t impose any deadline on the search engine giant.

This is not the first time RIM has run into trouble with the Indian government. Back in 2008, there was a similar standoff. However, at that time, the Indian Government had claimed that all differences have been resolved.

Formal notices are expected to be served to all affected parties in the first week of July. While, a Google spokesperson declined to comment, Skype has come out and termed any potential ban as “a big step backwards”.

Opera 10.60 Released: Boosts Speed, Standards Support and Security

Opera Software, the little Norwegian browser maker that pioneered many of the modern web browser features, has just released Opera 10.60. As suggested by the version number, the new build is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Opera 10.60 builds upon the 10.5x releases and polishes many of the significant changes introduced in the previous releases.

Opera-10.6

Visual Enhancements

Opera 10.60 refines the existing skin by making subtle but noticeable all-around adjustments. The hideous O-menu button has been replaced by a more civilized looking button. Hover thumbnail tab previews have been cleaned up and internal tabs (like Feeds, Mail, Notes and Downloads) have been graced with pretty looking icons. Also, Speed Dials now makes better utilization of the width afforded by wide-screen monitors.

Standard Support Enhancements

HTML5 has become quite the buzzword these days. Of course, thanks to the misleading usage by vendors like Apple, most people have come to associate HTML5 with any new web technology that is cool. That being said, Opera 10.60 truely delivers better HTML5 and other standards support. With this stable release, it becomes the first browser to support WebM videos. Also supported in this release are standards like Geolocation, Appcache and Web Workers. You can find more information on these new technologies here.

Performance Enhancements

Opera-10-6-Benchmark-Official

Also included in Opera 10.60 is the customary speed improvement. I didn’t do any benchmarks with the final build, but Opera claims that the new build fares 50% better than it’s predecessor in some benchmarks. Earlier, Opera 10.60 alpha had managed to edge out Chrome’s dev channel releases.

Security Enhancements

Opera has added AVG anti fraud, malware and phishing feeds to beef up it’s phishing and malware protection feature. According to Opera, “Live feeds supply fresh information on the latest web threats to the users and keep them in the know about potential malware, harm or scams”. In certain regions, Opera will also be using data supplied by Yandex for fraud protection.

Other Enhancements

Live Search Suggestions are coming to Opera. For now, it works only with few search engines like Wikipedia. Hopefully, more search engines will be supported in the near future. Opera has also added Bing as an search option. Google remains the default search engine, but Bing will be used as the Speed Dial search engine.

This is also the first time UNIX users would get to try the significant enhancements introduced in Opera 10.50, since Opera was not offered in final version for the 10.5x series.

Opera 10.60 for Windows/Mac/UNIX can be downloaded from opera.com/browser/download. You can view real-time downloads of the browser in an interactive map available at opera.com/livemap.

Chinese Government Throws Google a Lemon: Google Tries to Make Lemonade

Google-China Back in January, Google threatened to pull out of China and promised to stop censoring results served to Chinese users. They followed through on their promise in March and started redirected all Google.cn users to the uncensored Google.hk domain. Quite obviously, this didn’t sit well with the government of China.

Although, the government didn’t officially react to Google’s move, they must have privately made their displeasure known to Google. Google’s David Drummond has now revealed that the Chinese government won’t renew Google’s Internet Content Provider license, if Google didn’t stop redirecting users to the Hong Kong site. Google’s ICP license is up for renewal on June 30 and without an ICP license Google would basically go dark in mainland China.

Contrary to Google’s initial assertion, it appears that Google isn’t quite ready to face the prospect of “having to shut down Google.cn”. Google has backtracked slightly from their original stance and will stop redirecting users to its Hong Kong services. Instead, Google will direct Chinese users to a new landing page that will prominently link to Google.hk, which the users must browse to, if they wish to use Google Search. Google will provide only services like music and translation from its Chinese domain name.

It will be interesting to see if Google’s clever bit of maneuvering is sufficient for the Chinese government. If it is not, then Google’s determinedness to do the right thing will be really tested.