Google to Hire An Ex White House Employee, “Google Ideas” in The Making

First, a word or two regarding the new guy expected soon in Google’s office – Jared Cohen.

Cohen is a member of United States policy planning staff where he has served since 2006. Initially brought in by Condoleezza Rice, Janed works under Hilary Clinton and focuses on counter terrorism issues and cyber threats.

Fortune tech reports that Janed will soon be departing the white house and would join hands with Google, the search giant is in the process of making a new entity called Google ideas. Google Ideas is a “think tank” office within Google and Cohen will join the team to provide ideas and solve problems that are faced by developing countries.

Cohen’s current employee, Hillary clinton is aware of Cohen’s departure and this video beautifully describes Cohen’s relationship with Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Not to forget Cohen’s earlier initiatives during post election protests in Iran, Cohen reached out to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and urged the company to reschedule its planned maintenance of the website so that Iranians could keep tweeting.

Law Suit Alleges Disney and Playlist.com Tracked Users and Breached Privacy

A recent lawsuit filed last week alleges that Disney, Playlist.com and some other top sites using ClearSpring technology to serve widgets on their websites, did more than just that. The suit alleges that in addition to traditional cookies, the ClearSpring scripts also installed flash cookies on a user’s computer. Interestingly, when a user deletes traditional cookies, the flash cookies remain intact and were used in this case to track user behavior beyond the scope of the website.

The suit claims that users were tracked even as they moved from one computer to another and private information such as their video viewing preferences or profile  characteristics  were also collected by ClearSpring. It is still not clear if Disney and other affiliate websites that ran ClearSpring widgets were aware of the abusive tracking or not, but even if they were not it doesn’t totally make them free of  responsibility.

The suit traces its roots back to a study performed by UC Berkley researches showing that websites use Adobe Flash to  surreptitiously  collect data on users. The study claimed that ClearSpring and its rival QuantCast even use the flash cookies to re-instate traditional cookies after a user had removed them; a strategy knows as “re-spawning”.

All this doesn’t help the already troubled state of privacy when it comes to web and social media. With Google and Facebook already in hot water for allegedly compromising privacy of millions of users, something like this would even make things worse for internet companies. On the brighter side, the increased number of suits and claims of compromised privacy may just prove to be enough for the federal authorities to take serious action and come up with adequate regulations.

Now that Google is Out, China is Building its own Search Engine

China’s huge population can put it on the top on quite some “world’s most” lists. Following that trend, China has the largest number of mobile subscribers and Internet users.

However, the Chinese Government is not very keen on boasting about these figures. Instead, it sees a reason to regulate this population. China is planning to develop a government controlled search engine in collaboration with many organizations. This would possibly allow the Chinese  Government  to serve completely autonomous content in search results.

Baidu is the prevalent search engine in China. Baidu rose to complete rule in China after the government booted out Google. However, now China’s official news media Xinhua and China Mobile, the largest mobile network in China joined hands to create “Search Engine New Media International Communications Company”, the new face of web search in China.

If this goes on, China can really succeed in pissing off its citizens who happen to be avid Internet users. In such a situation, they will have to be content with the fact that there is another country called North Korea, which is at a worse state when it comes to the Internet!

The actions against Google were simply seeds sown to the tree that can be seen as growing now. Now, we need to see how well Baidu holds up against this recent development.

(Via:  NY Times)

Apple Employee Arrested For Taking Kickbacks

A joint investigation by FBI and IRS, recently resulted in the arrest of 37 year old Paul Shin Devine who is a global supply manager for Apple. Devine allegedly received around $1 Million in kickbaks and bribes from various Apple suppliers for providing them with confidential information. This information helped these suppliers negotiate favorable contacts with Apple Inc while supplying various components of iPhone and iPod.

As the story goes, Devine used many bank accounts opened in his and his wife’s name to receive kickbacks from these suppliers which are scattered through several Asian countries including China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. Paul Devine even received some payments in cash whenever he traveled to any of these countries. Apple has regarded this behavior as intolerant ans has filed a separate lawsuit against Paul Devine and his partners. Here is what the Apple spokesperson had to say about the incident:

Apple is committed to the highest ethical standards in the way we do business. We have zero tolerance for dishonest behavior inside or outside the company.

Source

ebay Begins Offering Cashback On Purchases Made Using PayPal

Yesterday, eBay announced the launch of its new cashback program – eBay Bucks. The first of its kind initiative from the online shopping giant will offer 2% cashback on most purchases made on eBay using PayPal. Purchases which are not included in this rewards program include Classifieds, Business & Industrial Capital Equipment, Real Estate, and eBay Motors.

Ebay-Bucks-Cashback

Enrolled customers will earn eBay Bucks for all eligible purchases. At the end of each three month period, the collected reward points will be converted into eBay Bucks certificates, which can then be used for future eBay purchases. However, eBay has put in place quite a few restrictions to . Some of them are:

  • This offer is only available to adult US residents.
  • You cannot earn more than $200 in cashback from a single purchase.
  • You cannot earn more than $500 in a calendar quarter.
  • Each certificate must be redeemed within 30 days.

Users with an US eBay account can enroll themselves over here.

Oracle Sues Google Over Android For Patent and Copyright Infringement

AndroidOracle today filed a complaint against Google for copyright and patent infringement over the use of Java in Android.

“In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement,” said Oracle’s press release.

Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems quite some time back, which developed Java, the most popular programming platform. Oracle has accused Google of violating seven patents related to Java’s intellectual property.

The Android OS and the Dalvik VM is based on Java, but Java is still used in many mobile phones and is a major competitor of the Android platform.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt used to lead the Java team at Sun Microsystems before he joined Google. Google hasn’t commented on the issue yet.

via MarketWatch

Tweets From The Official Tweet Button Reveal The Actual Location of a Shortened URL

The problem with shortened links is that you have absolutely no idea to which webpage the link is going. The link can lead to an authority blog, a YouTube video, a spam site or may return a 404 error page in the worst case.

There are some tools and browser extensions available which you can use to know the actual location of shortened links, but if someone is using the official Twitter buttons to tweet links, you don’t have to.

The official Twitter button uses Twitter’s own URL shortening service (t.co) to shorten the link of the webpage which a user wants to share with his Twitter followers. The URL is sent to the pop up box, the user can customize the message and then send the tweet.

But when the links are posted on his Twitter profile, the actual location of the URL is revealed automatically. That means, you can know exactly to which domain a link is pointing to, if someone uses the Twitter button to share a webpage.

Agree that the URL’s are abbreviated but this feature will reduce some clutter from your ever expanding timeline, you can skip some links just by looking at the tweet and don’t have to open the URL.

The disadvantage : it consumes valuable characters, but that’s fine because the URL will be shrinked depending upon the length of the title of the post.

As of now, the expanded links work only with Twitter.com and partner sites or desktop clients still show the t.co version. Here is a screenshot from my Tweetdeck desktop client:

Notion Ink Adam Pricing Revealed; Starts at $399

The Notion Ink Adam tablet, one of the most hyped tablets which was touted to be one of the iPad’s biggest competitors has been delayed a lot since its original announcement. At one point, it seemed like it would never release and end up as vaporware.

However, the developers have been working on it and are trying to launch it by the end of 2010.

Notion Ink Adam
The Notion Ink Adam will run Android 2.2 with a custom UI and will ship with certain improvements in the multitasking capabilities.

It will also come with a custom marketplace christened Genesis, which will offer applications, games and multimedia content as well as ebooks. It will be powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 platform: a dual core Cortex A9 processor and a ULP GPU.

It will offer Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and comes in two versions: with and without 3G HSDPA. It will also have Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and A-GPS. Besides that, it will have 2 USB ports, microSD slot, HDMI out and a 3.2 MP swivel camera.

You can also choose between LCD and Pixel Qi displays, with the LCD displays being priced at $50 less than the Pixel Qi displays.

There will be 4 versions of the Notion Ink Adam, each priced lower than the cheapest iPad variant. The LCD + Wi-Fi only version will be priced at $399; the LCD + Wi-Fi/3G version at $339; the Pixel Qi + Wi-Fi only version at $449 and the Pixel Qi + Wi-Fi/3G version at $498, just $1 lower than the 16 GB Wi-Fi only iPad. Nice touch, eh?

With many other tablets launching in the same timeframe, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and HP Palmpad, what remains to be seen is whether or not it will be Adam that gets to eat the Apple.

Check out the official Notion Ink website for more details.

Source: Slashgear

Gmail China Hijacked by Chinese Hackers

Gmail has been revamping its contact manager and UI, however, in another part of the world, China to be specific, Gmail users are being scammed by hackers into giving away their usernames and passwords.

gmail_phishing_china

According to reports from Fast Company, for the past few weeks, several Gmail users are being redirected to a phishing site as seen in the screenshot above (courtesy FC) when they access Gmail.com. This also happens when they access Gmail through the Google toolbar.

This is not the first time that Google has had a problem in China, earlier this year, some high profile Gmail accounts were hacked, leading Google to stop their search service in China and threaten a complete pullout from China. However, Google did not pullout of China and renewed their operating license last month.

The current redirection of the Gmail domain to a phishing site definitely looks like a DNS hack which might not have propagated fully, which is why only few users are being redirected to the phishing website. However, Google might have definitely rectified the issue by now, but this goes on to show that Google definitely is on receiving end in China.

Update: A Google Spokesperson Jay Nancarrow reached out to us to clarify about the issue Gmail users are facing in China, the statement is embedded below.

This phishing attempt is not unique to Gmail and should not be misconstrued. As always, users should be careful about where they share their personal information, and should avoid clicking through warnings about suspicious sites. We encourage Gmail users to visit https://mail.google.com directly

He also adds that this is on background and not for attribution, but the same IP address hosting the fake Gmail URL has hosted phishing pages for other popular online services in the past. Screenshots indicate that this URL was being flagged by our Safe Browsing tool as a suspicious site, which would have warned users before viewing the page.

Sony Ericsson Working on Android Based PSP Gaming Phone

Gaming has never been Android’s strong suit. The quality of games on the iPhone has always been better than those on Android. That, however, is set to change soon.

Sony Ericsson is reportedly working on a gaming smartphone modeled along the likes of the PSP Go and the Samsung Galaxy S. Here’s Engadget’s mockup of the Android PSP phone.

Android PSP Phone Mockup

It will have a 3.7 – 4.1 inch touchscreen display with a WVGA resolution and a landscape slider with gaming controls instead of a QWERTY keypad. It will have the standard PSP buttons and a touchpad instead of the joystick.

On the hardware side, it will probably have a 1 GHz+ processor and at least 512 MB RAM. The games on the new platform will be similar to PSP games in terms of graphics and performance. It will run Android 3.0 Gingerbread and will have a custom Android Market application solely for the games.

Sony Ericsson is reportedly working closely with Google to make this happen; this could be the next big thing in mobile gaming. The iPhone has some really good games but gaming enthusiasts have always bemoaned the lack of hardware gaming controls on it.

Head over to Engadget for more details.