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Google +1 and advertising: how is Google using your information (and why the rogue apostrophes)?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Mar-2011 14:31

Every analyst in the tech industry seem to be talking about Google +1, Google's new feature that allows users to share search results in their profiles.

If you don't have it in your search results you can enable it now by creating a Google Profile, then going to the Google Experimental web page and adding +1 to the list of experimental features. Obviously Google +1 will only appear on result pages when you are logged in to a Google account.

What I've not seen discussed yet is how your Google +1 listings can be used for advertising. The only two references to this I could find was when I tried my first +1 my first link:

Note the checkbox next to "Use my information to personalize content and ads across the web." (the bold is mine).

Hmmm. So I can stop personalizing content but this will also stop personalizing ads. But what is "personalize content" anyway? It seems, reading the Google +1 Privacy Policy that Google intends to allow third party web sites to suggest links based in your profile. Which is ok, but why this feature and ad personalisation are bundled together?

I've just found an image showing what happens when you "+1" an advert (why would one do that?), thanks to Search Engine Land:

Also, why is Google using "greengrocers apostrophe's"to indicate +1 plurals, as in +1's everywhere?

What is this Google +1 good for? There's some more information in the Google +1 Button page, saying "In order to +1 things, you first need a public Google profile. This helps people see who recommended that tasty recipe or great campsite. When you create a profile, it's visible to anyone and connections with your email address can easily find it."

If I recall correctly people don't visit Google Profile pages like they visit Facebook.

Google Social Results are powered by all your social network connections, as defined in your Google Profile, but only your Google-based connections are currently used when matching +1 recommendations to Google Search results.

You also get a Page Not Found if you try to follow the "personalization on sites across the web" like present in that page. It seems Google released something that will be up there with Google Buzz...



Online resources people can use (Christchurch earthquake 2011 02 22)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Feb-2011 20:19

On Tuesday, 22 February 2011 at 12:51pm (NZDT) a 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch.

At the time of this post the death toll is confirmed at 98, but there is still work to be done, rescue operations in progress, so final numbers are unknown.

This list was updated 25th February 11:06 am (NZDT).

Map picture

Emergencies: call 111 from any phone

Government help line: 0800 779 997

Preferred online resources:

Business Help (seek and offer peer help to keep businesses running)

Civil Defence (check for frequent updates)

Christchurch Earthquake Crowdmap (map of events and people around Christchurch)

Google People Finder (add or search for people who are safe or missing)

Volunteer Army Quake Response (requests for non-life threatening tasks)

 

Other online resources:

Canterbury Earthquake.gov.nz (response information by New Zealand government)

Canterbury Earthquake.org.nz (response information by Environment Canterbury)

Christchurch Quake Map (interactive map with latest earthquake movements)

Def Aotearoa (sign language status update)

EQ Viewer (Environment Canterbury map of events, shared content and notices)

Find A Room (site with listings of accommodation)

GIS resources (help with GIS, licences, software, etc)

Google Crisis Response (consolidate Google information, maps, tweets)

LivingAirSpace (shared office space, in Wellington, Sharespace.co.nz listing)

LivingAirSpace (shared office space, in Welllington, Trade Me listing)

Trade Me (links to different categories with free offers of help, accommodation)

Quakebeds (links to other resources)

Quakehelp (requests for needed items such as medicine, labour, etc)

#eqnz IRC Channel on Freenode (constant conversation, people discussing how to provide help online)

Wellington Airport Facebook page (some accommodation in Wellington region may be needed for stranded passengers, check current status)

 

Banking:

ANZ (check for banking, branch and ATM information)

Bank of New Zealand ATM status (check for banking, branch and ATM information)

Kiwibank (check for banking, branch and ATM information)

National Bank (check for banking, branch and ATM information)

 

Donations:

Donations to Christchurch Earthquake appeals (TVNZ page listing links to current appeals)

Give a little (donations)

New Zealand Red Cross (donations, help information)

Vodafone Red Alert TXT Donation (information on fund established by Vodafone New Zealand and how to donate here and in the UK)

 

ICT help:

Microsoft New Zealand (To affected home users, businesses, partners in the affected area)

MindKits (web hosting, payment gateways, technical support, network)

NZNOG Christchurch Earthquake Assistance (The New Zealand Network Operators Group assistance to network admins)

Unleash (offered colocation, hosting, virtual machines)

Where is My Server? (Virtual server, infrastructure to help businesses)

@velofille (contact her through Twitter for temporary servers to keep businesses running)

 

TV/radio coverage:

TVNZ Live Streaming

TV3 Live Streaming

Radio NZ news

Radio NZ audio stream

 

Twitter:

Tag #eqnz for all tweets related to the event

Tag #eqnzcontact for people trying to find more information about people they know in the area but can't be contacted

@CEQgovtnz (official CanterburyEarthquake.govt.nz stream)

@christchurchcc (official Christchurch City Council stream)

@CHC_Airport (Christchurch airport official stream)

@NZCivilDefence (the Civil Defence official stream)

@safeinchch (reporting people are safe in Christchurch)

 

Telecommunications:

Mobile operators are requesting people to use mobile phones for emergency and essential calls only. Networks can easily be overloaded. Users should rely on SMS for short messages, status update. Telecom New Zealand confirmed there are free WiFi hotspots at Telecom Riccarton Mall, Cafe Zero Cashmere Road + Westpac Centre Addington. If you're in Christchurch, conserve your mobile battery and change your voicemail to let people know you're safe.

Orcon is making landline calling in and out of South Island free until 25th February 2011 midnight.

Orcon network status (network status and general information on communication tools)

Telecom New Zealand Earthquake page (general information on communication tools, from 3am on Wednesday 23 February, 280 payphones in and around Christchurch will be have free calling for local, national and mobile calls)

Telecom New Zealand Facilities Finder (where to find WiFi hoptspots, free payphones, etc)

TelstraClear Christchurch Earthquake information (network updates)

TelstraClear Christchurch Earthquake Staff Support (for staff and families, TelstraClear staff in CHC can call 0508 633423 to check in)

Tomizone (Free WiFi Hostpots for at least next week)

Vodafone New Zealand Christchurch Earthquake Support (network status and general information on communication tools)

WorldxChange (network status and general information on communication tools)

Zenbu WiFi (check availability of WiFi hostposts by entering "Christchurch" in "Show zones" search box)

 

SCAM ALERT:

An email is going around asking recipients to act as intermediary to receive donations, with a 10% cut. This is a scam, as advised by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.



Small Windows Phone 7 update coming

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Feb-2011 06:54

Microsoft will be releasing a small Windows Phone 7 update on 22nd February. This is to prepare the handsets to receive the first actual OS update coming later.

This update is just to prepare the device to receive the first large OS update coming in March.

Users will receive a message in their handset to advise an update is available.

The update comes in two parts: Zune Desktop and Windows Phone update.

First you need to make sure Zune is up to date. You can do this via Windows Update or manually by installing this update http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=209174.  After the update Zune Desktop will be version 4.7.1404.0.

To update the handset itself, start Zune Desktop, plug in the Windows Mobile and wait for the update to come down and install.

The mobile device update will come in waves, so it may not show up for you just now, but in a few hours or days. Devices will receive a push notification when the update is available.

Some links:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/howto/wp7/basics/phone-updates.aspx
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2484484
@WinPhoneSupport on Twitter



Telecom and Vodafone discontinue services to Funmobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Feb-2011 11:34

I found out today that both Telecom New Zealand (1) and Vodafone New Zealand (2) have discontinued their services to Funmobile, a company that provides customers with "entertainment" Premium SMS services.

Premium SMS services are those short codes used to either subscribe to a service, enter a competition, provide feedback, etc.

Funmobile is just one of the services offering "entertainment" over SMS. In theory the interested users visit a website, enters their mobile number, and receives a SMS asking for a reply to confirm the subscription. If you want to stop receiving these Premium SMS you can reply "STOP" to their number.

The "entertainment" can be anything really, such as mobile ringtones, horoscopes, etc. They are recurring, sometimes multiple SMS a week, with prices varying from a few cents each, up to a few dollars. This sure drains some people's account very quickly.

On account customers can see where their money is going to, but prepay customers don't have a bill with detailed description of charges, so most of the times they only see their balance going away every week...

Some people should know better, read the small fineprint, etc.

But then there are those who got involved without knowing, or understanding what was going on. For example people who authorised third party Facebook applications to access their profile when participating of a promotion, or people who got caught by scammers running sites that pretend to be YouTube offering a competition.

I heard some cases of people who bought brand new prepaid SIM cards, and their numbers were already subscribed to these services. Obviously the previous owner got sick of the charges, got a new number, and let the old one lapse. The operators just put the recycled number back in the pool and someone got unlucky.

Regardless, it's something for years people have been posting on Geekzone. While it's all well and legal for mobile operators to put the blame on customers (who should know better), things happen. We know some people won't read the fineprint. And that's where these "entertainment services" make their money. And it's not moral.

I posted about this back in August 2009, asking operators to stop doing business with this companies. It took only a year and half, but now they have done the right thing.

Good job. The mobile operators provide a good service in New Zealand, but they should go beyond the technical side of things, and make sure their infrastructure is not used to take money out of their customers' accounts.Here are some posts about this scam:

Text Message Scam

Rogue SMS Subscription Services and Vodafone

YouTube ripped me off



Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 on Technet, MSDN now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Feb-2011 11:03

I have just downloaded Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 from MSDN. It should also be available on Technet.

The download is a 1.75GB ISO file, containing the installer, and the Service Pack .exe files for 32 bit, 64 bit and Itanium 64 bit.

Installation on my HP DV6 laptop (5.5 Windows Experience Index), from a USB key, went on for about 45 minutes, with a couple of reboots.

You can install it even if you have Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate in your system.



Another server, another 9,000 credit card numbers in the wild

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Feb-2011 09:19

From story on Stuff, Lush has its server compromised...


As many as 9000 New Zealanders may have had their credit card and personal details stolen after the Lush cosmetics website was hacked.

The company has urged its online customers in New Zealand and Australia to contact their banks to discuss cancelling their credit cards.


The article makes it sound like they stored credit card details in the same DB or same server.  Not clear if that's the case, but that would be a big lack of security.


As well as credit card details, the database contained customers' names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.


Sure, everything a scammer needs, in a single place.


Lush was contacting customers by email to inform them of the hacking and was not aware of any whose cards had been used fraudulently.

Of course they are not aware. Unless they monitor the underworld, credit card transactions on the other side of the world, and other things. They would only know if a customer complained, and customers wouldn't know how they information leaked, until now.


Its British website was hacked last month and some customers there reported their cards had been fraudulently used.
Mr Lincoln said he did not know whether the hackers were specifically targeting Lush or the type of software it was using."

It happened before to another server on the same company, but nothing was changed in that month?

It sounds like the Hell Pizza episode, when their site was accessed here in New Zealand, but the Australian one, based on the same application, was still running... Back then it took the company months before admitting to the breach. Lucky it was just email addresses, not credit card. But people receiving the spam weren't happy.



TUANZ CEO says Vodafone rural coverage is not optimal

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Feb-2011 08:54

We all knew it would happen. Just like that, after moving from being Vodafone Head of Communications to TUANZ CEO, Paul Brislen changed sides and declared:


"Let's look at that baggage - Vodafone's coverage in the rural sector has always been less than optimal. The company says it covers 97% of where New Zealanders live work and play - but that's people, not geography and in rural and remote areas you can leave the township and immediately lose coverage."

Now this is nothing new, and we all knew it. The discussion about "people" and "geography" is a long one. And it's not only on Vodafone, but Telecom as well. With all the economic implications.

Obviously this all comes hot after the government announced the Telecom and Vodafone joint submission won the bid for the rural broadband initiative. One that will see broadband to rural areas with the help of mobile technology. This is from the original release from November 2010:

... to provide fibre to 97 percent of rural schools and a minimum 5Mbps broadband service to 80 percent of rural households within six years. It also aims to provide priority users with access to fibre-based broadband services.

The proposed solution announced today will meet the requirements of the scheme through the extension of Telecom's existing fibre infrastructure to key rural points of presence, including schools and hospitals, and an expanded Vodafone wireless infrastructure that harnesses the power of this fibre to deliver high speed broadband services wirelessly.

It will bring rural broadband users greater choice in terms of providers and technologies, both fixed and wireless.

The proposal extends Telecom's fast broadband (10Mbps+) rollout to 92 percent of the country, bringing city-grade fixed broadband to even more rural users.
At the heart of the proposal is the principle of open access. Both fibre and wireless components will be available on an equivalent basis to access seekers and wholesale customers, allowing any party to offer a retail service over the new infrastructure. This means that rural customers will have not only faster data services but also a much wider choice of technologies and suppliers for these services.

Telecom will be responsible for building fibre to schools and hospitals, cell sites and rural exchanges and cabinets.

Vodafone will be responsible for the design and build of open access tower infrastructure that Vodafone and Telecom XT will co-locate their mobile services on, as indeed could any other wireless service provider who wishes to do so.

Both Telecom and Vodafone will also be making additional investments in their networks in the areas covered by the RBI scheme to offer broadband services to their customers.

As for Paul, he's doing it right. His job at Vodafone was to say what the company wanted out there. So when people complained about rural coverage and he defended the company line. As TUANZ CEO he's on the opposite side. And perhaps, for knowing so well what goes inside a telco, he's the right person to be doing it.



Hotmail Sucks rap

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Feb-2011 08:32

Someone decided to send an open letter to Microsoft and its Hotmail team (I wonder when someone will do the same for Google and its Gmail team):
 



Bing got served

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Feb-2011 08:16

The Colbert Report tells us all about the Google vs Bing debacle:



Internet traffic in Egypt drops

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 31-Jan-2011 17:14

An interesting chart from Arbor Networks showing the drop in Internet traffic to and from Egypt on 27th January 2011. At 5:20pm EST the Egyptian government started blocking communications traffic. The chart is based on data from 80 Internet providers from around the world using Arbor Networks Atlas technology:



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

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