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Search results that users’ friends have liked or recommended will now appear higher up rankings
Google has updated its search systems to include more data about what users’ friends have liked on social networks, the company announced today.
Users who are logged in will be able to see if a site has been recommended by their friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other public profiles. Google will also move social search results into the main search results listings, rather than relegating them to a box on the bottom of the results page.
Writing on the Google Blog, Mike Cassidy, Product Management Director, and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager, said that the upgrade was “enabling you to get even more information from the people that matter to you, whether they’re publishing on YouTube, Flickr or their own blog or website”. They added that “With these changes, we want to help you find the most relevant information possible, personalized to your interests and the people you care about.”
The pair wrote, however, that results would still be ranked on the basis of relevance, and that users could now also choose to link accounts on other networks to their Google accounts either publicly or privately.
To preserve users’ privacy, too, “you’ll only get social search results when you choose to log in to your Google Account,” said Cassidy and Kulick.
As of March 15, user videos will no longer be available on the Web site, which as of August was the third-largest video site in the United States. According to Internet tracker comScore, Yahoo came in behind first-place video giant YouTube and second-place Facebook.
However, things are changing at Yahoo Videos.
In December, the company announced on its site that users no longer allowed to upload videos. Now, users have until March 14 to download their videos. After that, they won`t be available.
The company added download functionality to users` video profiles, under the My Video tab, to enable them to retrieve their content.
"General user upload functionality and user-generated content are being removed from Yahoo Video as focus shifts to our core businesses` future growth," the company noted on its site. "This was a difficult decision to make, but it`s part of the ongoing prioritization efforts at Yahoo. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience."
Yahoo Video isn`t going away all together, though. The site will remain up, but it will only contain content from Yahoo and its partners. User-generated content will no longer be part of the site.
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said that the lack of a public outcry in response to the move shows why the company is switching things up.
"YouTube, like Google itself, has become ubiquitous on the Web," he added. "If someone needs to get their fix of cute kitten videos or guys doing something stupid that ends up wrong, YouTube is the first stop. I don`t see this badly impacting many users."
Resource: Computerworld`s Web 2.0 and Web Apps Topic Center. by Sharon Gaudin itnews.com
FaceTime for Mac, Apple’s video-chatting client for communicating between Macs and iOS devices, has left beta, gained a $1 price tag, and landed squarely in the Mac App Store.
Apple introduced FaceTime for Mac last October. The 1.0 release in the Mac App Store doesn’t introduce too many new features, but the few additions are certainly welcome.
Chief among those new features is support for HD video: Supported Intel Macs can receive HD video, and new MacBook Pros with built-in HD FaceTime cameras can send such video. Also new in FaceTime 1.0 is the ability to add and edit contacts from within the app, instead of needing to launch Address Book separately.
FaceTime requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 or higher.
source: itnews.com by Lex Friedman
Hints at switch to tiered offer, with free intro and paid premium subs, says analyst
Apple today pulled the retail version of its MobileMe sync and storage service from its online store, and dropped the service from the list of optional factory-installed software for its Macs.
The service caters to Windows PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad owners, who use it to synchronize address books, calendars and e-mail between devices. The service also offers 20GB of online storage space, as well as Web-based e-mail, calendar and contact applications.
MobileMe, which was priced at $99 for a single user membership and $149 for a five-user family pack, has disappeared from Apple`s e-store. Search results from, say, Google, now lead to invalid pages on Apple`s site.
Users can still sign up for a free 60-day trial of MobileMe, however.
Some have connected MobileMe`s vanishing act with news yesterday from Apple`s annual stockholders meeting, where COO Tim Cook said that the company`s $1 billion data center would open this spring.
"I think they indicate changes ahead, which would be good," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "MobileMe has been a fairly lackluster service, and never offered the bang for the buck that people wanted," he added, noting that many of the same services are available from Google and others on the Web for free.
The North Carolina data center , which reports last fall said was ready then to go online "any day," will instead open on an unspecified date this spring, said Cook yesterday.
He also confirmed that the data center would support iTunes and MobileMe accounts, but did not elaborate or spell out changes to either service. Speculation has centered on the center providing the necessary storage for cloud-based music streaming, or online storage of consumers` files, photos and music. Or both.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said that Apple would revamp MobileMe to offer a free cloud-based storage service to users, perhaps to owners of a new smaller iPhone that would forgo the massive amounts of RAM storage space in its current smartphone.
Gottheil seconded that, but believed that Apple won`t leave all the MobileMe money on the table.
"I think they`ll offer a free intro version of MobileMe, but also a tiered version," Gottheil said. "They want that subscription revenue stream."
The data center, which is located near Maiden, a town of about 3,300 in western North Carolina northwest of Charlotte, is a 500,000-square-foot facility, about five times the size of Apple`s current data center in Newark, Calif.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld.
source: itnews.com by Gregg Keizer
Oracle says the new version due in 2012 will make Java EE relevant for cloud computing; the upgrade will also boost REST capabilities
Work on the next enterprise edition of Java is proceeding at Oracle, with the company eyeing improvements for cloud computing, REST Web services, and other capabilities, an Oracle representative confirmed on Friday.
Java EE (Java Platform, Enterprise Edition) 7 is due in 2012. Capabilities for deploying cloud computing applications and infrastructures will be key to the upgrade. "[Version 7] will be the basis for how to make Java EE relevant for the cloud," said Oracle`s Ajay Patel, vice president of product management, in a webcast last week.
[ A preview of a developer`s kit for Java SE, known as JDK 7, was offered this week. | Keep up with the latest in developer news with InfoWorld`s Developer World newsletter. ]
The upgrade also will feature significant developments geared to JavaServer Faces, for building server-side user interfaces; the Web tier, Java persistence; and JAX-RS (Java API for RESTful Web Services), according to an Oracle Java team blog post. Java EE builds on Java SE (Java Platform, Standard Edition) and is geared to enterprise-level Java computing. The Glassfish application server has served as a reference implementation of Java EE. Modularity was cited as a goal for Java EE 7 at last fall`s JavaOne conference in San Francisco.
Initial Java Specification Requests pertaining to Java EE 7 were approved by the Java Community Process in January, including JSR 338, for Java Persistence API 2.1, and JSR 339, for JAX-RS 2.0. JPA is designed for use with Java EE and SE and deals with the way relational data is mapped to Java objects and the way the objects are stored in a relational database for access at a later time. Capabilities like multi-tenancy and additional mapping for metadata are being considered for JPA 2.1. JAX-RS provides an API for building Web services using the REST architecture. Key features of the new JSR include a Client API, improved support for URIs, and a Model-View-Controller architecture.
Final release of the two JSRs is planned for 2012. Other JSRs pertaining to Java EE 7 will be submitted soon. Aside from Java EE, version 2.0 of JavaFX, a rich media platform based on Java, is due this summer with such capabilities as a high-performance graphics engine and dynamic language capabilities, Patel said.
Google`s "war on content farms" has many on the Web up in arms, but it is just business as usual for the search giant.
Move along folks. Nothing to see here.
The Web seems to be in some sort of an uproar over Google`s recent changes to search results. The so-called "war on content farms", is really just business as usual, though. It is not the first time that Google has tweaked its algorithm, and it won`t be the last.
Trust me. I have been a slave to the whims of Google searches for about eight years now. Ever since I began writing as the About.com guide for Internet and Network Security, I have been compensated at least in part based on the amount of traffic generated by my writing. And, at least once a year during those eight years there has been some sort of change or update to the Google algorithm which has led to plummeting traffic...at least for a while.
There didn`t seem to be nearly the backlash or outcry a couple months ago when Google tweaked the algorithm to weed out bad businesses. Apparently, it is OK to filter out businesses that try to game the system with negative feedback, but it is not OK to filter out websites that try to game the system with repetitive content that doesn`t provide any unique value for Google users.
In the last quarter of last year, my traffic plunged to a fraction of what it had been. My PCWorld posts--which generally get indexed by Google News and garner at least some attention on the Google News Sci/Tech page--were virtually non-existent to Google. Various parties worked diligently to try and identify the root cause and make corrections, but nothing seemed to work.
It got to the point where I began to craft conspiracy theories that Google had somehow black-balled me because I wrote unkindly about the search giant. Thankfully, an issue was finally identified and resolved before I graduated to full-on tinfoil hat status. Now my posts are no longer invisible to Google.
And that brings me to the moral of the story. Google doesn`t exist to generate traffic for me--or for the content farm sites on the Web. Google exists first and foremost to generate ad revenue and create profit for its shareholders. Its secondary purpose--which drives the primary one--is to provide value for users. The more you focus on delivering value for users as well, the better your sites will perform on Google search results and everyone will be happy.
Rest assured, though--Google will continue to update, tweak, and improve the search algorithm to adjust to changing business needs, technologies, and the evolution of the Web. Your site that is ranked so highly today may not even show up in search results next month, but if it provides reasonable value it will bounce back eventually.
source: itnews.com by Tony Bradley
Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.
Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.
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.
It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.
So, we’re very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results. We’ve been tackling these issues for more than a year, and working on this specific change for the past few months. And we’re working on many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results.
To start with, we’re launching this change in the U.S. only; we plan to roll it out elsewhere over time. We’ll keep you posted as we roll this and other changes out, and as always please keep giving us feedback about the quality of our results because it really helps us to improve Google Search.
Apple`s iPad 2 tablet, which became available Friday, boasts a big battery, tiny speakers, an ample 512MB of RAM and a glass front that`s tricky for tinkerers to take off.
That`s the upshot from an initial teardown of the new Apple tablet by iFixit, which specializes in Apple product repair.
REVIEW ROUNDUP: What reviewers are saying about iPad 2
FIRST LOOK AT IPAD 2: What`s new, unchanged and still missing First look at Apple iPad 2: what`s new, unchanged and still missing
IFixit warns that those who dare to peer into the insides of the iPad 2 on their own risk cracking the glass front panel, which is thinner than that from the original iPad (0.62 mm vs. 0.85 mm) and glued on rather than attached via tabs. A heat gun was needed by iFixit to disassemble the device.
Once inside, iFixit took a look at the iPad 2 battery, which Apple says offers 10 hours of life before recharging, just like the original (boasting 3 big Li-Ion cells). Here`s what iFixit found: "A 3.8V, 25 Watt-hour unit. That`s just a hair more than the original iPad`s 24.8 Watt-hours, so any improved battery performance can be attributed to software and other hardware improvements."
The iFixit team also took a good look at the much discussed dual-core A5 processor: "The A5 processor has manufacture dates of late January and mid-February 2011. Production was clearly ramping up through the last minute. It looks like the A5 processor is the APL0498, replacing the A4/APL0398 seen in the iPad 1 and iPhones."
Other components that power the iPad 2:* Toshiba TH58NVG7D2FLA89 16GB NAND Flash* Broadcom BCM5973KFBGH Microcontroller* Broadcom BCM5974 CKFBGH capacitative touchscreen controller* Texas Instruments CD3240B0 11AZ4JT touchscreen line driver* Broadcom BCM43291HKUBC Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM tuner combo chip* S6T2MLC N33C50V Power Management IC* ST Micro AGD8 2103 gyroscope* ST Micro LIS331DLH accelerometer
Apple uses Phillips screws to hold most of the iPad 2 together, a welcome find for iFixit, which scolded Apple in January for an apparent "diabolical plan" to switch the screws on iPhone and other mobile products in an effort to keep users from messing with the innards.
Apple`s speakers disappointed iFixit, which found a single speaker grate on the outside ("We`re not fans of mono, but stereo will have to wait until iPad 3.") and said of the sound system inside: "The speakers are very small, almost as though they were added as an afterthought."
IFixit is still exploring the iPad 2`s magnets, which work with the tablet`s cover.
Overall, iFixit gave the iPad 2 a 4 out of 10 rating for "repairability," mainly due to the difficulty involved with taking off the front panel.
resources by itnews.com
Google has been displaced after four years in the top position
by John Ribeiro
Apple has topped Google as the most valuable brand in the world, according to a study released over the weekend by brand consultancy Millward Brown.
The maker of high-profile products like the iPad and iPhone moved up from third place in 2010 to to the number one position in 2011 as its brand value grew from US$83 billion to $153 billion, according to the study.
Google saw its brand value drop in 2011 by 2 percent to $111.5 billion. It had held the number one position for the last four years.
Apple and Google have different business models, with Google focused on free services and open systems, while Apple eschews the open model in favor of what it calls the “integrated model”, Nigel Hollis, executive vice president and chief global analyst at Millward Brown, said in a blog post on the company’s website.
"One thing is for sure, the integrated approach does help Apple maintain the consistency so important to a strong brand," Hollis said.
Whether it is a Mac, iPhone, iPod, or iPad, the design and interface of Apple products is familiar and easy to use, he added.
The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking is based on both quantitative consumer research and financial analysis. Brands are ranked and their performances analyzed in 13 product sectors such as apparel, beer, technology and telecommunications services.
Of the top 10 brands in the ranking, six were technology and telecommunications companies. Alongside Apple and Google were IBM at number three, Microsoft at number five, AT&T at number seven, and China Mobile at number nine.
With a 246 percent increase in brand value, social networking site Facebook entered the BrandZ Top 100 for the first time at number 35. Clicks outstripped brick-and-mortar as online retailer Amazon crossed Walmart as the more valuable brand, according to the study.
John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John`s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org