February 10, 2010

Let Google Know — No! NSA

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 2:05 am

American Civil Liberties — Google and the NSA. It is hard to imagine a more potent—or frightening—combination when it comes to the collection and safety of Americans’ private information, bBut just such an alliance is underway. As reported by the Washington Post, “Google—the world’s largest search engine company with access to intimate details of our lives—is negotiating an electronic surveillance deal with the National Security Agency (NSA)—the world’s largest spying network.”

The implications of this deal are very troubling. The NSA—a component of the Department of Defense—is an intelligence collection agency with few effective checks against abuse and no public oversight of its activities. In the last decade, the NSA’s vast dragnet of suspicionless surveillance has targeted everyday Americans, in violation of the law and the Constitution.

Speak out and stop this dangerous partnership before it’s finalized. Tell Google CEO Eric Schmidt that you strongly object to any deal with the NSA.

February 4, 2010

Internet Advertising Laws

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U.S. Government — Good marketing is critical to the success of your business. Marketing has many dimensions, including market research, pricing, advertising, packaging and labeling, distribution and customer service. Investing in a good marketing plan will generate excellent returns.

But there’s more to a winning marketing plan or advertising campaign than a profitable product or service. Unfair, untruthful or purposely deceptive advertising can result in costly penalties.

An old cartoon in the New Yorker showed two dogs in front of a computer, and had the caption “On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog.” The inherent anonymity of the Internet has fostered a number of shady advertising and marketing practices, such as unsolicited e-mail spam. Over the past decade, federal and state governments have passed additional advertising laws that protect consumer privacy and ensure fair and truthful advertising practices online. If you plan to advertise online — whether you’re buying ads on search engines or direct marketing through e-mail — you’ll need to understand some basic rules.

January 9, 2010

Google, Advertising, New Media And Energy

For the last few years, our organization has been exploring how an information technologies company fits together with an energy company.

With the demise of traditional publishing (i.e. newspapers and broadcast television), has come the rise of new media marketing. Though the cost to produce each ad has plummeted, the cost to store and distribute each ad has soared. For instance, the cost to produce a newspaper ad might be over ten thousand dollars; however, the cost to produce a similar Internet ad might be under a thousand dollars. On the other hand, the cost to store and distribute a newspaper ad is insignificant while the cost to store and distribute the Internet ad is substantial.

One of the largest costs associated with Internet advertising is energy. Data centers, servers, off-site backups and other related new media services are extremely energy intensive. By 2006, it was estimated that “Google is the largest consumer of electricity in the world.” Though Google does not disclose what they believe their environmental impact to be, there is no doubt that alternatives to traditional energy sources would be very desirable.

Niki Fenwick of Google said, “Right now, we can’t buy affordable, utility-scale, renewable energy in our markets. We want to buy the highest quality, most affordable renewable energy wherever we can and use the green credits.”

“We don’t have any concrete plans. We want the ability to buy and sell electricity in case it becomes part of our portfolio.”

It is almost as if Google has been reading our playbook:
Data Center Resources
Sustainable Energy

December 31, 2009

Washington Times A Sign Of The Times

The Washington Times, a 27 year old newspaper, is gutting its staff of 40% of their employees. The entire staff of photographers were terminated. Also, the sports section will be eliminated. “Our market-based, forward-looking plan is both a response to the recessionary economy, continued downward financial pressures on the news industry and our transition into a 21st century multimedia enterprise,” said the president of The Times.

Newspaper publishers and television broadcasters had already seen a huge downturn in advertising revenues. Then, the economic slowdown landed a fatal final blow to many traditional publishers.

RELATED ARTICLE: TV Advertising In Trouble

December 29, 2009

TV Advertising In Trouble

Free-to-view television programing could vanish. For over 60 years, network broadcasters have supported programming through commercial advertisements; however, several factors could be combining that make free TV a thing of the past.

Cable, satellite and the Internet have fractured the networks’ audience. The downturn in the economy may be landing the final blow on advertising revenues for CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX. Rupert Murdoch told shareholders, “Good programing is expensive. It can no longer be supported solely by advertising revenues.”

Super Bowl ad sales have been much more difficult for this year’s game. For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not be advertising during the Super Bowl. Prices for Olympic advertising has been cut almost in half.

December 25, 2009

FTC Google-eyeing Google

Filed under: Business Trends — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:11 am

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made a second request to Google for information about its proposed $750 million purchase of mobile phone marketer AdMob. It is another example of the government’s increased interest in Google’s advertising empire.

“We know that closer scrutiny has been one consequence of Google’s success,” Paul Feng, Google product manager.

December 20, 2009

Google Fined Over Copyright Violations

Since 2004, Google has been scanning in millions of books and making them available to the public. Google says, “The Library Project’s aim is simple: make it easier for people to find relevant books – specifically, books they wouldn’t find any other way such as those that are out of print – while carefully respecting authors’ and publishers’ copyrights. Our ultimate goal is to work with publishers and libraries to create a comprehensive, searchable, virtual card catalog of all books in all languages that helps users discover new books and publishers discover new readers.”

A French court has fined Google 300,000 Euro and 10,000 Euro / day while Google is in violation. Google attorney, Alexandra Neri, said the company would appeal.

“It shows Google that they are not the kings of the world and they can’t do whatever they want,” said Serge Eyrolles, president of France’s Syndicat National de l’Edition.

Philippe Colombet, the head of Google’s book-scanning project in France, said the company disagrees. “French readers now face the threat of losing access to a significant body of knowledge and falling behind the rest of Internet users,” Colombet said. “We believe that displaying a limited number of short extracts from books complies with copyright legislation both in France and the U.S. — and improves access to books.”

U.S. and German courts are also trying to determine how the Internet is affecting intellectual property rights.

November 12, 2009 New Caffeine Search

Filed under: marketing and advertising — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 7:20 pm

Although you may not notice a radical difference, Google is changing the way it ranks search results. Google search results are based on a complex algorithm. Factors, such as, the domain name, the age of the domain name, type of webpage, links out and links in are calculated into a formula. The result gives the content its page rank.

Though Google is not making public the details of the algorithm, some changes are obvious. A much heavier weighting is being given to “real time” searches which connect sites like Blogs, Twitter and FaceBook directly to Google.

Matt Cutts of Google said: The Caffeine update isn’t about making some UI (user interface) changes here or there. Currently, even power users won’t notice much of a difference at all. This update is primarily under the hood: we’re rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure.

When Caffeine was introduced, so was a sandbox, where people could play around with Caffeine based search results, and get a look at how rankings were altered (if at all), and try to get a feel for how it was going to go. Now that sandbox has closed up shop, it looks like the Caffeine update will be live in Google search before too long.

Based on the success we’ve seen, we believe Caffeine is ready for a larger audience. Soon we will activate Caffeine more widely, beginning with one data center.

October 12, 2009

Shopping Safely Online

Filed under: Business Trends, privacy — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:13 pm

National Cyber Alert System
Cyber Security Tip

Shopping Safely Online
Online shopping has become a popular way to purchase items without the hassles of traffic and crowds. However, the Internet has unique risks, so it is important to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?
The Internet offers a convenience that is not available from any other shopping outlet. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from countless vendors, compare prices with a few simple mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the Internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

How do attackers target online shoppers?
There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. It is also important for vendors to protect their computers to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.

Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious web sites that mimic legitimate ones or create email messages that appear to have been sent from a legitimate source. Charities may also be misrepresented in this way, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.

Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is being transmitted.
How can you protect yourself?
Use and maintain anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software – Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your own computer and leave you vulnerable by using anti-virus software and a firewall (see Understanding Anti-Virus Software and Understanding Firewalls for more information). Make sure to keep your virus definitions up to date. Spyware or adware hidden in software programs may also give attackers access to your data, so use a legitimate anti-spyware program to scan your computer and remove any of these files (see Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware for more information).

Keep software, particularly your web browser, up to date – Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities (see Understanding Patches for more information). Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If this option is available, you should enable it.

Evaluate your software’s settings – The default settings of most software enable all available functionality. However, attackers may be able to take advantage of this functionality to access your computer (see Evaluating Your Web Browser’s Security Settings and the paper Securing Your Web Browser for more information). It is especially important to check the settings for software that connects to the Internet (browsers, email clients, etc.). Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.

Do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious web sites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks and Understanding Web Site Certificates for more information). Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.

Take advantage of security features – Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately (see Choosing and Protecting Passwords and Supplementing Passwords for more information).

Be wary of emails requesting information – Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information). Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email.

Check privacy policies – Before providing personal or financial information, check the web site’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used (see Protecting Your Privacy for more information).

Make sure your information is being encrypted – Many sites use SSL, or secure sockets layer, to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. The location of the icon varies by browser; for example, it may be to the right of the address bar or at the bottom of the window. Some attackers try to trick users by adding a fake padlock icon, so make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.

Use a credit card – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection for your debit card. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills. You can further minimize damage by using a single credit card with a low credit line for all of your online purchases.

Check your statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately (see Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft for more information).

September 28, 2009

What Is The Price Of Freedom?

Filed under: Business Trends — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 7:55 pm

Facebook is finding out the cost of freedom — $9.5 million.

A couple years ago Facebook started a marketing division called Beacon. Beacon worked as a go-between for Facebook and third-party businesses, such as, Blockbuster, Fandango and The idea was to show a Facebook member’s friends recent purchases in the belief that it would be a “trusted referral”. If I bought a movie ticket through Fandango, my friends on Facebook would be offered to buy tickets, too.

Sharing a consumer’s information is usually not a good thing to do… as Facebook found out. People became outraged at their opt-out program. Unless you were clever enough to catch their 4 second pop-up to opt-out, you were automatically opted-in. Then your friends were exposed to your purchasing patterns including the holiday gift you purchased for them.

A lawsuit was filed against Facebook which they have agreed to settle. The settlement calls for Facebook to fund a foundation to promote online privacy, safety and security with $9.5 million.

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