Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are the big search engines data mining?

Yahoo makes the first move amid the potential that the government might someday soon come calling:

WASHINGTON - Yahoo Inc. said Wednesday that it will shorten the amount of time that it retains data about its users' online behavior — including Internet search records — to three months from 13 months and expand the range of data that it "anonymizes" after that period.

The company's new privacy policy comes amid mounting concerns among regulators and lawmakers from Washington to Europe about how much data big Internet companies are collecting on their users and how that information is being used. Yahoo's announcement also ratchets up the pressure on rivals Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to follow its lead.

In September, Google said it would "anonymize," or mask, the numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on its server logs after nine months, down from a previous period of 18 months. And Microsoft, which keeps user data for 18 months, said last week it would support an industry standard of six months.

Under Yahoo's new policy, the company will strip out portions of users' IP addresses, alter small tracking files known as "cookies" and delete other potential personally identifiable information after 90 days in most cases. In cases involving fraud and data security, the company will anonymize the data after six months.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo also said it will expand the scope of data that it anonymizes to encompass not only search engine logs, but also page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks. That information is used to personalize online content and advertising.

Yahoo will begin implementing the new policy next month and says it will be effective across all the company's services by mid-2010.

Anne Toth, vice president of policy and head of privacy for Yahoo, said the company is adopting the new policy to build trust with users and differentiate it from its competitors. Yahoo also hopes to take the issue of data retention "off the table" by showing that Internet companies can regulate themselves, Toth said.

European Union regulators have pressured Yahoo, Google and Microsoft over the past year to shorten the amount of time that they hold onto user data. And Congress has begun asking questions about the extent to which Internet and telecommunications companies track where their users go online and use that information to target personalized advertising.

Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, praised Yahoo for setting a new standard on privacy protection and said Google, Microsoft and other companies will now be compared against that standard.

Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a civil liberties group, agreed that Yahoo's new policy is "step in the right direction." He added, however, that he would like to see more clarity — and more standardization — from the industry about what it does with Internet users' data. He noted, for instance, that while some companies delete full IP addresses, other delete only parts of IP addresses or simply encrypt them.

Indeed, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said in a statement that the method of anonymization is more important than how long records are logged. It called on the entire industry to adopt a "high standard."

For its part, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google said it takes privacy seriously and strives to strike "the appropriate balance between protecting our users' privacy and offering them benefits of data retention, such as better security measures and new innovations." Google did not address, however, whether it would be open to further reductions in the time it maintains user logs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

a cool solar gadget for a laptop!

Global Satellite USA Launches Solar-Powered Laptop Bag
December 17, 2008
[Satellite Today 12-17-08] Global Satellite USA has released the Generator, a bag that produces enough solar power to charge a laptop from less than a day in the sun, the company announced Dec. 17.
The Generator features a 15-watt solar panel and a battery that holds the equivalent of a full laptop charge and also can be charged from a wall outlet.
For each hour in the sun, the Generator extends laptop run time by 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the efficiency of the laptop, according to Global Satellite USA. An hour in the sun also generates enough power to fully charge most phones, MP3 players and small cameras.

Quick tips for a PPC campaign

These are some good tips I found and use:

Pay per click tips and secrets

PPC tips and secrets are some recommendations which advertisers may evaluate while planning and devising a strategy for this relatively new form of marketing. Since PPC tips and secrets are merely recommendations, there is no need to apply them all, instead only the ones related to or appropriate to the business may need to be employed. Below are ten PPC tips and secrets.

1) Select a small number of suitable keywords on which to bid.
2) Avoid keyword bidding competitions, as prices may get high by sticking to budget.
3) Calculate conversion rate to find out average number of clicks per sale which can give indication of how much is required before a single sale is made.
4) Create appropriate and effective landing page to grab the users’ attention.
5) Landing page must relate to keyword(s)
6) Use PPC optimization and PPC conversion to track most profitable keyword.
7) Use negative keywords.
8) Advert must be written for appropriate target market.
9) Look for well known and trustworthy websites to register and setup PPC campaign.
10) Look for a company to assist in PPC optimization.(

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On line sales shifts gears in this economy

Online Businesses Doing More with Less in an Uncertain Economy via Web Optimization Technology
Testing and Targeting Solutions Deliver Superior Online Experiences to Consumers While Driving Revenue and Profit for Businesses

BOSTON, Dec 16, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Ever gone online and had an unsatisfying experience on a website? Maybe you weren't happy with the way information was displayed or found it hard to find what you were looking for. That's the unhappy picture that consumers face when shopping on websites that have not been fine-tuned (or "optimized") for visitors. The good news is, businesses realize that not optimizing their websites depresses their revenue and profits and are now doing everything they can to improve online shopping experiences in an uncertain economy.
Increasingly, large retail websites are turning to website optimization technologies such as multivariate testing and behavioral targeting to improve visitors' online experience. Testing allows businesses to present multiple variations of content and discover which content you prefer while targeting enables companies to understand you better as a customer so that they can present you with relevant information, such as coupons. ShopNBC, the third-largest television home shopping network in the United States, is one business that has implemented testing and targeting solutions within its e-commerce infrastructure.

Top five things they found:

The company identified five key elements to test that might influence the actions of users who were contemplating a purchase:
1) Location and size of the "Add-to-Cart" button
2) Headlines identifying cross-sell items
3) Styles of tabs that link users to product details
4) Color, size, and style of Clearance and Limited Time pricing offers
5) Highlighting of payment options for qualified buyers

These are just some of the suggestions. You must have an inviting web site. You must have something people want to buy. Notice the specials and close outs, people love specials and close outs.

Want to know more call me at 913-533-4098 or visit my web site

Is the way the net works changing?

Google's OpenEdge Clouds Its Net Neutrality Stance

A network edge-caching measure that accesses data temporarily stored on servers near end users is causing some to question Google's long-term intentions.

By W. David Gardner
December 15, 2008 04:33 PM

Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s OpenEdge project -- an edge-caching measure in which frequently accessed data is temporarily stored on servers located near end users -- is putting its support of Internet traffic neutrality in question.

A report Monday in The Wall Street Journal charges that the new "fast track" policy by Google will undermine its commitment to the net neutrality concept. Citing "documents reviewed by the Journal," reporters focused on Google's OpenEdge project as evidence of Google's pending effort to downgrade its support of net neutrality.

Former Vice President Al Gore talked at Web 2.0 Summit, covering topics like his company Current TV, the democratization of the Web, the recently-concluded election and his favorite topic, renewable energy. Twitters Evan Williams and Current TVs Joel Hyatt talked at the Web 2.0 Summit about the current state of media, including some of the changing ways that people are communicating, sharing and making money with user-generated content. Gary Mueller, CEO of Digital Now, talks about the company's secure document communications service, which helps small businesses, consumers, and service providers exchange confidential documentation.
Twitters Evan Williams and Current TVs Joel Hyatt talked at the Web 2.0 Summit about the current state of media, including some of the changing ways that people are communicating, sharing and making money with user-generated content.
Network neutrality, which Google has been a vocal supporter of, would ensure that broadband service providers don't prioritize some Internet content, applications or services over other content, applications or services.

The accusation produced an immediate response from Google's telecom legal counsel Richard Witt, who strongly denied the charge.

"Despite the hyperbolic tone and confused claims in Monday's Journal story," Witt wrote in his blog, "I want to be perfectly clear about one thing: Google remains strongly committed to the principle of net neutrality, and we will continue to work with policymakers in the years ahead to keep the Internet free and open."

Witt explained that its OpenEdge project is "non-exclusive, meaning any other entity could employ similar arrangements."

Stephen Arnold, a search engine expert who has written several books and reports on Google, zeroed in on Google's edge-caching as key to the argument that Google is not backtracking.

"Google's twist on the edge-caching setup is that it doesn't want to bother with the hassle of setting up a server facility and arranging a fat pipe to connect it with the local network," Arnold said in his blog. "Instead, they're negotiating with ISPs to simply collocate their servers in the existing network facilities, neatly clearing both of these hurdles. Google emphasized that these deals won't be exclusive -- any content provider could get the same sort of deal if it's willing to pay the ISPs' prices -- and its commitment to net neutrality stands."

The Journalstory, which featured sketches of Google chairman Eric Schmidt and President-elect Barack Obama, suggested that Obama and prominent Internet lawyer Lawrence Lessig, were shifting their previous positions that supported net neutrality.

Lessig, who taught law courses years ago with Obama at the University of Chicago, said in his blog post Monday that he hasn't shifted his opinion on net neutrality and hasn't seen any evidence that Obama has shifted his opinion, either.

"The article is an indirect effort to gin up a drama about a drama about an alleged shift in Obama's policies about network neutrality," Lessig wrote in his blog. "What's the evidence for the shift? That Google allegedly is negotiating for faster service on some network pipes." Lessig, who recently accepted a new post at Harvard Law School, said he hasn't "softened" his opinion on net neutrality as suggested in the Journal story.

Noting that since Google and Lessig aren't abandoning their commitment to net neutrality, Arnold doesn't believe there is any "tectonic shift" on the issue under way on their part.

Aother security Explorer flaw

inda Young - AHN Editor

Washington D.C. (AHN) - Until Microsoft finds a fix for a security flaw in Internet Explorer that could allow criminals to take control of computers and steal passwords experts are warning people to use a different browser.

Microsoft said at least seven versions of its popular Internet Explorer web browser, which is used by most of the world's computers, are vulnerable to this security flaw. About 10,000 websites have been compromised so far as Microsoft races to find a security patch.

"Microsoft is continuing its investigation of public reports of attacks against a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer," the firm announced in a security advisory alert about the flaw.

This security flaw allows hackers to take control of a computer if they can trick victims into visiting a special website with malicious code that infects the user's computer.

Right now the goal seems to be to steal passwords that can be sold later on the black market, but experts warn that it could be exploited by financially motivated hackers.

Experts also caution that any Internet browser is subject to attack.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Will we be using our phones for more surfing in the future?

Study: Most will use cell phone for Internet by 2020
December 15, 2008 — 11:33am ET | By Sue Mare

The iPhone may have paved the way for consumers to access the Internet via their cell phone, but it will take another 12 years for the cell phone to become the primary gateway to the Internet for people worldwide. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's "Future of the Internet III study," nearly 600 Internet experts said the combination of portability and relative affordability will turn the cell phone into the leading Internet gateway by 2020.

The experts interviewed said that by 2020 they expect there will be a set of universal standards making it easier for users to maintain a consistent connection to the Internet. In addition, the researchers expect future mobile phones will function more as computers than phones making it difficult to distinguish between a mobile phone and a laptop.

Based upon the report, Pew suggests mobile technology may offer a better alternative for providing Internet access than computers through projects such as One Laptop per Child Initiative.

Delta to offer web e-mail on flights

By Roger Yu, USA TODAY
Delta Air Lines will be the latest domestic airline to offer in-flight Internet for passengers, launching paid Wi-Fi service on Tuesday on its East Coast shuttle flights.

The Atlanta-based airline will initially introduce GoGo, an Internet service operated by Aircell, on five MD-88s flying the New York LaGuardia-Boston Logan and New York LaGuardia-Washington Reagan routes. A Boeing 757-200 is also equipped with GoGo.

Passengers on the shuttle flights can expect about 40 minutes of Internet surfing time, says Chris Babb, a Delta product manager.

The carrier plans to add "a plane every two or three days" with the goal of equipping its entire mainline domestic fleet by the end of next year, Babb says.

The service will cost $9.95 for flights less than three hours and $12.95 for longer flights. As a promotion, Delta's new service will be free for the first two weeks.

A new blog from Google

This looks neat: