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Google MapThis past Friday, The House Committee on Science and Technology questioned Google on the issue of using outdated images after the devastation of Katrina. Many wanted to see satellite photos after the disaster to see if their homes were damaged, and were sometimes shown the area in only its pre-hurricane state. The committee raised the question that perhaps the company and local officials wanted to show the area’s recovery better in a better light.

“Google’s use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history,” said subcommittee chairperson Brad Miller.

John Hank, Google’s director of satellite maps, wrote in a recent report, “The latest update from one of our information providers substantially improved the imagery detail of the New Orleans area.”

We are thinking that maybe they should have widened that data base a tad earlier.

Read More | AP


Google leak

Google hits our headlines once again on the subject of security. They have now promised to provide anonymity to the large amounts of information that they collect from their users. This privacy should lessen the chances that companies, government agencies, or other parties can identify personal information about users behind searches. They have also decided to remove major pieces of identifying information every 18 to 24 months. Although this is good news over the long haul, we are still wary that maybe googling is not the best way to travel on the Internet.

Read More | ABC

YouTube logo In the continuing struggle with YouTube, Viacom, which is owned by Google, has taken YouTube to court for the astounding sum of $1 billion. Viacom claims that the site has shown 160,000 of its videos without express permission.

“Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws,” Viacom said.
We’re thinking that this may be the first in a long series of lawsuits to get YouTube to respect the legal rights of copywritten material. The list will probably include such companies as GE and NBC. News Corp and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have already begun legal proceedings against the media giant.

Read More | MSN

Flight Sim Race

Where do computer geeks go when it’s vacation time? They participate in a week long Round-The-World Flight Simulator Race. Teams from AVSim, FlightSim, and Sim-Outhouse race around the world by following specific rules and conditions given to them 24 hours in advance. The race, which began at 10:00 a.m. last Friday, allows the teams to choose their own planes, has a route requirement, features bonus airports, and emergency techniques in case of a plane crash.

If you would like to track the participants’ competition this week, you can watch it on Google Earth, check for updates, and even listen in on the banter between the teams. This could start a new trend in vacations, and we’re thinking that the holodeck from Star Trek might be the next logical step.


Read More | Non-PC Geeks

So, my boy Jake Ludington dropped me an email this morning telling me that if I had been home this weekend and answered my phone, I would have been able to take part in this experiment that he was a part of where a group of people got together down in Mountain View, CA, and got their Xbox Live gaming on in a moving vehicle. Of course, Mountain View is the place where Google has blanketed the city in free WiFi, which is how this was all possible in the first place. In order to get it done, they used a Windows XP computer to connect to WiFi, and had the Xbox 360 pick up the shared Internet connection, thus allowing it to jump online for some Rainbow Six and Uno action. Check the video above for the proof.

GPSWe told you so. Now that Nokia is offering free GPS downloads to its customers, Vodafone, the planet’s largest mobile phone network operator, has decided to get with Google to develop a map system for other cell phones. The service will also include local listings in what Vodafone’s marketer Frank Rovekamp refers to as its “mass-market access to exciting services.” We don’t know if we would call it exciting. We just like the concept of not having to pay for a separate GPS device when we get lost.

Read More | USA Today

Fast logoFast Search and Transfer has created AdMomentum, which they believe to be a solution for websites who are desirous of being less dependent on Google and Yahoo when searching. This is a second chance for the Norwegian company, who had previously created another search engine, AlltheWeb. When that and other affiliates failed it was sold off for $100 million in 2003 to a company that was eventually bought by, you guessed it, Yahoo, who uses it as a testing ground for alternative search engines.

Read More | Fast Search via USA Today

Google leak

Internet security service Finjan today reconfirmed reports that Google exposed private user names and passwords on its anti-phishing blacklist. On January 3, 2007, they discovered this list of URLs which could have potentially become a target for identity theft. Although Google has removed the offending information, Finjan suggests the following steps to insure that you don’t become a future victim.

  • Avoid sharing your browsing habits with third parties by disabling URL sharing or forwarding.
  • Use adequate password policy for your web accounts. Do not use the same password for all web accounts.
  • Make sure that your PC is adequately protected from malicious software such as spyware and adware that can send out private information.

What creeps us out almost as much as the exposed list is that you can still check it out to see if it looks familiar.

Read More | Finjan Security

Google adYesterday we reported SK Telecom was developing retail shopping by phone. They are doing this in cooperation with Google, the company that is well on its way to owning planet Earth. In an interview with CNN.com Saturday, Eric Schmidt, Google Inc.‘s chief executive, said that consumers spend up to 10 hours a day on cell phones that are becoming more like handheld computers.

The company will be earning most of its $10 billion revenue this year by selling text ads to computer users who search with Google and expects that mobile phone revenue will match that amount in time. Schmidt also commented that he believes phones will eventually be free if consumers accept the advertising. We think we will continue to use the phones we have and not have to sit through the commercials.

Read More | CNN

Google Co-OpNow this is good news for those of you who run websites - Google has just launched Google Co-Op. The goal of Google Co-Op is to allow a user to create and integrate a customized version of the Google search engine into their website. You are able to specify which sites you want your Co-Op site to search, which means results will be displayed only for those sites you choose.

Aside from choosing which site(s) you want to include, you also have the choice of customizing the look and feel of the results page, how content in the results should be prioritized, and even if others can contribute as well.

It appears, however, that the home run here is that Google Co-Op gives the options of displaying your AdSense ads in the sidebar, providing the possibility of increased revenue. We don’t know about you, but extra money in our pockets during this time of year is more than acceptable to us.

Read More | Google Co-Op via Venturus