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Google Introduce a Fresh New Algorithm

While changes to Google’s algorithm happen all the time, some changes are definitely bigger than others.  The latest change is related to content freshness, and is said to affect 35 percent of all online searches.

While this change is one of the biggest in recent times, it is an extension of the current philosophy already in place.  Basically, Google are trying to encourage updated content, especially as it relates to news and events.  Google realise there is more information out there than ever before, and most people are looking for recent content rather than historical data.
freshness blog Google Introduce a Fresh New Algorithm
In the official Google blog, Amit Singhal offers this example:

“If I search for [olympics], I probably want information about next summer’s upcoming Olympics, not the 1900 Summer Olympics (the only time my favorite sport, cricket, was played). Google Search uses a freshness algorithm, designed to give you the most up-to-date results, so even when I just type [olympics] without specifying 2012, I still find what I’m looking for.”

According to Singhal, there are three areas of focus for the new algorithm.

- Recent events or hot topics – for hot topics that begin trending online.
- Regularly recurring events – where Google will default to the most recent event.
- Frequent updates – for information that changes often.

In a simple sense, Google are putting more emphasis on recent events, which is something they have been slowly moving towards for years now.  Of course you can still search for old information if you want to, but the most recent data will become the default if no other keywords or search filters are added.

iTunes 10.5.1 Beta 2 For Windows And Mac Seeded To Developers

Apart from seeding iOS 5.0.1 firmware for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to developers, Apple has also seeded the customary update to iTunes. Registered developers can now download iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 for Windows and Mac from the Developers Portal.

iTunes 10.5.1 Beta 2 e1320353514934 iTunes 10.5.1 Beta 2 For Windows And Mac Seeded To Developers

Release Notes:

  • iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 includes a number of important stability and performance improvements for iTunes Match, and is a required update for all subscribers to iTunes Match beta.
  • iTunes Match is now also available on your Apple TV.
  • Your iCloud libraries will be deleted at the end of this beta.
  • Backup regularly and do not delete the music you add to iCloud from your computer. Apple
  • may periodically delete all iCloud libraries during the beta period. This will require you to scan,
  • match, and upload songs again.

On October 11, Apple seeded iTunes 10.5.1 beta 1 to developers with iTunes Match. iTunes Match is another service being offered by Apple under the iCloud banner. iTunes Match will scan all the songs in your local iTunes music library and will automatically add them to the cloud in high quality 256kbps AAC format. This music will be available for your streaming pleasure 24/7. The good thing about iTunes Match is that it matches your song collection with the over 20 million tracks in the iTunes music store library. However, there’s an annual fee of $24.99 associated with iTunes Match.

As of now, Apple has not released iTunes Match to the public. It is still open only to developers in USA. Apple has said that they would be releasing iTunes Match to the public by the end of October but now November has arrived and there is still no sign of iTunes Match for the public. It is expected that iTunes Match will be released alongside iOS 5.0.1 firmware to the public in the coming weeks.

Only registered developers can download iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 from the Developer Portal. Regardless of the fact that installation files of iTunes 10.5.1 beta 2 for Windows and Mac will be easily available on a plethora of file sharing websites, it is advised that you refrain from pirating Apple software as iTunes beta software is never meant for the public.

Apple Seeds iOS 5.0.1 For iPhone, iPad And iPod Touch To Developers

Apple has seeded iOS 5.0.1 firmware for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to developers. Those who are registered in the iPhone Developer Program can now download iOS 5.0.1 for their iPhone, iPad and iPod touch from the Dev Portal.

iOS 5.0.1 e1320352623749 Apple Seeds iOS 5.0.1 For iPhone, iPad And iPod Touch To Developers

Apple finally released iOS 5 to the public on October 12. Before that, the company announced their latest and most definitely their greatest iOS update at WWDC 2011. iOS 5 has over 250 new features for supported iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Since its announcement at WWDC 2011, Apple seeded a total of seven iOS 5 betas before finally releasing it to the public. However several issues were reported with iOS 5 final version therefore the successor to that, iOS 5.0.1, has now been seeded to developers only at the moment.

iOS 5.0.1 can be downloaded on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad 1, iPod touch 3G and 4G, like all previous iOS firmware versions. Do keep in mind that this is a minor update and does not come with any new features.

Apple claims to have fixed the iPhone 4S battery drain issue in iOS 5.0.1 firmware. Apart from that, this new iOS 5 update comes with a host of stability and performance improvements as well as critical bug fixes. iOS 5.0.1 also fixes the security code flaw on iPad 2 running iOS 5 firmware. iOS 5.0.1 also improves voice recognition for Australian users.

As we previously mentioned, Apple only releases beta iOS firmware to developers only. Meaning that you have to have a developer account with Apple which alone costs $99 per year. Those who have a developer account can now download iOS 5.0.1 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch from the developer portal. On the other hand, it seems like more non-developers are anxious to get their hands on beta firmware as compared to registered developers. For such budding beta testers, iOS 5.0.1 firmware IPSWs are openly available on file sharing websites, however it is illegal to distribute beta firmware as Apple does not release iOS firmware betas to the public.

New Study Shows that Captchas Don’t Work

Everyone knows that Captchas are annoying, but according to a team of Stanford University researchers, they don’t even work.  In a test of major websites like Visa’s Authorize.net, Blizzard, eBay, and Wikipedia, the team managed to get past various Captcha security systems using a basic decoding technique from the field of machine vision.

Machine vision was developed mostly as a way to control robots, by allowing them to detect various shapes and remove visual noise from their surrounding environment.  However, these same techniques have now been used in the creation of Decaptcha, a tool which was able to decode 66 percent of Captchas from Visa’s Authorize.net and 70 percent from Blizzard.
exemples New Study Shows that Captchas Dont Work
According to the team, any result above 1 percent means that systems are not working and should be pulled down.  While the results of these tests varied widely, Google’s Captchas proved to be the most secure.  The researchers had a zero percent success rate when trying to decode the Google Captchas, including one system called ReCaptcha developed by Carnegie Mellon University and purchased by Google.

However, in an interview with Cnet, a representative for Blizzard said that Captchas are not used to secure systems, and are mostly in place to cut down on spam and other minor annoyances.

Shon Damron from Blizzard said “It’s common knowledge that Captchas are fundamentally unable to fully guarantee application security, but they do protect against certain threats. While we use Captchas as an initial layer of security, primarily to minimize spam with regard to new account creation, they represent one of many different security technologies that we employ to protect our infrastructure and customers.”

What does “Do Not Track” Really Mean

According to a recent report, “do not track” browser options may not work the way you think.  In many ways, these options are simply an ineffective suggestion to websites, with voluntary compliance and no power over third party ads.

Most websites these days are commercial in nature, meaning they display ads and generate income from them.  Every time that a website is loaded, content is also loaded from various ad networks and independent advertisers, who can still track your web activity despite having the “do not track” option enabled.
Screen shot 2011 10 30 at 8.40.04 PM 600x574 What does Do Not Track Really Mean
Internet users are able to block ads with certain tools, which will block a lot of tracking.  However, it is almost impossible to view online advertisements and avoid tracking at the same time.  Jonathan Mayer from the Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford has recently reviewed a number of antitracking tools, with these key results:

1. Most desktop browsers currently do not support effective self-help tools. Mobile users are almost completely out of luck.
2. Self-help tools vary substantially in performance.
3. The most effective self-help tools block third-party advertising.

Indeed, the situation is so confused that Google do not even have a “do not tracking” option, instead using something called “Keep My Opt-Outs” on their Chrome browser.

“The idea of ‘Do Not Track’ is interesting, but there doesn’t seem to be wide consensus on what ‘tracking’ really means, nor on how new proposals could be implemented in a way that respects people’s current privacy controls,” said a Google spokeswoman in an interview with Wired.com.

Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari do have a “do not track” option, although as Mayer shows, they are mostly ineffective without the use of third party tools and techniques.

Google take Street View Indoors

Google has launched a new feature which takes Street View indoors, with a number of businesses included in the initial implementation.  While this service has been under development since April 2010, there is renewed interest lately due to wider involvement and the expansion of available imagery.

Google announced plans to introduce 360 degree business photos back in May, saying “This experience, using Street View technology, includes 360-degree imagery of the business interior and storefront. With this immersive imagery, potential customers can easily imagine themselves at the business and decide if they want to visit in person.”
111122gg 600x400 Google take Street View Indoors
The functionality of this service has only now reached a point where it is useful however, with a “renewed interest in the past few days because as promised, as more of the imagery becomes available, we’re getting more of it online.”

Businesses who want to be involved and photographed can apply online, with individual businesses able to request the removal of certain photos if they don’t like them.  While this entire project does raise some important security and privacy issues however, the fact it is restricted to businesses is likely to keep potential problems from getting out of control.

If individual people accidentally end up in photographs, Google has said “we’ll either run the 360-degree imagery through our state-of-the-art blurring technology to blur out faces of any employees and customers who appear in the imagery, or we won’t publish the still photos if people are in view. Remember, only people with the authority to make agreements on behalf of the business can submit an application for photography, and by submitting the application you’re confirming that you have that authority and that you will follow the steps set out here.”