Wikipedia Fundraiser To End Today?

As you know, Wikipedia has been asking its readers for donations to cover the operating costs of their not-for-profit Wikimedia foundation. From the looks of it, the fundraising program has been a success with close to $14.8 million raised as of date. The stated goal was to raise $16 million that could cover the organization’s costs for most of 2011.

Wikipedia has now posted a message on their website seeking for minimal donations from readers that could help the organization wind up their fundraiser. A new banner on the Wikipedia website reads,

Wikipedia Donations

The latest fundraising efforts are quite phenomenal considering that similar efforts last year had only helped the organization raise close to $10 million. Jimmy Wales had earlier noted that his organization would need at least $20 million to cover costs for 2011 and that close to $16 million of this would be raised from the visitors to the Wikimedia websites.

Download Free Music On Bing With Holiday Song Giveaway

Looking for some free giveaway this new year? Bing is now offering a free music download to every user who will enter their email address on their new Holiday Season Giveaway page. The offer is restricted to the first 500,000 users who will enter the program and every signed in user will be eligible to download one music from Amazon (at a maximum price of $1.29). Of course, you will need an Amazon account to redeem your gift coupon.

The offer is expected to expire by December 31 and winners are expected to redeem their gifts by the 24th of next month. Do note that the offer is only available to American users.

In case you are wondering if there is a catch in this entire offer, well there is. The giveaway page notes,

“By providing your email address you agree to receive future communications about Bing, including the Bing newsletter. The newsletter gives you tips & tricks plus news about all the great features and programs Bing has to offer. You can unsubscribe at any time.”

So there you go. In case you are someone who doesn’t like receiving newsletters, this offer may not be for you.

iTunes Vs. Netflix – Online Rentals Compared

For more than a decade, Netflix has been seen as the leader in movie rentals. More recently, the company has started focusing on online rentals so much so that it is now believed that internet streaming via Netflix alone contributes close to 20% of bandwidth in the United States. Netflix recently launched in Canada and is learned to be ramping up for an international roll-out.

So how does all of this compare with Apple’s iTunes service? According to Gleacher & Company analyst Brian Marshall, it may be a tad unfair on Netflix to even get compared with iTunes. And that’s because the volume of purchases over Netflix is extremely large compared to those over iTunes.

Marshall points out that the average number of rentals per day over iTunes could be in the range of 475,000. On the other hand, Netflix is known to handle as much as 5 million rentals on a daily basis. Netflix appears superior in value terms as well. Marshall notes that over 90% of TV episode rentals on iTunes are priced $0.99 widening the gap between the two services even further.

Cityville Beats Farmville As Most Popular Game On Facebook

Farmville has finally been dethroned. Although this social gaming application, which at one point in time was synonymous with social gaming on Facebook, had been replaced by Phrases DIY trivia builder application as the most popular application on Facebook, it still retained the tag as the most popular gaming application until now. No longer.

Data collected by app metrics firm AppData has showed that Zynga’s Cityville has replaced Farmville as the most popular gaming application. This is across any single platform and is not limited to Facebook alone. According to data revealed by AppData, the new game from Zynga amassed as many as 61.7 million monthly users – just 22 days after its launch on December 2. Farmville on the other hand has reported close to 56.8 million during the same period.

Another noteworthy information is that Zynga’s total traffic during this period adds up to 261.6 million active users that is close to being its all-time peak. That’s 63 million more than what Zynga reported for November this year.

Wikipedia Donations Reach $12.5 Million

Unless you have completely shut yourself off the internet over the past couple of months, you are sure to have stumbled upon one of the donation banners that has been put up on Wikipedia. The not-for-profit group had stated back in November that they are expecting operating costs to hit close to $20.4 million in 2010-2011 and that they are hoping to make at least $16 million of this via donations.

While this appeal for donation still stays as a work-in-progress, the latest banner on Wikipedia tells us about the success that the foundation has had in requesting visitors for donation. The banner notes that the organization has already made $12.5 million through contributions which means they are still $3.5 million away from their stated goals. That is pretty impressive considering that the donations last year added up to only around $8 million.

Wikipedia Donation page

You can still make your contribution by visiting the Wikipedia donation page here.

Free Gmail Voice Calling Facility Extended By One Year

Google introduced the highly disruptive free voice calling feature on Gmail to customers in the United States and Canada earlier this year. The service lets users to simply pick a contact or dial a number to start talking to them like they would with any regular phone. In addition to voice calling, the feature also allowed for video chatting and international calling at nominal rates.

The deal breaker was though that the free service was expected to expire by the end of this year. No longer. Google has revealed that they planned to extend the free voice calling functionality until the end of next year.  In a recently published blog post, a Google spokesperson has written,

“When we launched calling in Gmail back in August, we wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010. In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year, we’re extending free calling for all of 2011.”

Is Your Website Hacked? Check With Google Notifications

Google has introduced a new functionality to their search engine results that will tell visitors if a site has been hacked. Starting now, any search result from a website that Google detects as hacked will display a message that reads, “This site may be compromised“. Clicking on the link will take the visitor to a Help Center article.

So how does Google know if a website has been hacked? According to their blog posting, the search engine makes use of a number of automated tools to check for the common signs of a hacked site. Once this is done, the engine shall automatically add the notification to the search results apart from informing the website owner about it on the Webmaster Tools.

Website hacked

Of course, since this is automated, there are bound to be occasions when Google might get it wrong that could impact the traffic to any website adversely. Google has noted that affected users could request a review from their website that will ensure speedy rectification of any issue.

Del.icio.us Shutdown May Not Happen

Del.icio.us aka Delicious.com is without doubt one of the most loved, if not most used, bookmarking service. The website has been around for more than half a decade as a Yahoo service. Although Delicious has not exactly helped Yahoo make money, it is nevertheless a nifty service that still has a huge captive crowd who can be monetizable in other ways.

It has hence come as a huge disappointment that Yahoo may be planning on shutting down Delicious.com. This is courtesy an internal webcast that apparently got leaked to the web by an employee. The screencast has classified several Yahoo properties under categories titled ‘Sunset‘, ‘Merge‘ and ‘Make Feature‘. Delicious – along with other websites like MyBloglog and Yahoo Buzz find themselves clubbed in the ‘Sunset’ category. It is now being speculated that Yahoo may have decided to pull the plug on Delicious – soon.

Yahoo Delicious shutdown

But if the words of at least one Yahoo employee are anything to go by, that may not be the case. Jeremy Hubert, a prototyper for the Yahoo! Search UED Team has noted in a tweet,

Delicious Closing

Yahoo’s own PR statement had rather clearly implied otherwise.

We continuously evaluate and prioritize our portfolio of products and services, and do plan to shut down some products in the coming months such as Yahoo! Buzz, our Traffic APIs, and others. We will communicate specific plans when appropriate.”

So for now, let’s just hope Jeremy is right and sunset does not mean shutdown.

Google Adwords Completes Ten Years

Google is the largest search engine on the web. But what makes it a tech giant is its ability to monetize this traffic and that is thanks to Adwords. The company has announced that Google Adwords is ten years today. In an email message sent to advertisers, Google has noted,

“Just ten years ago, a small team added the phrase ‘See your ad here’ alongside our search results. A few minutes later, the first AdWords customer placed an ad for live mail-order lobsters.

Ten years and billions of ads later, we want to mark AdWords’ 10th birthday by thanking you for advertising with us. We hope you enjoy this small token of our appreciation, a personalized video just for you”

Check out the video here.

It’s no doubt a momentous occasion not just for Google, but for the internet as a whole. Given that a lot of web properties, including GoRumors, make significant chunk of their revenues from Google advertisements, it is difficult to imagine how much internet would have grown had Google not nurtured the ecosystem with Adwords.

Wikileaks Paypal Funds Released – Account Still Restricted

Paypal has been facing the brunt of the Anon after the company admitted to being browbeaten by the American government to block funds to Wikileaks. The company website has been facing extreme DDoS attacks from the Anonymous group called ‘Operation Payback‘. While http://paypal.com looks down still, www.paypal.com appears to have recovered at the time of writing this post.

Perhaps in a bid to pacify the attackers, Paypal has announced that the company has decided to release the funds it had accrued through donations made to Wikileaks from donors from across the world. However, this does not mean Wikileaks’ supporters can use the channel to make their donations once again. The group’s account remains restricted which means it will not be able to gather more funds.

Paypal has however noted that the government had no say in its actions and it was their management’s decision.