Jan 1, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

New Google Patent Reveals Better Contextual Targeting of Image And Video Ads

Google is apparently working on a technology that will help in improving the contextual relevance of image and video ads. A recently published patent explains how the newly developed technology works.

Google explains the need for such a technology with the following example

“However, providing ads and other documents based on user-related content does not ensure the propriety of that content for a particular audience. For instance, a beer advertisement may not be appropriate on a website for recovering alcoholics, even though the ad and the content of the website are related by subject matter.”

The newly developed technology will scan through images and videos for appropriateness as well as contextual relevance.  An extract from the patent reads

“An embodiment of the present invention provides for uploading a document such as a graphical advertisement and comparing the document to other documents. The document can be compared to other documents by a document processor (e.g., automatically by an image processor). The processor may process images, sound files, and other data to identify text and images (as well as spoken words and other data) in the image ad. For instance, text may be identified in an image using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. By comparing the document to other documents, content can be identified in and associated with the document, and the document can be accordingly rated and approved based on this content and the status of the ratings of the comparison documents. The document can also be associated with content-based concepts (e.g., keywords, subject matter, etc.) that relate to a service or product associated with the documents.”

This definitely sounds a very interesting way to expedite the process of approving image and video ads as well as while delivering them contextually. You may view the patent abstract by clicking here (temporary link)

Jan 1, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google In Subpoena Trouble Once Again [Updated]

The Transportation Security Administration in US had recently issued a directive to many airline companies around the world requiring them of carrying out additional screening procedures of passengers. This, expected to be a high security directive was seen as breached when two bloggers who claim to have received information about this from an anonymous source blogged about them.

Late December 30th, the bloggers’ were interrogated by TSA officials to know about the anonymous source who sent them the mail. Apparently, these emails were sent from a Gmail account.

This makes it likely for Google to have received Subpoena orders once again. You might remember that back in 2006, there was a lot of debate over whether or not Google should give in to directives to reveal their users information to security officials looking for information on the spread of child pornography. Google took the US Justice Department to Court and won the case.

However, the company is apparently looking to keep the current case low profile. On contacted, the company spokesperson said

“We don’t talk about individual cases to help protect all our users. Obviously, we follow the law like any other company. When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed. We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users.”

While it is not clear about whether or not Google complied in this case, it looks like a wasted attempt by TSA authorities. The directive was sent to hundreds of airliners and possibly reached thousands of people all the world over. As Steven Frischling, one of the bloggers involved the case says

“It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that.”

Update: Following the public outcry, the subpoena against the two bloggers have been withdrawn. The case about Google still remains.

[via Search Engine Land]

Dec 31, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Google Wishes You A Happy New Year With PageRank Update

New Year or rather a new decade is in and we would like to take the opportunity to wish all our readers and their families a very happy and prosperous 2010. Well, it is not just us wishing you prosperity. Google too is. Just when we were slipping into the new year, Google has announced a new Pagerank update and while this site of ours hasn’t benefitted from it, most other sites have.

There has been a lot of debate lately over Google’s toolbar pagerank and how much value it has for website publishers. While the company execs themselves have downplayed the significance of the toolbar pagerank, the company still continues the tradition of periodically reviewing and updating the PR.

There is apparently a tradition at Google to update pageranks on new year’s eve. As Search Engine Land, there was a PageRank update on the eve of 2009 new year too and the coincidence of the same can be seen either as Google’s way of wishing publishers (who benefitted) a happy new year or is just an incidental update. Eitherways, we would like to know if your sites have benefitted from this update. Please tell in the comments.

[via Search Engine Land]

Dec 31, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Nexus One Rooted – Just That We Are A Week Away From Launch

The Nexus One is still a week away from launch. Google has not even given any indications about the company launching their own smartphone device. But news is in that the device has already been rooted.

Paul O’Brien from UK, the owner of the popular geeks forum Modaco today posted on his website that he had managed to break into the Nexus One handset in order to root it. He has called it the Superboot.

We are not exactly sure how many readers here would actually be owning a Nexus One device at this point, but in case you somehow did, you may proceed to his website to check out the rooting instructions.

Nevertheless, there is nothing much to gain by getting access to the root at this point, but we hope better things will come once Nexus One launches.
[via Gizmodo]

Dec 31, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Google Working To Make Cloud Computing Faster, Transparent And More Accessible

Google has long nurtured ambitions of moving the whole enterprise IT infrastructure on to a cloud. Google Apps has been the company’s most celebrated cloud computing tool for enterprises. Having existed on this space for a few years now, what is it that is ailing the cloud computing space?

In a discussion with eWeek, Bradley Horowitz, Google Vice President for Product Management said that the company has faced quite a few challenges when it comes to cloud computing but that has been solely because of the hesitation from enterprises to trust a third party with their core data. He says

“We used to walk into a lot of accounts, and when I spoke to people about cloud computing there was a certain hesitancy and tentativeness about what it meant to surrender their data to the cloud. People had all kinds of concerns, all of them valid. We saw that dissipate over the course of 2009 and it’s partly generational. People that grew up on the Internet have fewer concerns about what it means to entrust a server with their content.”

So what is the future of cloud computing like? Google sees the necessity to bring user trust into the system as a primary first step. The company has already set up Data Liberation Front to enable enterprises to export all the data created on Google Apps to other systems outside the purview of Google which has instilled a sort of security among enterprises that they are not going to be forever dependent on a third party for their data management.

Other important factors that could be coming into play, according to Horowitz are the speed and ease of access. Horowitz says

“We want to build the cloud in such a way that it’s got all of the qualities you would want. You want it to be blazingly fast. You want it to be accessible wherever you are on the planet within milliseconds. You want it to be accessible on whatever device you happen to be at, whether that’s an enormous big-screen monitor, or whether something the size of a wristwatch. You want it to be transparent and flow across services and devices without you having to think about or program it.”

Google already has a lot of stiff competition in this segment from the likes of IMB, Cisco and Microsoft. Will they be able to extend their internet success to the cloud computing space as well. We have the next decade to answer that question.

[via EWeek]

Dec 31, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Vevo Videos To Be Pulled From YouTube API

Vevo.com, a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Sony Music to build a destination site for their music productions has decided to pull its music from YouTube API, a company’s statement has revealed.

Vevo.com used YouTube as the hosting partner to deliver all their online music content. While music videos on Vevo included the company’s watermarks and conformed to their licensing agreements, the same content that was also available through YouTube on their website and to the other websites that made use of YouTube’s APIs that caused the company a lot of headache.

These third party websites that pulled Vevo’s videos off YouTube’s API stripped the videos of any overlay ads and instead monetized their own websites with display ads – a blatant violation of the licensing agreements.

In a bid to remove such violators, Vevo has announced that the company has decided to pull its music from YouTube’s API. The move could hurt the company in the short term as the view-reach could see a dip. But it should serve the company better from a long term perspective as this would mean all videos are viewed within the conforms of all licensing agreements and hence the company stands.

What do you think of this move? Tell us in the comments.

[via NewTeeVee]

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

Is Google Voice Aiming To Be The Next Skype?

Google Voice has been a very loved product among the invite-only American users that it currently serves. By giving an opportunity to replace all your different call numbers with one number from Google Voice, users have finally been able to consolidate their communications at one place. Also, with features like threaded SMS, voicemail transcriptions and conference calling, the potential of this service started to show.

However, Google wants more out of this. Last month, the company acquired VoIP based startup, Gizmo5 who joined the talented workforce at Voice. So what is the company now looking at? In a recent interview with E-Week, Google Vice President of Product Management, Bradley Horowitz opined that all the features currently available are merely “scratching the surface”. Horowitz insisted that his team was working on a much improved product come 2010. Horowitz says

We want to make sure you’re communication is available to you irrespective of where you are at, what device you have in your pocket, etc.

Rumors are that Google has been working to move Voice completely into a VoIP service, effectively competing with Skype. This way, the company would be expanding outside US and could be launching a worldwide service. Also, with current capabilities with features like threaded SMSes, the service prove to be pretty effective. Also, with call forwarding features, American users who use Google Voice to consolidate their calling numbers can continue to make use of this functionality.

As always, Google has not explicitly let their intentions known. But that is a pretty likely possibility. What do you think of this move?

[via eWeek]

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

NexusOne.com – Who Owns The Domain Name?

Google has of late been busy bringing to books those companies trying to violate their trademark. In the past one month alone, Google brought to court 64 such domain names. 62 of them, except for Groovle.com and Froogles.com were seen as names confusingly similar to Google’s and were ordered by the courts that they be handed over to Big G.

In less than a week from now, we will be seeing Google’s own smartphone in the market. Google has decided to handle all the distribution by itself – online. While at present, it is believed that interested consumers need to visit Google.com/phone to make their purchases, it is likely that this shall move to an independent domain name in the future. That could be NexusOne.com in all likelihood.

So who owns NexusOne.com? At present, the website redirects to a website called AltamiraFinishes.com. The website claims to be owned by Altamira Mineral Paint company based out of Philippines. We are not really sure if this is a legitimate company website. The website is hosted at DreamHost, but the Who Is information is not really helpful.

The website is supposedly developed by Rodel Sinapilo. This is more likely to be the owner of the site and not the designer since the footer link to the developer points to a WordPress.com page which is itself on a free theme.

Anyway, irrespective of who owns the domain, it shall be interesting to see if Google is interested in laying claim to this domain name soon. Will NexusOne.com be number 65 in Google’s recent fight against domain names violating its trademark? Time will tell.

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

How Google Nexus One Invites System Will Work?

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Google’s upcoming mobile phone, named Nexus One. However, the biggest point of contention is how anyone can purchase a device themselves. It is implicitly understood that the whole distribution will be via an invites system, and that Nexus One wouldn’t be available outside this – at retail stores.

So, how will the whole thing pan out. From what we know till now, this is the possible way forward:

1. Google has been sending invites to people for a “special android media event” to be held on January 5. We do know that it is all about the Nexus One.

2. As part of the media event, the attendees will be given free invites that they may pass along to those in their network who want to buy a Nexus One.

3. All those who have an invite to purchase a Nexus One can proceed to the Google Phone website (not yet live) to make their purchase.

4. As part of the purchase, users will be required to register themselves at the site.

5.  Once these users register themselves, they shall be given additional invites to send it to their network.

6. The Google Phone website shall also become the destination for all future software upgrades.

So as you see, the system shall pretty much work like it did when Gmail was first introduced or as it has now been working with Google Wave. And Google has all the while known to keep the demand high above the supply in order to make their product tantalizingly attractive.

Considering that Google Wave invites sold for close to $70 on eBay, expect a lot more Nexus One auctioning to happen early next year.

Dec 30, 2009
Anand Srinivasan

YouTube To Offer Interactive Gaming Videos?

In February of this year, Google had apparently filed a patent which has finally been published lately and if what we read into the patent is true, we can soon be seeing YouTube offering interactive gaming videos to its users.

If you are wondering what an interactive gaming video is, then read on. According to the patent, Google is planning on using the annotations (the tiny blocks of texts that the video uploaders use to comment on the video or direct you to another link) to create a gaming platform which can open up different locations depending on which annotation is click. Here is the patent description verbatim

A video may have associated with it one or more annotations, which modify the appearance and/or behavior of a video as it was originally submitted to an online video hosting site. Some examples of annotations are graphical text box annotations, which display text at certain locations and certain times of the video, and pause annotations, which halt playback of the video at a specified time within the video. Some annotations, e.g. a graphical annotation (such as a text box annotation) comprising a link to a particular portion of a target video, are associated with a time of the target video, which can be either the video with which the annotation is associated, or a separate video. Selecting such annotations causes playback of the target video to begin at the associated time. Such annotations can be used to construct interactive games using videos, such as a game in which clicking on different portions of a video leads to different outcomes.

This could be interesting. But the information so far looks incomplete. For an interactive gaming to happen from video based content, there needs to be a way for Youtube to open different videos from the same frame. Presently, clicking on an alternate video link from the annotations opens up a new window altogether. Instead, YouTube should let the new video link open from the same object frame opening the original video.

It is likely that Google is already working on that too. Nevertheless it is some fabulous news, and we will keep following on this one.

[via Slashdot]