Are you a tech slave or a tech master?

When William Falk, Editor-in-chief of The Week mused on the last of his summer vacation and wondered whether are we tech masters or tech slaves, I knew I had to blog his commentary because I and so many people I know, feel the same way... "Not so long ago, I would have found it unthinkable to work while on vacation, but that was before I traveled with a trio of tech gadgets.


"One fine day last week, with the sun peeking through the clouds and the wind hissing in the trees, I had my nose buried in work for The Week magazine. This was remarkably stupid of me, since I was on vacation on a beautiful island, and my family was waiting to go to the beach.

"Not so long ago, I would have found it unthinkable to work while on vacation; I recall glorious two-week sojourns where I had no contact with bosses, employees, even friends. But that was before I traveled with a smartphone, an iPad, and a laptop, and learned to like living in a constant stream of information and connection.

"Why do so many of us now work while on vacation, on holidays, on weekends? Not because we must, but because we can. When the ether around us pulses with wireless invitation, to disconnect requires a very deliberate act of will. Even the dopamine-pushers of Silicon Valley are becoming alarmed by just how addictive their devices have become.

"But we cannot rely on the tech wizards to save us, any more than we could expect tobacco companies to convince nicotine addicts to stop smoking. So: Will we be masters of our machines, or their slaves? The choice is ours.

"When I finally tore myself away from mine last week, I found myself on a spotless stretch of sand under a vast, achingly blue sky. Tumbling and hooting in the pounding surf with my daughter, I was fully present in the moment. Fully alive. And when we came back to the rented house, the devices were winking in the semi-darkness, beckoning me to re-engage with a world best left behind.

- By William Falk, as seen in The Week
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Technology: Is it making addicts of us all?

Next year, for the first time, “Internet use disorder” will be listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“The latest trend on the Internet,” said Tracy McVeigh in The U.K. Observer, “is to step away from the Internet.” With smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices reshaping how people work, communicate, and spend their free time, scientists and psychologists are starting to question what our reliance on these devices is doing to our minds.

Next year, for the first time, “Internet use disorder” will be listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, said Matt Richtel in The New York Times. Even in Silicon Valley, there is a growing concern that technology is taking over people’s lives. “We’re done with this honeymoon phase, and now we’re in a phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’” says tech guru Soren Gordhamer, who has organized an annual conference of digerati called Wisdom 2.0 to explore the need for balance in a wired world.

Companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are now teaching their own employees meditation and “mindfulness,” and warning them of the dangers of constant texting, tweeting, and web-surfing. “It’s this basic cultural recognition that people have a pathological relationship with their devices,” says Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who consults with tech company executives. “People feel not just addicted, but trapped.”

Don’t blame the gadgets, said Alexis Madrigal in TheAtlantic.com. It’s not your smartphone’s fault that you compulsively check your email “at a stoplight, at the dinner table, in bed.” It’s mostly the fault of our employers, who now expect workers to be available 24/7. We can also blame the “strange American political and cultural systems” that make us feel guilty about taking any time off, and obligated to meet the growing demand for nonstop productivity. People have iPhones in Britain and Germany, too, yet “Americans now put in an average of 122 more hours per year than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans.”

Beware: We’re already paying a steep price for our digital obsession, said Tony Dokoupil in Newsweek. Research shows that constant use of these devices is actually rewiring the physical structure of people’s brains. Every time your phone, tablet, or computer pings with a new text, tweet, or email, it triggers a sense of expectation, and the reward centers in your brain receive a pleasurable “squirt of dopamine.” Over time, a brain habituated to these quick fixes shrinks the structures used for concentration, empathy, and impulse control, while growing new neurons receptive to speedy processing and instant gratification. Brain scans of Internet addicts—defined as anyone online more than 38 hours a week—can resemble those of cocaine addicts and alcoholics. Symptoms of Internet addiction can range from depression to acute psychosis. The Internet, in other words, is “driving us mad.”

I know of a good treatment, if not a cure, said Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. It’s called nature. When we get into the great outdoors, the illusion of control that technology provides disappears, and we are “deflated, humbled, and awed all at once.” In the “vast natural cathedral,” we are reminded of a world much larger than ourselves—one that predates us, will outlive us, and at whose mercy we exist. To escape our “post-industrial self-absorption,” we all need to leave our iPhones at home at least once a week, and go take a walk in the woods. Your devices will be waiting when you get back, and you’ll be a bit saner when you rejoin the endless conversation.

- As seen in The Week
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That’s not my phone, it's my tracker!

The device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cell phone—guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls. Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan of The New York Times want us to stop calling them phones. They are trackers. Thanks to the explosion of GPS technology and smart phone apps, these are also taking note of what we buy, where and when we buy it, how much money we have in the bank, whom we text and email—and more. Cellular systems constantly check and record the location of all phones in their networks. If someone knows exactly where you are, they probably know what you are doing. People should call them trackers. We can love or hate these devices—or love and hate them—but it would make sense to call them what they are so we can fully understand what they do.

- As seen in The New York Times
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The SEC has a Porn Problem

One senior SEC attorney looked at porn eight hours a day, burning the files to CDs and DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space, said Tobin Harshaw in The New York Times. “You can’t make this shit up!” It turns out that while Wall Street was in “full panic” in the fall of 2008, senior officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission weren’t watching the markets. They were watching porn.


According to the SEC’s inspector general, 17 “senior-level employees,” some earning as much as $222,418 a year, were caught up in the porn sweep and disciplined. One senior SEC attorney looked at porn eight hours a day, burning the files to CDs and DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space. Another employee used Google to bypass the SEC’s Internet filter and gaze at “very graphic” images.

The revelations—which have been documented on the inspector general’s website since 2008 but drew little notice—are complicating President Obama’s push to strengthen regulation of Wall Street. How can he slap down the bankers knowing that “while they were busy leveraging our entire society,” the SEC’s “A-number-one enforcement team was surfing for smut”?

- As seen in The Week
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It's Summertime: Keep your tech in check!

How many hours a week do you work? Chances are, about 7 more than you think. According to a new study by Good Technology, Americans are working a full extra day per week—by answering phone calls and emails from home, and (shudder) vacation.


With precious holidays coming up in the summer time, it may be unrealistic to encourage everyone to go cold turkey on work correspondence. But according to Cathy Vandewater at Vault.com, there are three simple ways you can get control over your iphone—and even use it to your advantage for optimal downtime.

1. Taper your usage

There's a theory about the one week vacation: that the first three days of vacation are spent desperately trying to unwind, the middle two are relaxing, and the final two are spent dreading the return to work.

That's sort of a raw deal, especially if your time off is only one day.

Know thyself. If you're used to constant connectivity, immediately shutting off your device is probably going to be more stressful than it's worth: you'll just obsess over what you're missing, and squander time with family and friends by fretting over Something Important That You're Not Reading (!!!).

Is that you? Take the two seconds to check your work emails, and put your device back in the car. Just be disciplined about it: limit the number of checks per day, or do it in time intervals (checking every three hours, for instance). That should keep your worry brain in check, without driving everyone nuts.

2. Flag it—and forget it

Get an email that demands an answer? If you have one off the top of your head, shoot off a quick reply, but politely remind your contact that you're away from the office. They should get the message.

If task isn't urgent, but it is important, flag it for follow up when you're back on the clock. If you're the type to worry a lot about how you'll handle something, just knowing that you've designated it for later will give you permission to forget it. And a physical reminder will assure that you actually will get to it, which of course is important too.

3. Know your real reasons for checking

Sometimes it's not really concern for work matters that drives us, but that little shot of dopamine we get from seeing a new message in our inbox. Ah, we are indispensible. Knew it!

It's a great feeling to be needed, but if you're going to be at your best for those that rely on you, you need to recharge. Set aside your work self, and the needs of the office. Those can wait until after the barbeque. Instead, soak up sun, fun, and family for your personal self. Your relaxed, tanned, and well-fed work persona will thank you.

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Tasty Tidbits of Tech News

In our latest installment of Tasty Tidbits from the Tech Front, here are some recent news stories in case you missed them.

Tech: Apple ditches Google Maps
Apple is replacing Google Maps with its own mapping software, said Brad Stone in Bloomberg.com. The company announced that iPhones and iPads will soon run Apple’s new map app, with 3-D overhead visualizations of major cities, in order to ward off concerns that “it was becoming too dependent on its chief rival.” Apple also unveiled a new version of its mobile operating system, a revamped line of laptops, upgrades to the voice-recognition app Siri, and new agreements with Twitter and Facebook that make it easier for users to share updates.
- As seen in The Week

Apps that Verge on the Absurd
Last fall, digital designer Alex Cornell pitched a spoof app, but his boss loved the idea. “In Silicon Valley, it is getting tough to tell the difference between a joke and the next big thing,” said Geoffrey A. Fowler and Amir Efrati in The Wall Street Journal. Last fall, digital designer Alex Cornell pitched a spoof app that would let people grade anything, such as tree leaves or ice cubes. The idea was to “think of the most ridiculous possible app that no one would ever consider a real thing,” said Cornell. But his boss loved it, and now Jotly has tens of thousands of users and two competitors. Another app balanced between the absurd and the creative is Cloo, short for “community loo,” which helps urbanites “market their bathrooms to nearby smartphone users in need.” And there’s iPoo, the social network for people sitting on toilets. More than 200,000 people have paid $1 for the app, enough to put one of its designers through Harvard Business School.
- As seen in The Week

Hackers target LinkedIn and eHarmony
Hackers stole 6.5 million passwords from LinkedIn, the career-oriented social network, and 1.5 million passwords from dating site eHarmony last week. Cyber-security experts say the breaches should prompt users to create harder-to-crack logins, especially if the same passwords are used across a number of accounts.
- As seen in the Los Angeles Times

Dwindling Phone Time
Since the iPhone was launched in 2007, the amount of time Americans spend making old-fashioned voice calls on their mobile phones keeps falling. Wireless customers used an average of 826 minutes per month making calls in 2007, but just 681 minutes on average in 2011. The average call lasted 3.03 minutes in 2006, but just 1.78 minutes last year.
- As seen in The Wall Street Journal

Twitter-Guided Trading

Twitter and Facebook are revolutionizing stock trading, said Ariana Eunjung Cha in The Washington Post. Wall Street analysts are increasingly incorporating data from social media and Internet search trends into their investment strategies. Five years ago, 2 percent of investment firms used “unstructured” data in trading decisions, such as scanning comments on Amazon to predict sales or tallying job listings on Monster.com to discern hiring trends. Today, “that number is closer to 50 percent.” Digital data is so valuable, according to the World Economic Forum, that it qualifies as a new class of economic asset, like oil. London hedge-fund manager Paul Hawtin monitors millions of Twitter postings each day. When tweets trend happy, he buys; when they trend anxious, he sells. His fund was up more than 7 percent in the first quarter. “Big data is fundamentally changing how we trade,” said financial services consultant Adam Honore.
- As seen in The Week

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OMGWTF: Google Could Spend $10 Million On .LOL Domains

Textspeak continues to conquer all forms of communication and according to Owen Thomas in Business Insider, Google wants to take control of a new family of Internet addresses, .lol.

Vint Cerf, an inventor of key Internet technologies and Google's chief Internet evangelist, announced in a blog post that Google was applying to run the new top-level domain—what will be an equivalent to .com, .net, .biz, and other so-called top-level domains.

It's also seeking .google, .docs, and .youtube, in an effort to protect its brands and secure prime Internet real estate for properties like Google Docs.

Obviously, .lol has comedic potential—a bonus for a company that, aside from its hilarious annual April Fool's jokes, isn't known for its sense of humor. But at what price? Running a top-level domain isn't like registering a regular domain name like Google.com. The application fee alone is $185,000.

Domain-name expert Phil Lodico tells Bloomberg that Google could end up spending $1 million a year to operate .lol over the course of a 10-year contract.

Shareholders to GOOG: OMGWTF.

- As seen in Business Insider
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Google, Facebook, And Twitter Will Be The Only Winners In The Coming Domain-Name Disaster

Today begins one of the greatest disasters in the history of the Internet: the introduction of new top-level domain names, or "strings," that come at the end of Web addresses, according to Owen Thomas at Business Insider.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which oversees the whole domain-name system, is unveiling all the applications it's received at a press event in London on June 13.

Paul Sloan at CNET calls it "the greatest landgrab in Internet history." Everyone from Google to Go Daddy is applying for new strings like ".lol" and ".casa." Brands like BMW and Canon are angling to secure ".bmw" and ".canon," which will let them run websites that don't end in ".com."

That's the problem with this whole scheme.

After years of TV and radio ads touting Web addresses, consumers are somewhat familiar with strings like ".com" and ".net." Those pretty much define Web addresses in the popular imagination.

If you're a startup-founding hipster in Brooklyn or San Francisco's Mission District, you might just be a connoisseur of ".me" or ".ly." But as Bit.ly has found out, those are a bit too precious for most people—the Web-address shortening service had to get the slightly longer "bitly.com" just to be safe.

So now we're expecting people to understand that, say, "cars.bmw" is some kind of thing you can type into a Web browser and get to BMW's website?

Good luck with that. All this is going to accomplish is to pour a lot of money into ICANN's hands—new top-level domains cost as much as $185,000 to start up—and confuse the heck out of consumers.

Marketing chiefs everywhere are going to be in a panic trying to figure out if they need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to register their brand name as a string, just to keep it out of mischief-makers' hands. Outside of a few global brands, most won't be able to afford that kind of expense.

Meanwhile, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are going to make out like bandits. Why? Because anything that makes Web addresses even more confusing than they already are drives people to type things into a search box.

Or they head to easy-to-find Web presences like a Facebook page or a Twitter account.

Overstock.com learned this to its dismay when it tried to rebrand as "O.co." (That's not one of the new strings—it's Colombia's country domain name, used by some companies looking for an alternative to ".com.")

The online retailer ran a bunch of TV ads touting its rebranding. It even secured naming rights to a sports stadium in Oakland, Calif.

But consumers didn't get it. They typed in "o.com" or other variations into their browser.

Now Overstock.com has pulled back and is only using "O.co" internationally, where "Overstock" is a less-useful brand name.

If Overstock couldn't make it happen here with a huge TV push, do you really think marketers are going to be able to make these new names stick?

We leave you with these thoughts from Harper's about an earlier land grab, the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889:

The development of Oklahoma will in this respect resemble the settlement of Kansas, where it was found that the real settlers were in many instances men with some means, who came to take up the claims of those whom drought and mortgages and hard times had driven to the wall. Hundreds of people who were starved out of Kansas were among the first to enter Oklahoma with the intention of retrieving their scattered fortunes; yet as they went into Oklahoma with no more resources they had carried into central and western Kansas, it is not unlikely that the ultimate result will be the same. Men who have gone into Oklahoma and obtained quarter sections of land on the fertile parts of the river-bottoms, with the intention of pasturing stock on the sandy uplands, which are adapted for nothing better than grazing, stand a fair chance of keeping the mortgage company from the door, as, from present indications, it is not probable that the uplands will be disturbed for many years to come.

Good luck in the uplands, domain settlers.

- As seen in Business Insider
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Trolls: How nasty nameless commentators are poisoning discourse on the Web

Once thought to be harmless, anonymous online provocateurs have become a scourge to virtual communities in recent years. Does it have to be this way?

What are trolls?
They’re the anonymous provocateurs who flood the internet with inflammatory insults, threats, and profanity. The term originates from the fishing technique of dragging a baited hook behind a moving boat; someone who uses offensive language to provoke a response is said to be "trolling." The practice has existed since the earliest days of the Internet, and was long considered to be harmless, if annoying. But in recent years, trolls have become a scourge. Reasoned political discussion is often so overwhelmed by venomous, tit-for-tat name-calling that websites have to shut down their comment boards, as hundreds and even thousands of invective-filled responses pour in. On sites across the internet, liberals are regularly slammed as "libtards" and conservatives as "teabaggers"; comparisons to Auschwitz, Hitler, and the Nazis run rampant. Letting people comment about a racial controversy like the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, said Slate.com political reporter David Weigel, has become the equivalent of "putting out a freshly baked pie on the windowsill, smack dab in the middle of Racistville."

What motivates these people?
Trolling gives its anonymous practitioners the catharsis of venting forbidden feelings and ideas without suffering any consequences. On the Internet, you can cuss out a stranger with even more vigor and impunity than you can a bad driver from the safety of your own car. "The enjoyment comes from finding a context in which you can let go, take a moral vacation," says psychologist Tom Postmes of Exeter University in the U.K. "Trolls aspire to violence, to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment." That prospect is particularly appealing to disaffected men in their late teens and 20s, but they are hardly alone: CNN tracked down a troll putting anti-Islamic screeds online and found that he was a 39-year-old father in Belgium. Rider University psychologist John Suler says an "online disinhibition effect" allows people who might never utter a hateful word in person to unleash withering vitriol on comment boards. Politics, race, gender, and religion all serve as lightning rods for troll rage, provoking such witty banter as "you n---er lover" and "you racist scumbag." But almost any topic can lead to outpourings of bile. When author Paul Carr recently wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal about quitting drinking without the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, he was greeted by an avalanche of furious commenters calling him a "narcissistic dry drunk" and predicting he would soon relapse and ruin his life.

Why have comments at all?
"Commenting is the secret sauce of social media," says Stanford social psychologist BJ Fogg. Creating a place for readers to debate issues makes them more likely to return, and that drives up website traffic and advertising revenue. Impassioned debate can be lucrative: The most engaged 1 percent of the audience on any given site can account for as much as 25 percent of its traffic. But editors who allow trolls to take over their comment sections risk undermining their sites in the long run. "Everyone is desperately chasing eyeballs as a way to increase advertising," said Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review. "But rare is the advertiser who would want to be associated with the ugliness of many comment sections."

Could legislation deter the trolls?
Not in the U.S. While the U.K. has a law banning the posting of "grossly offensive" or "indecent, obscene, or menacing" messages online, our Constitution protects the right of trolls to be as rude or offensive as they like. In March, Arizona passed a bill banning the use of "any electronic or digital device" to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend a person." But legislators withdrew the bill after freedom-of-speech groups protested that it violated the First Amendment. UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh said the broad statute would have outlawed the use of such relatively tame insults as "this author is f---ing out of line."

So are sites powerless to halt personal attacks?
Some are calling for an end to online anonymity as a way to restrain trolls. Users of Facebook and Google+ must now use their real names and email addresses when creating accounts, and some comment boards are using software from Facebook that requires commenters to identify themselves. But a total ban on anonymity would be almost impossible to enforce. Far better, say Web activists, to let all comments stand, if only as a mirror of human depravity. "People are saying nasty, stupid things. So deal with it," says Rob Manuel, founder of digital community B3TA. "Shutting down free speech and stamping on people’s civil liberties is not a price worth paying." But more and more websites are taking a middle course by rigorously policing their own comment boards. "We’re still trying to find our way," says Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven, Conn., Independent, "between a free-flowing democratic discussion and a harsh, anonymous hate-fest."

Cleaning up after the trolls
The rise of the internet troll has created a booming new profession: comment moderator. Patrolling the endless reams of internet comments for abusive and incendiary language has become a massive task. HuffingtonPost.com, for example, which attracts more than 5 million comments every month, says each member of its in-house moderating team "reads the equivalent of Moby-Dick 18 times a month." Outside companies have spotted a business opportunity. Market leader ICUC Moderation Services generates annual revenues of some $10 million cleaning up comment boards for companies such as Starbucks, Chevron, and NPR. The job isn’t for everybody, says founder Keith Bilous, who employs some 200 moderators around the world. Many new hires quit within the first two weeks, and even after 10 years in the business Bilous says he still isn’t completely inured to the vile stuff he has to read. "Some Fridays you feel like you need to spend two hours in the shower, it’s so disgusting," he says.

- As seen in The Week
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Hi Hen? Purging Gender from the Language

Can an entire society become gender-neutral? Sweden wants to try. The country that brought us 16 months of paid parental leave and mandatory pay equality between the sexes has embarked on a crusade to abolish gender roles.

According to Megan Levy in The Age, Toy catalogs now feature photos of boys pushing doll carriages and girls playing with cars. State-run preschools have been instructed to avoid referring to children as girls or boys, and many of them have hired “gender pedagogues” who “help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.” That task was made easier a few months ago, when a children’s book author pioneered a new pronoun, hen, as an alternative to the words han and hon for “he” and “she.” Kivi & Monsterhund tells the story of a child named Kivi, of indeterminate gender, who wants a dog for “hen’s” birthday. The book sparked a lively discussion on social-media sites, and now hen has been added to the national online encyclopedia.

It’s ironic that this is happening now, said Carin Stenstrom in Skanska Dagbladet (Skane, Sweden), when Swedish children live in a world “with much greater emphasis on gender difference” than there was in their parents’ or grandparents’ youth. When I was growing up in the postwar decades, the prevailing ideal was that clothes should be practical and easy to clean. Pastel shades were out, even for dresses, and forget about ruffles or bows. “As a mother, I followed the same ideals.” My sons and daughter wore the same rompers and overalls, and had the same home-cut hairstyle. For a while in the ’60s and ’70s, parents were tossing around mixed-gender names like May-Bjorn and Karl-Astrid. But nowadays, girls dress head to toe in flouncy pink and boys look like mini lumberjacks.

Not everyone is thrilled with the attempt to erase those sex differences, said Carl Erland Andersson in Goteborgs-Posten (Gothenburg, Sweden). Jan Guillou, one of our best-known authors, said in a recent interview that proponents of hen were “feminist activists who want to destroy our language.” But that’s an overreaction. The word hen certainly “sounds a bit pompous,” and it will add another layer of blandness to the language if it catches on. But that’s a big if. Language is an evolving tool that grows organically. No commandment from on high can suddenly change the way we speak and write; we have to adopt new words on our own.

Still, if any country can erase sex differences from language, it’s Sweden, said Thomas Steinfeld in the Suddeutsche Zeitung (Germany). The Swedes already tinkered with Swedish once in the name of equality, and it was a great success. In the late 1960s, state institutions abolished the use of Ni, the formal version of “you” that corresponds to the French vous or German Sie. The formal pronoun was seen as hierarchical, and Sweden was—and is—all about leveling the playing field. Yet can changing the way Swedes speak really change Swedish society? Here in Germany, we’ve gone from calling people of other ethnic backgrounds “foreigners” to calling them “immigrants” and, now, the politically correct “people of migrant origin.” The change in terms has not bettered their lot one iota.

- As seen in The Week
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Ugh, 1 in 5 Macs have malware!

In a challenge to the prevailing belief that Apple computers are immune to the sort of cyberattacks that plague Windows-based machines, research firm Sophos has released a study claiming that 1 in 5 Macs has malware.

According to Todd Wasserman of Mashable, the report, released in April 2012, is based on a "100,000-strong snapshot" of the millions of Macs that downloaded Sophos's free Mac antivirus software. The study found that 20 percent of Macs were carrying one or more instances of Windows malware.

Such malware doesn't cause symptoms unless the Mac owners run Windows on their machines, but it can be spread to others.

However, this doesn't appear to be solely a Windows-based problem. The report also found that 2.7 percent of Macs were infected with Mac OS malware. The majority of such Mac OS malware is composed of fake antivirus attacks, like the recent Flashback botnet. Mac owners can contract such malware by downloading e-mail attachments, visiting rogue websites and unknowingly installing it via their USB drive.

To avoid downloading such malware, Sophos recommends running an antivirus program and keeping it up to date, exercising caution about which links you click on, keeping software patches current and keeping an eye out for e-mail-based scams.

- As seen on Mashable
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Is the Digital World Killing Creativity?

Sure, you can use that smart phone to create an emotionally stirring Instagram of the waffles you had for brunch in mere seconds. But that same device can also serve as a ball and chain for the working world: emails constantly arrive, even during off hours; LinkedIn requests buzz after networking events; and has that important new contact followed you on Twitter yet?

According to Sam Laird of Mashable.com, while our current age of digital disruption has opened a cornucopia of new casual creative endeavors, the networked generation’s ability to multitask — and the constant need for instantaneous action — may also be hindering creativity.

Consider this: In a recent global study, three-quarters of respondents said their creative potential is being stifled. More than 60% of American said their education systems squelch creativity, and a majority of total respondents said pressure at work hurts creativity. Yet 80% of respondents worldwide said allowing creativity to flourish is critical to economic growth.

Those numbers come from a recent survey of 5,000 adults in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan. The study was commissioned by software giant Adobe, and its results were announced Monday.

Given that Adobe just released the latest version of its wildly popular Creative Suite line of products including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, it’s no surprise the company would play up the need for a more hospitable climate for experimentation. But the study’s findings do indicate that people worldwide feel unfulfilled creatively. Check out this infographic for the full picture :-)

- As seen in Mashable
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Fun! 25 Awesome iPhone Tips and Tricks

Whether you're a seasoned user or brand new to the iPhone world, chances are you're probably not using your smart phone to its fullest. Don't worry, you're not alone, as these pocket-sized computers boast many hundreds of features buried in the operating system.

And so here is Marc Saltzman of Digital Crave who shares a number of favorite iPhone tips and tricks, some of which you may know already. Hopefully there's a good number of ones you aren't aware of yet. Most of these following 25 suggestions will work with all versions of the iPhone, but be sure to have the latest software installed (iOS 5.1).

OK, here we go:

1) Take a photo with your headphone cord: Now that you can use the volume up or down buttons to snap a photo, steady your hand while framing up the photo and when you're ready to take the picture, press the button on the cord so it won't shake the iPhone. Voila!

2) Dry out a wet iPhone: You're not the first one to drop an iPhone in a toiler or sink. If this happens, don't turn it on as you can damage the smartphone by short-circuiting it. Lightly towel dry the phone. Don't use a hairdryer on the phone as it can further push moisture into areas that aren't wet. Submerge the iPhone in a bowl or Ziploc bag of uncooked white rice and leave it overnight. If you have it, try using a desiccant packet you might find with a new pair of shoes or leather purse.

3) Dismiss suggested words: If you're typing an email or note and the virtual keyboard is suggesting the correct spelling of the word — and you don't want to accept it — you don't need to tap the tiny "X" at the end of the word in question. Simply tap anywhere on the screen to close the suggestion box.

4) Take photos faster: Even if your iPhone is locked you can double-tap on the Home button and you'll see a camera icon you can tap to open the camera immediately. Now you can use the volume up button to snap the photo, too. You can also use the volume up on the headphone cord to take a photo (if you want to) and pinch the screen to zoom instead of using the slider bar.

5) Use location-based reminders: You probably know Siri can be used to set a reminder, like saying "Siri, remind me to call mom at 4pm today." But did you know you can set location-based reminders on your iPhone 4S? Say "Remind me to call mom when I leave here" or "Remind me to call mom when I get home" and you'll be notified accordingly. Nice!

6) Get word definitions: Apple has recently added a built-in dictionary and you can access it in most apps that let you select a word. Simply press and hold on a word — such as in an email, reminder, iBooks, and so on — and you'll see a pop-up option for "Define." We need to get NetLingo bundled in there :-)

7) Revive a frozen iPhone: If your smartphone freezes on you and pressing the Sleep/Wake button on top of the device doesn't do anything, don't panic. Instead, press and hold the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time. You'll be prompted to swipe the "Slide to Power Off" tab. This so-called "hard reset" resuscitates the frozen iPhone. You'll first need to wait through a full shut down and restart.

8) Get more done in less time: You can create shortcuts to words and phrases you use a lot, such as Northern California Association for Employment in Education. In Settings, go to General, then Keyboard, and select Add New Shortcut. Now you can add new words or phrases and assign shortcuts to them (such as "NCAEE," in the above example, and it'll type out the full word each time.

9) See a 6-day weather forecast: If you're one of the many weather junkies out there, you probably know you can swipe down the iOS device's screen and you'll see the Notifications center. Weather will be at the top, but did you know you can swipe to the left or right and you'll toggle between current conditions and a 6-day forecast? Plus, jump to the Weather app by tapping anywhere on the weather bar inside Notifications screen.

10) Select URL domains faster: When typing a website address in Safari, you don't have to type the ".com." For example, you can type "yahoo" in the URL box to get to yahoo.com. On a related note, you can press and hold down the .com button and you'll see a list of alternatives to choose, such as .net, .org and .edu.

11) Make your own ringtone: Don't settle with the ringtones provided by Apple and you need not pay your carrier for more of them. As the name suggests, the free Ringtone Maker app lets you take a clip from your favorite songs and make ringtones out of them in seconds.

12) Feel and see when people call: Apple has added a number of accessibility features to iOS 5, specifically designed to assist those with hearing, vision, mobility and other disabilities. For example, those who are hearing impaired might opt to have the LED flash when a call comes in. If you're seeing impaired, you could set a unique vibration pattern for different people in your Contacts, so you know who's calling.

13) Find your lost iPhone: As long as you sign up in advance, the free Find My iPhone app will help you locate your device on a map (on your computer or other iOS device). You can display a message or initiate a loud ring (in case it's under the cushions), or remotely lock or wipe its data.

14) Save photos in Safari: You're surfing the web in Safari and stumble upon a photo you'd like to save. Simply press and hold on a photo when on a website and you'll be prompted with a menu asked if you'd like to "Save Image." Once the photo is saved, you can view it offline, email it or set it as wallpaper.

15) Take an iPhone screen grab: On a related note, if you want to take a screenshot of a website or application, press down on the Home button and tap the Sleep button. You'll hear the camera click, see a white flash and the screenshot will be saved to your Camera Roll.

16) Get new sounds: It's been a long time coming, but Apple has added the ability to select custom tones for incoming text messages, new emails, voicemails, tweets, calendar alerts, reminders and more. You can select something you like from within the Sounds menu. You'll also notice you can scroll to the top of this list of sounds and you'll see a "Buy More Tones" option, which takes you to iTunes.

17) Zip to the top of the page: In Mail, Safari, Contacts and other apps, simply tap the status bar at the top of the screen — the area that displays time, battery and cell bars — to jump back to the top quickly.

18) Prolong your battery: Speaking of the battery, here's how to squeeze more life out of your iPhone between charges. Turn down the brightness of your screen, turn off wireless radios you don't use (such as GPS, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) and reduce the number of apps with info you have "pushed" to your phone. Also, make sure you lock it before putting in your pocket, purse or backpack or else it could turn on and drain the battery.

19) Spread out the keyboard for easier typing: Here's a tip for iPad users: If you like typing while holding the tablet, rather than stretch your fingers or thumbs for those middle letters like G, H, Y or B, you can drag the keyboard to each side of the screen to separate it into two, allowing you to easily type while holding it.

20) Learn some gestures: Close any app ridiculously fast by putting your four fingers and thumb stretched on the screen and pinch inwards. Sweet! You can also magnify what's on your iPhone screen with a three-finger tap. You'll first need to go to Settings, General, Accessibility, and select the various gestures options here.

21) Create an "app" out of a website you visit often: To add a website to your Home screen, just visit the webpage in Safari and at the top of the screen, tap the Go To icon and select "Add to Home Screen."

22) Create a music playlist on the fly: You no longer need a computer to create a playlist. In the Music app, tap Playlists, then select Add Playlist and give it a name ("Marc's Workout Mix"). Now, tap any song (or video) to add it to the playlist. You can add individual songs, entire albums, or all songs by a particular artist.

23) Don't waste your day deleting messages individually: You can delete unwanted emails en masse rather than deleting one at a time. In your Inbox, simply click the Edit button and check off the emails you want to delete with your finger and then choose Delete.

24) Keep track of your texting limits: If you don't have the best texting plan and don't want to unnecessarily pay to send more texts than you need, here's a tip to turn on the character count in the Messages app. Enable this in the Settings>Message option to keep an eye on your word count. Usually, your one text becomes two after 160 characters.

25) Mirror your iPhone with your TV: If you own an Apple TV, you can instantly and wirelessly share exactly what's on your iPhone 4S or second- and third-generation iPad with your HDTV, connected to an Apple TV — such as games, apps or videos. Simply double-tap the Home button, swipe all the way to the right and select AirPlay Mirroring.

- As seen on Digital Crave
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Evolve or Die: How Words Make It In this World

Whether a word lives or dies depends on laws of natural selection much like those that shape the fate of living species, a new study shows. Researchers analyzed more than 5 million books, written over the last two centuries in English, Spanish, and Hebrew, that had been scanned into Google’s vast database.

They found that while the English language is still growing at a rate of about 8,500 words per year, the birth rate of new words is slowing—and the death rate increasing. Newly coined words tend to achieve widespread circulation faster than they used to, because they are more likely to describe major innovations such as “Twitter” and “iPod.”

Meanwhile, in the “inherently competitive, evolutionary environment” of languages, dying terms are losing a Darwinian battle against more popular “synonyms, variant spellings, and related words,” study author Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University physicist, tells The Wall Street Journal. The catchier term “X-ray,” for instance, put its synonym “roentgenogram” out of business; “persistency” has been choked off by “persistence.” Once a word is born, Tenenbaum found, it has between 30 and 50 years to either take hold or disappear.

- As seen in The Week
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Why Google Will Abandon Android

According to Charlie Kindel, at cek.log, Google will abandon Android. Keep in mind this article is the opinion of the author. Google has not actually decided to abandon Android (yet). Why will Google abandon Android? In short order, Google will launch their tablet. And in doing so they will start down the path of abandoning Android. Here's what he means...


The Google tablet will be called the “Google Play”. Brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services. Google will distance itself from the Android brand; instead they will invest heavily in the Play brand. Fragmentation of Android will accelerate.

As he explained in his article on how to think about Android fragmentation, fragmentation is not the end of android, but means Google has lost control of Android. Google has lost control of both the Android platform and the Android brand.

Google is desperate to compete in the phone and tablet spaces (not to mention social networking). Android is a perfectly suitable technical platform to build on, but as a brand it is atrocious. In that article he suggested one of the tactics Google will try to use to regain control of Android would be to “Invest in the Nexus brand”.

Nexus is Google’s pure play. The idea is a phone with a more rigidly defined user experience, more consistent hardware, the latest OS with a consistent upgrade policy, a single marketplace, and consistent (Google-endorsed) services. Charlie loves this strategy from an end-user’s perspective. Nexus phones will sell fairly well. But the numbers will pale in comparison to the non-Nexus phones sold. But Nexus will only be “fairly” successful because it is counter to what the carriers want and every dollar Google spends on advertising it incents the device manufactures and carriers to spend more on advertising their differentiated products. Nexus actually worsens fragmentation along most axes by introducing yet another “Android model” into the mix.

Charlie no longer believes Google will invest in the Nexus brand (at least for tablets). Instead he's betting the Google tablet will be called the “Google Play”. This makes perfect sense given Google’s recent rebranding of the Android Marketplace and consolidation of apps, music, books, and movies into a unified Google Play.

Moving forward, Google will invest heavily in the Play brand. To effectively create new brand you have to mute your usage of other brands in the same space. At the most, any further use of the term “Android” in consumer marketing and branding will be relegated to “ingredient brand” status (“Certs with Retsin!”). Google will start distancing itself from the Android brand completely.

Why?

Because Android has become an ill-defined mess of a brand that Google does not control. If Google wants to create a phenomenal end-to-end user experience that has a chance of competing with the iPad juggernaut in the tablet space they need to control all aspects of the experience. If they are smart (and Charlie thinks they are) they will recognize that brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services.

Remember how much power the mobile operators and device manufacturers/OEMs are in the mobile space? For the same reasons Windows Phone 7 struggles, so do Google’s Nexus branded phones. But tablets are not phones and the power of the MOs and OEMs is muted in the tablet space. A tightly controlled user experience, device, OS, and services model built around the Google Play brand can be successful even in the face of MOs and OEMs.

He predicts Google will go so far as to push the Play brand over Android even with developers. They’ve already started this with marketplace submission and you can bet there will be a new, more stringent, app certification program under the Google Play moniker in an attempt to raise the quality of apps for the new Google Play tablet. Watch for Google Play specific APIs and services as well.

Don’t believe, for one second, Google building it’s own tablet and getting behind a cohesive brand strategy will reduce Android fragmentation. It won’t. It will accelerate fragmentation across all axes. Google knows this; which is all the more reason they will abandon the Android brand and focus on something they can control.

The tablet space is going to be hugely entertaining in the next 6-9 months as Google makes this transition, other Android-based tablet makers continue what they are doing, the iPad continues to sell like gangbusters, and we see how successful Microsoft is with Windows 8 ARM based tablets.

As seen here: http://ceklog.kindel.com
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Will the iPad kill the PC?

Even if the desktop doesn't disappear, “its glory time is over.” Your personal computer is headed for the recycling bin, said Dan Farber in CNET.com. With the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPad last month, it’s clear that tablets will soon replace the “desktops and clunky laptops that were the face of computing for decades.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who called the iPad the “poster child for the post-PC world,” said that the company sold 15.4 million of the devices in just the last quarter of 2011, more than the number of PCs sold during the same period by any one of the leading manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Dell. And as competition among tablet makers heats up, computer sales will stay flat or slide, said Patrick May and John Boudreau in the San Jose Mercury News. Nearly 120 million tablets are expected to be sold worldwide this year, and Apple, which already commands more than half of the market, is expected to remain top dog. “Essentially anything we once thought of as pen-and-paper activities can now be supplemented by a tablet,” says technology analyst Gene Munster.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, said John Naughton in the London Observer. Tablets may be flying off the shelves, but consumers, not businesses, are buying them. Many companies are simply not about to make “radical changes in their IT infrastructures” in the current economic climate. And while I love my iPad, it’s basically useless for a great number of tasks. I suppose you could “write a book, edit a movie, or build a big spreadsheet” on it, but it would be a bit like digging in the garden “with a teaspoon.” I was just finishing my obituary of the PC, said Daniel Nye Griffiths in Forbes.com, when I looked down and noticed…my keyboard—“with a wire coming out of the back.” You can be sure that the “vast majority of the technology journalists” trumpeting the post-PC era are doing so on, ahem, a PC.

You’re missing the point, said Kit Eaton in FastCompany.com. The PC isn’t going to disappear—millions of pocket calculators are still sold each year—but “its glory time is over.” There’s “nowhere really novel” for the laptop or desktop to go. It doesn’t matter that an iPad’s uses don’t neatly sync with those of a traditional computer, because over time, “new ways of using tablets will replace the old ways of using PCs.” These are exciting days. “We’re right at the beginning of the tablet computing era, with bigger and better things yet to come.”

- As seen in The Week
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Project Glass: Google's 'terribly cool' augmented-reality glasses

Imagine having directions and calendar reminders beamed directly in front of your eyeballs. Google's Star Trek-inspired frames promise to do just that!

Google's sci-fi plan to transform a pair of glasses into a wearable personal computer has long threatened to become a reality. On Wednesday, the rumors were confirmed, and the initiative was finally revealed as "Project Glass." The search giant's Star Trek-inspired, augmented-reality specs — which promise to beam data from Google's vast trove of information right in front of your eyes — are slimmer and sleeker than initial reports indicated. According to a demo video (watch the video here!), wearers, apparently through vocal commands alone, can send instant messages, look up directions, snap photos (and share them with Google+ circles), add events to calendars, and video chat with friends. You can't buy these specs yet, says Nick Bilton at The New York Times. "Google, however, will be testing them in public very soon."

The reaction: We all know Google is cool, says Ami Efrati at The Wall Street Journal, but Project Glass also reflects newly reinstated CEO Larry Page's goal of narrowing "the company's overall focus around a few core initiatives, including search, mobile, and social networking." Perhaps, says Dan Frommer at SplatF. Still, I'm not sure this wearable technology would really catch on. "Between the added bulk, looking ridiculous, and the inevitable cost, it's on the road to becoming the Segway of optics." Are you kidding? asks Chris Velazco at TechCrunch. This technology is "terribly, terribly cool stuff" — at least if the final headset lives up to the simulation in Google's demo.

- As seen in The Week
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News from the Online Dating Front

One in five couples now reports having met on the Web. Are they any more likely to be compatible than couples who came together in traditional ways? Based on his analysis of 400 studies of dating sites and their methods for matching people, University of Rochester psychologist Harry Reis says no.

“There is no reason to believe that online dating improves romantic outcomes,” he tells Time.com. Matchmaking sites like Match.com promise to analyze user data to increase everyone’s odds of finding their “soul mates.’’ But Reis and his colleagues found that Internet dating actually makes long-term bonding less likely.

Scrolling through hundreds of profiles encourages people to compare dozens of prospective dates to one another, like consumer purchases, as opposed to considering them as individual human beings and potential life partners.

Online profiles also tend to link people based on superficial qualities—whether they like scuba-diving or romantic movies, for instance—that end up being poor predictors of lasting relationships. How couples communicate and how they cope with external stresses they face, such as job loss or illness, have far more impact on compatibility. You can’t look at an online profile “and know what it’s like to interact with someone,” says Reis. “Picking a partner is not the same as buying a pair of pants.” (That's like something I've always said, it's like shopping for shoes.)

But one in five couples are finding love online. Hey, as Dolly Parton so aptly says "I think everyone should be free to love who they want, there's not enough love in this world, so find love where you can. And if you find it, consider yourself lucky."

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Online Advertising Trends in 2012... Seriously? Lame.

Can I just state that I hate how the online advertising industry is so fragmented. I'm not alone, even the online advertising experts and the digital marketing gurus can't agree. In fact they aren't even clear where their industry is headed. What's an online publisher to do? My two cents: Join OpenX.


I'm shocked that not one of the thought leaders I researched even mentions OpenX. Granted many of these predictions came from our colleagues in the U.K., and because I received my Masters degree from the LSE, I can say they still appear to be behind the times. The only other viewpoints I could fine are from U.S. visionaries but honestly, they're full of blah, blah, blah too and that's because they all advocate the same thing: their own products. And don't even get me started on the conferences and non-profit member associations and organizations who aren't contributing anything to this field. As my Dad would say, give me a break. Yet even so, according to Forbes and eMarketer, spending on online ads will pass that of combined newspaper and magazine advertising for the first time this year.

If you're an online advertiser or marketer or publisher, tell me after reading through some of the above links, do you agree with any of these trend predictions? I think the Wall Street Journal title sums it up for me: *&%@#!

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Give Public Internet a Chance

Municipalities are being thwarted by a growing number of state laws, pushed by powerful telecom interests, that make launching public networks all but impossible, said Susan P. Crawford at Bloomberg.com.

They’re at it again. Just as big utilities once tried to stymie efforts to electrify rural America, large telecom companies today are out to block cities across the country from building public networks for affordable high-speed Internet. A century ago, most rural communities were either ignored or gouged by major electricity providers. These communities fought for the right to form their own electric utilities, recognizing that “cheap, plentiful electricity was essential to economic development.”

Today, 2,000 municipalities provide their own power, and many cities want to do the same with high-speed fiber-optic service, which only 8 percent of Americans have at home. But they’re being thwarted by a growing number of state laws, pushed by powerful telecom interests, that make launching public networks all but impossible. Major private providers like AT&T and Verizon don’t want any competition, yet they have “ceased the expansion of next-generation fiber installations” across the country. “Congress needs to intervene” to pre-empt misguided state laws that are preventing citizens from making “their own choices about their communications networks.”

- As seen in The Week
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Pinterest - For the Love of Pictures

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? Pinterest is a website where people post cool pictures inside specialized pages (called Pinboards) on a variety of categories. Pinterest is all about creating a category like "cool houses" and filling it with relevant images. It's a simple formula, but it works. Unlike other blogging tools like Tumblr, Pinterest is more of a posting board for ideas to inspire others. Pinterest has amassed ten million users in just nine months. Want to get in on the fun?

Here are 10 easy steps on how to get started on Pinterest:

1. First you'll need a Pinterest invite. Either go to Pinterest.com and request one (which could take a while) or find a friend who has one (they need to click on the "Invite Friends" button).

2. Sign in or sign in using Facebook or Twitter (because then Pinterest shows friends who are already using it... it helps you get started fast).

3) Pick some topics you like so Pinterest can get you started following some cool people.

4) Then create some boards, or categories of stuff you want to post pictures about.

5) Drag the "Pin It" button to your bookmarks bar, that way when you see a picture you like online, you can click your "Pin It" button and it will appear on your Pinterest homepage.

6) On your Pinterest homepage, you'll find posts from everyone you follow, plus a notifications feed.

7) Now that you've set up your Pinterest account, the first thing to do is re-pin somebody else's cool picture (a re-pin is just like a retweet or reblog).

8) Pick which of your boards you want to pin the image to, enter a description, and click Pin It. Your Pin shows up on your Pinterest homepage (and you can click on any picture to enlarge it or "like" it).

9) If you want to upload a picture from your computer, click the Add button on Pinterest, then click Upload. If you clicked "Create A Board," you can even make "shared" boards so you and friends can post to it simultaneously. Pick the "+ Contributors" button, add some friends' email addresses who you want to participate, then click Create Board.

10) And of course there's more to explore on Pinterest, such as videos, adding friends' boards, and changing your notification preferences.

Now that you're up and running, here are 10 Pinterest 'Pinboards' worth following:

1) Gorgeous and exotic flora and fauna - http://pinterest.com/maia_mcdonald/nature/

2) Cool tree houses - http://pinterest.com/alanaaliff/tree-houses/

3) Fancy cars, jets, and boats - http://pinterest.com/joewood1/rides/

4) Space is for truly inspiring architecture - http://pinterest.com/singamatic/space/

5) Drool worthy food - http://pinterest.com/ClosetCooking/drool-worthy-food/

6) Graphic design - http://pinterest.com/linn_maria/design/

7) Eclectic mix of fashionable menswear and accessories - http://pinterest.com/9sharp/9sharp/

8) Incredible animal pictures - http://pinterest.com/adechong/animals/

9) Weddings - http://pinterest.com/bridalmusings/wedding-inspiration/

10) And of course, cats - http://pinterest.com/natashafoote/kittens/

Enjoy!

- As seen in Business Insider
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How to Manage Google's New Privacy Policy Changes

A big change to Google's privacy policy has now taken affect, meaning it's now up to YOU to decide how much information you want collected by the search giant. Last Thursday, March 1, 2012, Google's much-discussed new privacy policy went into effect.

To say that the change has stirred concern on the Web would be an understatement. Public officials and Web watchdogs in the United States and elsewhere have expressed fears that it will mean less privacy for users of the Web giant's multitude of products, from search to Gmail to YouTube to Google Maps to smart phones powered by the Android operating system.

Google points out that the products won't be collecting any more data about users than they were before. And, in fairness, the company has gone out of its way to prominently announce the product across all of its platforms for weeks.

The major change is that, instead of profiling users separately on each of its sites and products, Google will now pull all of that information together into one single profile, similar to what's found on Google's dashboard page.

The result encapsulates perhaps the most basic conundrum of the modern Web. More information means better service (and potentially, more targeted advertisements). But that service (in this case more accurate search results, more interesting ads and new features that work across multiple sites) requires you to give up some of your privacy in return.

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has called it "a somewhat brutal choice."

Google, not surprisingly, takes a different tack: The payoff for the company collecting your data is cool new services. For example, they could push cooking videos to you on YouTube if you'd been looking for recipes through Google search, privacy director Alma Whitten wrote in an editorial for the Sacramento Bee.

"We just want to use the information you already trust us with to make your experience better," she wrote. "If you don't think information sharing will improve your experience, you don't need to sign in to use services like Search, Maps and YouTube.

"If you are signed in, you can use our many privacy tools to do things like edit or turn off your search history, control the way Google tailors ads to your interests and browse the Web 'incognito' using Chrome." Last Wednesday was the last day for people to tweak those Google settings before the new policy begins, although they can change them afterward as well.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your data a little more private on some of Google's most popular features.

1. Don't sign in - This is the easiest and most effective tip. Many of Google's services -- most notably search, YouTube and Maps -- don't require you to sign in to use them. If you're not logged in, via Gmail or Google+, for example, Google doesn't know who you are and can't add data to your profile. But to take a little more direct action ...

2. Removing your Google search history - Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation has compiled this step-by-step guide to deleting and disabling your Web History, which includes the searches you've done and sites you've visited.

It's pretty quick and easy:
-- Sign in to your Google account
-- Go to www.google.com/history
-- Click "Remove all Web History"
-- Click "OK"

As the EFF notes, deleting your history will not prevent Google from using the information internally. But it will limit the amount of time that it's fully accessible. After 18 months, the data will become anonymous again and won't be used as part of your profile. The EFF also compiled these six tips to protect your search privacy.

3. Clearing your YouTube history - Similarly, users may want to remove their history on YouTube. That's also pretty quick and easy.
-- Sign in on Google's main page
-- Click on "YouTube" in the toolbar at the top of the page
-- On the right of the page, click your user name and select "Video Manager"
-- Click "History" on the left of the page and then "Clear Viewing History"
-- Refresh the page and then click "Pause Viewing History"
-- You can clear your searches on YouTube by going back and choosing "Clear Search History" and doing the same steps.

4. Clearing your browsing history on Google Chrome-- Click on the "wrench" icon at the far right of your toolbar
-- Select "Tools"
-- Select "Clear browsing data"
-- In the dialogue box that appears, click the "clear browsing data" box (there are other options you may want to use as well)
-- Select "Beginning of Time" to clear your entire browsing history
-- Click "clear browsing history"

5. Gmail Chat - When you start a chat with someone, you can make the conversation "off the record." Off-the-record chats will not be stored in your chat history or the history of the person with whom you're talking. All chats with that person will remain off the record until you change the status. To go off the record:
-- Click the "Actions" link at the top right of the chat window
-- Scroll down to "Go off the record." Both you and your chat partner will see that the chat has been taken off the record.

6. What are Google's other products? Obviously, anything with "Google" in its name counts. But the Web giant owns other products that might not be so obvious to some folks.
-- Gmail. Yes, the "G" is for Google.
-- YouTube. Google bought the Web's leading video site in 2006
-- Picasa. The online photo sharing site became Google's in 2004
-- Blogger. The blog publishing tool has been Google's since 2003.
-- FeedBurner. A management tool for bloggers and managing RSS feeds. Google bought it in 2007.
-- Orkut. Google's original social-networking site isn't big in the U.S. But it's one of the most popular sites in India and Brazil.
-- Android. Yes, you probably know this. But just for the record, Google owns the most popular smartphone operating system.

So what do the analysts think? Is Google's new privacy policy evil? The search giant has begun sharing your personal data across almost all of its services — a violation, critics say, of Google's "don't be evil" ethos. Under Google's controversial new privacy policy, YouTube, Gmail, and nearly 60 other Google services will share your personal data.

Google is changing its privacy policies to allow the sharing of a user's data across 60 of its web services, including Gmail, YouTube, and personalized search (but not Google Wallet, Google Books, or the Chrome browser). For example, says Brent Rose at Gizmodo, "if you searched for 'Furbies' on Google's homepage (for some freaky reason) and then later went to YouTube, you might see Furbies videos pop up. That's new. Previously, data was compartmentalized between applications." Privacy advocates and many tech commentators aren't happy, especially because there's no way to opt out of the cross-Google data sharing. Does this change violate Google's "don't be evil" philosophy?

Yes. Google is turning evil: Google claims that this change better serves its users, but really, but I think it's really all about selling more targeted ads, says Mat Honan at Gizmodo. Come March 1, "things you could do in relative anonymity today will be explicitly associated with your name, your face, your phone number," and everything else you put in Google's hands. I'm "calling this evil" because Google is violating the core promise of respecting its users — a promise that Google used to "get us all under its feel-good tent."

Maybe, but c'mon, people are overreacting: This "Internet freakout" mostly shows that "no one actually reads privacy policies," says Kashmir Hill at Forbes. We have all given Google permission to share our information among Google services since 2005. The only change is that now it will actually use all that stuff it knows about you to, say, recommend YouTube videos. "When Google starts bundling everything it knows about its users and selling that to insurance companies, background check companies, and the Department of Homeland Security, that's when I'll trot out the 'evil label.'" For now, "kudos to them for being so explicit" about their privacy tweaks.

No, the real issue is Google's ambitions, of course Google isn't evil, says Adam Pash at Lifehacker. "But it's never been harder to take their famous 'Don't be evil' motto seriously." Google started out wanting to give us the web, then get out of the way. Now it "wants to grab every piece of the internet you use," trying for "world domination" like Facebook or, more damningly, 1990s-era AOL. That's not the Google we came to love, and it's "a fantastic bummer" for anyone who likes a free, innovative web.

In the meantime, Google is accused of secret tracking.

Google has been “bypassing privacy settings” to track the Web habits of people using Apple’s Safari browser, said Jennifer Valentino-DeVries in The Wall Street Journal. The Internet giant placed small tracking files, called cookies, on phones and computers of users who didn’t want to be tracked. Google says it has halted the practice, but Microsoft charged that Google also circumvented privacy controls on the Internet Explorer browser. Three congressmen have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google is violating its recent privacy settlement.

And in Europe, the new Google policy breaks the law.

Data-protection agencies ini Europe have concluded that Google's new privacy policy is in breach of European law. France's data-protection watchdog, the CNIL, has also cast doubt on the legality of the policy and informed Google that it would lead a Europe-wide investigation. Google said in January that it was simplifying its privacy policy, consolidating 60 guidelines into a single one that will apply to all its services. - Reuters

- As seen in The Week
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