Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts has hinted at an upcoming Google update that is aimed at protecting searchers by lowering the rankings of merchants. It’s all still pretty vague at this point, but here’s what Cutts said Friday at SXSW.
Today’s interactive Google Doodle featuring the famous words “DON’T PANIC” (in large, friendly letters on the cover) is in tribute to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and author Douglas Adams, who was born on this date in 1952.
It seem AT&T will be the first American carrier to market BlackBerry’s Z10, the new touchscreen device from the Canadian Smartphone maker that has been enjoying strong sales in Canada and the U.K. for the past month.
The Z10 will be available for pre-order March 12 and will go on sale in AT&T stores and online March 22. The device will retail for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
“AT&T customers were the first to experience BlackBerry Smartphones and services in the U.S. and we are thrilled to bring the next evolution, the BlackBerry Z10, to the nation’s fastest 4G LTE network,” Jeff Bradley, AT&T Mobility senior vice-president of devices and developer services, said in a statement.
“Customers who have grown to love the tried and true BlackBerry experience will continue to enjoy the easy typing and the secure platform they expect with a fresh platform that lets them get more out of their Smartphone with easy access to all their messages in BlackBerry Hub.”
BlackBerry has a lot riding on the U.S. launch of its Z10. Although BlackBerry was once the mobile phone of choice for corporate America, it has lost significant market share to Apple’s iPhone and Android-operated Smartphones.
The Z10, run by the new BlackBerry 10 OS, is an obvious bid by the Canadian firm to appeal to new consumers, specifically those who use iPhones or Android-powered devices.
The new device features a faster browser so “whatever you do, you are only one swipe away from all of your activities” and a 4.2-inch screen that offers a “cinematic experience,” according to BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins.
It also boasts a smart camera and a decent app library that includes services such as Skype and the ever-popular Angry Birds game. It is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual core processor and has 2GB RAM — double that of the iPhone or Galaxy S III. It offers 16GB of storage, but will accept cards up to 32GB. It is available in black or white.
Key points of the BlackBerry 10 platform are:
• BlackBerry Hub — a single place to manage all conversations whether personal or work in e-mail, BBM messages, social media updates or notifications.
• BlackBerry Flow — enables features and apps to “flow seamlessly” together, helping the user complete the task at hand. “For example, you can tap on an attendee listed for a meeting to see their latest tweet or LinkedIn profile,” a BlackBerry press release reads. “Or tap the thumbnail of a picture you just took to launch the Picture editor and quickly apply a transformation or filter, then instantly share it with your contacts.”
• BlackBerry Balance — technology that separates and secures work applications and data from personal content on BlackBerry devices.
The Z10 has, for the most part, received good reviews.
The New York Times’ David Pogue described the Z10 as “lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas,” while the CBC’s Peter Nowak described it as “slick, fast and good looking, with only a few noticeable holes.”
BlackBerry’s Z10 is also to be sold by Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA although the companies have yet to announce a launch date.
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The social media site is also improving its platform to enable its users to “capture memories and share experiences through the apps they use.”
“Books, movies, TV and fitness comprise an important part of who people are,” reads Facebook’s developer blog. The site is now launching “new actions to give people better ways to express those things.”
New actions for lifestyle apps
The Open Graph, which supports a number of activities such as watching videos, is adding new common actions:
• Fitness: run, walk or bike;
• Books: read, rate, quote, want to read;
• Movies and TV: rate, want to watch.
With fitness, for instance, common activities such as running, walking or biking can now be shared on news feed or as Timeline stories that include bar charts, maps, and stats depending upon the data provided by the user.
“We want people who use your apps to be excited about how their stories are presented in news feed — whether they’re sharing a major life moment, like their first marathon, or something smaller, like finishing a book they were reading,” the blog says. “We’ve worked with a variety of lifestyle app developers to tailor the new actions and News Feed stories to meet common use cases.”
According to the blog post, early data has revealed average likes per story have more than doubled.
All apps using these new actions will be reviewed by Facebook to ensure they meet the site’s criteria. Any apps that previously used custom actions must transfer to the new actions by July 10.
Facebook listed some lifestyle apps have already added the ability to share the new actions. They are:
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Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) plan to sell generic top-level domains to private companies has led to firms such as Google requesting control of .blog, .search, .app and .cloud while Amazon wants .book, .read and .author.
Authors Guild president Scott Turow asked ICANN in a letter to “please rethink this project.”
“We strongly object to ICANN’s plans to sell the exclusive top-level domain rights for generic book-industry terms, such as .book, .author, and .read,” Turow said. “Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power. The potential for abuse seems limitless.
“ICANN, of all entities, should be mindful of the critical need to maintain an open, freely competitive Internet.”
ICANN held its much publicized domain name lottery in December. The organization received 1,930 applications for top-level domain names — the order in which they will be processed was decided by a raffle. ICANN plans to recommend the first TLDs for delegation on April 23, CEO Fadi Cherhade said last month.
Google accounted for roughly 100 of the applications ICANN received. Some referenced Google products such as .google, .chrome, .android and .gmail, as well as .blog, .search, .app and .cloud and others.
While the Author’s Guild calls the registration of top-level domain names anti-competitive, Google VP and CIO Ben Fried, in a letter to ICANN, said the organization should “allow all closed generic string applications to proceed” because it would lead to “much-needed innovation” online.
“We believe an unfettered process is paramount in opening up the domain name space and increasing innovation in a market that has always been, effectively, stagnant,” the letter reads. “We are just beginning to explore this source of innovation on the web, and we are excited to see how these new TLDs may fare. We hope that offering new and different TLD choices will be interesting and meaningful to the public and generate excitement about the new TLD program.”
“Our application for the .blog TLD describes a new way of automatically linking new second-level domains to blogs on our Blogger platform — this approach eliminates the need for any technical configuration on the part of the user and thus makes the domain name more user friendly; it matches the use of third-level domains within the blogspot.com second-level domain today, and is intended to create a seamless user experience within a rich new namespace.”
Amazon has said its hopes of securing the domains .book, .read and .author is a bid to find innovative ways to “surprise and delight our customers,” rather than a move to circumvent competition, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Why should a company be able to own ‘widget.com’ and not ‘.widget’?” a company lawyer wrote to ICANN. “There is no evidence that past ‘closed’ domains have led to any market power.”
Barnes & Noble, one of Amazon’s chief rival, in a submission to ICANN, said Amazon should not be permitted to control the domains it is requesting because it would have “disastrous consequences not only for bookselling but for the American public.”
“If Amazon, which controls approximately 60 percent of the market for eBooks and 25 percent of the physical book market, were granted the exclusive use of .book, .read and .author, Amazon would use the control of these TLDs to stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries, which are critical to the future of copyrighted expression in the United States,” the letter said.
“Amazon’s ownership would also threaten the openness and freedom of the Internet and would have harmful consequences for internet users worldwide. When ICANN announced its plan to increase the number of TLDs available on the Domain Name System, one of its stated goals was to enhance competition and consumer choice. However, if the book TLDs applications are granted to Amazon, no bookseller or publisher other than Amazon will be able to register second-level domain names in .book, .read and .author without Amazon’s approval, leaving Amazon free to exclude competitors and exploit the generic Book TLDs for its sole benefit.”
ICANN has estimated it will process roughly 80 applications a month beginning in January and ending in 2015.
Most of the first 100 domains to be considered are in non-English letters such as Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Arabic, according to the BBC.
The complete list can be viewed here.
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A walk-through of the steps that form a simple social engagement plan – listening, engaging, measuring, and learning. You’ll want to think of this plan as being continuous or cyclical, so you can repeat it once you’re done with the fourth step.
Facebook’s one billion members are more active than ever.
According to new stats released by the social networking site, more than 400 billion Open Graph actions have been shared.
Open Graph actions include likes, follows, articles read or videos watched on integrated sites and images shared on Pinterest or Instagram to name a few.
Members shared their app habits more than one billion times each day with their Facebook friends. App activity includes a variety of items, with the most popular share (currently sitting at 40 billion) being what music they are listening to.
Other new stats from Facebook, as of March, include:
• 110 million songs, albums and radio stations have been played 40 billion times with apps that are connected to Facebook.
• 1.47 million books have been shared through apps connected to Facebook.
China Calls For Cyber Co-operation
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has joined the chorous of other Chinese officials in denying his government’s or military’s involvement in the recent spate of cyber-attacks on Western websites.
Jiechi at a weekend news conference called for “rules and co-operation” rather than a cyberspace “war” or political mud-slinging, according to the China Daily.
His comments come just a few weeks after a 74-page report by American security firm Mandiant Corp. alleged a Chinese military unit has launched thousands of hacking attacks against U.S. companies and defense contractors since 2006 at the behest of the Chinese government.
The Alexandria, Virginia-based security firm said it traced the hacking to four large networks in Shanghai, two of which serve the Pudong New Area where a 12-storey building run by Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army is located.
Yang said the accusations to be leveled against China are politically motivated.
“Those reports may have caught the eye of many people, but they are built on shaky ground,” said Yang, adding it is wrong to “turn cyberspace into another battlefield, or capitalize on virtual reality to interfere in another country’s internal affairs.”
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng also denied the accusations earlier this month, saying China itself it a victim of about 144,000 hacking attacks per month many of which originate from the U.S.
Google’s Talking Shoe
First it was Google Glass. Now it’s a talking shoe.
Google showed off its latest invention — computerized running shoes — at The South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals (SXSW).
Dubbed “an experiment in connected objects” by creators YesYesNo, a new interactive collective that specializes in creative inventions, and Google, the shoes connect to Andorid-powered Smartphones or tablets, acting as a personal trainer.
If the wearer has been still too long, the shoes will let him or her know. The shoes will also tell walkers or joggers if they need to pick up the pace.
Not only do the sneakers talk, they can also share online what the wearer is doing.
So far, the talking shoe is just a marketing experiment and is unlikely to hit store shelves any time soon.
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Sometimes, especially with SEO tools, you’ve got to go back to move forward. I recently stumbled accross this old video of myself and my good friend Matt Da Cruz from 3 years ago discussing the future of some of the sickest SEO tools ever released for public consumption.
When reminiscing back to 2011, I get excited for two reasons (1) I still had my dreadlocks which I later cut in 2012 (big mistake after 21 years of committment) and (2) the sinister advanced SEO brain storm sessions with Matt plotting market-domination over some highly-caffeinated coffee hit truly unchartered depths.
For the record, we could spend the next 10 years building out the tip of the iceberg for some of the automated tools we discussed, but I digress.
Looking back in hindsight reminds me that it’s a good idea to evaluate and assess your old strategies, progress and lessons learned along the way (essentially knowing where you have been, to define where you’re going).
While many of the proposed modules we discussed on the video then have changed (such is life), other ideas have evolved and taken their place in existing features in either their software or ours.
Speaking of modules, we have some great updates underway for SEO Ultimate’s Opengraph Integrator module and are looking forward to updating other SEO Ultimate features for the sake of enhanced usability… But what about our WP Ultimate theme?
Update on The WP Ultimate Theme Release
In all truthfulness, you’ll never have a second chance to make a first impression, which is why we’ve been so stringent about not releasing our beta version of WP Ultimate Theme until each feature is checked, double checked and triple checked under a diverse array of use-case scenarios.
To whet your beak in anticipation of the release, we’ve provided a few sneak-peak screen caps below for you to peruse.
The Layout settings feature allows fixed, fluid or responsive layout options and customizable sidebar and/or content width.
The Typography and Style Settings allow granularly CSS / Design control w/ color picker and straight-forward controls.
The Ad Manager Module allows you to add HTML scripts or upload banners with ease and ads can also be used as short codes.
The Short Code Generator Module allows you to create and use your own short codes (maps, contact forms, HTML or text) or, you can select from our built-in short codes from content boxes to columns (it’s in there).
In closing, affiliates and small business owners seeking a visually stunning SEO equalizer will soon have some new SEO and Design tools to play with.
However, in the meantime, we are currently stress-testing and refining the last batch of newly integrated features in the front-end (e.g. Twitter Bootstrap, Google Fonts, Slider Revolution, a Timed Lightbox Feature, Content Columns, Font Awesome, the quick silo builder and an ever-increasing library of shortcodes).
Once Beta Testers are Done, It’s a Wrap
Our beta testers are now in their final review, so, once all bugs are crushed, we’ll broadcast the announcement to those of you reading this blog via the proper social channels and you’ll be able to download your copy and put it to the test. As always, we look forward to your feedback and suggestions on how we can make our tools the best they can be.
The jury on price point is still hung as we have poured our heart, soul and most coveted tactics and tools into this framework, but we’ll be sure to entice early adopters with a special promotion coupon code for the launch before settling at the final single user license fee and extended / unlimited site user license rates.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience during the scope-creep cycles we’re emerging from. We truly look forward to building a dynamic community and providing useful resources that you can deploy powered by our battle-tested SEO strategies and tools to generate more revenue for your business.
If you haven’t already, feel free to download SEO Ultimate our All-In-One WordPress SEO Plugin and take a peak at the video tutorial explaining how to use its various features. Thanks again and stay tuned for more SEO goodies.
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