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+1 button to counter the Like button?

31/03 (0518 hrs IST): Google Inc is all set to introduce a new feature in Search called the +1 tab. Under it,  users will get the freedom to personally endorse Search results including Web pages. Many in the online community are already intrepreting this move as a fresh attempt to tackle rival Facebook while simultaneously 'trying to jump onboard a social networking boom.'

The +1 button is expected to start appearing alongside Google Search results for select users from Wednesday. Obviously in the long run, this button will start impacting  the ranking of search results,  too.

After several previous attempts, Google is once again aiming to counter Facebook's increasing popularity in Social Networking as well as in Search in the online community.The new feature comes nearly a year after Facebook began offering special Like button to websites.

Large chunk of India's population shut out from 'digital revolution"

30/03 (1313 hrs IST): An AFP report today said India was trailing its 'BRIC' colleagues - Brazil, Russia & China - in bridging the "digital divide". This was because a large number of Indians had no access to  the Web.

A 'Digital Inclusion Index' compiled by British risk analysis firm MapleCroft put India in the "extreme risk" category. This, said the report, meant much of its population was shut out of "digital revolution." India stood at 39 on the index, far behind Russia at 134, Brazil at 110 & China at 103, which were classified as being at "medium risk" from lack of "digital inclusion."

"Digital inclusion has the potential to bring education to people in countries where educational infrastructure is limited and the development of cadres of teachers is still constrained," MapleCroft head Alyson Warhurst was quoted as saying in the AFP report.

The survey looked at 186 countries to identify those nations whose populations were being stifled by a lack of "digital inclusion."

The countries with the best access to communications technologies included the Netherlands which was top at 186, Sweden at 183 & Britain came in 182nd.

Know your Meme says Cheese

29/03 (1019 hrs IST): The Cheezburger Network has announced its acquisition of that chronicler of the Internet, Know Your Meme.

Cheezburger founder & CEO Ben Huh said the acquisition talks had started in January, and the deal closed last Monday. There is no figure out there on the deal.

Know Your Meme is a site dedicated to researching & documenting viral culture. Users can submit memes for consideration, and then the staff decides which ones are valid enough to research.

Huh, say online report, has also assured that the staff will remain in place, which means that the Cheezburger Network will now have a New York City base as well as a Seattle office.

China's Baidu launching Browser?

28/03 (1533 hrs IST): China's largest search engine, Baidu, is developing its own web browser in an effort to cement its hold over the country's Internet market, says a report by PC World.
Baidu began testing an early Beta version of the product within the company, according to an industry source familiar with the Browser, the report said. The Browser uses the Chinese language and functions on major Windows operating systems.
Baidu currently holds a 75.5 % share of China's search engine market.

Yahoo! US does a Google

25/03 (0817 hrs IST): This one may seem to be a copycat version of Google Search. Yahoo!  US  has introduced a Search product wherein you get answers even before you have finished typing the key words.

Dubbed Search Direct, the technology actually starts searching before you hit the Search button. Currently in Beta, the new feature is remniscent of a similar feature that was introduced by Google.

Even before a user of Search Direct starts keying in the words, as soon as the cursor hits the Search box, top Search trends appear. These are updated every 10 minutes. For predictions, Search Direct offers the 10 most likely Searches. A user can then scan all of these & choose what he wants. The  aim, obviously,is to save a few seconds of typing.

Google's new magazine

24/03 (1515 hrs IST): It's a new spin by Search Engine Google. It has launched its own quarterly online magazine, Think Quarterly, out of its operations in the U.K. & Ireland. Here's the full report.

Firefox 4 gets rave reviews

24/03 (0857 hrs IST):Mozilla's Firefox 4, which was launched on March 22, has already taken 1.95% of the worldwide Internet browser market, according to StatCounter, the free website analytics company. It's research arm StatCounter Global Stats has reported that on the 1st day of its release, Firefox 4 had scored higher globally than Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 9 which was launched more than a week ago.

"Firefox 4 has really hit the ground running and has eclipsed the launch of IE 9," said Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter.  "By yesterday IE 9 had taken just 0.87% of the worldwide market."

But there is some good news for Microsoft. When all versions of each browser  is taken into consideration, Internet Explorer still leads the global market with 45%. But Firefox is very close now, with 30% while Chrome has 17%. IE's lead though is said to be coming down steadily. StatCounter had recently reported that Firefox had overtaken Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) to become the number one browser in Europe for the first time in December 2010.

"Ladies & Gentlemen, we give you the Firefox 4"

23/03 (0840 hrs IST): It's official. The new wave of Internet Browser wars is on. Firefox 4 was released on Wednesday to compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) & of course, Google Chrome. The launch, as we had predicted earlier, came weeks before its previously announced launch date.

What's more, Mozilla has made Firefox 4 available as a free download for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux operating systems. Firefox 4 is positioned as a "faster" browser compared to its predecessor . It also has featured like a "Do Not Track" signal to opt-out of having online activities recorded by websites for targeted online ads or services.

"Firefox puts users in control of their Web experience, providing a streamlined user interface, fun new features, a boost in speed and support for modern Web technologies," Mozilla said in an online message.

You may recall that both, IE9 & Chrome were released earlier this month, putting pressure on Mozilla.

Chrome's new logo

22/03 (0906 hrs IST): Internet browser Chrome has "refreshed" its icon in keeping with its motto of "making your web experience as easy and clutter-free as possible". A blogpost by designer Steve Rura says the simpler icon embodies the Chrome spirit — to make the web quicker, lighter, & easier for all.

Facebook Places now in other countries?

19/03 (1829 hrs IST): From today, Facebook Places is available in many more countries such as Bulgaria, Brazil, India, Egypt, South Africa, the Philippines & Israel, according to some online reports including one on Vator.tv, though a confirmation from Social Network Facebook is yet awaited.

This service for checking into venues & businesses in the real world was first rolled out only for U.S. users in mid-2010. Later, it was launched in Japan, followed by the UK.
Places is in competition with other popular location services like Google's Latitute & Foursquare

Porn has a new address ...xxx

19/03 (1129 hrs IST): It's final.The Adult Entertainment Industry has a permanent new home on the Internet. It's called .xxx.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) gave its nod for the same at a meeting in San Francisco earlier this week.The ICANN manages the Internet domains such as .com, .org & .net. It said late Friday that it will establish a .xxx domain for pornographic & adult sites.

Anyone who wants to register a .xxx domain will first have to go through an application process that's approved by the International Foundation for Online Responsibility. This procedure is intended to ensure that .xxx domains don't engage in fraud, child pornography & other practices.

But the move has brought in howls of protests from the adult industry. Critics feel that those porn sites already using .com domains will not move to the .xxx option. This is because porn sites will not be forced to get .xxx domain names.

Microsoft launches Internet Explorer 9 browser

14/03 (0829 hrs IST): After spending over a year in Beta testing, software giant Microsoft finally released the  Internet Explorer 9 to the online public.

Microsoft has promised that this is not just an update of IE 8 but a "brand new" experience in Internet browsing.
It was only last month that Microsoft had unveiled the IE9 release candidate. Online reports say that overall, the IE9 Beta and release code have been downloaded more than 40 million times, before even the official launc.

IE9 has generally generated positive reviews. Its plus points include radical speed & a dramatic improvement in graphics. Microsoft has also been touting IE9′s security features which includes tracking protection (“Do Not Track” button) & stronger filters against malware.

The "next big step" in Search brought to you by Google

11/03 (1849 hrs IST): It's been hailed as the "next  big step" in personalizing Search results. Search Engine Google has, from today, introduced a new feature that will enable users to block sites they don’t want to see in their Search results.

Between today & tomorrow, the new feature will be rolled out on Google.com in English for people using Chrome 9+, IE8+ & Firefox 3.5+ browsers. Under this, when users conduct a Search, they’ll see a new feature ‘Block all […] results’ next to the ‘Cached’ button. If a site appears in a Search result, users no longer wish to see, they can hit the ‘Block …’ button.

Announcing this in their official blogpost today, Amay Champaneria & Beverly Yang, Search Quality Engineers, Google, said the domains users block are connected with their Google account so they’ll need to be logged in before they confirm a block.
Many believe that Google's move will now bring in a more "structured" Search. For more on this, click here to read the official post.

Google still No:1 leader in US search market but Bing gains ground

11/03 (0940 hrs IST): Experian Hitwise, a part of Experian Marketing Services, has said that Google accounted for 66.69 % of all U.S. searches conducted in the four weeks ending Feb. 26, 2011.
Bing-powered search comprised 28.48 % of searches for the month, with Yahoo! Search & Bing receiving 14.99 % & 13.49 %, respectively. The remaining 69 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis report accounted for 4.68 % of U.S. searches.
Going by the statistics of the last few months, it is clear that Microsoft's Bing continues to take nibble-sized bites of Google's market in the U.S. Internet search market. In January 2011,  Bing.com had a 12.81% share. Google, on the other hand, had 67.95% share in Jan.

Internet Explorer 9 to be launched on March 14

10/03 (1856 hrs IST): It's official. Microsoft has announced that it will finally launch the official version of its much-awaited browser, Internet Explorer 9 on March 14. In a blogpost, Ryan Gavin, Senior Director, Internet Explorer Business & Marketing, said exactly 12 months from the first Platform Preview of IE9, on March 14th, the company "will celebrate the developers & designers who are making a more beautiful web for all of us." The final version of IE 9 for download begins at 9 p.m. Pacific.

Formspring launches SMS-based service

09/03 (2059 hrs IST): Last November, we had featured community site Formspring. Started earlier in 2010, it is positioned as a "conversational" Question Answer site which you can use to find online friends. The format allows every individual user to ask questions about the other, his likes, & stuff like that. 
Now, there is a new development at Formspring which we have learnt of. It has launched a new SMS features can be enabled from the user’s Formspring settings. When this service is turned on, the user will get SMS alerts and will be able to respond to questions, ask new questions & send out a questions to their other social networking accounts via a simple list of text commands.

Alerts can be customized also. A user can choose to receive questions via SMS. The service is free on Formspring’s end, but users will have to pay their usual SMS bills with their service provider. Currently, the SMS service is only available in the U.S., but wil be extended to other nations soon.

Ade Olonoh, Formspring's CEO, said in a press release that the SMS feature had been  introduced because of a demand from Formspring users.

New version of Chrome browser launched

09/03 (0630 hrs IST): Google Inc on Tuesday released the final version of its new Chrome Web browser for desktop & laptop computers. The latest version is supposed to be faster & more responsive than its earlier versions.

"We realize that speed isn't just about pure brawn in the browser," Google engineer Tim Steele said in a blog post. Tim further added that it was all about saving time with simple interfaces.

The latest Chrome browser software is available free online at google.com/chrome.

Virus hits Twitter accounts

06/03 (1930 hrs IST): If you have a Twitter account, watch out, there's a new worm spreading like wildfire online. It is called Tweet Viewer worm afoot.

The malware asks  questions about who’s been visiting your Twitter profile. When you click on its link, it asks for your Twitter authorization, and then Tweets the same message to more unsuspecting users.

In case you do get trapped by this worm, here's what you can do: Go to Settings/Connection & then revoke access.

Microsoft launches 'countdown' to encourage users to bid goodbye to Internet Explorer 6

05/03 (0700 hrs IST): Software leader Microsoft has started an Internet Explorer 6 countdown page, a site meant to encourage users of this browser to upgrade, because a section of  Microsoft users continue to "hang on" to it.  "It's time to say goodbye," reads a message on the site.

"...IE6 is officially a ten-year old browser. ........IE6 still has 12 percent share worldwide. Our goal is to get this share under 1 percent," wrote Roger Capriotti, director of IE product marketing in a blog post.

The IE6 countdown site includes IE6 usage share data on a country-by-country basis, provided by Net Applications. At this point, the browser is most popular in China.

Hotmail allows access to all e-mails in one window

04/03 (1827 hrs IST): The e-mail war just got hotter. One of the oldest e-mail players, Hotmail, has gone & upped the ante. Present users & new users can use their Windows Live Hotmail account to access multiple e-mail accounts now. Which means within your Hotmail account only, you can set up things in such a manner that with one login, you can also access your Gmail, AOL Mail, & Yahoo! Mail accounts, i.e. a user can send & receive e-mails from all of these accounts in Hotmail itself. Howzzat?

Historic 1st: Bing overtakes Yahoo! globally in Jan 2011

01/03 (1943 hrs IST): The Bing Search Engine overtook Yahoo! for the first time worldwide in January . Not only that, it also increased its lead in February, according to web analytics company, StatCounter.
A press release issued by the company said Its research arm, StatCounter Global Stats, had found that globally, Bing had reached 4.37% in February, ahead of Yahoo! at 3.93%. However, both trail far behind Google's 89.94% of the global Search Engine market.

In the United States, Yahoo! at 9.74% still retained its lead over Bing at 9.03%. Google's share in the US was 79.63%. It may be recalled that in July 2009, Microsoft had announced an agreement whereby Bing would power the Yahoo! search technology. This has been implemented in the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Mexico.

"It is significant that Bing overtook Yahoo! globally for the first time on a monthly basis but it remains a tough battle to claw back Google's market share," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. "Although Google dipped below the 90% mark in February worldwide for the first time since August 2009 it shows little sign of losing its global dominance any time soon."

StatCounter specialises in website visitor analysis for organisations and bloggers.