Archive for the 'Web News' Category

Google Offers Phone Service via Gmail 3

Google Offers Phone Service via Gmail to compete directly with Skype

The service allows users to make calls to landlines and mobiles from inside their Gmail account.

Phoning anywhere in the US and Canada will be free until the end of the year, while calls to the
UK, France, China and Germany will cost 2 cents a minute.

Until now Google offered computer-to-computer voice and video chat services.

“This is a real big deal because now hundreds of millions of Gmail users can make phone calls right from their Gmail page,” Craig Walker, product manager for real-time communications told BBC News.

“They don’t need to download an additional application or anything to start making really high-quality low-cost calls. For the user it means much more efficient and low-cost communications.”
The product will initially be rolled out in the US; the firm said however, for a brief time, international users were also able to use the feature because of an error.

“Unintentionally we briefly made the service available to non-US English users,” a spokesperson said. “We do hope to bring it to our international users soon.”

When it rolls out the link will appear on the left hand of the Gmail page within the “chat” window. A “call phone” option will pop up along with a number pad to let you dial the number of the person you want to talk to.

Google said money raised from international calls will pay for the free US and Canadian calls.
“What surprised me was that they actually said they hope to make money off the calls,” said Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of technology blog SearchEngineLand.

“Normally Google is like ‘We don’t know how we are going to make the money’ or ‘We will make money down the way, don’t worry about it’ and this stands out as a big benefit that they get actual revenue early on.”

Competition with Skype

Skype, which is the most successful internet phone offering, claims to have over 560 million registered users. The firm said 124 million used the service at least one a month while 8.1 million were paying customers.

The company is planning to offer shares to the public later this year. Observers said that it is too early to say whether companies like Skype should be worried.

“Skype is a well known company in this place and they are almost like a verb in the internet calling world in the way Google is with search. You Skype someone. So I think there is some inertia there to get over and I am interested to see how Gmail users respond,” said Tom Krazit, senior writer with technology news site

“But you always have to worry when Google comes after what you do. They don’t do things half way and bring a lot of resources to any problem they try to tackle. It doesn’t mean you are doomed.

“Google’s product won’t work on your mobile browser so Skype has an advantage there but I don’t think it is a stretch to assume Google will come out with a mobile version pretty soon,” said Mr Krazit.

The company plans an eye catching way to get non-Gmail users to give the product a green light. It is in negotiations with a number of university campuses and airports to install red telephone boxes around the country to give users the chance to dial and try.

Verisign increases domain prices 0

Many in the industry are not aware, but ICANN gave sole power to set domain prices to the popular SSL company Verisign. All major registrars like Godaddy or Network solutions register domains through Verisign and usually charge an upsell of a few cents (if you type in “godaddy domain” into Google it will probably bring up a sponsored ad for a $6.99 domain through Godaddy). However, on July 1, Verisign increased the rates for registry domain names for .com and .net per its agreements with ICANN.

The registry fee for .com domain names increased from $6.86 to $7.34 and that the registry fee for .net domain names increased  from $4.23 to $4.65.

As the economy and society becomes increasingly dependent on digital technology, it is imperative that investment in the underlying infrastructure, including .com and .net, continue to keep pace with the robust growth of the Internet and ensure its continued security and reliability. Over the last decade, the volume of Internet traffic and domain name system (DNS) queries on VeriSign’s global infrastructure has increased from an average of approximately 2 billion queries per day in the year 2000 to more than 50 billion queries per day today while maintaining 100 percent operational accuracy and stability for the last eleven years.

Over the next decade, VeriSign says they will continue investment to build out the .com and .net infrastructures to manage the increasing demands on the infrastructure brought on by the proliferation of Internet-enabled phones and devices and the emergence of DNS-centric technologies and services. VeriSign also continues to scale and fortify the .com and .net infrastructures globally to defend against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.

Google Changes Name 6

Across the country cities are competing to become the first to receive Google’s trial deployment of 1 Gbps fiber optics, which is part of Google’s initiative to bring high speed internet to the entire world. Many cities are so desperate to score the bid that they’ve resorted to elaborate stunts, like Topeka, Kansas, whose mayor Bill Bunten signed a proclamation to rename his city to “Google, Kansas — the capital city of fiber optics” for the month of March.

Now Google has responded humorously, adopting an elaborate April Fools’ Day scheme in which it announced that it was changing its name to Topeka. And it really did change it’s homepage to read “Topeka” for the day in traditional Google color print.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google (or Topeka) posted a blog detailing the change.

Schmidt boasts that Topeka, Kansas has a storied history, including:

In the early 20th century, the former Topeka enjoyed a remarkable run of political prominence, gracing the nation with Margaret Hill McCarter, the first woman to address a national political convention (1920, Republican); Charles Curtis, the only Native American ever to serve as vice president (’29 to ‘33, under Herbert Hoover);Carrie Nation, leader of the old temperance movement (and wielder of American history’s most famous hatchet); and, most important, Alfred E. Neuman, arguably the most influential figure to an entire generation of Americans. We couldn’t be happier to add our own chapter to this storied history.

(All of that is true, with the exception of Alfred E. Neuman, who is the infamous Mad Comic character).

Google warns other cities that the renaming is a “one shot deal”.

China’s Response 0

Google on Monday kept the promise it made in January to stop censoring search results in mainland China by closing and redirecting search queries from mainland China to its servers in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government reacted by declaring that Google had broken the promise it made when it began operating in the country.

“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” said an unnamed government official with China’s State Council Information Office in a report published by the state-run Xinhua news service. “This is totally wrong. We’re uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on China’s strongly worded response to its actions.

But Google’s partners in China appear to be moving to distance themselves from the company.

China Mobile reportedly plans to cancel a deal to feature Google Search on its home page, according to The New York Times, and China Unicom has apparently shelved plans to release an Android-based phone.

Such punitive action against Google could pose problems for the Chinese government however.

Rebecca MacKinnon, visiting fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, observed in a blog post on Tuesday that retaliation is likely to deepen the anxiety of the foreign business community about China’s trade practices and to harm U.S.-China trade relations.

Andrew Lih, USC Annenberg Journalism professor and director of new media, suggests that Google’s repudiation of censorship in China has touched a nerve in the country.

“The fact that there’s been kind of a strong reaction from the PRC authorities is a little bit surprising because it probably means that the situation has reached a point where they cannot control everything anymore,” he said in a phone interview.

The PRC doesn’t have the same sort of jurisdiction in Hong Kong as it does in mainland China, owing to the “One country, two systems” structure put in place after the British handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

The fact that Google has stopped voluntarily censoring search results in China doesn’t mean that access to blocked content will become easier there. Queries sent to Hong Kong about sensitive political subjects are now being blocked by the so-called Great Firewall of China rather than stripped from search results lists by Google.

But Lih believes this may make censorship more apparent to Chinese Internet users and may prompt more interest in the issue among people who might otherwise be content to remain apolitical. “You’re going to have great number of folks who are going to run up right against the Great Firewall,” he said, “and people are going to start asking questions.”

Google pulls out of China 0

The US firm is now offering unfiltered services through this website, but search results are still being censored in mainland China.

Sensitive information that was not accessible before is still being blocked by the Chinese government.

And some other services – such as free music downloads – are still available in China, as they were previously, through the internet firm’s site.

Google announced on Monday that it had stopped censoring search results for news, images and other information.

It had originally agreed to self-censor those results when it set up the site, based in mainland China, in 2006.

Internet users who now try to log on to are redirected to the firm’s Hong Kong-based site, where in theory they can get uncensored information.

That is because Hong Kong, though part of China, is governed by a different – and more liberal – set of laws established when it was still a British colony.

Alert to censorship

But Google’s search results were not just being censored by the company itself – they were also being censored by the Chinese government.

So even though Google is now providing unfiltered information, China’s internet screening programme, known as the Great Firewall, is still at work.

The effect is that many search results on are still unavailable in China.

For example, searching the words “Tiananmen Massacre” in English in China can bring up results, but internet users are still prevented from opening these pages.

The search in Chinese gets no results, just a page with the message, “the connection was reset”.

The same message appears when searching for information in Chinese about the Dalai Lama, the exiled head of Tibetan Buddhism.

Chinese-language information about the spiritual movement Falun Gong – banned in China, but legal in Hong Kong – is also blocked. A message tells users that there is a problem loading the page.

Google’s decision to redirect its Chinese searches to Hong Kong may still have an effect on internet users in the mainland in terms of perception.

Chinese journalist and blogger Michael Anti said users in China might now become more aware that their country censors the internet.

He told the BBC: “For those people who’ve got used to self-censorship, they will notice the existence of censorship. That’s the big impact.”

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