Not even a week after Marissa Mayer was charged with handling Google’s location and local services, Google is rolling out its first change. Google will soon add a “Change location” link to the left panel on its search results pages, making it easier for searchers to find local businesses and provide an accurate location setting.
Google is huge, and it continues to shatter records. This month, Google broke an Internet traffic record, and the search giant now represents about 6.4 percent of all global Internet traffic, according to Arbor Networks Security.
ComScore report that for the three month period ending April 2010, that more smartphone users accessed maps via applications, than maps via mobile browser in a month.
Experian Hitwise today announced that Google accounted for 72.17 percent of all U.S. searches conducted in the four weeks ending May 29, 2010. Yahoo! Search, Bing and Ask received 14.43 percent, 9.23 percent and 2.14 percent, respectively.
Google always has a lot going on but one of the things that set the net abuzz was the launch of the new Google TV service. Instead of having a TV screen and separate computer screen users will now finally be able to combine the two with the power of Google’s ultra fast search-indexing.
The Denver, CO-based design company Aten Design Group held a funeral for Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), the much-hated browser last night. It wasn’t without controversy as there were protestors, and even a bouquet of flowers sent by Microsoft. But overall, it looks like it was a classy ceremony.
Despite the funeral, IE6 is likely to live on for a few years as many sites are likely to still support it for the foreseeable future (though YouTube turns off support next week). And don’t forget all those pour souls in corporate jobs who are forced to use the browser because their IT departments won’t allow them to upgrade.
Microsoft itself is trying to get users to upgrade from IE6 (to their updated IE8), and the flowers that they sent to the funeral speak to that. The card sent with the flowers read: “Thanks for the good times, IE6. See you all @ MIX, where we’ll show a little piece of IE heaven. The Internet Explorer Team @ Microsoft“
WooRank is a brand new service designed to let website publishers and marketers evaluate the SEO-friendliness and other aspects of their Web sites on the fly, free of charge. If this reminds you of what HubSpot built with its Website Grader tool, it’s because the concept is extremely similar.
WooRank evaluates Web sites based on 50 criteria in an automated fashion, free of charge, and provides helpful SEO and other tips. A premium version will be offered in about 3 months: for a yet-to-be-determined fee, publishers and marketers will then be able to screen Web sites based on up to 120 pre-defined critera, get served more personalized tips as well as references to online tools that they can use to increase the findability and performance of their Web sites.
Update: site seems to be down or at least terribly slow due to our coverage, so hang in there.
Update 2: seems to be back and more stable now
I gave the tool a spin and generated a report for techcrunch.com – turns out we’re worthy of a WooRank of 82.4. While I have absolutely no idea what that means exactly, according to these statistics we’re well above the average. In the overall ranking, we even made the top 50, ahead of sites like the Apple Store, MySpace, ESPN.com and NYTimes.com (take that, New York Times, we haz bigger WooRankz!).
Apparently, we need to work on our headings, immage attribution tags, meta description and keywords, XML sitemap(s) and other aspects like Web standards compliance. We score pretty well on content (number of indexed pages), off-site SEO (particularly on the social media level) and website usability and load time.
Frankly, that’s a lot of valuable information available free of charge, so I’ll be curious to know in a couple of months how WooRank will try to entice people to pay for more detailed information and improvement tips.
WooRank was built by fellow Belgians, namely digital marketer Jean Derély of BetaGroup and the founders of interactive agency 1MD.be. Since soft-launching the service a couple of days ago, 27,000 reports have already been generated by some 7,500 visitors.
Fonts are a big focus of the Web2.0 era—they are now bigger, cleaner and smoother, especially when it comes to logos.
So whether you’re a professional graphic designer, or an amateur web publisher this list of font tools might come in handy (eventually).
myFontbook is an online font viewer and manager based on the font available on your computer. It allows you to organize your font collection and gives you all the tools you need to do so. Once you open the demo, myFontbook will render all the fonts in your computer, and display them together in an easy to view mode. While all the files are actually open, it makes it easier to browse through them and see the fonts in several sizes. You can also make lists of fonts, tag & favorite the fonts that you like best. The font viewer renders your entire font library super fast. Just compare the rendering time to other font management tools. And there’s nothing to install—it works from your browser. If you want to save all your activities for later use, you’ll need to register. But don’t worry, it’s free.
With BetterFonts, an online font database, you can quickly preview and download thousands of fonts. Navigate the massive collection by alphabetic order or browse the fonts by their categories. You can change the preview text of your desirable font and instantly download it for free. Although the site provides an impressive list of fonts, for the quality ones you’ll need to pay. But they have a deal of a 500-font package for $2.77. Please note that there’s no preview of the font list in advance—which might be a risky deal if you want something in particular (but then again, it’s cheap).
FFonts has a huge font library and it allows you to navigate easily, and download any font for free. All the fonts on the site are listed on the left side menu for easy access, and clicking on a font gives you information plus a satisfying preview of the font. Overall, the site hosts more than 10,000 fonts!
If you don’t find anything you like, and are still looking for that special font to make an appearance, you are more than welcome to create it yourself with FontStruct. Sign into the service and with FontStruct’s font-building tool & editor, you’ll be able to create fonts constructed out of geometrical shapes, which are arranged in a grid pattern, like tiles or bricks. Once you’re done building, FontStruct generates high-quality TrueType fonts, ready to use in any Mac or Windows application.
You can share your creations with the world or save it for yourself, but FontStruct actually encourages you to share your fonts with others, this is why they’ve created a gallery where people can share and discuss fonts, and download them for free. A quick look at the community taught me there is a lot of going on there—definitely worth the visit if fonts interest to you.
Fawnt is also one of the largest free fonts archives on the web today. With a pleasant design and an easy to use navigator, you are one step away from finding the perfect font. Browse the fonts by category or alphabetically, or use the search function. All the fonts have large and customizable previews, and character maps. Be aware though that while all of the fonts in Fawnt are free, they might have some restrictions. Some may be free for personal use, others for commercial. When you visit a font link make sure to browse the page for any fine print or usage terms.
With 62,000 fonts, Myfonts has the world’s largest font database. Not only can you search for fonts, explore everything in their gallery, and download the fonts to your computer, you can also find fonts based on a picture with their service WhatTheFont. Simply upload a file, or specify a URL, and myFonts will find the font used in the picture you uploaded (or at least, give you some close alternatives to this font). If you’re a designer, I’m sure you can see how important a service like this can be to the industry.
A super cool idea is to actually create a font with your own handwriting, so you’ll be able to insert it wherever you need to place your signature on the web. Luckily, Fontcapture took the idea and made it possible, which means you can create your handwriting font right now if you want to, all you need is a printer and a scanner.
How it works: First, you need to download the font template, print it, fill it in with your own handwriting, scan it and upload it to the site. Then you’ll be able to preview and download the new font to your font library, located on your computer.
Abstract Fonts is not very different than the other font directories suggested here but it has a very convenient interface. Abstract Fonts lets you type in text to view font examples, opens a unique menu for each font which summarizes the information you need to know about that font, see the character map, and display users’ comments. Abstract also gives you the ability to see similar fonts, which I think is an absolutely brilliant addition.
Last but not least, here’s something to look for in the future:
Typekit, a new font editor will offer designers more control over fonts on the web.
Today, almost all Web fonts are protected by copyright, and very few of them allow for linking via CSS or redistribution on the web. Typekit has been working with foundries to develop a consistent web-only font linking license.
There’s still not enough information about this new service but based on the above, Typekit might definitely change web design. Unfortunately, the site is in closed beta (invitation only) so designers make sure you sign up for an invite. Meanwhile, check out the full list of fonts already available at Typekit.
Mozilla Labs, Mozilla’s innovation group, has developed a new open-source, experimental email and communication platform called Raindrop. Mozilla says that Raindrop was built to be focused on highlighting and breaking out personal conversations, making it easier for you to see all of your conversations in one client. It is designed to “bubble up” the important conversations from your messages
According to the site, Raindrop “is an effort that starts by trying to understand today’s web of conversations, and aims to design an interface that helps people get a handle on their digital world.” Still in prototype form, the platform is very young but it aims categorize messages and then separate the personal messages from bulk messages, so you know what to respond to vs. just noting a communication. So Raindrop will import all of your email, but break out your personalized email from your mailing list emails and will portray the personal emails higher on the page. Raindrop will also separate direct messages and @replies from your stream, acting like a Twitter client And you’ll be able to Tweet from the platform and pull in RSS feeds.
I briefly spoke with one of Raindrop’s lead engineer’s and the CEO of Mozilla Messaging, David Ascher, who told me that in the future iterations the platform should include all types of messaging, including IM, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube and basically, any communication with an open API. And according to the site, content with in communications, such as links from YouTube or Flickr should be shown near or as part of the message, rather than in a separate tab. Ascher said that Raindrop doesn’t really aim to replace your Gmail account but add to it with an intelligent way to understand your communications. The application works on Firefox, Safari and Chrome.
It takes page from social media messaging aggregation services like FriendFeed but with a strong focus in filtering. It will be interesting to see what two-way interactions the platform will feature and what content it eventually will bring in. Because its a modern communication system, it could compete with open communications platform Google Wave.
If you’re confused, take a look at the video. It explains the purpose of Raindrop pretty well.
As long as advertisers pay for clicks, there will be click fraud. And the more people combat it, the more sophisticated the attacks become to get around the defenses that advertisers, search engines, and others put in place. But a recent click fraud ring discovered by click-fraud monitoring service Anchor Intelligence suggests that the practice is evolving to a scale never seen before.
Anchor Intelligence identified a click fraud ring being run out of China which involved 200,000 different IP addresses and racked up more than $3 million worth of fraudulent clicks across 2,000 advertisers in a two-week period. That money was never paid out and the ring has now dissipated (or moved onto another scam), but who knows how long the ring was in operation before Anchor noticed. The operation was called DormRing1 because it was centered in dorms at technical universities in China such as the Shanghai Technology Institute.
“We have seen 200 fraud rings,” says Anchor VP Richard Sim, “and this one by far trumps them all. I think it is indicative of how sophisticated the click fraud is getting. We are seeing the sheer scale and size of these rings growing.”
Click fraud occurs when someone sets up a website, signs up with an ad network, and then clicks on the ads to generate ad revenues with false clicks. DormRing1 operated the same way, except it easily involved more than 1,000 people who set up more than 10,000 Websites to spread out the fraud. The image above depicts a portion of the ring, with each red dot representing a source of fraudulent clicks with similar digital signatures. (Anchor monitors such activity on behalf of advertising clients).
Spreading the click fraud out across thousands of sites makes it harder to detect, but it also requires a lot more people to perpetrate it. DormRing1 recruited student click fraud workers on Chinese social networks where and forums participants would post images of checks they were getting for their activities. One drummed up interest by talking about his plans to buy a car with the proceeds. Just like with any criminal organization, people at the lower rungs had to do a lot of grunt work to move up the ladder of trust and money. A briefing paper provided by Anchor describes the operation:
These social networks involve a complex set of user access levels. The baseline entrance level is only available by invitation; access to sensitive information is restricted solely to those users who have attained the highest levels. Users with the uppermost levels of access are able to purchase root kits to engage in fraudulent activity and contract out phases of their fraud operations to a large network of willing participants. Users reach higher levels of access in one of two ways: either through a vouching system or by proving themselves as valuable contributors to the network through the provision of some ground level of services (e.g. contracting to create hundreds of accounts on various websites).
DormRing1 was able to use these exclusive social networks to create a division of labor in which all participants at the highest levels shared in a percentage of profits from an operation. The students involved in the ring each set up dozens of bare-bones websites, and successfully registered them with multiple ad networks. The students then hired the services of several botnet controllers to systematically click on ad links that were displayed on these sites. For each ad click, the publisher made a percentage of what the advertiser paid for that click. Through this network, the perpetrators were able to contract money mules (i.e. people with US addresses to which checks can be sent), traffic generators / botnet herders, website template developers, and a host of other service providers. After monetizing these fake websites via fraudulent ad clicks, the perpetrators then wired money to their various contractors.
Remember, we only know these details because DormRing1 was stopped. But nobody was arrested. The advertisers just stopped making payments to the fraudulent Websites. You can be pretty sure that DormRing2 is already up and running.