Google feature now links authors to their content

Authors and other content creators will now be able to link their stories to their profile pages on Google and other sites, giving them a better chance of showing up by name in search results.

Through a pilot kicking off yesterday, authors who link their Google profiles to their content can participate in the program. For those who want to join in, Google has put together a Help Center page with steps on how to set up your profile and author pages.

In certain cases, search results can now list your name and photo taken from your Google profile next to your content, allowing people to learn more about you as an author or content creator. Google also promises to add links to new content to your Google profile. But the feature is being rolled out gradually and selectively, according to the company, so your information may not yet immediately or always show up in the search results.

The new feature is based on an authorship markup tag available in HTML5 that Google started supporting a couple of weeks ago.

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Celebrate Social Media Day 2011 in a community near you

Social Media Day 2011

For the second year in a row, Mashable is inviting the world to “toast” to Social Media Day (SMD). Held on June 30, SMD celebrates the revolution in media and how technological advancements have helped shape the way people communicate with one another and share information in real time.

In 2011, thousands of participants in more than 1,370 groups are ready to get together and make this event a success.

SMD is organized in partnership with, the world’s largest network of local groups.

Social Media Day in Canada

Looking for a SMD meetup in your city, town or community in Canada? Check out the list below:

Continue reading on Celebrate Social Media Day 2011 in a community near you – Canada Canada Social Media |

China’s army creates an online war game

China already has a cyber-warfare team, so what’s their next logical step in technology assisted warfare? It’s an online war game.

According to AFPthe goal of China’s online war game is to help their troops improve their combat skills and battle awareness.  In the digital age military training and Call of Duty seem to be interchangeable.

The China Daily says that they call the game “Glorious Mission”. It’s a first-person shooter that sends players on team and solo missions armed with advanced weaponry. 

The weapons that the screen jockeys use in the game are actually part of the of China’s People’s Liberation Army arsenal, China Daily added. Players can act out kill scenarios with accurate tools, now that’s virtual training.

It took almost three years to program and test the final version of the game, it was released on June 20.

“I think it is possible the game will be made open online for Chinese military fans to download and play,” an unnamed PLA press officer was quoted as saying.

The world’s biggest online population belongs to China with more than 477 million users, according to official data.

The release of the game come after the military said earlier this year that it had established an elite Internet security task force to defend against cyber-attacks.

There have been many accusations from all over the world that say China is in the business of conducting cyber-attacks. Their state press cites military officials who say that the elite task force was not set up as a “hacker army”.

Is a digital cold war brewing? Not yet.

But, the industrialized superpowers are slowly building up their digital forces in the same manner the US and Russia built up their traditional armies. So it would seem that all of the hostilities involving cyber-threats will eventually lead to some type of event. Will it lead to all out digital warfare, dystopia or economic collapse?


Google Guns for Facebook with Google+ Social Network

Google Guns for Facebook with Google+ Social Network

Google is trying its hand again at social networking, introducing on Tuesday a service called Google+. Currently available only to a small group of testers, its aim is to enable sharing between small groups of people.


Google+ appears to be the rumored Google Circles social networking service that was the buzz of the South by Southwest Conference back in March.


Google claims its new service is a dramatic rethinking of a social networking paradigm invented by Facebook where, Google says, there’s no good way to define our various types of friendships, and share information accordingly.


Google Guns for Facebook with Google+ Social NetworkIn fact, Google+ resembles Facebook’s Groups feature, where information shared is between groups of related people.


What’s for sure is that Google has been under immense pressure to come up with an answer to Facebook, which has rapidly emerged as the vehicle for many netizens’ identities online. With “social search” and “social web advertizing” emerging quickly, Google has a huge financial interest in becoming that vehicle.


Circles, Hangouts and Sparks


So what is this new social networking service about? Google+ is made of three basic concepts: ‘Circles,’ ‘Hangouts,’ and ‘Sparks.’


Google Guns for Facebook with Google+ Social NetworkCircles is Google+’s method for friends management. Google believes we organize our real life relationships in various kinds of circles (“close friends”, “wackos from college”, etc.), giving each circle a different set of rights to our personal information. That’s exactly what Circles is meant to do online, allowing you to form graphical circles of friends into which you can drag and drop new friends as you see fit. When posting content, Google+ allows you to select which circles can see the content.


Hangouts is basically a glorified video chat room. When logging onto the service, you can select to inform your contacts that you’re “hanging out.” “With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time,” the Google says.


Finally, Sparks is Google’s answer to social sharing. The feature asks for subjects that you’re interested in. After entering some interests, Sparks shows a list of content from across the web. At that point you can pick and choose from among the content and share it easily with any of your circles of friends.


Google Guns for Facebook with Google+ Social NetworkMobile Tricks, Too

In addition to the desktop features, Google is also launching some special features for mobile devices. Android phones will gain a feature called Instant Upload, where pictures are automatically uploaded into Google+ for easy inclusion in a your profile. Google also is introducing a feature called Huddle, which will enable group chatting on mobile devices among you and your Google+ using friends.


What remains to be seen is whether or not the Mountain View, Calif. company will be able to make Google+ work. Its Orkut social networking service is popular overseas, but has never caught on here in the US.


Google’s last effort in social networking — Google Buzz — was an even bigger disaster. Not only was the purpose of the app convoluted and widely misunderstood, but many users were taken aback by Google’s willingness add people to the service without their consent. The fallout resulted in several privacy-related lawsuits.


The fact that Google+ is so low-key at this point may indicate that Google has learned a lot from the Buzz experience, and doesn’t plan to repeat its gaffes any time soon.


Best games of 2011: Half Year Report – Midweek Feature

Mass Effect 3: BioWare like shooting now

The Hot Topic this week asks you to name your favourite game of the year so far. The reason we ask now is because it’ll be exactly halfway through the year this weekend, which also seems like the perfect moment to give 2011 our own report card.

We really have been meaning to list our top 20 games of the year on the chart page for months, but senility and a busy schedule has seen us forget and postpone its debut for months. (The reader’s top 20 was meant to begin once we have a new automated polling system in place, which hopefully won’t be too long now.)

Perhaps subconsciously we were just trying to put off the near impossible task of ordering the chart – and pretending there’s any sensible way to compare Child Of Eden with Total War: Shogun 2.

If you’re wondering why Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D isn’t in the top 20 it’s because we traditionally never count remakes, re-releases, and versions of games previously released on another format in our chart. The only exception is if the game was never previously released in the UK, which is why Tactics Ogre still makes it in. (In other words we try to make sure the same game can only ever be in the chart once.)

That leaves Zelda out by a technicality, but to be honest that’s probably for the best given that the chart is already so full of sequels. The top four are all follow-ups (Child Of Eden is a spiritual sequel to Rez) and more than half the rest of the chart are either direct sequels, spin-offs or games heavily influenced by another.

In taking stock of 2011 so far it’s clear that originality is not one of the obvious trends. Quality is though, with more games than ever receiving an above average score and the level of polish on even relatively mediocre titles being extremely high.

But that’s exactly what publishers have been promising for years: less but better games. They haven’t been as vocal about it, but the lack of brand new franchises (we’ve always hated the phrase ‘IP’) is also exactly as expected, with the financial risk now almost too great for most publishers to bear.

It’s a shame because the likes of L.A. Noire and Bulletstorm have not only been very good, but they’ve also been extremely successful. Much of this is due to them relying on the popularity – not of an existing series – but of the developer responsible. Even though L.A. Noire isn’t even by an internal studio the association with the Rockstar Games name was enough to make it a success, while Bulletstorm enjoyed a close association, and beta promotion, with Epic Games’ Gears Of War by.

In the game world of today this is as dangerous as publishers dare to play things, but it’s good to see developers finally earning some well-deserved fame. We certainly dread to think what would’ve happened if both games had been flops.

Probably it would’ve meant that small downloadable and indie games such as BIT.TRIP FLUX, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Mighty Milky Way, Surveillant, Stacking, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP would’ve been the only original games of note this year. Although even then the first two are part of existing franchises, Surveillant is a clone of The Sentinel, and Superbrothers is a collaboration with an existing group of artists.

If the days of the bedroom programmer had returned, then it seems the curtains have been shut back upon them already.

For most games and franchises now the secret is slow, steady evolution and refinement. Child Of Eden might be a sequel to Rez in all but name but it uses modern technology to its very fullest, and creates an interactive experience of almost overwhelming beauty and immersion.

Meanwhile other sequels such as the new Total War, DiRT and Pokémon strip back several sequels worth of complications and make their respective series far more accessible than they’ve ever been.

These are the sort of trends we expect to see continue throughout the second half of the year, one that given the games industry’s traditionally uneven release schedules will see an even greater number of games competing for their place in the charts.

You can see the current release schedule here, but games we’re particularly looking forwards to include Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Super Mario on 3DS and The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

In terms of commercial success the obvious front runners, beyond FIFA 12, are not only all shooters but also all the third entries in their respective series: Gears Of War 3, Battlefield 3, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Despite all EA’s trash talking though we find it almost impossible to imagine that Modern Warfare 3 won’t be the winner by a landslide, especially as the quality of the game doesn’t seem to show anything like the sharp decline some feared after the trouble at Infinity Ward.

But what game is the most financially successful doesn’t interest us, only which are the most interesting and enjoyable. We’ll be updating our top 20 every week from now on and hopefully it’ll be changed out of all recognition by the end of the year – and 2011 will have become a classic vintage after all.

GameCentral Top 20 – 2011

1  Child Of Eden (360)
2  Total War: Shogun 2 (PC)
3  Portal 2 (360/PS3/PC)
4  DiRT 3 (360/PS3/PC)
5  L.A. Noire (360/PS3)
7  Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (DSi)
8  Pokémon Black/White (DS)
9  Bulletstorm (360/PS3/PC)
10 Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds (360/PS3)
11 Mighty Milky Way (DSi)
12 Crysis 2 (360/PS3/PC)
13 Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)
14 Ōkamiden (DS)
15 LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
16 Surveillant (iOS)
17 Stacking (360/PS3)
18 Deathsmiles Deluxe Edition (360/PS3)
19 Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (3DS)
20 Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (iOS)

And before you start complaining about our terrible taste in games in the comments section make sure your write in and tell us what your favourites of 2011 have been for this weekend’s Hot Topic!

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Google launches Google+ Facebook competitor, publishes new privacy policies

The mystery of the black menu bar at the top of your Google searches this morning is solved. Apparently, it’s part of gearing up for Google’s latest assault on the social networking scene.

Facebook’s latest competitor is alive, and it’s called Google+. (You say that name like you might read out a broken line of C code – Google plus.)

Although Google+ has officially launched – its web site says so – you can’t actually try it yet. More accurately, you may be able to. Or you may not.

In the groovy prose which typifies Google’s self-belief, it is “launching with what we call a field trial period, an invitation-only approach to help smooth out the rough edges as we start the project.”

To you and me, then, it’s still in closed beta.

Given the legal crisis Google plunged into with its Buzz product last time it took on Facebook, it’s reasonable to assume Google will be much more cautious on the privacy front this time round.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested in Google+, you should probably start getting ready now for its public launch by reading (or re-reading) Google’s policies on privacy. There are several.

There are Google’s terms. These are still dated 2007, so they still impose the same conditions, such as: only using Google’s user interface to get at Google stuff; permitting Google to update its software on your computer when it wants; agreeing to accept said updates; and allowing Google to watch what you do to send you targeted advertising.

Then there’s the Google Privacy Policy. But that’s just the start, because Google+ has its own brand-new T&Cs to peruse, too. There’s the Google+ Privacy Policy, the User Content and Conduct policy, and the Google +1 Button Privacy Policy.

And if you want to access Plus from a mobile device, there’s also the Mobile Privacy Policy.

You’d better read the Picasa Privacy Notice, too, in case you ever upload a photo. And that is supposed to happen automatically and instantly every time you snap a picture on your phone.

Actually, to save searching time, you can use the Google Privacy Center to dig into all 37 of of Google’s privacy policies, from +1 (like Like, it really means Recommend) through to YouTube.

The most intriguing items in the User Content section are the do as we say, not as we do clauses, such as “do not distribute content that facilitates online gambling, including online casinos, sports betting or lotteries,” and “do not drive traffic to commercial pornography sites.”

(Trying to find somewhere to bet online? Want to learn how to Start A Porn Business Now? Search on Google for “gambling” and “commercial porn sites” and you will quickly find out how to do just those things, with highlighted paid ads to make sure you don’t miss out.)

Remember the rules. Don’t be evil. Do as we say, not as we do. And definitely don’t compete for advertising clicks.

Anyway, happy privacy policy reading.

The good news is that you’ve still got time to give feedback on any of the Google+ terms and conditions which you find unpalatable. Google has listened before – for example, when its early T&Cs claimed intellectual property rights over everything you uploaded.

Google users rose a stink. Google paid attention, and swiftly relented.

Last year, 90% of you who took part in our poll said you wanted Facebook to become completely opt-in; if you’d like to see Google outdo Facebook by adopting an entirely opt-in model – where all features are off until you explicitly turn each and every one on – then this would be a good time to say so!


Sleazy subject lines spammed out with malware

Would files with names like Love-Spots.bat,, and pique your interest? If so, your behaviour could be putting your computer’s security at risk.

Cybercriminals are spamming out a malicious Trojan horse in large numbers right now, using a variety of sleazy disguises to trick the unwary into opening the attachment.

Sleazy email subject lines

Subject lines include “SUMMER-2011: SEXY CITIES IN THE WORLD”, “LOVE BABE CITIES 2011” and the err.. rather less sexy “USPS Delivery Confirmation”.

Opening the emails will see the seedy theme continue:

Sleazy emails

Here’s another example:

Sleazy emails

But don’t, whatever you do, opening the attached files. In reality it’s not a map of the world’s hottest women, or even a report of a failed parcel delivery. The attached file is a Trojan horse called Troj/Agent-RNY, designed to download further malicious code from the internet onto your Windows computer.

I can’t believe that anyone who receives these sleazy emails believes that they were intended to be sent to them. The recipients must know that they are either spam or have been accidentally sent to the wrong address.

So the question is this. Why oh why do people put their computer’s security at risk by opening the unsolicited attached files? Such dangerous behaviour doesn’t just put your own identity and the data held on your computer in peril, but it also opens up opportunities for malicious hackers to target otherinnocent internet users too.SRC

Is Facebook the right place to report a crime?

Ballarat, a country town in Victoria, Australia, has made the news today thanks to social networking.

Under the headline Police tell users Facebook takes the complaints, regional newspaper The Courier reports:

Flyers have been sent to several police stations in the region, urging residents to contact Facebook's abuse department for minor matters rather than involve police.

But breathless, if unofficial, evangelist website All Facebook has reworked this headline to make it more impressive. They’re shouting out loud thatAustralian Cops Want Crimes Reported Via Facebook.

But this isn’t at all what the cops are suggesting. In fact, it looks as though the cops are urging people to seek resolution from Facebook for all matters which aren’t crimes, so that they can have more time to deal with serious online matters which require police involvement.

Facebook isn’t a law enforcement agency – and even if it were, it wouldn’t have jurisdiction in Victoria, or almost all other places on earth. Crimes should be reported to the police. They’re empowered to investigate and to act against wrongdoers.

(Police in your jurisdiction may have online reporting systems for cybercrimes. It’s well worth checking. Examples include the FBI’s gloriously easy-to-remember IC3 – the Internet Crime Complaint Center – at, and the Queensland Police Service’s Advance Fee Fraud Reporting Form for dobbing in scammers.)

The Ballarat region, and the Ballarat police, are no strangers to Facebook-related criminality: almost exactly a year ago, the cops intervened over an odious Facebook page entitled “100 Biggest Sluts of Ballarat”, which allegedly named girls as young as 14.

Of course, this raises the question, “How do I know whether online anti-social behaviour, or the latest outbreak of fraudulent Likejacking, is a crime or not?”

Where does online behaviour cross from being odious and reprehensible to being criminal? And what about cases which might feel to be on the borderline?

I suspect that many Facebook users might assume that the simplest way to get rid of abusive content would be to ask Facebook simply to to knock it offline. No need for police reports, official statements and potential lengthy entanglement in a criminal court case in which you have to front up to your abuser from the witness box.

But it’s not always that easy to get Facebook on your side. Naked Security’s own Graham Cluley found that out three years ago when he returned from an overseas vacation to discover that he was being subjected to arson and death threats against his family.

The provocation for this behaviour was a fraudulent Facebook page using Graham’s identity to taunt British soldiers.

Graham was informed by Facebook that this was out of their bailiwick – indeed, they advised him to go to the police – and only took down the offending material when he came up with the master-stroke of pointing out that some of the malevolent material was violating Sophos’s copyright. That got Facebook’s attention at once!

So the Catch-22-esque problem faced by the Ballarat police is that to persuade people to stop phoning them with online behavioural complaints which are out of their remit, they’ve had to invite people to phone them to find out which complaints are in their remit.

Nevertheless, common sense can help shield you from a lot of odious on-line trouble. As Craig Pearce, a Sergeant with the Ballarat police, wryly points out, There’s no need to have 1600 friends on Facebook if you don’t like them.”

You should also consider joining the SophosSecurity page on Facebook, where you can keep on top of the latest security threats, and ask for help with Facebook issues amongst our thriving community of more than 95,000 people. No, we’re not suggesting you befriend them all. Keep friendships – both on-line and off-line – for people you actually know, and like, and trust.