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Google Pulls Back on Heavy-Handed Google+ Name Policy

In an effort to stave off criticism over its “real names” policy, Google said late Monday that it will stop disabling Google+ accounts that violate the policy–without warning the user first.


Some Google+ users who recently found their accounts disabled because of the policy criticized the search company for being too heavy handed. Others argue that a level of anonymity should be afforded to users for a variety of reasons, including personal, work-related, or even political.


Google’s Bradley Horowitz shared the company’s new policy on real names in a Google+ post on Monday night. “We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing,” he admitted.


With the next update to Google+, accounts would no longer be disabled for violations of the policy. Instead, Google would send a warning to the user giving him or her time to fix the issue before the company suspends the account. It would also change the signup process to alert users to possible name issues right away.


Horowitz added that the company noted that users edit their profiles to make the name show a nickname, maiden name, or personal description. He asked that users move these names to the “Other Names” field of the profile, where they will still be searchable.


Those with suspended Google+ profiles should know that only Google services that require a Plus profile will be inaccessible, while services that don’t — Gmail, Blogger, Docs, and so on — will still work.


“We’ll keep working to get better, and we appreciate the feedback– and the passion –that Google+ has generated,” Horowitz wrote.


I still don’t think this change fully addresses the issue. Like my colleague Sarah Jacobsson Purewal argued earlier Tuesday, there are many valid reasons for why somebody wouldn’t want to reveal their true identity on Google+, or any other social network for that matter.

If these folks are not doing anything illegal, or using the account maliciously, why should Google care at all? What’s the purpose? I’m not seeing one.

Facebook Blows Past Google as Most-Typed URL Domain

Faceboook.com is the domain to have (count the ‘o’s) if typo squatting is your game. That’s because Faceboook.com is the most popular mistyped entry into a browser URL bar, according to data collected and analyzed by Chris Finke from his browser add-on, URL Fixer. Of course people intended to go to Facebook.com. But when visitors find themselves at Faceboook.com they are told they’ve won some sort of contest for Facebook users. That’s a lot of lucky Faceboook winners, I can only guess.

Facebook Edges Google as Most-Typed URL DomainThose who enter Faceboook.com are directed toward this contest.Finke’s analysis of more 7.5 million URL bar inputs also reveals that Facebook.com is by far the most typed address, three times more popular than the #2 address, google.com. Of course, according toAlexa and most other sites that keep a public list of the most popular domains online, Google is still the number one destination. This is likely because many people are getting to Google via the search bar or typing a search query directly in to the address bar, rather than actually entering Google.com.

Yahoo!’s toolbar also explains why it is only the seventh most popular typed-in URL, despite being a top-five domain. This logic doesn’t hold up for Twitter.com, in a tie for the fourth-most popular typed-in domain with gmail.com, because I would have thought that very few users are actually accessing Twitter via its website these days, given the plethora of Twitter clients out there.

Rounding out the top 10 typed domains are Youtube.com, tied for second, mail.google.com at sixth, Hotmail.com tied with Yahoo, amazon.com in ninth and reddit.com is the tenth-most popular typed domain. Finke also found that the top 10 typed domains make up 20 percent of all typed domain entries.

Google and Facebook dominate the most-popular typed domains worldwide. The only countries included in the data set where one of the two companies don’t control the most popular domain are Russia, Finland, Korea and China.

Another interesting note from the data is the slow death of the “www” prefix. Finke found slightly more than half of all URL entries did not include it.

Facebook Edges Google as Most-Typed URL DomainAs for other mistyped entries, googe.com and goole.com occur most commonly behind the aforementioned phishing expedition that is faceboook.com. Fortunately, we seem to be pretty adept at our URL typing, as we only end up at that scam site once for every 7,390 times the correct Facebook address is typed in the URL bar.

Top WEB Searches of 2009: The Most Popular Questions

Top Web Searches of 2009

As the end of 2009 creeps up upon us, the search engines are starting to release some interesting data. Google, AOL, and Yahoo all recently revealed Michael Jackson to be the top search term of 2009. Other hot search commodities for the year included “Facebook,” “Twitter,” and — thank you, fellow gentlemen — “Megan Fox.”

Now, thanks to a newly released list by Ask.com, we’re getting even more entertaining insights. Ask has just published its top search questions of 2009, taking into account all the actual queries typed into that little white box.

So what’s the world been wanting to know? Here’s an intriguing (and at times disheartening) glimpse into our collective curiosities.

How do I get pregnant?

I think we can all agree: If you have to search the Internet for the answer, you probably shouldn’t be trying in the first place.

How can I get a six-pack fast?

Step 1: Put down the sticky bun and get your lazy arse off the computer.

What is a 3G network?

I’ll take questions asked by AT&T for $500, Alex.

What is love?

Think they were wanting a literal answer, or just searching for a clip from Night at the Roxbury?

How do I delete my cookies?

And what kind of Web sites have you been visiting lately, pal? Eh? Eh?

How do I make a Web site?

Just head over to Geocit…oh, wait. Never mind.

Who am I?

For the sake of the last guy, let’s hope you’re a Web designer.

Is Adam Lambert straight?

Um, do you really have to ask?

Does my crush love me?

That all depends. Is he Adam Lambert, and are you a girl?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Sounds like one of those cryptic Google interview questions. Quick, someone call Sergey.

When will the world end?

Right…NOW. No? Oh well. Was worth a shot.

What time is it?

Ninety-seven percent of those searches were made by that guy from the Spin Doctors.

Why is the sky blue?

Close runner-up: “Why is the screen of death black?

What is Miley Cyrus’ phone number?

Last I checked, it was 1-800-STOP-STALKING.

When should I give my child a cell phone?

Not until he stops trying to track down Miley’s number…the perv.

Where the hell is Jeeves?

Okay, this last one wasn’t actually on the list.


Still Smart, Still Free: KeePass Keeps Your Passwords Safe

KeePass solves an increasingly important dilemma: How to keep track of all of your passwords, whether they be for email services, Web sites, bank accounts, or what have you. Increasingly, we are inundated with passwords, with no easy way to keep track of them. The free KeePass does the job neatly.

Still Smart, Still Free: KeePass Manages Your PasswordsKeePass makes it simple to keep track of your passwords.When you first run KeePass, you create a new database where you store your passwords, and enter a master password. Only someone with that master password can get into the program to see the passwords. One nice touch is that as you type the master password, it shows you the relative strength (and therefore safety) of the password. You can also set other options as well, such as using GZip compression to keep down the size of the database.

Keeping track of your passwords is also easy. When you create a new KeePass entry, type in a title, your user name if any (such as for a Web-based mail account), the passwords, a URL, and any notes. If you’d like, you can have the program generate a random password for you, and you have plenty of different options for choosing the password strength, and how to generate it. Techies will revel in the features; everyone else will just ask the program to generate a secure, random password.

You can also store your passwords in different categories. By default, KeePass provides categories for General, Windows, Network, Internet, eMail, and Homebanking. But you can easily add your own, or delete existing ones.

KeePass is useful for those who want a simple password-protection program, but also those who want to automate the input of passwords. Automating password input is not for the faint of heart and is quite difficult to do. Most people won’t find it worth their while. But if you’re technically inclined and like to fiddle and troubleshoot, and don’t mind not getting any help, you may want to give it a try.

Overall, KeePass is a very useful program for anyone who has plenty of passwords to track, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s free, either.

LulzSec hacking suspect ‘Topiary’ arrested in the Shetland Islands

Topiary Tartan LulzSec

A 19-year old man has been arrested by British police in Shetland, UK, under suspicion of launching hacking attacks against a number of websites.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) arrested the man as part of an international investigation into the activities of the Anonymous and LulzSec hacktivist groups.

The man, who was arrested at a residential address in Shetland, is said to have used the online nickname “Topiary” and acted as a spokesperson for the groups via forums such as Twitter.

The suspected hacker is currently being transported to a central London police station, and a search is taking place at his home.

Shetland Islands“Topiary” has been identified in the past as having a leading role in hactivist attacks launched by the LulzSec and Anonymous groups.

In recent months the LulzSec gang have hacked and launched denial-of-service attacks against a number of high profile websites including The Sun, the CIASOCASonyPBS and the US Senate.

In a related police operation, officers are searching a residential address in Lincolnshire where a 17-year-old male is being interviewed under caution in connection with the inquiry. He has not been arrested.

The truth is that LulzSec and other hacktivist groups have recently been playing an extremely dangerous game – taunting the likes of the FBI and British police with a series of hacks and attacks and believing themselves to be invincible.

If the arrested man is indeed a key member of the LulzSec gang, it could be the British police who have the last laugh.

Interestingly, Topiary deleted all the messages he had previously posted on Twitter recently, replacing them with a simple message:

"You cannot arrest an idea"

Is it possible he saw the writing on the wall?

Just last week, the UK’s PCeU arrested a 16-year-old youth – believed to be the LulzSec/Anonymous hacker known as “T-Flow” – in South London, on suspicion of breaching the Computer Misuse Act. Other arrests took place at the same time in the United States and the Netherlands.