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Royal giggles and Google Doodle - Queen Elizabeth II visits Google's UK headquarters, view laughing baby video

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II reacts while talking with Google employees, during a visit to the company's United Kingdom headquarters in London

(quote)

LONDON (AP) - She sent her first e-mail in 1976. She has her own Web site. And on Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II uploaded video to YouTube during a visit to Google's British headquarters. The company celebrated the queen's visit by creating a special version of its google.co.uk home page, which featured a silhouette of her head as the second "G" and a regal crown atop the "E" in their logo.

The queen, 82, herself has a presence on YouTube - she launched the Royal Channel in December. There are 54 videos on the channel, which range from the Queen's 1957 Christmas message to a day in the life of Prince Charles. On Thursday, she uploaded archive footage to the channel of a 1969 reception at Buckingham Palace for British Olympians. The monarch has reigned since 1952. According to the Buckingham Palace Web site, the queen sent her first e-mail from a computer on an army base, well before the widespread use of the Internet.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Google logo to mark her visit to the offices of Google London  read more »

New contender in the browser wars: Google to launch open source web browser Chrome on Tues., takes on Microsoft

Google Inc. plans to release a new open source browser - Chrome

(quote)

Google is launching an open source web browser to compete with Internet Explorer and Firefox. The browser is designed to be lightweight and fast, and to cope with the next generation of web applications that rely on graphics and multimedia.

Called Chrome, it will launch as a beta for Windows machines in 100 countries, with Mac and Linux versions to come. "We realised... we needed to completely rethink the browser," said Google's Sundar Pichai in a blog post. The new browser will help Google take advantage of developments it is pushing online in rich web applications that are challenging traditional desktop programs. Chrome will be an open-source product, meaning anyone can modify the software code and add features.

Google has a suite of web apps, such as Documents, Picasa and Maps which offer functionality that is beginning to replace offline software. "What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build," Mr Pichai, VP Product Management, wrote.

Google's new web browser is called Chrome  read more »

Italian shoppers use texting service to check and compare best food prices while at the market

Italy compares apples and oranges via text messaging

(quote)

The rising cost of food is a growing concern for many people across the world. There have been protests, and even riots, in countries including Mexico, India and Egypt, clear evidence of the struggle that many people are now facing. However, if Italians feel that their local food retailer is charging unreasonable prices, they can now call on a new service to help them haggle or walk away. Thanks to a short message service (SMS) text system set up jointly by the Italian agriculture ministry and consumer associations, shoppers can check the average price of different foods in northern, central and southern Italy.

Italy’s Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry, along with consumer organisations, have come up with the SMS Consumatori service www.smsconsumatori.it, which tracks prices for over 80 types of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products and so on. To use the service, shoppers send a text message to 47947 for free, typing the name of the product they want a price for. They get a reply straightaway listing both a wholesale price and average retail prices in the north, centre and south. If a product comes in varieties, the service sends separate messages for each of the most popular ones.

Italians don't mind paying more for home-grown produce  read more »

Can Cuil woo you from Google? New search engine launched on Monday to a rocky start, shows promise, needs work

latest rival to the search engine giant Google, Cuil, launched on Monday

(quote)

Boasting big plans, startup search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool") launched on Monday. The Cuil in the name is pronounced "Cool," and derives from an old Irish word for knowledge. Tom Costello, a co-founder and the CEO of the company, is from Dorgheda, Ireland. The company sold itself on having indexed more pages than Google, ranking based on context rather than on popularity, and displaying results organized by concept within a beautiful user interface. There was just one problem: when the search engine launched, it didn't work very well. Cuil's site was down intermittently throughout the day on Monday, and even when the site was up, it sometimes returned no results for common queries, or failed to produce the most relevant or up-to-date results. For example, as of Wednesday morning, searching Cuil for its own name returns nothing on the first results page that is related to the engine itself, in spite of the buckets of press it got this week.  read more »

253 million regular Internet users and counting: China now has the world's largest net-using population, surpassing the US

China has surpassed the United States in having the largest Internet population at 253 million

(quote)

China now has the world's largest net-using population, say official figures. The news comes from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which stated that 253 million Chinese went online by the end of June of this year. The total represents a 56.2% year-on-year growth - up by 91 million from June of last year, and up 43 million from December. The figure is higher than the 223 million that the US mustered in June, according to Nielsen Online.

Net penetration in the US stands at 71% compared to 19% in China suggesting it will eventually vastly outstrip the US. The development is significant because the US has had the largest net-using population since records of how many people were online started to be kept.

"This is the first time the number has drastically surpassed the United States, becoming the world's number one," said a statement from the CNNIC, the nation's official net monitoring body.

39.2% of Chinese online go to Internet cafes

The 2008 figure is up 56% in a year, said CNNIC. Analysts expect the total to grow by about 18% per annum and hit 490 million by 2012.

About 95% of those going online connect via high-speed links. Take up of broadband has been boosted by deals offered by China's fixed line phone firms as they fight to win customers away from mobile operators. China's mobile phone-using population stands at about 500 million people.

Despite having a greater number of people online, China's net economy still has a long way to go to match or exceed that of the US or even that of South Korea.

Breaking it down further, 214 million of those on the Internet in China accessed via a broadband Internet connection.

The percentage of the population in China on the Internet now stands at 19%, still way below that of the United States, at 71%.

Comparing this to previous numbers, just in 2006 alone, there were 137 million Internet users in China. This shows that the number of people in the Internet in the country continues to grow at a rapid pace.

China now has the world's largest net-using population, say official figures

People under the age of 30 in China make up 69% of the total Internet users.

Figures from Analysys International said China's net firms reported total revenues of $5.9bn in 2007. By contrast net advertising revenue alone for US firms in 2007 stood at $21.2bn.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of dBTechno, AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, and DanWei.org

Original Source: dBTechno and BBC News

Google launches Wikipedia challenger Knol after 7-month test - a wiki with bylines and moderation

Google makes its Wikipedia competitor Knol open for general use

(quote)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc. opened its website Knol to the public on Wednesday, allowing people to write about their areas of expertise under their bylines in a twist on encyclopedia Wikipedia, which allows anonymity. "We are deeply convinced that authorship -- knowing who wrote what -- helps readers trust the content," said Cedric DuPont, product manager for Knol. The name of the service is a play on an individual unit of knowledge, DuPont said, and entries on the public website, knol.google.com, are called "knols." Google conducted a limited test of the site beginning in December.

Knol has publishing tools similar to single blog pages. But unlike blogs, Knol encourages writers to reduce what they know about a topic to a single page that is not chronologically updated. "What we want to get away from is 'this last voice wins' model which is very difficult if you are a busy professional," DuPont said.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Google wants to rank entries by popularity to encourage competition. For example, the first knol on "Type 1 Diabetes" is by Anne Peters, director of the University of Southern California's Clinical Diabetes Programs. As other writers publish on diabetes, Google plans to rank related pages according to user ratings, reviews and how often people refer to specific pages, DuPont said. Knol focuses on individual authors or groups of authors in contrast to Wikipedia's subject entries, which are updated by users and edited behind the scenes.  read more »

US court order: Google must reveal all users’ information - every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube, worldwide

Judge orders Google to give YouTube user data to Viacom

(quote)

Google expressed disappointment and privacy groups voiced outrage Thursday after a judge ordered Google to give entertainment giant Viacom details of video-watching habits of visitors to its popular video-sharing website YouTube. On Tuesday US District Court Judge Louis Stanton backed Viacom's request for data on which YouTube users watch which videos on the website. Viacom is seeking the data as potential evidence for a billion-dollar copyright suit against Google, which Viacom charges acts as a willing accomplice to Internet users that put clips of Viacom's copyrighted television programs on YouTube.

The US court has ordered Google to hand over the "logging database" which is updated each time a video is watched on YouTube. The database contains the unique login ID of the user who watched it, the time when the user watched it, the IP address (unique online identifier) of the computer used to watch the video and the identifier for the video. The database is stored on live servers at Google and equates to 12 terabytes of storage. The judge also ruled that Google should divulge the details of every video that has ever been removed from YouTube, for whatever reason. If you've ever watched a video on YouTube then the details of that viewing will be stored somewhere in that database. This copyright case might be taking place in the US but it would appear the logging database makes no distinction between users in different countries.  read more »

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