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Debate is still raging about how many people are really using Google+ and whether it can ever overtake Facebook. But at least one prominent user was making active use of the site Wednesday: President Barack Obama.

Obama’s profile, which just gained a “verified account” tick mark, appears to have been launched first thing Wednesday morning. Naturally, it isn’t being run by the President himself, but by his reelection campaign — a fact that the profile’s posts makes no attempt to hide.

“Welcome to the Obama 2012 Google+ page,” reads the first Presidential post. “We’re still kicking the tires and figuring this out, so let us know what you’d like to see here and your ideas for how we can use this space to help you stay connected to the campaign.”

One one hand, Obama’s arrival is an important stamp of approval for the nascent social network. Obama has been active on Twitter and Facebook since he was a U.S. Senator running for the highest office in the land; his social media savvy is often credited with boosting his first presidential campaign, helping to recruit an army of young campaign workers and small donors. The President held a Town Hall with Twitter in June, and another at Facebook in April.

On the other hand, the relative lack of fanfare surrounding Obama’s arrival may indicate just how far Google+ has to go. His first post was arguably the most historic thing to happen on Google+ this week; more than 12 hours later, it boasts just 110 shares. (For comparison, one of our more popular Facebook stories this week has been shared more than 3,000 times in a day.)

Since that first announcement, Obama’s campaign has posted twice more Wednesday — once to tout the President’s tax credits for unemployed veterans, and once to push a campaign contest where winners get to have dinner with Obama. It has posted nine scrapbook photos, and no videos.

We’re looking forward to the President’s first Google+ hangout, which may supplant the meeting of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Llama as the most historic hangout in Google+’s young life.

 

Provided by Chris Taylor

gmail-logo-good

The fix is in: Google returns the Gmail iOS app to the Apple App Store bug-free.

 

After a very public screw-up, Google has re-released the Gmail app for iOS devices into Apple’s App Store. The app is currently available for download. (Though, for some reason, it’s not showing up in the iOS App Store app, as of 3:30pm ET.) Users who managed to snag the earlier version of the app, which contained a number of bugs that rendered it inoperable, will have to either log out, or completely uninstall the app, before installing the updated version.

A native Gmail app for iOS has been a long time coming. For the past few years, users of Android-based smartphones have boasted their ability to access added functionality of Gmail which was lost when using the email service on iOS, through its app client. With this release that perk is no longer exclusive to Android users.

At the top of the new-features heap is the addition of Push Notifications, as well as greater speed, efficiency and touchscreen functionality. Better search, email address autocomplete and the ability to upload and send photos are also part of Gmail for iOS.

Google says that, since releasing the original version, it has begun to work on adding a number of additional features, as well. These include the ability to use multiple accounts. Notifications and “mobile specific” touchscreen gestures will also be getting an upgrade. “Many more” new features are on their way, says Google.

The Gmail app is free, and will work on any device that runs iOS 4 or above.

Google Chrome wallpapers2

Between IE, Firefox, and Opera the choice might not be easy to make, but with our helpful guide, we will show you why we think Google Chrome stands out among the rest and deserves your attention.

 

In 2010, Internet Explorer for the first time dipped below 50% market share, an impressive slide from ten years ago, when nearly 90% of users decided on it. Part of the problem has been IE itself, as Microsoft’s development of the browser tends to be slow, but much of the blame for IE’s slide can be levied at the fact that there is actual competition in the form of Chrome, Firefox and Opera web browsers, all of which are now mature alternatives.

For the most part, users who abandon Internet Explorer end up joining the Firefox crowd, but not me. I’m a dedicated Chrome user, and have been since just a few months after its release. Despite the high-profile brand (Google) behind Chrome, only 13% of users choose it as their browser. I believe that’s awfully low, so allow me to help you become acquainted with the wonderful world of Chrome.

Google-Chrome-KingWhy Chrome?

Chrome’s development focused on two important themes. One was speed, and the other was excellent web page rendering. Many steps were taken to achieve this, among which was the development of the V8 JavaScript engine, which used new optimization techniques to achieve better performance.

Thankfully these efforts were not in vain. Though it’s been available nearly three years now, Chrome remains the unchallenged performance leader. Peacekeeper browser benchmark scores for Chrome are much higher than they are for other browsers – in fact, when compared to IE9, the latest version can almost double Internet Explorer’s score.

Compatibility is another strong point. In the Acid3 web standards test, Chrome can achieve a score of 97/100, which until recently was a leading result. However, changes to the Acid3 test now allow Firefox and Internet Explorer to achieve a 100/100 score.

Even so, I find that Chrome’s web rendering is superior to either, particularly Firefox, which has presented trouble with text on some high-resolution monitors. Chrome has always rendered images and text smoothly, and because of its speed, zooming in and out of pages is quick as lightening.

Installing Chrome

To demonstrate Chrome’s focus on speed, the installation process has been made simple and fast. When you visit the Google main page on a computer without the browser installed, you’ll see a prompt on the page asking if you’d like to install it. You may have banished this, already – so you can also access the installer by going directly to the Google Chrome website.

When you click the install or download button, you will be prompted with the terms of service, which you’ll need to accept. Then, the installer will download and installation will begin. On an average desktop or laptop the process will take only a couple minutes from start to finish.

Chrome, unlike many other browsers, doesn’t require that users re-download the browser when new updates are made available. Once you have it installed, you will never need to re-install it unless you’ve purchased a new computer or reformatted your hard drive. Updates are pushed out automatically, so you don’t even have to click a button to obtain the newest version.

Understanding the Chrome Interface

When Chrome was released, the interface was bold and new. Tabs are used to manage multiple browsing sessions, a concept that was still gaining steam when the browser was released, and the drop-down menus and large interface icons that used to dominate browsers are gone.

Now, this has actually become the norm. Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome have all homogenized at least some of their interface elements, so users will find some familiarity between them. They all use tabs that are managed at the top of the window, they all have just a few, abstracted icons, and they all tuck bookmarks under the URL bar.

However, all the browsers have very different menus for managing critical browser options. In Chrome, you will find the browser options by clicking on the wrench icon in the upper right, then navigating to Options. An options page will open like a web page in a new tab. Every single function of the browser is managed from this one area except for Bookmarks, Downloads and History.

Otherwise, there’s not much to understand about the basics of the interface, because there’s simply not a lot of interface there – but let’s take a closer look at some individual features.

Bookmarking

In Chrome, adding a bookmark is best accomplished by clicking the star icon on the right hand side of the URL bar. Once you click it, a small pop-up menu will ask you which folder you’d like to store the Bookmark in. This can be changed later, of course.

Sites that are bookmarked will from then display a yellow star icon (instead of the standard, uncolored icon) in the URL bar when you visit them.

Users have the choice to display or not display bookmarks in Chrome interface. This can be turned on or off by opening the wrench menu, going to bookmarks, and then de/selecting Show Bookmarks Bar. The bookmarks bar can contain both folders full of bookmarks or individual bookmarks, and can be edited directly by right-clicking.

There’s also a Bookmark Manager found in the options, but I doubt you’ll have much need for it. Since the Bookmarks Bar can be edited, the Manager is only needed by users who choose not to show the bar, or who prefer that interface for management of very large bookmark folders.

Downloads

In the toolbar menu you’ll find Downloads. Clicking on it opens the download manager, which appears like a web page in its own tab. There’s not a lot to comment on here. All of your recent downloads will be shown in chronological order. There is no option to filter them by name or size.

The only way to find a specific download is to either search for it, which is effective as long as you know the file name, or bypass Chrome by clicking on Open Downloads Folder. This will simply open your Windows download folder.

Extensions

Add-on software to Chrome is called an extension, and can be managed by going to the wrench menu, clicking on Options, and then going to Extensions. Users have the choice to disable or enable extensions through this menu, or uninstall them completely.

Google-Chrome-Extensions

Official extensions can be found at the Chrome Web Store. Recent updates have made this site very similar to the Android marketplace. Most of the extensions available are free, but developers can charge if they choose, and there is also support for in-app payments.

In addition to extensions, Chrome also supports “apps.” These are vaguely defined as web services that can be accessed through the Apps section of the Chrome homepage. At the moment, most of the apps are just than links to websites. Installing the Gmail by Google app, for example, does nothing more than install a new icon that takes you to the standard Gmail interface. However, there are some true apps available, including games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.

Security and Privacy

When you open a new tab in Chrome via a right-click, you have the option to open the tab in “incognito mode.” This is a built-in private browsing feature. When a tab goes incognito, it doesn’t record the browsing or download history of that tab, and all cookies related to that tab are deleted when the tab is closed.

Sometimes users misunderstand incognito mode, thinking it provides some protection against keyloggers, spyware, or other such threats. It does not. The main purpose is to provide on-the-fly private browsing. Let’s say, for example, you want to research some Christmas gifts. Incognito mode lets you do this on the family computer without tipping anyone off.

Another important security feature, this time related to extensions and apps, is permissions. In order for the extensions that you install to function, they sometimes need “permission” to perform certain functions, such as access location data or information from a certain site.

You can find the permissions needed by going to the Details section of an extension on the Chrome Web Store. Unfortunately, permissions are not shown in the Extensions section of the Options menu.

Syncing

Google likes the cloud, most likely because they offer a lot of cloud services. Chrome does, as well, in the form of its sync feature. You can find this feature in the Personal Stuff section of the Options menu.

What this does is save your Chrome settings using your Google account. Once saved, these settings can then be loaded to Chrome on any other computer by going to the Personal Stuff section once again and entering your Google account information.

google-chrome-bookmakrs-sync

You can choose what to sync, including everything from passwords to extensions to bookmarks. If you make a change to your settings on any of the now synced Chrome browsers, it will be migrated to all of them. But you don’t have sync everything if you don’t want to, and you can pick-and-choose. You can, for example, choose not to sync extensions if you like to customize your extensions for each PC.

To protect your privacy, sync data is encrypted while it is sent. Normally the encryption passphrase if your Google account password, but if you want extra security, you can enter a different passphrase manually.

Tab Management

Chrome tabs can be moved about at your leisure by click-dragging them. When they are moved inside an open Chrome window, a tab’s position can be re-arranged. But you can also click-drag a tab away from the Chrome window in order to open another, separate browser window. Likewise, you can click-drag tabs from separate instances of Chrome into a single browser window to combine them.

New tabs can be opened using keyboard shortcuts or the small “+” icon beside the last currently open tab. All new tabs that are not opened to display a link will instead display the default home screen, which consists of a tile display of recently visited websites and installed apps. You can also access a list of recently closed tabs from the menu in the lower right hand corner.

There’s no hard cap on the amount of tabs you can have open at once in the browser, but once you go past about twelve, the titles of open tabs become difficult to see because so little space is available. If you need to frequently use a large number of tabs, you may want to download a tab management extension from the web store.

Important Shortcuts

Like any browser, Chrome has a number of keyboard shortcuts that can help you navigate the user interface. Here are some of the most important ones to know.

Ctrl+N – Opens new window

Ctrl+Shift+N– Opens new incognito mode window

Ctrl+T – Opens new tab

Ctrl+P– Print the page

Ctrl+S– Save the page

Ctrl+F5 – Reloads the page

Ctrl+D – Saves page as a bookmark

Ctrl+Shift+D– Saves all open pages as bookmarks

Ctrl+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab in the background

Ctrl+Shift+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab and switches to the new tab

Ctrl+Shift+T – Reopens the last closed tab

Ctrl+Tab– Switches to the next tab

Ctrl+Shift+Tab– Switches to the previous tab

Alt+For Alt+E– Opens the wrench menu

Ctrl+Shift+B– Toggles the bookmarks bar on and off

Ctrl+H– Opens the History page

Ctrl+J– Opens the Downloads page

Shift+Esc– Opens the Task Manager

Ctrl+Shift+Delete– Opens the Clear Browsing Data dialog

Come to Chrome

These are all of the basic features that make up the Chrome web browser. It’s an impressive suite, and generally better than what other browsers offer by default. But some of its biggest advantages – such as its speed – are only apparent after using the browser for a few minutes.

If you still feel a little overwhelming, try taking a look at Google’s official Chrome FAQ. There’s a nice introduction there that advanced users will find too fundamental, but newcomers may appreciate.

 

Provided by Matt Smith

satellite-shutterstock

An upcoming congressional committee report suggests the Chinese government many have played a role in the hacking of two US satellites in 2007 and 2008.

 

In 2007 and 2008, hackers waged an attack on two US government satellites, according to a report from a congressional committee that’s due to be released next month. Bloomberg Businessweekreports that the perpetrators of the attack may have ties to the Chinese military.

The two satellites, named Landsat-7 and Terra AM-1, are reportedly used for climate and terrain monitoring, and are managed by NASA.

In both October 2007 and July 2008, the Landsat-7 satellite experienced 12 minutes of interference. The Terra AM-1 experienced two minutes of interference in July 2008, and nine minutes in October 2008, according to the report.

“Such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions,” says a draft of the report obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek. “Access to a satellite‘s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. An attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite’s transmission.”

While the report does not explicitly implicate the Chinese government in the attacks on the satellites, it does say that the attacks are in line with Chinese government writings that support military action against enemy space systems, including “ground-based infrastructure, such as satellite control facilities.”

The report also says that the Chinese “conducted and supported a range of malicious cyber activities.”

Wang Baodong, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., says the commission has been spreading “unproved stories to serve its purpose of vilifying China’s international image over the years. He added that China “never does anything that endangers other countries’ security interests.”

The report goes on to say that, in the event of a military conflict between the US and China, the Chinese would attempt to “compromise, disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive or destroy” US computer systems, including satellite systems.

This is, of course, far from the first time the Chinese government has been accused of hacking. Last March, for example, Google accused the Chinese government of hacking its Gmail service in an attempt to suppress anti-government activists in that country.

 

Provided by Andrew Couts

          

With the debut of new social media sites (like Google+), just behind it comes the inevitable lists of leaderboards and connections, as you can quickly find out who the big fish are in the new pond, or if new names are rising to the top. In this frothy world of early adopters and Web tire kickers, it’s common to see many of the same familiar names, and often in the same order, from site to site, at least until real-world celebrities from Hollywood and sports show up. Beyond this tier, there’s a second layer of folks who are quite visible on the social sites, even if what you know about their real lives pales in what you see online. So what’s the secret? I’ve finally caved and decided to spill it.

Some Quick Tips on Giving “Good Social”.

1) Be Interesting – Duh.

There are some people I’ve met through social networking who I will follow everywhere they go because they have achieved something offline, because they spark my interest online, or they are in the process of constantly doing new things that catch my eye. That can be the company founders like Ev Williams and Dave Morin, trusted observers like Sarah Perez and Ryan Block, or pure technologists like Paul Buchheit and Chris Messina. In each of these examples, there is no question I can learn from their musings, comments, insights and discovery. For you, what is “interesting” may be other reasons, including shared hobbies, location or history. Being known just for being known isn’t enough.

2) Find Interesting Stuff Fast

Others I follow because they have their eye on the streams from all different places, and know how to discern the intriguing from the mundane. These human curators know how to take 500 pieces of content and give me back the best 2 that I absolutely must read. It’s part of why I’ve shared content from Google Readermy6senseOneTrueFan and other products to put a brighter light on that which needs it.

3) Interact With Everyone You Can

Great social users interact. They don’t just broadcast. And they don’t just talk to the mysterious elite class of peers who are geek household names. They respond to comments in threads, mentions onTwitter and Google+, and participate in the streams, whether their name comes up or not. There’s no value lost by talking with strangers online who have good ideas, for they just might be your best friends in months or years to come.

4) Be Consistently Optimistic

I’m not saying you should be naive, but following someone who has enthusiasm about what they’re doing, their community, connections and technology is a lot more fun than a sourpuss. Good early adopters and social networkers that see holes in a product expect they’ll be filled in time, rather than complaining and making a list of open demands. Supporting the community’s ideas, families, projects and interests is all good.

5) Don’t Be a Jerk

The obvious corollary to point 4. Mean people suck. A little sarcastic humor now and then is funny. Ranting and raving alienates, and it sticks with you a lot longer than your positive activities. If you’re a bipolar poster who loves things one day and hates them the next, it’s dramatically abrasive, and is as viral as anything good you’ve done, earning you blocks, unfollows and ignores.

6) Prove You’re A Human

Humans live outside their computer. Even me. Sharing one’s pictures, family, travels, hobbies, interests, religion, politics, dating tips or whatever else helps to round out your persona so that people get a better knowledge of with whom they are engaging. Laugh when people tease, and tease back. Interact and don’t let scripts take over your streams. A great example of streams being out of control was the night of the earthquake in Japan, when people’s Twitter accounts were autoposting quotes of the day, or other such blather, while the rest of the Web weeped and watched.

7) Learn the Community

Even if you want to be a big fish in a small pond, you have to learn the community’s behaviors, traditions and what everyone else is doing or saying. While you don’t have to participate in every meme that springs up, you should quickly get an understanding of what content best fits where. Let the community’s reaction to your content guide you, and constantly adjust. As communities go from elitist tech enclaves to more mainstream hangouts, so to should your approach change.

8) Don’t Add to the Noise

Has that viral video been posted by 400 of your friends already? You know the one. Don’t post it. Do you really need to be the 500th person to retweet Mashable or TechCrunch? Probably not. But if you’re first to the scene and have some insight, go for it. Being unique is always a good thing.

9) Exercise Moderation

Don’t overdo it. Even the most interesting people can tweet too much, share too many items on Google Reader/Buzz/+, or swamp Facebook. Even if your quantity is higher than the average, the quality should exceed it. The best content in the right place and time.

10) Be Flexible

Despite all the above, there’s no secret for getting people to like you, your content or your attitude. Don’t expect that the process that works for you today, on the sites you use today, is always going to be the one that gets you the response you’re looking for – be it friendship, engagement, kudos or conversation. I’ve often said I have more fun in social networking than anybody else – not because it’s true, but I’ve decided it’s true. I really am often smiling big, like my avatar, because I’ve found great people and great stuff. I work hard to give good social and I find people both doing well and not so well all the time.

By Louisgray (http://blog.louisgray.com)

What is this string? And what could it mean?

Last year’s launch of Google Buzz was followed by some blogger navel gazing around how referral traffic from the social network within Gmail was sending negligible traffic. The rub, of course, was that Gmail is served under SSL, and would not be sending back session headers to downstream sites, regardless of click-through volume. So guessing whether Buzz was driving a high or low percentage of traffic relative to other sites was pretty much a guess. In contrast, it is possible to divine traffic from Google+, launched last week, but it’s not directly designated, falling under the general Google.com domain.
For Google Analytics users, Google+ is not called out as a dedicated site, making its use practically invisible, adding onto the “Google/Referral” statistic, as opposed to “Google/Organic”, separating the company’s Web apps from native search.

For those viewing raw logs, or using third party tools (like Sitemeter, which I use in addition to Google Analytics,Quantcast and Icerocket, just to overload myself with data), you can see Google+ referrals having the following string:

If you can track how many times visitors come your way with that particular string in their referral, then you can know just how much an impact Google+ is giving you downstream. For me, despite reports from others, I’ve never gotten much traffic at all from Facebook, and Twitter tends to like a specific type of story, inconsistently. FriendFeed, once my 2nd highest referrer, is practically gone. You get what you give in the social networking space, so no doubt if you participate in G+ (as the cool kids are calling it these days) or you make it part of your flow, you can see it bringing visitors your way.

So watch for that string if you care about this stuff. There’s no Gmail excuse this time to obscure transparency.

 

By Louisgray (http://blog.louisgray.com)