Google Releases Site Status

Google has released a new tool within their Webmaster Tools suite called Site Status. It’s a nifty little tool for those webmasters who have yet to sign up for the full Google Webmaster Tools collection. Type your url into a form and Google will tell you whether any pages from your site are indexed and when the last time was that Googlebot accessed your site. Also, it will offer a little insight into any potential problems it may have encountered while indexing the site. Finally, it tells you how to get additional detailed information by signing up for their Webmaster Tools.

Verdict: If you’ve already signed up for Google Webmaster Tools don’t bother, but if you haven’t this is definitely a useful tool.

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Google in Talks Over Phone

Internet giant Google, Silicon Valley’s most valued business, has recently held talks with Orange, the mobile phone operator owned by France Telecom. Executives from Orange flew to Silicon Valley for a meeting at the Googleplex. The plan is to manufacture a branded Google phone that would have Google software built-in to improve the traditionally daunting task of surfing the web on a mobile device.

Among the potential benefits are location-based searches: aware of your handset’s geographical position, Google could offer a tailored list of local cinemas, restaurants and other amenities, and maps and images from Google Earth.

As someone who uses Google an uncountable number of times each day I am delighted at the prospect of a Google phone. I’ll admit I love my Sidekick 3 but if Google could offer me the same features and services plus their own I would be heavily inclined to make the switch. For people like me and others who use a multitude of Google services it would just make our lives easier. Can you imagine checking your Gmail, reading your favorite RSS feeds, sharing images from your phone on Picasa, sharing videos from your phone on YouTube, looking up movies times by location with Google Earth and talking to your friends on Gtalk? All while editing your spreadsheets and documents and checking your analytics from anywhere you go! When can I pre-order mine? :)

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Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas Speaks But Nobody Listens

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah forces have been battling the ruling Hamas party over the weekend, condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas in what was probably the most honest, true statement to come out of the Middle East in all of this year. He said:

Gaza is free of occupation, but there are no investors and no prosperity. We dreamed that (Gaza) would prosper and dozens of investors from all over the world came to Gaza. Nothing has come to fruition. We decided it was better to fire rockets. Israel left, said goodbye, and instead of (Gaza) remaining calm and flourishing, there are those that still prefer to fire rockets.

The fact that Abbas said this is pretty remarkable for a number of reasons. Chief among them is the notion that this essentially cuts the legs out from under Hamas and everyone else in the Middle East who endlessly complain about Israeli occupation in the Gaza strip. Hamas, which the United States and European Union list as a terrorist organization, has for years used Israeli occupation as an excuse to fire rockets and send suicide bombers into Israel. Now, it seems they’ll have to find something else to scapegoat.

Abbas is a great man to criticize his own countrymen and basically stick up for Israel. I’m not saying Israel is always in the right and can do no wrong; when it comes to the Middle East clearly everyone is guilty, including those from distant lands. However, the time for clashes and wars is over. One would think that after nearly 60 years Arabs would have learned that Israel is not going anywhere, and starting fights with them isn’t going to accomplish anything. Abbas recognizes this, and has in recent months called for direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine, which Hamas has vowed will never happen. In its charter, Hamas declares one of its goals as the destruction of Israel. That isn’t necessarily the problem per se, anyone can say what they what, heck there are probably old Ku Klux Klan members lying around who would like to cause harm to African Americans. The issue arises when individuals with these irrational mindsets become heads of state, as in the case of Iran.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shares the fanatical views of Hamas, so much so that he directly supports their causes through funding, weapons, etc. Just a few days ago the leader of Hamas was stopped on a return trip from Iran and other countries in the Middle East, carrying up to $35 million in briefcases. This is a perfect example of the point Abbas is trying to make. Israel is gone, they want peace with the Palestinians. Yet, organizations like Hamas are still actively campaigning the destruction of Israel, and they’re getting support from several nations; notably Iran and Syria.

It is not until Middle Eastern countries put the future of their children first that there will be any true hope of attaining peace. Children in the Middle East shouldn’t be raised as suicide bombers, they should be educated and push their domestic economies to become more self-sustainable nations. When are we ever as humans going to be able to look past greed and selfish ambition and actually do something that we know is right?

Also, I know this is becoming a rather long entry but I want to mention quickly that isn’t it odd how the Western media didn’t cover this statement by Abbas? Apparently Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner and others prefer to ignore the truth, even when it is coming from Arab leaders themselves. Perhaps it is more profitable to make Israel the bad guy, I mean who would buy newspapers if there was only good news?

At any rate its a shame that the unquenchable greed of a few prevents harmonious peace for many. It truly is, in essence, 21st century communism on a global scale.

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Kofi Annan Bids Farewell to United Nations

Kofi Annan today gave his farewell address as Secretary-General of the United Nations. Annan, who has opposed the Iraq War since the beginning, criticized the Bush Administration’s global leadership, or rather lack thereof. He said that America must not sacrifice the democratic principles on which it was built while waging the war against terrorism. Annan said that “human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity,” and added that when America does not follow these principles its allies abroad become “troubled and confused.”

He also discussed the United Nations as an organization, and suggested that the UN Security Council be expanded to better reflect today’s world. Originally, when the UN Security Council was formed, the countries to which the most authority was given were the 5 original nuclear powers (United States, Britain, France, Russia and China). However, critics, in particular Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, vehemently argue that the United Nations and especially the Security Council is an irrelevant organization due to the inherent polarization of power by the North. A reformed Security Council would most certainly see inclusion of a greater number of developing nations from around the world, and most likely a reduction in the veto power of the 5 permanent members.

Annan summed up five principles that he considers essential for there to be any chance of sustainable peace: collective responsibility, global solidarity, rule of law, mutual accountability and multilateralism. When combining several or all of these aspects I see a myriad of issues that could easily be overcome, such as global warming, peace between Israel and Palestine, a resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue, etc.

The world would be wise to listen to the words of this acclaimed individual of peace, for remarkable men of his stature don’t come around very often. Best of luck to his South Korean successor, Ban Ki-moon, who takes the reigns January 1, 2007.

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Gmail Mail Fetcher

Google has recently given its popular web-based email, Gmail, the ability to check and receive mail from other accounts across the Internet. It can pull email from up to 5 different accounts, both new and old messages. In addition, Gmail lets you customize the “From:” address, so that it will appear as if you’re sending from your other account, and not from Gmail. In order to make use of these feature your other email account must be POP3 access enabled.

This is certainly a viable alternative to email forwarding, especially wth Gmail’s mobile capabilities, now you can retrieve email that was previously stricken to computers on your PDA or other mobile device.

Note: Currently this feature is only in limited release. To see if you have access to it, navigate to your settings in Gmail, then click on the “Accounts” tab.

For more information check out the Gmail Mail Fetcher in the Gmail help center.

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