Twitter Announces New Mute Feature

Twitter announced on its company blog today that it will be rolling out a new feature in the coming weeks called mute, which basically means you can follow a person while not receiving any of that individual’s Tweets or Retweets in your timeline. You’ll also be opted out of any SMS or push notifications when the muted user Tweets. And, in the obligatory name of privacy, the muted user will not know that they have been muted or if you decide to unmute them.

This begs the glaringly obvious question: what is the point? If you’re following someone it’s because you have an interest in that person or what they do, either from a personal or professional standpoint. Given that, what is the value of the mute feature? It comes off almost like a “soft-block” where you’re following someone maybe as a courtesy or so as not to offend them, but you’re not really following them.

I think Twitter is a wonderful platform with a myriad of uses and ton of potential, one need not look further than when there is any breaking news story, the rate of information flow and sharing on Twitter far outpaces any other medium. So to spend time and effort on a mute feature seems silly to me when there are far better causes to put those resources toward.

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Google Cloud Print To Allow Printing From Wireless Devices

According to Google, Google Cloud Print is a service that enables any application (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device – Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Palm WebOS, Android, etc. – to print to any printer using the one component all major devices and operating systems have in common — access to the cloud. Google Cloud Print will submit and manage print jobs in the cloud rather than on a user’s local machine.

Let’s take an example to help illustrate this. Once Google Cloud Print is deployed and Google has built support for it into their Google Docs suite, I could open up a Word document my fiancee sent to my Gmail account in Google Docs on my iPhone and say Print. Then, with Google Cloud Print the print job will get sent from my iPhone (which is really in the cloud on Google Docs) to my home printer or whichever one I have setup to print the document, and once it’s finished printing I’ll get a status back on my iPhone saying whether the printing was successful or not.

Pretty awesome and this definitely addresses all the iPad printing critics.

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Speed Test Your iPhone

We are painfully reminded every day when we venture out of our homes that the iPhone does not have 3G technology. The EDGE network is brutally slow and painful and there simply is no way to sugarcoat that harsh reality. But wait! All hope is not lost my fellow iPhoners, as we do have a little feature called Wireless Fidelity, better known as WiFi (and no, I didn’t need to Wikipedia that ;) ).

Many features on the iPhone, most notably Safari and Mail, operate such that the greater the available bandwidth the greater the experience of using the application. So it becomes important to know how much you got coming down the pipe back and forth between your iPhone and wireless router. Enter iNetwork Test.

The Web site iNetwork Test exists to perform exactly this function, to tell you how fast your WiFi network speed is currently operating. The site is a piece of cake to use, simply navigate to and click the “Start Test” button. Then just wait. The quicker your connection the quicker the test will complete. Once the test completes, you select whether you’re operating via WiFi or EDGE, and the Web site records your score.

My WiFi network speeds were as follows:

1st attempt – 925 kbps
2nd attempt – 940 kbps
3rd attempt – 841 kbps
4th attempt – 894 kbps
5th attempt – 910 kbps

Once your score has been recorded you can click on the “Results” button to see how your score relates to the average EDGE and/or WiFi speeds. At the time of this writing, the average EDGE speed is 208 kbps, and the average WiFi speed is 798 kbps, putting me a bit above the average — gotta love that fiber optic pipe. :)

And to the wise guys out there, yes, it can detect if you’re not using an iPhone:

iNetwork Test for iPhone

2659.3 kbps
Not an iPhone

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Polish Man Faces 3 Years In Prison For Committing SEO

Marek W., a 23-year-old Polish man from Cieszyn, is facing up to three years in prison for writing a piece of search engine optimization (SEO) software that committed the atrocious and horrifying act of insulting his president.

The software, an amateur “black hat” program used for SERP manipulation, would return a specified site in the #1 position for a given keyword on Google. The problem for Marek, according to the Polish government, wasn’t that the test site he used was, but that the keyword which returned it in the #1 position on Google was kutas, or “penis” in English.

The Polish police found Marek fairly easily, as they traced his IP address to his home, where he had been testing the software. At the preliminary hearing, his explanation for using the presidential Web site and the derogatory keyword was “I just wanted to verify my skills and check if the software works.” Apparently it does, a little too well.

Am I the only one that thinks this whole situation is absurd? The Polish government potentially imprisoning a 23-year-old for writing some software that inferences the Polish president as a penis. Heck, if citizens could get arrested for insulting their government officials then I think it’s a safe bet to assume that half the global population would be in jail.

It’s news like this that makes you think negatively about where the world is heading, with all the war and disease and environmental problems happening around the globe, you have a government imprisoning citizens for referring to an official as a penis on the Internet.

A big thanks to Bart for pointing this out on his blog. Let me know if there is anything us fellow bloggers can do to support him.


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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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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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No Title in Meta

Having worked in SEO for a while now, I’ve gotten pretty good at distinguishing good SEO from bad SEO. It’s no wonder the search engine optimization industry as a whole doesn’t have the greatest of reputations as being a useful marketing tool, most of the “marketers” engaging in SEO tactics for their clients have absolutely no idea what they’re doing and are unintentionally, or intentionally, ripping off their clients. You can easily guess by the tone of this introduction that this entry has rant written all over it, so let me just state for the record that the title tag is not a meta tag.

A recent Entireweb Newsletter dated November 14, 2006 contained an article by an SEO entitled “More pointers for a good search engine listing.” Before I get into this I should state for the record that Entireweb is not the only SEO newsletter guilty of distributing erroneous information, just the source of the most recent newsletter sitting in my inbox. Now, the author, who is supposedly “award-winning,” begins by saying that because his previous article on search engine optimization received such a great response, he decided to go a bit deeper into SEO methodologies.

The author begins the article with a discussion of web page titles, a seemingly logical starting point given its importance in the grand scheme of search engine optimization. However, the presentation of the material is utterly misleading. The following in an excerpt from the article:

The Title meta tag:

To start with, let’s take a look at your website’s Title meta tag (you can find yours by opening your site, clicking View, then Source – the meta tags are placed between the HEAD delineations).

Now, I have been writing HTML code for over 5 years since I took a class on it back in 2001, and to this day never have I used or even heard of the “title meta tag.” There is a title tag, and there is a meta tag, of which multiple variations are possible. But nowhere is there a title meta tag, and the W3C seems to agree. Granted, most SEOs are not programmers I understand that, but if you’re going to be published in an SEO newsletter which Entireweb claims to send out to over 500,000 subscribers, the least you could do is get your facts straight.

I don’t mean to sound condescending in my critique of the article, I just think that if you’re writing essentially a how-to on SEO to a large audience, you should take the time you make sure you get it right. It’s safe to assume that a fair percentage of subscribers to the Entireweb Newsletter are new to SEO, and with all the bad SEO already out there, why feed the fire by teaching wrong information to new students of the craft. I would hope that the author chooses his words more carefully next time, and if he or she does in fact not know any better, to stop disseminating false information. Furthermore, I think there needs to be a stricter review process for content up for submission in the Entireweb Newsletter.

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Windows Internet Computer Name

For many people remote access to a computer is crucial. Traditionally software such as pcAnywhere or utilities like Remote Desktop have been used accomplish such a task. But how would you like to be to able to access your computer anytime, anywhere? No longer will there be a need to purchase your own domain name and configure dynamic DNS, Windows Vista will ship with Windows Internet Computer Name, a unique domain name for your computer.

The Windows Internet Computer Name is the result of advances to the Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) which came stock with Windows XP. Traditionally, domain name servers have been used to hold lists of domain names and their respective IP addresses. However, in Windows Vista, PNRP will perform all the domain name resolution at the peer-to-peer level. As a result, Windows Vista users will provide PNRP domain name resolution services to fellow Vista users.

In leyman’s terms, you will be able to specify a name for your Windows Vista computer, and PNRP will make your computer available to other PCs on the internet; thus, allowing for direct connections to your machine. It goes without saying that if you choose to utilize this feature of Windows Vista you have better invest some time into securing your system.

The major drawback of the Windows Internet Computer Name system is that it requires IPv6 which isn’t supported by most of the consumer routers on the market, although it does come built-in with Windows Vista. IPv6 addresses are much longer than the typical IPv4 addresses that take the format, which means there practically an unlimited number of them available.

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