Use Google Voice to Trick Scammers

We’ve previously mentioned that Google Voice was an effective way of blocking calls, but that doesn’t do you any good if scammers aren’t calling your Google Voice number. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to fool them into doing just that.

One victim of a fraudulent debt scam, who The Consumerist is calling “Steve”, figured out that it takes very little to get a scammer to believe you’ve switched your number. Simply call them back from your Google Voice number, let them bring up your information and start the process of trying to scam you, and then hang up. Let them call a few times and get through, then block their number.

Google Voice isn’t your only option. If you don’t want to block them and would prefer to let them keep calling a dead-end number, just sign up for a pretty much any VOIP service that provides you with an actual phone number (like Toktumi). Many of them are free, at least for awhile, and you can just ignore them while the scammers try relentlessly with no success.

Google to double manpower

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BUENOS AIRES: Google Inc, the world’s biggest Internet-search company, is opening new offices in Latin America and boosting staffing levels by 50 per cent to capitalise on its fastest-growing region.

Revenue from Latin America surged 80 per cent last year, outpacing every other market, Vice President Dennis Woodside said in an interview at the company’s Buenos Aires office. Google, which has about 500 people in the region, has opened branches in Santiago, Lima and Bogota to take advantage of the growth, he said.

“What we are seeing is the Internet coming into its own in all the Latin American markets,” said Woodside, who handles sales for the Americas, including the US “There are 650 million people in the region, and a lot of them are really coming online for the first time. Our business in Latin America is just booming.”

Google is seeking new growth areas to offset a maturing US market and a diminished presence in China, the world’s most populous country. The US and the UK accounted for about 60 per cent of the $29.3 billion in total revenue last year, most of which was generated by ads. Google, based in Mountain View, California, doesn’t say what portion came from Latin America.

Google rose $3.36 to $613.40 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 3.3 per cent this year.

Android software

Even as sales in Latin America boom, Google’s Android operating system is making slower inroads in the region, Woodside said. The software, which runs on smartphones and tablet computers, hasn’t caught on the way it has in the US.

“Android is growing, but it’s still early days,” he said.

Android topped Apple Inc’s iPhone in US smartphone subscribers for the first time in November, accounting for 26 per cent of the market, according to research firm ComScore Inc Research In Motion Ltd, maker of the BlackBerry, had the top spot with 33.5 per cent.

Google is seeking a replacement for Alexandre Hohagen, the former head of Latin American operations in Brazil, who defected to Facebook Inc in February. The company isn’t concerned about his departure, Woodside said.

“We have a very deep bench,” he said. “We have confidence in our bench and our ability to develop people.”

Google announced in January that co-founder Larry Page will take over as chief executive officer from Eric Schmidt on April 4. Schmidt, who oversaw the transformation of a barely profitable startup into a company with a market capitalization of $200 billion, said he will focus on deals, partnerships and customers.

In China, a dispute over Internet censorship may rein in Google’s growth prospects. In March 2010, the company shut down its Chinese search service and redirected local users to its unfiltered Hong Kong site. Since then, rival Baidu Inc. has gained market share in the country.

Google changes search ranking algorithm

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NEW YORK: Google Inc made substantial changes to its search engine in a direct attack on companies that churn out low-quality stories and videos.

The results of the improvements to Google’s algorithms used to list search rankings over the past few days affected nearly 12 per cent of searches, Google said in a blog post on Thursday.

Google launched the clean-up after users urged stronger action against so-called content farms, which rely on armies of low-paid freelancers to crank out stories and videos designed to appear higher on search engine results.

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,” Google fellow Amit Singhal and principal engineer Matt Cutts wrote in the blog post.

“At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

While Google did not cite companies it regards as content farms, the tag is often pinned to Demand Media, Yahoo Inc’s Associated Content, and AOL’s Seed, which publish stories on such topics as “how to make a paper lantern” or “five ways to sooth dry skin.”

A major slice of content farms’ revenue is generated through search engines. Demand Media, for instance, said 28 per cent of its revenue came from Google in the first nine months of 2010.

“As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results,” Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand Media executive vice president of media and operations, wrote in a blog post on Thursday in response to the Google changes.

“It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term but at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business.”

Shares of Demand Media, which debuted as a public company in January, fell 1.6 per cent to close at $22.96 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s initial public offering was priced at $17 in January.

Google has been cracking down on others, including retailer JC Penney, according to a New York Times report, that try and game Google algorithms to place high in search results.

Google launches Apps certification for IT pros

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Search giant Google has launched a certification programme for IT professionals who deploy, sell, develop and support Google Apps.
NEW DELHI: Search giant Google has launched a certification programme for IT professionals who deploy, sell, develop and support Google Apps. 

According to Google, available globally, Google Apps Certification Program certifies IT professionals who have demonstrated the fundamental knowledge and skills required to migrate to, configure, and deploy Google Apps.

The certification is available online and any IT professional with a browser and an Internet connection can register to take the online proctored exam. Presently, the exam is available in only English, however, the company plans to add additional languages soon.

The certification programme will reportedly offer badges for various areas of expertise, including Apps deployment, sales, software development and technical support.

The exam consists of 98 multiple-choice questions that require either a single response or multiple responses. It will be monitored live by a Google representative through a webcam. Results will be computed soon after the the test is over. The candidates who pass will be sent the diploma through email, while those who fail will be told about the areas they need to improve upon.

20 Great Google Secrets

Google is clearly the best general-purpose search engine on the Web

But most people don’t use it to its best advantage. Do you just plug in a keyword or two and hope for the best? That may be the quickest way to search, but with more than 3 billion pages in Google’s index, it’s still a struggle to pare results to a manageable number.

But Google is an remarkably powerful tool that can ease and enhance your Internet exploration. Google’s search options go beyond simple keywords, the Web, and even its own programmers. Let’s look at some of Google’s lesser-known options.

Syntax Search Tricks

Using a special syntax is a way to tell Google that you want to restrict your searches to certain elements or characteristics of Web pages. Google has a fairly complete list of its syntax elements at

http://www.google.com/help/operators.html

. Here are some advanced operators that can help narrow down your search results.

Intitle: at the beginning of a query word or phrase (intitle:”Three Blind Mice”) restricts your search results to just the titles of Web pages.

Intext: does the opposite of intitle:, searching only the body text, ignoring titles, links, and so forth. Intext: is perfect when what you’re searching for might commonly appear in URLs. If you’re looking for the term HTML, for example, and you don’t want to get results such as

http://www.mysite.com/index.html

, you can enter intext:html.

Link: lets you see which pages are linking to your Web page or to another page you’re interested in. For example, try typing in

link:http://www.pcmag.com

Try using site: (which restricts results to top-level domains) with intitle: to find certain types of pages. For example, get scholarly pages about Mark Twain by searching for intitle:”Mark Twain”site:edu. Experiment with mixing various elements; you’ll develop several strategies for finding the stuff you want more effectively. The site: command is very helpful as an alternative to the mediocre search engines built into many sites.

Swiss Army Google

Google has a number of services that can help you accomplish tasks you may never have thought to use Google for. For example, the new calculator feature

(www.google.com/help/features.html#calculator)

lets you do both math and a variety of conversions from the search box. For extra fun, try the query “Answer to life the universe and everything.”

Let Google help you figure out whether you’ve got the right spelling—and the right word—for your search. Enter a misspelled word or phrase into the query box (try “thre blund mise”) and Google may suggest a proper spelling. This doesn’t always succeed; it works best when the word you’re searching for can be found in a dictionary. Once you search for a properly spelled word, look at the results page, which repeats your query. (If you’re searching for “three blind mice,” underneath the search window will appear a statement such as Searched the web for “three blind mice.”) You’ll discover that you can click on each word in your search phrase and get a definition from a dictionary.

Suppose you want to contact someone and don’t have his phone number handy. Google can help you with that, too. Just enter a name, city, and state. (The city is optional, but you must enter a state.) If a phone number matches the listing, you’ll see it at the top of the search results along with a map link to the address. If you’d rather restrict your results, use rphonebook: for residential listings or bphonebook: for business listings. If you’d rather use a search form for business phone listings, try Yellow Search

(www.buzztoolbox.com/google/yellowsearch.shtml).

Extended Googling

Google offers several services that give you a head start in focusing your search. Google Groups

(http://groups.google.com)

indexes literally millions of messages from decades of discussion on Usenet. Google even helps you with your shopping via two tools: Froogle
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(http://froogle.google.com),

which indexes products from online stores, and Google Catalogs
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(http://catalogs.google.com),

which features products from more 6,000 paper catalogs in a searchable index. And this only scratches the surface. You can get a complete list of Google’s tools and services at

http://www.google.com/options/index.html

You’re probably used to using Google in your browser. But have you ever thought of using Google outside your browser?

Google Alert

(www.googlealert.com)

monitors your search terms and e-mails you information about new additions to Google’s Web index. (Google Alert is not affiliated with Google; it uses Google’s Web services API to perform its searches.) If you’re more interested in news stories than general Web content, check out the beta version of Google News Alerts

(www.google.com/newsalerts).

This service (which is affiliated with Google) will monitor up to 50 news queries per e-mail address and send you information about news stories that match your query. (Hint: Use the intitle: and source: syntax elements with Google News to limit the number of alerts you get.)

Google on the telephone? Yup. This service is brought to you by the folks at Google Labs

(http://labs.google.com),

a place for experimental Google ideas and features (which may come and go, so what’s there at this writing might not be there when you decide to check it out). With Google Voice Search

(http://labs1.google.com/gvs.html),

you dial the Voice Search phone number, speak your keywords, and then click on the indicated link. Every time you say a new search term, the results page will refresh with your new query (you must have JavaScript enabled for this to work). Remember, this service is still in an experimental phase, so don’t expect 100 percent success.

In 2002, Google released the Google API (application programming interface), a way for programmers to access Google’s search engine results without violating the Google Terms of Service. A lot of people have created useful (and occasionally not-so-useful but interesting) applications not available from Google itself, such as Google Alert. For many applications, you’ll need an API key, which is available free from
CODE
http://www.google.com/apis

. See the figures for two more examples, and visit

http://www.pcmag.com/solutions

for more.

Thanks to its many different search properties, Google goes far beyond a regular search engine. Give the tricks in this article a try. You’ll be amazed at how many different ways Google can improve your Internet searching.

Online Extra: More Google Tips

Here are a few more clever ways to tweak your Google searches.

Search Within a Timeframe

Daterange: (start date–end date). You can restrict your searches to pages that were indexed within a certain time period. Daterange: searches by when Google indexed a page, not when the page itself was created. This operator can help you ensure that results will have fresh content (by using recent dates), or you can use it to avoid a topic’s current-news blizzard and concentrate only on older results. Daterange: is actually more useful if you go elsewhere to take advantage of it, because daterange: requires Julian dates, not standard Gregorian dates. You can find converters on the Web (such as

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http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/JulianDate.html

excl.gif No Active Links, Read the Rules – Edit by Ninja excl.gif

), but an easier way is to do a Google daterange: search by filling in a form at

http://www.researchbuzz.com/toolbox/goofresh.shtml or http://www.faganfinder.com/engines/google.shtml

. If one special syntax element is good, two must be better, right? Sometimes. Though some operators can’t be mixed (you can’t use the link: operator with anything else) many can be, quickly narrowing your results to a less overwhelming number.

More Google API Applications

Staggernation.com offers three tools based on the Google API. The Google API Web Search by Host (GAWSH) lists the Web hosts of the results for a given query

(www.staggernation.com/gawsh/).

When you click on the triangle next to each host, you get a list of results for that host. The Google API Relation Browsing Outliner (GARBO) is a little more complicated: You enter a URL and choose whether you want pages that related to the URL or linked to the URL

(www.staggernation.com/garbo/).

Click on the triangle next to an URL to get a list of pages linked or related to that particular URL. CapeMail is an e-mail search application that allows you to send an e-mail to google@capeclear.com with the text of your query in the subject line and get the first ten results for that query back. Maybe it’s not something you’d do every day, but if your cell phone does e-mail and doesn’t do Web browsing, this is a very handy address to know.