Google’s Disavow Links Tool is Not for Everyone

Google has released a new tool called Disavow Links. The primary purpose is to help bloggers who have been notified by Google about “unnatural links” that have been pointing to their website.

As you may know, Google uses something called PageRank to determine how reputable and important a particular website is. Part of what they use to make that decision is the type of links that are connected to the site. The Disavow Links tool is one way to clean up the spammy “unnatural” links that are messing with your blog’s PageRank.

Keep in mind, though, that Disavow Links is not the first thing you should do to clean up your website. Google suggests that you do several other forms of clean up before you resort to Disavow Links.

For example, you should attempt to contact the person who has attached an “unnatural” or unwanted link to your website, and ask them to remove it. See if you are able to remove the links yourself. Do not presume that Disavow Links is “the answer for all of your ills”.

It is important to realize that Disavow Links is something Google is describing as a tool for “power users”. It isn’t something everyone should use because there is potential that you could “shoot yourself in the foot” by using this tool incorrectly or in ways that you weren’t really intending to. To quote Matt Cutts, from the video below:

“If you are a Mom and Pop, you haven’t used your own SEO, if you haven’t used random link networks that you found on SEO forums, this is probably not something that you should be using.”

Gmail 4.2 for Android Still Available

A few days ago Android Police posted an exclusive video showing the next version of the Gmail app.  Version 4.2 includes several new features that users have wanted for some time now, like pinch to zoom in emails, swiping away emails to archive them, reporting emails as phishing scams and a lot more.  At the time, they also posted links to the download of the .APK file, but Google asked them to take the links down and the site complied.  The folks at XDA Developers also complied with the request but, as you probably know, things posted online never really go away.

If you  do some searching around you will see that the file is still available, but only a bit harder to find.  Hint: you can click here.  Before you get too excited though, there are a few things you should probably know.  Most importantly, your device needs to be rooted in order to install this update.  You will also need to have a phone or tablet running Android 4.0 or 4.1. and you will need follow several hacky steps to get it up and running.  You can find all of the steps detailed over at The Android Soul.

This has been a good week for Google app updates with, not only this new version of Gmail, but also a nice update to the Google Play Store (now at version 3.9.16).  The Play Store update, unlike the Gmail update, has already begun rolling out to users, but if you haven’t received it then you can also grab the .APK file, which Google is NOT asking to be taken down.  The new Gmail should begin rolling out very soon.

Android Apps Accelerate

When I got my first Android phone a bit over two and a half years ago, an HTC Evo from Sprint, the Android Marketplace was a confused and confusing place. The Apple App Store had the clear advantage. Android apps that did exist then were often clunky.

A lot has changed in two and a half years. Today, the aptly renamed “Google Play” store contains Android apps that very often match their Apple app counterpart in both they way they look and in their functionality. Google Play also contains a lot of other content for sale, including magazines, music and movies.

My HTC Evo had a limited amount of primary memory, so it was effectively limited in the number of apps that could be installed. As a result, I mostly ignored the app store because I couldn’t install anything new without giving up some other app or combination of apps in order to free up that memory. I experimented with apps mostly on my iPod and iPad. Since replacing my HTC Evo with a Samsun Galaxy S3, which has no similar memory issues, I have been experimenting with new apps like mad.

What I’ve found is that for the vast majority of apps I use on my iPod and iPad, there are Android versions of the same app. So, I am able to use apps right on the Galaxy S3 such as Flipboard, Skitch, MyRadar, Adobe Photoshop Express, etc., etc., etc. In other words, most of the apps that I use on my iPod and iPad now have Android versions of the same app that function, look and act the same as the iOS version(s).

The Google Play store is better organized than it used to be. One of the major advantages of Android over iOS devices is that the apps can be set up to automatically update without any user intervention. The automatic updates function like clockwork. One you’ve installed dozens or even hundreds of apps on a device, there are always several apps per day that have updates. With iOS devices, the update process must be initiated manually. Let your iOS devices sit a more than a day or two without updating them, and the apps needing updates rapidly escalates. With Android, the updates simply happen automatically and leave a pull-down notification of their success.

Apple still has a clear advantage when it comes to iPad apps versus the confusion that still exists in the realm of Android tablets. However, when it comes to phone devices such as the Galaxy S3, the app advantage once enjoyed by iOS has greatly lessened.

Competition is a wonderful thing for the consumer. It makes products far better. The explosion of hand-held computing devices and fast broadband wireless networks is resulting in a continuing explosion of future possibilities and possibilities realized.

Do We Still Need to Own Music?

I own a lot of music.  Well, the real truth is that it’s mine and that of my wife and kids, but all told it adds up to just over 95 GB.  The music collection started off with albums and cassettes when I was a kid, but later on those were all replaced by CD, and I traded in the albums, with the exception of a few rare bootlegs and imports that are sitting in a storage room collecting dust.  Later still, the CD’s were ripped to MP3 and also traded in and, since then, all purchases of music have been of the digital persuasion.  Time, and formats, march on.

Today all of our music resides on an external hard drive hooked to a home theater PC and backed up by CrashPlan and Google Music.  I use an Android smartphone as my MP3 Player, but it doesn’t actually have any music stored on it.  Every song we own can be streamed by the Google Music player but, the truth is, I almost never use it.  I work from home and I listen to something almost continuously but, the music we own just isn’t a part of my day because it just doesn’t command the importance it did before the digital era.

These days I listen to a lot of podcasts and, for that, I use Beyond Pod, but I also still listen to a lot of music.  I pay for a subscription to Pandora One and I have used many of my favorite artists to create stations so that I don’t need to scroll through that massive collection to find them – they just pop up and play, along with the music of other related artists.  It’s better this way.  Sure, I still bookmark a really good song thinking maybe I will buy it later, but honestly…I don’t.

Every once in a while the mood strikes me to hear a particular song but, for that, there are an untold number of sources, including Spotify, Grooveshark, YouTube, etc.  There are many others, but those three alone can provide almost any song you can imagine, even the most obscure tunes from your youth are there.

So, the question is, do we really still need to own music?  With the ability to play almost anything, anytime and create streaming stations that are tailored to our tastes, do we still have the need to buy songs, even in a digital format?  I may still be in the minority, but my answer is a resounding no.  The world is moving on and there are now better, more efficient ways.

Image: Player of Vinyl Disks by BigStock

The FTC Wants You to Battle Robocallers

Are you tired of those annoying calls that are nothing more than a recorded sales pitch? Could you use $50,000? Are you good at creating technical solutions to problems? If so, then you should consider entering the FTC Robocall Challenge.

Robocalls can be described as a recorded message that is played as soon as (or sometimes, even before), a person picks up the phone. They are automatically dialed, and the audio quality is often very poor. People who receive these unwanted phone calls immediately realize that there isn’t an actual human on the other end of the line. A robot called them. The person then hangs up the phone, and grumbles about having his or her dinner interrupted.

The Federal Trade Commission is interested in battling robocallers for several reasons, (and not simply because they are annoying). These types of calls often consist of a sales pitch that is intentionally deceptive. The majority of robocalls are illegal because they break the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. A person has to have given the commercial robocaller advance written permission to call them. If that permission has not been granted, then the telemarketer, (robotic or not) should not be calling.

The FTC Robocall Challenge can be entered for free. It is open to the public. Entries will be accepted as soon as October 25, 2012, and they will continue to be accepted until January 17, 2013. The FTC wants innovators to create solutions that will block illegal robocalls.

Your solution needs to block robocalls on both landlines and mobile phones. It must be able to operate on a proprietary or nonproprietary device or platform. You can enter the contest with a proposed technical solution, a functional solution, or proof of concept.

The individual, team, or small corporation (that employs less than 10 people), with the Best Overall Solution will win $50,000 in cash and a trip to Washington D.C to present the solution. Others will receive a Federal Trade Commission Technology Achievement Award. This is an honorary award that does not come with a cash prize.

Judging will be based on three criteria. Does it work? 50% of the score will be based on the answer to that question. Is it easy to use? That’s another 25%. The remaining 25% is based on another question. Can it be rolled out? Humanity’s battle against the robots is about to begin!

Image: A Fun Group Of Robot Toys by BigStock

GNC-2012-10-18 #809 To Many Buttons

Those of you listening to the Audio show get bonus content tonight as yours truly did not hit the Video record button until about 30 minutes into the show… Too Many Buttons.

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GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

GoPro have announced the latest addition to their lineup of action cameras, the Hero3 Black Edition and it’s some camera. Capable of 4k video recording, albeit at 12 fps, and 60 fps at 1080p, this captures adrenalin-fuelled action in all its glory. Other features include burst modes, time-lapse, wi-fi video preview and a wi-fi controller.

GoPro Hero3

 

If you want to show off your extreme adventures, this is the camera to have. It’s pricey enough at $399 (£379) and there are lesser models at $299 (£279) and $199 (£179) for the silver and white variants respectively. As expected, there’s a range of accessories for attaching cameras to machines, helmets, bodies and other sporting equipment. The Black Edition will be out in November.

To show off the features of the Hero3, GoPro commissioned this film which was shot entirely with a Hero3. It’s stunning.

“Mermaids!” says my daughter.

 

Robot Underpants #71 – 10.17.12

Hey it’s the Robot Underpants show! On this week’s episode, Langley, Eric, Mike and Kacey talk Jury Duty (sadly without Paulie Shore), Son of Ernest, Comic Book Porn, Steven Seagal’s conspiracies, and of course Robocop news! And much much more.

* Steven Seagal News

* Ernest News

* Spiderman/Superman Porno News (SFW)

* S.H.I.E.L.D News

* Robocop News

This week’s end track:
Space Nutz!Space Nutz!
“Space Nutz Theme” (mp3)
from “Space Nutz!”
(Cuniglius Records)

Buy at Napster
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album


A Scary Amount of Photos are Coming to Facebook

Halloween is going to generate a frightening number of photos, many of which will immediately be posted to various forms of social media. If you went through the trouble to create an interesting costume, odds are you want your online friends to be able to see it. There is a good chance that the people you have connected with through social media will click on the photo of you in costume. A few days later, everyone will collectively forget about these photos.

There are about one billion people who are active Facebook users. These users upload about 300 million photos a day. They post even more on special occasions, such as Halloween. According to Jay Parikh, Facebook’s Vice President of Infrastructure Engineering:

“Halloween is one of our biggest photo upload days of the year. We will get between probably 1 and 2 billion photos uploaded just in a single day.”

Basically, what happens is that Halloween causes a whole lot of photos to be posted, and then ignored. However, Facebook has a user agreement that says that it will not delete data that users post just because no one has looked at it in a while. All these photos have to go somewhere!

The solution might be Cold Storage. It could provide a way for Facebook to store all those photos on tapes in a data center. The advantages are that it will provide Facebook with a lot of storage while keeping the cost of power consumption low. The potential drawback is that it could make accessing the photo slower for users.

Cold Storage will be part of the infrastructure of Facebook within the next year or two. Facebook has an Open Source Data Center website. that is updated with more information from time to time. Soon, the photo you posted five years ago of yourself in a Halloween costume could be preserved in cold storage. One can only hope that you didn’t decide to dress as the Geico Caveman that year.

Image: Stock Photo Grim Reaper by BigStock

MapMyWalk Review

Working at my desk all day on a computer I wasn’t getting enough exercise and it showed. So I decided to start walking, however being a geek I couldn’t just walk I had to measure everything. I do wear a Fitbit which I really like, however it has it limitation, no maps and the sharing has never worked correctly for me. This is where MapMyWalk comes in. MapMyWalk is available for both iOS and Android and on the web. Start the MapMyWalk app when you begin your walk and when you are finished hit the stop button. At this point it will give you the option to save the walk, resume or delete the walk. If you choose to save the walk you can then share it to Facebook or Twitter.

What makes MapMyWalk stand apart from something like Fitbit though are the maps. When you use MapMyWalk while walking it tracks where you are going and then produces a map. You can share that map publicly or with just your friends or not at all. If you travel a lot and are looking for a place to walk in a strange city. You can go into MapMyWalk, put in your location and see all public maps in the area. You can see the distance and elevation of each walk and any notes that might have been added. You can also keep track of the food you eat and write a daily journal on MapMyWalk. You get all this with the free version, if you decide to go pro you can skip the ads, print maps, get training plans and get up to 20 percent off on all store purchases. The number of maps you can print and training plans you get is determined by the level you pay for.

I like MapMyWalk and use when every I walk outside. MapMyWalk does require a GPS connection. The one problem that I do run into every once in a while is the GPS doesn’t connect correctly. When that happens the map can be really off. MapMyWalk is free and available for both iOS and Android and if you carry your phone when you walk I recommend downloading it