Category Archives: google

Google Now Allows Users to Delete Search Activity

Google has announced that they will now allow you to review and delete your search activity and get quick access to the most relevant privacy controls in your Google Account.

Today, we’re making it easier for you to make decisions about your data directly within the Google products you use every day, starting with Search. Without ever leaving Search, you can now review and delete your recent search activity, get access to the most relevant privacy controls in your Google Account, and learn more about how Search works with your data.

Google is launching this improvement in Google Search on desktop and mobile today, and in the Google app for iOS and Android in coming weeks. They will expand this to Maps next year.

This is a step in the right direction. Users want the option to delete the information and data that Google (and other companies) collect from them. But, I don’t think Google is doing this primarily to benefit users. It might be an attempt to convince users that Google is working on its security and privacy problems.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google became aware of that data breach last spring, and opted not to disclose the issue at that time.

In addition, there was the outrage about Google’s decision with Chrome 69, which would automatically log a user into the Chrome browser anytime the user logged into a Google service or site. It appears that Google feels that this was done to protect the user’s privacy – but many people disagree with that interpretation.

It’s also noteworthy that if you decided to click the button to “Delete a Search Activity” it causes a pop-up to appear that, to me, is an attempt to talk users out of deleting their search activity.

Android Phone Apps Used in Ad Fraud Scheme

BuzzFeed reported, in an extremely detailed article, information about their investigation into a fraud scheme that involved more than 125 Android apps and websites, some of which were targeted ads.

Google has responded in a blog post on the Google Security Blog, with details about what they have done after BuzzFeed informed them about the ad fraud scheme.

In short, the scam involved the TechSnab botnet, which operated by creating hidden browser windows that visit web pages to inflate ad revenue. Google says that malware contains common IP based cloaking, data obfuscation, and anti-analysis defenses. Google also stated that the fraud primary impacted mobile apps. According to Google, those apps were monetizing by using AdMob.

So, basically, what happened was some nefarious people put a ton of effort into finding a way to make money by artificially inflating ad revenue in mobile apps. I find it disgusting that someone out there is so selfish and greedy that they felt the need to do this. I understand that people want to make money – but most people don’t assume that means it is ok for them to commit fraud.

Garbage like the malware used in the fraud scheme clutters up the internet. It has no legitimate purpose at all, and I’m glad that Google is actively tracking this operation.

The only good thing that has come from this situation is that it involved a collaborative effort between BuzzFeed and Google in order stop the problem. Google stated: “Collaboration throughout our industry is critical in helping us to better detect, prevent, and disable these threats across the ecosystem.” I’m hoping the collaboration will make it much harder for people to pull these kind of shenanigans in the future.

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Google Maps will help charge your car

Electric cars are catching on. After starting off on the high end of pricing, the market is leveling off and openinh up to more customers, The biggest hindrance now seems to be charging stations, or lack of them.

The problem is slowly shrinking and now Google Maps would like to help out current and future users. “We built Google Maps to help people get where they need to go no matter what mode of transportation they use. Our newest feature brings helpful information about electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to the Map, so you can be confident that your car will be charged and ready for your ride, wherever you’re headed.”

Now you’ll be ablt to tryp in things like EV charging or EV charging station. Businesses with charging stations can also become involved.

Google’s Live Albums Keeps Families In Touch

Google’s Pixel 3 event today didn’t bring too many surprises on the hardware front: most had been leaked well in advance of the presentation. What caught my eye was not a device but a new a new software feature called “Live Albums”.

Dave Loxton, Google Photo Product Manager, explains, “Many of us share the same photos with the same people over and over, whether it’s photos of your children to their grandparents, or cute pics of your pup to your best friend. Every time, we have to find the photos, select the ones we want to share and send them to the right people. And that’s if we even remember to share them at all.

Live albums start out as ordinary albums – you select the special photos of friends, family and pets. Here’s the clever bit…once tagged as a live album, freshly taken photos will be scanned by Google’s AI smarts and if they include people in the live album, they’ll be added into the album automatically.

This is fantastic for those families wanting to share photos with far-flung relatives. Instead of constantly having to remember to send photos to granny in Edinburgh, create a live album of the grandchildren and share it with her. New photos of the children will be added in as they’re taken, and granny gets to see the photos straightaway.

Google touts its Home Hub as being the ideal picture frame to display live album, though it’s only 7″, which I think is a little small for a photo frame. Priced at US$149 or UK£139, the Home Hub is competitively priced against wireless photo frames from the likes of Nixplay. I can see the Home Hub taking market share this Christmas.

The updated version of Photos with live album support will be rolling out shortly, so wait for it to appear on your smartphone.

Google+ for Consumers is Shutting Down

Alphabet announced that they will be shutting down Google+ for consumers. They are going to continue Google+ for enterprise customers (meaning businesses).

This decision comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network. The Wall Street Journal says Google became aware of this last spring, and opted not to disclose the issue at that time.

I’m not really surprised by the decision to shut down Google+. Recently, Google announced that when someone using Chrome logs into a Google service or site, they would automatically be logged into the Chrome browser with that user account. Matthew Green described this as a “forced log-in policy”.

The first thing I did when I heard about that was delete Chrome off my computer, and remove the Gmail app from my phone. A bit later, I deleted everything that I’d put on my Google+ account.

I suspect I’m not the only one who reacted this way, because Google posted updates based on feedback in a blog post that I did not find to be persuasive. This was followed by the announcement that Google+ for consumers would be shutting down.

The shutdown of Google+ for consumers will take place over a ten-month period. This allows whoever is still using Google+ to have the opportunity to download and migrate their data.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Usplash

Google Control of Website Traffic

google controlGoogle control of website search traffic is a given. This control should not be a surprise to anyone. Sadly there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Let me give you some background. Over the past 15 plus years, this site has done really well in their index and Google has delivered a significant amount of traffic to the site with 15k plus articles we have always done well in daily inbound traffic.

Google Control

But as I have said many times Google giveth and Google taketh away. It’s just the nature of the beast.

But let me tell you straight up content alone which this site is not going to just carry you these days. Even though this site has a responsive design minimal advertising and a ton of original content one simple aspect of the site got my site ranking and traffic put in the penalty box.

Google Punishment

Page load speed! Granted and I have self-confessed on the podcast that I was not paying attention to it and fixing it has proved interesting. We made mistakes with large image sizes, old embedded javascript, twitter code and a  few other things that were dragging the sites page speed loads down.

In all intense and purposes, we have fixed the obvious issues and the site is back to what it should be in page loads speed. Except in the eyes of Google, it’s not. Case in point look at the outstanding score the site gets from the folks at Web Page Test. Then look at the score we get from Google’s PageSpeed Test.

You can start to see the disconnect and where my frustration is mounting.

Google Demands

We score well in optimization test but we are getting hammered in the FCP / DCL score which Google uses as part of their Algorithm to rank websites. I have spent more time the past week reading about this then I care to.The folks I have working on this are going to get it figured out. But in the end, to get it all fixed will not be cheap. Considering the hardware this site is running on we should not be struggling to lower the FCP / DCL score.

Update: Changes you make to your website today, will not show up in the Google PageSpeed FCP / DCL for up to 30 days. The reporting data is a 30-day average. So like anything else with Google you it will take some time to crawl out of the penalty box. As you can see from the PageSpeed test report statistics show that the median page on the internet requires 4 render-blocking round trips and ~89 resources (1.3MB) to load. But this page appears to use fewer resources. PSI estimates this page requires 2 render-blocking round trips and 42 resources (0.6MB) to load. Fewer round trips and bytes results in faster pages. Thus we should see a significant drop in FCP /DCL over the next 30 days.

Google Way or the Highway

Fixing this will likely allow us to crawl out of the penalty box slowly nothing is overnight with Google, fortunately, I have the resources to get this resolved. But now it’s just whack a mole and re-design work to get it done. When your dependent on Google traffic to build and maintain the shows podcast audience it’s something I have to do.

What Google wants, Google gets there is no fighting it. When they drive 90% of your search traffic to your site and all the others combined drive the other 10% you have to play the Google tax they are the gatekeeper of web traffic and in all honesty, it pisses me off.


Chrome 69 has a Forced Login Policy

There is something disturbing you should know about Chrome 69 before you update it. S. Bálint pointed out that starting with Chrome 69, logging into a Google Site is tied to logging into Chrome. Matthew Green describes the change as a “forced login policy”, which sounds pretty accurate to me.

The easiest to understand explanation I found about this change comes from S. Bálint’ blog post:

So what changed with Chrome 69? From that version, any time someone using Chrome logs into a Google service or site, they are also logged into Chrome-as-a-broswer with that user account. Any time someone logs out of a Google service, they are also logged out of the browser. Before Chrome 69, Chrome users could decline to be logged into Chrome entirely, skipping the Sync and other features that require a login and they could use Chrome in a logged-out state while still making use of Gmail for example.

I use a Mac, but was using Chrome for a few websites that didn’t work very well on Safari. I noticed that the photo I use on my Gmail account was appearing in the corner of the Chrome browser. I have since deleted Chrome from my computer and the Gmail app from my phone.

Personally, I’m not entirely clear on what, exactly, Chrome 69 wants to Sync from my Gmail account and the Chrome browser. It feels kind of grabby. The impression I got from the blogs I read (and linked above) is that even if Google says that it’s not automatically activating the Sync feature, that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t do that in the future.

Google started out with a code of conduct that started with the sentence: “Don’t be evil.” The changes coming to Chrome 69 might not technically be “evil”… but they certainly aren’t nice.