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Google launches Nearline offering cheap storage for lesser-used files

Some time ago, Amazon launched a new online storage service called “Glacier”, so named because it was designed with a view to act as “cold storage” for your files. Glacier offered cheaper storage for those files you just HAVE to keep online, but don’t have a need to access on a constant basis – such as backups. In a clear case of “anything you can do, I can do better”, Google have responded by launching their own similar service, known as Google Nearline.

Google Nearline is a new service to host historical data and files you don’t expect to use very often. For example, say you’re a student. You’ll probably want your latest essays and coursework, research notes and so on immediately accessible via Google Drive to work on as you need ready for the upcoming deadlines; but what those essays from a year ago or older that have long since been passed to your teachers or professors and marked? They might be worth keeping for later review or research, but you probably won’t be needing to read those very often any more, right? That’s what Nearline is for. It’s the kind of cloud storage that businesses often need, but ordinary people may not want, especially if it isn’t cheap.

Luckily, keeping things cheap is something Google has been very aggressive about recently. Back in March, the company slashed Drive storage pricing across the board, cutting the price of its 100GB Drive tier by more than half and lowering the cost per terabyte per month to just $10 USD. With Nearline, however, Google are allowing customers to fine-tune their spending and storage requirements to the exact penny if they so choose – the service charges by the gigabyte, at a rate of just a penny per GB per month.

Google Nearline also offers advantages in other areas, according to the company. One is in its speed – while services such as the aforementioned Amazon Glacier require several hours before the stored data can be retrieved once again, Nearline is able to serve data in around three seconds. It also integrates with other products in Google’s Cloud Platform portfolio, making it easier for pre-existing installations to tap into the system.

Google’s moves are a reflection of the cut-throat industry online storage has become, where any company that doesn’t move fast will crash and burn rapidly. Even as storage offerings become cheaper and faster for the consumer, the profits on offer continue to shoot up as more people embrace online solutions to store data where they can easily get to it later – whether it’s personal, private or business. With Microsoft’s Azure platform proving itself one of the company’s most profitable divisions; and storage-based companies such as Box and Dropbox raising millions in investor funds, competition is always hotting up.

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    Previous Articles


    Worldwide Downtime for GMail and Google+, instability continues for some

    Only an hour ago, users in Europe, the U.S., Canada, India and beyond all reported suddenly being unable to access their GMail (or Google Mail) accounts in what appeared to be a widespread outage. Google’s App Status Dashboard was originally unaware of the issue, but at around 7:20pm GMT the service updated to show downtime for GMail and Google+, though further details of the downtime are still unknown.

    The error being seen by most users at the moment is a 500 Internal Server Error. These errors, as the name suggests, always tend to be a minor issue on the server (in this case, Google’s) – although it says nothing about what the problem actually is – and are usually temporary. Judging by the response on Twitter, however, the problem is currently affecting a huge number of users both on GMail and Google+. The latter also affects Youtube Comment boxes under the new system now in force there, which means those aren’t loading at all on videos, as well as Hangouts across the web and mobile. GMail users report their issue affects not just web access, but also other clients trying to download GMail via both POP and IMAP.

    As of an update released just before this article published here on S.FM, many users state their services have returned; though others still state they are unable to get in; and those who HAVE gotten access to their email back are continuing to report intermittent problems. Nevertheless, it looks likely all issues will be resolved shortly; and we await Google’s response on what happened if any is delivered.


    Beware the fake Google Play store that’s actually malware

    Malware on Android is nothing new. In fact, stories about this very subject can be found on most major news websites or tech blogs on an irregular basis, perhaps approaching once a month if not more. Usually the malware is easy to identify with the right amount of attentiveness, with the wrong developer names, low quality icons or badly written descriptions on the download page being a dead giveaway; and even if you're foolish enough to download these, the failure of the app to work; or unexpected behaviour while it's running should usually grab attention. But what if the Malware looks and acts like the official store where you buy the apps in the first place?

    This is the latest threat to Android users, discovered by effective Russian security firm Doctor Web. Known as the "Android.DDoS.1.origin" trojan, infected devices can be used for an array of malicious purposes including spamming text messages; and even DDoS attacks. Once installed, the app creates an icon that is an exact replica of the Google Play Store. Clicking it will still send you to the Store, but also activates the trojan, which runs silently in the background. The trojan will immediately try to connect to its Command and Control (C&C) server and if it does, the server operators are sent the victim's phone number. From here, the virus can receive texts from its operators, which are intercepted so the phone isn't aware of their receipt, telling it what to do next. These instructions can include a request to start DDoSing; at which point, the malware will spam a given target with quick bursts of data from the infected phone

    The DDoS attacks present a threat to the infected phone's user, who will find the data limits on their calling plans quickly used up unwittingly and criminally; and if enough phones attack the same location, it can also be bad for the receiving site, which may fail temporarily due to the sudden surge of traffic. Be careful out there!


    Google Play Opens Full Access to Kobo Vox eReader

    Kobo’s Vox eReader has gotten full access to Google Play, finally allowing users to download as much as 500,000 apps from the Android app store instead of the initial limited access for only 15,000 apps. Google Play also opens Kobo Vox eReader users to a list of music and movies from Google’s Music Stores. Furthermore, the company makes available other popular Google-branded services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Contacts, Calendar, and Youtube.

    This new offering will be available starting the forthcoming software update for the eReader, which will prompt users to connect to the Internet to get the update. On the other hand, one can do the upgrading manually by going to the Home screen, then selecting Settings, then System Update. This tells the device to check if the update is available. If it is, users may select Update Now, then download the update and restart the unit for the update to take effect. Google Play will ship with all new units of the device, as well.

    The addition of Google Play on the Kobo Vox eReader will allow the company to compete more aggressively against the Amazon Kindle Fire, a fellow Android-based device that only has access to Amazon’s app store. Both devices have similar specifications of a 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a micro USB port.

    Recently, the Toronto-based company has also announced its interest in contending against Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt in the ebook self-publishing niche. Early this month, it unveiled a novel platform called Writing Life, which allows independent writers and publishers to distribute their own written works for free and receive 10% higher royalty fees from the sales.

    Kobo has been experiencing a streak of success lately. Just this month, the Rakuten-owned company announced that its eBook downloads have risen up to 400 percent. Meanwhile, the sales of its eReader are up by 160 percent, expanding yearly at a rate of 280 percent. It reportedly caters to 8 million users in 190 countries and has experienced a three-digit growth in recent times.



    Offline Google Docs comes to Android – but Read-Only for now

    Google keeps taking tiny steps toward creating a full-fledged document creation and editing experience to users of computers and mobile devices. Recently, Google unveiled an HTML5-powered app for the Chrome browser that lets you read documents offline—but not edit them. Yesterday, Google brought the same offline viewing capability to Docs for Android, but again without the ability to edit documents and then sync the changes once an Internet connection is reestablished.

    Once you’ve updated the Docs app for your Android phone or tablet, you can select individual documents that you want to make available offline. The document is downloaded and it will then be available in a list of offline documents. Once you’ve granted a document offline status, though, the offline version will be updated automatically when you connect to Wi-Fi.

    Google provides some more instructions on how to use offline Docs for Android. “You can make an item available offline while you have an Internet connection. You can also request to make an item available offline when your device is disconnected from the Internet,” Google said. “The item will update the next time your device regains Internet connectivity.”

    Unfortunately, Google noted that “offline editing isn’t currently supported,” and hasn’t yet said when it will be offered. In September, when the company introduced offline Docs access for Chrome, Google said future versions of the browser would support offline editing, but we’re still waiting for that to arrive as well. On the plus side, Gmail’s offline mode in Chrome can work somewhat like a regular mail client, allowing you to reply to e-mails offline and have them sent automatically when an Internet connection is established.


    Fox News FAIL: Google “Easter Egg” claimed to be disabled was never official Google code

    Heard about the “Let it Snow” Easter Egg added to Google’s Search Engine by Google earlier this week? Yes, I bet you have – ever since Google casually made reference to it on Twitter, news agencies across America and Europe have been pouncing on the news like cats on mice – in fact, if Google’s own metrics are to be believed, there are more than 175 unique news articles about it alone across the internet. Unfortunately, as is often the case with mass media, when a news agency knows a story is going global and wants to differentiate its take on the story from others, invariably somewhere along the line misinformation will slip in.

    Chalk one up to Fox News for just this reason. In their take on the news – credited to News Corp’s Australian Print (and keep in mind News Corp. is owned by Fox) – Fox News decided to also print examples of other famous Google Easter Eggs to show that the company has a fun streak to them. This list includes the famous “Chuck Norris” joke, described by them thus: Read the rest of this entry »

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2011
    Acknowledgements: Quoted segment courtesy of Fox News
    Some Rights Reserved

    Google Buzzing No More

    In a move that will shock absolutely no-one who actually paid attention to the service in the first place, a Friday post on Google Inc.’s blog revealed that Google is finally planning to pull the plug on its ill-fated Google Buzz service.

    Buzz was a Social Networking component users could add to GMail to send status updates to their regular email correspondents and any other followers – but is more likely to remembered as a botched attempt by Google to build a strong Social Networking product of its own; and one with major privacy concerns. Buzz’s integration with GMail caused trouble when it was discovered that, after it was activated, Buzz automatically created social circles that exposed users’ most frequent GMail contacts for everyone to see. That kind of transparency didn’t go over well with people whose contact lists included secret lovers, ex-spouses, doctors and prospective employers – and despite overhauling the service to give people more control over their information, the changes came too late to placate outrage users and privacy watchdogs; and Google would later be reprimanded by the Federal Trade Commission.

    In a conference call Thursday to discuss Google’s third-quarter earnings, Page promised the company will be weaving more of the company’s products into Google+ to ensure that users get an “automagical” experience – a move that makes sense, given that the Google+ Social Network already matches a lot of Buzz’s feature set while remaining much more privacy-orientated; and has attracted more than 40 million users already. The closure of Buzz will mean that after 20-odd months of lukewarm reception, Buzz will join more than 20 other products and services that Page has closed since he replaced Eric Schmidt as CEO in April. Page says he wants to “put more wood behind fewer arrows” as Google tries to maintain its dominance of Internet search and advertising while it duels with Apple Inc. for supremacy in the increasingly important smartphone market.


    Google starts warning users of malware infection

    A recent post on the Official Google Blog and cross-posted on the Google Online Security Blog will certainly please security researchers and anti-virus developers, as well as raise eyebrows for a lot of other people – Google has begun to warn users of its Search Engine when it believes they may be infected with a particular strain of malware.

    Reportedly, it all started when Google performed routine maintenance on one of their data centres, and took a look at search patterns performed on their search engine handled by it. Google discovered that some of the traffic looked highly unusual, and brought it up with security engineers at several companies that were sending this modified traffic. Together, it was determined that the computers exhibiting this behavior were infected "with a particular strain of malicious software".

    In a move to keep the users of Google services safe and prevent data theft – which would be a nightmare for everybody – Google has taken the unexpected step of warning its users when it detects a search request that its research indicates may mean the computer is infected with this malware. If such an infection is detected, this message will appear above their search results:

    "Your computer appears to be infected"

    "Your computer appears to be infected" - Google warns this user of a malware infection

    It should be made clear that this is not comprehensive protection. Google only detects one particular strain of malware and provides advice on how to remove it from infected computers – it does not (and cannot) actually remove the malware itself, and other bad software may not be detected at all. According to Google, "The malware appears to have gotten onto users’ computers from one of roughly a hundred variants of fake antivirus, or “fake AV” software that has been in circulation for a while. We aren’t aware of a common name for the malware. We believe a couple million machines are affected by this malware."

    Even with the limited protection it provides, Google believe this new step to keeping users safe has already resulted in tens of thousands of people being made aware of the malware that would not have been otherwise, and subsequently caused fewer lasting infections and made Google users much safer overall. Which is surely something to be commended.


    Google hits one billion unique visitors in a month

    In a first for any Internet company, Google hit one billion unique visitors in May, according to the results of a comScore report. The surprises keep coming as, contrary to some predictions, the company has also beaten Facebook to the milestone.

    Reportedly Google’s unique visitor count for the month of may increased by a total of 8.4% over previous months, taking them just over the one billion mark for the first time in the history of the entire internet.

    But Google can’t rest on its laurels just yet, as while they may have had the biggest gain in terms of numbers, Facebook is growing faster in terms of percentages, with ComScore reporting a percentage surge of 30%, increasing Facebook’s average monthly unique visitor count to about 714 million users.

    ComScore’s statistics for website popularity come from a system not unlike how Neilsen ratings work for TV – by combining the recorded browing history of over two million internet users with page view data from 90 or so of the top web content publishers, to make up a realistic statistical view of activity across the net. Unfortunately Google is not one of these publishers, so ComScore relies mainly on its own statistical analysis for scoring Google – but by using actual data in combination with their own systems, ComScore has proven time and again to be strongly accurate and realistic with their statistics even without the guarantees.

    Back in early 2006, when comScore started keeping track of these things, they placed Google at 496 million unique visitors per month. What a leap five years makes, huh?


    Google’s Chromebook: What Are The Public Saying?

    Google Chromebooks – the new netbook-style portable computers by Google that are designed to use the internet, and only the internet, to do everything and do it fast – have been in the news a lot this week, and naturally lots of people are expressing their opinions on how good it is, to the chance it has to disrupt the regular computer market, to whether it’s a competitor to the iPad. And as you'd expect, no-one can agree with anyone else, with reviews being mixed all around. This, despite the fact the computers have only just become available for pre-order and few even have one yet.
    Well, I say, enough with the tech insiders and expert's opinions! There's only one group who can truly decide how good or how successful a product is going to be – and that's the people who Google want to buy it. So over the last few days, I've been collecting consumer opinions from various websites. Here's my selection of some of the best. Feel free to add your own in the comments, and form your own decisions about the product. Read the rest of this entry »