Google, Microsoft to compete for government software contract

Google can now bid for a $59 million U.S. Interior Department cloud e-mail and productivity contract, according to a department decision filed Wednesday.
Google had sued the Interior Department last October over its decision to consider only Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite for a contract to provide email and collaboration technology to the department's 88,000 employees.
In January, Judge Susan Braden ordered the department to hold off awarding the contract while she reviewed the case. She later saidthat there was "justifiable basis" for her to find violations of procurement laws.
Now the department has reopened the bidding process, kicking Google's legal challenge to the curb and opening up the contract to both Microsoft's Office 365 cloud productivity services and Google Apps for Government.
Microsoft and Google are battling it out for key government and business contracts, particularly as Microsoft expands its cloud-based email and collaboration services in the public sector.
The government's previous request for information required support for Microsoft's BPOS, but, according to Wednesday's filing, the research used by the Interior Department "is now stale in light of new developments in technology and entrants into the market."
The Department of the Interior said it's now updating its market research and prepping to reopen the bidding process for its cloud email and collaboration services.
"We're pleased with the outcome of our discussions with the Department of Interior, and look forward to the opportunity to compete for its business and save taxpayers money," said Google in a statement.
Microsoft also issued a statement about the matter: "We are pleased the case has been dismissed, and that the Department of Interior can proceed to obtain the secure email system it needs. We are fully prepared to continue competing for the Department's business and are confident that we offer the best cloud solutions and value."
Google's enterprise Gmail service was recently deemed a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Online and other cloud-based email services, according to research firm Gartner.
Microsoft and Google have taken public jabs as they fight for cloud e-mail clients, with Google saying Microsoft services are unreliableand Microsoft touting its privacy policy over Google's.

Google+ Will Soon Get A Name Change

Bradley Horowitz Says The Google Plus Name Will Be Dropped & Will Simply “Be Google”

Google is up to some changes. Until now, many of Google’s services have been very separate, each going their own way and becoming their own animals. YouTube, Gmail, Picasa, and even Google+ have been their own products on a certain level. Google is working on changing all of that which will include a name change for Google Plus.

Google+ will lose its name and will become all that Google is and will tie into everything in Google. Google VP of products Bradley Horowitz explains it this way:
"Until now, every single Google property acted like a separate company. Due to the way we grew, through various acquisitions and the fierce independence of each division within Google, each product sort of veered off in its own direction.
But Google+ is Google itself. We’re extending it across all that we do—search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube—so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are."
How this will all play out, we’re not really sure. Google’s up to something here and all we can do is watch to see what it is.

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Shahrukh Khan to promote ‘RA.One’ with Google Plus

The new tie-up intends to boost Facebook’s rival social networking site and the superhero film

Shahrukh Khan is a brand ambassador – yet again. And the latest firm to sign him up is internet giant Google. King Khan has agreed to promote its new social networking site, Google Plus along with his upcoming film RA.One. As part of the tie-up, Shahrukh will join Google Plus and participate in a live chat on the site, using the Hangouts feature over the next couple of weeks.

On its part, Google will promote RA.One through not only Google Plus but also through YouTube – with behind the scenes videos, streaming of the premiere and other events across the globe, and various contests. In fact, a first-of-its-kind video about RA.One is already up on YouTube. Shahrukh is reportedly very excited about getting a chance to create a platform where his fans from all over the world can engage with his film. But whether Shahrukh’s charisma is enough to convince even a part of his mega fan following into becoming Google Plus users – so that the Internet giant can defeat Facebook – remains to be seen.

Shahrukh Khan’s ‘RA.One’ takes over YouTube

For perhaps the first time in Bollywood history, the King Khan has roped in the most popular video site on the Internet to promote his home production, the superhero flick RA.One

There is a lot riding on RA.One for Shahrukh Khan in particular and Bollywood in general, because it is touted as a film that will silence all those who think that Bollywood is a complete non-starter compared to Hollywood as far as superhero films are concerned. SRK is going the whole hog to promote his film and he has pulled off a gimmick which even the biggest names in B-town couldn’t manage. 

Usually the official pages of all production houses are static, with only the trailers and songs of the film showcased, but Shahrukh has upped the ante. The official channel of RA.One on Youtube is a spectacle in itself, as it has the hero, aka G.One, aka SRK jumping in and out of windows, shooting down villains and much much more. The heavy duty animation combined with SRK’s famed wit makes it an amazing experience. 

This is one of the most creative and unique uses of the popular site by anyone in Bollywood. It doesn’t end with the trailer that ends with promoting branded merchandise; there is a promo-making contest for users as well. This contest is a novelty for a film of this genre and many aspiring filmmakers have already started to find ways to impress the King Khan with their creative inspirations. All this will certainly help the film in winning audiences the world over, but will the movie itself manage to wow critics and the BO? We are waiting to see what trick the marketing maestro has up his sleeve to deal with that!


CityVille launches on Google Plus


Google Plus' casual gaming cabinet may not be as fully stocked as the Facebook alternative, but one crucial missing piece of the puzzle has just been filled in: Megalithic social monolith Zynga has ported CityVille, their most popular Facebook game, to Google's fledgling platform.

The release comes shortly after the end of Google Plus' closed beta, and now that its e-doors are open to the public, we doubt this will be the end of Zynga's extra-Facebook expansion. Seeing as the company just posted a 95 percent drop in profit year over year, developing its products beyond its existing user base is a shrewd move.


Salgar, Product Manager at Google+ Games, the developing network is rolling out the ability to add your own comments to game posts in an effort to personalize the experience for each user, while an improved Games stream now has realtime updates and even keyboard shortcuts.

With newer games like Global Warfare from Kabam and CityVille from Zynga now added to Google+, we can only expect that the young social network will continue to grow and iterate on its current features. Judging from the comments it appears that Google+ is also keeping an ear on what the gaming community actually wants, while encouraging feedback from actual social gamers.

Google Plus Traffic Surges, Closes In on Myspace, Linkedin


Google Plus is still no Facebook, Twitter or even MySpace, but its decision to open its services to all users is already paying dividends.


Experian Hitwise, a market research company, reports that the site’s market share in the social media world increased 1,269 percent last week.

Yes, you read that correctly. Not 12. Not 69. Not even 269. 1,269 percent.

Those 15 million visits to the site the week of Sep. 24 propelled Google Plus inside the top 10 of most popular social networking sites, a category dominated by Facebook with its nearly 1.8 billion visits last week.

While the increase does not signal that Google Plus is a real challenger to Mark Zuckerberg and company, it does position it to overtake sites like MySpace and Linkedin very soon if it continues to grow its following.

An Experian Hitwise spokesperson pointed out that the strongest positive indicator for continued growth was how its audience has expanded.

While it initially attracted mostly college students, who are deemed “early adopters,” it is now luring in broader segments of the population.

The research company divides consumers into “fun” groups, and while Google Plus first attracted those in “Colleges and Cafés” and “University Town,” it has progressed to “Bohemian Groove" and “Hispanic Hospitality.”

The former of those represents “older, divorced and widowed individuals enjoying settled urban lives” while the latter “middle class Hispanic families living lively lifestyles in city-centered neighborhoods.”

Those names and definitions may provoke more laughter than comprehension, but they mean that more varied groups of people are using the service.

The speed of this growth is also noteworthy, far exceeding that of sites like Facebook or Twitter. Now Google Plus did open its gates to everyone faster as well. If you remember, Facebook waited some time before permitting non-students to sign up.

It is too early to tell whether or not this bump in traffic will be sustained, but the Experian Hitwise spokesperson indicated that the popularity of Google’s other features -- Gmail, YouTube and, of course, search -- should push more people to use the site.

Search in particular was a big driver last week, so that big blue arrow pointing at Google Plus must have worked.

But for how long?


Share your ‘circles’ with other Google Plus users

Google is rolling out a new feature on its social network that will let users share who’s in their “circles,” or friend groups, on the site.

Google Plus has become a way for people to follow favorite celebrities, talking heads in certain fields and other interesting folks, and users have been asking for a way to share those groups with one another. According to a post from software engineer Owen Prater, users can now do just that by choosing a circle, clicking the “share” option and commenting on that circle. Users can, of course, decide which circles they want to share that information with.

And there’s a bit of good news for users who’ve been a bit whimsical with their circle names — when you share a circle, you only share who’s in it, and not the name of the circle. So if someone is in your “Acquaintances” circle instead of your “BFF” circle, they’ll never have to know. Even if you share a circle, all subsequent edits are private. 


Remove inactive Google Plus Users From Your Google Circle

If you want to remove existing or your old friends who are not active on Google Plus, then use Uncircle+, which is a Google Chrome extension to remove inactive users from your Google circle.
Despite the age limit locked down by Google Plus, this Google social networking site has successfully collared over 50 million users in a few months.

And if you have unknowingly employed the mass circle feature on Google Plus, then all your existing Gmail contacts are given an invite to join Google Plus.

Removing them manually from your Google Plus account can be extremely hectic, especially if you have over 500 folks who don’t update anymore — or, who just bomb your Google Plus timeline with irrelevant, automated updates in every hour or so.

Remove inactive Google Plus Accounts :

Uncircle+ is a Google Chrome extension which uses Google’s API to scan through your Circles and details out the list of folks who haven’t updated their Google Plus account.

You can see the list of inactive users, banned users and also remove them in one click.
  1. Launch Google Chrome browser and install the Uncircle+ extension.
  2. Go to Google Plus and log into your account.
  3. Click on the Uncircle button which opens a new window.
  4. Click on Find Inactive People!
  5. This should generate a list of users who haven’t posted any update to their Google Plus account.
  6. Once the list is generated, select the users you want to remove.
That was pretty easy, right?

Removing users from your Google Circle is more of a house cleaning task. You don’t want to do it, but when you do it, everything looks a lot better — and you feel good, too!


Google Plus Minimum Age Requirements And Restrictions

"Google Plus, despite the age limitation, has mustered over 10 million users in under 3 days"

For those who don’t know yet, teenagers under 18 cannot sign-up for a Google Plus account. You can witness the rage in Google Help Forum where college-goers, school students — somewhere between the age of 13 to 17  — have expressed their disappointed with the age limit locked down by Google.

Despite the invite and the open registration, Google treats anyone under 18 years of age with the following message:

"This feature is not yet available for your account: You must be over a certain age to use this feature."    

Facebook has a 13+ age requirement, and I was bemused with the restrictions put forth by Google Plus. So, I took a step further to find out the reason why Google Plus would stamp the 18+ age limit. 

This is what Seth, a Google employee, had to say:
"Hey Everyone,Thank you for kicking off this conversation about Google+ Field Trial. The thread that cwlees (user) references is correct with regard to the current age eligibility to join Google+. We want to make sure that Google+ provides the best experience to users under 18 who may be eligible to use our product before we open it up to them."

Apparently, Google Plus FAQ page doesn’t detail out the minimum age requirement. The only page with concrete information is this, which says:
"Google Plus is open Beta – This means invitations are no longer needed – 18+ only."    

But my under-18 Friends are on Google Plus.

If this question boggles your mind, then I think it’s fair to assume the following:

As anyone with a Gmail account can sign-up for Google Plus, there’s a fair chance that your friend has faked his date of birth while signing up for a Gmail account.

Or, he/she is using someone else’s — or their parents’ — Gmail account to access Google Plus.

What to do?

If you are struggling to get into Google Plus because of your age, then there’s nothing much you could do. However, as Google is rigorously employing improvement into their social networking site, it wouldn’t take too long for the age limit to come down to 13. 

For now, just hang in there, and wait for Google to amend their age policy. Maybe, you know, use a different Gmail account.


A Week in Google: Mobile Multiple Sign-in, Plus for All & Chrome 14

This week was all about expansion in the Googleverse. The Internet giant made multiple sign-in for Gmail available on mobile devices and opened up Plus for all. Meanwhile, developers found more joy than users in the quiet release of Chrome 14.

Mobile Gmail, Now with Multiple Sign-in 

The multiple sign-in feature has been fairly popular among GMail users since its release, but only those working from a desktop could enjoy the convenience of it. This week, Google is ushering in its slew of mobile users, who can now utilize the feature on their smartphones and tablets.

"To sign into an additional account, click on the account switcher at the bottom of the threadlist, then click 'Sign into an another account.' You can quickly switch between accounts by selecting the desired account from the Accounts menu," writes Dominic Leung, Mobile Software Engineer, on Google's official announcement.

While it's a welcome addition, it's still a tad bit lacking compared to the desktop version. For example, the "Send From" option that allows users to send mail from multiple addresses is not available.
Google+ Open to All, Now With Search and New Features

After roughly three months in invite-only mode, Google+ has moved up a peg with a new public beta, offering new features including search, wider hangouts and improved smartphone support.

Broadcasting allows people to tune into a Hangout to see what's going on, even if it has hit maximum capacity. In the back-end there are improvements in stability and quality of broadcast.

PC users can now share whiteboards in Google Docs with their friends to help aid collaboration efforts. Google has also released the public APIs so developers can start building with the service. Soon we could see the types of apps and diversions that made Facebook such a hit.

Those without a Plus account will find the '+You' button in the corner of any Google page. A quick sign up later and you can join in on the glory that is Circles, Hangouts, Video chat, etc. People already in the Google+ club can add their friends with the mix by inviting up to 150 people.

 Chrome 14 Adds Native Client Support, New Audio Spec & Security Fixes

Google quietly rolled out the latest Chrome update over the weekend. Most Windows users won't notice the changes, but Mac OS X Lion users will be pleased with a few UI optimizations for the Mac version.

This update will be more exciting for developers, as Google has already activated Native Client application support through sandbox. The Internet giant has been planning to implement its Native Client or NaCl framework on Chrome for ages. Meant as a ground-up redesign of the browser, NaCl lets developers build platform-agnostic applications on the browser, which should run as C/C++ binaries independent of the hardware or the operating system, and in a secure environment. This feature is already embedded into older Chrome versions, although disabled by a flag.

Chrome 14 comes with NaCl automatically enabled, although the framework will only work with content downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. The browser should automatically update for most users, particularly those using the stable channel. Be sure to check your version through the "About Chrome" option, which should check Google's servers for any update.

Google's Mobile Push

Google has been gently pushing mobile website owners to optimize their sites for mobile for some time now, but a recent announcement indicates that Internet giant is through with playing nice. Google will now consider whether or not an advertiser has a mobile-optimized site when assessing ads quality for all AdWords campaigns.

In other words, when Google considers which ads to feature, it will factor in how well a site is tailored for mobile devices. While there's no guarantee that advertisers will gain better visibility, checking all boxes for optimum ad placement is, obviously, very important.

Google: Facebook is becoming “a closed walled garden”

Summary: A Google executive believes that Facebook is becoming “a closed walled garden” and will soon end up like AOL and IBM: it will have to completely change its business in order to survive.

Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist and the designer of TCP/IP, warns that Facebook’s “closed” architecture means the company will eventually fail to keep up with the public’s desire for the flexibility of an open standard. Speaking at an event organized by The Guardian, Cerf said that Facebook was at risk of following the path of companies such as AOL and IBM, suggesting the social networking giant has no long-term future. 

His comments come in the same week that Google released Google+ as a public beta. Also this week, Facebook released its updated News Feed, the Ticker, and hosted its f8 developer conference where it announced a new Timeline feature to replace the current profile. 

Cerf said AOL began in the 1980s as “a walled garden model” that “persisted for quite a while until the users of AOL forced it to be made accessible to the internet” – the company’s original business model of providing its own version of the Internet became irrelevant and it had to transition into an online publisher. He also noted IBM’s proprietary networking systems were rendered obsolete after it was forced to adopt Internet technology for its computers because “users didn’t want to be locked in” to one brand of hardware.

Facebook is becoming “a closed walled garden” and its problem is that the “ability to connect to people inside the walled garden” will be overwhelmed by “a desire to interconnect” to other social networks and websites, according to Cerf. If Palo Alto is going to reach such a point, it’s not happening anytime soon. The company recently passed 800 million active users and is expected to make $4 billion in revenue this year.

The Google executive is likely referring to Facebook’s insistence on not letting any other service access its data, which the search giant is particularly annoyed by. The social networking giant, meanwhile, is slowly getting better at sharing with others: it recently started supporting microformats for your exported Facebook data and plans on pushing out official Twitter support soon.

Cerf uses Facebook, but notes he was “mortally insulted” unhappy when the social network began blocking friend requests because he had too many friends. After complaining to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, he was allowed to increase the number of his friends, but this left him overwhelmed with information about “what these friends were doing” – news he conceded “I couldn’t care about.” Cerf’s solution was of course to use Google+ and its Circles feature, which he argues gives people more control over who they share news and personal information with.

Facebook and Google have a complicated history, but recently their disagreement has become much more heated. The two Internet giants are essentially fighting a social war, one in which the only clear winner is the consumer.

24.9.11 Announces New Buy Google +1 Service

Culpeper, VA, September 23, 2011 --( The Buy Google +1 Service allows webmasters to instantly increase their Google Plus One ranking by 100 to 400 plus ones in three weeks or less. All Google Plus Ones come from real people that have verified Google phone accounts. analyzes each customer's website and finds targeted visitors that actually want to see their sites. does not use automated scripts to complete Buy Google +1 orders. Buy Google +1 packages are high quality, competitive and comprehensive Google Plus One packages used to boost a websites ranking and sales.

Many experts believe that Google is currently, or soon will be including Google Plus One in the algorithm that determines where sites end up in the search engine results. Webmasters can either wait to build the number of Google Plus Ones their site receives using traditional methods, or they can get ahead of their competition by using the Buy Google +1 service to help add thousands of Google Plus Ones to their websites quickly and efficiently. Google Plus Ones are a great marketing tool for webmasters. offers several Buy Google +1 packages starting as low as $40 for 100 high quality Google Plus Ones. Visit here for more information.

Google wants to be your wallet

In recent months, with the release of Google Plus, and numerous other ventures, we have raised the question of whether Google is the king of the online network world. Now Google is pushing to make its way into your everyday life outside the online world as well.

The next step in this evolution is the technology giant becoming your personal financial assistant, of course the software will be known as Google Wallet!

The idea is, you carry all those credit cards, and everyone has a cell phone that they always carry, so why not replace the need for carrying all those credit cards, and use a single application on your cell phone. Instead of swiping a credit card through a reader, you will wave your phone accross the terminal.

You might already see the next interesting twist in this process. What operating system will this application run on?  The Android OS, the one that Google controls, of course.

So far the application is only available on the Nexus S 4G on the Sprint network.   Google began rolling out the application this week to owners of the Nexus S.  According to a recent New York Times article, Google says it is talking with all the major Android phone makers.

Currently the Google Wallet is partnering with the MasterCard PayPass network. By going to the Google Wallet website you can punch it your zipcode and see where the service works in your neighborhood.

What's next for Google?

We often made jokes about Microsoft digging deeply into our wallet. Looks like Google has gone one step further, they are planning to become our wallet.

We have all heard the investment advice of not putting all your eggs in one basket.  Is anyone getting a bit concerned about not putting all your tools in one wallet?

What will be the next Google tool to make its way into your life?


Google Plus Is "Exploding" With Growth With Millions Joining Every Day

  Google+ is Really Taking Off! Millions Joining Daily. 30%
Increase in Users in last 2 days.

On September 9, our model showed 28.7 million users.

This morning, our model shows 37.8 million users, with most of the growth coming in the last 2 days

And our current estimate is 43.4 million users.

The timing on Google+ opening up to the public is interesting. Facebook has made a ton of UI changes this week and is holding it's F8 Developers Conference today - in fact it is just staring now. According to a survey this week by Mashable, 72.2% of Facebook users hate the recent UI changes, including the News Feed redesign. Twitter's stream was filled with complaints yesterday about Facebook under the hashtag #newfacebook.

Google is a company that has had the incredible discipline for more than a decade to use a very simple, minimalist design on its home page along with a long search box to encourage longer queries. Changes to home page links are very infrequent. The popularity of its home page never led Google to turn itself into a portal, with hundreds of links and a few lucrative ads. Given that discipline, I think the tens of millions of people who will be signing up for and using Google+ will find that changes here will be very well thought out, very iterative, very carefully tested, and won't be nearly as jarring as the changes that have been made at other social networks. Google is not in a rush to change the world. They are on a steady course to do so.

But 43 million users in a handful of months? And a lot of that entrance in a final dual days? we consider it’s protected to contend Google Plus is going to be around a while. It’s a long, prolonged highway to truly plea Facebook’s dominance, though a expansion of Google Plus has already exceeded what even some confident analysts predicted.


Google Plus Could Become Luxury’s Platform of Choice

Buzz about Google Plus is fading as concerns about traffic decreases take hold, but a steady concentration of traffic from affluent demographics could create the perfect conditions for luxury marketers.

According to a recent study by Experian Hitwise, “prosperous, middle-aged married couples living child-focused lives in affluent suburbs” make up 2.9 percent of site visits on Google+. By contrast, this same demographic (profiled in the word cloud below) makes up less than 0.7 percent of Facebook visits.
Facebook will undoubtedly maintain its lion’s share hold over the social media market for the time being, but the prospect of a platform with such a comparatively high concentration of affluent users is worth noting.

The affluent demographic pictured above is more than four times more likely to visit Google Plus than the rest of the Internet population overall. Google’s release of brand pages will ultimately determine the fate of luxury’s fit on the platform, but early signs of seamless multimedia interaction and a minimal interface seem to bode well for the platform.

Even if Plus takes third place in social networking prominence behind Facebook and Twitter, luxury brands shouldn’t dismiss the platform as another social networking fizzle from Google.



Google is throwing open the doors for its social network to everyone, the company announced in a Tuesday.
The Google+ project has been in field trial for just under 90 days, and in that time Google made 91 different improvements (many of which are posted here). Google+ is still in its infancy, of course, but Google were excited than ever to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. Today releasing nine more features that get  much closer.

+Hangouts: more places, more people, more to do

The setup is simple enough: just start a normal hangout, and you’ll have the option to broadcast and record your session. Once you’re “On Air,” up to nine others can join your hangout (as usual), and anyone can watch your live broadcast:

Hangout users can now name, record and broadcast video sessions. And while you’re on a video chat, Google has now also given you the option to share your screen, make a collaborative doodle, work on a documents. 

The Search function, now accessible from the Google+ search box will return results that include content from the social network and the Web

Mobile users also saw a huge boost in features, with the company switching on mobile Hangouts, improving SMS support and sharing features and adding more profile editing options for mobile users. Another change: Google Huddle, the group messaging program, is now called Messenger — sound familiar? — and now supports photo sharing.


For the past 12 weeks Google been in field trial, and during that time Google listened and learned a great deal. Google+ nowhere near done, but with the improvements made so far  ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce 100th feature: open signups. This way anyone can visit, join the project and connect with the people they care about.


Google Testing Celebrity Endorsements on Paid Search Results

Google + new feature will provide endorsement to searched products by celebrities such as the Kardashian sisters. 

Google is planning a new advertising program that will show celebrity endorsement of products.

Christian Oestlien, Google’s head of social advertising said that the company is currently testing the feature, which will appear under paid search results.

During his presentation at the SMX Conference in New York City, Oestlien showed a sample screenshot in which a product, available in US department store Sears, appeared in search results with the endorsement of the Kardashian sisters.

"Some advertisers use celebrity endorsement in their ads. This test extends the option of celebrity endorsement to online campaigns," a Google spokesman said. "We're always testing new ways to make advertising more compelling to our users and advertisers."

Some experts claim that Google’s move is an attempt to get rid of companies that offer illegitimate or fake products. Under new Google Plus social network, celebrities will be able to ‘+1’the websites they support.

If Google’s Own CEO Won’t Use Google+ Then Who Will?

[Google CEO Larry Page Hasn't Updated His Own Google Plus Page In Over A Month]

What is it these days and the apparent non-loyalty to leaders’ own brands? We heard not that long ago about a picture taken of a Google chairman using a BlackBerry phone. That’s a chairman of the company that owns Android. Seriously. Now most recently we are noticing that Google’s own CEO hasn’t used his Google+ account for a month now.

We have to give him a lttle space here because there is the possibility that he’s been busily using it privately within his circles. Another excuse could be that he’s too busy taking over the world. OK, seriously now, maybe he’s just a busy man. It’s true that Google has like a ton of services and that the CEO can’t be the most active user on every single one.

However, you’d think he’d make a point to make sure this new social network they are pushing so hard looks as if it’s being used, a little. Common man, let’s rally!

Managing implications of the new ‘Ciggy Break’

It’s no doubt social networking is a popular innovation that is here to stay, with the advent of Google Plus just the latest iteration of a social media crazed world.

While it’s not hard to see why social media is so popular, with the ability to connect with friends, family and colleagues and interact online like never before, the impact on small business is not so clear with implications on productivity and the security of critical business information.

Recent high profile cyber-attacks to organisations of all sizes demonstrate that no business is immune to cyber-criminals. A recent survey by Symantec for instance, showed 40 percent of small businesses have fallen victim to a cybercrime of one type or another.

These attacks can lead to the loss of crucial data such as client and personal information, documents, logins, and details of financial transactions such as credit card and billing information. The impact of losing a customer’s information for an SMB can be severe, leading to customer loss as well as reputational and financial impact of up to AUD$2 million per incident.

In an attempt to limit these threats, many small businesses have banned the use of social networking sites in the workplace. Today, half (48 percent) of Australian businesses have either made a policy banning the use of social networking sites or have blocked the sites altogether.

Some employers compromise by allowing employees to use social networking sites during their lunch breaks or downtime, much like the cigarette break of old (reference) but they reason that social networking, like cigarettes, is harmful to the health of a business.

What complicates the situation is how deeply penetrated social media is in society. In Australia, 62 percent of internet users visit a social networking site every day, some before they even get out of bed. It has become closely intertwined with our lives, especially since we can now access these sites through mobile devices anytime and anywhere. Recent research by Telstra for example, shows a growing percentage of Australians (36 percent) own a smartphone and 89 percent of those owners use it to access social networking sites.

The result is that while employers may have control over social networking usage on desktop computers, bans are ineffective against smartphones and tablets. Even if we cast mobile devices aside, employees will find creative ways to access social networking sites through loopholes in IT security or policy. The Excel book “Be stupid at work V3.0” application for example, allows people to login into their social networking site as an Excel spreadsheet to make it look as though they are working. The application sets up messages and statuses under headings such as ‘products’ and ‘clients’ in a spreadsheet format to avoid the curious eye of the boss.

The proliferation of mobile devices and circumvention of IT policy demonstrates a different approach required in managing the ingrained nature of social media. Banning social networking is often a blunt approach, where there are a number of ways small businesses can avoid security breaches while still managing the opportunities available to them. The primary tool is educating employees on how to use social networking sites safely.

Some tips include:
  • Beware of suspicious links. Check a website’s address and security certificate before entering to make sure it is a legitimate site. Always look to see if HTTPS is in the address. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be wary of posting personal information. Avoid entering in sensitive and personal information such as your birth date. Even be cautious when giving out arbitrary details such as pet names or former streets you have lived. Cyber attackers can use any information to set up attacks against you.
  • Check privacy settings regularly. Constantly check that your account and information is secure as it can be to avoid potential attacks.
  • Don’t save passwords to a computer. Either commit to memory a strong password or store it in a reliable password management program.
  • Don’t accept requests from strangers.
  • Don’t click on links in messages. Instead type in the web address and search to ensure safety. Even if the link has come from a friend be wary of clicking the link. A popular and effective tactic of cyber attackers is to pose as a friend you may know and send you viruses.
  • Always report any suspicious activity. If you come across something that can be a potential threat, flag it to the site’s administrators and your IT team.
Ironically, while many small businesses are predisposed to banning social media, more and more of them are seeing success in using it as a business tool (97 percent of Australian businesses with a social media presence expect to see an increase in sales as a result. Through effective governance and education, businesses can take advantage of social media as well as manage the potential security risks. The steps above present an initial starting point to help achieve this goal.


40 New APIs: Google Plus, Social Trip Planning, Foodspotting

This week we had 40 new APIs added to our API directory including a social trip planning service, content sharing service, startup financing community, website video recording tool, food review and sharing service, and a mobile marketing service. Below are more details on each of these new APIs. 

Add To Trip API: Add to Trip is a centralized white-label, graph-api platform where travelers can collaborate with friends and family on a trip via their website or application. 

The Add to Trip API lets users manage a social travel network including user creation/authentication, social notifications, geolocation searches, trip itineraries, travel related objects and more. With the API, developers can create trips; add hotels, flights and more to that trip; invite friends to join the trip via social tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; use geolocation to look up other user's trips and recommendations. 

The API also lets users create a social travel graph by relating objects to each other. Users can get information about travel-specific items such as restaurants, hotels, points of interest, activities, shopping, purchase history, and their relationships between each other and people. This functionality allows users to create believable recommendations based on where someone has traveled, their purchase behavior, and their friends. In addition, the Add to Trip API has a messaging mechanism, where any thread of messages can be related to any other API object. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are fomratted in JSON.

Adigami Web Analytics API: Adigami offers an SEO monitoring and aggregation tool that lets users view web analytics data. The REST API gives users access to all the major web advertising analytics data. Support is included for Google AdWords and Analytics Microsoft adCenter (Bing and Yahoo search ads) Facebook Ads Facebook Social (Graph API) DoubleClick (display and search results from ReportCentral) Yahoo APT (display ads) Twitter. It gives users a dozen or so standard calls that are applicable across many platforms. Responses are formatted in JSON.

Amadeus Cruise API: Amadeus is the leading provider of IT solutions and transaction processor to the travel and tourism industry. Amadeus provides processing services including search, pricing, booking and ticketing in real-time to travel providers and travel agencies.

Amadeus Cruise Direct Connect is a worldwide distribution channel and provides a way to book cruises. It enables cruise providers to focus on customer service and reduce call center costs by increasing the automation rate; converting telephone bookings into online bookings. 

The API is a connection between the Amadeus system and a user's own reservation system, enabling agencies to view their live, real-time inventory and availability when accessing Amadeus' sales and e-commerce solutions. The API offers the following functionality: distribution via online travel agencies and private-labeled cruise B2B and B2C applications. Full documentation is not publicly available.

AngelList API: AngelList is a community of startups and investors with the goal of making fund raising efficient. Angel investors are listed along with contact information which startups can use to set up introductions. The AngelList API provides developers with a RESTful interface to the AngelList data set. Data includes followers, reviews, startups and more. Responses are formatted in JSON and JSONP.

AudioMicro API: AudioMicro is a stock music and sound effects collection. AudioMicro licenses stock music and sound effects to producers to be included in their media.  

The AudioMicro API allows developers to access content and data from AudioMicro to create other applications. Some example API methods include searching the library by category and sub-categories, downloading track URLs, and retrieving the most recent tracks and the most popular tracks.

Automeme API: Automeme is an automated meme generator, churning out random nonsense on demand. The API lets users add memes to their web site or application. It uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in JSON, HTML and TXT.

CityGroups API: CityGroups is a searchable public directory that allows community organizers and residents to find community groups by location and topic. CityGroups helps connect and publicize these groups by working with local community groups, governments and local technologists to make an open platform for finding and recommending groups working to make cities better.

The directory uses a simple data standard that allows humans and computers to import and export data from the system. Data can be imported using CSV and an API is available that allows for export using JSON. Developers can use this data to build new services on top of the group listings, such as a map, a text-message service, or group-to-group notification system.

Crop PDF for Amazon Kindle API: This API lets users crop their PDF files for maximum readability on Amazon's Kindle. Users can upload a file, crop a single page or crop an entire document. It uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in JSON.

CS50 HarvardEvents API: HarvardEvents is a calendar app that details events happening around the Harvard campus. The data is also available programaticaly through the RESTful HarvardEvents API in CSV, iCalendar, JSON, JSONP, PHP, RSS, or XML formats. This data can be used to integrate HarvardEvents into a developer's own applications. HarvardEvents is available for Non-Comercial use via a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical 3.0 Unported license. For commercial use, contact the author.

CS50 HarvardMaps API: HarvardMaps is an application that users can use to search and view maps of Harvard and building/hall data for Harvard buildings. The HarvardMaps API allows developers to get data from HarvardMaps programatically in CSV, JSON, PHP, or XML format. This data can be used to integrate HarvardMaps into a developer's own applications. HarvardMaps is available for Non-Comercial use via a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical 3.0 Unported license. For commercial use, contact the author.

DailyTvTorrents API: DailyTvTorrents indexes TV show torrents from the top sites on the web. With the DailyTvTorrents API users can integrate site information into their search engine, site, blog or app. The API also has commands for command-line users to use with curl. Functionality includes getting info about a show, getting episodes of a show including the latest episode, getting info about a torrent and more. It uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in JSON.

Earth Observing System API: ECHO is the data clearinghouse for the Earth Observing System (EOS), a service provided by NASA's Earth Science Data Information Systems (ESDIS) program. ECHO provides common mechanisms for provider communities to publish their data and service offerings and other mechanisms for consumers to discover, understand, and access those resources.

The API uses the SOAP and REST protocols and returns responses in XML.

Emailloop API: The Emailloop API lets users connect and sync their own databases and applications with their EmailLoop account. Push content and subscribers to EmailLoop or pull campaign reports and updated subscriber lists from EmailLoop. Full documentation is not publicly available.

Erply Inventory API: Erply is a service that offers software as service for retail inventory and e-commerce sites. Erply offers services such as inventory management, point of sale (POS), and sales.

The Erply Inventory API allows developers to access Erply's Inventory functionality and data. Some example API methods include accessing product information, customer information, editing customer information, and sales information.

Exchangery Trading API: The Exchangery is a commodities trading resource. The Exchangery offers users resources for commodity trading, such as technology, infrastructure, regulatory and clearing relationships, and online platforms so exchanges and commodities have a personalized online presence.

The Exchangery API allows developers to access the functionality and data within the Exchangery. Some example API methods include adding and editing information on trades, products, accounts, and screens.

FanBridge API: FanBridge is a customer engagement and reward service. Clients of FanBridge can use their tools to interact with their customers and fans, reward them for being customers and fans, and make new customers and fans.

The FanBridge API allows developers to access the functionality of FanBridge. Some example API methods include creating and sending email campaigns to customers and enabling new customers and fans to join the marketing list.

Fluidinfo API: Fluidinfo is an online information storage and search platform for content publishers. Fluidinfo provides openly writable metadata on all types of items, and also allows data and metadata about web content to be social and searchable. Content owners can publish their content with Fluidinfo, adding metadata and sharing content with others.

The Fluidinfo API allows developers to access the functionality and data of Fluidinfo to build other applications and integrate Fluidinfo into other applications. Some example API methods include searching and retrieving objects, users, and tags and other data included in Fluidinfo. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in JSON. 

Foodspotting API: Foodspotting is a visual food review and sharing site and application. Unlike other food review sites, Foodspotting lets users review dishes, instead of the restaurant. Along with the review, users can upload a photo of the dish, so other users can see what the dish looks like. Within the site and application, users can search by dish, restaurant, or location.

The Foodspotting API allows developers to access and integrate information and images from Foodspotting. Some example API methods include retrieving and uploading images, searching for and retrieving user information, dishes, places, and reviews, and adding reviews and other information. 

Framey API: Framey is a JavaScript application that lets users record video on any website. With Framey, users can embed a webcam recorder into their sites. Users can integrate Framey by embedding the recorder, then use a rubygem or provided code snippets to accept updates from the Framey server when new videos are ready. Responses are formatted in JSON.

Google Plus API: Google Plus is a service to share links, photos and other content. The Google Plus API allows developers to access publicly-available Google Plus content, including user information and publicly shared items.

How do you pronounce and use…? API: A multimedia pronunciation dictionary and English word usage API. Search for a word and not only get an audio pronunciation but also tagged and time-stamped videos of real people in real situations speaking and using the word in context.

 Ketchup API: Ketchup is a web application for scheduling, planning and taking notes at meetings. The Ketchup API allows users to integrate the service with their own applications. The API exposes functionality that lets users list, show, update and delete meetings, projects, agenda items and notes. It uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in JSON.

LetsGiftIt API: LetsGiftIt is a service for group gifting. It allows eCommerce and other product and service providers to offer group gifting as an option to buy the goods or services. Users can use LetsGiftIt to buy a gift for someone socially, with other people.

The LetsGiftIt API allows developers to integrate LetsGiftIt functionality into other websites and eCommerce platforms. The main method of the API is creating and adding gifts, listing a title and description of the gift, and other details about the gift.

Memonic API: Memonic is an application that allows users to capture, organize, and share web content. Memonic offers services for personal use, business use, publisher use, and can be used with Evernote. 

The Memonic API allows developers to access the functionality and data from Memonic. The API is free for non-commercial use and can be used for commercial use with their approval. Some example API methods include accessing users, sets of users, and groups of users. 

Memory Reel API: Memory Reel is an event marketing service. Memory Reel offers clients tools such as event mobile applications, online tools to connect with event attendees, and analytics to measure marketing effectiveness.

The Memory Reel API allows developers to access and integrate Memory Reel functionality and data. Some example API methods include adding and editing events and event information, adding and editing users and their avatars, and listing devices that are available for push notifications.

Mobile Roadie API: Mobile Roadie is a service for musicians to create and manage mobile applications to engage with their fans. Features included with Mobile Roadie include selling tickets to shows, selling music, adding music, and interacting with fans.

The Mobile Roadie API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality and data from Mobile Roadie into other applications such as MySpace. Some example API methods include creating content, adding content, editing content, retrieving comments, and managing users information.

Mobli API: Mobli is a real-time visual media platform social networking service. Through channels, such as people channels, subject channels, event channels, and place channels, users can upload and share media such as photos and videos in real-time. 

The Mobli API allows developers to access the data and functionality of Mobli. Public documentation is not available, but interested developers can sign up to request access.

Mogreet API: Mogreet is a mobile marketing service. Mogreet clients can create, manage, and track their mobile marketing campaigns through Mogreet's platform and customer relationship manager (CRM).

The Mogreet API allows developers to access the functionality and service of Mogreet. Some example API methods include sending blasts to lists, managing content, and add and delete users from their mobile marketing lists.

NASDAQ Data-On-Demand API: NASDAQ Data-On-Demand provides historical stock quote data. NASDAQ Data-On-Demand enables users to choose specific symbols and trading time periods for quick and efficient analysis. The data can be used to integrate stock quote data into a developer's application, analyze trends in stock quote data, back test trading strategies and algorithms and build a stock quote book.

An API is provided to pull the data using RESTful or SOAP calls. The API includes calls that let users select historical stock data from the exact trading dates and times, download stock data after the markets close for pre-market analysis and request bulk data downloads. Responses are formatted in XML.

Numote Live API: Numote Live is a platform that allows users to watch TV shows and videos with interactive features. Companies can use the platform to build communities, reward viewers, manage content, and track usage and viewing analytics.

The Numote API allows developers to access and integrate Numote's functionality and data. Public documentation is not available without signing up first. Interested developers or companies should contact for more information.

OurShelf API: OurShelf is a cataloging site that allows users to list and keep track of their belongings, connect with friends and other users, and sell items that they are no longer using. Users can share information on their belongings, find other people's belongings, and interact with other people.

The OurShelf API allows developers to extend OurShelf into other applications or create new applications based on OurShelf's functionality. The service is in beta and public documentation is not available, but interested developers should contact for API access.

Pardot Marketing Automation API: Pardot offers website analytics and marketing automation services. Pardot integrates with customer relationship databases (CRM) through their API which allows developers to build their own tracking solutions.
The API uses the REST protocol.

Qwiki API: Qwiki is an interactive wiki about a variety of topics. Qwiki returns text, audio, visual, and video media about the topic users search on.
The Qwiki API allows developers to integrate Qwiki's functionality into other applications. Current API methods are searching for and listing results on topics. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in JSON and JSONP.

Rackspace Cloud DNS API: Rackspace Cloud DNS is a free BETA service offered as a set of API operations to manage user domains, sub-domains, and resource records. The API can be used to both create and import domains into a Rackspace Cloud account. Users can also list, add, modify, and remove domains and records as needed. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in XML and JSON.

Rackspace Cloud Load Balancers API: The Rackspace Cloud Load Balancers let users automatically deploy and scale an on-demand load balancing solution. With the API, users can define name, protocol, port, algorithm, and which servers in which regions need load balancing. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in XML JSON and ATOM.

Rackspace Cloud Servers API: Rackspace Cloud Servers is a cloud based platform of on demand virtualized servers. The API can be used to interact with the Cloud Servers instead of using the online control panel. Features of the API include the ability to reboot and rebuild servers, create custom images, schedule backups of servers, share IPs and more. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in XML and JSON.

Sendinc REST API: Sendinc offers web based email encryption services. With Sendinc users can compose and send encrypted email messages using their own email address. Recipients can then view messages by clicking on a link in a secure email sent to them and logging in with their own Sendinc account. 

Sendinc’s API provides a simple way to integrate secure email into web and software applications. The Sendinc REST API enables developers to easily interact with the Sendinc service via third-party applications. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in XML and JSON.

Sendinc SMTP API: Sendinc offers web based email encryption services. With Sendinc users can compose and send encrypted email messages using their own email address. Recipients can then view messages by clicking on a link in a secure email sent to them and logging in with their own Sendinc account. Sendinc’s API provides a simple way to integrate secure email into web and software applications. The SMTP API allows developers to implement Sendinc’s email encryption service into their

Virtual Solar Observatory API: The Virtual Solar Observatory (VSO) combines access to observations of the Sun, including images. Data files are included from all NASA solar-observing missions, as well as ground-based observatories. Searches can be conducted using instrument names, data type (e.g. "magnetogram"), time intervals, spectral range, event, and more.

The API uses the SOAP protocol.

Zomato API: Zomato is a restaurant, food and lifestyle guide in India. It offers and API which lets users access most updated content available on Zomato in real time directly from within their apps. Users can get information such as restaurant listings, location coordinates, reviews, discounts, photos, menus and more. The API lets users search over 18,000 restaurants, covering 10 major cities in India, based on various criteria. Calls are made using REST and responses are formatted in XML and JSON.