A Gmail plugin to do "emotional labor"

Install the Emotional Labor extension and it will automatically add social niceties to your outbound mail -- phrases like "Hey, Lovely! I've been thinking of you." (via 4 Short Links) Read the rest

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other tech firms donated cash and services to Trump inauguration

Technology companies including Amazon, Google and Microsoft donated considerable amounts of both cash and technical services for the ceremonies and events around the inauguration and swearing in of President Donald Trump, according to reports making the internet rounds on Tuesday night.

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Alphabet's Eric Schmidt calls Trump "evil"

Eric Schmidt -- long-serving former CEO of Google, current chairman of Google parent-company Alphabet, who knows a thing or two about evil -- addressed Googlers this week, calling the Trump #muslimban "evil." Read the rest

Google quietly makes "optional" web DRM mandatory in Chrome

The World Wide Web Consortium's Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) is a DRM system for web video, being pushed by Netflix, movie studios, and a few broadcasters. It's been hugely controversial within the W3C and outside of it, but one argument that DRM defenders have made throughout the debate is that the DRM is optional, and if you don't like it, you don't have to use it. That's not true any more. Read the rest

It turns out that halfway clever phishing attacks really, really work

A new phishing attack hops from one Gmail account to the next by searching through compromised users' previous emails for messages with attachments, then replies them from the compromised account, replacing the link to the attachment with a lookalike that sends you to a fake Google login page (they use some trickery to hide the fake in the location bar); the attackers stand by and if you enter your login/pass, they immediately seize control of your account and attack your friends. Read the rest

Most popular search queries for each state, 2016

Drew Toothpaste tweeted: "Thank you to Google for helping me compile the most popular search queries for each state in the US this year!"

Finally, some real news for a change. Read the rest

30-year satellite image timelapses of notable places

Google's Earth Outreach just published a series of nifty decades-long views of how world landmarks of changed, like this one of the Aral Sea from 1984 to present. Some of them are like watching slime molds grow: Read the rest

Google Earth now available in VR

A virtual reality version of Google Earth is now available on Steam for the HTC Vive. Viewers can walk around, or fly, or browse any number of recorded locations. Read the rest

Google and Facebook's "fake news" ban is a welcome nail in the coffin of "software objectivity"

In the wake of the Trump election -- a triumph of fake news -- both Google and Facebook have announced that they will take countermeasures to exclude "fake news" from their services, downranking them in the case of Facebook and cutting them off from ad payments in Google's case. Read the rest

Chrome is about to start warning users that non-HTTPS sites are insecure

An imminently forthcoming version of Google's Chrome browser will flip the way that browsers convey information about privacy and security to users: instead of discreetly informing users that the HTTPS-enabled sites they're browsing are more secure, they'll flag any non-HTTPS site as insecure, with a series of escalating alerts that will end -- at some unspecified date -- by displaying an exclamation point inside red triangle and the letters HTTP next to the web addresses of non-HTTPS sites. Read the rest

Google Maps Streetview Player animates any entered trip

Created by developer Brian Folts, this nifty program "will take in either a starting point and end point, or a provided file of a route and provide a playthrough of the Google Streetview images that are available." Read the rest

Youtube took down MEP's videos about torture debate

Marietje Schaake (previously) is a Dutch Member of the European Parliament who has a fantastic track-record for getting it right on issues related to technology, free speech, human rights, and privacy; she is the author of a report on export controls for spying technology used to identify dissidents to torture. Read the rest

Google's Pixelphone leaked, is just another boring phone

UK retailer Carphone Warehouse broke Google's embargo on its much-awaited Pixel Phone, revealing it a day early.

Both devices will be powered by a Snapdragon 821 CPU clocked at 2.15GHz, with 4GB of RAM and with either 32GB or 128GB of internal storage. They have AMOLED displays with Gorilla Glass 4, at 1080p for the Pixel and 1440p for the Pixel XL.

The battery size on the Pixel is 2770mAh, just a bit larger than the 2700mAh cell found in the Nexus 5X. The Pixel XL has a larger 3450mAh battery, identical to the Nexus 6P. Both devices run Android 7.1 out of the box and have fingerprint sensors, as well as nanoSIM slots for cellular connectivity.According to the listing, both have 8MP front and 12MP back cameras with optical image stabilization

It looks just like all the other smartphones. Great work from the Subcommittee For Avoidance of Negative Reactions. Read the rest

Google: if you support Amazon's Echo, you're cut off from Google Home and Chromecast

A closed-door unveiling of the forthcoming Google Home smart speaker platform included the nakedly anticompetitive news that vendors whose products support Amazon's Echo will be blocked from integrating with Google's own, rival platform. Read the rest

Youtube's new "offline first" product for India treats telcos as damage and routes around them

Yesterday, Google announced "Youtube Go," an "offline first" version of the popular video service designed for the Indian market where internet coverage is intermittent, provided by monopolistic carriers that have a history of network discrimination, and where people have a wide variety of devices, including very low-powered ones. Read the rest

The democratization of censorship: when anyone can kill as site as effectively as a government can

On the eve of the Stuxnet attacks, half a decade ago, I found myself discussing what it all meant with William Gibson (I'd just interviewed him on stage in London), and I said, "I think the most significant thing about any of these sophisticated, government-backed attacks is that they will eventually turn into a cheap and easy weapon that technically unskilled people can deploy for petty grievances." We haven't quite got there yet with Stuxnet, but there's a whole class of "advanced persistent threat" techniques that are now in the hands of fringey criminals who deploy them at the smallest provocation. Read the rest

Racist trolls moot using "google" as a euphemism for the n-word

Google is downranking websites that use pejorative, racist terms like n*gger, so the awful people of 4chan and /pol/ are replacing that word with "google." Read the rest

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