Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

The Anti-Matter of Network Security

Is virtual routing the “anti-matter” of network security?

This post from the Rational Security blog* presented a convincing case as to why that might be so. It was dated December 2008. I don’t know if virtual routing is safer now, or not.

Layer 3 Routing diagram for system administration

Routing diagram for networks

Meanwhile, for those interested in routing as depicted in the photo, I found a good article about LAN switches. It explains quite clearly the difference between a router and a switch.

*The Rational Security blog has since departed TypePad (as of 2009). It has a slightly altered name, and is now The Rational Survivability blog.

February 26, 2011

Google Public DNS

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Speed Test

Google Public DNS is a free, global Domain Name System (DNS) resolution service.

You can use it as an alternative to your current DNS provider.

 

 

How can I take it out for a test run?

To try it out,

  • configure your network settings to use the IP addresses 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 as your DNS servers or
  • read the configuration instructions.

If you decide to try Google Public DNS, your client programs will perform all DNS lookups using Google Public DNS.

Why is DNS important?

The DNS protocol is an important part of the web’s infrastructure, serving as the Internet’s phone book: every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup. Complex pages often need multiple DNS lookups before they start loading, so your computer may be performing hundreds of lookups a day.

Read more in the Google Public DNS documentation and Frequently Asked Questions.

Speed up your browsing

DNS!

With Google Public DNS you can:

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February 25, 2011

Scholar in Beta

Detailed guidelines for the free Google Scholar search service are available.

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Scholar Beta Logo

Confirm your that your usage adheres to attribution and branding standards. DO peruse an example.  The “Do and Don’t” list is quite extensive.

There are many alternatives to Google Scholar. In fact, there are a surprisingly large number of specialized search engines available in general. Most of us are not aware of these search products unless we use them, as the major mainstream providers, Google, Bing and Yahoo are so highly visible.

Entrez search services are one example. The U.S. Government does not play favorites with Google. At least, not always. Entrez designed search engines are used by the National Institutes of Health and National Medical Library’s PubMed.gov and National Center for Biotechnology Information, for the vast and complex searches required for bioinformatics, genome research queries and a list of 50 other specialized fields of medical inquiry.

Google Scholar is useful because it facilitates both searches for scholars and their publications. An alternative search engine that focuses more on the individual scholars themselves, and includes only active faculty, is Scholar Universe, one of several specialized search engines from ProQuest.com.

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February 20, 2011

Products and Shopping

Google Product Search for Small Businesses

Google Product Search is a fast search engine for finding and comparing products from online stores. It is comprehensive, and useful for locating both common and obscure  items. It claims to be unbiased, as no payment is required for product listings.

Google Product Search does not sell products. Our job is to find the product you want and point you to the store that sells it … all advertising that appears on Google Product Search is clearly labeled.

via About Google Product Search.

Google Commerce Search 2.0 for Enterprise

Google Commerce Search is a powerful search solution designed specifically for online retailers.

commerce search for YouTube

The YouTube Store uses Google Commerce Search

Pricing for Google Commerce Search is targeted toward larger businesses:

The pricing model for Google Commerce Search is based on the number of products/items (SKUs) in your catalog and the number of search queries entered on your site each year. Pricing starts at $25,000 per year.

Merchant dashboard

Screen shot of Google Product Search: Control Panel Settings on Merchant Dashboard

All activities for Google Product Search are controlled using the Merchant Dashboard.

Commerce search flow

Commerce search for online shopping

More details about Google Commerce Search version 2 (GCS 2.0), including flowcharts are available from this GCS 2.0 datasheet in pdf format.

February 3, 2011

Free calling in Gmail extended through 2011

Update for International Calling

Google Voice services are available at very low rates for international calls. The rates are competitive in sample comparisons with other long-distance calling providers. For example, cost to landlines in the UK, France, Spain, Argentina, Taiwan and Australia are merely 2 cents per minute.

Rates are higher if calling mobile or satellite phones.

Google Voice

Google Muy Pronto!

The rate chart (price per minute) is comprehensive. Rates are broken out by country and sometimes city, which generally allows more affordable rates for calls to metropolitan areas.

Features and instructions

Google Voice users can enable a function to record individual telephone calls.

Before using any Google Voice feature, review the Google Voice Legal Notice carefully. It includes important instructions!

  • Google Voice is not capable of placing or receiving emergency services calls
  • Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content that you or your callers upload, transmit or store in your Google Voice account.
  • We will not use any of your content for any purpose except to provide you with the Service.
  • Users may buy prepaid credits to be used for Google Voice services.
  • Google will be under no obligation to offer any refunds or reimbursements for the purchase price of such prepayments.
  • Usage of minutes is billed in one minute increments.
  • Prepaid credits are billed at the time of purchase.
  • Unless prohibited by law, outbound calling credit purchased will expire six (6) months from the most recent date of use, and may not be transferred.
Using GMail Voice

Gmail voice instructions

When launching calling in Gmail in August 2010, Google:

… wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010.

According to the Official Gmail Blog, free phone service will be extended all year, through the end of 2011.

Dialing a number works the same way as it would for a regular phone. Look for “Call phone” at the top of the chat list once logged on to Gmail. Either dial a phone number or enter a contact’s name. And that is all!

To learn more, visit Gmail Chat and Voice call. Phone calls with Gmail are available free of charge for U.S. and Canadian based Gmail users only.

February 1, 2011

YouTube Video Scavenger Hunt

YouTube – Broadcast Yourself included a hyper-linked line of text at the bottom of my search results today. It read something along the lines of “Discover video treasures on YouTube”.

What could be described in such glowing terms amongst the mess of poor quality content, or poor quality recordings of high quality content, that constitutes much of YouTube? “Video treasures” evokes the phrase “national treasure” which is such a contrast to the petabytes and exabytes of inane user comments attached to most videos, regardless of the associated video’s (sometimes worthwhile) content. Well, I clicked and saw a page with the heading,

YouTube Topics on Search Beta

and the following announcement:

YouTube Topics is a new way to explore the worlds of videos on YouTube. After you opt in, when you search for something (“funny” for example) you will see topics related to your current search displayed at the top of search results and next to individual videos. You can click on these topics to switch to that topic on search.

You can also add a topic to your current search by clicking on the  + sign that shows when you hover over it. Each new topic you click will give you new results to explore.  Here’s a query to start with, so you can see how it works:  camera tricks

You may have noticed a “golden topic” when you tried this. We’ve scattered topics across the site for you to find (including this one), and if you can find and click on them all, you’ll unlock a special YouTube Logo to prove your puzzle prowess.

For more clues about the golden topics and for other questions you have, read this article in the Help Center.

An advisory that I am currently not opted in to Topics on Search Beta, and must Click here to opt in, is at the end of the page. I will opt in. I feel a bit uneasy in light of Facebook’s announcement (and rumored retraction) that it would release users’ names, addresses and phone numbers to 3rd-party developers unless the user opted out. I do not use Facebook. Also, I trust Google significantly more than Facebook! Plus I checked the URL associated with the Click here and it appears to be genuine!

My next post will advise whether or not this scavenger hunt for “golden topics” is worthwhile, or the goal attainable. Perhaps I will even have that intriguing “special YouTube Logo” to display, as proof of my puzzle prowess…

February 1, 2011

Google DataWiki

I found yet another interesting Google Labs project for which there is just enough information available to be intriguing, yet not enough to provide a satisfying level of detail for the very curious!

A wiki for structured data

Google DataWiki offers a guestbook and list of recent datasets named

  • Issue
  • Twitter
  • Bloog
  • daytum
  • testwiki

According to the official Google DataWiki page

DataWiki is currently in testing; all data and current storage formats should be used for testing purposes only.

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