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Rebecca Jenkins

Rebecca Jenkins

Saturday, 17 December 2016 00:07

The 12 apps of an appy Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us, and chances are you haven't even made a dent in your shopping list yet. Fortunately, there's a whole bunch of apps designed to help you. Counting down the days until the 25th won't just help you get in the spirit, it could also help you organise yourself a little better.

NORAD Santa Tracker

There are lots of these now, but NORAD (Yes really the North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been tracking Santa for 60 years. Lots of fun watching the big man make his way around the world. Available on Android and iOS.

Inkly

Create and send Christmas cards in under three minutes this year with app, Inkly. There are hundreds of designs to choose from or you can even create your own by uploading your favourite family photos.

To give a personal touch, Inkly uses handwriting technology. Write your message on a piece of paper, take a picture of it with your phone and transfer your handwriting (and even sketches too!) inside your chosen card. Available on Android and iOS.  

Fire Place 3D lite

Fireplace 3D Lite from iTunes will make you feel cosy this Christmas. If you don't have your own fireplace, there's no need to worry as this app will make you feel like you're sitting in front of a warm wood fire in the comfort of your own home.

There are three different fireplaces to choose from: rustic, traditional and Victorian, each of which have realistic images to make you feel cosy and festive. This app is free and available for Apple iPhones and tablets.

Manage Christmas – Christmas Gift List manager

There's no need to worry with this Manage Christmas app, which helps you stick to your budget, keep track of what you've already purchased and log any gift ideas that might spring to mind.

Create your own shopping list by adding in your family and friends, setting a budget for each and adding in the gifts that you've bought or intend to buy. There is also a continuously updated gift ideas section, so if you're out of ideas, you might find one of the recommendations useful. This app is free and available for both Apple and Android.

Price Spy

A price comparison app that helps you find the best bargains available online and on the high street. Users can search for a product, filter by categories, and create lists of items to monitor their prices.

 

It also features a barcode scanner, which will instantly display product information, reviews, and the best web price. Perfect for the ‘oh God, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping’ phase of the month. Available on Android and Apple.

StreetLink

Christmas is the season of good will and as the cold weather kicks in, StreetLink provides a way for members of the public to inform local authorities about rough sleepers in their area and help get them off the streets.

Over the last year there have been almost 11,000 alerts to local services, and StreetLink has directly helped 4,000 rough sleepers in the first year since its launch. Get it on iTunes or Google Play.

Good Food Festive Recipes

The BBC's Festive Recipes app features a collection of over 180 tried-and-tested recipes to get you through Christmas and New Year’s. There’s something for every course, plus drinks and canapés and a diverse selection of vegetarian options.

All recipes have clear instructions and photographs to help you get the best results. There is also a selection of videos to help you improve basic skills, like chopping onions and making mayonnaise. Get it on iTunes.

Ruffl

It's Boxing Day and after all those frantic Christmas preparations you simply can't face cooking another meal. With the Ruffl app you are only three ‘taps’ away from finding a local restaurant with a free table.

You can choose your price range, and the app will even provide a map with directions to your selected restaurant. Some establishments even offer extra incentives to entice you through the door. Available on iTunes and Google Play.

Deliveries

A package tracker: Sick of that one troublesome gift which is unavoidably going to be delivered too late for Christmas? Never again!

Deliveries keeps a watchful eye on all of your packages ordered from multiple retailers, tracking everything within a single app and spelling the end of accidentally missing a delivery time. Available on Apple and Android.

Hello Fresh

If it’s the supermarket assault course that’s getting you down, apps like Hello Fresh will send weighed measurements of all necessary ingredients as well as handy recipe cards, promising a Christmas dinner with minimal fuss. Available on iTunes.

GoFantastic

Fantastic Services is offering a helping hand to stressed out workers by introducing a new service – Fantastic Elves, a team of helpers bookable by the hour to take care of Christmas chores such as cleaning, shopping, wrapping and decorating. Available on iTunes.

Top10

If you've decided to get away from it all this year, hotel app Top10 offers a stress-free way to book a bespoke Christmas getaway, using your preferences to recommend ten stunning hotels at the best available price. Available on iTunes.

Auhtor : Kevin Lonergan

Source : http://www.information-age.com/automating-change-growth-and-disruption-through-internet-things-123460674/

Friday, 16 December 2016 03:15

What we’ve learned about SEO in 2016

Since the inception of the search engine, SEO has been an important, yet often misunderstood industry. For some, these three little letters bring massive pain and frustration. For others, SEO has saved their business. One thing is for sure: having a clear and strategic search strategy is what often separates those who succeed from those who don’t.

As we wrap up 2016, let’s take a look at how the industry has grown and shifted over the past year, and then look ahead to 2017.

A growing industry

It was only a few years ago when the internet was pummeled with thousands of “SEO is Dead” posts. Well, here we are, and the industry is still as alive as ever. SEO’s reputation has grown over the past few years, due in great part to the awesome work of the real pros out there. Today, the industry is worth more than $65 billion. Companies large and small are seeing how a good search strategy has the power to change their business.

As search engines and users continue to evolve, SEO is no longer just an added service brought to you by freelance web designers. With the amount of data, knowledge, tools and experience out there, SEO has become a power industry all on its own.

Over the course of the year, my agency alone has earned a number of new contracts from other agencies that are no longer able to provide their own search efforts. A large divide between those that can deliver SEO and those that can’t is beginning to open up across the board.

The rise of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now prevalent in many of our lives. Google, IBM, Amazon and Apple are very active in developing and using Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). ANI can be used to automate repetitive tasks, like looking up product details, shipping dates and order histories and performing countless other customer requests.

The consumer is becoming more and more comfortable with this technology and has even grown to trust its results. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.

RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence system, is now among the top three ranking signals for Google’s search algorithm. Why? Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches per a day, and 16 to 20 percent of those are unique queries that have never been searched before. To handle this, the team at Google has harnessed the power of machine learning to help deliver better results.

While we can’t “control” RankBrain, what we can do is learn more about how Google is using it and then help the tool by creating good content that earns shares and links, building connections with others in our niche or related niches, and building trust in very targeted topics.

We are still in the beginning stages of this technology, but as more and more homes become equipped with smart tools like Amazon Echo and Google Home, we can be sure that these tech giants will use the knowledge they gain from voice search to power their AI technology.

The “Google Dance”

Every so often, Google likes to surprise us with a major algorithm update that has a significant impact on search results — some years we get one, and other years we get a little more.

While they do make nearly 500 tweaks to the algorithm each year, some are big enough to garner more attention. Let’s look back at four of 2016’s most memorable updates.

Mobile-friendly algorithm boost

A little under a year after “Mobilegeddon,” an event marked by the launch of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, the search giant announced that it would soon be increasing the effects of this algorithm to further benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. That boost rolled out on May 12, 2016, though the impact was not nearly as significant as when the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm initially launched.

Penguin 4.0

While this ended up being a two-phase rollout, Penguin 4.0 made its entrance on September 23, 2016. This has been considered the “gentler” Penguin algorithm, which devalues bad links instead of penalizing sites. The second phase of Penguin 4.0 was the recovery period, in which sites impacted by previous Penguin updates began to finally see a recovery — assuming steps were taken to help clean up their link profiles.

“Possum”

While this update was never confirmed by Google, the local SEO community noted a major shake-up in local pack and Google Maps results in early September 2016.

Fellow Search Engine Land columnist Joy Hawkins noted that this was quite possibly the largest update seen in in the local SEO world since Pigeon was released in 2014. Based on her findings, she believes the update’s goal was “to diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.”

 

Divided index

As mobile search continues to account for more and more of the global share of search queries, Google is increasingly taking steps to become a mobile-first company. In November, Google announced that it was experimenting with using a mobile-first index, meaning that the mobile version of a website would be considered the “default” version for ranking purposes instead of the desktop version:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

My 2017 predictions

While I’m not usually one to make predictions, there are a few things I expect to see in 2017. First, I think we will see RankBrain get smarter and have more authority in search. This means we need to think smarter about content and links, and how they interact together.

I think the legitimacy of the industry will continue to grow, and SEO will be seen for what it truly is: a powerful marketing approach. The divide between the “pros” and the “joes” will grow wider, and the winners will be the ones who actually know their stuff.

I think Big Data will help improve and power the industry. As technology makes it easier than ever to collect and digest information, those who know what to do with that information will see success. The importance of having the right tools for the job will become even more essential.

The time to say goodbye to 2016 is fast approaching, and I am truly excited to see what 2017 has in store for the world of SEO!

Author : Ryan Shelley

Source : http://searchengineland.com/weve-learned-seo-2016-264554

In the runup to the election, President-elect Donald Trump falsely accused Google of manipulating search results to favor Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, demonstrating how little he understands the company's technology and business, said Wall Street analysts.

"We will have a president who does not understand tech, does not understand how these companies work and through a single Tweet could destroy market value," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a note to investors on Nov. 17 wrote that Trump's suggestion that Google could rig the election doesn't take into account how Google's search algorithms self-regulate, filter results and suggest queries.

Nothing has changed about Google parent Alphabet's fundamental business post-election, but investors reacted by dumping tech stocks and investing in sectors Trump seems to favor, said analysts. 

"The Trump administration seems to be more pro-industrials, pro-building, pro-manufacturing and significantly less favored towards technology," said Daryanani.

Alphabet's stock has rallied the past week after a postelection slump. The stock closed at $785 per share on Tuesday and is trading roughly flat year to date. The shares were down 1 percent midafternoon Thursday at around $777.

The vast majority of analysts who cover the stock — 93 percent — recommend buying it, according to Factset and none changed their position since the election. 

Unlike Apple, which is headed for a clash with Trump, and Amazon, which the president-elect threatened with "such problems,"Google has largely avoided being singled out. "That's not to say Trump won't go after Google at some point," said Daryanani.

Google has 75 percent of the global desktop search engine market, according to Netmarketshare

Here are some areas where the next administration might effect Alphabet, according to analysts. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco on Oct. 4, 2016.
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters
Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco on Oct. 4, 2016.
Immigration for high-skilled workers
 
Trump has said he will clamp down on immigration, raising concerns that he will neglect to increase the number of H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, a top priority for tech companies. Trump does not mention H-1B visas in his immigration policy. The government currently caps the number of H-1B visas issued each year at 65,000.Immigration reform is desperately needed to enable tech companies to hire the world's top engineers and remain competitive, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said at a conference Nov. 10.

Google is among the top employers of the H-1B temporary visa program and many of the company's U.S. employees are immigrants, including CEO Sundar Pichai and Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin. Trump's pick for chief strategist Steve Bannon said there are too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley in an interview last year.
Regardless, the 65,000 cap on H-1B visas is mandated by Congress, high-skilled immigration reform is not clearly divided along party lines and Trump's website makes no mention of H-1B visas. 

Revolving door and regulation

Google has spent $11.85 million in lobbying efforts so far this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company enjoyed unusually close ties with the Obama administration, according to watchdog group Google Transparency Project. Obama named former Googler Megan Smith as the U.S. chief technology officer in 2014.

"The Obama administration was very tech friendly and tech savvy," said Daryanani. 

Trump has expressed his disdain for over-regulation which suggests he could be more friendly to mergers and acquisitions, though he has flip-flopped on the issue. That said, the Federal Communications Commission is also expected to overturn some Obama administration policies that seemed to favor Google in fights with telecoms and cable companies, Reuters reported.

The president-elect named Republicans Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison to oversee his telecom policy at the FCC, which is expected to reject Chairman Tom Wheeler's plans to open up the $20 billion market for rented pay-TV set-top boxes, according to Reuters sources. Cable companies opposed the measure, which would allow competition from companies like Google.

Under a Trump administration, Obama's net neutrality rules — which require internet service providers to treat all data equally and were championed by internet companies — may be rolled back, analysts speculated. Both Eisenach and Jamison and most Republicans oppose the rules.

Google is facing an antitrust investigation from the European Union. It is unclear how Trump's protectionist proposals, if enacted, could alter sentiment toward U.S. companies and play into the investigation, analysts said.

Given Google's European antitrust issues and the potential for new U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust regulations, Trump could get more aggressive in terms of going after large companies like Google, said Daryanani.

Trade and tax

It is uncertain how Trump's proposed trade policies could impact Alphabet, said Wedbush analyst James Dix. Trump has said he will raise tariffs on trade and has called on U.S. companies to bring jobs back from abroad. Google and Google-powered devices are made overseas including in China and most of Alphabet's revenue comes from overseas.

There is nothing in Trump's tax plan that would hurt Alphabet. In fact, the company stands to benefit.

The business tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 15 percent, which would bump up Alphabet's net income. Also, Trump has said that he will offer a one-time tax repatriation holiday to allow U.S. companies to bring back overseas profits at a 10 percent tax rate instead of 35 percent under the current law. Alphabet holds $49.7 billion outside the U.S.

"We believe, given Google's low levels of debt, this would be deployed via increased share buybacks, consistent with what investors want," wrote Munster.

Privacy and security

In an open letter issued by the Internet Association on Nov. 14, Google and other internet companies called on Trump to protect encryption and curb surveillance during his presidency. Trump does not specifically mention encryption or government surveillance programs on his website, which promises an immediate review of all U.S. cyberdefenses and vulnerabilities.

 

That said, when Apple refused to comply with a court order to de-crypt a terrorist's iPhone for the FBI earlier this year, Trump called for a consumer boycott. Trump's pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, at the time argued that government must have access to the phone, saying it was "a more serious issue than Tim Cook understands."

If Trump continues to weigh on Alphabet's stock, it's a rare opportunity to buy, said analysts.

"The tech industry is in more control of its own destiny than Donald Trump and will work past these issues, partially offsetting this temporary headwind," wrote Munster.

Alphabet declined to comment for this story.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source : http://www.cnbc.com

Author : Harriet Taylor

Thursday, 17 November 2016 01:09

Deep Web. The “Dark” Side of IS

Synopsis

The so-called Islamic State (IS) is the most innovative terrorist group the world has seen. In the backdrop of its loss on the ground, IS is expanding its cyber capabilities to conduct more cyber-attacks and hacking. This and its migration into the ‘darknet’ will make IS more dangerous than before.

Commentary

TERRORIST AND non-state actors have used different modes and mediums to spread their message and communicate with their comrades. The dawn of the Internet has also provided such groups with unparalleled opportunities to establish communications and operational links that were not possible before. Starting from websites, terrorist groups moved to more interactive mediums like chatrooms and forums. It was social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter that truly revolutionised how militants, terrorists and non-state actors communicated with each other, recruited sympathisers and supporters and disseminated their propaganda.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) perfected the use of social media, which became the preferred source for the so-called ‘jihadists’ or ‘soldiers of the Caliphate’. In response, tech companies have been compelled to take down Facebook and Twitter accounts affiliated with IS. The unintended cost of this policy is that supporters, sympathisers and members of jihadist groups have moved into the deep web and the darknet.

What is Deep Web and Darknet?

The deep web and darknet are terms that are interchangeably used but they are two different things. The deep web includes all those web pages that a search engine such as Google cannot find. This includes web pages that are password-protected and includes all webmail, private Facebook accounts, user databases and pages behind paywalls. Websites that are not indexed by Google are also considered as part of the deep web. The surface web is all that Google has indexed and a user can access it using any search engine. It is said that the surface web is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and the deep web comprises more than 90% of the total Internet, which is almost 500 times of what Google can see.

 

The darknet is a part of the deep web but there is an important distinction. We access the deep web every day when retrieving our emails, checking bank statements online or logging into Facebook account. However, we cannot enter the dark net through a regular browser. The darknet is accessed using ‘dot onion’ software and not a ‘dot com’ one. As such, dot com browsers such as the Google Chrome and Firefox cannot access ‘onion’ websites. A different browser, the Tor browser, is used for this purpose.

Tor is an onion browser that sends the user through an unusual route to access a web page. For instance, if a user wishes to access a website using Tor, the browser will wrap the request through numerous layers, which will keep bouncing off different domains in different countries. The layers of the onion (hence the name) ensures anonymity and makes it almost impossible to trace the user’s footprints. This makes the Tor browser and dot onion web pages attractive for those wishing to maintain their privacy and secrecy.

IS in the Darknet

Indeed, anonymity does not mean that the darknet is a dangerous place. Individuals, especially journalists, use such avenues to hide themselves from prying eyes of authoritarian states and dictators. Similarly, Tor is used by those who wish to protect their privacy. However, illegal practices can and do happen because of the anonymity that is guaranteed by Tor and the darknet.

The darknet has provided criminals, non-state actors and terrorists tools and avenues that are absent in the surface net. For instance, a webpage by the name of ‘Silk Road’ functioned like the ‘Amazon.com’ for illegal activities, including the sale of drugs, weapons, fake passports and even hitmen. Criminals were comfortable dealing on this platform because of the anonymity in the darknet. The owner/founder of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was caught by FBI in 2013.

For IS and potential hackers, another attractive market in the dark net is that of hacking tools. IS and its United Cyber Caliphate has conducted several cyber-attacks in the last one year, usually in the form of defacing websites or hacking Twitter and Facebook accounts. The hacking tools and malware toolkits such as Keyloggers and Remote Access Trojans (RAT) are available in the darknet and it is highly probable that cyber terrorists and hackers download them from there.

Keylogger is a computer program that records every keystroke made by a computer user, while RAT is a malware program that enables administrative control over the target computer. As such, both are utilised to steal private and confidential information. Even IS has attempted to distribute such tools amongst its ‘cyber soldiers’. Additionally, IS hackers have also conducted cyberattacks such as the denial-of-service (DoS) attack, where a machine or service is made unavailable.

Islamic State is known for its innovations and ability to adapt to changing environments. When law enforcement agencies started snooping around social media, IS members, supporters and sympathisers migrated to mobile applications such as the WhatsApp and Telegram. The applications have become attractive modes of communication because of their end-to-end encryption, which prevents any ‘peeping’ by intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

Now a pro-IS deep web forum user has recommended that the group’s users migrate to Tor and stop using VPN services, hence ensuring greater anonymity. The distribution of hacking tools also signifies IS’ ambitions to expand its cyber capability. Considering the versatility of the group, this should not take too long.

Policy Implications

The 9/11 attack was the biggest terrorist attack which changed the complexion of global security. The American leadership and public never expected that an attack of this scale in a post-Cold War era could ever happen in the homeland. Yet, it did. Today, the attack that defined Bin Laden’s notorious legacy seems less possible because of all the security measures and precautions that have been taken by countries around the world.

The lack of imagination before was the serious shortfall of security analysts and counter-terrorism specialists who failed to predict or even anticipate 9/11. If IS wants to surpass 9/11, it will conduct a cyber-9/11. This is not an impossible task considering the lax cybersecurity measures. The recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee emails and leaks to Wikileaks signify the vulnerability of private information. The DoS attacks by hacking groups such as Anonymous further underline the capacity of non-state actors to inflict damage.

Indeed, IS does not possess the capacity and capability to attack infrastructure as was the case with Stuxnet. However, even stealing information, hacking and denial-of-service attacks have serious implications. Furthermore, the loss in Syria and Iraq and the narrow space available to the group make a ‘cyber caliphate’ with hacking capabilities the most viable option and dangerous force.

A terrorist organisation that is anonymous and possesses an army of hackers is already becoming a reality. The world is increasingly becoming more connected via the Internet with government and private infrastructure heavily dependent on cyber technology. This is why, with or without IS, the next wave of terrorism is most likely to be ‘cyber terrorism’. Rather than reacting to an attack in the future, the international community must pre-empt this threat now and take necessary steps.

Source : isnblog.ethz.ch

Halloween is almost here, and superheroes will once again play a starring role at Halloween parties this weekend and for trick-or-treating Monday night.

Spending on Halloween costumes is forecast to reach $3.1 billion this year, according to the NRF. Adult costumes will account for $1.54 billion in sales and children’s costumes will account for $1.17 billion, Bing data shows.

According to the NRF, 34 percent of people turn to search engines for Halloween costume inspiration. Which costumes are inspiring consumers most this year?

Harley Quinn, Star Wars, and Deadpool are among the most searched for costumes this year, search data from Google and Bing reveals.

So if you’re still looking for some last minute Halloween costume ideas, and want to

avoid duplicate costume penalties, check out this list to see what’s trending.

Top 50 Halloween Costume Searches on Google

Harley Quinn is seriously hot. According to the Frightgeist site, no costume was searched for more often this year than Harley Quinn.

Quinn wasn’t the only “Suicide Squad” costume in high demand. Joker costumes searches ranked second on the list.

You should also expect to see plenty of “Star Wars” costumes – Stormtrooper and Darth Vader costumes both made the list (41 and 49, respectively). But it isn’t clear whether we can expect to see new characters like Rey and Kylo Ren, or maybe even long-time favorites Chewbacca, Boba Fett and Princess Leia.

Plenty of other superheroes made Google’s list, including Wonder Woman, Batman, Deadpool, and Poison Ivy.

 

And in a year where we’ve heard about creepy clown (redundant?) sightings, some of which turned out to be hoaxes, clown costumes ranked ninth on Google’s list.

Here are the top 50 trending costumes, according to Google Trends:

  1. Harley Quinn
  2. Joker
  3. Superhero
  4. Pirate
  5. Wonder Woman
  6. Witch
  7. Batman
  8. Star Wars
  9. Clown
  10. Dinosaur
  11. Mermaid
  12. Pikachu
  13. Zombie
  14. Minnie Mouse
  15. Deadpool
  16. Vampire
  17. Poison Ivy
  18. Princess
  19. Minions
  20. Unicorn
  21. Ghostbusters
  22. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  23. Catwoman
  24. Pumpkin
  25. Tyrannosaurus
  26. Lion
  27. Doll
  28. Mickey Mouse
  29. PAW Patrol
  30. Cheerleader
  31. Little Red Riding Hood
  32. Skeleton
  33. The Mad Hatter
  34. Fairy
  35. Angel
  36. Tinker Bell
  37. Ninja
  38. Ghost
  39. Superman
  40. Rabbit
  41. Stormtrooper
  42. Princess Jasmine
  43. Bear
  44. 1980s
  45. Power Rangers
  46. Belle
  47. Batgirl
  48. Steampunk
  49. Darth Vader
  50. Cowboy


 

2016 Halloween Costume Trends from Bing

Suicide Squad costumes was the top search in every state, according to Bing data. Star Wars costumes ranked second in all but two states where search demand was higher for Pokémon costumes. (Hawaii and Wisconsin)

Bing also looked at costume search trends by age group. They found that:

  • 13- to 17-year-olds were 473 percent more likely to search for Pokémon compared to 18-24-year-olds.
  • 18- to 24-year-olds were 8 percent more likely to search for Little Mermaid than Deadpool.
  • 25- to 34-year-olds were 10 percent more likely to search for Deadpool over Little Mermaid.
  • 35- to 49-year-olds were 242 percent more likely to search for Harry Potter compared to 25-34-year-olds.
  • 50- to 64-year-olds were 8 percent more likely to search for Alice in Wonderland than Pokémon.
  • 65-year-olds and older were equally likely to search for Five Nights at Freddy’s as Deadpool.

Happy Halloween!

Can't find that ever-elusive result you've been searching for? Tired of thinking there's no way to find a result without wading through pages-upon-pages of results? Have you ever wanted to enrich your search experience but have no idea how or where to start? Is your search engine anthem U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For?"

If you jumped straight out of your chair and exclaimed, "YES," then this could very well be the post series you've needed. Not to mention, with all the complaints recently about Google and how their results are supposedly deteriorating, the time for boosting your search skills may just be at hand. If the results are in Google's index, they canbe found, so sit back, relax, get your learn on and prepare to become a search ninja!

CaveatThe information in this post is a lot to take in if you have never performed advanced searches in Google, so please be patient and don't treat this post as a "read once and done" deal! You may well get confused, so please ask questions via the comments if you do and I will be happy to clarify what I can for you. Don't worry about feeling stupid, either. I truly want you to understand this stuff since I know how much it will enhance your search experience! Make sure you click on all the examples I've provided throughout the article as they will really help you visualize much of the information I discuss -- especially if what you're reading becomes confusing. Seeing it really can make it "click" for you. Take this post in bits and pieces if you need to, add it to your favorites, etc. but just remember to be patient, keep an open mind, experiment on your own, and most of all, HAVE FUN!

Now, before we proceed, I want to give you a scenario to consider. I will use this as the series-wide example for you to reference for all points to come. With that said, let's say you're interested in C++ programming. You type "C++ programming" and a couple of similar queries into Google but you're just not satisfied with the results you've looked at. It's not Google's fault, because they do seem to be returning extremely relevant results, but they're just not the ones you feel cater to your method of learning. So, you think to yourself, "I know I should probably just take a class or buy a book, but I really wish there was a way to find "Introduction to C++" presentations/documents from colleges online."

Well, if you were a search ninja, you would realize the cornucopia of results surely awaiting you for such a query, and as such, your initial query on that train of thought may look something like this: site:edu intitle:Introduction intitle:C++ filetype:ppt | filetype:pdf | filetype:doc

Now, just what does that query tell Google? My fellow search ninjas out there know the answer to this, but this series isn't catered to them, so let's break it down! I'll delve into the site:, intitle:, filetype:, AND and OR operators, and more. A very critical point to remember is that your search terms should be placed directly after the operator with no spaces.

For example, site:edu funny is correct where site: edu funny is not. All the same, intitle:funnyis correct where intitle: funny is not. Of additional note is that Google operators are case-sensitive but your search terms are not! siTe:edu funny will not work where site:edU fUnnYand site:edu funny will work one-in-the-same. Lastly, the order in which you specify your search terms doesn't matter. For example, site:edu funny will work exactly the same as funny site:edu (you may see a different total number of results, but if you actually clicked through every single page of results, they would match and they would both end at exactly the same total number of results).

" (Quotes)

Keeping this section "short 'n sweet," the usage of quotes tells Google that you want it to return results for your *exact* search term. This applies to using 2 or more separate words/letters/numbers. For instance, searching for Windows 7 is different than searching for "Windows 7" in that the first example will return results that could include the number 7 and the word "Windows" *anywhere* within a page and not necessarily grouped together. The second example, however, will return results that contain Windows 7 as an *exact* phrase. Google does a great job of guessing what you're searching for with or without quotes most of the time, but certainly not all of the time -- especially if you're searching for an exact phrase that includes a word like "the" which Google has a tendency to ignore. For instance, if you're searching for lyrics that contain the following phrase, the cat on the fence will yield drastically different results than "the cat on the fence" will. Get to know the usage of quotes if you don't already, because I use them frequently throughout the examples here (and you'll really start to understand why if you don't already)!

AND and OR

The AND and OR operators can be incredibly useful in your search endeavors. Perhaps confusing at first, I urge you to give these operators some time to marinate. I promise you they will "click" for you and you'll be happy you stuck it out! To discuss these two operators, I'll break them down individually.

AND: This operator tells Google "I only want to see results that contain all of what I'm searching for." For example, doing a search for cats dogs has the potential to return results about only cats, only dogs, or cats and dogs. If you want to see to it that you see only results including cats and dogs, your search query would be (you guessed it) cats AND dogs. This really comes in handy if you are interested in finding pages that contain multiple search terms, like cats AND dogs AND birds AND lizards. It's also great for building up searches using qualifiers like "beginner," "introduction," etc. For example, Introduction AND C++ AND Beginner. Of all the operators I use, I use AND the least by far. But if I'm going to discuss OR (which is next), then I couldn't negate AND!

 

OR: What this operator does is tell Google "I only want to see results based on what I specify, but not results that have to contain all of what I specify." For example, if you do a search for "Search Engines" OR C++, what you'll get are results that are about either search engines orC++. It's entirely possible that a result from that search could contain both C++ and search engines in the same article, but that would be a coincidence! Remember, if you wanted to see only results that must contain both search engines and C++, you would use the AND operator like so: "Search Engines" AND C++.

Now, it's very important to note that OR is interchangeable with |. That means you can use either one to achieve the same end result. For example, "Search Engines" | C++ is the same as "Search Engines" OR C++. Personally, I like to use | because it lets Google know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I mean OR in terms of an operator and not a word. For instance, what if I did a search for "Search Engine" ORC? Did I mean "Search Engine" OR C as in a search engine OR a programming language named C, or did I mean "Search Engine" ORC as in a search engine fantasy creature? Because spaces don't matter with the OR operator, "Search Engine"|C is the same as "Search Engine" | C is the same as "Search Engine" |C is the same as "Search Engine"| C.

Now, try all four (1 2 3 4) of those using OR instead of | and you will get two sets of very different results! Lastly, it's important to note that you can have multiple OR operators in one search query. This can be really helpful if searching for multiple qualifiers to give you more results to go through without having to type individual queries. Take, for instance, a scenario where a product goes by multiple names. Let's say I want to search for Windows 7-related stuff. Well, I may want to cover as many bases as I can and try something like "Windows 7" | "Win 7" | "Windows Seven" | "Win Seven".

site:

Without getting all convoluted and intricate here, the site: operator basically tells Google "I want you to only show me results from specific Web sites or domains I specify." So, to give you an example using just this operator, site:edu "Search Engines" would tell Google that you want to see results about "Search Engines" from .edu domains only. Getting even more specific, you could try something like site:harvard.edu "Search Engines" to see results about "Search Engines" from only the harvard.edu Web site! As you can see, just the site: operator alone can help to greatly filter and fine-tune your results, but don't let the edu examples above pigeonhole your creativity and thought process. If you're looking for Windows 7 Service Pack 1-related material and you want to see only what's on Microsoft's site, you could try site:microsoft.com "Windows 7 Service Pack 1" and BOOM, highly-relevant, fine-tuned results!

Yellow Belt Search Ninja Exercise: Think of a topic you're interested in and try to think of a couple of sites you feel would contain the most helpful/insightful information based on that topic. Now, create one search query based on your topic that will show results from both of the sites you thought of and onlythose two sites. Hint: Remember the | operator! On the next page, I discuss the filetype: and intitle: operators, as well as the solution to the opening example and the conclusion of part 1.

filetype:

Next up on the docket is the filetype: operator. This operator tells Google "I want you to show me results that are of the type of file(s) I specify." This is probably my favorite operator to use since I just loooove to search for documents and presentations! Some of the most common file types that I like to search for using the filetype: operator are ppt, pps, ppsx, pptx, xls, xlsx, doc, docx, txt, pdf, rtf, and more. You can search for database files (mdb, dbf, et al), music files (mp3, m4p, et al), movie files (mpg, avi, et al), archive files (zip, rar, et al), image files (jpg, png, et al) and many, many more.

Through my experiments, I've found that defining each file type that you're interested in searching for -- all separated by the | operator -- yields the best results. At one point, you could define multiple file types within parenthesis but the results were pretty wacky (example: filetype:(ppt|pptx|pdf|doc) ). In the example I provided at the beginning of the post, you can see that I use three filetype: operator statements separated by the | operator: filetype:ppt | filetype:pdf | filetype:doc

To note, you would probably be shocked by what kind of data you can find based on a filetype: search alone. I once found a database file from an online retailer chock-full of full names, addresses, email addresses, and -- get this -- full credit card information. Scary stuff, huh? That was back in my Google hacking days, but make no mistake that there's a whole world of advanced Google searchers out there who can find some very revealing information. And come to think of it, it's off of that very premise alone that I started my own Microsoft investigative journalism blog back in 2007! I would find confidential information sitting around on people's servers about future Microsoft products I was interested in and I decided I wanted to blog about them.

My methods have since then improved exponentially and branched out well beyond finding such information contained only within documents, but if for nothing else, it just goes to show how using an operator like filetype: to do some experimenting can be quite fun, revealing, and maybe even turn into an entity all its own for you. In the case of our example at the beginning of the article, though, we're using the filetype: operator to search for three types of files: ppt, pdf, and doc.

 

intitle:

Put simply, this operator tells Google to only show you results that include your search term in the title of a result. If you're unfamiliar with a title, most pages and documents have them and they're typically what you click on when you click to see a result in Google. For example, intitle:ginormous shows the word "ginormous" in bold in the title of each result. Using the intitle: operator is perfect for narrowing down results to show your most important search terms right there in the title of a page or document.

Now, if you're feeling particularly mischievous, you can try some searches along the lines of intitle:index.of mymusic and see what all you can dig up. Naturally, I don't condone downloading any illegal content you might find doing such a search, but expanding out into searches like that will show you just how many people out there are ignorant to the true power of search engines. You would be astonished at how many people carelessly leave illegal/copyrighted material up on their Web servers. Never mind the people who leave personal and/or confidential information floating around directories on their Web sites.

So, if you're one of those types of people, now you have a good reason to check and make sure you're not serving up some things that could potentially get you in a heap of trouble! How can you do that? Simple! Try the site: operator using your site to see what all Google has indexed of yoursite! You may just be surprised at what you find. If you're an SEO, you may consider this a value-added service to your clients. I'm sure you've undoubtedly used the site: operator to get a rough idea of how many pages of your clients' sites are indexed, right? Well, imagine what they would think of you if you approached them and said, "we found a security issue with your site, but we can clear it right up for you!" Good stuff. ;)

Solution to Opening Example

site:edu intitle:Introduction intitle:C++ filetype:ppt | filetype:pdf | filetype:doc

Do you know what that query is telling Google to show you now? :) If not, here's the solution: Google will return results from .edu domains (site:edu) with the terms "Introduction" and "C++" in the title of each result (intitle:Introduction intitle:C++) and of those results, it will only show you ppt, pdf, or doc files (filetype:ppt | filetype:pdf | filetype:doc). And that's it!

There's a Catch...

You just knew there had to be one, right? Luckily, it's typically not a major one. You see, the only problem these days with performing such advanced queries is that Google oftentimes flags such searches as potential automated queries (queries run by programs, scripts, etc.). Google is pretty adamant about keeping that from happening, so as you continue to run some of these advanced queries in short amounts of time, Google will either give you the option to fill in a captcha to continue searching or they will simply show you a page apologizing to you that they can't complete your search query (which I find to be very frustrating, personally -- especially if I'm on a roll researching with advanced queries). If the latter happens, then you can either try the same query in a different Internet browser, wait it out, change your IP address, or go to a different computer. The good news is that you really have to be digging into some advanced queries like the one in the solution above to get flagged by Google.

Wrapping Up Part 1

How is this post even remotely SEO-related, Stephen? Good question! As for putting an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) slant to this whole thing, you may consider this an excellent reason to correctly purpose your content whether it's on the Web or in a presentation/document. While you're not going to see a huge amount of traffic whatsoever from people searching for documentation/content so specifically, you never know if that one person who does will spread the word about what they find. You can get as specific as you want with your content and delve into keyword research if you so choose, but just remember one person really can make a difference if they find your content, enjoy it, and decide to share it! Additionally, the more you know how to dig into Google, the more you learn how to understand it as a search engine. It gives you perspective, a unique skill set, and the ability to do some really detailed investigation into your clients' sites if need be. No, it's not a requirement to know how to use Google to this extent, but it absolutely can't hurt you to understand everything you can about search engines. The more you understand them, the better you can optimize for them and take yourself outside the realm of simply following what you read from others.

Now, while you may think to yourself "it's a waste of my time to have to learn how to search like this," I would highly encourage you to keep an open mind and try to shift your thinking. It's a skill to be able to search like this and it has the capacity to greatly enrich your life! That statement may seem like an exaggeration, but once you start thinking deeper into what you're searching for and how to find it, your reliance upon others and caring about Google making search results more relevant to the everyman query will decrease tremendously.

A prime example is the main one I used for this article. I would wager that there's not a single curriculum I can't access -- in part or in whole -- from educational establishments world-wide. If I want to learn about computer programming without signing up for classes, I can. If I want to learn about world religions without signing up for classes, I can. Now, I'm not promoting thievery by any means, but if I have the power to find and access information without using any deceptive measures, then I'm going to make use of that power. In my humble opinion, that is the true power of Google -- not its ability to try to read minds as it attempts to make its results more relevant using less search terms.

To close part one of this series, I'd like to remind you to exercise patience and experiment, experiment, experiment! You're not hurting anyone by getting creative with your searches, so think big! Also, think outside of the box. While there are right and wrong ways of performing searches, sometimes it's interesting to see what you'll get when doing a search incorrectly. So get out there and get searching!

If you have any questions or need help formulating a query based on a set of terms/ideas, I'll certainly try my best to help you out. Either way, stay tuned for the second part of the series where I will show you how to drill your results down even more than we have here in this post. I'll also go into more ideas and scenarios where you can use your newly-acquired search ninja skills to truly enrich your life and help you begin to think "let me Google that" with things you may have never thought possible before. Stay tuned as it only gets better as you continue the journey of becoming a... (wait for it)... SEARCH NINJA!

Source : zdnet

Internet of Things (IoT) botnet "Mirai" is the shape of things to come and future assaults could be even more severe, a leading security research firm warns.

Mirai powered the largest ever DDoS attack ever, spawning a 620Gbps DDoS against KrebsOnSecurity. Source code for the malware was released on hacker forums last week.

The malware relied on factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords to compromise vulnerable IoT devices such as insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders and the like.

PenTestPartners, the UK security consultancy behind numerous hack on Iot devices ranging from Wi-Fi enabled kettles to cars, said that the botnet finally illustrates the consequences of IoT vendors cutting the corners on security.

“We’ve said many times previously that IoT would make for the perfect botnet: Easy to compromise, hard to patch and the owner likely won’t ever have a clue that they’re part of the botnet,” PenTestPartners notes.

PenTestPartners warns that tweaks in the techniques used by black hats could be used to develop an even more potent threat. “This piece could be misconstrued as educating the DDoSser,” the firm explains in a disclaimer. “It isn’t – they will already have worked this improved attack out for themselves. This article is about ensuring that everyone knows what to expect in future and to help mitigate the effects.”

Future IoT bots could use the web rather than Telnet (as used by Mirai), making it far harder for ISPs to block attack traffic. Using the web also offers increased stealth.

PenTestPartners - which doesn’t sell DDoS mitigation services itself - is making its warning in order to encourage more diligence in applying available firmware updates to IP CCTV cameras and other IoT devices as advocating greater use of network segmentation as a defensive strategy.

Independent infosec consultant Brian Honan, the founder and head of Ireland’s CERT, welcomed PenTestParners’ take on the implications of IoT insecurity for wider internet hygiene.

“For much of IoT security the focus of attention and research is on better securing the devices themselves and on protecting the privacy of the device owners,” Honan said. “However, we overlook that insecure devices can have bigger implications, as these devices can be, and indeed have been, used to undermine the security of other systems. The recent DDoS attack, one of the biggest yet seen, on Brian Kreb's website is a shining example of how insecure devices can be leveraged to attack others.”

 

 

Ryan Lester, director of IoT strategy at Xively by LogMeIn, commented: "Many companies use security shortcuts such as embedded private keys or weak authentication to speed up the development phase of IoT but this approach is quite risky. A rigorous assessment of the security implications may increase the cost of development, but it will save time and the cost of flaws discovered down the road."®

Source : theregister.co.uk

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