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Google Censors “BitTorrent” Suggestions
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Early in December, Google vowed to distance itself from piracy. To do so, the company agreed that it would remove terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in their Autocomplete and Instant services.

Layar Lends Augmented Reality Technology to Any iPhone App

Augmented reality app provider Layar made a very interesting announcement today – it’s making its AR technology available for all iPhone apps. In other words, expect to see a lot more innovative AR-related features in a lot of apps. 

This extension of AR tech comes in the form of Layar’s Layar Player (now out of beta). It’s available to all agencies, brands, and developers to use to include AR (for free, no less) in their iPhone apps. 

IRS Launches Tax App For Android And iPhone Users

The Internal Revenue Service has introduced IRS2Go, its first smartphone app that allows people to check on the status of their tax refund and receive tax information.

"This new smart phone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want when they want it," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.

"As technology evolves and younger taxpayers get their information in new ways, we will keep innovating to make it easy for all taxpayers to access helpful information."

Do You Keep a Personal Social Media Scorecard?
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Personally, I’ve never been overly concerned about receiving a perfect grade as long as I know I’ve done my best. I raised my kids to think the same way. I believe there may be a downside to every kid on the team getting trophies, or taking up an entire cub scout meeting to hand out enough awards, badges and patches to make an old general jealous.

But I understand that awards and recognition for great work can be both fulfilling and fun.

Twitter Adds Bing’s Principal Scientist To Employee List

"Principal scientist" is an important-sounding title, and it’s hard to imagine any person holding it wouldn’t contribute a lot to his or her company.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, it looks like Bing’s principal scientist was lured away by Twitter.

Skype for Mac – New Version Available for Download

Skype just released a new version of Skype for Mac, which no longer carries the beta label. It also introduces group video calling (as part of a premium package). 

That package also includes live chat customer support, a seven-day free trial, and the option to either purchase a day pass starting at $4.99 or a monthly subscription at $8.99 a month.

PayPal VP Of Product Development Moves To Google
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Fans of Google Checkout and/or the idea of paying for things with your Android smartphone have reason to cheer this morning: Osama Bedier, the (former) vice president of product development at PayPal, has taken a job with a certain search giant.

Details are light about what Bedier might do at Google.  Nonexistent, really, so we’ll be sure to provide an update if and when that info becomes available.  UPDATE: Bedier’s LinkedIn profile now indicates he’s a VP at Google.

Facebook Shuts Down Facebook Phone Rumors…Again

Every now and then, rumors will start about a mythical Facebook phone. Eventually, Facebook will shoot them down, as is the case this week. 

The rumor, this time, was that HTC was going to launch a Facebook branded phone at Mobile World Congress next month. Details of the phone were made available as well, and rumors began to spiral into "Facebook’s going to compete with Apple and Android" territory. 

The Silly Quora Debate

Over the past month or so there’s been an escalating amount of hype and discussion about Q&A startup Quora in the tech world. As a quick background, Quora was founded last year by former Facebook executives/engineers Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever. It raised a nice round of venture capital at a really high valuation for a company that had yet to launch.

How Skype Can Be a Useful Tool for Content Creators
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For many Skype users the tool is simply a phone replacement or a way to make international calls without a charge.

While the direct communication uses are obvious, there are so many other ways to use this tool as well. In fact, I believe that one of the hottest trends of the back half of 2011 will be the ubiquitous use of video communication on the mobile device and this type of behavior change is going to make some of Skype’s features even more useful for business.

Eric Schmidt: Whatever You

Google has uploaded its video of outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt speaking at the DLD conference in Muich this week. 

Eric Schmidt: Whatever You

Google has uploaded its video of outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt speaking at the DLD conference in Muich this week. 

Eric Schmidt: Whatever You

Google has uploaded its video of outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt speaking at the DLD conference in Muich this week. 

6 Verticals See Triple-Digit Growth in Mobile Advertising

Millennial Media has released its latest monthly SMART report, looking at the mobile advertising landscape. The report looks at the top verticals (six of which had triple digit growth YoY).

Facebook, Kickstarter Get Behind Sundance Institute

Artists who attend the Sundance Institute may soon have an easier time reaching an audience when they complete their programs.  Facebook and Kickstarter have promised to support alumni, providing funding and guidance.

Facebook’s contribution is more on the "guidance" side of things.  A statement on the matter explained, "Facebook will offer Institute alumni advice, educational materials, and best-practices tips on how to build and engage audiences via the service."

Eric Schmidt Coming To Your Living Room?
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Could Google CEO Eric Schmidt be coming soon to your living room? Rumor has it that he’s interested in getting into television. 

A rather unexpected report from the New York Post today indicates that he is in fact interested in having some kind of talk show, and has even been involved in the filming of a past pilot show (which reportedly didn’t turn out too well). According to the report, he’s been consulting with Liza McGuirk, executive producer of CNN’s Parker Spitzer. 

New Twitter Feature Shows Mutual Connections for Users
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Twitter has launched a new feature accessible at Twitter.com that shows connections you may have with other Twitter users. 

If you go to someone’s Twitter profile, it will display a section in the right-hand pane (of the new Twitter design), just under the account info (tweets, following, followers, listed) that says "Connections", and displays people that are following that person and people that both you and that person mutually follow. 

Google’s fflick Aimed At Making YouTube More Social

Yesterday, unofficial news came out that Google had acquired fflick, which is a site that lets you log in with your Twitter account and see what your friends have said about movies. Today came the official announcement, and while it didn’t provide any financial details, word is that the price was about $10 million. 

TechCrunch Not Worried About Stepping On AOL Toes

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington hasn’t been afraid of pissing off AOL since the company acquired the popular tech blog late last year. 

Earlier this month, Arrington waged a blog war of sorts against fellow AOL tech blog Engadget, which drew a lot of media attention, and got other tech bloggers asking questions like, "How long will Mike Arrington possibly last as an AOL employee?"

Amazon Launches Kindle Singles
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 Amazon has officially introduced its Kindle Singles, short format ebooks that it announced plans for back in October.

Kindle Singles are between 5,000  and 30,000 words and are available in the Kindle Store for between $0.99 and $4.99. Amazon said it plans to frequently introduce many more Kindle Singles over time.

Another “Evil” Eric Schmidt Video From Consumer Watchdog
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Consumer Watchdog is at it again. The group has been criticizing Google for years, and gained a lot of exposure for some videos it created last year, including one depicting Google CEO Eric Schmidt as a creepy Ice Cream truck driver. 

In PR, There’s No Such Thing As A One-Day Story

Yesterday, I wrote about how NBC has handled Keith Olbermann’s departure from his show on MSNBC. Writing that story put me in mind of one of the hoary chestnuts of public relations strategy, which is to let sleeping dogs lie for some situations. Veteran PR folks are fond of refering to a minor flap as a "one-day story," meaning that you read about it in the newspaper today, but it disappears tomorrow.

Google And Yad Vashem Museum Put Holocaust Documents Online
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Google has partnered with Israel’s Yad Vashem museum to put the world’s largest collection of Holocaust documents and photos online.

In the first part of the initiative 130,000 photos from Yad Vashem’s archive will be viewable online, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Google Leases 100,000 Square Feet Of Space In Venice, CA
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Yesterday, Google announced that it intends to hire more than 6,000 new employees this year.  Now, we’re starting to learn where the search giant will put some of its workers, as word’s spread that Google’s leased 100,000 square feet of office space in Venice, California.