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Facebook’s Revamped Beacon

So Facebook has revamped the workings of their Beacon. To all you bloggerati and digital doomsayers (like me) who raised a stink about this, looks like your sense of smell wasn’t wrong.

Some things need to be opt-in, not opt-out. Looks like "Charlene Li just bought a table" showing up in a newsfeed is in the former category.

Wikia’s ArmchairGM

I was watching the interview with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on Om Malik’s show on Revision3, because I’m always interested in what Jimmy is up to, and he mentioned a site called ArmchairGM, which I don’t recall hearing about before — or at least paying much attention to.

Om was talking about how he wanted a combination of his blog and a wiki, so that his community could contribute and get involved more, and Jimmy said he saw ArmchairGM as being close to that kind of thing.

Google OpenID Trials

What with social network APIs and mobile phones, Google has gotten all open and loving all of a sudden. It’s next step in taking over the world is the trial of OpenID for Blogger in Draft (it’s testing area for Blogger).

With the adoption of OpenID, commenters on Blogger blogs will be able to use their “one login fits all” username and password when leaving a comment.

The Danger of Aggressive Ad Placement
When I did a recent Q&A thread one of the recurring themes with sites that were struggling was AdSense ads positioned above their content.

Many websites are never given the chance to grow because they monetize too aggressively and look to spammy to enjoy the benefits of organic growth and community building.

MSN Video 2nd Most Popular Video Brand

MSN Video is now the second most popular video brand on the internet, following a 25.3% traffic surge in October.

Universal DRM Free Music Speeding Up

The slow march towards universal DRM free music appears about to become a sprint to the finish line. 

Recent developments pushing Sony BMG, WMG and other holdouts to reconsider their protectionist positions include:

Hard Disk Compatible with Google?

Markus Renschler sent this in: “We bought a new external hard disk (WD MyBook). What I was completely fascinated by is the fact it’s not only compatible with Vista, XP, MacOS and USB2.0, but, according to the package, with Google as well.”

iPhone Users Will be Able to Sync with PowerPoint

Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit has announced that Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac OS will allow iPhone and iPod users to sync with PowerPoint.

You will be able to run PowerPoint slideshows on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod Classic and fatty iPod Nano (any iPod with picture support) if you have a Mac with PowerPoint 2008 and iPhoto (2006 or better).

SEMPO Wants You to Get Involved

SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, wants people involved with SEM to take its 4th annual State of the Market survey.

Yahoo Talks New Panama Features
TheYahoo! Panama team has been working on new methods through which advertisers can fine-tune their ad campaigns. The details of these enhancements to their service are available at the YSM blog.

Report: Live Spaces Has Most Downtime

Pingdom tracked 12 top social networking sites from October 19 to November 19, and found that Microsoft’s Live Spaces had the most downtime, with the site failing to respond for a total of three hours over the course of the month.

By contrast, that’s more than Facebook (10 minutes), MySpace (10), Bebo (30), LiveJournal (40) and Orkut (85) combined, and worst on the list.

Photo Site Looks to Bloggers for Profits

Reuters details a new program from Corbis giving bloggers access to some of its photos.

Changing Search Results with Google Experimental

Some users are reportedly seeing a new experiment in Google Experimental: the ability to re-order and even hide specific items in web search results.

Google Expands Contests to Pre-College Kids

Building on the success of the Summer of Code Contests, Google has expanded the contests to now include the pre-College community.

The contest is open to students age 13 and older who have not yet begun university studies, and contestants will be able to claim tasks until 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time on January 22, 2008.

We hope that students who participate will be long-term contributors to these and other open source projects in the future, and we look forward to announcing the grand-prize winners on February 11.

Hotmail Founder Seeking Lawsuit from Microsoft?

Sabeer Bhatia, co-founder of Hotmail (which he sold to Microsoft) is now trying to take on Microsoft Office and Google Docs, launching an online office suite.

While that in and of itself is a perfectly fine (albeit difficult) project, Sabeer’s methods are surprisingly self-destructive. His Live Documents site (a name that makes you think of Microsoft’s Office Live) uses Office 2007’s “Ribbon” interface, designed in Flex, to power document editing, spreadsheets and presentations.

Structured Search Coming Soon from Yahoo?

Barry Schwartz reports that Yahoo plans to roll out a "structured search" functionality in the near future.

KML/KMZ Collaboration Added to Google Maps
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Google added two new features to Google Maps: collaborative editing and importing of KML/ KMZ files.

MySpace Working on News Feed Feature

MySpace is working on a News Feed feature of its own, reminiscent of Facebook’s own feature, Reuters reports.

YouTube Account Shut Down Over Police Brutality

Reuters writes:

The video-sharing Web site YouTube has suspended the account of a prominent Egyptian anti-torture activist who posted videos of what he said was brutal behaviour by some Egyptian policemen, the activist said.

Wael Abbas said close to 100 images (sic) he had sent to YouTube were no longer accessible, including clips depicting purported police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations.

Gmail Goes Out of Bounds

I really like Google’s Gmail program. It’s truly my favorite email service. They also do a great job scanning through my emails for relevant keywords and phrases that they match with their advertisers.

Google’s Energy Initiative

Google issued a press release stating they want to create a research & development group with the goal of creating “electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal.”

The initiative is called “RE<C” and is supposed to be receiving “tens of millions” from Google in 2008. From the release:

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