Beaver County Times, Pa., Michael Pound column
Jan 06, 2013 (Beaver County Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
It says it right at the top of Google's corporate code of conduct policy: "Don't be evil."
The Federal Trade Commission didn't rule on Thursday that Google had violated that policy, but it did say the search giant hadn't unfairly boosted its own services when it serves up your search results.
For the last year an a half, the FTC has been poking around in Google's business practices, prompted by complaints from competitors that it was engaging in monopolistic behavior. Yelp and Microsoft were among those who griped the loudest, and for good reason, particularly in the case of Yelp, the business listing and rating service.
Back in 2011, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman testified before a U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee about his company's dealings with Google, which, by then, had started its own business listings service, Google Local.
The problem Google Local was scraping content -- in this case, Yelp users' ratings and comments -- and including it in its own listings.
And, Stoppelman wrote, Google pretty much gave him a choice: Allow us to use your data in our Google Local search returns, or risk being excluded from Google search results.
And that's a tough choice, given that Google commands more than two-thirds of all search traffic in the country, according to searchenginewatch.com. Or, as Stoppelman put it in his testimony:
"This, of course, was a false choice. It is a choice between allowing Google to co-opt one's content and not competing at all."
Throughout the FTC investigation, Google contended that the practice of including snippets of content from competing sites was permitted under fair-use provisions of copyright law; even as it continued to insist, though, it began cutting back on the practice, especially, as Stoppelman noted, once the FTC investigation began in 2011.
Hmm. This certainly sounds evil to me, but it is apparently not illegal, at least in the eyes of the FTC.
Earlier this week, I noticed one of my favorite new iOS 6 features -- Do Not Disturb -- had stopped working. The good thing is, Apple has apparently noticed as well.
Do Not Disturb lets you turn off all notifications during any period of time when you, uh, don't want to be disturbed. It's been helpful for me, say, when my Twitter friends want to carry on a conversation after I've gone to bed. DND keeps the phone from vibrating, lighting up or, if I've forgotten to turn off the sound, beeping at me when someone tweets in my direction. But it also allows you to accept calls from your favorites list or allows you to accept repeated calls from the same number -- definitely a handy thing in an emergency.
On Wednesday, I noticed during the middle of the morning that DND had not shut itself off as it was scheduled to do. Wednesday night It didn't turn on -- I had to do that manually.
The problem According to cultofmac.com, it has to do with the new year and way the code for the app was written. The flaw means it won't roll over to 2013 until the first Monday of the year, which means until Jan. 7 rolls around -- that would be tomorrow, if you're reading this today (as you should) -- DND isn't going to work on its own.
Cult of Mac correctly points out that Apple seems to struggle with date-related stuff, particularly with the glitches involving Daylight Saving Time changes. I think that's unacceptable, and it should be unacceptable to the folks in Cupertino as well.
I will repeat this until I no longer see examples of people doing it wrong: Watch your social media output; if you're not, everyone else is.
This is especially good advice if you're a business on various social media platforms; if you screw it up, it will be noticed.
Our friends just down the road at Dick's Sporting Goods might have noticed that on Monday when a one-word tweet -- "what" -- appeared on its stream. A few hours later -- just after the dawn of the new year, in fact -- McDonald's had apparently decided that it was ready to move on, when it tweeted "See ya later, #2013!"
The Dick's tweet was likely someone with an itchy trigger finger, while McDonald's was probably a simple typo -- and neither were egregious errors. But both mistakes could have been avoided if someone was watching.
Happy 2014, you guys. I think I'm going to go get myself a Big Mac. What
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