Eff Yeah Google

Caveat:  I understand that Google is a corporation, is capable of doing wrong, and is not definitely the savior of all humankind. Google has been doing some cool stuff lately, two of which showed up in my newsfeeds today.

Google protects its users from government spies

(via TechNewsWorld, Boing Boing)

Google claims to have identified instances of state-based or state-sponsored attempts to hack into users' email accounts, and an unknown number of users have received alerts letting them know that someone tried to break into their account.

On spotting the warning ribbon, users can immediately create a unique password that has a good mix of capital and lower-case letters and punctuation marks and numbers; enable two-step verification for additional security; and update their browsers, operating systems, plugins and document editors, Google stated. (TechNewsWorld)

It's good business, yes, but this effort also represents Google's orientation towards corporate responsibility.  It's a long-term strategy, building a trustworthy product that can help make the world a better place.  And I love that Google feels comfortable standing up to nations -- although I think that's less a Google thing, and more a worldwide transition from nations as the basic unit of politics, towards something else.  That something else might be corporations, and I worry about the other companies out there.

Google Maps getting cooler

(via Fox News)

It’s a pretty limited search engine that only draws from a subset of sources. In the same way, it’s not much of a map that leaves you stranded the moment you step off the highway or visit a new country. Over the last few years we’ve been building a comprehensive base map of the entire globe—based on public and commercial data, imagery from every level (satellite, aerial and street level) and the collective knowledge of our millions of users.

Today, we’re taking another step forward with our Street View Trekker. You’ve seen our cars, trikes, snowmobiles and trolleys—but wheels only get you so far. There’s a whole wilderness out there that is only accessible by foot. Trekker solves that problem by enabling us to photograph beautiful places such as the Grand Canyon so anyone can explore them. All the equipment fits in this one backpack, and we’ve already taken it out on the slopes. (Google Blog)

I love Google maps and I really love the idea of the mapping spreading out into the wilderness.  I wonder how big a subset of the nature-loving community is going to be enraged about this, though?  I can imagine people complaining that the mere existence of digital mapping diminishes the purity of the nature.

A note on the source: I got this second story from Fox News, who titled the article"

With Apple breakup looming, Google shows off some 'magic'

It's incredibly unclear for much of the article, but what they mean is that Apple is planning to develop its own map programs for the iPhone rather than sticking to Google products.

The way the article is written, Fox portrays Google's announcement as a direct attack on Apple.  It's the kind of gossipy, unfounded reporting one expects from celebrity magazines -- and a headline like that can have significant effects on the market that the content of the article doesn't justify.

Yet more evidence that Fox News isn't just shoddy reporting, it's actively pursuing anti-news goals.