7/27/2008

Users can automatically encrypt Gmail connection

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Gmail now can be set to encrypt communications between a browser and Google’s servers by default, an option that makes the e-mail service harder to snoop on but also potentially slower.

Users already could encrypt communications with Gmail servers (by going to https://mail.google.com), but on Thursday, the company added an option to use that encrypted connection automatically.

“Your computer has to do extra work to decrypt all that data, and encrypted data doesn’t travel across the Internet as efficiently as unencrypted data,” Gmail engineer Ariel Rideout said in a blog post Thursday. “That’s why we leave the choice up to you.”

The encryption comes through use of HTTPS, a secure version of the HTTP protocol that governs how Web browsers fetch information from servers. It’s not simple to snoop on somebody else’s network traffic, but it can be done when the communications aren’t encrypted.

Google Counts More Than 1 Trillion Unique Web URLs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

In a discovery that would probably send the Dr. Evil character of the “Austin Powers” movies into cardiac arrest, Google recently detected more than a trillion unique URLs on the Web.

This milestone awed Google search engineers, who are seeing the Web growing by several billion individual pages every day, company officials wrote in a blog post Friday.

In addition to announcing this finding, Google took the opportunity to promote the scope and magnitude of its index.

“We don’t index every one of those trillion pages– many of them are similar to each other, or represent auto-generated content… that isn’t very useful to searchers. But we’re proud to have the most comprehensive index of any search engine, and our goal always has been to index all the world’s data,” wrote Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj, software engineers in Google’s Web Search Infrastructure Team.

It had been a while since Google had made public pronouncements about the size of its index, a topic that routinely generated controversy and counterclaims among the major search engine players years ago.

AOL shutting 3 services

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

AOL is shutting three data-storage services, including one of the Internet’s earliest photo-sharing sites, as it seeks to cut costs and focus resources on its advertising opportunities.

AOL Pictures, the year-old media-sharing site BlueString and the online backup service Xdrive will likely shut down by year’s end, though the company is looking to sell at least Xdrive, which AOL bought in 2005 for an undisclosed fee.

Company officials denied speculation Friday that the closures were meant to prime AOL for a sale. AOL parent Time Warner Inc. has been in continual discussions with both Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., though the talks have been preliminary.

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