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Google image searches can be further refined thanks to a hidden feature few knew about – until this week.

A blog post by Ionut Alex Chitu has shown that by adding a simple piece of code to the end of your Google image search, can be used to refine the results. Adding “&imgtype=face” to the end of the search URL string will refine the list of images with just those of faces.

Wired blogger Adario Strange posted today that he had taken this search to the next level by replacing the word “face” with “hands” during an image search for PBS television host “Charlie Rose”. Strange notes images of Roses hands appearing, however, I was unable to duplicate these results.

This kind of image and face recognition is in its infant stages and it will be interesting to see how far Google goes, and when they will in fact release this technology openly within image searches.

Its scary to think that perhaps some day, armed only with a photo of someone, a user may be able to use the uploaded image to do a name look up and background search. While the technology (at least as far as I know) is not advanced enough to do such a thing, it is certainly within the realm of possibility.

In a press release issued by Microsoft Tuesday, the announcement of the first commercially available surface computer was made.

Expected to be released late this year, Surface will first appear in places like Casinos and hotels.

“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” Ballmer said. “We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision.”

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The F.C.C. is preparing to auction off the use of airwaves within the 700mhz band, currently used for UHF, to hungry telcos and other media operators for the use of next generation digital signals. Google has recommended to the F.C.C. that companies who win a portion of the airwaves be allowed to auction off any unused portions to other providers or users using a real-time auction system similar to Adwords.

Reed E. Hundt, a former F.C.C. commissioner proposes “that one quarter of the capacity of the network that uses this spectrum must be sold not in a long-term service contract but instead in ongoing open auctions to any and all comers.” (source NY Times). Both Google’s and Mr. Hundt’s suggestions would allow independents and other low-capital enterprises a chance to get airtime without the lofty up-front costs of the current leasing process; at the moment winners of an auction have to pay their long-term lease up front which is often out of the reach of most businesses. Read more…

Today the official Ask.com Blog announced details of its local-focused mobile services called Ask Mobile GPS. When I read the offering provided by this 1st generation of local (GPS-driven) mobile service currently only available on specific Sprint phones, I was blown away. The Ask blog posting explains these details more thoroughly but here is a point-by-point rundown of the new offering:

  • Share My Location: opt to let specific friends know where you are at any given moment… creepy but cool. If a friend wants to meet with you their Sprint phone will provide step by step directions to get to your location.
  • Directions: navigate to any available location using audible driving (or walking) directions provided in real-time by the GPS enabled phone.
  • CitySearch: search for specific stores or facilities in your current area. The CitySearch will provide recommendations within a predescribed distance of your location.
  • EVites: receive and send invites to friends for parties or simply a coffee meeting. You can create, view, cancel or accept EVites easily from your phone. In each case the EVites can provide directions to the event location.
  • Favorite Places: save shortcuts to your favorite locations for easy access to directions wherever you are.

Being the first to launch this powerful mobile service Ask.com has really put itself ahead of the pack. “At the end of the day, everyone needs to go mobile. But being early in the game can help lock people in for the long term,” Ask’s CEO, Jim Lanzone aptly stated in an interview with Reuters.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services
Celebrating 10 Years of SEO Excellence

If you thought Google had enough data centers by now, then you thought wrong. Search giant Google, recently noted as the world’s most visited website, has announced today that it plans on spending $600 USD million on a new data center, about 50 miles from Tulsa in Pryor, Oklahoma.

Plans have the facility opening in just over a year, summer 2008, and ultimately will staff 200 new employees. Located on an 800 acre plot of land Google purchased at Mid America Industrial Park an existing warehouse will be converted along with the construction of a new building to support their future growth.

The exact economic incentives received by Google from the state have not been determined, but they will certainly be significant.

Derek van Vliet, a well-known Digg personality, has created a plug-in for Firefox based on the new Digg API.

The new plug-in allows you to automatically see how many Diggs a page has received or to Digg the page. Check out Derek’s blog posting or take the leap and download the Digg Firefox Extension now.

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Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Google Offers Toilet WiFi

I just love April Fools Day! The foolishness really seems to come alive online and this year I take my hat off to Google – they really had fun with it this year with TiSP; Google’s new Toilet WiFi service.

“Google TiSP (BETA) is a fully functional, end-to-end system that provides in-home wireless access by connecting your commode-based TiSP wireless router to one of thousands of TiSP Access Nodes via fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines.”

Remember! “Please wash your hands before surfing.”

And yes, I felt strongly this great new technology merited a position under the SEO Blog’s “New Tech” label.

For a hilarious walk through of some of the best April Fools hoaxes of all time check out this great hoax site – it is well worth it for the painful grin your bound to enjoy.

Danny Sullivan wrote an article today describing Flash optimization and how it is unlikely that Flash will be a completely spiderable medium anytime soon. The article is sobering for those of us who were hoping for a 100% optimizable version of Flash, but at the same time I must stress that there are ways to optimize around Flash if no other alternative is possible. Danny points to a blog describing Flash workarounds that I had not previously seen and I enjoyed a great deal. Read more…

On March 16th, the International Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) publicly de-accredited the domain registrar RegisterFly.com for fundamental contractual breaches. BusinessWeek Online appropriately called the RegisterFly.com debacle a “Train wreck” and although this is not SEO-related I think StepForth SEO Blog readers should be kept in the know about this situation. Perhaps this post will help you protect your domain(s) and ultimately your livelihoods from future train wrecks. To that end, I have outlined some tips at the end of this post that will serve as a checklist to help protect you. Read more…

Today Adobe unveiled the alpha release of Apollo which Adobe’s Mike Downey describes as a “cross operating system runtime that allows users to install desktop applications built using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and Flash.” In layman’s terms, Apollo enables web developers to create applications for your computer using the web technology they already know and work in. Read more…

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