Brian Retkin, a 48-year old British man, is suing Google, claiming the search engine is somehow responsible for the accuracy and defamatory nature of everything written on the internet. Retkin is accused of profiting from the September 11 attacks by offering up domain names in some sort of solidarity promotion with the U.S.. Even assuming the allegations are false, Retkin spent three years trying to convince Google to remove the information, rather than suing the individuals who published it.
I don’t know if Mr. Retkin is a scammer, but he is a moron. International law is clear that service providers are not responsible for the actions of their users in these sort of regards, and the pages indexed by Google have even less of a relationshop than that. Google has no responsibility for the entire internet, rather the persons writing the libelous material bear full and sole responsibility. Retkin is in for a rude awakening when the court tells him to go to hell, as it should and most likely will.
Retkin spoke to WebProNews, saying that Google has already removed close to 15,000 pages from its index, yet he is still suing them. What Retkin doesn’t explain (and he doesn’t seem to have been asked) is why there are so many websites publishing these claims of him harvesting email addresses and spamming them with exclusive offers for .USA domains. Why has he not tried to get them to retract their claims, if they are so false and libelous?
Basically, Retkin’s DotWorlds offers domains with made-up top level domains, like jesus.christ or world.earth, but no one can actually access your domains without a browser plugin, since they don’t resolve to the DNS system like normal domains. I’m shocked that anyone would accuse them of being scammers, what with that brilliant innovation.
Google has significantly improved its referral program for AdSense, calling the new version Referrals 2.0. They say that the new version has thousands of products to choose from, category and keyword targeting to suggest the best products for your site, and a “Pick best performing ads” option which automatically displays ads expected to perform best. The new interface is pictured behind that link.
I found at least one referral product I liked in there, for
, which makes these amazing protection shields for iPods, cellphones, and other portable devices. I’ve got two, one for my touchscreen phone, and I swear by these things.
See how well that referral link blended in my post? Would you believe it required a WordPress plugin! Yes, Google insists that referrals, which cannot really suffer from click fraud, be placed using SCRIPT tags, which means many blogging software won’t allow it. I have to create the referral code in a WordPress plugin, then use an HTML comment to insert it into my post. Worse, RSS visitors don’t ever see the referral. Google needs to consider letting you just link the damn thing for better ease of use.
In the meantime, Microsoft’s affiliate program lets me use standard text links and images all I want, and edit as necessary. Sure, they don’t have much to offer, but I can at least tell you to download a 90 day free trial of Windows Live Onecare without jumping through hoops.
Google Russia has launched a new site called Google Вопросы и ответы, or Google Questions and Answers. Google closed Google answers, its service where users answered questions for money, back in November, and Google Russia has apparently decided to create a new version. The interface is completely different from the old Answers, with some neat AJAX tricks and obvious community sidebars.
The Google Russia blog says that it isn’t like the old Answers, that no money is needed to ask questions, users get points for answers and more points for better answers, users can tag questions, and that Russia is the first country where this is being rolled out. Considering the excellent interface design, and the fact that Yahoo Answers hasn’t conquered every single country, expect this service to spread, though it may not reach the U.S..
Google Maps has a wonderful new feature that lets you create and edit driving directions with the mouse. Here’s who it works:
Right-click anywhere and click “Directions from here”:
Then do it again at your destination, clicking “Directions to here”:
You can add another waypoint by doing that again, but even better, you can pick any point in middle of the route and drag it, and watch the route recalculate as you drag:
When you let go of the mouse, a new waypoint will have been added in the middle of your route, and the directions for all your stops will be there. You can keep adding new waypoints, dragging between waypoints to add new stops, going all kinds of crazy:
This is a really, really useful feature that makes complicated driving directions obscenely easy. If there’s a problem, its that the map doesn’t scroll if you drag to the edge of the map. If you try to drag to create a waypoint off screen, it just doesn’t scroll, so you have to either hold down the cursor keys and watch it move real slow, or you can delete the waypoint, reposition and re-zoom the map, and try again. That’s an annoyance they should fix in the next update.