The hits just keep getting killed off. Google is shutting down yet another service — the company’s domain blocking tool, which allowed logged-in users to block unwanted domains from Google’s search results.
Google’s site-blocking tool was originally aimed at “content farm spam,” but Google hasn’t done much with it of late, and it even stopped working for a while, despite being available via a link from your profile.
Now the service is officially gone, replaced by a Chrome add-on that does nearly the same thing. Unfortunately that means the ability to ban sites from Google’s search results is now limited to those using Google’s Chrome web browser. For more on the Chrome add-on see our earlier review.
The bad news about the Chrome extension is that it’s client-side filtering, not server-side. That means that if Google returns results from domains you’ve blocked those results are simply hidden (sometimes there’s even a brief flash of the blocked results).
That means you’ll end up with fewer search results than you would with the server-side solution, which filtered out your blocked domains before the results were sent. For example, if there are ten results on the first page and three are from domains you’ve blocked, using the add-on method you’ll only see seven results, whereas the server-side method would have fetched the next three results to show a total of ten.
If you used the account-based version of the blocking tool, you can head over to your account and grab the list of sites you had blocked. Just add those sites to the Chrome extension and you’ll be back up and running in no time, with not an Experts-Exchange, Quora or W3Schools link to be seen (or whatever you consider search results spam).
The “Help for Hacked Sites” section of Google’s Webmaster Tools offers up articles and videos to help you not only recover from compromising hacks, but take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Part of what makes hacked sites difficult to deal with is that oftentimes developers don’t even notice that they’ve been compromised. “Hacks are often invisible to users,” says Google in its new help section. “For example, unbeknownst to the site owner, the hacker may have infected their site with harmful code which in turn can record keystrokes on visitors’ computers, stealing login credentials for online banking or financial transactions”
Google has an 8-step program for unhacking your site, which include basics like identifying the vulnerability that was used to compromise your site, as well as how to request a review so Google will remove the dreaded “this site has been compromised” message from its search results.
For more info and all the details on what to do if you’ve been hacked, check out the new Help for Hacked Sites section of Google’s Webmaster Tools.
If you’d like to participate, head on over to the signup page and add your account.
Once that’s done, just log in to your Google account. You’ll then be able to search Gmail, your Google Drive documents and now your Google Calendar appointments directly from the Google search page (or from within Gmail).
The Google Calendar integration doesn’t just add appointments, it also features support for natural language queries. For example, type “what is on my calendar today” and you’ll see the day’s agenda. More specific queries work as well; to find out when you’re meeting someone, just type “when am I meeting” and the person’s name.
Note that the personalized search trial is still only available to U.S. users with @gmail.com addresses (Google Apps accounts are out of luck for now). If you opt in and decide you hate it, you can always go back to the sign up page and turn universal search off.
Google has announced a new feature for Google+ — third-party websites and applications can now offer sign ins through Google+.
The new Google+ Sign-Ins are essentially Facebook Connect for Google+, allowing you to not only sign-in to sites that support it, but also bring your Google+ profile data with you around the web.
The new Google+ Sign-In service will make it easier to share content from third-party sites (and within mobile apps). Exactly who will see the items you share on Google+ depends on the level of access you grant to an app, but in general you can share data with specific people on Google+, certain circles, or no one.
Here’s Google’s description of the actual sign-in process:
If you sign in to Gmail, YouTube or any other Google service, you can now use your existing credentials to sign in to apps outside of Google. Just review the Google+ permissions screen (outlining the data you’re sharing with the app, and the people who can see your activity), and you’re all set.
Google+ Sign-Ins aren’t just for web apps either — Google is pushing them for mobile apps as well. Starting today, when you sign in to a website with Google, you can install its mobile app on your Android device with a single click.
Google is also claiming that, because you can choose who to share things with, that it will mean less “social spam.” The Google+ Developer Blog even calls out Facebook’s “frictionless” sharing by name, saying “Google+ doesn’t let apps spray ‘frictionless’ updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant.” Of course one person’s “relevant” content is another’s spam, so take that claim with a bucket or two of salt.
Items you share from sites and apps using Google+ Sign-In show up as a slightly different “interactive” post in your friends’ Google+ stream. Clicking on these items will lead them to the app where they can listen to or buy or review the item you shared.
If you want to add Google+ Sign-In to your site or app, head on over to the new developer site and read through the documentation.
The Google Open Source Blog says that most of Google Cloud Platform’s existing open source tools will be migrated to the new GitHub organization “over time.”
For now though you can get started building apps on Google Cloud Platform just by forking one of the demo repositories and tweaking the code to fit your project. Sample apps like the guestbook demos for Python and Java, along with the OAuth 2 helper apps, make a good place to start if you’ve never built anything on Google’s cloud platform before.