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Gmail is up but with a strange problem

gmailThere is something to be said for the cloud and web-based services. However, when you rely on these things, sometimes it goes a bit wrong. That's not as bad as it sounds. It can go very wrong with your home computer and network as well. Today, Google is experiencing one of those "glitches".

As of this writing, the Gmail service seems to be restored for all users, and I've inquired with writer friends around the US and the world to verify that. However, there is a rather bizarre side-effect, but it's only affecting one poor user. Sadly, that person is getting the bulk of the email being sent since the outage relented.

It seems that when you search Gmail in Google, which a large number of average users do, and click the top result, it opens a compose dialogue box and pre-fills the recipient with "dsp559@hotmail.com". Hence, this is resulting in the person on the receiving end being inundated with email. (We recommend to avoid testing it, for the obvious reasons.)

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Chrome has a malware problem

chromeGoogle Chrome extensions are designed to improve or modify functionality that the web browser offers. Some extensions in the official Chrome Web Store have millions of users who all rely on the functionality their add-ons provides them with.

While not as powerful as Firefox add-ons, Chrome extensions are easily powerful enough to manipulate websites that you visit, or communicate with a remote server. News about extension abuse reached the mainstream press recently.

It all started when Amit Agarwal confessed that he sold a Chrome extension he created to a company that approached him via email.

The company modified the extension and released the update to all existing users of it.

Users who received the update noticed that the extension started to inject ads on web pages, which was then reflected on the user reviews page on the Chrome Web Store.

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Rethink Internet Explorer campaign

ieInternet Explorer is no longer just the browser you use to download other browsers (even though, for many people, that will always remain the case). These days it’s a decent, fast and standards compliant offering that you don’t have to be embarrassed to admit to using.

Microsoft’s clever, self-deprecating Browser You Loved to Hate campaign did a great job of challenging people’s views and getting them to take a second look at Internet Explorer, and today the software giant launches a new initiative and website, called Rethink, which aims to showcase how Internet Explorer is helping to "create a web that is fast, beautiful and perfect for touch" while also, Microsoft hopes, getting people to rethink their views on the much maligned browser.

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Google Starts Ranking ISPs Based on YouTube Performance

googleWe've of course seen no limit to the complaints by users that YouTube videos often get stuck buffering, despite blisteringly-fast connections. Most customers blame their ISPs, while most ISPs (or companies paid by ISPs) blame Google. The real reason is often the power and cash struggles going on behind the scenes over CDN and peering links, with last-mile ISPs, core network ISPs, and content companies like Google all sometimes playing a role in making your YouTube performance suck.

With that in mind, Google has posted a new video quality report. Right now the report is simply a series of slides explaining how video gets delivered to you, but ultimately Google is going to start logging ISP connection speeds and ranking them based on YouTube streaming performance.

The concept appears to not be all that dissimilar from Netflix's attempt to name and shame ISPs for lower quality streaming performance (or name and shame them into using Netflix's Open Connect CDN, depending on how you'd like to look at it).

Ultimately Google will list the best ISPs in each region based on YouTube performance, and when ISP subscribers are able to watch 90% of the YouTube videos in HD (720p) at consistent quality, that ISP will be branded as "YouTube HD Verified."

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House votes 325-91 to pass Innovation Act

The Innovation Act, a bill with measures aimed to stop "patent troll" lawsuits, passed the US House of Representatives this morning on a 325-91 vote. Several amendments that would have stripped out key parts of the bill were defeated.

Passage of the bill is a big step for patent reformers, which would have been hard to imagine even one year ago. However, patent trolls going after "Main Street" businesses like grocery stores and coffee shops have made headlines and enraged politicians from Vermont to California.

Majorities of representatives in both parties supported the bill. On the Republican side, 195 representatives voted in favor of the bill and 27 voted against, while 130 Democrats supported the bill and 64 opposed it. The White House has said it supports the bill, which must first pass the US Senate.

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Recover Tons of Disk Space with the New Windows Update Cleanup

windows 7Microsoft has released a Windows 7 update that adds a new option in the Disk Cleanup tool called Windows Update Cleanup. With it, you can free up several gigabytes of hard drive space from the bloated Windows Updates folder.

Windows Updates can be terrible space hogs. Windows saves every security update and hotfix—even if they're superseded by new updates—in the WinSxS directory. You can't just manually delete everything in that folder, because some files are needed just in case a system file gets corrupted or you need to roll back a Windows Update.

So that's where this new Windows Update comes in. Released yesterday for Windows 7 SP1 machines, KB 2852386 adds the ability to cleanup all the obsolete updates in the WinSxS folder. It's a "recommended" update but not "critical," so you might not have installed it yet. You can either do a Windows Update to download it or head to the Knowledge Base article to grab it from there. (Note: Windows Update Cleanup is included in Windows 8.1.)

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Winamp lovers beg AOL to make Winamp open source

Last week, AOL announced the impending death of Winamp, saying that the 16-year-old media player would be shut down within a month.

"Winamp.com and associated Web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date," AOL announced.

But fans of the venerable software have launched a "Save Winamp" website and petition asking AOL either to keep Winamp alive or to open source its code.

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Gmail integrates Google Drive support

gmailWhen you're sent an email with an attachment you probably do one of two things. You might preview the file in your browser, or you might download it to your hard drive. If you want to be able to access the file on other computers without having to track down the original email again, you may then take the extra step of uploading it to Google Drive. But it's all too easy for attachments to end up getting lost on the desktop or a catch-all Downloads folder.

This is something Google may be able to change with the latest addition to Gmail. Now there is no need to click an attachment to view a preview -- supported file types (including images, PDFs and videos) are automatically previewed as small thumbnails. You can still click them if you would like to see a larger preview, but this is not the only change that has been made. When an email has multiple attachments, it is now possible to scroll through them slideshow-style.

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