The new "followers" feature on Google's Blogger, which turns the blogging service into a quasi-social network, may strike some as too little, too late — a me-too move following WordPress and Movable Type's adddition of social elements. But it didn't have to happen. Blogger had a full-fledged social network in the works years ago, called Profiles — and it was quashed by Marissa Mayer in favor of Orkut. Why? Mayer's own social network.
Before the Russian army pushed past the borders of breakaway republic South Ossetia and invaded Georgia's interior, Russian hackers took over Georgian government websites last Friday, taking control over a central government site as well as the homepages for the ministries of foreign affairs and defense. Researcher Jart Armin told Britain's Daily Telegraph he blames the attacks an organization called the Russian Business Network, which the Telegraph describes as a "a network of criminal hackers with close links to the Russian mafia and government."That's an understatement. The Russian Business Network is infamous for operating botnets, distributing malware, and stealing private information. But its usual targets are businesses, not nation-states. A year ago, Brian Krebs wrote in the Washington Post about RBN's exploits, which included an attack on the Bank of India. The Estonian government blamed the RBN for three days of attacks on its Web sites in April. Armin, the security researcher says Georgia's hacked sites are now routed them through servers in Russia and Turkey that are "well known to be under the control of Russian Business Network and influenced by the Russian Government." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia has moved its website to Google's Blogger — itself a notorious hotbed of spam, but at least one that's hosted on a theoretically more secure network.
Dick Costolo used to be CEO of FeedBurner, a Chicago startup which publishes RSS feeds for websites. But then FeedBurner got acquired by Google. Now Costolo's got a "significant title" at Google, though, as he explains in this you video, "you can't tell by the words in it." Even before FeedBurner, Costolo used to work the standup mic. Here's the best Woody Allen impression you've ever seen. Laugh it up, fellow Googlers, but remember, there's truth in jest. How does Costolo really feel about Google? He posted the video to his blog using Tumblr and Vimeo, not the Google-owned Blogger and YouTube.
Evan Williams, the astute creator of Blogger and Twitter, is acting mesmerized by the unflappable showmanship of AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson. He Twitters: "I like this Randall chap that runs AT&T, surprisingly. Straight shooter, he seems." Clever. Yes, Ev, I'm sure Stephenson will agree to that text-message revenue-share scheme you have in mind. [Twitter]
Google's blogging tool, Blogger, is suffering from a severe case of hackeritis. Hundreds of blogs were updated with short posts containing links to virus-laden downloads that either mine hard drives for personal data or turn the PC into a zombie to help propagate the attacks. Google is mum on the attack, and security experts haven't determined whether the hackers discovered a security flaw in Blogger or simply set up false blogs. It's apparently impossible to make the distinction, which should tell you something about the quality of most of the posts on Blogger.
Meg Hourihan dug up a pic (640x480 original) of her partner Evan Williams at Pyra Labs in their pre-Blogger days — ages before Google snapped up the little development company, and in the first golden age of idea whiteboards. Haven't tried calling that phone number at the top, but special love (and a comment account) to anyone with the nerve to do it.
Google won't let Americans watch a bomb video. Maybe it would reveal military secrets like "Iraqi bombs tend to go 'boom.'" [Google Video]
A tipster says, "When you delete a photo from your [Blogger] blog, it disappears from your blog. But it does not disappear from photos1.blogger.com, and Google/Blogger says there is NO WAY WHATSOEVER to delete any photo you have ever uploaded that Blogger has stored there." Don't worry, your photo named "elephant_spank_inferno.jpg" is probably too obscure to show up.
Brilliant. A list of disallowed and allowed obscenities and watchwords for Yahoo user names. Rather petty, but a helpful resource for those of you whose biggest thrill this week will be registering "firstname.lastname@example.org". [Kallahar's Place]
Robert Scoble's son Patrick says his friends think Robert's a porn star. Patrick says the idea of his dad going naked is scary. (Too late, Patrick.) [Mini Scobleizer]
Supr.c.ilio.us quiz: Which lines are from Guy Kawasaki's blog post "How to suck up to a blogger" and which are comment spams? [Supr.c.ilio.us]
Nice job, Cisco! Sinking $48.5 mil into a use-controlling video machine that even Disney is neglecting? That's forward thinking. [WaPo via TechDirt]
"Companies like Netscape productized the output." Whoa there! "Productized"? You. Yeah, you. Out of the pool. [Inside Firefox]
What if they held a system outage and nobody came? [Blogger Status]
Leave it to Digg to have the "Steve Jobs has no license plate" story covered. [Digg]
Jobs's little white ingot shrinks to 1 GB. [Chicago Tribune]