from FaithWorld:

Lourdes-based “Catholic Google” may be rebaptised

Catholic Google has a catchy name, a funny logo and a location near one of the most Catholic places on Earth, the pilgrimage town of Lourdes in southwestern France. After only three weeks on the web, it has seen its user stats grow to about 16,000 visits a day. But the site that describes itself as“the best way for good Catholics to surf the web” may be in for a rebaptism. Its webmaster has asked Google if it has any objections to the name and is waiting for a reply.

While doing research for my blog post on Catholic Google on Sunday, I found it was based in a village outside of Lourdes. In a phone call today, webmaster Paul Mulhern told me he set up the website with standard Google filters last month as a service for Catholics who want to surf the web without all the objectionable material they usually come across there. The idea came from his wife, who runs a religious goods shop in Lourdes. They're originally from Leeds in the UK.

He said most reaction to the site had been positive, although some comments accused him of trying to create a segregated corner of the web just for Catholics. "I can see where they're coming from but I think they have the wrong point of view," he said. (Photo: Pilgrims pray at the Lourdes grotto, 5 Nov 2006/Regis Duvignau)

Mulhern said the safe search filter blocked most objectionable material but it still let some through, as readers who've tested it have found to their amusement: "We're in the process of trying to eliminate as much of the unsavoury adverts as possible, but they have to be blocked by domain name, which is why it is taking some time." Those ad links on the right side of a Google search can change according to where the reader is based, so this could be an enormous job. And the more ads he blocks, the less he potentially earns.

Some bloggers have asked if this site violates the Google trademark. "I'm in the process of speaking with them," Mulhern said, adding he was dealing with Google in the United States. "I've asked whether they object to the name." Just in case they do, he has been thinking about alternatives. "We're thinking of changing the name of the website to something more catchy," he said. "We might put out a poll."

from FaithWorld:

A Catholic Google? Are Muslim, Jewish or other Googles coming?

So now there's Catholic Google*, a search engine that calls itself  "the best way for good Catholics to surf the web", It claims that "it produces results from all over the internet with more weighting  given to Catholic websites and eliminates the vast majority of unsavoury content, such as pornography".

When I heard this today, my first question was whether Google was getting into the religion business. Were there Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or other versions of the search engine out there as well? If not, would Google come up with them soon? Would it design filters that screen out cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, pro-Palestinian websites or other items that followers of certain faiths might not want to see?

It turns out the answer is "No" to all above. Catholic Google has no connection to Google itself (here's its disclaimer).  Somebody has reserved a URL for a Muslim Google but it has no content. There's a Jewgle out there, but it's more about jokes than real searches.

Google’s Chrome out of beta, but only Windows-friendly

Google has decided its Chrome Web browser is all grown up-or. Or at least it has outgrown its beta label.

Google launched its fifteenth release of Chrome on Thursday morning, marking the browser’s first step outside the test phase. After absorbing 101 days of user feedback, Google says the latest version is equipped with improved audio and video performance, bookmark features and privacy controls.

Google tests show Chrome runs 1.5 times faster than when the browser first launched in September, according to a Google spokesperson.

Video game console obituaries premature – Microsoft

Gaming insiders who have given consoles the death sentence, get a life!

Shane Kim, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Microsoft Corp’s Interactive Entertainment Business, said it’s too soon to write off the Xbox.

“This console generation will have a long life cycle. I think it’s way premature to say there will never be another Xbox,” said Kim at the Reuters Media Summit.

Industry veterans like WildTangent Chairman Alex St. John and Sandy Duncan, who set up and ran the European Xbox business for Microsoft, believe that consoles as we know them are doomed. Duncan said they will “die out ” in the next five to 10 years, according to an interview published in

Online ad spending outlook lowered by $1.3 billion

What’s the first thing many companies cut when times get tough?  The marketing budget, of course. And, according to industry researcher eMarketer, spending on Internet advertising is not spared the knife.  The firm now pegs 2008 U.S. online ad spending at $23.6 billion, down from its August projection of $24.9 billion. The new forecast would still represent an 11.3 percent bump from 2007.

In particular, spending on online display ads – such as those flashing banners draped across the top of your screen -  is suffering. EMarketer slashed its display ad growth forecast to 3.9 percent from 16.9 percent. The firm noted that many of the big display ad spenders – such as automakers and retailers – are pruning budgets, with demand weak and consumer confidence shot.

Spending on search ads is also slowing, the firm said. For 2008, eMarketer forecast growth of 21.4 percent, down from 29.5 percent in 2007. Growth is seen falling all the way to 13 percent in 2010, highlighting one of investors’ major fears about the company that dominates the paid search market, Google Inc.

Google enters Skype territory

Google’s at it again.

The Web search leader edged into Skype’s territory at on Tuesday with a feature that allows multitasking Gmail users to video chat, IM and email all at the same time.

Gmail and Google App subscribers can now gossip with friends or coworkers on a high-quality video screen and simultaneously instant message them in a Google Chat box.  The video screen can be popped out of the chat box and moved around a user’s computer screen.

Check out this YouTube video with Google engineer Serge Lachapelle to see how it works. A team of Googlers in Seattle, Sweden and Silicon Valley collaborated on the new app, which is available for both PC and Mac users.

Ready to have some fun with domain names?

richards.jpgThis could get fun.

Internet regulators just voted to relax the rules that govern top level domain names — you know, the .edu or .com or .org that you type into your Web browser. Basically, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, decided it would allow all sorts of new top level domain names to come into existence.

What does that mean? If your name is Keith Richards then you could try to get the .KeithRichards or .Guitar domain name. Well, you could if you’re the real Keith Richards and had a few extra bucks sitting around. It seems that applying for domain names isn’t cheap.

That’s one reason that Icann Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush figures there won’t be too many regular folks lining up for domain names under the new rules.

Microsoft stands firm on Yahoo bid

ballmerfinger2.jpgThose of you who missed him in Morocco caught up with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in Milan after Yahoo reported better than expected results, even though they fell short of stellar.

No surprise, he’s standing firm on the $44 billion offer and promises to stick by a threat to go directly to shareholders if Yahoo rejects the offer by the Saturday deadline.

Bloomberg also reports that Ballmer is willing to walk away from the deal. “We are prepared to go forward without a merger with Yahoo,” Ballmer says.

Yahoo: No surprises there

jerry-1.jpgWe weren’t expecting huge surprises during Yahoo’s earnings conference call, but CEO Jerry Yang was spectacularly vague about the Internet company’s plans vis-a-vis Microsoft or any other potential tie-ups — with Google, Time Warner’s AOL or News Corp — that Yahoo has been working on.

At the very start of the call, Yang essentially said “Don’t go there” to analysts and investors, reminding them about the purpose of the call.

“I’d like to remind you that today’s call is about our Q1 results, so please direct your questions to the quarter if possible,” Yang said.

Yahoo: Here’s why we rejected Microsoft offer

yang2.jpgYahoo’s surprise three-year forecast announcement on Tuesday lays out why the Internet giant has refused to budge from its belief that Microsoft’s bid severely undervalues the company.

The Sunnyvale, Calif. company believes it can nearly double its operating cash flow to $3.7 billion and boost revenue, excluding payments to affiliates, to $8.8 billion. Built into the forecast is an expectation of $1.9 billion of additional revenue over three years in display video advertising revenue, outpacing market growth rates, Yahoo said.

It also reaffirmed previously issued first quarter and full year 2008 forecasts.